Devotional: Days of Awe

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Sundown Next Sunday night , September 27, begins one of the holiest days of the Jewish people, Yom Kippur. As a child, I remember my father faithfully observed this Holy day. He fasted, he went to the shul (synagogue) unshaven, and from sundown to sunset, he prayed. If I defined my father’s religion by how he observed this one holiday, I would have called him a good Jew.

However, there was one practice that my dad never did; he never forsook wearing his leather shoes on Yom Kippur. The Rabbis tell us that wearing leather shoes is forbidden on Yom Kippur. They note that the wearing of leather illustrates one’s submission over animals. Yet on Yom Kippur, one is to be wholly submissive to God alone. We are not to express our dominion over anything, so the wearing of leather shoes is forbidden.

More than the rituals that embrace this holy day are the truths that God desires to drill deep into our spirits: am I truly submitting to God? Do I approach His holy gathering place as adamant kodesh – holy ground? Do I approach Him as my shopping-list granter? Is He just my sounding board? Is He the Sole Guest at my personal private pity party?

These ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 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, and to have a positive feeling of reverence for God. We see the word used in various scriptures:

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. Genesis 3:10

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

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

“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” — Joshua 4:23-24

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 stan
d in awe of Him. Ps.33:8

Since these are the Ten Days of Awe, Ten days of fearing God, I have tried to focus not inwardly as numerous readings have exhorted me to do. No, I have been focusing on God, and His Awesomeness. Ten days of trying to see God’s Awe, so much so, that I would love to call this time ‘Ten days of Ahhhhhhh”. This has been liberating.
If I focus on me and my badness, I feel worse! What can wash away my sins?
Nothing I can do.
I can’t apologize enough to all those whom I have hurt.
Nothing
Nothing, but the blood of Yeshua.
In Him, all things are new.
He is Awesome
He is Forgiving
He is Merciful
He is loving
He is good
He is working all things together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Try as I may, I cannot search my spirit to know how I have hurt others, but by the Power of His Spirit, He will bring to light the things that are hidden, He does perfect work (Psalm 138:8).
A parallel word to yare is guwr. It can mean to stand in awe, be be in awe, to be afraid, to dread, to fear. However, 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.
Ps.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


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