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The Book of Life.

“May your name be written and sealed in the Book of Life”

Today marks the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the “Head of the Year”. It’s the Jewish New Years. Among the prayers and celebration with apples and honey, shouts of Shanah Tovah and blasts from the majestic shofar, there is a remembrance of the beginning of all things. It is believed to be the anniversary of the very day that God took some dirt from the earth, and breath from His mouth and formed humanity in His very image. In his very image He made them, right down to the soul that craved an intimate relationship with their Creator.

It was days of favor with their God. It was days of eating fruit and honey with their Maker (although none from the one forbidden tree that stood silhouetted in the middle of the garden). It was days of walking and talking in the cool of the day with the Lover of their souls. It was days of the will of God and the Kingdom of God ruling and reigning on this earth. The will of God was simply living in relationship with His children. It was living in the love that was not taken by force, but by choice. He was their God and they were His people. It was a time of love.

One week from now we will find another of the high holidays of the Jewish people. Yom Kippur is quite a different celebration from this joyful celebration of life and blessing. While many of the other holidays are days of feasting, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting. In fact the word “holiday” is a hard pressed definition of this day of somber repentance and historically sacrifice. A closer translation would be “an appointment with God”. This is a day where a choice would be honored. This is a day where a decision must be made and a direction must be followed. This is a day that will begin a season of blessing or cursing. However at the core of it is the reality of love. Love is not always apples and honey. Love sometimes is torn flesh and shedding of blood.

We know from the story that Adam and Eve eventually wanted more sweetness than honey would bring them, and they wanted stranger fruit than what the Tree of Life would offer. They wanted to taste what it would be like to be their own gods. With their decision the Kingdom of man usurped the Kingdom of God on this earth. Love dictated that they would have the choice, and the Creator dictated that they would have the authority. The time of love was overtaken by a time of death. However this wasn’t the wish or the will of the Father.

From the early days of Abraham He set up a foreshadow of a master plan, and thus Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement was begun. It was only on this day, after a lengthy time of preparation and repentance could Aaron and his descendants enter into the Holy of Holies to pour the blood of goats and bulls onto the Mercy Seat beside the Ark of the Covenant. Even then the smoke from the incense fogged the room creating distance between the Creator and His beloved. The blood of the sacrifice would symbolize the choice the people were making to follow their God and repent from their sins. Even then, their sin separated them from God in much the same way the veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.

Two goats were to be chosen and lots cast over them. One goat would be sacrificed and it’s blood would fall upon the Mercy Seat. The other goat would be symbolic. The sins of all the people would be placed upon it and it would be sent out from them, forsaken to die broken and alone, symbolically carrying the sins of all the people.

One of the most interesting parts of the Day of Atonement is the wish one would give to another.

“May your name be written and sealed in the Book of Life”

This would be heard over and again during the season between these two holidays; the element that would connect these seemingly contrasting holidays like an umbilical cord. This is the time of the Days of Awe.

It began at the base of Mount Sinai. Thirty days have passed since they had seen Moses go up for the second time, and there hasn’t been a sign that he was still alive. Who knows what God would do to him when he had to ask AGAIN for the law of the covenant be written on the stones for the people. The last time they had grown weary of waiting to hear what the Lord’s will was, and sought to have their own will by creation of the golden calf. That Day of the Lord was swift and horrible. It’s a scary thing to be in rebellion in the hands of a just God.

However the choice was still theirs. They could follow God or they could follow their own way. They could seek the will of their Creator or seek their own. Just as Adam and Eve stood before the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and made a choice, they had one to make also. In ten days Moses would be back and the choice would have to be made and then set in stone, quite literally. What would they choose?

Years later Joshua would reiterate the choice that they had when he decreed, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Ten Days of Awe are the days bridging the celebration of Rosh Hashanah and the time of active repentance during the Day of Atonement. It is days where the majesty and promises of God must be observed, weighed, accepted or rejected. It was believed that this time hold the fate of the entire year. A decision to reject the Lord’s will would lead to a time of cursing. However a decision to put the will of God first would lead to having their name written in God’s book of life. Not only written but SEALED. For at the end of the Ten Days of Awe it was believed, the Book of Life would be closed and not opened again for another year. The time of decision would end. The chose and fate would seal. They would go from a time of grace to a time of consequence. If their name was missing, their hope was too. If their name was written, it could not be removed. It was sealed by the very hand of God.

And thus the wish that was given to one another from the days of celebration in the new year to the days of repentance and atonement where the blood dripped off of the Mercy Seat…

“Shana Tovah U’Metukah!”

“May your name be written and sealed in the Book of Life”

Jesus stood in his hometown Synagogue and read from the Book of Isaiah. He read about the year of the Lord’s Favor. This was the season of time lead by the Spirit of the Lord where the good news was given to those who were in need of it; where the prisoner was free, the blind could finally see and those under an oppression were released. After all, who the Son sets free is free indeed. He proclaimed the same season or “year” as was spoken about in the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. It was a year of the grace and will of God as the Kingdom of God was being returned in the earth. He declared this ultimate “year of jubilee” was beginning in their very midst, and quoted the prophecy from Isaiah 61:1-2.

…However he didn’t quote ALL the prophecy. In fact he stopped mid-sentence!

He declared the YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR but did not yet declare the DAY OF THE LORD.

The year of the Lords Favor was the season where the choice was going to be put before the people. It was the time of blessing and freedom for those who faced the same decision that Adam and Eve faced, once again deciding to be part of the Kingdom of Man or the Kingdom of God. It is a season of AWE where we decide what to do with the gift of choice once more given to us.

You see the veil keeping us from the Holy of Holies has been split just as Christ’s body was broken. It opened the way for all into the presence of God once again. No longer did the Spirit of God dwell in tents or temples but was available to all who called on Him. Jesus Himself was to be the chosen sacrifice and lots cast over his clothes as he hung on the cross. One Savior would be sacrificed and his blood would fall upon God’s Mercy Seat. It was more than symbolic. The sins of all the people would be placed upon him and he would be sent out from them, forsaken to die broken and alone, carrying the sins of all.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23)

The choice is ours. During these days of the Year of the Lord’s Favor, we can choose the favor of the Lord and His Kingdom, or the will of our own in the Kingdom of Man. However one day, the book will close and we will pass from the Year of the Lords favor where grace and forgiveness reign to the time where the season becomes the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord is thought to only be destruction and judgment and apocalypse. However it is simply this… the day where we go from having a choice to haven chosen. On that day we are in the hands of the Living God. We go from having the choice of having our name written in the Book of Life, to having the Book of Life closed. What is written is written. It will be that day where the will and Kingdom of God is restored to its fullness, just as it was in the Garden during the days of apples and honey. The book will be opened and read allowed; the book that has the names of all who pledged their life to the Lamb of God.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:22-27)

So my friends, enjoy these days of apples and honey. Blow majestically on the shofar as we enter the days where a choice must be made and walked out. Chose wisely and well. Choose life and we shall enjoy together this season of love once again as we walk and talk with our Creator in the cool of the day. My friend, one more wish I have for you while the pen is still writing and grace is still flowing like honey, and that is this…

“May your name be written and sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life”

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