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“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh
month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a
Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy
“On the tenth day of the seventh moth you shall have a
“I, therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to
walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,
bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Great Day of Atonement, there are ten days. These are meant to be days of personal reflection, repentance and prayer and they are to fill us with a healthy fear of God. Therefore they are called the Ten Days of Awe. Not only are we to awaken to righteousness and zeal as we hear the trumpet blast at Rosh Hashanah but we are also to think most seriously about our relationship with God and with one another.
The message of the Bible is about reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). That is, reconciliation with God and with our fellow man. Sin alienates and divides people and thereby births conflicts, wars, murders, outbursts of anger and all manner of hatred between people, families and races (Galatians 5:19-21). Those who come to God by faith in what He has done for them in Christ, the Messiah, have this cycle of alienation and hatred broken in their lives. For the people of God to live in schism and disunity constitutes a denial of the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). This should not happen and we should do everything to preserve the unity of the body of Christ. In the end contentious people should be rejected and removed from the community of faith after having been appropriately warned (Titus 3:10). All of this dear friends is very serious business and we would do well to think deeply about it.
When living in Jerusalem a very dear friend of mine, and a beloved Rabbi of blessed memory, asked to see me during the Ten Days of Awe. He had promised to do something for me and had forgotten. While praying and reflecting upon his life he was convicted of this and felt that he had to ask my forgiveness and so it was that he came to my office and apologized for his lapse in memory, asked for my forgiveness and promised to rectify the matter; which he did. I was greatly moved by this and cannot help but wonder what would happen to the body of Christ if we all acted in this way. The Ten Days of Awe therefore enable us to take hold of the grace of God and to be the people that Jesus wants us to be (Ephesians 4:31-32). Five is the number of grace in the bible and so the Ten Days of Awe, two fives, remind us of the amazing, blessed and abundant grace of God that has come to our lives by Christ Jesus. We need to think about this and respond appropriately. This period reminds us of these wonderful tings and challenges us to be all that God, by Christ Jesus, wants us to be.
Indeed the Ten Days of Awe help us to focus on what it means to truly be a child of God; just as Passover or Easter enable us to see more clearly what Jesus did for us on the cross. We need these times to refresh our souls and draw closer to God.