by Debbonnaire Kovacs
Ten Days of Awe
By Debbonnaire Kovacs
Submitted Sept. 24, 2014
[Photo by D. Kovacs:
Hand-spun wool crocheted Star of David blanket,
and handspun linen swaddling clothes
made with a bobbin lace stitch known as "cloth stitch."
Both my designs.]
Adventists are perhaps more aware of being not only Christians, but Judeo-Christians than are members of many denominations. We still believe all ten of God’s commandments are meant for our blessing, including the incredible gift of a weekly Sabbath that is an entire day off. We believe that the health laws of the Old Testament are still good for our health, and science is backing us up on this. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventist_Health_Studies.) And we recognize, more than some seem to, that Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian.
We also believe Yeshua is, in fact, the Son of God and ha-Mashiach (the Messiah, or Anointed One, who had been promised to his people for thousands of years).
As a denomination, we do not keep the biblical feasts, but more and more of us, along with many other Christians, are beginning to see that those times God set aside for his people still contain much to bless us, even though Messiah has already come and already been sacrificed and resurrected for our salvation.
I am writing this on Wednesday, Sept. 24, and today is the new moon. Yesterday was the fall equinox, and tonight at sundown, Rosh Hashanah, also called the “Jewish New Year,” begins. It is called the new year because it traditionally marked the beginning of the civil year, but its spiritual import is found in the Feast of Trumpets, or Blowing, delineated in Leviticus 23:24, 25. It is a rest day marking the beginning of what are now known as the Ten Days of Awe, during which one prepares for the great Holy Day coming up: Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.
I find that many people have a different understanding of this feast than I do. Many have spoken to me about “rolling the sins of the year onto the next year,” or of how unnerving it must be to know that God is keeping track of all your sins and may or may not bless you next year unless you pray the exact right prayers. I don’t believe, biblically or historically, this is the idea God wanted people to have of this feast—or any of them! The whole point of the sacrificial system was that your sins, no matter how bad, would be washed away not by yourself, or your repentance, or your penance, or your restitution, but by an innocent. That lamb pointed forward to the Lamb of God who, we are clearly taught, “Takes away the sin of the world.”
The Ten Days are meant to be a time of preparation, yes, of asking or giving forgiveness where needed (and this does include forgiving yourself—even for that) and looking forward to Yom Kippur, which represents the Great Judgment Day. They are also, even more, meant to be days of rejoicing, as we look in faith to a God who will declare us innocent, not because of what we have or have not done, but because of what God has done for and in us.
I once found a reference (and I wish I’d kept it, because I can’t find it now) to a medieval Jewish teacher who is credited with beginning the custom of wearing white on Yom Kippur “because God will acquit us and declare us innocent.” (That’s not a direct quote.) I found this fascinating, having been indoctrinated with the idea that Judaism is almost entirely legalistic. From that day, I’ve worn white on the Day of Atonement.
I believe that the fall feasts, in particular, have not yet been completely fulfilled. Jesus has made full (full! Complete! Don’t misunderstand me!) atonement for us, but has not yet brought full atonement to us in His coming. In a sense, we are living in a sort of antitypical Days of Awe now, as we await the Advent and the final judgment. One Adventist writer, Samuele Bacchiocchi, wrote this about the Ten Days:
Thus, for God’s people, the announcement of the final judgment by the Feast of Trumpets represents the revelation of their faith and love for Christ and their vindication before the angelic host. It represents the coming of better days when Christ will soon appear, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, to reveal the truth about them.” [God’s Festivals: Part 2, The Fall Festivals, p. 122, emphasis in original.]
For myself, I find the feasts to be a great blessing, and I will be writing daily for the Ten Days and for Atonement. You may find these devotions at www.debbonnaire.com/chapel.