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Summary: The Days of Awe are a time for repentance, reconciliation & restoration. Humanity & nature are on a collision course. People are living in a shattered present, stumbling toward a shattered future & longing for the restoration of an elusive hope.

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The Days of Awe 2008

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah (beginning at sundown on Monday September 29th) and Yom Kippur (ending at sundown on Thursday, October 9th) are known as the Days of Awe, Yameem Nora-eem.

The root word of nora-eem is the Hebrew word yare. Yare means to be afraid, to fear, to revere, to have a positive feeling of reverence for God. We see the word used in Genesis 3:10 And he [Adam] said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.

The midwives feared God and saved the male Israelite babies. Exodus 1:17

Moses hid his face from God on Mount Sinai, for he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. I Samuel 12:24

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Psalm 33:8

We are right now in the middle of the Ten Days of Awe, ten days of fearing God. This is a time to focus on God, and His Awesomeness. It is a time to focus on the awesome things that God has done for us. The foremost being the shedding of the precious blood of Yeshua Jesus. In Him, all things are new. He is Awesome, Forgiving, Merciful, loving & good. He is working all things together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

A parallel word to yare is guwr. It can mean to stand in awe, to be in awe, to be afraid, to dread, to fear. But it can also mean to sojourn, to dwell, to remain, to inhabit, abide.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Psalm 33:8

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

More than the rituals that embrace this holy day are the truths that God desires to drill into our spirits: am I truly submitting to God? Do I approach His holy gathering place as adamat kodesh - holy ground? Or do I approach Him as my shopping-list granter? Is He just my sounding board? Do I invite Him as an honored Guest when I conduct my own private pity party?

A traditional theme of the Days of Awe is that God maintains a Divine Book of Life, known as the Sefer Chaim, in which our individual fate for the next year is recorded: who shall live and who shall die, who shall have a good life and who shall not for the next year. This concept of Divine Inscription is the source of the common greeting during this complex, festive and spiritually awesome period: l’shanah tovah tika-tay-vu which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!"

Traditional Jewish belief says that these inscriptions in this Book of Life are made on Rosh Hashanah, but redemption is possible during the Days of Awe, depending on our actions offered to God in good faith. We may alter God’s potentially negative decrees. There are 3 types of actions that may change these adverse decrees:

teshuvah -- true, heartfelt repentance;

tefilah -- solemn prayer; and

tzedakah -- righteous acts/good deeds, especially, charity in its various forms

The Book of Life is sealed on Yom Kippur, just before sundown, after which Gods decrees for the upcoming year are fixed.

In Rabbi Alan Lew’s book, This is Real & You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation, he writes about how the Days of Awe are an opportunity for us to experience brokenheartedness in a deep way, that opens us up to compassion, to action and to faith. He writes, of the human condition, of our mortality and of our capacity for loss: This is very real and absolutely inescapable. And we are truly, utterly unprepared. We have nothing to offer God and each other but ourselves, and our brokenness… and thankfully, the hope of Jesus. That will be enough.

Humanity and nature are on a continuous collision course. In just the last few years, people in Pakistan had to dig their loved ones out of rubble; people in Nicaragua had to dig their loved ones out of mud; people in Indonesia are still recovering from the disappearance of over 100,000 men, women and children as entire villages disappeared into the sea; people in New Orleans and the Galveston area are still reclaiming their flooded lives in the aftermath of Katrina and Ike. All of those people are reaching through despair, living in a shattered present, stumbling toward a shattered future, longing for the restoration of an elusive hope.

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