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:
And they shall say, Clear the ways before him, and take up the stumbling-blocks out of the way of my people.
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.
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.
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.
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.