“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV
In case you have been hitting the snooze on God’s alarm clock and weren’t aware, it is the season of Teshuvah. Teshuvah is a Jewish word that means turning back (shuv) or repentance to God. It is celebrated over the month of Elul (Jewish calendar), all the way through to Yom Kippur (The Feast of Atonement). Teshuvah welcomes Rosh Hashanah, the “new year” of harvest, and one’s actions on these first ten days of the New Year (Days of Awe) determines one’s fate for the remainder. The Ten Days of Awe (I’ll explain this later), are completed on the 10th day of Tishri, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement), which is September 30th, 2017 on our calendar.
This year (2017), God sent up a flare to mark the first day of Teshuvah, using a total solar eclipse over the United States. It is generally thought that the nation experiencing a stellar phenomenon is the nation that needs to sit up and pay attention. Since it traversed our entire country from west to east, and happened at the beginning of the season of “turning back,” I don’t think we have to wonder what God is trying to tell us.
The path of eclipse pointed at the start of hurricane Harvey, a category 5 hurricane that pounded the Texas gulf coast with more rain than has ever fallen on America from a hurricane ever in history. Harvey caused devastating flooding.
Some quite clever sojourner of the faith even happened to notice that the eclipse (21st), plus Hurricane Harvey (25th thru the end of the month – 31st) goes pretty amazingly with Luke 21:25-31:
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [Soon] they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Then He spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”
The 21st of August was a pretty fantastical day. As a native of Casper, WY – one of the prime spots in America for witnessing the amazing phenomenon of totality, I had many friends, and family, living there who kept me abreast of all the happenings.
When the day came, and as the dark shadow began falling across American soil, I felt in my spirit the story in Exodus where Father God placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and shielded his eyes with His hand as He passed by. God only allowed Moses to see His backside, but not His face. In a similar way millions of Americans (and visitors from around the world) were given a chance to see the bright shining rays of sunlight streaking out from behind the dark moon. The moon (like God’s hand), hid the brightness of the sun from their eyes briefly as it went by, allowing them a fleeting glance, and casting a shadow over them. This is the exact place in scripture where Yom Kippur is rooted out of. Moses was on the mountain making atonement for the people, who had corrupted themselves by making and worshipping a golden calf.
With all the dire warnings that we were given about protecting our eyes during the eclipse, I truly believe likewise, if we rebel against God in this season, ignoring His warnings to turn from our wicked ways and come back to Him, we will suffer dire consequences, and spiritual blindness down the road.
Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved to the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV)
This passage of scripture is the essence of Yom Kippur. It reveals that Father God has had a plan all along for His people. He is not slow in keeping His promise, as some count slowness, but is merciful, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And I have a feeling that the times of the Gentiles is rapidly drawing to a close. The tares that have been sown into God’s wheat field are revealing themselves, and there are lots and lots of them. America has in every way exceeded the wickedness of those early Hebrew brothers and sisters who wandered in the desert, and we have corrupted ourselves with so much more than a measly golden calf.
Salt which has lost its saltiness is good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13)
This country which was discovered by a “Christ bearer,” colonized by pilgrims seeking religious liberty, who wished to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and then founded by brave men of tremendous courage, moral character, and wisdom, who labored in prayer and fortitude and faith to construct a government out of Christian principles, has since been ravaged, raped and pillaged by rulers, and principalities, and powers in high places who have no use for God.
It is troublesome to see such wickedness and deception, and very tempting to lay down our shields of faith for the persecution it brings. But while our hearts grow faint within us, let us remember that God is our refuge, and a very present help in times of trouble.
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; and you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:6-9
Days of Awe
When I think of the word “awe” I think of being awe-stricken, and honestly, how can anyone not be awe-stricken watching the weather this last 31 days? Hurricane Harvey pounded Port Aransas, Galveston, Houston, Port Arthur and Lake Charles with record-breaking rainfall. Hurricane Irma, came right on his coat tails as another category 5 that battered the Caribbean Islands , and was so huge in mass that she completely covered Florida from south to north, ravaging it with flooding and power outages that lasted days. She was so big and so powerful that she sucked all the water away from the beaches so that people walked out on dry ground where waves once were. Now we have Jose (Joseph) and Maria (Mary) predicted to do a sort of dance in the Atlantic, but not before category 5 Maria slammed Puerto Rico and left her completely in the dark. I can’t think of a time when the oceans around us were so filled with hurricanes. And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, we are also hearing of earthquakes just about every day. Some fairly minor in Los Angeles and Illinois, but our neighbor Mexico got hit with an 8.1 on September 7th, a 5.6 on September 18th, and a 7.1 on September 19th. New Zealand got hit with a 6.1 on the 19th, and September 20th, Japan got hit with a 6.1, only 175 miles from Fukushima. I can only imagine how people’s hearts are nearly giving out on them for fear in all of those areas.
But this is not the AWE featured on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish days of awe are an annual time of repentance, having awe and reverance and fear of God. The Days begin with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and conclude with Yom Kippur (Atonement), which ends at sunset on September30th, 2017. Devout Jews will spend the days of awe rising while it is still dark in the morning and going to synagogue to pray, in sincere penitence (prayer, fasting, worship, and asking God’s forgiveness for every single sin in their lives committed through the year). They will also go and make things right with their fellow-man, settle legal matters, and right anything else they know someone has against them, asking forgiveness, making restitution, and trying (to the letter of the law) to make things right. This is where the portion of the Lord’s prayer comes into play, “and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus also demonstrated the kingdom principle in the parable of the unmerciful servant.
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[a] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’[b] 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:21-35 (NKJV)
While the devil is feverishly sowing discord among us right now, causing us to be at odds with one another, offended at every little thing, piercing our hearts with fiery darts of political hate, racial bigotry, accusations of so-called homophobia, class warfare, and religious hate mongering, I believe Jesus is asking that we pound our swords into plowshares and plant seeds of kindness and forgiveness. To turn away wrath from our midst, give up our wickedness and our sinful ways, and seek His face, as Moses did on the mountain.
With God, our Maker, our Creator, we have the freewill to choose to serve Him or not, and yet true freedom is found only in fulfilling the purposes we were designed for. When we kick against the goads and seek our own desires, God takes His hand away, and although unbearable to Him, He lets us do what we think is right and good in our own eyes until we are finally so miserable that we repent, or so hardened that blindness overtakes us. He doesn’t interfere with our choice. He desires that when we experience pain, disappointment, cruelty, hate, envy, betrayal, etc. that we’ll see Satan for who he really is and turn back from running after things that are not good for us. And amazingly He is always ready to take us back. Forgive us. And restore us. Nobody knows Satan and how he operates better than God. Nobody has known him for as long as God has. If we were smart we would trust God, and run to Him for safety and never give Satan the time of day. But Satan is a clever salesman and is a master at deception, convincing us that God is an ogre, the no-fun police, a harsh taskmaster, or that He doesn’t exist at all. It’s all lies.
How long will we listen to Satan’s “fake news” propaganda? How much proof do we need?
The Lamb’s Book of Life
At the end of the days of awe, at sunset on the beginning of Yom Kippur, the custom of the Jews is to present themselves to the priest. The books are opened to see what disputes and legal matters are there, and what accusations have been brought (by two or three witnesses) against them during the past year. All secret sins are also to be confessed. Only the sins confessed are atoned for. Then, having righted all the wrongs with their neighbors, brothers, sisters, family, friends, and God himself, having cleared everything against themselves to the best of their ability, the priest then makes an atonement sacrifice for each, blots out all their sins from the books, and writes their names in the Book of Life. All the sins confessed and atoned for from the previous year are forgiven, never to be remembered again, as if they had never happened (revealing the wonderful plan of God from the beginning). When every single Jewish family has presented themselves before the priest, as the sun is setting on Yom Kippur, A HORN IS BLOWN, signaling that the ceremonies are completed. The slate (record of wrongs) is wiped clean…..until next year in Jerusalem!
Unfortunately, anyone who fails to appear before a priest out of laziness or rebellion, when that trumpet sounds, their sins remain. Anyone who refused to participate in the observance, their names are written in the book of death.
The Bible says, God has set before us, life and death, and implores us to choose life, but the choice is ours.
God’s plan revealed: Jesus came to earth as our high priest. He made the atonement sacrifice Himself. The blood He shed on Calvary was sprinkled on the mercy seat in God’s Holy of Holies to atone for our sins.
“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. “ Revelation 1:5
Only the sins we’ve personally confessed to Him, and only the relationships we have reconciled, are under the blood (what we bind on earth is bound in heaven and what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven). When we turn from our sins and trust in Jesus, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life forever after. All the other books (containing offenses) are wiped clean.
“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14
When that trumpet sounds at the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the door to heaven shall be closed forever, just as the doors to the ark of the covenant, where the mercy seat is, are also closed.
Jesus knew who would be His from the creation of the world (Revelation 17:8). He is the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8 and 21:27). There was always a plan in place to redeem the people who would choose God. He has always known who we would be. And He has always known who would not choose Him. “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15
The Great White Throne of Judgment is a judgment for unbelievers. No one at that judgment has his name in the Book of Life; their punishment is sure.
(Read more at: GotQuestions.org)
I don’t have any divine revelation on God’s timing. I’m not making a prediction here. No man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. The Lord may come tomorrow, next week, later this month or a thousand years from now. I am also nobody special and don’t have a crystal ball, a phD, a seminary degree, or anything of that sort. I have no special education that you should even listen to me. I am a sinner saved by grace, and that is my only credential. I am far far far from perfect (just ask any member of my family). I haven’t seen visions or dreamt dreams. I haven’t heard God’s voice as a mighty wind or rushing waters. But I do love God’s word, and His still small voice whispers from the pages with scriptural warnings. Please go and read them for yourself, and then look around at this world we are living in. The earth all around us is suffering earthquakes, near “Biblical” floods, famines, record breaking hurricanes, unprecedented fires, poisoned waters, volcanoes, signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and wars and rumors of wars. Our earth appears to be in the throes of birth pains. Amazingly God has protected His word (the Bible) so that it should not perish for all these centuries until every jot and tittle is accomplished. That in itself is a miracle. God’s people, the Jews still exist, through all these millennia, despite every attempt of every other race to cleanse the planet of their existence. Another miracle.
This could very well be the last Yom Kippur to be celebrated on earth. Possibly the last chance to make things right with God before that door closes forever. It’s all in God’s timing. God’s timing is always perfect, and always a mystery to be revealed by Him and only Him. But there are three feasts to be fulfilled, and the trio are right on our doorstep. Remember that the wise virgins (parable) filled their lamps and were ready when the bridegroom appeared. Be ready!!!!
Do you have any unconfessed sin? Do you know someone who has something against you that you need to make right? Now is the time to take care of that. Be reconciled to God! Do it quickly!!!!
Seek the Lord while He may be found:
- Seek Him in the morning (pray and read the scriptures)
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” – Psalms 5:3
Visit this website for 12 Helpful Morning Prayers and verses
- Seek Him during the day (pray and read the scriptures)
“We know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Not only that, but we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.” – Romans 8:22-23
Visit this website for some beautiful daytime prayers and scripture readings iBreviary
- Seek Him at meal times (pray and read the scriptures)
“Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…”
Visit this website for some terrific mealtime scripture prayers Intoxicated on Life
- Seek Him in the evening (pray and read the scriptures)
“At evening withhold not your hand.” – Ecclesiastes 11:6
Visit this website for a great set of evening reflections Morning&Evening.org
- Seek Him upon your bed (pray and read the scriptures)
“At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” – Isaiah 26:9
Visit this website for cross references related to the above scripture BibleHub.com
- Put on the whole armor of God, and pray continually with all kinds of prayers
- Be watchful (pray and read the scriptures)
- Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking (pray and read the scriptures)
- Seek peace and pursue it (pray and read the scriptures)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. – Jesus
(Mathew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5)
Before you go, may we have a prayer together?
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters, my spouse, my parents, my children, my friends, my family, and for myself, that You, O Lord will forgive us our sins, all of our sins, sweep our houses (body, soul, & spirit) clean and put our houses in order. I pray Your blood will cover ALL our transgressions and that You will write our names in the Lamb’s book of life forever. I pray that You will fill us with Your Holy Spirit, as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. I pray that You will tune our ears to hear what the Spirit tells us, and help us to remember everything You have told us in Your word. I pray that we will each grow stronger in Spirit every day. I pray that You will suit us up in the Spiritual Armor this day and every day, wash our feet of the heathen dust of the earth, and be attentive to our prayers. If the enemy asks to sift us as wheat I pray that you will tell him NO. I pray that You will bind our enemy, cast him as far from us as the east is from the west; cast out every fear, pull down every stronghold, and cast down every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I pray that You will put a hedge of protection around us, place us under Your feathers and in Your shadow, surrounded by Your holy guardian angels who will intimidate and chase away every enemy, real or imagined. Set for us safe boundaries that the enemy cannot penetrate. I pray that You will put in us a desire to seek peace and pursue it with every person in our lives including You. When we are weak You are strong. I pray that You will give us clear minds, to this end, that we will forever worship You in Your kingdom, and forever be with You. We love and honor You. We worship You, O precious merciful LORD. We magnify Your name in all the earth. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Next year in “New” Jerusalem!
(*Le-shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yerushalayim)
* Closing toast for every Passover and every Yom Kippur observance, every year. Note that both feasts are about the blood, the Passover blood of the Lamb of God that takes away our sins, and the Atoning blood of our merciful High Priest that cleanses away our sins.
Please visit this website (Hebrew4Christians) for a more in-depth study of Yom Kippur, the fall feasts and High Holy Days, from a messianic Jewish perspective.
“And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11