Getting Ready for the Ten Days of Awe
Ten Days of Awe
Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Judgment
by John J. Parsons
According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the destiny of the righteous, the tzaddikim
צַדִּיקִים) ), are written in the Book of Life ( סֵפֶר הַחַיּיִם ), and the destiny of the wicked, the
resha'im ( רשָׁעִים )ְ, are written in the Book of Death ( סֵפֶר הַמֵּתִים ). Most people, however, won't
be inscribed in either book, but are given ten days until Yom Kippur to repent before sealing
their fate. If a person turns to God and makes amends to those whom he has harmed, he may
repent, then the decree will be given that he will die during the coming year... In other words,
though the books are "opened" on Rosh Hashanah, our deeds during the first ten days of the
new year will determine whether we are written in the book of life or the book of death. The ten
days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are therefore accorded special sanctity and are
called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah the "Ten Days of Repentance."
These are days that call for
sincere personal repentance (i.e., תְּשׁוּבָה , "turning to God") so that the divine decree will be
given for our good.... As Abraham Heschel wrote, "No word is God's final word. Judgment, far
from being absolute, is conditional. A change in man's conduct brings about a change in God's
judgment" (Heschel: The Prophets, 194).
As Messianic believers, we maintain that Judgment Day has come and justice was served through
the sacrificial offering of Yeshua for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). He is both the perfect fulfillment of the
Akedah of Isaac as well as the High Priestly avodah of the Yom Kippur sacrifices. Indeed, Yeshua
is the "propitiation" or "expiation" for our sins. The Greek word used in Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2,
and 1 John 4:10 (i.e., ἱλαστήριος) is the same word used in the LXX for the kapporet [cover of
the ark of the covenant] in the Holy of Holies which was sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice
on Yom Kippur. "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Heb.
10:14). Those who are trusting in Yeshua as their Atonement before the Father are thereby
declared tzaddikim and their names are written and sealed in the Book of Life.
The "Day of Judgment" for our sinful and wayward lives has come in the Person of Yeshua the
Mashiach, blessed be He. All those who truly belong to Him are written in the "Lamb's book of
life," or Sefer HaChayim (Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). We do not
believe that we are made acceptable in God's sight by means of our own works of righteousness
(Titus 3:56), but that does not excuse us from being without such works (as fruit of the Holy
Spirit in our lives). The Scriptures clearly warn that on the coming Day of Judgment ( ,(יוֹם הַדִּין
anyone's name not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev.
20:15). "Not every one who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the
one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Moreover, all Christians will
stand before the Throne of Judgment to give account for their lives (2 Cor. 5:10). "Every man's
work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and
the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (1 Cor. 3:13). Life is an examination, a test,
and every moment is irrepeatable. Every "careless" word we utter will be echoed on the Day of
Judgment (Matt. 12:3637). Our future day of judgment is being decided today....
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