September and October are months of festivities and holy days (holidays) throughout Israel.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
Jerusalem is bursting at the seams with thousands of visitors and residents – repenting, worshiping, remembering, praying, feasting, singing, laughing, dancing – at all hours of the day and night.
The month of Tishrei is considered the holiest month of the Hebrew calendar and contains several significant holidays, through which I have learned much about the culture, people and even more about the God of Israel, and what these events mean to us as believers.
Literally “head of the year” – Jewish New Year, following a lunar calendar, also known as the Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25). This year Rosh Hashanah is celebrated September 10-11th and symbolically is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, emphasizing man’s dependence upon God.
This holiday initiates the new year with the sounding of the shofar, trumpets or rams horns, blessings over the new year, celebrating a meal with friends and family that usually involves food with symbolic significance (apples and honey, pomegranates and crown shaped challah bread with raisins), and choosing to rest fully in the Lord’s goodness as He initiates a new season.
The 9 days following Rosh Hashanah are considered “days of awe” and are a significant time of repairing relationships, repentance before God and others, heart searching and preparation for the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur.
During this time, thousands of people crowd the Old City and special prayers of repentance are offered at the Kotel (Western Wall) throughout the night.
The Day of Atonement on on September 19th this year (see Leviticus 16 & 23:26-32). Yom Kippur is the holiest holidday of the year, a time of reflection, confession, fasting, self-denial, repentance and rest, and atonement for sins.
In fact, it is such a consecrated day that no cars are allowed on the streets and everything in the city literally shuts down for about 26 hours.
This commemorates the day when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sacrifice offerings, first for himself, then for the sins of the entire nation.
“On that day, offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins.” Leviticus 16:30
Sins were forgiven and right relationship with God and man restored.
This day bears special significance especially as we consider the message of Hebrews and Christ as our Great High Priest who offered Himself once for all time for the remission of sins.
“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There He waits until His enemies are humbled and made a footstool under His feet. For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy…and so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
By His death, Jesus opened a new and life giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him.
For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” Hebrews 10:10-14, 19-22