Prior to making our recent big move out of state, my wife and I would get together with two other couples to play some games and fellowship with each other. These would be times filled with a lot of laughter, talking, and joking around. At times someone would share an experience that was or could be hurtful to them, experiences by people within our little group or by others we would cross paths with from day to day. As time went by a particular catch phrase began to be echoed more and more amongst us, and that catch phrase was “let it go”. The idea behind this little phrase was simple, let go of that hurt or hurtful situation before it has a chance to breed bitterness and resentment. The last thing any of us wanted for ourselves or each other was to be hurt and offended in any way that could harden our hearts and hurt the witness of Christ in our lives towards others.
What a phrase! Recently, while preparing to teach an adult Sunday school class before our big move, I was remembering this phrase in light of our relationship with Christ. More specifically, our relationship with Christ as we see the day of His return for His bride approaching more and more closely each day. In my preparations I was specifically looking at the Jewish feast, Rosh Hashanah, or as some know it the Feast of Trumpets, and the 30 day period of time that precedes this feast each year. For those who are not aware of it, Rosh Hashanah for the Christian represents the rapture of the church, the bride of Christ. A lot can be said of this feast and also of the rapture of the church, but that is not the focus of this post. What I want to focus on is the period of time that precedes this feast and how it relates to the Christian.
The 30 day period of time that precedes Rosh Hashanah is called Teshuvah. Actually, this period of time actually lasts for 40 days, but the last ten days follow Rosh Hashanah and end on the next Jewish feast, Yom Kippur. The word Teshuvah is often times translated as repentance, and while repentance is the theme of this 40 day period of time, the tone changes significantly after Rosh Hashanah.
The first 30 days of Teshuvah is a time when people are to re-evaluate their lives, repent and turn from sin and wrong living, forgive and seek forgiveness from others, all in preparation for the judgment that was to come on Rosh Hashanah. Judgment on Rosh Hashanah? Yes. For the Jew, Rosh Hashanah is when God separates the wholly righteous from the wholly wicked and the intermediates, or those who are lukewarm and on the fence. The idea of the first 30 days of repentance was to be judged worthy to escape the remaining 10 days of Teshuvah, days that no one would want to willingly go through if they really knew what was in store for those who remained. Jesus tells us as His followers to do the same thing in Luke 21:34-36, to watch and pray that we are counted worthy to escape that which is coming. On several occasions Jesus tells us to watch and pray, and in Revelation 16:15, right in the middle of John’s account of the judgments of the tribulation period, Jesus tells us that those who watch are blessed and not ashamed and found naked. As Christians we are to be making sure we are ready for when Jesus comes for His bride, which is imminent and can happen any day. When I think of this I am reminded of the parable of the 10 virgins, where five were foolish and five were wise. In this parable it is mentioned that there was a time when the 10 virgins needed to trim their lamps. This trimming of the lamps is closely associated with this first 30 days of Teshuvah, and because the five foolish were not prepared they were left behind and denied entrance to the wedding.
The remaining 10 days of Teshuvah, known also as the “days of awe”, for the Jew is a time when people through their works can either get their names changed and entered into the book of life, or seal up their fate of eternal death and damnation. For the Christian, this is a time when those who want to have relationship with God and spend eternity with Him in heaven must literally give their lives unto death for Jesus and His kingdom. The parallels between the Jews observance of these feast days and the Christians view of end time events is amazing.
Okay, back to the phrase “let it go”. In looking at the first 30 days of Teshuvah, a period of time when we are to prepare for Rosh Hashanah or for the Christian the rapture of the church, I’m reminded of the words of the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 12:1-2, the writer tells us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Basically, he is telling us to “let it go”. As we prepare for the return of Christ for His bride, we need to let go of anything that weighs us down and the sin that so easily trips us up. We all have areas that we struggle with. It could be areas that are easily seen by others, or it could be the secret sins we hide. It could be misplaced priorities and loyalties in life, or it could be the hidden attitudes of hatred, prejudice, and jealousy. It could be critical and judgmental attitudes, or the “big” sins of alcoholism, drugs, and sexual immorality. It could be that of complaining, murmuring and gossip, or it could be attitudes of greed, self-centeredness, and pride. Whatever it is, as we see the ever approaching time of His return it is vitally important for us to “let it go”, whatever that “it” is in our lives.
For the Jew, the 40 days of Teshuvah begins in just a few days, but for the Christian we are in that period of time now. This isn’t the time to be playing Russian roulette with eternity by not taking this seriously and risk being unprepared for His return. Even the Jews recognize they need to be prepared so that they will not have to experience the remaining 10 days of Teshuvah, and like them we don’t want to be left to go through the tribulation period that is soon to come. The theme scripture the Jews have for these 40 days of Teshuvah is found in Isaiah 55:6.
6 Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Isa 55:6 (NKJV)