Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is upon us. Beginning tomorrow evening, Yom Kippur marks the holiest of all holy days on the Hebrew calendar. It is the anniversary of the fall of man and it is the climax of the time of Teshuvah (repentance). Starting tonight night and into Saturday, all around the world, the religious will fast from food and water and read prayers in the synagogue, as will the majority of traditional Jews.
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.
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.
Last night began the feast of Rosh Ha Shannah, or Yom Teruah — the Feast of Trumpets. At the end of the summer the Hebrews are commanded to blow the shofar — the ram’s horn, all day long. The sound of the shofar was a sound of alarm — it told the people to get ready. It marked in the calendar that the summer harvest was over and the day of atonement was near and it was time to stand before God.
"Break up your fallow ground." "Fallow" means "hard". A hard heart cannot love; and often cannot even receive it. A hard heart will block relationship with God and with others. Whatever the cause; anger, woundedness, bitterness, unforgiveness, the result will be a superficiality in relationship, an inability to empathize, and a corruption of your motivations.
The central fact of the gospel message is the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus), declared in Psalm 2, the begotten Son of God. In 1952, Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in Cave 4 called the "Messianic Apocalypse". The Messiah's ministry of resurrection is reiterated in these ancient documents with an obvious reference to Isaiah 61:1-3. The scroll identifies someone who "… will heal the wounded, and revive the dead and bring good news to the poor." It is clear that at least some of the authors of these documents clearly understood the central nature and ministry of the coming Messiah, most certainly based on their intimate knowledge of the prophetic writings in the Tenach (OT)…that ministry, resurrection of the dead.
Throughout the United States today, everyone will be celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence — a document through which leaders of the colonies in the New World broke free from the King of England.
When the prophet Jonah entered Nineveh, he gave a message of hopelessness — in 40 days your city will be destroyed! He did not say, Nineveh will be destroyed "unless", but emphatically prophesied destruction to the people of the city — seeming to say their situation was hopeless. Yet hearing this message …
So Jonah goes and begins to preach in this pagan city. His message is very simple. "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown"(v. 4). That's it. That was his whole message. It's eight words in English; only 4 words in Hebrew.
When the Lord gave Jonah a second chance, He didn't change His mind about the prophet's destination. He didn't lighten the load or change the burden Jonah was destined to carry. There was no negotiation with Jonah where the Lord expressed understanding about his reluctance to go to Nineveh. God didn't concede to send him to Tarshish just because he'd been heading in that direction anyway. Jonah's disobedience and repentance produced a clear and simple result…
A "second time." Jonah's repentance gave him a second chance to obey the Lord and to fulfill his ministry. And he did it successfully. The apostle Paul tells us that "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable" [Romans 11:29]. Jonah's disobedience did not take away his calling as a prophet. The discipline of the Lord was fruitful in his life. But compare King Saul. He also got a second chance after failing to wait for Samuel [1 Samuel 13] and he disobeyed again, and lost his kingship [1 Samuel 15]. But even that took many years to transpire after David was anointed.
When Joseph became ruler over Egypt, his name was changed, and his identity was altered so that he no longer appeared or lived as a shepherd son of Israel from the land of Canaan, but as an Egyptian Prime Minister. The transformation was so thorough that when his ten brothers arrived in Egypt he was totally unrecognizable to them. This true story beautifully illustrates Mashiach ben Yosef (Yeshua/Jesus at His first coming), and contains a prophetic picture pointing to Yeshua and His Jewish people living today as we approach the Second Coming.
Years ago, I heard an anointed missionary and personal friend speaking on the consequences of sin. He told a story about a pair of brothers he knew quite well.
The Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem has been preparing temple articles, priestly garments and studying for years to prepare a priesthood for service in a proposed rebuilt temple on the Temple Mount. A recent news article reported that training had begun for the preparation of the Passover sacrifice. The day for the training was the 10th of Nisan, the day designated in the Old Testament for choosing the Passover lamb. Since the eyes of the Jewish people are still partially blinded to the true identity of their Messiah, most of them don't know that the ultimate Passover Lamb was already sacrificed 2000 years ago.
There are times in our lives that we are going through a spiritual valley and we want to get victory — we want to have answers — we want God's power to flow through us again.
The word for "restitution" in this passage is the Greek word – "apokatastasis". This is the one and only place it is found in the New Testament. The word literally means to "restore again" or "to repair". The plan of God in sending His Son Yeshua (Jesus) was to restore that which had been broken and ruined. The Lord's saving work is a global repair job. Each one of us has come to Him already ruined by sin. But God's will and His promise is to restore and renew us through His Son.
New Testament genealogies of Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Christ) all identify Him as the son of king David. It was universally understood from the Tenach (OT) that the messiah would be descended from David and that he would restore the Davidic monarchy to its ultimate and most universal expression, even that this king would reign and sit on the throne forever.
The prophet Elijah, through his dramatic demonstration of the LORD's authority and power, inspired repentance in the people of Israel, calling them to exercise His judgment on idolaters by slaying 450 prophets of Ba'al and 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Yet this spiritual victory was followed by a severe demonic reprisal through the woman Jezebel.
Over the years I've often gotten emails asking "Do you think revival will ever come to the United States?, When do you think it will come?" While re-reading Charles Finney's lectures on revival recently, I was reminded that a key aspect of world revival is revival within ourselves.
If you are not familiar with Jewish tradition, this is fascinating. There are two principle figures in the ancient Hebrew marriage. The "Khatan" is the Bridegroom and the "Almah" is the virgin who becomes the bride. Almah also means the veiled one, the one who keeps herself hidden…