Roughly 3000 years ago during this month, King Solomon dedicated the Temple he had built for the Lord. So it was in the Hebrew month of Tishrei, the month of the fall feasts of Israel, that the presence of the Lord fell and the glory of God was displayed in the Temple.
As we close out the fall feasts here in Israel I’m meditating on the deeper significance of this season. I’m realizing how God’s ordering of the festivals contains a deeper meaning than one might see at first glance. It’s not just about apples and honey and building tabernacles. The Lord gave the Jewish people these feasts as a beautiful picture of His ultimate plan; repentance, faith, atonement, forgiveness and joy. He carefully ordered these feasts to call us to a profound internal reflection designed to lead us from sin and alienation to reconciliation, fellowship, freedom and great joy.
Yom Kippur, which literally means Day of Coverings, can be a day of deep reflection on what the Lord has done for us. As Yeshua (Jesus) died on the cross 2000 years ago, the Gospel describes how the veil in the Temple was torn in two. This profound spiritual event reveals that the Lord gave all whose sins are covered by His blood access to the Holy of Holies, as He had become our High Priest in addition to being, Himself, the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Last week began the Biblical festival of Rosh Ha Shana. What's interesting about Rosh Ha Shana (the Jewish celebration of the New Year), is that it doesn't fall on the first day of the first month. It actually falls on the first day of the seventh month! It's difficult for outsiders to understand this concept, but if we study how the Jewish year begins and how God is outlining this age according to the Jewish feasts it all makes sense. The first month of the Jewish year begins with Passover. Two thousand years ago, the new age began with the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) on the Cross on Passover! Next, Messiah rose from the dead precisely on day of the celebration of first fruits. Then, fifty days later, the Feast of Shavout (Pentecost) began the celebration of the harvest season. This day marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the beginnings of the first harvest right here in Jerusalem as three thousand souls came into the kingdom!
One of the more beautiful ceremonies of the Jewish faith is called "Tashlich". Tashlich means to cast away. Every year between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur, Jewish people around the world journey to a nearby river or stream and cast in bread crumbs as they confess their sins. As the bread crumbs are swept downstream soon to be out of sight, so they believe God will sweep away their sins.
One of the major themes of Rosh Hashana is called Akedat Yitzchak, which means the Binding of Isaac. According to Jewish tradition, God told Abraham that the ram's horn – otherwise known as a shofar – should be blown on Rosh Hashana to remind people of the sacrifice that God provided Himself when Abraham was about to offer Isaac on Mount Moriah. It's abundantly clear that this event in the life of Abraham and Isaac foreshadowed God the Father's offering of His Son, providing Yeshua (Jesus) as a sacrifice for all men.
People read this verse, and think God is telling them to be passive — to overlook what happened. That is not a bad thing — but it isn't exactly what Yeshua (Jesus) was saying. Turning the other cheek is not about being passive. It's about being active! So active that it actually confounds your enemy! Turning the other cheek is about taking an action so revolutionary, so shocking, so out of the ordinary that it shocks everyone around. It confounds the world — and can also change it!
After Yeshua’s (Jesus) resurrection, He showed himself to the apostles several times. Once, they were fishing, and Yeshua met them on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was there, back at his craft, but swirling with inward emotions. The anguish of his recent denial, three times, exactly as Yeshua had predicted, mixed with the amazement and perplexity at the empty tomb, and finally the astounding relief and joy witnessing the risen Lord. Peter was on an emotional roller coaster for days, but the issue of his denial remained unresolved.
Are you righteous? If you are truly a believer in the Lord, then you received His gift of righteousness! Righteousness is a gift we receive when we come to saving faith. Righteousness is not something we earn, but rather it's a gift to be received from our Messiah! According to this passage, you have received the gift of righteousness through Him. Not because we have kept the "law" or lived a holy life . It can't be bought with money, or earned through self-effort, or by doing "religious" works. It's a gift!
A story is told of Peter Miller, a plain Baptist preacher of Pennsylvania, in the days of the Revolutionary War. Near his church, lived a man who maligned the pastor to the last degree. The man became involved in treason and was arrested and sentenced to be hanged.
I ran across a profound story that shows what happens when the family structure breaks down — but this didn’t have to do with people — it had to do with elephants.
As Scotland was declaring its independence from England in the 1300's, the English were hunting for Robert Bruce of Scotland in an attempt to prevent his accession to the Scottish throne. In the search, the English put Bruce's own bloodhounds on his trail. As they grew closer to apprehending him, Robert the Bruce found a small river, and he said to his foster-brother who was with him, "Let us wade down this stream for a great way, instead of going straight across, and so these unhappy hounds will lose the scent; for if we were once clear of them, I should not be afraid of getting away from the pursuers."
Tomorrow begins the holiday of Pesach (Passover), the day we remember God's merciful redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt. When the final plague struck Pharoh and the Egyptians in Exodus, those who were spared were were the ones who applied blood to their doorposts as God warned. Interestingly, the blood that God required them to apply then was the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb.
Between the years 1861-1865 the United States found itself in the midst of a bitter civil war over the issue of slavery, and several other serious disagreements. By the time the North won the war nearly 620,000 soldiers had perished. There were many in the North who were so embittered that the South had dragged them into such a deadly conflict that they wanted the South to pay dearly.
Today's word is not Hebrew or Greek, it's Eskimo! The word is issumagijoujunnainermik. When missionaries first shared the gospel with the Eskimos, they couldn't find any word in the Eskimo language for forgiveness. So, they took a number of Eskimo words and joined them to form a new word — Issu-magi-jou-jun-nai-ner-mik — and it became the Eskimo word for forgiveness. The individual words are "Not-being-able-to-think-about-it-anymore."
After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee visited a Kentucky lady who took him to the remains of a once beautiful old tree in front of her house. There she bitterly cried that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire. She looked to Lee for a word condemning the North or at least sympathizing with her loss. After a brief silence, Lee said, "Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it."
The Greek word 'aphesis' means forgiveness. But in this particular verse it’s translated as both deliverance and liberty. Isn’t it interesting that deliverance and liberty are directly tied together with forgiveness?
"If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator. If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist. If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer….. but our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior."
Yesterday, we talked about "tashlich" — the traditional Jewish ceremony occurring between Rosh ha Shana and Yom Kippur, which involves casting bread crumbs into a river while confessing our sins and watching them be swept downstream. In this passage, however, we read about the importance of casting our crowns. These elders fell down before the Lord, casted their golden crowns and gave God the glory and honor He deserves. How much more should we do the same today?
Yesterday, I began to touch on the significance of "rachamim", the mercies of God. The scripture expressed that our sins are removed as far as "the east is from the west" — meaning they are completely forgiven when confessed. On the feast of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement two goats are involved in the sacrifice.