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For Such a Time as This…

The Feast of Esther-Purim, Part 1

The Feast of Esther for Christians and Jews

Preface:   Recently, I have been revisiting the work I did years ago in the study of the Feast ofsaint hadassah Esther (aka “Purim”). While I was re-working the lessons I had written, I did some remedial reading on the Book of Esther in the Bible. What I found in the introductions in a couple of translations of the Bible made me aware of the possible/probable reason for the deafening silence in Protestant circles about both the Book of Esther and the celebration of Purim. This posture among my Protestant peers has been an uncomfortable and puzzling experience in times past and in my current experience. The introductory comments I have found concerning both the canonicity and historicity of the Book of Esther are close to anti-Semitic gossip masquerading as scholarship—so I won’t repeat it. But I will say that this experience is worse than hearing the rumor in some ecclesiastical circles that there is no Santa Claus (although, there is—he is St. Nicholas, a very different figure than the modern, commercial santa). As disappointing as that ignorance is, the glaring silence in Protestant circles about the Book of Esther is infinitely more questionable than the silence of God which their scholars hold suspect of the veracity of the accounts in the Book of Esther. And as it turns out, the Protestant scholars have their own scholarly fathers to thank for the “silence” of God in the Book of Esther…

 I found a respectable site which directed me to the lost portions of the Book of Esther: Book of Esther – RSVCE

 I encourage you to read it.

 “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy…” (Wm Shakespeare). And if you wish to be encouraged about the ways in which God is working in heaven and earth to watch over His Word and His people, here is a link worthy of your attention: Should Christians Read the Book of Esther

There are reference links embedded in that page which will take the reader to discussions—some helpful, some not so much. I share these with you, not to incite seditions and divisions, but to encourage you in the Body of Messiah that God will not be kept silent on the matter of His promises and His sovereignty…

Coordinating the Celebration Date: Here is a link which will identify the corresponding calendar dates for each year’s Purim: Jewish-Roman Calendar

The day always begins at sundown on the Roman calendar date.  I have divided the celebration into two parts, the second celebration to be observed beginning the evening following the first night…

Theme Verse:  Romans 1.16:  “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Theme:  Our World Needs Yeshua/Jesus

Aim:

  • To remember God’s plan of salvation revealed to the world through the Jewish people
  • To remember Satan’s battle against God’s plan of salvation
  • To remember God’s sovereignty, faithfulness and power to protect and preserve His people of purpose
  • To remember the power of the Gospel of Yeshua to bless Israel and the nations

Response:

  1. That we might see the awesome power of God in the Purim scriptures;
  2. That we might surrender our hearts to the purposes of God for the Jewish people;
  3. That we might comfort and awaken the Jewish people to the power of God in Yeshua; and
  4. That we might labor in protecting Israel from harm by declaring the true identity of the Christ to the Gentiles.

Blessed art Thou, O LORD our God, King of the universe! You who watches over Your people Israel; You who neither slumbers nor sleeps; You who has been a shade at their right hand, has watched over their coming and going, has spared them from destruction: so that this wretched Gentile could behold Your salvation from the Word they have faithfully preserved! You have engrafted me into Your vine and adopted me as Your child and an heir to the glorious riches of Israel’s Messiah. Let me not be ashamed of Your Gospel, O God! Make me a blessing to the Jewish people, for you have bound me irrevocably to Your purposes, O God.  Teach me to declare to the nations who “The Christ” is, that the Jewish people will never suffer harm at the hands of any who name His Name again. In Yeshua’s Name, I pray. Amen.


Adar 14: A Family Feast on the Book of Esther

Let all the children who are able to read take turns reading passages with the adults.

purim scroll

Points to Remember:

  • The festival of Purim is an ordinance for the Jewish people and their descendants to all generations.  The Book of Esther in the Holy Scriptures tells us that the feast was established by a Jewish man named Mordecai around 460 BCE. (Esther 9.19-32).
  • Esther 9.24 says the feast takes its name from the Hebrew word “purim” which means “lots” or “lottery.”  If one flips a coin or pitches dice he is casting lots or “purim.”
  • Esther 9.21 sets the celebration of Purim to be on the 14th and 15th of the month of AdarAdar is the twelfth month of the Hebrew calendar, occurring during the months of February/March in the modern solar calendar.
  • These two days were to be days of feasting, gladness, gift giving, and sharing with the poor (Esther 9.22).
  • The Jewish people relive the miraculous events recorded in the Book of Esther, which is known as the Megillah.

Notes:

  • How did the Jewish people get to Persia?  Didn’t God give them the land of Israel?  The Book of Exodus tells us that God made the Jewish people His own people.  He gave the Jewish people a Holy Covenant–a special agreement–which would make them His own people.  When they agreed to everything He gave them, they became joined to God and to His plans for them and for the whole world.  Nothing would ever change that bond.  God has punished many armies who have tried to kill the Jewish people.  But God warned the Jewish people in this agreement not to disobey Him, and never turn away from the way He gave them to have forgiveness of sins.  The Scriptures show that God chastened the Jewish people for their stubborn disobedience by letting them be ruled by the people whose gods were more attractive to them than He.  These people were their enemies and would often kill them and take them out of their land.
  • The story of Esther happened more than 100 years after God chastened the Jewish people for worshipping other gods.  As the prophets warned, God brought the invaders to destroy the land and take the people captive.  One of the powerful enemies that ruled over the Jewish people was Persia.  After 70 years of living in their enemy’s land, the Jewish people were finally permitted by a Persian king to return to Israel.  Not all of the Jewish people returned to the land.  As the prophets foretold, God provided many mercies for the Jewish people in the land of their captivity.  Life in the land of Israel would be hard until the cities were rebuilt and the farms were restored.  The Persian king would continue to control the land, and everyone in Israel would have to obey any command which came from the royal palace at Shushan. Thepersian_empireBook of Esther shows how God used a Jewish woman living in Shushan to protect His people in all the places of the world.  This Jewish woman remembered that her people are joined to God forever for His plan and His purpose.  The king and the people of Persia began to worship Israel’s God because of what they saw God do through her life.

Mordecai’s Prayer: 15 And now, O Lord God and King, God of Abraham, spare thy people; for the eyes of our foes are upon us to annihilate us, and they desire to destroy the inheritance that has been thine from the beginning. 16 Do not neglect thy portion, which thou didst redeem for thyself out of the land of Egypt. 17 Hear my prayer, and have mercy upon thy inheritance; turn our mourning into feasting, that we may live and sing praise to thy name, O Lord; do not destroy the mouth of those who praise thee.” –The Book of Esther, RSVCE

Esther’s Prayer:  “O my Lord, thou only art our King; help me, who am alone and have no helper but thee, for my danger is in my hand. Ever since I was born I have heard in the tribe of my family that thou, O Lord, didst take Israel out of all the nations, and our fathers from among all their ancestors, for an everlasting inheritance, and that thou didst do for them all that thou didst promise. And now we have sinned before thee, and thou hast given us into the hands of our enemies, because we glorified their gods. Thou art righteous, O Lord! And now they are not satisfied that we are in bitter slavery, but they have covenanted with their idols to abolish what thy mouth has ordained and to destroy thy inheritance, to stop the mouths of those who praise thee and to quench thy altar and the glory of thy house, 10 to open the mouths of the nations for the praise of vain idols, and to magnify forever a mortal king…” –The Book of Esther, RSVCE

  • In most of the common translations of the Bible the Book of Esther does not mention the name of God.  Although His Name is not mentioned, God’s sovereignty, faithfulness and power shout from the pages of the Book of Esther.  However, if you refer to the following link, you will find the lost portions of the Book of Esther: Book of Esther – RSVCE

These portions are still included in the Bibles printed in Eastern Christian lands but have been removed from most other translations for several questionable arguments, not the least of which was to economize on printing costs.


Option for Telling the Story of Esther from the Scriptures: Refer to the following passages in the Book of Esther, summarizing the scenes as they unfold the plan of God. The visuals I use are colorful felt figures from BCM International’s curriculum: FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers. The scene backgrounds can be flannel cloths of varying shades; or you may order flannel background scenes from BCM International by their number as noted in each scene.

 Scene 1:  Esther 1.1-5,10-22; 2.1-4:  Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers:  #’s 3, 4, 26, 84;   Flannel Background:  SFB #22, Palace

Scene 2:  Esther 2.5-20:  Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers:  #23, 83;  Background:  Plain Flannelboard

Scene 3:  Esther 2.21-4.17: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers:  #85 with #70 first; then #85 with #15;  Flannel Background:  SFB #12, Street Scene

Scene 4:  Esther 5.1-6.14: Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers:  #84 and 84A with #83 first; then #84, 27, 27A, 27B with #70; Flannel Background:  SFB #22, Palace

Scene 5:  Esther 7-9:  Figures from BCM’S FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, OT-Volume 4: Following God’s Trailblazers:  #’s 70A, 82, 83, 84, 87, 87; remove #’s 70A, 82, and 87 when Haman is taken away to be hanged (Esther 7.9-10); add #88 (Mordecai) only when king Ahasuerus orders that weapons be allowed for the Jewish people (Esther 8.7-13);  Flannel Background:  SFB #22, Palace

©1990 and 2016, Patricia Stachew, Reston, Va; all rights reserved.

Feast of Esther–Purim, Part 2 continued on next page

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Ezekiel’s Vision: The Restoration of Israel…

Bible Address: Ezekiel 36.22-32

How thorough is this restoration!

  • God promises to lead Israel back into the land He promised her, to gather her from the nations to which He scattered her in her state of rebellion against Him…

  • God promises to sprinkle clean water on her to cleanse her from all her rebellion and idolatry

  • God promises to give her a new heart and put a new spirit—His Spirit—within her and cause her to love Him and adhere to His ways

  • After this work of spiritual restoration, God promises that they will dwell in the land promised to them and be God’s people; and then the land will multiply its yield and increase and the trees will be fruitful, with no threat of famine…

This is a work of environmental restoration which comes from the hand of God when Israel comes into the knowledge of her redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ; when Israel looks upon Him whom we have pierced and grieves for Him as for an only son…when Israel recognizes that Jesus is the Holy One of Israel…How great a Yeshua! How great a Salvation!

And then all creation will rejoice, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 8.19:

“For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God…”

Many observe how Israel now blesses the world through their perseverance, inventiveness, scientific contributions, humanitarian ministries, etc. And these, for the measure of their restoration to the land, are blessings and wonders. But this is not the fullness to which Ezekiel speaks. This current state is welcome, to be sure, but it is merely a shadow, a wee foretaste, of what God promises when Israel finally comes into the fullness of faith in Christ.

In that day all creation will finally shake off the corruption and death which came upon it by the sin of man…creation finally rejoices when the prodigal sons of Israel at last return by the sovereign grace of God and behold the Lord Jesus…

Let us who now enjoy the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus harbor no delusions of entitlement; God declares that He will not do this for the sake of Israel, but for His holy Name’s sake, which the nations have scorned because of the rebellion of the people God chose to exalt Him (Ezekiel 36.22)… Hear this, Church…

There are no photographs or images to adequately picture this. And the apostle Paul says that “eye has not seen…nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2.9-10)…

Think about it! Wake up those little grey cells in your God-given brain! The promise of God to the prodigals of Israel in Ezekiel 36.28-30 is a promise which is full and final—no interruptions; no need for military defenses or barriers for protection or fickle political alliances. It is a promise for full restoration of the land–no pestilence; no parasites; the abolition of genetic modification and pesticides to enhance the production of the fields and the trees; the perfect balance of creation—it all comes after the ultimate return of the prodigal remnant of Israel to behold and embrace Yeshua (Ezekiel 36.25-27,31)!

Awakening to the implication of Ezekiel’s vision I am more earnestly praying for the salvation of the Jewish people, because:

“… if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!”

Romans 11.12

Pray for the salvation of the Jewish people and for the Peace of Jerusalem…Psalm 122…

“Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.”

Psalm 122.9

Shavuot/The Feast of Weeks: A Gentile Woman with a Heart for Israel’s God

I am the Lord…and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.

–Exodus 6.6-7

In the Hebrew/Biblical calendar the Feast of Shavuot this year is on Sunday, June 12. And one of the traditions of the Feast of Shavuot is the reading of the Book of Ruth in the Bible. As it “happens” this year, I am teaching Sunday School in my congregation, and the curriculum we are using—completely unconscious of the Biblical Feasts—features the story of Ruth for this week…

I have been having fun making my flannel background for the felt story figures, and planning an activity or two for the particular perspective suggested by the writers of the curriculum.

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Sewing my lesson backgrounds

But most of all, I have been knocked over at the marvelous, glorious grace and power of God in the life of a Gentile woman who meets up with an Israelite family down on their luck in her home town in Moab…

 

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Previewing a scene layout

The epic tale of Ruth takes place against the backdrop of the drama of the period of Judges. The time is marked by the ebbs and flows of Israel’s devotion to the God Who took them to be His people and who keeps all His promises…

The story of Ruth begins when Naomi and Elimelech, two of the children of Israel from the tribe of Judah, in the region of Bethlehem, marry and bear two sons… During a time of great economic trouble brought about by the oppression from neighboring alien tribes, they take their two sons, leave Bethlehem, and go to live in the land of one of their enemies—Moab. During their ten-year residence in Moab, their two sons marry Moabite women, and before the ten years is past, Elimelech, and the two sons die, leaving Naomi and the two Moabite wives widowed and childless…

Naomi is devastated by the loss of her husband and two sons; she is a widow with no one of her own blood to care for her; she is an Israelite widow in a land which is inhabited by people who are hostile toward the Israelites and their occupation of Canaan… She has two Moabite daughters-in-law, and in her bereavement, she releases them from any commitment to her, and sends them back to their culture. Naomi’s yearning is to return to the land of her God and her people. In short, she would rather be a poor, childless widow in the land of her God and her people than enjoy all the cultural offerings and pleasure comforts of Moab. Surprise of all surprises! While one of the daughters-in-law returns to her Moabite culture, the other Moabite daughter-in-law declares her heart to Naomi: “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God…May the LORD strike me dead if I depart from you for any reason but death.”  Her name is Ruth…  Only a personal attachment to Naomi? No. It is more than that. The Spirit of the God of Israel has given Ruth a heart to know Him; it His name she invokes in her intention, not the name of the Moabite god Baal…

Meanwhile, back in Bethlehem, there is a close relative of Elimelech who has not found the right girl to marry. His name is Boaz. By the grace of God, he has survived at least one of the periods of chastening when God brought Israel’s enemies upon her for her blatant rebellion against Him. That chastening came in the form of severe militant oppression by an enemy tribe who would steal, pillage and destroy farm lands, livestock, homes, and carry away the women and children… Here in the time of the rocky relationship between Israel and God is a moment of grace and glory. God uses this moment in the period of upheaval to give attention to an important, world-changing promise…

Boaz has managed to make a home and a lucrative living from his land. He is enjoying an abundant harvest of barley in the spring of the year…The yield on his land is attracting the poor who have gathered to glean what they can from the leavings…

So Naomi and Ruth make their journey from Moab to Bethlehem, and upon arriving, Naomi directs Ruth to find a field where she can glean… And Ruth finds the field of Boaz…  Dumb luck? I think not…

Ruth puts feet on her faithfulness by her kindness and care for Naomi and her conduct in the gleaning patch. Boaz recognizes a woman of virtue when he sees one.  Was there no faith like Ruth’s among any of the women in Israel? As he marveled at this blessing from God, Boaz makes the decision to embrace the role of kinsman redeemer. At such a time as that, Boaz resolved to pay the price for the rights and responsibilities to own and steward Elimelech’s property; to marry Ruth and to give his cousin an heir…

So an Israelite man of the tribe of Judah marries a transformed Moabite woman of faith and they have a son who will be the grandfather of David…

…And another thing that knocks me over is that Elimelech and Naomi took their two sons to Moab to find relief from a life-threatening famine in their own land, only to end up childless and dead in Moab…Trying to avoid destitution by leaving their inheritance behind in troubled times, they ended up dead and destitute in a land pedaling a prosperity cult…

But behind the scenes in Glory, The Godhead takes counsel: Father, Son and Holy Spirit all agree for the work. The Father draws Ruth, and the Holy Spirit puts His love in a heart which beat inside a body born of the enemy Moabites. And Ruth loses everything for His sake, and God makes her the great grandmother of David… Ruth declares from the heart the Spirit of the Living God quickened to new life:

Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

–Ruth 1.16

God uses her to be part of His plan to keep His promise to provide The Redeemer to deliver us from our soul’s SELF-imposed sickness and poverty and starvation… even in such a time as this…

A Gentile woman chosen by God from among her people to be included in the line of Faith… A Gentile woman chosen by God from among her people to be used of the God of Israel to work out another part of His plan and promises…

So am I, for such a time as this…

25th anniv

Baruch HaShem Adonai

Another Page in My LIFE…

themasterteacher

image: Broderbund PrintShop 10, by permission

This picture speaks to me… Nothing is better to me than the sheer delight of quietly sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus and learning what it means to be His disciple–to follow hard after Him–seeing life through His eyes, glimpsing what He wants to do with me, knowing I am His forever…

I belong to a knitting and crocheting ministry in my church, and we meet one Friday each month to pray and fellowship while we knit and crochet for others. Our recent topic for conversation included the tedium and exhausting work of unloading years of accumulated possessions in our advanced years… I am no stranger to this constant management of things, things and more things… Our conversation provoked me to think about the things that really matter to me, things I have accumulated and are in danger of being cast away like so much detritus after I die… things of which I have not been a wise steward…

Years ago, I knew I could not keep silent about what I had been discovering in the Scriptures on the subject of what it means to become one who is awakened to know the God revealed in nature, and magnified in the Scriptures. Discipling the Messianic Believer is a journal of sorts… I published a written edition of it in 1994 and issued a new edition in 2003 in print form. It has been distributed to interested ministry leaders in various countries, translated into other languages… But I don’t want the few printed copies I have sitting in my file cabinet to sit there till after I die, only to be thrown into the recycle bin as one more of those inconvenient collections of an old lady… So, I’m following the suggestion of my former mentor under whose direction I compiled the material in this manual: I am making it available on the internet…

Don’t be intimidated by the title; if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you will enjoy the studies in this volume. I wrote it with an Hebraic perspective in order to help non-Jewish believers in Jesus understand some of the roots of the Gospel in the Older Covenant Scriptures. This will assist them in their dialogs with Jewish friends. I also wrote it with this Hebraic perspective in order to encourage new Jewish believers that they are not less Jewish; in fact, they are  “completed Jews.” I have provided a glossary with the meanings of all the Hebraic/Yiddish terms I have used in the study guides. It addresses what I know is essential to living and walking with Messiah in this wilderness… the process… and it is more than a primer…while it is friendly to those who are beginning, it is provocative to those who are continuing…

By God’s grace I have enjoyed the nourishment and encouragement from these things for 20 years and counting… accumulating more LIFE through what I find on the pages of Scripture in these studies…  I continue to be challenged and provoked as I re-visit these studies, proving that they are never old and always relevant to every season of my life…

In its original form, I published a full unit on the Biblical Feasts which made this volume a whopping 600+ pages. As time passed, God led me to re-publish this work without that unit. The result is 18 lessons for LIFE. I thought it was significant that the Hebrew number 18 – “chai” represents life… Just a thought…

Anyway, I have added a new page to my WordPress site, devoted solely to Discipling the Messianic Believer: An Invitation for LIFE. When you visit this page, you will find links to each portion of the study manual. You may print them out and use them for your personal study.  I am not greedy for myself… I might be greedy for readers who can be nourished and transformed by what God did to me when I started studying and writing this volume…  I am definitely greedy that God would receive more glory and honor out of what He is generously pouring into my life through Messiah Jesus…

Thoughts on the sacrifices at the Feast of Tabernacles Part 2

As I was reflecting on the great cloud and weight of the sacrifices attendant to the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, I could not help being impressed with the odors and the aromas which must also have emanated from the sacrificial altar. The message of the need for atonement in such a bloody, fiery way is hard to speak if one is in any way reluctant to be an offense to others. Nonetheless, the message of atonement for sin is urgently important, even if it grates upon people’s feelings of esteem for their good qualities and works. The Word of the Lord which emerged as I wondered how others might react to this portion of my blog on the Feast of Tabernacles was graphic…

2 Corinthians 2-15&16

I realize that to some the fragrance of the sacrifice of Messiah Jesus will be the sweet aroma of LIFE.  For others, the odor of the sacrifice of Messiah Jesus will only be the stench of death…

May all the readers out there in the big wide world of blogging be able to see the great mercy of a holy God and the joy of Messiah Jesus’ sacrifice which permeates our need for atonement with the sweetness of His finished work on our behalf…

The next segment on the Feast of Tabernacles speaks of the elements of water, light, and peace in the celebration. Hope you will visit again… BLESSINGS ALL AROUND…

 

A musical meditation on the Feast of Tabernacles – Part 2: The Offerings…

Musical meditation at the Feast of Tabernacles…

Sharing a treasure I have enjoyed for many years…

Blessings to you at this glorious season! ❤

Yom Kippur Revisited

Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement

SCRIPTURE

Leviticus 23:27-32 says that Yom Kippur follows the Feast of Trumpets on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei.  Yom Kippur is the Hebrew for “Day of Atonement.”  After its observance, there are four days of preparation for the next festival beginning on the 15th day of Tishrei.

Leviticus 23:27-32 appoints for Israel a national day of “afflicting your souls,” person by person, family by family.  Leviticus 16 outlines the labors of the high priest on that day.  His work is solemn and bloody as he pours out the lifeblood of innocent animals to cleanse the Most Holy Place of the defilement his sins and Israel’s sins have brought there. He must put off the splendid priestly garments he wears at all other times and become humbled before God.   The entire 24-hours is ablaze with the unrelenting fire of burnt offerings on the altar of sacrifice.  A young bull, seven lambs and one ram follow the lamb which burns on the altar in the morning (Numbers 28:4-8; 29:7-11).  The high priest trembles as he enters the Most Holy Place with the smoking scented coals from the altar of sacrifice.  If his sins and the sins of his people have reached this holiest of sanctuaries, have they reached the Heaven of heavens?  Is the cloud sufficient to shield him from the judging gaze of a holy God?  Were the bullock and the goat whose blood he must sprinkle at the mercy seat truly unblemished?  Is seven times enough for all the iniquity in Israel?  Will this blood save Israel from receiving punishment seven-fold?  Mercy would be a blessing at this moment.  The outer courtyards are empty now; no one was permitted in the courts of the Tabernacle or the Temple while he labored alone before the God of Israel.  They were waiting for him, reassured only by the sound of the bells on his hem as he moved about in the Most Holy Place.  Would he live to discharge the live goat bearing the sins of Israel far from the gaze of God?   As he returns from the Holy of Holies, he hears the collective gasp of relief rise from those who wait in hope outside.  The live goat is led away to a wilderness reserved for the spirits of the damned, from which the goat would never return.  The goat’s destination is insured by sending the most reliable servant available to attend it.  His labors not yet complete, the high priest bathes, changes his garments, and prepares the ram to be the burnt offering for himself, his sons, and for all the people (Leviticus 16:24).  This burnt offering is then followed with the regular evening burnt offering, and the high priest is then relieved by another.

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Scripture calls this a feast?  Not a very festive picture, fasting and contemplating one’s sin.  Add to that the gruesome spectacle of blood and fire and smoke, and the scene becomes macabre.  Appearances are deceiving in this case.  Anyone who thinks upon the character and being of God, His holiness and gracious provision for the Covenant with Him, understands that Yom Kippur is not intended to be bitterly, uncomfortingly grievous.  Sin, however, is grievous because it separates people from knowing the God of all joy.  The thought of separation from God ought to plague our souls with grief.   Nevertheless, while we are making unflattering, unpleasant discoveries about our being and character, yielding to God’s search for things that destroy the deep pleasure of relationship with Him is a true–if pungent–feast for the soul.  The more we acquire a taste for God’s extraordinary character, the more often and eagerly our soul will pant for the strong savor of Yom Kippur.  Mingled with the bitter tears of our self-exposure and confession, God offers the “Main Course” of His Holy Covenant: reconciliation through the blood of His appointed atoning sacrifice, offered by the priestly mediator of His ordination.  If we perform 612 mitzvot and neglect this one, we are guilty of sin in all the other 612.  The mitzvot are holy, but we are not holy.  Our mere performance of them does not change our character of unholiness in the gaze of a holy God.  God alone is holy.  He has given this “feast” to the unholy as THE WAY to reconcile them to Him.  There is no other way, for God has said:  “…it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

TRADITION

Without the Temple, Israel languishes without the altar of sacrifice, without the atoning blood. Without the Temple and its Scriptural sacrifices, rabbis impose innovations on the feast insisting that the red blood cells each man prevents by his fasting and his good deeds will serve as atonement for his own iniquity.

Another tradition on Yom Kippur is Kol Nidre.  Kol Nidre is the Hebrew term meaning all vows.  This traditional prayer which annuls all vows taken by the Jewish people, appears to have been introduced by a prominent rabbi in Babylonia during the eighth century C.E. (Christian/Common Era).  The prayer ushers in Yom Kippur.  Just before sunset on Tishrei 9, in synagogues worldwide, and while Torah is lifted for all to see, the cantor begins the antiphonal prayer:

“All vows, obligations, oaths, anathemas, be they called konam or konas or by any other name, which we may vow or swear or pledge…from this Day of Atonement until the next…we do repent.  May they be deemed to be forgiven, absolved, annulled or void–and made of no effect.  They shall not bind us nor have power over us [and the vows shall not be considered vows nor the obligations obligatory, nor the oaths oaths.”

Rabbis who understand God’s view of the keeping of vows regarded the tradition as unscriptural and, therefore, unorthodox.  The custom grew in acceptance during the eighth and ninth centuries while the emperor Charlemagne was forcing oaths upon Jews in the courts through brutality and torture.  Later, during the 13th century and onward, Christian vows were forcibly imposed upon the Jewish people under the brutality of the Inquisition.  Christians who understand God’s view of the taking and keeping of vows recognize such coercion as unscriptural and, therefore, unorthodox.  Rabbis permitted the dispensation of Kol Nidre arguing that the vow involves the conscience of the one who vows alone, and not any other involved.  God alone knows the mind of a man.  They reasoned that God could absolve a man of the responsibility of a vow of conscience made to God–especially under duress; but a promise made to another man must be fulfilled.  The recitation of Kol Nidre alone was offered as the mitzvah by which a man could be absolved of a vow of conscience.  This bloodless “sacrifice” offered by the lips of a sinful man, then, became the reconciliation for a Jew coerced into claiming faith in Messiah Jesus.  For a Jew caught “between the Devil and the deep blue sea,” Kol Nidre became the “grace” at Yom Kippur to renounce his Christian “confusion” and be reconciled to a Judaism with no Temple and no Scriptural Atonement.

Just a thought…Perhaps the words of the prayer of Kol Nidre could be valuable for a Jew whose heart desired to break free of the coercions of priest and rabbi in order to pursue the truth of Messiah’s identity in the Scriptures…

THE SPIRIT OF GOD

For disciples of Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur carries with it the weight of the glory of a holy God. We are reminded of our sin and rebellion against God and our offenses against our neighbors. Perhaps the prayer of Daniel the prophet would be a more fitting observance on Yom Kippur for the disciple of Messiah Jesus:

And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the danielpraying2countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly! O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name.  –Daniel 9.4-19

For disciples of Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur carries with it the sweetness of Yeshua’s Great Atonement.  While we submit to the searching gaze of the Spirit of God, we enjoy the counsel of the Spirit of God who testifies:

“Messiah has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself” –Hebrews 9:26.

“Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself with His own blood, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, by means of death, for the atonement of the transgressions under the first covenant that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” –Hebrews 9:11-15.

“There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit”Romans 8:1.

ChristTheKing3For the believer in Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur is personally fulfilled in Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice offered at the Passover in the year when Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Judea and Caiaphas was the high priest of the Temple, under the dominion of Roman occupation. The prophet Isaiah foretold and the record of history documents Yeshua’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension to glory (Isaiah 52.12-53.12).

Israel will enjoy her national atonement when she recognizes her Lamb on that final Yom Kippur to come (Isaiah 66.7-10; Zechariah 12.10-14).  We who know the terror of that final Yom Teruah to come ought to persuade our Jewish dear ones of Messiah’s Great Atonement:  that they might know LIFE in Yeshua!

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; ‘May they prosper who love you’.” –Psalm 122.6

High Holydays—A Season of Remembrance, Awe and Rejoicing, from DISCIPLING THE MESSIANIC BELIEVER, first edition pp. 389-395, copyright 1991, 1995, 2003, Patricia Stachew, Stillwaters Publications, Reston, VA. All rights reserved.

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