Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The God of Second Chances: The Day of Atonement

On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. Lev. 16:30

So Christ also having been once offered to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him unto salvation. Heb. 9:28

I love the Jewish feasts, Jesus celebrated the feasts, and each one is a beautiful illustration of the person of Jesus Christ. The feasts are not just Jewish holidays; Leviticus refers to them as God’s appointed days. For Christians, Jesus fulfilled the feasts for us. Now our eyes are fixed on the atonement of Christ. But it does not end there. Every event in Jesus’ life, beginning with His birth, through His ministry, and with His death and resurrection—all occurred on a festival of Israel—God’s appointed time—a kairos interrupting the chronos of a fallen and broken world. Many scholars argue that events yet to be fulfilled will occur on a kairos—God’s appointed feasts of Israel. 
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice on behalf of the sins of Israel. Jesus Christ is our High Priest and was the perfect sacrifice for our sin, the epithet of the type and shadow woven in the liturgy of the Day of Atonement.

The first offering was a sin-offering and a burnt-offering for Aaron and his house. Then two goats for a sin offering and a ram for the burnt-offering for the congregation.

On this Day of Atonement, the high priest was required to first offer an offering for himself and his family, then he could bring an offering on behalf of the people. First, it was a day of humiliation for the priest. He was required to put off all his priestly garments of glory. A shadow of Jesus, the King of Glory, laying aside His glory—from the foundation of the world; to redeem the world. Jesus’ humiliation on that day cries to us still through His Passion in the Scriptures.
On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought; their fate decided by the priest’s lots. The Lord’s lot would determine which goat would die for the sin of the nation. The other— the scapegoat. Aaron the high priest would lay his hand upon the scapegoat and send it into exile in the wilderness or Azazel; the people’s sin is lost in the wilderness—to be remembered no longer. The act of slaughtering the goat, laid the judgment of death upon it—it represented the people’s sin.
The casting of the lots to determine the scapegoat is displayed on the world’s stage between two men; Jesus and Barabbas. Their fate lies in the judgment of the people—who will die and who will escape…the scapegoat. The people’s voice was heard that day in Pilate’s court—choosing a brutal murderer to escape forever—laying the sin of the people on Jesus. Jesus would be the sacrifice the Lord’s lot fell upon that day—fulfilling the atonement offering.

Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish (John 11:50 ESV).
The word atonement is used in the book of Leviticus forty-eight times, and it means covering. The blood offering was sprinkled on the mercy seat once and before it seven times. The high priest would then place incense on the altar before the mercy seat and a sweet cloud covered the mercy seat—a fragrant offering. The blood and the cloud of incense covered the mercy seat and this illustrated the work and worth of our precious Lord Jesus Christ—His blood causes the believer to be drawn near to Him.

This beautiful prose is part of the liturgy for Yom Kippur; a precious prayer of repentance:

We have become guilty, we have betrayed, we have robbed, we have spoken slander. We have caused perversion, we have caused wickedness, we have sinned willfully, we have extorted, we have accused falsely. We have given evil counsel, we have been deceitful, we have scorned, we have rebelled, we have provoked, we have turned away, we have been perverse, we have acted wantonly, we have persecuted, we have been obstinate. We have been wicked, we have corrupted, we have been abominable, we have strayed, you have let us go astray (Artscroll, 777).

The story of Jonah is recited on this night of atonement, revealing the God of second chances. Jesus fulfilled the sin offering for us, and absorbed God’s wrath.

I pray this inspires Christians to meditate on this Day of Atonement—of Christ and His sacrifice for us and instead of each one of us.

May God bless you on this, the Day of Atonement—He is the God of second chances…

May you be inscribed in the book of life...


My Scribbling....

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The Holy Place Part III: The Altar of Incense

***Notes soon to come!***

This is my scribbling...

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sabbath Sanctuary: Awe and Wonder

Piper's Farm
Rosh Hashanah commenced the New Year—literally the head of the year. It is a fresh start, a brand new year. It also is the beginning of the Days of Awe, (Yamim Noraim), or the Days of Repentance, which will culminate on Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement.  It is a season of chronos, interrupted by a kairos—an appointed time. Jews worship in the synagogue, and break bread with loved ones—at home and within the community of faith. 

The Days of Awe are filled with wonder and worship. They are days for self-reflection, fasting, and prayer; they are solemn days. The Yamim Noraim are meant to set the tone for the coming year. Traditionally, this is a time of reconciliation with others.  Reconciliation and Reflection.

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matt. 5:23-24).
So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:26-27).

 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:31-32).

Piper's Farm
 Our heart should be drawn to the Lord in worship; worshiping Him in spirit and truth (see John 4:24) We should stand in awe of Him and all that He has done for us, and all that He is going to do. He is Amazing. He is Awesome. He is Wonderful. He is Magnificent. He is Holy. This is awe.

YHWH (Yahweh) is God’s sacred covenant Name. Adonai and Elohim were heard among the nations, but Yahweh is the name unique to His people; by this Name God identified Himself with His people. He desires to dwell with His people. The Creator of the universe desires to make His abode in our hearts. I am brought alive by this, and it should stir in us the Awe and Wonder that He deserves—He wants to be with us. He loves us that much. 

Piper's Farm

I pray for a revival to restore the Awe of God to His beloved, precious, blood bought Church, and that His people would come alive with Awe and Wonder at the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. I pray His Word would come alive in the hearts of His people, afresh and new. That our eyes will be opened and our hearts awakened again by His Word. 

Piper's Farm

Piper's Farm
They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32).  

Yahweh, I want to be in awe of You. I want to fall in love with You and Your Word. I pray that it wash and cleanse me of all that breaks Your heart. Open the eyes of our hearts Adonai, to all that Your Word reveals about You. Let us be in awe of You again. 

Rest this Sabbath in Reconciliation, Reflection, Awe and Wonder. 

Bethel Music

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

God's Appointed Times: Yom Teruah: The Day of Blowing Trumpets

Rosh Hashanah: The Feast of Trumpets

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Cor. 15: 52

And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matt. 24:31

There is much talk these days of moons, blood moons, signs in the heavens, the shemitah, etc. I am not writing to fuel the hype. I love the Christology in these events, and I celebrate all that Christ fulfilled for us.

Many deem the feasts unimportant, or believe that they have passed away and are only for the Jews. But we miss out on so much beautiful imagery found in the feasts of Israel when we view them through that lens. Every feast appointed by God was bathed in the work and person of Christ. They spoke to everything Christ was, is, and is to come (Rev. 1:8).

We must remember that Jesus celebrated all the Jewish feasts, and every event in Jesus’ life and ministry occurred on feast day. God’s prophetic pen will continue to write in the feasts in future events. The feasts, especially the three fall feasts (Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles) have prophetic implications for future events. While I don’t keep the feasts as Jews around the world, I celebrate the foreshadowing of Christ in them, and that He will be revealed in the Last Days through them as well. For Christ is our salvation.

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Colossians 2:16-17

A tradition of the Rabbis suggest that God breathed the breath of life into Adam, and formed him from the dirt on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem on the first day of Tishrei—the place that later Abraham would offer his only son on the altar—and eventually where The Father offered His only Son.

The Feast of Trumpets, is observed on the first day of the seventh month. It is the beginning of the Days of Awe leading up to the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

“These remaining feasts all point forward to great events of the future, which God will yet bring to pass, both for His heavenly and His earthly people, for in the days that are to come He will glorify and exalt His Christ in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, and gather together in one under Him, things celestial and things terrestrial (Eph. 1:10).”[1]

The blowing of trumpets was an ordinance in Israel (see Num. 10:2). There were two sliver trumpets made from the atonement money of the people. The blast of these two silver trumpets were a comforting and familiar sound in Israel. The people knew with the blast of the trumpet that Jehovah their Redeemer was calling them unto Himself as His special people. When one trumpet sounded God was gathering the princes of Israel, when both sounded the entire nation of Israel gathered at the door of the Tabernacle to hear from God. On the Feast of Trumpets, the gold-plated shofar was also sounded. As the silver represents redemption, gold represents deity.

The blast of the trumpet calls to the saints today, for we are a special people as well; we are the Lord’s purchased people, a people for His own possession (Titus 2:14). He redeemed us from lawlessness; we are not our own, but we have been bought with a price to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:20).

Rabbis refer to this day as Yom Zikkeron or the Day of Remembrance. This day is also referred to as Ha Melech—coronation of the King! The prophetic imagery in the various names for the feasts are incredible.

The Feast of Trumpets represents a call to awaken out of slumber. For the Church, the awakening blast occurs at the resurrection of the dead in Christ (1 Thess. 4:16-17). The day of remembrance is for those living at the time, those who esteem His name, and He will spare them from the tribulation (see Mal. 3:16-17). The coronation of the King could signpost that Christ will return to gather together believers during the Feast of Trumpets, and returns to earth with them after the tribulation. He will receive His coronation as King of Kings in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:9, 16).

Blessed is the people that knew the trumpet sound, they walk O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance. (Psalm 89:15 R.V.)

Such a beautiful picture for saints today—you and me. The beauty of the Feast of Trumpets is in the future complete fulfillment in the awakening and gathering of God’s earthly people Israel, who has been slumbered and scattered for so long,

You will arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her, For the appointed time has come. (Ps. 102:13)

“The prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament teem with glowing words descriptive of this event, when the trumpet shall be blown in Zion (see Ps. 81:3), and the long-last and scattered people shall flock around their once-rejected Lord and King.”[2]

One day as Jesus overlooked Jerusalem and wept; His heart broken, for He tried many times to gather Israel to Himself, yet they were unwilling (Matt. 23:37-39), He made a promise to them through His grief,

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 coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matt. 24:30-31)

The saints also hope in the coming day…

The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God (1 Thess. 4:16)

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Cor. 15: 52

Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thess. 4:17

The feasts of Israel may seem far and away and not relevant to the Church today, but they are very relevant and they are a shadow of Christ and His return. He is coming for His people that He loves dearly. The feasts are not our salvation, they point to the One that died and was resurrected for us. He will be coming back to gather His people. The return of Christ will be a joyous occasion—can you hear the sound of the trumpet?

With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the Lord. Psalm 98:6

God has ascended with a shout, The Lord, with the sound of a trumpet. Ps. 47:5

[1]John Ritchie, Feasts Of Jehovah (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1982), 56.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Psalm 19: The Greatest Poem Ever Penned

I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world. C.S. Lewis

The Works and the Word of God. For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (v.1)

I love nature. I love the sky; the splendor of the sunrise and sunset. Those who know me will tell you I am always watching the sky. I love the majesty of the moon and the glory of the stars. Summer storms hold my attention; my eyes to the skies for the likely funnel cloud. Thunderstorms are one of my favorite things. There is something about the sky that entices my mind—so this verse is one of my favorites. The poetry of this verse comes to mind often as I witness God’s glory displayed in the heavens. I can’t watch a thunderstorm or a sunset over the Rocky Mountains where I live, without the prose of this verse invading my thoughts. Elohim created the world in Wisdom and by His Power.
“The vast heavenly bodies orbiting with flawless precision in the skies are a clear manifestation of the infinite wisdom and power of the Creator.”[1]

It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens (Jeremiah 10:12).

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Heb. 11:3).

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him ( Col. 1:16).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (Jn. 1:1-3).

Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.  Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. (vv. 2-6).

Do the heavens have a voice? Can they speak? No, the heavens cannot communicate with man, but they do move man to speak and give praise to the One that created them.

“The heavens possess no means of verbal communication. Yet, the inner soul of man, through the perception of his spirit and intellect, can discern their message clearly.”[2]

There is an order to this universe; set by the only Wise God, and displayed in the heavens. Every day the sun will rise, and each evening it will find its home beyond the horizon; beckoning from slumber the other side of the planet that slept while we were awake. Night after night the sun will set and the moon will take its place; a constant display of the order of creation, and the Glory and Wisdom of God.  
God spoke and it was good.  He created the world by His Word; so David is able to make the correlation between the sun and the Torah. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat (v.6). God’s Word will never pass away—you cannot hide from the truth of the Word:  

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 139: 7-10 NASB

Suddenly, David shifts in his poetry from the celestial to the Torah. The shift seems so impulsive; almost like a misplaced metaphor. Further reflection reveals that David’s poetry is in sync; comparing the light and warmth of the sun to the Torah.

“The Torah plays the role of the sun itself within the present creation.”[3]

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.  The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. (vv. 7-11).
  The law of the Lord is perfect, and by living according to God’s law, the soul is restored. His precepts are perfect. I love David’s heart concerning God’s law. David prayed this before the New Testament; for the most part, the Law was the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, which most people find arduous—David deemed life-giving. David considered the law to be food for the soul, worth more than gold, and like honey dripping from the mouth. He loved the law, and by living according to its precepts, understood its rewards. It is truth and it renders justice. The law makes the heart rejoice, and enlightens the eyes to God’s Wisdom. God longs to dwell in His people—we are the Mishkan Elohim—the Tabernacle of God. We are the temple the Holy Spirit.

“The notion of YHWH dwelling in the Temple has not been abandoned, but it is translated into the notion of his dwelling with his people—within his people, wherever they are—through their study and heartfelt practice of the Torah. Through that same Torah, his people discover not only that he can be their ‘refuge,’ the ‘place’ where they are at home, but that he will make his home with them, within them.”[4]
Now, David makes another shift into personal prayer. He prays for God to help him against the temptation of sin.

Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. (vv. 12-13).

No matter how hard we try to live right, we all commit sins of ignorance. But if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us of our sins.
“One hardly needs to add that this poet is wholly free from self-righteousness and the last section is concerned with his ‘secret faults.’ As he felt the sun, perhaps in the desert, searching him out in every nook of shade where he attempted to hide from it, so he feels the Law searching out all the hiding-places of his soul.”[5]

Our best efforts to live perfectly prove grueling. Though we try to live according to God’s Word, who can be so careful that he never sins unintentionally? No matter how hard we try to live right, we all commit sins of ignorance.

David desires to live as close to God as he can. His heart longs to be righteous in His sight. He asks God to also keep him from presumptuous sins. We must never believe the lie that we do not sin, or become lax with “smaller” sins. The beloved disciple admonishes us, that if we say we don’t sin, we are liars and Gods truth is not in us.  We must remain humble before God knowing that we are all sinners in desperate need of a Savior.  

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer (v. 14).

God can read my thoughts and He knows my heart. He longs to fill our hearts, minds, and imaginations of His people with His glory. That is why it is vital to allow the Torah—God’s Word (Old and New Testaments) to wash us clean. The Lord implores us to meditate on the Word day and night. Not as a liturgical duty, but so that we may know Him deeper, and live a life that reflects Him, and live a life worthy of the calling of Christ.

[1] “Psalm 19,” In Tehillim: The Book of Psalms, edited by Nosson Scherman and Meir Zlotowitz, 239, Vol.1 (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1995), 239.
[2] Ibid., 240.
[3] N.T. Wright, The Case For The Psalms: Why They Are Essential (New York: HarperOne, 2013), 105.
[4] Ibid., 107.
[5] C.S. Lewis, Reflections On The Psalms (New York: HBJ Publishers, 1958), 64.