Regardless of one’s theology or beliefs about what is summarized below there is no question that humanity is at a point of extreme crisis on numerous fronts, and that many people – based (rightly or wrongly) on their personal beliefs about these things — will make decisions in the next few weeks that will influence the course of history, perhaps profoundly. And since we Christians are under a Biblical mandate to always pray and repent, this seems an especially appropriate time to do so corporately. I will be making a special effort to focus my own spiritual life on prayer and repentance for 40 days and I invite you to join me.
On Monday there will be a total eclipse of the sun exclusively over America, just as the Hebrew calendar enters a 40 day period of repentance corresponding to the period when God forgave the Hebrews for the sin of the Golden Calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. That begins with the first day of the thirty-day month of Elul and ends with a period called the Ten Days of Awe, the first through the tenth day of the month of Tishri. In Hebrew tradition, it is in this ten day period that God decides whether one’s name is written in the Book of Life or the Book of Death.
Many people are aware of the Biblical significance of a term of 40 days or years as a period of testing and preparation: Moses’ repentance and prayer for the Hebrews before they entered the Holy Land (Deuteronomy 9:18-29), Elijah’s spiritual preparation on the road to Mt. Horeb to meet God (1 Kings 19:7-18), Goliath’s testing of the armies of God before David arrived to slay him (1 Samuel 17:4-26), Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness before launching His ministry (Matthew 4:1-17) are a few examples.
Less commonly recognized is the Biblical significance of the term of ten days, which has the same connotation regarding testing and preparation but adds a special emphasis on the judgement of the decider: Daniel’s test of faithfulness in refusing to be defiled by King Nebuchadnezzar’s “delicacies” was of ten days (Daniel 1:1-16), God’s conditional decision to spare the remnant of the Jews not exiled to Babylon was revealed to Jeremiah at the end of ten days (Jeremiah 42:1-22), and, most significantly, God’s warning and conditional promise to Christians in Revelation 2:10 states: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful even unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
It is believed by some that this verse is a reference to the Ten Days of Awe.
Importantly, the Ten Days of Awe begins with the Feast of Trumpets and ends with the Day of Atonement. Anyone familiar with the recently popular teachings in Christendom on the Seven Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23) will recognize that the fall feasts of Trumpets and Atonement are associated with the second coming of Christ (just as the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost are associated with His first coming). The symbolism of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah) is associated with resurrection and rapture, while the symbolism of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is associated with the victory of Christ (who is both the King of Kings and High Priest) over His enemies and His atonement for the sins of His people. These teaching originated with the “Messianic Jewish” movement in Christianity. Messianic Jews are those who have accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah and point Gentile Christians to the Old Testament roots of New Testament teachings.
To be clear, I am not aware that anyone is claiming that the second coming is about to occur and that is not the purpose of summarizing these views. If anything, given all the buzz about the present alignment of the constellations signaling a possible fulfilment of Revelation 12, the timing would seem to be more in line with the “beginning of sorrows” of Matthew 24:3-8 and Revelation 6:1-7 but this is all purely speculative. And, once again, one does not need to accept these teachings to recognize their potentially profound influence in the unfolding events of our world. It is enough that many people do believe them and will act accordingly, as might others seeking to exploit opportunities presented during these impending events.
As it happens, I will be leading a group to Israel during the Ten Days of Awe. I do happen to believe that the last days are upon us and Christ’s return is imminent – meaning years rather than decades. I think it is possible that coming events of 2017 will in retrospect be seen as the beginning of sorrows, but I am not making predictions, only being attentive as we are warned to be in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. If it turns out that the coming weeks are pivotal, I can’t think of a better place from which to observe them than in Israel. But whether or not they are, my duty as a Christian remains the same: to love and serve my King to the best of my ability all the days of my life.
The Bible says to count it all joy when you face various trials and testing (James 1), and for that reason the entire world – especially Christians – should be grateful today. The looming threat of nuclear war, conventional war, civil war, terrorism, political chaos, awakening volcanoes and super-volcanoes, resurgent diseases with untreatable forms, reckless experimentation with genetic mutation and artificial intelligence, planet-killer asteroids, and many other fearsome things, are simply reminders that this world is temporary but God is eternal, and our hope and trust must be in Him. Trouble and tribulation are designed to remind us to be in but not of this world (John 17:6-19). Just as the threshing sledge (tribulum) was used to separate the wheat from the chaff, tribulation is used by God to separate us, as eternal spiritual beings, from our attachment to the things of this world.
I am blessed to have recently won a five year lawsuit that was part of a continuing eight year international campaign by the global LGBT movement to destroy me for speaking the truth of the Bible against the “gay” agenda around the world. But the far greater blessing is the spiritual maturity I experienced in the crucible of suffering for the Gospel. Persecution, which believers everywhere will eventually suffer on a large scale, is the refiner’s fire. Because of it, I am not afraid of what might occur in the near or more distant future related either to prophecy or just the growing evil of this world.
On Monday I will begin a Forty Day personal prayer and repentance campaign. I will repent for my sins and those of my nation. I will pray for our president and the healing of our land. I will pray for the Gospel to reach every unsaved person in this world, including my enemies. I will pray for every other thing the Holy Spirit brings to my mind. I will do this as statement of faith in God and my desire to be more closely conformed to the character of Christ. In all of this things I will pray to the Father, with Christ, “Thy will not my will be done.” Again, I invite you to join me, and to encourage others to do the same.