Hebrew holy days are commemorations of history and the events that formed this story of His. They come to remind us that the story is ours also.
The Hebrew word for holiday is mo’ed and means “rendezvous” or “an appointed time.” Every mo’ed, every holiday, is a meeting of sorts. They are rendezvous that not only reconcile the dimensions of time and space within us, so the story might be truly ours, but refresh our heart’s understanding of this history, wild and wondrous, that we share with the heart of God.
We often look at time in terms of late or early and miss that He never misses an appointment! He always comes!
These holidays, holy days, call us to carve out time for offering, worship and rest. Soul sustaining needs He heartily and happily meets us in.
Our arrival at feast’s door in no way causes us to flee from the concerns of the world, but allows us to fellowship with Him, for them. These feasty days help us remember who He has been in history and commune with Him, that we might remember Him in ours. That we might recount Whose we are.
Rosh Hashanah comes with shofar and fresh light, inaugurating days, like a sentinel standing watch over a month full of reflection and celebration. Its hallowed ground remembers the birth of humanity and Pappa’s delight in what we so often fear. He is unafraid of our humanity, of human things. This is no small matter to remember and return to truth of.
From Rosh Hashanah, we travel the Day of Awe. These are weighty days we must traverse, so all of our days might be filled with awe.
The world is meant to speak to us of our Maker. It is God we want, but not always Him we seek. We all live beneath the same sky, but not all look to the same horizon.
The Days of Awe recalibrate the compass. They cause us to look at where we’ve been and where we are going, with fresh eyes and fragile hearts.
These ten days are charitable ones, for they direct our gaze to what we have sown well and what we have scattered without care. All the seeds we didn’t mean to distribute in another’s fair field, another’s fertile life. We may need to pluck some of what we’ve planted, yet we also turn to tend that which will bear fruit.
These days make us brave. Brave enough to say, “If what I’m asking for would ultimately lead me away from You, please don’t take me there.”
Tucked near the end of awestruck days is Yom Kippur, heralding the message that the future can look different from the past.
After proposal and promise, a chosen people melted gold to form an image much different from the one they bore. Moses asked Pappa not to destroy this errant people. On the tenth of Tishrei Pappa said, “Forgiven.” Since that day, we observe this date as the “Day of Atonement”—Yom Kippur, a celebration of our indestructible relationship with our unfathomable God.
He is merciful. Mercy full. This truth empowers us to rise from the ruins of our falls to a new place. One untarnished by our past.
Broken things tend to be more familiar to us than restored ones. But, there were second tablets for second chances. Those etched on flesh that fails, yet fiercely returns.
On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, there is a greeting often extended:
“Leshana tovah tekatev vitechatem.”
“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
“Inscribed and sealed” just seeps right down to my core, for this is one of the things that has been tiptoeing through my interior with each new year and draws me to a new reckoning of Isaiah 49:16:
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
A Hebrew word for inscribe is chaqaq which means “to cut in, enact, decree”. Isaiah was imploring a people to return to faithfulness through such vivid imagery. For chaqaq carries more than a picture, it reveals a portrait drawn of One, upon one. A likeness sketched. Within the sketch is a script of the seed. The living word spoken was breathed to be seen.
The cut of the Creator, all in His sight, so we can see. Palms cupped and containing every thing concerning us. Carved for us. The constant care of a remembered people, carried by Him.
Chaqaq is thread and glue. For His spoken seed does not just grow, it binds us to His word. He has said. It is so. Always. Despite anything counter. Until the fulness of His word is displayed.
Was Isaiah ever not speaking of Christ? I think he always was. And so, the few words of Isaiah 49:16 foretell of an unfolding. When hands would open again, in word made flesh. Seed sprouted. The punctures in the palms of Christ, a sign of the extravagant enactment of every word ever. The gash of our graft, a cherished scar. Adoration poured out. Communion’s cut reminding that He was as close to God as He was to Himself. We are as close to God as we are to ourselves. We can be.
Palms and Psalms.
Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:5
Sab’a or “renewed” is a gift from God, for it bears the ability to be satisfied. What does it mean to be satisfied? I think David knew that answer well and divulged it to us. For he understood that satisfied is the parent of contentment and both are birthed through Pappa. He knew well, that on his own, he could produce the illegitimate child called discontent. As can we.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:10-12
David connected contentment with renewal. The Hebrew word for this renewal is chadesh. A renewed moon, a new year, a returning month, all leading to a restored covenant.
David cried for renewal, not repair. To make what once was into something new, again.
There is a nuance to this noting. David’s cry of “chadesh” implies a willingness to be set apart for holy purposes. It describes returning to the ancient, origin ways of God.
David didn’t seek a remodel, but a rebirth. A wider berth in which to recognize, praise and cling to God. He didn’t want to meet with God, but meld with Him. To see his satisfied state be midwifed by God, to contentment. He didn’t ask for gratification, but goodness. That which cannot be received without the within of Pappa.
My eyes are always directed toward Adonai, for He will free (pluck) my feet from the net. Psalm 25:15
How many times were David’s feet plucked from a place they need not be?
Pluck comes from the root yaresh and means, “to take possession of something, or an inheritance.”
When the enemy snares, he traps for the sole purpose of possessing. A trap such as this is dropped over the one being pursued. Doesn’t he always just want to have something to hold over us? The more the prey struggles, the more entangled it becomes and its chances of escape are less likely. The predator then carries its prey away from home, to unfamiliar territory.
But Pappa! He plucks us out of the net and takes possession of us. He removes us from what possesses us, so we might be possessed.
David understood awe. Dwelling within it changed his view of the world and he desired to return to it, for there was a greater rescue coming.
This is a mystery of awe. The awe of being restored. When we lose awe, restoration seems far.
Days, pass, and the years vanish,
Fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing.
Let there be moments when Your Presence,
Like lightening, illumines the darkness in which we walk.
Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed.
And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder,
“How filled with awe is this place. . .”
Jewish Sabbath Prayer Book
Awe is wild. Awe is dangerous. Awe releases the desires of Heaven. Awe is our undoing and weaving back together. Awe is not something we seek from Him. Awe is Him. Awe is God. It is what we become of Him. Awe moves and melds our soul back to spirit, replacing the shiver of fear with the tremble of praise.
One Hebrew word for awe is yare and means, “prepared, ready, prompted, equipped, completed, finished.”
Awe does not mean having tools in our tool belt and our ducks in a row. It means every jot and tittle is real inside of us. It means we can no longer keep ourselves from the everything of Him. It means to be finished, utterly undone, to the place that He can do all He intends, and it is your greatest desire no matter what it looks like. It is to be completed by the One with no end. Encounters are not the goal; being overtaken is. To be “in awe” means to be like Awe. To become the reflected manifestation of who He is.
Albert Einstein said:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed.”
We can be blind until we see His acts, yet how deeply and widely we truly see, at the sight of His face. We are meant to delight in His works and then stand in AWE. Rapt. Literally standing in who He is.
We ask for more. He wants it all. We want Him to come outwardly and do something. He wants to come from us inwardly and create something. He formed us in the inner court, yet we want to meet him in the outer. He says, “Do you want more of what I manifest or all of me?”
The true fear of the Lord, the awe, is to invite Him into every part of our life and ask Him, implore Him, to have His way within it, every day, that we might live renewed days, filled with awe.