The Ten Days of Awe: Yamim Noraim
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are currently right in the middle of the Days of Awe, and the LORD has put it upon my heart to expound upon this period of time as we celebrate the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot) this Fall.
I want you to imagine for a moment being weighed in the balance.
I think we’ve all been there, right? This is not a pleasant experience, regardless of to whom we must give an account – be it a parent, our boss, or Almighty God. Here is the question: What is the one thing you would desire if you were going be weighed in the balance? This one should be easy. JUSTICE. Right? And much more besides. We would also want truth, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
Now, to understand the Days of Awe, you’ll also need to understand these two holidays as well. Rosh Hashanah is the first day of the new year. It’s a day of joy and repentance. Yom Kippur is the highest and holiest day of the year wherein all are judged by God for their deeds the year prior – and the judgment decreed by God is final. Therefore, the Days of Awe represent a solemn time of deep introspection and repentance. According to Jewish custom, it is during this time that individuals are either written in or erased from the Book of Life for the next year. This final judgment upon Yom Kippur will therefore determine the fate of every individual.
What does this mean for us today? I’m about to show you.
A Just God
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire, (Revelation 20:11-15, KJV).
The Days of Awe are marked by the “awe” or “fear” of God. We truly serve an awesome God! And He is to be rightly feared. Even Jesus said that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, rather than fearing those who kill the body yet who cannot kill the soul (see Matthew 10:28). He has full jurisdiction over both. Yes, God is to be appropriately feared – not because He is mean, but because He is AWESOME. Our God is a loving, just, and righteous King, who gave His life to ransom us from sin and death. He holds all power in all of creation at His very disposal. But He does not wield it upon a reckless whim as a tyrant. He is a just and righteous Judge, and therefore He is to be feared. We can all know that He will be utterly impartial to every soul who stands before Him to give account. We can not buy points with God. Nothing we do is able to save us from sin. Nothing. The only way we can find eternal life is through the perfect and atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Anyone who is not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will die in their sin, just as the scripture has decreed.
Although Christ has paid the ransom for us, we are not given permission to continue in our sin (see Romans 6:1-2). Let us understand the spiritual and moral obligation we have toward a lifestyle of repentance. John the Baptist prepared the way of the LORD preaching repentance, and that very message was one Jesus fully endorsed and continued to preach Himself to all who would hear (see Luke 3:1-22, Matthew 4:17, and Acts 26:14-18). The message of repentance is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of which Paul clearly testifies in the following passage:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God, (Romans 2:4-11, KJV).
Repentance is a gift from God. It’s an opportunity to come clean. We cannot repent of what we don’t see or know is wrong. Once God reveals our sin, He expects us to repent. That is His goodness at work. Those who knowingly choose to continue in sin will be subject to condemnation, which we are told is just (see Romans 3:8).
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit, (Hebrews 6:1-3, KJV).
This is the very purpose of the Days of Awe – to move forward, going on to perfection.
The Biblical Significance of the Number Ten
The number ten is used throughout the Bible both in the Old and New Testament, and is often found representing law, order, justice and judgment. These are all inextricably linked. Here are some examples:
1.) The Ten Commandments
2.) The Tithe
3.) The Ten Virgins
4.) The Ten Plagues upon Egypt
5.) The Ten Talents
6.) The Ten Generations prior to the flood
7.) The Passover Lamb was ordered to be sacrificed on the tenth day of the first month
The Ten Days of Awe, are therefore understood to be a time wherein God’s law is recognized, we pursue righteousness, we bring our lives into His moral order through repentance, and His final judgment is decreed with justice. The number ten is considered a perfect number, and is thereby used for accounting and precise measurements. It is no different with God. It is with the number ten that God exacts His weights and balances. And this is why we see this number so often used in Christ’s parables that depict His righteous judgment toward His servants regarding their stewardship of His goods and investments. He will call all into account.
A Time of Solemn Repentance
The Ten Days of Awe are traditionally spent in deep introspection and solemn prayer for the purpose of repentance. In the law, each individual was judged according to their deeds on a yearly basis. Every year the High Priest would have to enter into the Holy of Holies to offer the atoning sacrifice for God’s people. That is no longer needed, because we know that Jesus Christ has once and for all entered in on our behalf as the sacrificial Lamb of God. He has fulfilled the Law.
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. But this man, because he continueth forever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity: but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore, (Hebrews 6:17-20 and 7:24-28, KJV).
Yet it is during this time every year that we look back and ponder the year prior, considering our ways and our deeds very carefully. We are given this time to make wrongs right, to search our hearts, and to repent of anything that would separate us from God. Again, despite Christ’s perfect sacrifice, we are not to continue in sin (see Romans 6). We are called to repentance, which is a lifestyle – not a one-time event. And that is what the Days of Awe are really about. It is a solemn time wherein we set ourselves apart unto God for this very purpose, allowing Him to closely examine us so that we may be fully cleansed, healed, and set free. Just as David said:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, (Psalm 139:23, 24, KJV).
The Days of Awe are a time when we allow God to weigh us in His balance. But we serve a just God. We serve a merciful God. We serve a forgiving God. He is our Judge. And He judges in righteousness and truth, and with justice and mercy.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God, (Revelation 19:11-13, KJV).
Christ promised us that we would be judged as we judge others (see Matthew 7:1-5). If we want mercy, we must also give mercy. We will reap what we sow. And what we give will be given unto us, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment, (James 2:12, 13, KJV).
If we want forgiveness, we must extend forgiveness to others (see Matthew 6:14, 15), regardless of the wrong committed against us.
Behold An Awesome God
The Ten Days of Awe are indeed a time of awe, when we behold a Just and Righteous God who gave His very life to redeem us. He is AWESOME and He is to be rightly feared.
A false balance is an abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight, (Proverbs 11:1, KJV).
A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are His work, (Proverbs 16:11, KJV).
How could we ever refuse Him? This is your opportunity. Use this time wisely, and let Him weigh you in His balance. He will right every wrong.
Cheers & Shalom,