Have you ever noticed (if you live in Israel) how quiet it is on Erev Yom Kippur – before the holiday is even ushered in? There are already fewer buses in the morning, and the singing of birds is louder than the everyday hustle and bustle of life. People do less, speak more softly, and look almost apologetic if seen carrying groceries home before ushering in the holiday.

There is something sacred about Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement – even for those who do not observe it with fasting or prayer in the synagogue. As the day progresses, the silence is complete. At least where I live in Haifa. I can’t speak for other cities in Israel, but at least here, despite the secular nature of the city and the diversity of its population – the silence is complete.

The occasional sound of a car in the distance forbodes of blasphemy. How dare they?

May you be inscribed in the book of life

For the 10 days between Jewish New Year, the Feast of Trumpets, and Yom Kippur, the greetings change to, “Happy New Year, and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life.” I can and have given this greeting. I can say it with my whole heart. I want nothing more than to see every person I meet inscribed in the Book of Life… the problem is, it is not the full truth. I don’t want them inscribed in the Book of Life for one year, I want to see them inscribed in it forever!

We were all potentially inscribed 2000 years ago

I have been mulling over the wonder of our salvation. I have to be honest; I think that “salvation” is usually not given the depth and breadth it deserves. We limit it. We focus so much on free will, that we forget the other side of the coin, being chosen in HIM before time began. More than that, we forget that theoretically (and this is huge), Jesus really did die for everyone.

In explaining the importance of the Law of Moses to Jewish believers in Jesus, the author of Hebrews expounded on the wonder and greatness of our salvation.

Hebrew 2:9

But we do see Jesus—made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone—crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.

Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus already paid the price of our sin, 2000 years ago, on the cross. His blood was sufficient for a lot more than one year. It was sufficient for every person who will ever live – whether or not they believe in Him. That is why there can be no more sacrifice for sin. Jesus paid it all.

And yet, not everyone will be inscribed in the Book of Life. All for one very simple reason: not everyone will believe in what the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah for them. Their rejection of Jesus is a rejection of the Passover Lamb, the sacrificial lamb of Yom Kippur, and the Scapegoat of Yom Kippur – all delivered to us freely through the Messiah.

My dilemma

I want so badly to respond to people; thank you – I am inscribed in the book of life – forever. But I need to be wise, not for fear of persecution, but rather, for saying something that they simply cannot comprehend and are unwilling to discuss – closing the conversation off from the beginning.

And then the moment comes…

But sometimes, every now and then I feel the Spirit urging me – you can speak with this person. I am so thankful that this year, God placed two people in my path.

One was a lady at work. We have known each other for years and had many conversations about general things – though never about the faith. As I was leaving work, she said, “Happy New Year, and May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”

I turned to her, and it was like a reflex, “Thank you so much. I want you to know I am inscribed in the book of life – forever – because of Yeshua.”

She looked at me in shock and I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. “You know about Him don’t you?” She nodded her head. “You can be inscribed too…  Happy New Year.”

She ducked into the room where she was working, I think to hide her tears, and I left work. But I am certain she and I will talk again.

Later on, someone sent me a WhatsApp message. She is Jewish but knows I believe in Yeshua. She sent me the following picture:

How could I not respond? The minute I saw this picture, my thoughts were drawn to the nails driven into Jesus’ hands on the cross – for me. I was reminded, I truly am inscribed in the Book of Life, forever. And so, I shared these thoughts with her and thanked her for the greeting.

Are you inscribed in the book of life forever?

It is risky business these days, being so blunt about just what is involved with salvation through Jesus. I post publicly on LinkedIn and Facebook. Some of you, reading this far, may be quite justifiable upset with me. Yes, I am open with others about what I believe. Yes, I want others to know about Jesus – Yeshua.

But you see, it is for the very reason I shared above – Jesus (Yeshua) already paid the price for your sins 2000 years ago. The rabbis say prayer replaces sacrifice while there is no temple – and yes, I do dare to say – the rabbis are wrong. God never said that prayer replaced sacrifice.

I think this is part of the hush all through Yom Kippur. Deep in our hearts, we all know, something must be done, a debt for our sin must be paid. The solemnity of this day touches all – perhaps you? I know it touches me, and I am so grateful for the wonder of salvation in my Messiah.

I pray that this Yom Kippur will be the day you are inscribed in the Book of Life – forever. It is quite simple – it is just plain believing in your heart that Jesus really died for your sins – He paid the price. The proof is in His resurrection from the dead. And then, dare to proclaim with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord. Not your works, no balance of scales to be measured, not the prayers of Yom Kippur, and no sacrifice or penance on your part. Just a step of faith. He will do the rest.

May this song, which has been running through my mind the past few days, become a song in your heart as well.

May you be inscribed in the book of life – forever.