By Robert Pristoop
SILVER SPRING, Md.—During the “High Holy Days,” Jewish people scramble to get to services to hear the sound of the Shofar for Yom Teruah as commanded in Scripture, to recite the prayer for the guilty at Yom Kippur and to eat in a Sukkah at Sukkoth. Even secular Jewish people are trying to get into synagogues. The problem is that Jewish congregations charge big money to attend the High Holy Day services–even as much as a tenth of one’s annual salary for the three services. That would be the equivalent to charging people a tithe to attend Christmas and Easter services.
Why would secular, nonreligious Jewish people want to hear the sounds of the shofar and attend services? Because there is a spiritual expectation that something big is going to happen. Jewish people will send out New Year cards for Yom Teruah because the Bible says that it is the head (Rosh) of the year (ha-shanah), hence why Jews call Yom Teruah Rosh HaShanah. Jewish people believe that God opens the Book of Life on Yom Teruah and thus begins Yamim Noraim (the days of awe). From Yom Teruah when the Book of Life opens, Jewish people believe that they have 10 days, the Days of Awe, to complete enough good works, charity and prayer that they will be added to the Book of Life for one more year. For in 10 short days, the Book of Life will close on Yom Kippur–the Day of Judgment and Atonement– and those who have not done enough good deeds, charity and prayer will not have their names added.
This is a great time of year to witness to Jewish people and to explain that God says that He will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31). The New Covenant is the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), born of the Seed of the woman and the Spirit of God (Genesis 3:15). Christians also can explain that the Lord is pouring out a spirit of supplication and they will look at God—whom they pierced and mourn for Him, as one mourns for a firstborn only son (Zechariah 12).
The Shofar will sound and the LORD will return (1Thess. 4). This is why their hearts have a great spiritual expectation at Yom Teruah, for the LORD will return at the sound of the Shofar! And then the LORD will judge the living and the dead (Yom Kippur). And finally the LORD will set up His earthly Kingdom and reign from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Sukkoth) just as prophesied.
The truth of the Jewish Messiah should fill your heart with boldness to witness to the Jewish people at this very spiritual time. The Jewish people have zeal without knowledge and truth. We have truth with knowledge. May the LORD God of Abraham add zeal to your truth and knowledge to change the world!
Robert Pristoop is pastor/rabbi of Mishkan HaShofar Congregation, Silver Spring. He is available to come to your church and explain Jewish festivals and share how you can share the truth of Jesus the Messiah with Jewish people. http://mishkanhashofar.org/ministry-page.