Parashat Haazinu (Listen!) Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:11-27, Micah 7:18-20
Shabbat Tshuvah (The Sabbath of Repentance)
Earlier this week, we celebrated Rosh HaShanah. Although this holiday relates to the Day of Judgment, according to the Rabbis there is a Biblical admonition to be joyful on this day. In the book of Nehemiah chapter 8, when the people heard the Torah being reading during this Festival, they were convicted of their sins and began to weep. Nehemiah calmed the people and told them not to be sad, but to eat and drink. In fact, he told them to drink sweet things in order to rejoice. If Rosh HaShanah is a joyful day, then why is it on the Shabbat immediately thereafter we read a song of Moses which is for the most part quite depressing?
Although it is true that most of this song recalls Israel’s unfaithfulness, there is a message of hope. By means of repentance and worship, HaShem will avenge Israel against her enemies and bring retribution upon those who persecute her (See Deuteronomy 32:43). What is highlighted in the end is the power of repentance. There is an interesting and accurate theology presented by Judaism to the people around Rosh HaShanah. During the Festival itself, HaShem is presented as the Righteous and Holy King. It is this reality that should cause people to reflect on their life and ask the questions, “Would a Righteous King accept me into His Kingdom? Would a Holy G-d be pleased with my actions?”
The answer is, in and of ourselves, absolutely NOT! However, part of the prayers which are said on Rosh HaShanah also relate to the G-d Who is full of mercy. This Shabbat is known as the Sabbath of Repentance. Is it not appropriate to set aside a day as a national time of repentance? (Actually, the 30 days prior to Rosh HaShanah begin a time of repentance and the 7 days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are a heightened time for repentance). Today, most preachers are afraid to offend and stay away from the issue of sin and the need of repentance. Contained in the second word of Rosh HaShanah is the Hebrew word that relates not only to “year” but its root means “change”. Most people do not want to hear that they need to change. Rosh HaShanah reminds us each year that G-d sees numerous areas in each of our lives that need to change. Messiah Yeshua entered into this world to die in order to bring about a change in people. A salvation experience is not the only change that Yeshua wants to see take place in you. Sanctification is an important work of the Holy Spirit that salvation positions the believer to begin. Sanctification is a process, it is rooted in the believer developing the fruits of the Spirit and exercising the gifts of the Spirit.
It is only when one lives out the fruit of repentance that he will stop grieving and hindering the empowering of the Holy Spirit. I hope that you heard the sounding of the Ram’s Horn (Shofar) on Rosh HaShanah. The Shofar reminds one of what HaShem has provided for life and His purposes to be fulfilled in His people.
L’Shanah Tovah and Shabbat Shalom.
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