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Vayikra/Leviticus 23:24 In the seventh month, the first of the month will be to you a shabbat of remembering
The Mishnah tells us that this reading: Vayikra 23:23-25 used to be the designated reading for Yom Teruah (m. Megillah 3:5), while what is now the more usual reading, B'resheet 21, was the alternate (t. Megillah 4:6). Why is remembering so important on this day and what is it that we are to remember? Rabbi Eliezer taught: "The creation of the world began on the 25th day of Elul" (Pesikta de Rab Kahana 23:1). This would place the creation of mankind on Yom Teruah and the Pesikta goes on to suggest that HaShem's commandment not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (B'resheet 2:16-17), Adam's breaking that commandment (3:6-7) and G-d's subsequent judgement (3:17-19) - the first judgement recorded in the Torah - all took place on the same day. The Pesikta puts these words in G-d's mouth: "Even as you [Adam] came into My presence for judgement this day and went forth free, so will your children come into My presence for judgement this day and go forth free. When? [Each year,] in the seventh month, in the first day of the month."
The rabbinic world focuses on Yom Teruah and the Days of Awe that follow it, up until Yom HaKippurim, as being the time each year when HaShem judges Israel. On Yom Teruah the books are opened, those who are clearly good are written in the book of life, those who are clearly bad are written in the book of death, and the remainder - the majority - have the ten Days of Awe to balance their accounts with the Almighty before the final dispositions take place and the books are sealed for the year on Yom HaKippurim. All through the preceding month of Elul our people have been preparing to repent, as the single blast of the shofar at the end of the morning service each day reminds us that Yom Teruah is approaching. So each year we remember G-d's coming judgement; we remember our sin and our need to repent and seek His forgiveness as well as reconciliation and restitution with our fellow man; we remember that in His mercy, although Adam and Chava were expelled from Gan Edan, HaShem allowed them to live and have children, and promised in time to redeem them and restore all things.
How much more so, then, as believers in Messiah Yeshua should we remember G-d's mercy and grace that has been poured out for us! Yeshua said, "Yes, indeed! I tell you that whoever hears what I am saying and trusts the One who sent Me has eternal life - that is, he will not come up for judgement but has already crossed over from death to life!" (John 5:24, CJB). We do not have the uncertainty of wondering whether our names are written in the book of life, or whether we will have settled our accounts by Yom HaKippurim, for we already know that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life and that our account - however hopelessly overdrawn - has been settled in full by Yeshua. For us, though we too need to repent of any sin that we commit, the shofar is not a call to judgement, but a call to freedom, into G-d's presence, knowing that we have already been forgiven.
Further Study: John 11:25-27; Romans 8:1
Application: As we approach and enter the High Holy Days this year, it is good to spend time remembering our conduct during the past year, the times when we have sinned and let G-d down, and repent of those things before Him. It is also important to remember that in Messiah Yeshua we already have complete forgiveness, the moment we truly repent and turn to Him.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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