Yom Kippur 2003
Face to Face with Yahweh
Sabbath Day Sermon, Monday 6 October 2003
Brethren and sisters of the covenant, I welcome you to this High Sabbath day and most solemn of all the holy days of Yahweh. This is the one day in the year were we are not celebrating joyfully but fasting in anticipation of the Judgement of Yahweh. This is the day when we are not only judged as a Messianic community but as individuals. Today is the Day of Accountability.
There are two wrong ways to view Yom Kippur in the New Covenant and one right one. It is firstly wrong to view Yom Kippur as the only day of judgement for a believer. It is wrong to suppose that we can live merrily throughout the year without a care in the world, come repentant during the season of Teshuvah (Repentance), get ourselves right before Yahweh, and then resume sinning. When Teshuvah and Yom Kippur are viewed in this light, they become a mere game. In short, religious hypocrisy.
The second wrong way to view Teshuvah and Yom Kippur is to regard them as mere ritual or ceremony with no other meaning that to remind us that repentance and judgement are an integral part of the Gospel. Whilst they are very definitely teaching devices and reminders given by the Creator to make sure we do not either forgot or minimise the power of the carnal nature to pull us away from all truth, it is as wrong to say that Yom Teruah is mere ritual as it is to say the same of the Sabbath.
Every single ordinance of Yahweh has been blessed and sanctified by Him. He specially states that the seventh day is sanctified by Him. This means it is set-apart or made holy. And by that it means that when we observe it in the manner prescribed by Him, special blessings await us. The Sabbath is not just an option - it has the divine imprimatur upon it. That means if we choose to wilfully disobey it, the Enemy has legal right to make spiritual claims on us. And you all know what that means. Every sanctified period in the Divine Calendar is both an obligation and contains tangible blessings for those who are obedient to it. So I do not want anyone here to believe that today is just like 'any other day'. It isn't. Whether you believe it or not - whether you like it or not - today is the day in Yahweh's Calendar in which we are judged for our year's stewardship. Today is the day when the day of grace - the day of his undeserved loving kindness and mercy - comes to an end for this season and we have to make some very serious decisions about our life: do we repent of our wrong-doings for the previous year which remain unrepented of, or do we remain wilfully in our sins and have Yahweh close the gates of forgiveness against us?
When it comes to Grace and Torah (Law) there are likewise two false views and one correct one. The first of the false views is that Yahweh is all grace and never judges - He forgives us no matter what we do. Yom Kippur gives the lie to that, which is one reason He has ordained this period. The second of the false views is that Yahweh descends like a ton of bricks upon us every time we commit the least little sin and condemns us to hell. It denies the principle of grace. The truth lies in between - Yahweh is very graceful, patiently waiting for us to repent of wrongdoing, but will not do so indefinitely. Sins of ignorance - though they may give demons legal grounds - He displays great patience over. Many of these may take years to become aware of. We may be aware of certain sins but lack the keys to repent - here He shows mercy also, teaching us line-upon-line. But that mercy is conditional upon our actually working out our salvation with fear and trembling, and not assuming that we have forever and a day to get things fixed in our lives. Time is precious, and time is short. That is why Paul tells us to make absolutely sure that we "walk circumspectly" and are "redeeming the time" (Eph.5:16).
Though it should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense, it is a fact that most people seem to live life with total indifference to time. Yahweh knows the carnal man's tendency to postpone the day of repentance and to find excuses for not doing what is right. Not only does He remind us about the principles of repentance, mercy, and judgement at Yom Kippur but strategically reminds us that this must be done every year.
Once a year the Kohen haGadol (High Priest) went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple to offer sacrifices on behalf of himself, the priestly tribe of Levi, and of the whole community of Israel (Lev.16:2). This was the only day in the year when the High Priest could meet Yahweh face-to-face. It is for this reason that the Day of Atonement is also sometimes called "Face to Face".
Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) became the last and final sacrifice for sin. He stands now as our eternal Kohen haGadol or High Priest. The priestly tribe of Levi no longer mediates the Mosaic Covenant for we are now under a better one after the Order of Melchizedek. Today, every Israelite - and that means, everyone who acknowledges Yah'shua (Jesus) as Messiah - is a Holy Priesthood in the calling and making. Every baptised and chrismated married member in good standing is called to serve as a Priesthood officer, male and female, either as a Deacon or Deaconess, or as an Elder or Eldress. The outer Temple of Yahweh has now become internalised - our physical bodies are temples of the Most High, and collectively as the Body of Christ we are a supra-Temple. And the Holy of Holies is our heart.
As individuals we are free to cross the veil into the Holy of Holies every day now, and not just the High Priest at Yom Kippur. We have direct access to the Father through Yah'shua (Jesus), our advocate. And so in a sense Yom Kippur is also a daily event, and every 24 hour day is an annual cycle, represented by the Festivals, of the process of regeneration. We are, as Paul says, supposed to be dying daily to ourselves, and daily rising into men and women in Christ. There is nothing static in a life in Christ. Everything is movement, onwards and upwards.
In the Millennium-to-come we will get a glimpse into what it is like to live in an eternal state, which is why it is described as a perpetual Sabbath. Whilst this does not mean there will be seven Saturdays in the week, it does mean that the spirit which pervades that sanctified Day will pervade all seven days in the week. When we reach the perfection we are called to, we will live in perpetual repentance, judgement, and forgiveness, the three states merging, as it were, into a new reality called 'Redemption' - not merely jurisdictional, but actual. When the Millennium ends, and Satan is released for the last time to test us, there will be a final Yom Kippur for the human race, and then the cosmic season of Teshurah will be at and end.
We are both spiritual and physical beings. This means there is a timeless part of ourselves and one which is rooted in time and cycles. There are daily cycles, monthly cycles, annual cycles, and 50 year cycles. Yom Kippur is an annual one. And it remains annual even after the Cross - the Cross did not suddenly eliminate the need for time or the annual festivals. The difference between Yom Kippur before the Cross, and after it, is the mode of salvation: annual animal sacrifices have been replaced by a single sacrifice which is for ever. And though Christ may have conquered death, we have not yet received the resurrection power in its totality yet. The proof of that is our mortality. Whilst we may say we are conditionally redeemed - if we finish the race - it has not actually happened yet. There still remains the possibility of a fall. We are still not fully sanctified. And we know these things are true because of the plain evidence of our sinful tendencies. There are sinful habits to conquer. There are commandments we are yet not being fully obedient to because our faith is not full.
And so on this day, year after year so long as we are in the flesh, we come to stand before Yahweh face-to-face to be judged. Accordingly, the ancients would prostrate themselves on the ground and say aloud: Baruch Shem k'Vod malchuto l'olam va'ed which translated means, "Blessed be the Name of the radiance of the Kingship, forever and ever". No man who has sin in him can look upon the face of Yahweh and live. A man may only look upon the Divine Face when he has been cleansed of sin. The moment this redemption is made, the mood shifts from sorrow into joyful feasting. Every single one of you ought to be able to approach the Throne of Yahweh on this day and ask for the pardon for your sins which you have been meditating over and repenting of for these last thirty days of Teshuvah. It's not something you can work out in one day. It takes a whole month of soul-searching. If you enter into this exercise casually you will be untouched by the Ruach (Spirit) which Yahweh pours out during this time whose function is to lead to repentance. If you have not taken these thirty days seriously you will have wasted yet another year of your life, not entered into His Presence, not received His forgiveness, and not received the spirit of joy that comes when He pronounces a son or daughter fully clean. So total will this sense of transformation be - as it was anciently even under the Old Covenant - that you will want to spontaneously praise El Elyon, the Most High!
Did you know immediately after the moment of forgiveness that this was the time when the young unmarried men and women used to go and dance in the fields and choose spouses for themselves? Mass betrothals used to take place at this time! And why? Because the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) was so strong, and the people so cleansed, that they possessed right discernment. Because they were walking in the holiness and purity of Yahweh they could the more easily know what His will was. What a perfect way to find a marriage companion!
The principle of Face-to-Face communion with Yahweh was applied by the apostle Paul in his teachings to the Corinthians when he said:
"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. Now when that which is complete comes, then that which is partial will cease. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and I thought as a child, and I reasoned as a child. But when I became a man I ceased these [things] of youth. Now, as in a mirror, we see in a parable (analogy, comparison), but then face-to-face. Now I know in part, but then I will know as I am known" (1 Cor.13:9-12, HRV).
I wonder why it is that the majority of Christians believe that they are supposed to view things only partially in this life? Why is it they believe they are supposed to remain in that condition year after year? Are we only supposed to love in part? Read the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians again in the light of what I have been talking to you about Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the Day of Face-to-Face, and you will quickly see that we are not supposed to remain in this condition of semi-blindness year after year. Our faith is supposed to be being perfected by obedience. Our faith is supposed to be gradually turned into pure knowledge through that obedience and suffering which the Messiah went through. We are supposed to be copying Him! Every Yom Kippur, if we have truly used Teshuvah to repent and reform, should become a glorious outpouring of light and truth into our lives which breaks out into spontaneous celebration! And whilst this is not to say that this enlightenment cannot take place on any and every day of the year, Yahweh has here blessed us at Yom Kippur so that we can have an extra, special dispensation of Grace! We are given the opportunity as a community to experience that awakening to truth together as a shared experience! It is given to us to share Yahweh's Presence as New Covenant Israel. As such, then, Yom Kippur becomes potentially the most important festival of all - not because it is a Day of Sorrow, but because it is a Day of Forgiveness and Spiritual Endowment for the whole fellowship.
This is therefore no ritualistic thing we just 'do' - there are serious and glorious spiritual consequences. Getting a community to repent and be endowed at the same time is no simple thing, but is it essential to final redemption. We may walk as individuals during the year in our daily repentance and intimate communion with Yahweh, but at Yom Kippur we are supposed to experience our sealing together as the Bride of Christ! Yom Kippur is the difference between the sanctified solo Christian and the sanctified Communal Bride. It is the difference between being a spiritual child and a spiritual adult.
Christianity without Yom Kippur is a Christianity without Israel and the fullness. Christianity without the festivals and their spiritual endowments is infant Christianity - a Christianity stunted in its growth. Christianity without Yom Kippur is a Christianity that can never come to perfection, for perfection is in the Body, the Bride, Israel. Shall we remain as Gentiles "afar off", or shall we "draw near" and become echad (one)? Indeed, how can we possibly become a single Bride by wandering around as solo-Christians each with our own private encounters with the Divine?
Satan knows this, which is why he has come up with numerous counterfeits. Where do you find mass movements where people are caught up in a single spirit and experience? In the charismatic prosperity movement, for instance. Mediated by demons, they move in a single pulse of counterfeit light and endowment and call it the 'Holy Spirit'. They babble and wriggle and gesticulate wildly in an orgy of counterfeit unity. It isn't remotely Israel. And it hasn't anything to do with repentance. It's about as far from Yom Kippur as Pluto is from the sun. But it's sucking up the churches everywhere because they will not repent.
I have never been as excited about Yom Kippur as I am this year. For the first time Yahweh has revealed to me the glory of it. Before, I thought of it as a time to mourn for sin, put right what I could, and move on to the next year. But that is only half the story. The other half is about endowment. It's about betrothal. It's about communing face-to-face with Yahweh in a way that is not possible at any other time of the year. This, like the Sabbath, is a sanctified day.
When anciently the High Priest went behind the veil at Yom Kippur, the people used to hold their breath. They were filled with faith in, and hope for, pardon. But what are faith and hope without the final release of love? What possible use can Yom Kippur serve if that divine release does not take place? Read the last verse in 1 Corinthians 13 to see:
"For there are three things that abide, trust (faith), hope, and love; but that which is the greatest of these [is] love" (v.13).
Without a revelation and endowment of divine love, all is vain. Christianity is a living faith, not a ceremonial one. And the Festivals of Yahweh are not mere ceremony. We don't just celebrate them because we have been commanded to. We ought to be celebrating them because this day has been specially ordained for us to meet Yahweh in the only way that that is possible: through Teshuvah (repentance).
You are being invited to go behind the veil that separates you from Yahweh's Face today. And there are only two possible outcomes: joy or terror. Yom Kippur is The Day of Fasting, and that is no accident either. Fasting denotes repentance. Fasting is a commandment or mitzvot. Fasting and atonement are inseparable. Fasting is abstinence from food. Fasting is self-denial. Fasting is, in a way, putting self to death so that Yah'shua (Jesus) can live within. It is the only day of the year we are commanded to fast.
Today we shall be blowing the shofar for the last time during this festival. And it is different from all the other days. We have had ten days since Yom Teruah to repent, pray for forgiveness, and to do nothing but serve others, totally forgetting self. The whole of Yom Teruah, which is also simply known as 'The Day' is supposed to be spend fasting and praying. It is the most solemn day in the year.
At sunset today at the conclusion our evening service which is called neilah, we shall blow the trumpet for the last time. This is known as the Shofar haGadol or the 'Great Shofar' (Is.27:13; Mt.24:31). There are rightly two meetings on this special day. This one principally centres around repentance, or making things right with Yahweh and with each other, as you normally would before partaking of the Lord's Supper on Friday evening, only this is the 'Supper of Suppers', as it were, for the whole year, only this one is without the emblems of bread and wine. This one is of the Ruach (Spirit) alone. You will gather for the evening service, all families together, and then, at the appointed time, blow the trumpet. If your hearts and minds have been in the spirit of this Holy Day you will experience something wonderful as the Shofar haGadol is blown.
Evening Service of Neilah
Brethren and sisters, this is our last chance to repent this year before the closing of the gates of heaven, which is called neilah. After the concluding prayer, during which you are all invited to open up your hearts in sincere humility and repentance, there will be a brief pause for anyone who may wish to confess to this assembly and put such things right with Yahweh as they can. You are invited to repeat the prayer together as it is read out aloud After this period is closed, the Shofar haGadol will be blown, marking the end of Yom Kippur and of our fast before El Elyon. I pray that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) will mightily fall upon us all and that we may indeed celebrate a new year of grace by feasting together to the glory and honour of Yahweh-Elohim!
O Yahweh, Elohim of our fathers! Let our prayers come before You, and do not hide Yourself from our supplication. What shall we say to You who dwell on high? You know all things, both hidden and revealed. You search our hearts and thoughts. Nothing is hidden from Your sight. We are not so arrogant nor hardened to say, "We are righteous and have not sinned." For truly we have sinned. We have turned away from the good commandments You have given us. You are righteous and true in all Your ways, but we have done evil in Your sight. Thank You our Heavenly Father, and Elohim of our fathers, that You forgive all our sins, pardon all our iniquities, and grant atonement for all our transgressions through Yah'shua the Messiah. For it is written: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Return O Israel to the Yahweh-Elohim, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to Yahweh. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips."
For the sin we committed in Your sight by sinning wilfully, and for the sin we committed in ignorance.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by slander, and for the sin of gossip.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by neglecting our responsibilities, and for the sin of selfishness.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by indulging evil thoughts, and for the sin of lust.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by being lukewarm, and for the sin of not loving You with all our hearts and souls.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and for the sin of not being poor in spirit.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not being merciful, and for the sin of withholding when we could have given.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by speaking foolish words, and for the sin of not controlling our tongues.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not loving our neighbours, and for the sin of not blessing our enemies.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not turning the other cheek, and for the sin of practising our righteousness before men.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by being proud, and for the sin of lack of zeal.
For the sin we committed in Your sight knowingly, and for the sin we committed unknowingly. For all these, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement in Yeshua the Messiah.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not walking as Yah'shua walked, and for the sin of not being filled with Your Ruach.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by loving the world, and for the sin of loving the things in the world.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by putting other things before You, and for the sin of idolatry.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not praying at all times, and for the sin of not being thankful.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not being quick to forgive, and for the sin of holding resentments.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not going the second mile, and for the sin of impatience.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by not doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, and for the sin of greed.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by being anxious about the things of this life, and for the sin of not trusting You to provide for all of our needs.
For the sin we committed in Your sight by setting our minds on the things below, and for the sin of not setting our minds on things above.
For all these, O Elohim of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement in Yah'shua the Messiah.
Shofar haGadol: Final blowing of the Trumpet
I hereby declare Yom Kippur at an end, in Yah'shua's Name. Amen!
Concluding Song of Praise
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Last updated on 20 September 2003
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