Showing posts from 2022

What’s the rush to enter the gates of heaven?

The closing service for Yom Kippur is called Neilah. The poems and liturgy of this service reflects the spiritual concept of the closing of the gates of Heaven, which have been kept open to receive our final prayers and supplications. Some of you might be thinking, there is never a time when we are not welcome to return to God. If God is always eager to receive a sinner in repentance, then what’s the rush? If God does not close His gates, and prevent people from entering His presence, why is there a service telling people the gates are about to close so they better pray with all they’ve got? If we live only with the assumption that repentance always is available, then we would never be motivated to actually change at a particular instance. Just as knowledge of our certain mortality infuses our life with a need to seize the day, so does the push of Yom Kippur as a time particularly favorable to teshuvah (repentance) inspire us to more focused contemplation than a more open-ended proce

What does the blast of the shofar remind you of?

(Leviticus 23:23-25) Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of horns ( זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה ), a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord.’” God calls us to blow horns and this is to remind us of something. What is it that God wants us to remember? Here is one thing the blast of the shofar is supposed to remind us of. (Rosh Hashanah Prayer) … May it direct our thoughts to [cause us to remember] the day when the Shofar will sound for the redemption of all mankind. (Weekday Amidah) “Sound the great shofar for our freedom, raise the banner to gather our exiles and gather us together from the four corners of the earth.” (Matthew 24:30-31) And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man comi


The closing service for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is called, “Neilah.” It means closing and refers to the closing of the gates. The final service of Yom Kippur ends at sunset which is also the time the gates of Jerusalem used to close. Since these were the closing minutes of Yom Kippur time was running out to convince God to forgive you of your sins. The rush was on to make sure you could get inside the gates of heaven. The rabbis acknowledge that the gates of heaven never close. God is always willing to forgive people of their sins, so they could ultimately enter the gates of heaven when their time comes to leave this earth. But they realize that too often when we are not faced with a deadline, we keep putting things off, and never get around to doing what we want to do. Because of this reality, the rabbis created this service to give people a little push. What do we need to do to be sure that we will enter the gates of heaven when we finally leave this earth? What does the B

The Eastern Gate determined who could and could not enter God’s Temple

(Ezekiel 43:1-2, 4) Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. … And the glory of the Lord entered the house by way of the gate facing east. The glory of God entered the Jerusalem Temple through the Eastern Gate. Gate: Ø   an opening Ø   a means of entrance Ø   a door, valve, or other device for controlling the passage or flow of something or people A gate is a space that provides a way to enter something or some place. A gate (or gatekeeper) controls, regulates or decides who or what can enter, or cannot enter. The Eastern Gate provided access to the Jerusalem Temple when it was open, and it prevented access to the Temple when it was closed. In the future it will do this again. As I thought about the Eastern Gate determining who could or could not enter Jerusalem, I remembered that Paul teaches us that some people are now temples of God’s Spirit because God has entered their “gates.”

Eastern Gate is a treasure

What do you treasure? (Ezekiel 43:1-2, 4) Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the way of the east. … And the glory of the Lord entered the house by way of the gate facing east. Ezekiel tells us that the glory of God left the Temple (chapter 10), but now he speaks of another day when the glory of God will return to the Temple. When this happens, the glory of God will enter through the Eastern Gate. I read that the Eastern Gate provided the most direct access to enter the Jerusalem Temple. In the past, Jewish people would pray near this gate so they could be as close as possible to the holiest site. Why is this Gate, and the Temple itself so holy?   It is set apart and distinct from all other things or places because God chose the Temple to be His earthly home. (Psalm 132:13-14) For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; He has desired it for His home. “This is My resting place forever,” He said. “I will live here,