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The Annual Feasts of the 7th Month
Part 2 - Tishrei 10: The Day of Atonement
     And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath, Lev. 23:26-32.
     This is the day of affliction which Yahweh has given to us for our salvation. We fast so that we may understand His mighty purpose in His discipline of those He loves.
     Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe Your commandments. Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes. The proud have forged a lie against me, but I will keep Your precepts with my whole heart. Their heart is as fat as grease, but I delight in Your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver. Your hands have made me and fashioned me. Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Those who fear You will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in Your word. I know, O Yahweh, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight, Psalm 119:66-77.
     How important is Yahweh’s Law, His Word, for our life our eternal life!
     Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Yahweh, and whom You teach out of Your law; that You may grant him relief from the days of adversity, until a pit is dug for the wicked [the pit that Satan will be thrown into]. For Yahweh will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. [Who are His People; His Inheritance?] For judgment will again be righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Who will stand up for me against evildoers? Who will take his stand for me against those who do wickedness? If Yahweh had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O Yahweh, will hold me up, Psalm 94:12-18.
     Knowing Yahweh and abiding in His Law is relief from the days of adversity, a prophecy I fully believe, of the end time scenario. Knowing Yahweh and abiding in His Law is salvation. Paul was taught out of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings; the Law from which comes judgment ... and mercy.
     But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Master so that we will not be condemned along with the world, 1 Corinthians 11:28-32.
     Today, we gather together on this Holy convocation, this miqra qodesh, the Day of Atonement, fasting as a symbol of affliction, knowing the awesome destructive AND redeeming power of Yahweh, that He is a just Elohim, issuing mercy to the righteous and condemnation to the unrighteous – and knowing that “then (pointing to the fulfillment of this Day), we SHALL know that His name is Yahweh.”
     But, we also know that here, in this present time, Yahweh, through Yahshua, issues judgment to us, not for condemnation, but for guidance, as any good father would.
     For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons, Hebrews 12:3-4.
     The next 2 verses are taken from Proverbs 3:11,12.
     My son, do not despise the chastening of Yahweh, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom Yahweh loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives, Hebrews 12:5-6.
     If you endure chastening, Yahweh deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they (our daddies) indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He [Yahweh] for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it, Hebrews 12:7-11.
And, why are we chastened? To learn the Law of Yahweh and learn what it means to obey our Heavenly Father, that we may enter in to His Household, as His Children.
     By keeping this day, we are acknowledging Yahweh’s Plan of Salvation, in obedience to His commandment to “afflict our souls” on this day. We desire to understand the nature of this set-apart day, its significance to our lives and its place in Yahweh’s Plan of Salvation.
     In the phrase, the Day of Atonement, the word “atonement” is Strong’s #3725, kippur, from the Hebrew word, Strong’s #3722, kaphar, meaning to cover. Figuratively, it means to forgive or make reconciliation.
     William Tyndale, while laboring to translate the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into English in 1526, had recognized that there was no English word to convey how Yahshua’s sacrifice accomplished both the personal remission of sin and the reconciliation of mankind to Yahweh. Tyndale certainly recognized that Yahshua’s atoning sacrifice figured into the atonement of Israel. We know this today that it is only through Yahshua that Israel will be restored, meaning all 12 tribes. Tyndale further defined the word “atonement” to encompass both actions. He wanted to overcome the inherent limitations of the word “reconciliation,” while incorporating the aspects of "propitiation" and “forgiveness,” which are the renowned works of Yahshua. Tyndale’s proposed definition viewed the word “atonement” as its general meaning, forgiveness; but then he divided the word into two parts, at-onement, to mean “reconciliation.”
     The word, reconciliation, comes from Latin roots “re,” meaning “again”; “con,” meaning “with”; and “sella,” meaning “seat.” Re/con/ciliation, therefore, literally and simply means “to sit again with.” Reconciliation is not about creating a new relationship, but restoring the original one. But, reconciliation doesn’t contain the aspect of forgiveness in response to self affliction. (A picture of reconciliation is when my wife and I return home from work. When we both get there, we are “reconciled”; that is, we sit again with each other. She might paint while I prepare a sermon; still we are reconciled. However, atonement occurs when we sacrifice or give up the desire of our minds and hearts when an issue comes up that we have to work together to resolve. It is only then that we are “echad” or at-onement.) Tyndale defined his word to connect the idea of affliction, forgiveness and reconciliation, not just forgiveness.
     On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement [Yom HaKipurim, meaning the “Day of the AtonementS”]: it shall be an holy convocation [a qodesh miqra] unto you; and ye shall afflict [which is the Hebrew word, anah – meaning to look down upon self, abase self, deal harshly with, defile, force down, humble, hurt, ravish, submit self, and weaken] your souls [nephesh – your vitality; your body, heart, mind, lust, pleasure and appetite], and offer an offering made by fire [ishshah – a sacrifice] unto Yahweh. And ye shall do no work inthatsameday:foritisadayof atonement, to make an atonement for you [lakapeer alechem] before Yahweh your Elohim. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your Sabbath, Leviticus 23:27-32.
     Yahweh’s word clearly delineates the fact that there is to be a complete abasement of ourselves due to our moral frailty, our flesh and our sinfulness. In response to our genuine display of humiliation to Yahweh, He then provides a covering for us. Here, in this life of trial and tribulation, His covering hides our weaknesses and fallibilities. But this Day of Atonement is the foreshadowing of the REAL Day of Atonement, when we shall have incorruptible bodies, wherein there are no corruptible thoughts, corruptible feelings or corruptible actions. THAT is the Day that THIS day is preparing us for.
     If the Feast of Trumpets is the day in which Yahshua comes down from heaven riding a white horse, wearing a garment that has been baptized in blood, “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,” then the Day of Atonement must be a picture of being “covered” or hidden from such heavenly wrath. It is the final day of 10 days of tribulation and hardship; but, it is also a day of deliverance. Yahshua will be setting up His government. He will destroy the works of man’s government and institute a regime that is ruled by the Laws He once established. He will rule with an iron rod, and He will usher in those whom He covered, through the 12 gates bearing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel and Yahshua’s 12 Apostles, into His Millennial Reign. Until then, we wait, preparing for the day Yahshua returns, the tribulation, the redemption, the Thousand Year Reign, and the day upon which Yahweh will cast out all evil. We will do this by immersing ourselves into the Word of Yahweh, teaching righteousness and living daily in obedience to His will.
     Atonement is an agreement made between Yahweh and those who are obedient to His word.
     There are two such atonements made among the seven High (or Annual) Sabbaths, the Holy Convocations of Yahweh. The first one is the atonement made for each of us, individually, by Yahshua the Messiah. He became the propitiation for our sins, wiping away the “ordinances written against us.”
     And you, being dead in your trespasses [according to the law of sin and death, you know: if you sin, you die] and the uncircumcision of your flesh [meaning ignorance of your sinful nature], (you) He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which WAS contrary to us. And He has taken it [the charges against us] out of the way, having nailed it to the tree. Having disarmed principalities and powers [those powers working against Yahweh, including Satan’s minions], He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food [that is, as you abstain from eating unclean foods] or in drink [as you abstain from drunkenness], or regarding the Appointed Times, the new moon [either the act of determining months by the new moon, or a new moon celebration] or Sabbaths, which are a shadow [some versions render it mere shadow, but “mere” is NOT found in the Greek! Instead, consider that in Hebrew, “shadow” speaks of obscurity, something that is hidden or protected] of things to come, the substance [or, the fulfillment of which] is the Messiah. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels [heathen practices], intruding into those things which he has not seen [that is, the Word of Yahweh], vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from Whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from Yahweh.
     Therefore, if you died with the Messiah from the basic [from base, dishonorable, improper, sordid, vile or immoral] principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations [dogma – that teaches], do not touch, do not taste, do not handle, which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of MEN? These things [the false doctrines of men] indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed [man-made] religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh [in other words, these false doctrines do not speak out against sin], Colossians 2:13-23.
Here, Paul (Sha’ul), is reflecting on the words of Isaiah.
     Then the Sovereign said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from Yahweh, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; or what is formed say to Him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet just a little while before Lebanon will be turned into a fertile field, and the fertile field will be considered as a forest? On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in Yahweh, and the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the ruthless will come to an end and the scorner will be finished, indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off; who cause a person to be indicted by a word, and ensnare him who adjudicates at the gate, and defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments. Therefore thus says Yahweh, Who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now turn pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will sanctify My name; indeed, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the Elohim of Israel. Those who err in mind will know the truth, and those who criticize will accept instruction,” Isaiah 29:13-24.
     It’s interesting to me how frequent the idea of hiddenness or covering is used in Scripture. Yahweh says if we cover ourselves from Him, we shall be destroyed. If we humble ourselves by recognizing our faults, He will hide us from tribulation. He will redeem those of a humble and contrite heart.
     Submit yourselves, then, to the Almighty. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to Yahweh and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before Yahweh, and He will lift you up, James 4:7-10.
     Here, in the book of James (whose real name is Ya'acob), is the picture of submission to the ONE authority, above all. He tells us in James 1:27,
     Pure religion and undefiled before Yahweh our Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
     All who have been granted compassion for others have only received it through grief, mourning and wailing - we grieve, mourn and wail in response to the evil that exists in the world. We do that because we KNOW that there is hope for a living rest, for a living peace, and for a living love. The laughter-turned-to-mourning and the joy-that-turned-to-gloom that Ya'acob is speaking about is not heavenly laughter and joy, but the pleasures of the world that ensnare even the compassionate. Being "lifted up" is the true joy of knowing that there is an Authority Who rules from heaven and Who will destroy evil when evil's course has ended.
     Until then, we are here to learn compassion for others, in the face of evil. Compassion is the most powerful lesson we can learn, because compassion is the primary power of the Creator. As we humble ourselves to forgive others of their acts of evil toward us, Yahweh will humble Himself to forgive us. Yes, He will *repent* of the judgment against us for our acts of evil, when we, out of humility, repent of our disobedience to Him, that is, our rejection of Him from our lives. Ultimately, "forgiveness" means, "I will not avenge others' acts of destruction toward me, but will continue to show compassion."
Learn Compassion
     The phrase in Matthew 6:12, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," means "We know that You, Heavenly Father, will forgive us of our transgressions against You in the SAME manner that we forgive those who have transgressed against us." Most people don't know the personal power contained within this verse, the *absolute* power that the Creator has placed in our hands for our redemption. WE are essentially in control of our redemption. All we have to do is learn compassion. How do we do that? Through humility, understanding that we have no power, except that it be given to us by Yahweh.
     And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of the Messiah may rest upon me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.
     Something tells me we have a long way to go, but the reward will be so amazing that ANYthing we find "joyful" here, on this planet, now, will pale in comparison to the empowered Joy of living amongst compassionate people, none of whom will be evil-minded, none of whom will hurt us. THAT is the hope that I see for all of us. That is my personal hope, too. And this is how I know that compassion is in us. Because we grieve that this empowered, heavenly Joy is not here now ... that there is evil in the world ... and, we know that evil is still present ... within *us* ... all of us.
     THAT is why we needed a perfect Lamb to die for our sins, because all mankind was born incapable of purity. That's the way it *is.* But, Yahshua changed all that, but we are not yet perfected; we are not yet redeemed or "born again." The promise of our redemption is offered to us with a condition - that we act with compassion toward Yahweh and His Son, Yahshua ("If you love Me, you will obey My Commandments"), and that we have compassion for our fellow, imperfect family of mankind.
     What I teach in my common work is how to create compassion through a worldly understanding of how WE and others have come to the place of harming ourselves and others, that is, acting out our anger toward self and others; but, then how to correct destructive beliefs that taught us to hate others – and ourselves. But, this worldly understanding is only a rung on the ladder of deeper understanding - a ladder that we have been called to climb. Jacob, after his dream of the ladder stretching from earth to heaven, said, in Genesis 32:30, "I have seen Elohim face to face, and my life is preserved." Resting upon the first rung of this ladder will not get us to where we want to be. We must climb to a higher rung. And keep on climbing.
     My life’s desire is to seek out "the lost sheep of the House of Israel," as Yahshua described about His mission and to the mission He bequeathed to His disciples, as written in the book of Matthew 10:6 and 15:24. I follow the Shepherd, as one of the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. You, if you are not familiar with these ideas, are invited by the Shepherd to follow Him. He is a Good Master, because He serves the Mighty One of Israel, Yahweh Elohim. He is compassionate, a Servant ... but, let me have Isaiah tell you all about Him:
     Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of Elohim, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of My people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But Yahweh was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of Yahweh will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors, Isaiah 53.
     The Scriptures speak much about atonement.
     When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to Yahweh”; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah, Psalms 32:3-5.
     I have surely heard Ephraim grieving, “You have chastised me, and I was chastised, like an untrained calf; bring me back that I may be restored, for You are Yahweh my Elohim. For after I turned back, I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a delightful child? Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him, I certainly still remember him; Therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him,” declares Yahweh, Jeremiah 31:18-20.
     From the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:17-24 we read:
     But when he came to his senses, he said, “How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.”
     If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.
     Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the called-out ones. To him who over-comes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of Yahweh, Revelation 2:5-7.
     For indeed He was impaled because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of Elohim. For we also are weak in Him, yet we will live with Him because of the power of Yahweh directed toward you. Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yahshua HaMashiach is in you--unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:4-5).
     We were created by Yahweh to be His Sons and Daughters in One Family. We were instructed to honor His laws, which He has made known to us. He offers a covenant to us: if we will obey His Commandments, He will guarantee eternal life for us. We realize, at some point, that we are sinners in that we have disobeyed Yahweh’s commandments, the penalty for which is eternal death, the righteous judgment decreed by Our Heavenly Father through Yahshua the Messiah. Without atonement, we are disinherited; we are no longer under Yahweh’s mercy and protection. It is out of His compassion, the compassion of a father for an only child, that Elohim makes known to us His Plan of Salvation.
-Elder John Fisher
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