Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Day of Atonements

Today, September 23, 2015, is the traditional day of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonements. Most Christians will bypass this day without a further thought, but Jews and those believers of Yeshua who follow the Lord's calendar, will pay close attention. It is the holiest day of the year. When the Temple was still standing it was the day in which atonement was made:

          For the high priesthood and the priests
          For the holy sanctuary
          For the tabernacle
          For the altar, and
          For the people

Today, without the Temple, we cannot keep the Day of Atonements. However, we are commanded to continually observe that day, partially to prepare for the day when the Temple again exists and we gather to keep the feast with our returned Messiah Yeshua. But we also observe the day as the foreshadowing of the atonement provided by the death and resurrection of Yeshua.

Leviticus 16:29-34 (KJV)
29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
30 For 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.
31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Notice that atonement was made not only for people, but for objects that were incapable of sin (the sanctuary, the tabernacle, and the altar. This indicates that the atonements made on Yom Kippur were not really about the removal of sin, but were about covering the people and cleansing the Temple for the coming year in order for God to continue to dwell therein. These atonements worked!

Hebrews 9:13-14 (KJV)
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9 is a comparison. Although the atonements of Yom Kippur worked in a temporal, outward sense, the atonement of Yeshua was eternal and internal. Yeshua's death and resurrection actually removed sin from believers!

From Leviticus 16 we learn that the command to observe the Day of Atonements is an everlasting statute (verse 34). It was to be observed by God's people and any strangers that sojourned among them (verse 29). If we claim to be a part of God's people, that command is pertinent to us!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Will it Be Today?

Matthew 24:27 (KJV) 
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24:30-31 (KJV)
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 24:36 (KJV)
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:42 (KJV)
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV) 
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Could this be the day in which Yeshua returns?

Devout believers have been patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for His return since His ascension back into Heaven roughly 2000 years ago. What, exactly, are we expecting to see? Some of the sights and sounds that will accompany His return are:

          Hearing a shout from the archangel.
          Hearing a trumpet from God.
          Seeing Yeshua coming from the clouds.
          Seeing dead believers rising up to the clouds.
          Seeing alive believers rising up to the clouds.

Won't this be amazing!

The difficult part is that we do have to wait for this event. Matthew 24:42 says that we are to "watch." This indicates that we are to actively be on the lookout for Yeshua's return. Yet, no one knows the day or hour when this will happen as it says in Matthew 24:36 and 42. But do we have any clues?

Did you know that God's calendar presents us with some very strong evidence? The Bible points to Yeshua's birth being on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Succot). Yeshua was crucified on Passover. He was in the grave during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits and the Holy Spirit was given on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). However, there is no event that corresponds to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) or the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur),

Doesn't it seem likely that these feasts will also be accompanied by events? And did you notice that the name of the next feast is the Feast of Trumpets? (Actually in Hebrew, it is called the Day of Blowing.) Oddly, enough, there is a Jewish idiom that describes that day as "The day that no man knows." This has to do with the fact that the feast day cannot really be known until the first sliver of the moon appears to indicate that the seventh month of the Biblical year has arrived. That first day of the seventh month is the Feast of Trumpets.

Leviticus 23:23-25 (KJV)
23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

If God is consistent something wonderful will happen on a Feast of Trumpets. Yeshua will return! Will it be this year? We don't know, but it behooves us to be watching!

(Many who follow the traditional Jewish calendar will begin celebrating Yom Teruah this evening, Sunday, September 13, 2015. Others wait for the moon's appearance in Jerusalem. That could place the beginning at sundown on September 14 or 15th.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Difference Between the Old and New Covenants

I don't believe that I would get any arguments from other believers if I said that Christians today are a part of the New Covenant. However, there are many misunderstandings about this covenant that have caused many wrong assumptions and wrong theologies. Let's look into this issue a little more closely.

Where in the Bible do we learn about the New Covenant? We can read the entire New Testament and not find the details of this New Covenant. In order to "find" it, we must look back to the Old Testament. We can find it in the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)
31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

With whom does God make this Covenant? Verse 31 tells us that the New Covenant is made between God and the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Clearly, the New Covenant is not made between God and any entity we would recognize today as the Church. Isn't this surprising, considering what we've been taught? Our theology has been wrong. If we are not a part of Israel there is no covenant.

Verse 32 tells us that the New Covenant will not be like the Old Covenant. No surprises there!

What is different about the New Covenant compared to the Old? Verse 33 explains that in the New Covenant, God's Law will be put in believers' minds and will be written on their hearts. This also is not surprising. However, what Law are we talking about? Since Jeremiah is a part of the Old Testament there can only be one conclusion. There was only one Law of God in existence. It is called the Torah. The Torah of God will be in believers' minds and hearts. Our theology has been wrong.

When does the New Covenant begin? Traditional Christianity says that the New Covenant began when the Holy Spirit descended on the believers at Pentecost. Although it is true that from that time on believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and they are able to refrain from sin, verse 34 doesn't sound like anything we are experiencing today. "All will know Yehovah!" Also, in verse 31, both houses of Israel are mentioned, but in verse 33 they are mentioned together as the house of Israel. The New Covenant will not be fully evident until a time future when Israel's two houses are again one, and all Israel will know God!

Traditional Christianity has a long history of distancing itself from Jewishness. Yet, the plain reading of the Bible indicates that God's people are called Israel and it is with her that the New Covenant is made. If you are a believer who has been born again and has the Spirit of God living within, you are a part of Israel. You are a part of the New Covenant. However, if the only difference between the Old and the New Covenant is the location of God's Torah, we believers in Yeshua must embrace that Torah and not make excuses as to why we don't have to obey it. Jeremiah's description makes no mention of a change in the requirements of following the Torah, so let's just do it!