On the Jewish calendar it is now in a time of prayer called Days of Awe. Last year I wrote about what this means in Jewish thought and Jewish tradition. Out of necessity, I sense the importance of sharing again about the need for prayer and repentance as I hope to tie it in with what we see going on in our country today.
Days of Awe – the days between Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement. It is also known as Days of Repentance. According to the book The Feasts of the Lord by Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, “Jewish tradition holds that, during this ten day period, divine judgment is rendered to determine whether a person will continue to live or die in the coming year. It is believed [during this time] that God reviews the books of judgment.” Again, according to Jewish tradition, three books are opened at this time: Book of Life for the wicked; Book of Life for the righteous; and Book of Life for the in-between. The Lord examines man’s activities and writes their names in one of the three books. Those who are wicked, judgment is final and irrevocable. Those who are righteous, mercy is granted for another year, and prosperity in the Lord. “For the remainder (the in-between) their fate is deferred and hangs in the balance until the Day of Atonement. If they sincerely repent during the Days of Awe, tradition holds that God will grant them life until the following Day of Atonement.” What strikes me as I read this is that man doesn’t actually know how the Lord sees their lives. The not knowing drives man into deep repentance. As believers in Jesus, we know, trust & believe that through HIS sacrifice and death on the cross, our sins are forgiven AND through HIS resurrection sin & death are defeated. Praise the Lord!! God’s word tells us that we are made righteous through faith in Him. Romans 10:9-10 states: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. We do not have to be concerned about where our names are written. AMEN!
Has this belief become a type of “grace” card to not think about our actions, our words, or our deeds? I am not saying we need to follow the ways of old – spending 10 days of repenting before our Lord. However, have we, that is the Body of Christ, forgotten or neglected the importance of repentance? We know how to say we’re sorry, ask for forgiveness, and promise never to do _?_ again. But what about repentance? The following verses will sound familiar as we’ve heard (or said) it many times in our religious circles.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14 – The Lord said to King Solomon after the Temple dedication: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
What goes through our minds when we read these words? For me, the word “IF” is like a flashing pink neon sign. The Lord starts out with the word “when”. It appears certain that what comes after “when” will definitely happen. The “IF” tells us we need to do our part. Only “then” the Lord will do His part. We see the need for repentance in the words humble themselves…and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways. You will note that I left out “and pray”.
Something else that struck me about these verses from – they appear personal. I am personalizing this verse for emphasis: if my daughter (that is, me, Kris), who is called by my name, will humble herself and pray and seek my face and turn from her wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive her sin and will heal her land.” When I read this I see that it is I (me, Kris) who needs to do the above and then the Lord will do His part. Could we have been looking at this all wrong? We cry out this verse to the Lord, standing on its truths, but not necessarily doing our part.
It goes without saying that prayer is critical! Many have prayed diligently for there to be spiritual renewal in America. This is good!!! Yet, we see how “things” keep getting worse. This can be a sign of the end times with the Lord coming back soon. Scriptures tell us that it will be like in the times of Noah when business was going on as normal and yet the people were filled with evil. However, I must also convey that if the average believer isn’t practicing the importance of humbling themselves before the Lord, or seeking His face and most critical, the turning away from their wicked ways; could we have brought this on ourselves?
The “woke-ness” of today’s world is like a daily slap on the face. How truly far have we gotten from the truths of God’s word!!! I imagine many have seen the headlines about the Air Force Academy providing a fellowship program for "gender minorities" that specifies "cisgender" men need not apply. Those who can apply: cisgender women, transgender women, non-binary, agender, bigender, two-spirit, demigender, genderfluid or genderqueer. I’m not trying to be funny, but I don’t know what some of these words mean without looking them up in a dictionary. Rep. Michael Waltz, a Green Beret and Afghan War veteran, stated "it's been a tradition in the military to get letters from mom and dad or your boyfriend and girlfriend for as long as there's been a military. Now we're instructing every cadet entering the Air Force to not say ‘mom’ and ‘dad,’ to not say ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’….." What in the world is going on!!??!!
During these Days of Awe, let us consider entering into a time of reflection, repentance and prayer. Let’s humbly reflect on 2 Chronicles 7:13-14. Could the Lord be wanting to strengthen (empower) our prayer times but we need to learn what it means to humble ourselves and to turn from our wicked ways? We don’t need to spend time in self-flagellation. Instead, may we find opportunities to be honest before our Lord and to listen for His gentle correction, direction and love!