Tuesday, September 25, 2012

24 September 2012

This week, several of the lessons point us to Yom Kipper, the great day of Atonement which prefigures the death of Yeshua on the cross.  The lesson from Isaiah is perhaps most relevant to us as Christians today:
Isaiah 57:14-58:14:
 And they shall say, Clear the ways before him, and take up the stumbling-blocks out of the way of my people.
15 Thus saith El Shaddai, who dwells on high for ever, Holy in the holies, is his name, El Shaddai resting in the holies, and giving patience to the faint-hearted, and giving life to the broken-hearted: 16 I will not take vengeance on you for ever, neither will I be always angry with you: for my Spirit shall go forth from me, and I have created all breath. 17 On account of sin for a little while I grieved him, and smote him, and turned away my face from him; and he was grieved, and he went on sorrowful in his ways. 18 I have seen his ways, and healed him, and comforted him, and given him true comfort; 19 peace upon peace to them that are far off, and to them that are nigh: and Yahweh has said, I will heal them.
20 But the unrighteous shall be tossed as troubled waves, and shall not be able to rest. 21 There is no joy to the ungodly, said God.
Listen to Esaias Chapter 58Chapter 58
58:1 Cry aloud, and spare not; lift up thy voice as with a trumpet, and declare to my people their sins, and to the house of Jacob their iniquities. 2 They seek me day by day, and desire to know my ways, as a people that had done righteousness, and had not forsaken the judgement of their God: they now ask of me righteous judgement, and desire to draw nigh to God, 3 saying, Why have we fasted, and thou regardest not? why have we afflicted our souls, and thou didst not know it?
Nay, in the days of your fasts ye find your pleasures, and all them that are under your power ye wound. 4 If ye fast for quarrels and strifes, and smite the lowly with your fists, wherefore do ye fast to me as ye do this day, so that your voice may be heard in crying? 5 I have not chosen this fast, nor such a day for a man to afflict his soul; neither though thou shouldest bend down thy neck as a ring, and spread under thee sackcloth and ashes, neither thus shall ye call a fast acceptable. 6 I have not chosen such a fast, saith Yahweh; but do thou loose every burden of iniquity, do thou untie the knots of hard bargains, set the bruised free, and cancel every unjust account. 7 Break thy bread to the hungry, and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: if thou seest one naked, clothe him, and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed.
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily spring forth: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall compass thee. 9 Then shalt thou cry, and God shall hearken to thee; while thou art yet speaking he will say, Behold, I am here. If thou remove from thee the band, and the stretching forth of the hands, and murmuring speech; 10 and if thou give bread to the hungry from thy heart, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light spring up in darkness, and thy darkness shall be as noon-day: 11 and thy God shall be with thee continually, and thou shalt be satisfied according as thy soul desires; and thy bones shall be made fat, and shall be as a well-watered garden, and as a fountain from which the water has not failed. 12 And thy old waste desert places shall be built up, and thy foundations shall last through all generations; and thou shalt be called a repairer of breaches, and thou shalt cause thy paths between to be in peace.
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, so as not to do thy pleasure on the holy days, and shalt call the sabbaths delightful, holy to God; if thou shalt not lift up thy foot to work, nor speak a word in anger out of thy mouth, 14 then shalt thou trust on the Lord; and he shall bring thee up to the good places of the land, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken this.

The lesson begins by telling us that the nation of Israel will be restored, but that they had been punished for their sin, but they shall be healed.  Then Yahweh takes on the fast (Yom Kippur, or the day of Atonement, the only Jewish Holy Day mandated by the Bible as a fast day.)  The people are fasting and sad, most especially because there is no blessing, and Isaiah explains why.  What is a real fast, loosing the chords of iniquity (repentance), feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, providing shelter to the homeless, and doing all of this from our hearts, not just because we have to.  When we do all these things, we shall have the blessing, and a powerful blessing at that.  That blessing will be even more, if we learn to keep the Sabbath (both Yom Kippur and the weekly Sabbath as a day of joy.  

Many of us here  in the United States of America believe that this nation was begun as  a Christian nation, but are we still?  Do we worry about repentance, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless, or do we just worry about ourselves.  I myself see the hand of God against this once great nation.  We have become a land of divorce, more than 50 million abortions since Roe v. Wade, a nation promoting sexual iniquity, and yet we wonder why God does not bless us.  The CEO is rewarded, yet the workers have to collect food stamps and Medicare to survive.  Do we worry about them.  Unless we fight against iniquity, divorce, gay marriage, abortion and neglecting the poor, God will judge this nation.  Some Christians think God is too nice to punish us.  I say, look at Israel.  Cast off the land three times.  The third time for close to two millennia.  Will we really keep rejecting God and his commandments?  Will people continue to stay away from church, because they are forced to work on Sunday?

I would ask you to join me and many others, on Yom Kippur, which begins tomorrow at sunset.  Fast, pray.  Ask God to help you repent.  Ask God to help us as a nation to repent, to put a slow down on divorce, to end extramarital sex, to quit sacrificing our children on the altar of convenience, to help the less fortunate, to repent in spirit and truth.  If you can, take off work.  Pray, fast, tell your neighbours, for if we don't get serious, God will.  Read the lesson above again.  God is a loving father.  He will do what is necessary to put us back on the right track. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

16 September 2012

10 Have ye not all one father? Did not one God create you? why have ye forsaken every man his brother, to profane the covenant of your fathers?
11 Juda has been forsaken, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Juda has profaned the holy things of the Lord, which he delighted in, and has gone after other gods. 12 The Lord will utterly destroy the man that does these things, until he be even cast down from out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and from among them that offer sacrifice to the Lord Almighty. 13 And these things which I hated, ye did: ye covered with tears the altar of the Lord, and with weeping and groaning because of troubles: is it meet for me to have respect to your sacrifice, or to receive anything from your hands as welcome?
14 Yet ye said, Wherefore? Because the Lord has borne witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, whom thou has forsaken, and yet she was thy partner, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did he not do well? and there was the residue of his spirit. But ye said, What does God seek but a seed? But take ye heed to your spirit, and forsake not the wife of thy youth. 16 But if thou shouldest hate thy wife and put her away, saith the Lord God of Israel, then ungodliness shall cover thy thoughts, saith the Lord Almighty: therefore take ye heed to your spirit, and forsake them not, 17 ye that have provoked God with your words. But ye said, Wherein have we provoked him? In that ye say, Every one that does evil is a pleasing object in the sight of the Lord, and he takes pleasure in such; and where is the God of justice?
Listen to Malachias Chapter 3Chapter 3
3:1 Behold, I send forth my messenger, and he shall survey the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come into his temple, even the angel of the covenant, whom ye take pleasure in: behold, he is coming, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 And who will abide the day of his coming? or who will withstand at his appearing? for he is coming in as the fire of a furnace and as the herb of fullers. 3 He shall sit to melt and purify as it were silver, and as it were gold: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver, and they shall offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness.
4 And the sacrifice of Juda and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to the Lord, according to the former days, and according to the former years. 5 And I will draw near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the witches, and against the adulteresses, and against them that swear falsely by my name, and against them that keep back the hireling’s wages, and them that oppress the widow, and afflict orphans, and that wrest the judgment of the stranger, and fear not me, saith the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 2:10-3:5, LXX)

At first glance one wonders if the writers of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence were familiar with Malachi.  Do we indeed all have one father and God who created us, so indeed we are equal in God's eyes.  But from here we go downhill.  Yehudah has rejected God by going after false Gods.  Do we not have the same problem today.  We abandon the one true God to worship the gods of sex, sports, alchohol and drugs, and occasionally wonder into church to profane God's temple, just as Yehudah did.  Some do worst.  How many Christians convert to Buddhism, not because they think the religion is better, but because they don't believe it condemns our behaviour.  I once had someone tell me they wanted to be a Buddhist, because they would only have to go to the temple once a year!!!  And then we come crying back to god, because we have found out that our false gods are truly that, false.

But more powerfully, this lesson talks about marriage, and God lets us know what he thinks.  First he condemns unfaithfulness.  He hates divorce.  He wants us to be faithful to our wives and to have children.  And implied of course, he wants wives to be faithful to their husbands.  As we look at the divorce rate in the US, and the abortion rate, is it not amazing that he does not judge us now?  Why is it that God hates divorce?  It is because marriage is an icon of the relationship between Christ and his church. 

And Yah condemns us for calling evil good.  Does this not describe the world today?  Bishops divorce their wives to marry another man, and call this good.  We affirm the right of a woman to murder her own child, and call it good.  Sunday has become the most important shopping day of the week and we call it good, even though our "need" to buy stuff on Sundays keeps people out of church and keeps families from spending time together.  People no longer have children because they are inconvenient, and we call it good.  Yah warns us that we cannot continue on this path.  Just as he warns the Jews that John the Baptist is coming to prepare Yeshua's way, so he warns us that the Lord is  coming, and he is coming to judge the Earth and set things right.  There will be judgement against witches, adulteresses (and adulterers as well), those who swear falsely by Yahweh's name, against those who hold back wages, who oppress the widow and orphan, and against those who pervert justice.  For many, when the Lord returns to judge the earth, it will be a day of tears. 

We need to learn to truly be God's servants.  God does not want us to continues in the same old lifestyle. God expects us to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, but he is not going to force that change upon us.  He allows us to do it at the rate we want, but he does expect us to go forward.  Is God transforming your life?  If not, why not.  This day as we proclaim with trumpets that God is king, we need to consider that in truth.  If God is truly our king, then it is time to put him in charge of our lives.