“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established” (Prov 4:26 KJV).
The season of Lent is a journey, in which we walk with Jesus to the cross. It is a rugged path at times, as we look at ourselves and all that He went through for us. We discover as we travel, that there are many side roads, detours and forks from the one True Path.
These devotions use the festivals of the Jewish calendar, as Jesus would have celebrated them, to illustrate various aspects of our Lenten journey. We will ponder the feasts as God established them and also discover some interesting truths that shine through the traditions that have been added to them over the years.
We begin at the Jewish New Year and Rosh HaShannah, the Feast of Trumpets. It is here you will listen and receive the call of God, His invitation to you to receive the gift of faith. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, follows closely as we find that through faith in God’s appointed sacrifice our sins are forgiven. An understanding of this gift leads us to praises of thanksgiving at the feast of Sukkot, or Tabernacles.
Having received the gifts of faith and forgiveness, what is next? Chanukkah, the Feast of Dedication, helps us learn new ways to dedicate oursleves to the work of God. We discover at the festival of Purim how best to deal with the persecution that comes from living in the world, but not of the world. Finally, we retell the story of our deliverance from bondage and death at Pesach, or Passover. The Passover is the story of our continued deliverance in the body and the blood of our Messiah, Y’shua, Jesus. Join me on this journey, and ponder the path…
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
This well-known poem by Robert Frost speaks of a choice. Confronted with two paths ahead, one must choose one over the other. And sometimes our choice will make all the difference in our lives. As God’s people we know that as we ponder the paths ahead of us, there are only two choices. Y’shua (the Jewish way to say Jesus) makes it clear. We are either on the path with him, or on the path against him. On both paths we pack our sin. More often than not, the path with Jesus is the path less traveled by and today is covered in ashes. As we travel this road, our lives are changed. The ashes on the road begin to cover us, and the burden of our pack is heavy. But Jesus is walking with us, and though he carries no pack, he wears the ash of the road with us, and takes the burden of our pack for us.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season, leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter. The tradition of ashes evolved from the Old Testament custom in which those who were sorry for their offenses covered themselves with sackcloth and ashes. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
Rosh HaShanah is also a beginning. It is the first festival of the Jewish holiday year. Rosh is the Hebrew word for head, or beginning, and HaShanah is Hebrew for the year. Rosh HaShanah is a day when Jewish people gather at the synagogue to examine their deeds during the past year and pray for forgiveness.
Our Lenten journey begins with the ashes of repentance. At the start, we carry our sin and it is a very heavy burden. But Jesus is walking with us, and though He has no sin of His own to carry, He takes the burden of our sin and carries it for us.
We begin at the crossroads. Called by God to faith, we can ignore him and travel the road that so many have traveled before, or we can listen to his voice, and walk the path that seems less traveled by. And as the Holy Spirit prompts us onto that road, it will indeed make all the difference.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for calling me to You, and for taking the burden of my sin. Give me the strength and the faith to follow You on the path of Life, to take the road less traveled by. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.
Ponder the Path: If you have not yet responded to God’s call to faith, seek Him in your heart and hear his voice. And if you have, seek Him anew! He will make the difference in your life. As you walk on the path of Life, Lent is a a call to repentance as you prepare for Jesus’ death and resurrection.