Right about now, the Israeli people–along with other Jews worldwide–are beginning the annual observance of the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur, also called ‘The Day of Atonement’. Yom Kippur is a solemn day. It’s a time for personal reflection and prayer. Those who are not physically unable are commanded by God to fast as each confesses sins against God and their fellow man. Tradition says that God opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah (Tishrei 1) and inscribes each person’s eternal ‘fate’ (remember this is the tradition). On Yom Kippur, God makes these entries permanent. In other words, each name can be ‘erased’, if the person is not repentant during the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In fact, you might think of Yom Kippur as the last chance to make your name permanent (for a year, at least).
Now, as a Christian, I do not believe that this is how one finds eternal life. But let’s stay with what most practicing Jews believe for a moment. A major part of Yom Kippur services includes the reading of the Book of Jonah. Even rabbis admit that this is an odd choice for such a solemn occasion. It struck me as odd while reading various news articles and blogs about Yom Kippur today.
Then I made a connection.
Jesus Christ (the Messiah that most in Judaism have missed–may many find His truth soon!) referred to the book of Jonah while condemning the Jewish religious leaders of the 1st century BC. It’s found in Matthew 12, beginning with verse 38:
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [is] here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon [is] here.
Jesus knew that His incarnation as the Messiah would be completely missed by the descendants of Israel–and in particular the scribes and Pharisees to whom he gave this ‘sign’. Nearly everyone missed the truth that Christ did indeed spend three days in the belly of the earth before rising to proclaim the end to death and sin for those who choose to follow Him.
Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of Israel, died for all people of the world–no matter what religion one practices. Christ died for all men and women–all we need do is choose to repent of our sins and accept that free gift.
This year, as the Jewish families of this present world pause to reflect upon their sins, let us pray that some at least will have their eyes opened to the Lamb Who bore ALL the sins of the world upon His righteous shoulders when He died on Calvary. For there is no other way to eternal life than through Christ Jesus.
Woe to any man or woman who realizes too late that even Nineveh chose more wisely than they. Woe to any man or woman who finds, to his or her dismay and ultimate and eternal despair, that even the Queen of Sheba chose more wisely.
And may we all remember that He is coming again–soon. Are you ready? Even so come, Lord Jesus.