The Day of Judgment and Atonement: Yom Kippur

From sundown Friday September 17, 2010 to sundown Saturday  September 18th, 2010 was the day considered Holiest in Israel for this year. It was Yom Kippur also know as the day of judgment and the day of antonement as well as the sabbath of all sabbaths. On this day, in Israel the do not eat, drink, wear leather, bathe, wear fragrances, or engage in pleasure such as marital relations. For the day is a somber day and one that brings great joy. For this day results in a person being in good standing for the year ahead. It is the day sacrifices were made that provided for the atonement of the community. It was a day for the purification of the temple.  It ultimately served as the day of  final judgment. It is the day when things are set and God provided that his people were in right position with Him for the coming year.  It was always a year to year process. 

There are some interesting facts about how God communicated his approval of this day and the changes that occurred.  These facts are presented at the following blog article: http://www.yashanet.com/studies/revstudy/rev2e.htm.

 

The miracles/signs that took place, showing God’s approval and forgiveness:

Drawing of lots always produced “LaHashem” in the right hand
The red ribbon tied to the scapegoat always turned white
The Center light of the Menora always burned until morning
Fire on the copper altar never went out even when it wasn’t properly stoked
Priests felt full even after eating only a small part of the offerings
The smoke of the incense offering would fill the Holy of Holies
The Talmud however, records that many of these miracles ceased to occur about 40 years before the destruction of the second Temple, and never returned. This of course coincides with the time of the death of Yeshua:

Yoma 39b – During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee: Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.
The miracles/signs that took place, showing God’s approval and forgiveness:

Drawing of lots always produced “LaHashem” in the right hand
The red ribbon tied to the scapegoat always turned white
The Center light of the Menora always burned until morning
Fire on the copper altar never went out even when it wasn’t properly stoked
Priests felt full even after eating only a small part of the offerings
The smoke of the incense offering would fill the Holy of Holies
The Talmud however, records that many of these miracles ceased to occur about 40 years before the destruction of the second Temple, and never returned. This of course coincides with the time of the death of Yeshua:

Yoma 39b – During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine; and the doors of the Hekal would open by themselves, until R. Johanan b. Zakkai rebuked them, saying: Hekal, Hekal, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Zechariah ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee: Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

It shows absolutely in amazing fashion the change from the need of yearly atonement to the atonement once and for all. Upon Jesus the Messiah’s death and resurrection the signs indicated forgiveness was granted ceased.  They ceased because Jesus gave the sacrifice once and for all. He is the source of purification.  He is the scapegoat who took sins upon him, so there was no need for any other.  Yet, there is a time yet coming. We have yet to have the final judgment. There is coming a great and final day when all creation is untwisted and cleansed. There is a day coming when Jesus judges all.  Be assured that when Jesus sits on the great white throne of judgment it will be on a Yom Kippur day.  

So Yom Kippur is a day to truly be still and know that He is God, for  that is the proper response to His providing atonement and judgment.  God has provided the scapegoat who has carried of the sins. He no longer requires sacrifices year after year because “It is finished.”  The time is coming when all will be set right. All that is twisted undone.  All purified. The day is truly the day the Kingdom of God is fully established and the kingdom of darkness is no more.  The King of Kings sorts out those who are his, and those who will face eternal punishment. This day is great and Holy.

So how then does a Christian respond and focus on this day.  Atonement is complete and judgment is coming.  Well it is a day for sober reflection.  A time to look back and look ahead.  Look back at what changed within in the past year and a day to look ahead to see what God is doing and identified the places that need a change and turning.    It is a day to praise God for it is truly about the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world.  This day, is the day. Once the great and final day comes, there is no more choice, no more time, no more second chance. The great Judgment will be cast.  So today, while it is today, it is not to late.  Let Jesus serve to provide you atonement and make you clean and right.  For a time is coming when there is no  longer a choice as the  end has come.

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Musing on Repentance 2: Element of the cleansing process

Repentance is a word that refers to an essential element of the Christian faith. Repentance is needed in order to be able to accept the gift of redemption. It is an essential element of salvation. We do not enter into the kingdom of God without surrender and turning from self and sin. Turning to Jesus as the answer at heart means accepting that nothing that self can do is good enough and there is a need for help. It is possible to repent of something and not turn to Jesus but you cannot turn to Jesus unless you turn from self. Repentance is also very vital in understanding other element of the Way of Jesus, the Christian faith. Repentance is a key component to the ongoing process of being cleansed and perfected (known as sanctification.)

First of all, it is worth noting that by accepting the gift of redemption and being saved, that positional before God the Father we are clean. It is already a done and completed task. Jesus declared at the cross, It is finished! If we were not considered clean, the Holy Spirit could not reside. If we were not considered clean we could not approach God. We are consistently in a “clean state” before God. As the Bible states, all who have become a disciple of Jesus and follow Him as The Way, are a new creation. The old corrupt and dirty self is dead, done away with. Sin has no power. These facts are true and certain.

Yet, there is a paradox here, for while we are already made clean, we still are in the process of being made clean. In order to grasp this thought one needs to understand that God does not operate in a linear fashion with time. It is possible before God to be in a state of being clean, yet still be in process of being cleansed, for that is the reality. Each of us are in a growth process that is continuing to change. Many times we deviate the Way and onto a course of our own choosing. Sometimes we hold onto areas in our life that we do not want to give up. We still miss the mark often. So the sin nature while considered dead is still active. We still are learning and growing and there is never a point we arrive. When we have been able to repent and turn from one area of sin and self in our life, God reveals deeper levels and exposes the desires of the heart that twist things toward self. So there remains the continual need of turning from self. There is no sanctification without repentance. Note, that just like salvation, there can be turning from sin but a lack of true cleansing, for the actions and the fruit of self are rubbish before God and do not “clean.”

In thinking about the process of sanctification, a conceptual image has developed for me. This image came to my mind after thinking about the vision of the kingdoms of the world the prophecy interpreted by Daniel of the statue. The statue shows the Kingdoms of the world moving from pure gold to ultimately dirt. Each step is a lower level of value. Well, the image of sanctification is the opposite. We are moving from a lower value state to a higher value. The statue moved from gold to the common elements of iron and clay. Now the concept is that sanctification is the exact opposite. We are being refined from dust and ashes  to that which is even more precious than gold. As we grow and mature and are refined, we become more pure and precious.

Perhaps, even the sanctification and what we overcome is reflected in the crowns of life we each will be presented. The crown adorned with the precious metals and gems that derive from the course of life and how we turn from self. Each victory may well be another gem. We achieve victory by practicing true and genuine repentance. When we turn from self toward a focus on loving God and others, it is a victory. Then even when we not only turn from self but help others to take steps of repentance to salvation or play a role in their ongoing sanctification, what God fashions is even more precious. And what God fashions is precious in so far as it reflects Him, that his nature is seen. It is even that recognition that will result in our setting aside any crown before Him, for it is all but His and His nature. It is nothing we possess, it is what God is doing, and the acts of repentance resulting in growth toward being more in the image of Jesus is essential. If there is not repentance, there can be not fruit, and if there is no fruit, the rewards are less, and the less the reward the less we have to offer back to God as a reflection of His glory.

Musing on the Passing Storms of Life

The storm this writer has been under has passed. My lungs are free and clear. My energy level has returned. So now to get back to doing the things God has stirred within me to do. One of which is writing this blog on a regular basis. So with the task of getting back on track and getting back to writing, a good starting point here is to start with reflecting on the nature and aftermath of storms in our life. God does direct us that we will face varied “storms” in life. Storms just happen. They are in essence part of the times of trials and testing in our life. Storms come of varied types and sizes but they all have impact. Storms impact us both during the time we are enduring the storm and in the aftermath of the storm. Now the number one question that comes to a persons mind when the trials and testing come is why does God allow this to happen? Now the basic answer to the questions is God is God and we are not as found in Job. Yet, God has given us more than that fact to understand the storms and trials of life. There are three key passages in scripture that help us to understand:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 5:1 – 5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

So the basic principle is that the storms and trials and testing periods of our lives help us to grow and develop. Rain and storms are part of the life cycle of fruitfulness, the same in our lives. The storms and testing in life lead us into the process of ongoing purification. There are examples God has given us of this process. The making of a diamond for example is a prime example. Carbon is turned into a precious gem known as a diamond by the being exposed to ongoing pressure and heat. The same it is for us, we are brought from common to a glory reflecting God in the process of the pressures of life. Another example is the process of refining metal from impure to pure. The refinement process is again some form of pressure and heat to bring impurities out of the metal. God uses the storms in our life to bring us into greater likeness to him. Note it is not our work, but God at work in us through the storms and trials.

God works in us through what the storms or trials he allows us to experience. We are all tested in many ways. One preacher, Tom Shepard, has a sermon from Job about seven ways we are tested in storms. In examining what God was worked in my life and heart during the recent storms, I have found that there is a distinct revealing of my own limits that occur. Often times, during storms we can rely on our own strength to endure or keep from seeking help. It is a matter of self and pride and own strength. God wants us to turn to him and rest in faith. There is the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm found in Mark 4:35-40. The disciples reached their limit. They could not understand how Jesus could be at rest on the boat in the storm. They woke him up and he calmed the storm, but Jesus was perfectly content to rest through the storm. He asked the disciples why they had such little faith. So the storms and trials really show us how much we trust and depend on God regardless of appearances. God wants our focus on him. Previously, written on this blog is the article: Seven Principles for Transcending Suffering that points to ways we can grow in the midst of storm. The testing a storm brings also reveals the ways we fall short in those principles and move us to draw from the deeper. And ultimately, at the core of it all, it is about growing up more and more in God and reaching deeper relationship and maturity.

SPRING MUSING: Time for Renewal and Preparation

    Well, the Spring season is well underway and some thoughts on Spring are well overdue. God did something profoundly amazing in creating the seasons. It is a blessing to live where the full experience of the change of seasons occurs. God has chosen the Spring as the time to enact his plan of salvation and give the gift of the Holy Spirit. When thinking about the season of Spring the words that come to mind are growth, new life, planting, cleaning, green, flowers, Robins, and change. God, being wonderfully creative has placed meaning in the seasons for us to learn personally, that can even help us in our personal and spiritual growth. In terms of personal growth, spring seasons of life are about moving into areas of change and growth. In moving into change and growth there are really two processes that are key elements to change and growth, RENEWAL and PREPARATION.

First, let’s examine the process of RENEWAL. In terms of this process there are really two key elements, Re-invigoration and Purification. Regarding Re-invigoration, it is really describes what happens in the spring. Things go from being dormant to bustling with new life. Trees bud, animals come out of hibernation, birds return from migration, flowers bloom, and things turn from brown to green. Two words really describe this coming to life of spring re-invigoration and that is being revived and inspired.

    Revival is a word used a lot but really catches the essence of the re-invigoration that comes with spring. Revival is about reawakening what has lied dormant. In our personal and spiritual life, we can reach a point where recognize that the talents and gifts we have were not being utilized. Perhaps there has been a period of quietness and withdrawal and areas that once seemed dull becomes quickened and renewed. The revival of spring is something that happens in the due course of time, it is not about going anywhere to stir up what has been quiet, rather it is about reawakening. Now with any period of revival, while that which is dormant becomes animated, there is also that which is new that springs to life.

The newness springing to life is really the essence of inspiration. In terms our personal and spiritual life, what often happens that while skills, gifts, and talents that have been unused become quickened back to use, often the ways that they are used can take on a different flavor or shade. Perhaps even new gifts, talents, or skills are discovered. Ideas and thoughts can come about where to go. Dreams, goals and visions are readily brought forth with the inspiration of spring. It is important to note that no real re-invigoration can be complete without the second element of renewal.

The second element of renewal really goes hand in hand with re-invigoration and in terms of our spiritual and personal development can even lead to moving into a spring phase of growth. Purification is really a key process that occurs within the spring. We even have a term for this purification: SPRING CLEANING. The purification process really has three actions involved: removal of debris, refurbishing the broken, and refining the dirty. Removal of debris is a key action because there is often things dealt with in other seasons still have remnants that need to be dealt with and eliminated. Spring is also a time when things that have been broken can be fixed and rebuilt. Spring also is a time for simply refining areas of life that need more work and polish to the point where there true essence and beauty shine. Unfortunately when we think of purification, we think of the garbage in our lives that need to be changed, the things we need to repent from, and certainly those actions and choices are key components but also is necessary to bring areas of our life into proper alignment and honed to their best condition.

The process of Renewal does not happen in a vacuum for at the same time the process of PREPARATION begins. Renewal really has to do with your own life and the changes happening within, whereas, Preparation is all about what is needed to be fruitful and productive. It is a time certainly where ideas, plans, and goals can be set. In other words, a direction for the activities related to the production of summer season and the harvest of falls season need to take place. The first action of preparation really related to “tilling the soil.” This action is all about identifying the potential areas for growth and doing work to prepare for planting of seeds. In other words, once a direction is picked the tasks that need to happen need to be identified and engaged in before you can even think about attempting to move in any direction. If there is not the early work done in terms of making sure you are headed in the right direction. Forms of tilling the ground really include prayer and time seeking God’s word and even the advice of others. The actions really describe the breaking of soil and spreading of fertilizer that is part and parcel to tilling the soil. If you head in a direction without any of those elements, the ground really will not be properly prepared to allow for full production and the optimum harvest.

Once proper tilling has been done then the time comes to plant the seeds. Planting the seeds is all about exploring the possibilities and trying varied directions to see what be the direction to bring forth the appropriate harvest. This phase of preparation even involves really thinking out the steps needed to allow the seeds to come to fruition after being planted. In our lives, it may seem that the planting of seeds really is what the spring season is about, but it is really the last action to be taken. Yet, even though it is the last action, it is also vitally important. There is no harvest if no seeds are planted. In our spiritual and personal life, if we are not active and intentional in choosing the proper course we can be less then productive.

Granted, God can and does bring about fruitful harvests regardless of our efficacy in terms of the spring, yet if we hold back at all we can miss out on things God has in store for us, if we but follow the direction He leads. The real success of Renewal and Preparation comes when we seek not our own efforts and plans but work on and through the areas God leads us toward, rather than our own thoughts.

In closing, please take time to consider what season of growth you are in and ask God to direct your steps. If you are in a spring period of growth with newness on the horizon and filled with much hope, submit this season to God and ask for direction as to what steps of Renewal and Preparation God is asking of you. If you don’t know what season your life is in, ask God to reveal it to you. If you are feeling like you have been through a long winter and wondering when spring will really come, start by seeking God and asking God to bring you renewal and prepare you for what He has ahead for you.