While seasons change, religious traditions remain
Fall is a dramatic, colorful and spectacular time of the year. The clear, crisp air tells us change is upon us. Our churches are busy shifting schedules to guide and instruct our young people, families and serve our community. Activities increase as we enjoy fall sports, school activities, fall festivals and craft shows. The fields are ready for harvest and hunters anticipate season opening. We anticipate. We reflect. We gather together. We give thanks. While much of life changes, yet we share established patterns that remain.
I am reminded these past few weeks of the special September festivals celebrated by early Hebrew people in Israel and how these events continue to impact Christian believers. These Jewish holidays are significant historically as well as prophetically. Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year 5779, (sundown Sept. 9-11) is the only Jewish feast that occurs at the beginning of the dark new moon. Rosh HaShana, known as Feast of Trumpets points to the Messiah who will appear in the heavens to the sound of trumpets - as a Bridegroom coming for His Bride - the Church, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:52. According to Hebrew interpretation, the year 5779 is a time of revelation of God as Creator, new birth, increased harvest of souls, escalation of God’s power through His people, evil will be exposed and overcome, prayer and divine revelation.
Ten days following Rosh HaShana are filled with awe and reflection as preparing for repentance. Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement (at-one-ment-with-God, Sept. 19 this year). Similarly, we reflect, look ahead, and make resolutions to mark the ending and beginning of our New Year. The Jewish people solemnly celebrate Yom Kippur. The High Priest humbly goes into the Holy of Holies before God’s presence- repenting on the people’s behalf. The annual Atonement sacrifice foreshadowed Jesus’ sacrifice which defeated sin on the cross- once and for all. According to Hebrew tradition, only one time a year, the High Priest could pass the temple curtain/veil to enter the Holy of Holies. When Jesus died, the temple/Holy of Holies curtain was torn from top to bottom. This signified all may enter into God’s presence, at any time through Jesus Christ, our High Priest. When the temple was later destroyed, there was no longer a Holy of Holies, High Priest, or sacrificial system. Today Jews honor the day through prayer and repentance, awaiting the rebuilding of the third Temple.
The third major fall Jewish festival is Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles. It is a day to celebrate and be joyful as God lived (tabernacled) with them. Sukkot begins the evening before the fifth day after Yom Kippur, lasting for seven days (Sep. 24–30). This is a time to celebrate the year’s final harvest and God’s provision. They remembered how God took them out of bondage in Egypt and provided for them. The seven days represent greater connection, love, friendship, compassion, happiness, partnership and fulfillment- God dwelling with us.
As we enjoy fall’s special events, let us take time to wait on God, ponder His blessings, forgive hurts, repent for our action or inaction, remember those gone before us, and celebrate God, who is with us and loves us with an everlasting love.