With the start of September I was reminded that it is almost the start of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which begins on the evening of 2 October. According to the Jewish calendar it will be the year 5777 (they count from the time of Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden).
Though the West is increasingly post-Christian we still to this day count from the birth of Christ bringing us to the year 2016 Anno Domini (A.D. – the year of our Lord).
When I think of the Children of Abraham and the Temple and people in Jesus’ time, I think of beards, robes, phylacteries, sandals and the tallit. The tallit is that shawl that Jewish men place over their heads when they worshiped in prayer. Jesus would also have had one. Those who were sick aimed to touch the hem of his garment.
Before the Temple was built in Jerusalem, the Children of Israel sojourned through the desert with a Tabernacle, a large tent erected to meet with G-d. The tallit was like a personal version of the Tabernacle, where the worshiper could screen out the distractions in his periphery and find some private time and place to meet with G-d, like a sacred hoodie.
I thought of that verse in Isaiah 30 where the prophet speaks to the people about finding God in the midst of adversity, affliction and idols: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (verse 21, NIV)
It’s not easy to tune out the distraction on the periphery and look straight ahead, listening for Him. There’s an 80’s pop song about how ‘video killed the radio star’ and although it’s merely a pop song (and the writers intended it for a different message than I’m using it for), it illustrates the difference (for me) between distractions which are visual and in 3D, versus the timeless Voice competing against ever more hi-tech and bombastic present and future worries.
It’s not easy to hear the voice of God. This month I’m going to renew my effort to tune out too much media and instead listen for his voice.
Resource material: www.jewsforjesus.org