Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the day of repentance, the day of dread, the day that it is said all the hearts are examined, and those who are appointed for death, will be written for death, and those appointed for life will be written for life. Then the books are closed and sealed.
“G’mar khatima tova” is heard every few minutes. Literally it means: “may you finish with a good signature stamp.” We wrote in English − in my childhood days − “May you be inscribed in the book of life.” Others wish me also “tsom kal’’ or an easy fast and I respond, “tsom mashma’oti” or “may you have a MEANINGFUL fast” and then we enter into a short conversation concerning the true meaning of a fast before God.
A Hebrew language teacher advised me to say “tsom mo’il” or may you have a beneficial fast.
“What?” I asked. “Why is that better then a meaningful fast?”
My boss was quick to answer: “I want my fast to give me points.”
Wow! Talk about saying it as it is.
“Well, when I fast, my desire is to draw closer to God and to find those things that stand in the way of a deeper relationship, and repent from them,” I said.
He thought and said, “You must be ahead of me.”
But I added, “No. I could NEVER have enough points to win my way into the book of Life. I am way lower then you.”
His answer was from the teaching of the sages: “Those lower are far ahead…”
So it is at the time of Yom Kippur. The seriousness of it impacts the entire nation, a nation of people seeking to secure their place in the book of life. I am in the midst, SECURE that my name IS INDEED written in THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE. How wonderful to be both without fear or dread, and be assured that I have the adequate atonement.
It is almost sundown and the streets are silent as people finish up their last meal. I caught the last bus and train home from work. The buses stopped at 1:00 and the trains at 2. The television and radio stations shut down at the same time, and our airspace and airport are also closed, along with all of our borders. We are effectively sealed off from the world to be sealed in with God and here in Jerusalem it is silent.
Many of the believers take this time to fast as well, not to obtain atonement and gain points to get into the book of life, but hopefully, after spending special time asking The Lord to examine our hearts for any sins of compromise, presumption, unforgiveness, hardness, whatever we may have been blind to– to pray for the blinders to be taken off our nation and our people. For the veil must be be stripped from the eyes and YESHUA must be revealed as He says is Zech 12:
“And they shall look upon Him Whom they pierced and mourn for Him as for an only begotten Son.”
The Pascal Lamb IS among us and His once and for all time sacrifice IS sufficient and oh what reason for rejoicing! Zechariah 8:18 speaks of a day:
The entire chapter, indeed the book, is full of promises yet to be fulfilled, but I have heard people say, “How can a fast be a joyful feast?”
Oh, what joy to feast on The Lord and His heart for Israel during this fast. To me it already is a joyful feast and I long for the day that it will be for the entire nation.
The synagogue service is really a culmination of a month of prayer. For the past ten days many have been praying prayers of slichot or forgiveness at the western wall or in their synagogues at 4:30 in the morning. There have been daily special prayers and reading of scripture mid day and evening and into the night. Many, if not most, of what is read in synagogue and being prayed is directly from scripture and very passionate. But as is true in Christian churches, so it is in synagogues, people can sit hardened and unrepentant under The Word. People can harden their hearts, stiffen their necks, close their ears and remain blind.
On shabat, our Pastor’s wife challenged us to examine our own hearts once again concerning this issue of forgiveness before The Lord’s supper (tsudot h’adon in Hebrew):
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Years ago, as I was struggling and losing the battle to forgive a sister who seemed continually to hurt me, I suddenly understood my unforgiveness had the power to bind her so she could not be loosed in heaven. The awful understanding so horrified me that I seemed to stand on a precipice looking at the power we had toward one another, and The Lord set me free to forgive. Although I still struggle at times, the impact of that view has stayed with me all of these years. I have been forgiven MUCH. How dare I not forgive everything? I stand in the midst of a people who long to know that forgiveness.
This morning at prayer, a sister visiting here from another country for this season of feasts and conferences, shared that last night after being at a prayer conference, she had been able to witness to a group of 5 locals. She was amazed at how hungry and open they were to hear the good news. I envied her ability to share so freely.
Most Israelis will accept much more willingly the testimony of a gentile believer then a Jewish one. Indeed, today at work I had a strange experience that used to be much more common and it took me a bit aback. Some new immigrants came in to see the doctor where I work for the first time and we began to talk. They just arrived a week ago from the state of Texas. When they asked where I was from and I told them, suddenly the woman took a deep breath and looked askance at her husband and I remembered that look. She had been warned about me. She began to ask some specific questions which left little room for doubt.
I don’t feel worthy of the title: dangerous.
Years ago large groups of people were warned by their rabbis to stay away from me as I was such a dangerous woman, but I thought my lack of fruitfulness had stripped me of that distinction. But of course, the knowledge of Him – His Name – is dangerous. Dangerous to the enemy and to all we hold dear in this life, and the knowledge of Him so radically changes EVERYTHING.
Years ago, before we moved here, a young Israeli man stayed in our village to work in the fishing industry there. We became very close and I talked to him much about The Lord. One day I said to him, “I can not convince you. You ask Him yourself. Ask Him, ‘Do you have a Son, is He The Messiah, and is His Name Yeshua (Jesus)?”‘
He bowed his head and did just that and to my shock, he crumpled in a heap on to the floor. He began to weep and to pray. But when it was over he said to me, “Do you know what I just did? I have separated myself from my people, my nation and my family.”
Well, I knew that feeling partially. I remember thinking, “Uh oh. I’m Jewish. What will happen to my parents,” but I didn’t understand then Aam Israel – the people/nation so ancient and so veiled. I had been in the captivity (dispersion or diaspora or scattering) for too many millennia to fully understand.
So, the kitchens of Israel or at least most of Jerusalem are closed now for 25 hours. Darkness has fallen and the synagogues are full. The vehicle-free streets are full of children riding bikes. Although we are sealed off and silent, today also marks 40 years since the Yom Kippur war and 20 years since the disastrous Oslo “peace accords” were signed.
People are dying as I write in Syria. Iran is plotting our demise and the world stands on the precipice. It is the right moment to stand sealed off before The Lord.
And, of course, Wednesday night we get to, once again, to dwell in our little succa’s (booths) for a week and rejoice together. What a great great God we serve. He certainly knows what is best.
If you choose to fast and or pray along for this nation, it might be a good time to read the book of Hebrews. It is so rich in truths which are still hidden here.
Thank you so much for caring and for even reading what I write. I am so blessed by you, dear sisters and brothers.
Lovingly, your sis J