Every year the “Season of Repentance” runs forty days from the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It is during this time that we are reminded that we are a people under a covenant with God, bought by the blood of Christ, called to live lives that glorify Him and to examine our lives to ensure that we are living them for His glory, according to His word. During the first thirty days of this season, we make every effort to repent, or “turn toward God.” During this time we are to “awake” from the spiritual sleep induced by sin and ensure that our wicks are trimmed and our lamps are full. It is a time of deep personal reflection, a time of surrender and a time to make absolutely certain we are allowing God to conform us to His purpose and His will, through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. These first thirty days are a time of preparation for the trumpet call of God, the shout from heaven to assemble ourselves together to join the Bridegroom on the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast that no man knows the day or the hour.
–“So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Peter 3:14).
–“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36).
The last ten days of this season, before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), are known as “The Ten Days of Awe”. The Ten Days of Awe are time of additional repentance before the Day of Atonement, or Judgment Day, “Although God overlooked the ignorance of earlier times, He now commands all men everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30,31).
Symbolically, the Day of Atonement is when Christ physically returns to the earth to deliver “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:17) and to judge the nations, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Matt 25:31,32) and rule the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, “They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings–and with Him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Rev 17:14).
In Jewish tradition, the annual period of God’s judgment of the world takes place during the Ten Days of Awe, which begin on Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teruah) and ends ten days later on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The world enters judgment on the Feast of Trumpets, and ten days later judgment is set and the fate of the righteous and wicked are sealed for all eternity on the Day of Atonement. According to Jewish tradition, everyone on earth is given these ten additional days to repent and get right with God before their fate is sealed and judgment is eternally set.
However from a Christian/Messianic Jewish perspective, it is understood that these ten days are symbolic of the Great Tribulation and it is understood that all those whose names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life since the foundation of the world who remain on the earth during this time will be purified through the fires of tribulation.
—“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev 2:10)
—“And all who dwell on the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” (Rev 13:8)
—“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'” (Rev 13:14)
Ideally, we are to have gotten our spiritual house in order by repenting of all known sin and making any relationship reconciliation with others by the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah). This is the purpose of the month of spiritual preparation beforehand. However, when we examine the overall picture of God’s plan through the symbolism of His appointed feasts, it appears that those who have outstanding issues with God and man when the last trumpet sounds for the Feast of Trumpets, will find themselves subjected to further purification before they will be “able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36).
This is almost a heretical concept to a church that worships a Jesus that doesn’t require anything from them. Western Christianity focuses only on God’s grace and give little to no significance to God’s very real seriousness about living sanctified lives. As a culture, we are so far removed from what it truly means to be Christian that we have created our own religion. Of this particular Laodicean age of Christianity, Jesus said we are blind and completely ignorant of our own spiritual nakedness. He tells us we are in desperate need of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, but are too blind and lukewarm to care. (Rev 3:15-18). His instructions to us at Revelation 3, verse 19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent”, lend even more seriousness to the annual season of repentance before the Feast of Trumpets. Of the seven churches Jesus speaks to in Revelation, five of them are specifically instructed to “repent.” (Rev 2:5; 2:16; 2:22; 3:3; 3:19).
Throughout time and history, one thing and one thing only has ever served to quickly awaken those in spiritual slumber, and that thing is tribulation. Unfortunately, hardship and suffering are the only things that arouse the lukewarm from their stupor and turn them back to radical devotion and total surrender to Christ.
We’ve covered two of the last three appointed feasts to be literally fulfilled by Christ:
1. The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), which symbolizes the calling together of those under Christ’s covenant, who have their wicks trimmed and their lamps full, described as “The virgins who were ready..” (Matt 25:10) and are “able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36). The month of Elul is the season of repentance, which gives all believers a window of time to set their lives in order and to thoroughly repent of any ungodliness in their lives so as to be found worthy to escape the coming judgment. If Jesus should tarry another year before He returns, then the believer has been spiritually rejuvenated and refreshed to bear fruit for God’s kingdom and shine their light for God’s glory throughout the ensuing year.
2. The Day of Atonement and the preceding Ten Days of Awe, which symbolizes the Great Tribulation and the physical return of Christ on the Day of Judgment. Those who are not spiritually ready when the last trumpet sounds for the Feast of Trumpets, who remain to be purified, will go through the purging of the tribulation period, so that they will be ready for the Day of Atonement, which is the final separation of the sheep from the goats. These ten additional days of repentance are given for mankind to repent and get right with God before judgment is eternally set.
The last appointed feast that will be literally fulfilled by Christ is the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of Booths or Sukkot. We’ll talk more about that in my next post.