The Fall is filled with Jewish holidays! After welcoming in the Jewish new year, for a ten-day period, the Jewish people observe a somber and introspective period called the “Days of Awe.” An important aspect of the Days of Awe is to seek reconciliation with anyone you may have wronged in the past year. According to Jewish tradition, one cannot find forgiveness from God unless they have a clear conscience. They believe that when they petition God with their since that they “stand trial” before Him and wait for the verdict. The Jewish people focus on the “Book of Life” and attempt to prove to God that their names deserve to be sealed in that book for another year on the Day of Atonement (in Hebrew Yom Kippur).
Leviticus 16:29-34 establish the Day of Atonement on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishri (on our 2017 calendar, that would be September 29. This holy day is called the “Shabbat of Shabbats”—the most important day of the year for the Jewish person. It is the day “to afflict one’s soul, to cleanse oneself of all sin and abstain from any work or pleasure.”
In Malachi 3:16-18, the Book of Life is described as “A book of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored His name.” The Jewish people are taught that in order to ensure their names are sealed in the Book of Life, they must repent, pray and do good deeds. They can only hope that their names are sealed for another year based on their works. For the Christian, we know that our salvation is not based on our own works, but on the finished work of Jesus on a cross. In John 14:6, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” It is not by works. And we also know that Jesus payment on that cross is permanent. We do not have to wait for Yom Kippur and hope we will be sealed another year.
However, this holiday is a great reminder 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God still expects us to confess sin, but it is not the admission ticket to heaven. Faith in Jesus alone takes care of that, once and for all.
It is still a very good practice to observe the holiday with the Jewish people and fast 24 hours to spend time with the Lord and confess sin and pursue reconciliation with others.
All of the Jewish “appointed days” point to prophecies (some have been fulfilled and others await fulfillment). Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) points to the time in the future when Israel (as a nation) will repent and look to Messiah in one day (Zechariah 3:9).
A common saying you may hear from Jewish people in preparation for Yom Kippur is: “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life!” We hope that you have found faith in Messiah and that YOUR name is permanently inscribed in that Book of Life!