The Sabbath of Return
The weekly Sabbath that falls between Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, or the Sabbath of Return. The word shuvah should remind you of the Hebrew word for repentance, teshuvah, because they share the same root word.
Most of the high holy days center around repentance but none like in the appointed times of the fall. We begin with the 30 days of Elul and then end with the 10 days of Awe (10 days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur) in which repentance is the main theme. In fact, Yom Teruah was seen as a mini Yom Kippur because the 10 days of repentance were coming before Yom Kippur when the fate of the nation was to be sealed; based upon their repentance.
It is therefore fitting that on this particular Sabbath, between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur, that the weekly Torah portion would be Vayelech (Deut. 31:1-30), wherein we read about the farewell warnings of Moses and how he writes all the words of the Torah down on scrolls and gives them to the priests to set with the Ark of the Covenant. Moses instructs the people to read and not forget to obey the covenant; lest they receive the curses mentioned. It is also fitting that on this Sabbath the haftarah portion comes from the books of Hosea, Micah and Joel. The themes are synonymous to repentance or teshuva (return).
The prophet Hosea (14:1-9) begins by calling Israel to repentance and ends with forgiveness and healing from their backsliding ways. In Joel (2:15-27) we read of the blowing of a shofar (sound familiar at this time of year?) to gather the assembly in unity for fasting and repentance and then we find a healing that has been brought by their Father and Creator in heaven. In the prophet Micah (7:18-20) we read:
Who is an El like You – taking away crookedness and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? He shall not retain His wrath forever, for He Himself delights in loving – commitment. He shall turn back (shuv). He shall have compassion on us, He shall trample upon our crookedness. And You throw all our sins into the depths of the sea! You give truth to Ya'aqob (Jacob), loving-commitment to Abraham, which You swore to our fathers from the days of old! (TS2009)
Surely one can see here the loving kindness and forgiving heart of a Father who will forgive and accept back a person or people (nation) who has a repentant heart.
Repentance (teshuva) is the key to bring our healing; “for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
If you have not done so already, please search your heart this day and make sure that you are right with your Father in heaven. Your eternity depends on it!