Season of repentance

At this stage in our existence of as nation, there is much that is worthy of criticism. But there is a time for everything. Sometimes we need to look away from what is wrong and look for what is right, if there is anything that is right. Paul wrote an interesting letter to his brothers, thus: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

The Hebrew Scriptures point to a sacred period that is indispensable to the spiritual well-being of the people who worship YHWH, the God of the bible. But such worshippers are not alone. We are now a country of many religions, and some among us have no religion. It is wonderful to have the power of choice.

Regardless of what we believe, according to biblical writings, the people of YHWH were instructed that they should forever acknowledge his programme that explained his mind of fellowship and conferred his blessings. Those among us who adhere to the Jewish religion, as well as those who follow the Scriptures, are in the midst of an especially sacred period, described by Jews as the Days of Awe. For them, this is a season of repentance.

The ten Days of Awe started on the first day of the seventh month of the biblical calendar, this year, sunset September 30, 2019 to sunset October 1, 2019, and will end
with Yom Kippur, sunset October 8, 2019 to sunset October 9, 2019. Put more familiarly, the ten days of repentance stretch from the Feast of Trumpets to the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:24-32 speak to these two appointments. It should not be lost on us that this chapter starts out by saying that it is identifying the times that God established for his people to meet with him.

The first day of the month of Tishri, or the seventh biblical month, was reserved as a Sabbath to remember the blowing of trumpets. The blowing of trumpets was the means by which attention was drawn to announcements that were to follow. Loud trumpeting was heard on Mount Sinai before the Commandments were given. Orthodox Jews do not, but believers who accept that Yeshua was the messiah of Israel, expect that trumpets will signal his return. The Book of Revelation underlines this belief. As a result, this event is associated with the coming of the messiah, whether for the first or second time.

The holy days that follow the Feast of Trumpets emphasise the importance of this period. The first day of the month is the Feast of Trumpets. On the tenth day of the same month is the Day of Atonement. On the fifteenth day of the same month begins the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. This latter feast is also called Ingathering. When one considers the significance of what is represented by these three appointments, one awesome picture of deliverance emerges.

God’s appointed times are called Jewish festivals because these were primarily the people who observed them. However, from what I have read, it seems that the teachings and instructions of God are to be followed by all who join themselves to him. We have been bombarded with the idea that these eternal observances are no longer relevant.

This is a view that calls for selective reading of the bible, for even when God is reigning as King over the earth, celebrating the Feast of Booths will be mandatory. Or so Zechariah 14 tells us.

In the absence of the Jerusalem temple, observing God’s appointed times is a matter of reflection to understand his plan and applying their principles to our lives to the extent that this is still possible. His annual Sabbaths are a road map for a journey that is not yet complete.

A few people in Barbados are doing splendidly, but there are many more who are struggling. Experience and observation suggest that many of the strugglers are counted among our religious community. When religious people are out of options, they usually look to their religion to carry them. The state of things in Barbados now gives them a lot to pray about. They may consider obeying what the Scriptures say rather than their tradition and see if help may be available.

Every now and again we have ecumenical services in which prayers are offered for the nation. Maybe it is time for individuals to consider personal introspection; self-examination. And if the mirror shows us the need for it, self-correction.

There is a popular belief that once one accepts Yeshua as one’s saviour, all sins are forgiven and one is saved forever. Your sins have all been paid for, hence, there can be no need for further repentance. That is a comfortable mental place, but again, one has to read the writings very selectively to hold to that view. Permit me to use a story from the Greek letters to posit another view.

There was news that a tower fell and killed a number of people. Yeshua used that news to teach his followers a principle of repentance. He cautioned them that the people who died in the tower incident were not more sinful than other people. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish,” he said.

My Christian sister told me that religion sets rules but Jesus sets free. For the last two weeks I have been waiting for her response to my question: free from what? One supposes it could only be freedom from the teachings and instructions of his father.

Nothing written here is of any relevance to persons who do not believe in God or what is written in the bible. There are people who believe in a creator but do not subscribe to any biblical or other religious philosophy. Given how religion has been used against our people, some see this as a safe place to be. But one suspects that that profile does not apply to most Barbadians. Those persons who claim to be of some faith have a different responsibility to themselves and their brethren.

This is the perfect time for persons of faith to reach out to their God for the benefit of our nation. But they must be careful to ask for the right thing. There are times when God will give you what you ask for, even if it is not what is best for you. For example, when Israel called for a king, he gave them Saul, a man with whom they were impressed. Saul was later stripped of the kingdom and lost his life.

Our people who prayer should intercede for the deliverance of our country from the current morass in which it finds itself. Seek YHWH when he may be found.

Barbados Advocate

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