Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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Time for the Holidays (Again?)

Yes indeed it is time for another round of holidays, this time the so-called “high holy days” of Yom Teruah (‘Day of Trumpet Blast’), Yom Kippur (‘Day of Atonement’), and Sukkot (‘Tabernacles’). As if that was not enough, we also have a bonus holiday in Simchat Torah (‘Joy of the Torah’). The Jewish calendar is full of holidays and it can be easy to go through the motions of ‘celebrating’ them without taking pause to understand what they mean. Traditions by rote that are devoid of Spirit will not aid us in living Gospel-centered transformed lives.

We should remember a few things this holiday season.

First, there is no required obligation for believers in Messiah Yeshua to celebrate these holidays, but that does not diminish their value or significance. The Biblical holidays are a unique revelation of history, both past and future. The Biblical holidays are historical in that they remind us of something God did in Israel’s past. But these same holidays also look forward to the future as they depict things yet to come in the Lord’s plan redemption.

Second, know that Jewish people all over the world celebrate these holidays. In particular, Yom Kippur is kind of like Christmas and Easter for Christians (our brothers and sisters); many will attend these services even if they are not practicing the faith. We should be very mindful of the times because this holiday season offers unique opportunities to converse with Jewish people about the Gospel. It can be a time to show solidarity with the Jewish people and remind them that God has not forsaken them and sent His Son to atone for their sins so that they (and we) may live.

Third, why not use the time to draw closer to God? Take some extra time this year to reflect upon the greatness of the glory God and also dwell upon our own sinfulness and need for a Savior. In our fast-paced Western lifestyle we often overlook confessing our sins and building fellowship with Him. If you have been struggling lately, or if life has been difficult and it is taking a toll on your spiritual walk, this holiday season could be a heaven-sent “time of refreshing” that will raise you up on eagle’s wings.

Finally, why not use the time to develop stronger ties with other believers? Celebrate the breakfast of Yom Kippur with other believers in fellowship. Share your family holiday traditions with others. Know someone without family … invite them over! The time you spend with your brothers and sisters will build you up as well as encourage them.

Holidays lose their meaning only if we let it happen. But if we recognize these holidays are designed to draw us closer to Messiah Yeshua and build community, we should not let the hustle-and-bustle of modern life drown out the eternal significance of this season.

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