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Teshuvah & the 10 Days of Awe
an article by Joel Allen
We are in the season known as Teshuvah. This occurs every year in the Hebrew month Elul and usually falls in the summer month of August. Teshuvah is a period of time between Elul 1 and Yom Kippur that is a traditional observance calling God’s people into repentance and returning back to the Father’s heart. Typically this season is called a 40 day journey of repentance and reflection on your life for the past year as you head toward Yom Kippur, which is also known as Yom Hadin or the “day of judgment.” Most scholars agree that the Messiah Yeshua is coming again in the fall season of Holy Days according to the Biblical calendar. So the timing of God’s people returning to Him in prayer, worship, and repentance right before His return I believe is quite remarkable and timely. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of this very meaningful but traditional observance of the Jewish people?
So I wanted to share with you in this article some treasures that I have come to know about Teshuvah as I have been observing it for a while now and have been blessed, along with my family as a result. Also what I have found is that this season is not always exactly 40 days depending on the calendar but is mostly 39 days but is always referred to as 40 days according to the Rabbis. Sometimes we see this in scripture where a rounding of numbers takes place. For instance when Yeshua sent out the 70 disciples to preach the kingdom it was actually 72 according to many scholars, and some translations still translate it as 72 instead. Okay moving on…
You will notice in the chart I made above that Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) falls within the days of Teshuvah. In fact, it falls on the first day of Tishrei or the seventh Hebrew month. Traditionally, this day is called in Judaism, Rosh Hashanah, which means the head of the year and is one of four New Years celebrated in Judaism. However, according to Leviticus 23 this Feast day is known as Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets or the Feast of Blowing. From Yom Teruah to Yom Kippur is 10 days and marks the final 10 days of Teshuvah. These 10 days are traditionally referred to as the “10 Days of Awe.” These are the most intense days of fasting, praying, and repenting leading up to the climax of return, which is Yom Kippur. This was a time that traditionally though t that YHVH would draw His ear close for the prayers of the repentant.[Isa 55:6 ESV] 6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
It was on Yom Kippur that the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) would enter into the Holiest of Holies and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, as an atonement for the nation of Israel. This could only happen one time a year on Yom Kippur. Traditionally it has been taught that on Yom Teruah the Books of Remembrance before YHVH were opened and you were inscribed in the book if your deeds were righteous but you would not be inscribed if you did not repent of your wickedness. These 10 days of Awe were the time of Judgment with the books opened but once Yom Kippur closed at sunset the books were closed for another year. It was during Yom Kippur that men would traditionally tear their outer coats in an outward sign of repentance and mourning and place ashes on their heads. Some would beat their chests violently in a show of repentance and pain. It is the Prophet Joel that saw hypocrisy in what the religious men were doing as they were only doing the outward things to be seen of men while their hearts were still full of wickedness.[Joe 2:12-13 ESV] 12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”
How do we know this is talking about Teshuvah and Yom Kippur? We can see that YHVH is called His people back to Him with weeping and fasting. We can also look at the Hebrew word for “return” used twice in these verses. It is the Hebrew word “shuv” (שׁוּב shuwb) which is Strong’s number H7725 and is the three letter verbal root for Teshuvah.
With Teshuvah the theme is always drawing near to God so that He will draw near to you. It is the step we make first. He doesn’t draw near to us but we draw near to Him first and then He comes running just like the Prodigal Son’s Father when he saw his wayward son return, coming just over the hilltop. The Prodigal Son’s Father never went to the pig pen pleading with his son while he was in his rebellion and sin. However, the moment the son realized his sin he made Teshuvah and the Father ran to him. Listen to the words of James as he talks about this season:[Jas 4:6-10 ESV] 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Here is where it gets really interesting… Do you know what constellation is in the sky during Teshuvah? No I am not advocating the horoscope or star readings but I do believe that the stars, including the constellations were named by YHVH and He placed them and named them to tell a story…[Psa 147:4 ESV] 4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
The constellation clearly seen in the sky during Teshuvah is called Virgo, the Virgin Maiden. Also known in Hebrew as Betullah. Why am I bringing this up you may ask? The Month Elul is named so because of a Hebrew acronym which spells out:[Sng 6:3 ESV] 3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…” Which in Hebrew is Ani, L’dodi, V’dodi, Li
E- alef- Ani
L- Lamed- L’dodi
U- Vav- V’dodi
L- Lamed- Li
Jeremiah 31:21 … Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.”
We can clearly see that the stars point to a Virgin Maiden during a season that God is calling for His Bride to shuv or return to Him. What’s even more remarkable is that the constellation that precedes Virgo is Leo, or the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!!! It is as if He is pursuing His bride in the sky during this season. And if that wasn’t enough, the next constellation is Libra, or the Scales of Judgment. Remember that the Bride is making Teshuvah and it ends on Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment! Wow. Isn’t our God amazing to leave us so many witnesses to His sovereign ways and plan? I hope this season you will join us and the Jewish people making Teshuvah. I pray it will never be a show but a time of true repentance as we prepare for the Return of the King!