Judgement and the New Year

Today (September 5) is the beginning of a new year by the biblical calendar. The festival that commemorates this new beginning is called Rosh Hashana, which literally means "head of the year." The biblical new year always begins with ten days of reexamining your heart; these days are called Yamim Noraim, which means "the days of awe." According to Jewish tradition (Mishnah), it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. So during these days, texts about God's amazing desire to forgive and restore repentant sinners are read in the synagogues. According to the Mishnah, these are the days to put your relationship with God right. The ten days of awe end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Judgement and forgiveness are the key words that describe these days.

Most likely, John references this feast in chapter 5 of his Gospel when he writes about Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda. After Jesus heals him, he states that, from that point on, judgement is given to him and the judgment will be performed by him (John 5:22).

People in the time of Jesus were terrified because the ten days would commemorate the judgement, but Jesus in John 5:24 says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."

God has an enormous desire to forgive and restore relationships with sinners; the Bible constantly reminds us of this:


“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13)

Nowhere else was God's desire to forgive and restore manifested better than on the Cross. So, if you celebrate the New Year, Rosh Hashana, or any other kind of new beginning, think about God's great desire to share a new beginning with you.

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