by David Johnson
The fall festivals are quickly approaching, and here in Israel, there is anticipation building for these meaningful days. The fall festivals begin with the Feast of Trumpets, and ten days later, continue with the Fast of Atonement. This ten day period beginning this Sunday night is called the Ten Days of Awe, and it is a time of deep introspection and drawing closer to God. These upcoming days are truly beautiful and hold so much meaning for us, as disciples of Yeshua.
During this season, prayers of repentance called Slichot are prayed in synagogues around the world. These prayers are inspired by a special prayer that God taught to Moses, which was recorded in Exodus 34:6,7: “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth…’” This special prayer of intercession and worship is prayed to God multiple times a day during the Ten Days of Awe in the Jewish community. Meditating on this passage and praying through it can be especially meaningful as we hear God calling us closer to Himself at this time of year.
Moses had quite an experience of repentance and forgiveness on Mount Sinai. Similarly, my son and I had an interesting experience scaling a mountain a few years ago, and through it, I learned about repentance. On a beautiful fall day, my two year old son and I took an adventurous hike up to the magnificent desert fortress of Masada, close to the Dead Sea. At the beginning of the hike, my son was having the time of his life up on my shoulders – just him and daddy, hiking up a huge mountain… Half way up Masada, my son realized that he was very far from his mother, who had stayed at the bottom, and he started to cry, “I want Mommy!” Realizing that my son needed a morale boost, I convincingly said, “If we can climb all the way to the top of the mountain, there will be snacks for us there…” He thought carefully about what I told him, and soon he started to remind me that if Daddy could make it to the top of the mountain, we would get some special treats. Daddy really needed the encouragement, because a few steps from the top of the mountain, I nearly collapsed from exhaustion. The arduous journey up the mountain was well worth the effort however; my son and I got to relax and eat our treats together while taking in the breathtaking view from the top of Masada.
What can you take away from my mountain climbing experience, and how does it connect to repentance? Firstly, remember that when you hear God calling you to repentance, you may desire to stay somewhere that feels safe and familiar to you, like my son wanted to go back down the mountain to Mommy. Don’t stop; press onward and upward! Secondly, realize that during the journey of repentance, you are not alone, but like my son riding on my shoulders, you’re riding on the shoulders of your Messiah, and He’s exerting most of the effort on your behalf. Finally, stay focused on the reward of repentance, because at the top of this difficult climb, there’s a great reward waiting for you and for me.
Join us in the vineyards for the first harvest day with the new 6-week group of volunteers!
by Drew Parsons
A tender leaf with glistening dew
A cluster of grapes dusted with blue
This vine I behold before my eyes
Is witnessing yet another sunrise
It’s life is not easy nor without toil
As its roots strive to thrive in the rocky soil
The experts said it could never be done
An impossible feat for anyone
But I kind of wonder what those experts would say
If they saw this flourishing vineyard today
Grapes hanging full on a robust vine
Vats overflowing with miraculous wine
This vine’s existence truly brings joy
For many have attempted to kill and destroy
But somehow it manages to always survive
Reminding us the promise of God is alive
This particular vine you may wonder about
What is so special that I’ve singled it out?
Yes, perhaps it has nothing special to show
After all, there’s a hundred in just this row
But there’s a question I ponder in my mind
An answer that I would love to find
Could this be the vine that Jeremiah saw?
As he proclaimed to the people the truth of God’s law?
Though at the time he was treated with scorn and derision
He boldly declared what he saw in his vision
So what if this vine, that’s now softly lit by the sun
Is the one spoken of in Jeremiah 31?
This thought only stirs and strengthens my heart
To boldly stand and take my part
In the work that needs to be done today
To hasten the time when His glory will stay
So though we may be working by the ton
Remember that each vine could be the one
That the prophets saw in days gone by
As they were given the gift to prophesy
So the question is what are you going to do
Now that you’ve seen God’s promise come true?
He’s bringing redemption to this very Land
And it’s time to stop slumbering and take a stand
Is there a correlation between first fruits, giving charity, blessings, curses and martyrdom? You will be exhorted, challenged and inspired as you listen to this episode where Zac ties it all together!