Month 6:12, Week 2:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year:Day 5940:159 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50 - Teshuvah 12/39
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 13 September 2016
Repentance & the Heavenly Mill
Why the Spiritual Preparation is Necessary
Traditionally the approximately 40 days between the first day of the 6th month (which began this year on 2 September) and the 10th day of the 7th month, which is Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonements ) is known as Teshuvah or the period of Repentance. Considering the importance of Yom haKippurim anciently and its total absence in Christendom, we need to remember why Yahweh instituted this festival in perpetuity and why we need to diligently prepare our hearts each year before it arrives.
The Annual Sin Contagion Problem
In the course of a year we all get contaminated by the contagion of sin. If we are diligent talmidim (disciples) we repent of these as we become aware of them, asking Yahweh's forgiveness and cleansing through Yah'shua (Jesus) our Atonement. But we're constantly sinning unconsciously too, sins not covered anciently in the Old Covenant by the regular prescribed ceremonial sacrifices. These sins piled up over the year and required special attention. So once a year, the only time he could do so, the Cohen Gadol or High Priest of Israel would enter the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was located, to purify the qadosh (set-apart, sacred, holy) places, the priestly station, and the whole congregation, literally from the inside out.
The High Priestly Ritual
As fast was called to underscore the seriousness of the day. The Cohen Gadol (High Priest) removed his ornamental garments and put on white linen. He then sacrificed a bull as a sin offering for himself and the other cohenim (priests), saving the blood for the rite of purification. Afterward he entered the Holy of Holies, carrying with him a censer of hot coals and some incense to create a haze which would shroud the ark's sacred lid (the 'mercy seat') lest he see it (or Yahweh) and die. Once inside, he sprinkled the blood upon and in front of the ark's covering to effect removal of any sin residue due to priestly offense in the previous year. He then repeated this ritual using one of two goats donated by the congregation and chosen by lot to atone for the sin residue of the people. In effect, the blood served as a detergent removing impurities from the Sanctuary and the Tent of Meeting. He then took some blood from each of the slain animals and cleansed the altar outside of any sinful contamination . With the sacred spaces and priestly office purified, the impurities ritually removed now required deposition. The cohen (priest) turned to the scapegoat ritual as the means to that end.
From Scapegoat to Conclusion
After the scapegoat carried with it the systemic, structural and personal sins of the people into the wilderness of forgetfulness, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) once again bathed and clothed himself in his usual garb. He then offered one more sacrifice, a burned offering of the skin, flesh and entrails of the goat and bull outside the now consecrated camp. The atonement of the people was now complete for one more year, restoring communal and personal shalom (peace) with Yahweh.
The Annual Cleanse
We see in the death of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who became our sinless sacrificial Cohen Gadol (High Priest) offering, the prophetic fulfillment of a combination of the rituals of blood cleansing and the scapegoat mechanism writ large and permanently secured (Heb.6-9). Throughout the course of a biblical year (from Aviv 1 each spring to the last day of the 12th or 13th month) we work our our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil.2:12), fulfilling the requirements of Chag haMatzah (Feast of Unleavened Bread) as we daily get the leaven of sin out of our lives through confession, making teshuvah (repenting) and calling upon our Eternal Cohen Gadol (High Priest), Yah'shua (Jesus), to wash us clean through the power of His atoning blood. What we 'miss out' in terms of unconscious sinning, we are given the opportunity to have dealt with each year at this time, and throughout the year as the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) makes these sins known to us, but especially at this time.
The Teshuvah Season is Especially Important This Year
The tradition of vigilent prayer for teshuvah (repentance) in the ~40 days before Yom haKippurim each year is therefore a excellent one, one of the very few Jewish extra-biblical traditions we still hold to. This is the 12th day and there is much to be done - you would be surprised just how much unconscious sinning has been done by us. With a World Judgment  on our doorstep, we don't want to leave the Enemy any handles with which to buffet and endanger us during a time of imminent global chaos. For those who walk in the divine tavnith (pattern) of the festivals there are spiritual tools and blessings available in abundance at this time, the reward of submission and obedience, for the express purpose of getting right with Elohim (God). Personally, I am seeing all sorts of things coming up that are having to be faced and dealt with in my own life.
Divine Power is Non-Coercive
Since Yahweh's power toward people is internal and non-coercive, such power may at times seem like weakness. This divine power transforms gently from the inside out and in its relentless dependence on human choice, may seem to resemble a kind of abdication or dereliction, when it is not. As every parent and every lover knows, ahavah (love) can be rendered powerless if the beloved chooses to spurn it. So if nothing is happening in your life, it's because you're doing the spurning, not the other way round, or because this is a purposeful waiting period. The impatient do not reap the greater rewards of the patient.
Unlike the false gods, Yahweh's touch can be, and is, surprisingly light:
"Omnipotence which can lay its hand so heavily upon the world can also make its touch so light that the creature receives independence" (Søren Kierkegaard).
And as Philip Yancey once complained:
Injustice and Freedom
"My faith suffers from too much freedom, too many temptations to disbelieve. At times I want Elohim (God) to overwhelm me, to overcome my doubts with certainty, to give final proofs of His existence and His concern...I want quick and spectacular answers to my prayers, healing for my diseases, protection and safety for my loved ones. I want an Elohim (God) without ambiguity, One to whom I can point for the sake of my doubting friends. When I think of these thoughts, I recognize in myself a thin, hollow echo of the challenge that Satan jurled at Yah'shua (Jesus) two thousand years ago. Elohim (God) resists those temptations now as Yah'shua (Jesus) resisted them on earth, settling instead for a slower, gentler way" .
Understand that freedom is core and that because it is core Yahweh has to work the "slower [and] gentler way", the way of grace. BUT once that grace is exhausted, once His ahavah (love) has been spurned so much and so often and so consistently for so long, understand that overwhelming Judgment MUST be executed by Him because He is not only an Elohim (God) of ahavah (love) and grace but also an Elohim (god) of Justice. Such a time has now arrived in world history and that is why the Mishpat Yahweh MUST be executed. If Yahweh appears harsh it is only because He has been gentle and patient for so long already. The freedom to choose has consequences, good or evil, depending what you choose.
That Hard, Hard Interim
In the interim between judgments - that time which must be granted because of divinely granted free will - we must make our peace with the seeming injustice of the world:
Appreciating Yahweh's Methods
"Instead of crushing the power of evil by divine force; instead of compelling justice and destroying the wicked; instead of making peace on earth by the rule of a perfect prince; instead of gathering the children of Jerusalem under His wings whether they would or not, and saving them from the horrors that anguished His prophetic soul - He let evil work its will while it lived; He contented Himself with the slow unencouraging ways of help essential; making men good; casting out, not merely controlling Satan...To love righteousness is to make it grow, not to avenge it...He resisted every impulse to work more rapidly for a lower good" .
One day we will be grateful for the slow grinding ways of the mill of heaven in our lives. Don't get too excited because judgment is coming because this isn't going to be a fun time either and perhaps afterwards we shall more appreciate the slower way as life settle down again. Things are accelerating now and it's a privilege to be alive in such a time. Change within, though, continues at its old pace which is why you have been warned so far in advance in order to have the time to make the necessary preparations. You can't postpone everything to the last minute because the heavenly mill was not designed for designed for the modern 'instant gospel'. Character takes time to produce, a very long and often painful time. That's why we're here, for those who will accept it and follow the divine tavnith (pattern) of the moedim (appointments).
May your teshuvah (repentance) be sweet and complete.
 In modern Judaism this has been cropped to 'Yom Kippur' or 'Day of (singular) Atonement)
 Leviticus 16; 23:26-32, Exodus 30:10; Numbers 29:7-11
 For the benefit of new listeners and readers, we are not saying that we are about to enter the Great Tribulation or that Yah'shua (Jesus) is about to return in a few months or years' time. There is another generation's worth of things to be done before the Great Consummation. What we are about to go through is but a dress rehearsal, however horrific, of the 'Big' event(s) that all true believers yearn for
 Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1995), pp.76-77
 George MacDonald, Life Essential, The Hope of the Gospel (Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois: 1974), pp.24-25
 James E. Brenneman, Day of Atonement in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (ed. David Noel Freedman) (William B. Eerdman Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan: 2000), pp.128-129