Month 7:10, Week 2:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year:Day 5940:186 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50 - Teshuvah 39/39
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 10 October 2016
Yom haKippurim 2016
The Judgment of the World
PART A - MORNING SESSION
Introduction to Yom haKippurim
Chag sameach Yom haKippurim kol beit Yisra'el and mishpachah! May our Father in Heaven, Yahweh-Elohim, grant us a liberal outpouring of the Ruach haSheshi - the sixth Ruach or Spirit - who infuses this divine appointment or moed, remembering also that we are still in the midst of the Yovel or Jubilee Year too. We also recently marked the seventh month as zichron t'ru'ah or 'a reminder by trumpet-blasting' and nine days after Yom Teruah we arrive at today, more specifically, yesterday evening at sunset, because this particular moed, which is a High Sabbath, spans two halves of two calendar days, unlike any other festival.
A Personal Message
"Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts (Yom Teruah)...The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonements (Yom haKippurim). Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to Yahweh by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonements (Yom haKippurim), when atonement is made for you before Yahweh your Elohim (God). Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves (fast). From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath" (Lev.23:24,27-32, NIV)
Brethren and sisters, I have a very clear and important message for us all today and it ties in with what I was talking about at Shabbat Shuvah a couple of days ago. My message is an intensely personal one which Yahweh wants me use as an illustration in making teshuvah (repentance). The congregation here has heard the first part of this story already so I hope you will excuse me for repeating it for the benefit of those abroad but as the new material I need to share with you follows directly on from it I must have both 'halves' for continuity.
Some background information first. As many of you know I was born in Singapore and raised in Malaysia in the Far East. My father was of a middle class background from the South-east of England and my mother of a working class background from the Midlands in England. Both had to work hard for us to make ends meet especially after the decision had been made that I would be given the finest education money could buy. From the day I was born, I was registered into one of the leading public (private), and therefore fee-paying, schools in England. My father's salary as a municipal architect in Kuala Lumpur was not enough so early on my mother took a job at a travel agency so that between them they would have enough savings for such an undertaking.
My Father Heads to Africa
I should add that my father and his brother (my uncle) had also been to this school but had to quit early because my Grandfather went broke during the Great Depression. As a result my father, in addition to working, had to go to night school in order to complete his architectural training and get his RIBA and other qualifications. At war's end, he decided to spread his wings and work in, first, West Africa (in Nigeria) and finally in East Africa (in Tanganika, now Tanzania). In the end he found himself in what would eventually become the Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia).
My Mother Heads to Asia and My Birth
My mother, who lost her first husband during the war, decided to get away from everying and moved first to India, then Singapore, then Hong Kong and Macau in China, and finally to Kuala Lumpur in Malaya where she met my father. You may wonder why I was born in Singapore and not Kuala Lumpur and I have to say that was an 'accident' as I came into the world earlier than expected. They thought there would be time to attend a function in the island colony before I came long, I had other ideas, and my mother went into labour in an old DC-3 twin-prop aeroplane over the Straits of Johore. I ended up being delivered in Changi, in Singapore, by an Austrian doctor.
Sent to Boarding School in England
My parents loved the Far East, as I came to too, and would have remained there had the winds of political change not come along forcing Europeans to leave. But before that they held to their comittment to send me to boarding school and so I was packed off to Cranleigh Junior (now Preparatory) School when I was 10 in what was for me an entirely foreign country and culture, not to mention disagreeable climate (as I was a son of the tropics), and, from my perspective, abandoned. Because of my parents' small income they could not afford to bring me home to Malaysia more than once a year, for the summer vaccation.
A Son of the Colonies
I share this background to illustrate something I have been wrestling with all my life - the feeling of rejection and abandonment. My mother's heart was broken by the separation too, though I did not know much, if anything, about this because of the silly and emotionally crippling tradition that we Brits had inculcated into us as part of our upbringing to maintain a 'stiff upper lip' and not show your feelings. You have to remember that I was born at the end of the colonial era, my mother being 40 when I was born, so she was of an earlier generation to nearly all of my peers. Accordingly, all of their friends were from the 1920's and 1930's generation whereas the parents of my friends and associates were from the 1940's generation. This meant that our values were somewhat different, particularly those from the mother country, where by the time I was a teenager the Hippie rebellion was in full swing. Rock-'n'-Roll, which began in the 1950's, had not had any impact on culture in distant Malaya. When I took a General Knowledge examination before entering Cranleigh School in England, when asked what the Beatles were, innocently and honestly answered, 'a kind of insect'. I really had no idea about pop music. I didn't even know what the BBC was as we had no television there until the 1970's.
The Annual Scramble for a Study
But I digress. Over the years I have had literally hundreds of dreams of the same basic pattern. In them I am arriving at school (or university) and I am scrambling to find myself a nice study. At the beginning of the academic year we would find friends with whom we wanted to share a study where we would be 'committed' for a whole year. A bad choice could make the difference between having nice or horrible boys to hang out with. On the whole things worked out for me, though not always. It was an anxious time because it would affect your well-being and the quality of your work.
The Penny Drops
Three days ago I had one of those recurring dreams. There I was scrambling to find a study and a companion to share it with. Every time it is with someone new. This dream was a little different from the previous ones, though, because there were workmen everywhere, ripping down walls, making alterations, etc.. This was going on in all the study rooms. Curious, I went up to where one of the workmen was labouring and peered beyond the wall that had been torn out. I was expecting to see neighbouring buildings, which I knew well, but instead all I saw was a BLANK SPACE - there was nothing beyond. The penny dropped and I knew, in an instant, that the whole thing was a demonic set-up, a prop in the 'second heaven', the demonic psychic or astral realm. Realising, in an instant, that I had been duped all of my adult life, I exploded in rage, seized a long flimsy plank of wood, and began smashing the whole theatre prop to pieces.
Under the Power of a Strongman
The next thing I knew was that I was in the grip of a very tall, powerful and muscular 'man'. He was stripped to the waiste like a wrestler, had bulging muscles, and held me in a tight grip from behind. He was laughing, mocking me. Again the penny dropped and I realised that I was in the grip of what we in deliverance ministry call a 'strongman'. You may remember Yah'shua (Jesus) saying:
The Spirit of Rejection and Abandonment
"How can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?" (Matt.12:29, NIV; also Mk.3:27)
"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armour in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils" (Luke 11:21-22, NIV).
I was in bondage to a demonic strongman. and whilst I had always suspected something was there, the realisation that it was actually the case, having confronted this entity at close quarters, left me in a state of shock. As soon as I was awake I was in prayer, resisting this being, and seeking more light and truth on its grounds for being there. What lie had I believed to give this creature the grounds to have me in such bondage? I got the revelation almost instantly - this demon was the 'spirits of rejection and abandonment', and I had given him rights of entry by beliving the lie that my mother had rejected me and abandoned me in England when I was 10 years old. The first year at boarding school was absolute hell as I experienced, intensely, the feeling of rejection and abandonment. I did not know - or did not want to know - that my mother was broken-hearted over leaving me half way across the world.
My Father and Half-Brother
My father was not particularly interested in children and so he did not, as I wrongly supposed, factor into the equation. He was always a distant type, struggling with his own sense of rejection and abandonment from the time his first wife abandoned him for an adulterous affair. I didn't realise, until recently, that my own half-brother - my father's son with his first wife - was rejected by both his father and mother, literally dumped with another family. I met up with him recently, at my mother's funeral, and was shocked at what had happened to him. He was so bitter at my father and his mother that he could not bear to be with me because I was a living reminder of the father he hated. I had wanted to reach out to him with the Besorah (Gospel) but he wanted no further contact. Not wanting youngsters to go through what he did without father or mother, he set up a charity with a friend helping those whose parents had abandoned them.
A Generational Curse
I had, unwittingly, uncovered a generational curse - the curse of rejection and abandonment! Looking around I could see how it had affected others in my family too. Like my half-brother, who swore he would do everything he could to help abandoned teens find acceptance, I had also vowed I would never send my own children to a boarding school, however superb the education (and I did get a good education for which my mother had made enormous sacrifice), nor would I allow the 'system' to raise them. I have done my uttermost to be around where my own father had been absent in my life. There is more to this story which contributed to my sense of rejection but I will spare you the details so that I can come to the purpose of my sharing all of this with you at Yom haKippurim.
Battle With the Strongman
As I said, I went into spiritual warfare with this 'strongman'. I was enraged that I had lost so much time, energy and health battling this unseen foe. In prayer, this time with Yah'shua (Jesus) invoked to the middle the fray, I cast him out. A vision opened and I saw this entity, still with his arms around my wasite, but this time I was striking him with a supernatural power not my own and he was loosening his grip as I struck his head. He was, I would say, half 'off' me when the vision closed.
Getting into University
I shared this story last sabbath, or some of it, but more has happened since in this season of Yovel or Jubilee, the setting free of the captives. It happened two nights ago. I had another dream, a different kind, but also one I have had many times, but as I came to realise, it was related to the first set. My parents had sent me to a prestigious boarding school in England to give me a fine education, and my mother had sacrificed greatly to finance it. Now it was my father's turn. At school I had decided I would go to the best university in the UK and had set my heart on Oxford but the school was of the opinion I was not up to it and tried to discourage me from taking the tough entrance exams. I was told to be happier with one of the lesser universities. When I passed the exams and got into University College, Oxford, my parents were, understandably, delighted, and now it was my father's turn to sacrifice.
Certain Career Expections
In those days, university fees were linked to the wages of your parents. My father grumbled at the sacrifice but made it anyway. The long and short of this was that there were certain 'expectations' made by both my parents of me. When I had graduated it was 'assumed' I would become a Biochemist (which was what I was studying) or move on to become a doctor or vet...or something like that to justify the expenses and sacrifices made on my behalf.
A Career in Education
Both before I went up to college and during the summer vaccations I had taken a job in a laboratory both to help my father's expenses as well as to get some experience. My tenure at the Welcome Foundation, which was in the business of researching Foot-and-Mouth Disease for the vaccine industry had made me realise, after the initial interest had passed, that I was not cut out for work in a laboratory for the rest of my life, as much as I loved science. This I did not share with my parents. Indeed, at this time, I was pursuing my passion for history in my spare time and was in the middle of writing an historical atlas. Once I had graduated from Oxford, rather than go and work for a pharmaceutical company like the Welcome Foundation or Pfizer, as my parents had wanted, I found myself pursuing another passion, which was only just starting to break to the surface, namely, teaching. I ended up as a private tutor and subsequently started my own private school and eventually spent much of the rest of my life as a school teacher. My parents - my mother in particular - never ceased to remind me that my qualifications (I had also studied Business Computing and Systems Analysis) were under-utilised.
I mention all of this because my parents' expectations of me had planted within me a sense of failure. My father's distance in my upbringing, aside from being away from home, had created within me not only the sense of being rejected and abandoned but also of being a failure. This later impacted my relationship with my Heavenly Father too, until very recent times, actually, because what your parents think of you and say about you has a huge impression on the soul. We are many of us trying to live up to the aspirations, hopes and expectations of our parents instead of the calling Yahweh has on our lives.
Dreams of Academia Thwarted
This season of Teshuvah has actually been a time of great revelation for me personally and I attribute this, in part, to the great releasing that Yahweh promises at the Yovel (Jubilee) and the Sh'mittah (Sabbatical) the year before. But back to the dreams I had two nights ago, which is the reason I shared with you something of my educational background. In these dreams I was in the midst of luxury in High Academia. One thing that I had wanted to do at university, which my parents were not adverse to (even though it would not have meant making a lot of money as they hoped), was to become a full-time academic. Indeed, I was making plans to go to Cambridge University in England and join the Department of the History and Science of Philosophy where I hoped to do my doctorate and thereafter find some permanent slot in university life. Yahweh intervened to prevent that when I went through the crisis of my first marriage collapsing and losing my children who in their turn would be taken half way around the world (to the USA) away from me where I could not have easy access to them for economic reasons. (Here the curse was being repeated for them in a different way). By this means Yahweh forced me to my knees to find out what He wanted in my life, and it was not a life as an academic! He showed me a vision and packed me off to Norway where I would start a new family and begin the work of this ministry.
The Big Question
In the dreams I was amongst the cream of Academic and revelling in it. I had prestige, respect and honours, which of course the flesh craves, and I realised, upon waking up, that part of me still resented not having all of this...that I had to sacrifice it. Which brings me to the message I have for you this morning in this first Assembly at Yom haKippurim. My message may be summarised in a simple question, which is this: Do you REALLY want to do Yahweh's will in your life? For as I can testify, from my own experience and struggling, that what we declare with our heads is not necessarily what our hearts agree with. Yesterday morning, while showering, I had to lay down all my ambitions and desires for academia - and especially for recognition and prestige - and accept whatever it is Yahweh wants of me, whether it is to my fleshy liking or not. And I know that one of our brethren here, who likewise had a career in academia, had to make a similar sacrifice. Indeed, he got thrown out for daring to mention creationism...which is probably what would have happened to me too, now that I come to think about it.
Yah'shua's Prophecy to Peter
Speaking of his final sacrifice as a martyr, Yah'shua (Jesus) prophesied to the apostle Peter:
The Army and an Inferiority Complex
"Yah'shua (Jesus) said, 'Feed My sheep. When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Yah'shua (Jesus) said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify Elohim (God). Then He said to him, 'Follow Me!'" (John 21:18-19, NIV)
I speak today not of maryrdom - though that may very well be in the life equation of some of us - but of your life calling. As I look back over my life, I can see how every single part of it contributed in some way to my mission. In fact, I had a dream, a curious one at first inspection, that happened between the two sets of dreams I have shared with you already. As some of you know I was briefly in the British Army, originally in the Cadet Corps, and then in Germany in the British Army of the Rhine. In the dream I was talking to a big, burly Sergeant-Major, a rank I had held, but which I felt very inferior in because of my scrawny stature. I had felt a failure there too. Indeed, when I was in Germany in the Second Batallion of the Queen's Regiment as an Under Officer, some of the NCO's (Non-Commissioned Officers) there had made fun of my lanky physique. In the dream, though I was a young man, I was also my present age, and the tough segeant-major was speaking to me respectfully seeking my counsel as a father. I had judged myself according to the outer instead of the inner and got an inferiority complex because of it. Character is not based on looks but on who you are inside. As Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
Don't Cower to Lies
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24, NKJV).
But the world judges differently, doesn't it, and leaves us messed up inside when we yield to its expectations. The world is preoccupied with one set of things but the children of Elohim (God) ought to be preoccupied with a totally different set of values. It can take us a long time to unlearn the lies we have been taught and to submit to Yahweh's emet (truth). In the dream I realised that I had not been inferior and that I had been wrong to be cowered by the big macho men. Today I don't care a fig what people think about me or what they say about me.
Purpose in All Things
In the same dream with the burly NCO I was sorting through postage stamps. Philately is - or was - one of my big hobbies as a boy, one I took very seriously. I have always adored sorting through, categorising and organising not just stamps but systems. It was one of my joys, and in the dream I could see how Yahweh intended this to be used in the work of the ministry. One of the great pleasures I have is looking through and comparing different theologies and setting myself the task of sorting them out. Even more satisfying, is the pleasure of being able to see the 'bigger picture' in things through careful sorting, that being one of my drives. After the dream I listed all my hobbies and was amazed to see how history, photography (which is all about lighting and perspective), music, family life, shooting, and much else besides, have all augmented and complemented my calling as a minister. It was a very liberating realising that nothing had ultimately been in vain, even the painful experiences. There was, and is, purpose in all that has been permitted in our life, and reason why other things were denied us.
Yahweh is Grace and Mercy First and Foremost
We stress ourselves up over all sorts of needless things, oftentimes making ourselves ill (as I admit I have done), not realising that Yahweh is not 'all judgment' but principally about grace (undeserved loving kindness) and mercy. There is grace and mercy in those things which Yahweh has denied us, and there is grace and mercy in those things He wants us to be or do which our flesh resists. It is never because He is being mean and it is not - as so many wrongly conclude - because He is 'punishing' us. So many false views of Elohim (God) arise from these wrong conclusions.
Getting Your Own Way
To do Yahweh's work and receive overflowing and abundant chayim (life) you have to die to self. That does not mean you cease to have character and personality. All it means is death to self-will for His will which is infinitely greater and more satisfying that anything we think we may need for ourselves in order to be happy. Honestly, have your fleshy desires brought you any real, lasting happiness? Have they? Had I done my own thing, I might have become politician totally out of place in all the corruption and croneyism of that profession (something else I was getting seriously into before Yahweh booted me out of England and to Norway) or a stuffy, proud and vain academic lecturing on goodness-knows-what. Who knows how any of us might have turned out if we had got our way?! Some - if not - of us are still vainly trying to 'get our own way' in some things which is why Yahweh blocks the road until we finally let go.
Temptations to Abandon the Work
I do believe this is a season of healing, the healing that comes with forgiveness as we repent of the lies we have believed in which have so handicapped us spiritually and physically. Only yesterday I came across a charismatic minister, a disciple of the late Kathryn Kuhlman, who said she had the gift for healing fibriomyalgia, a disease that has been progressively destroying me physically for years. I was so tempted...for just a minute...to go and get that 'anointing' and healing this woman had. But I knew only too well that this was a trap, that I would get a lot of satanic baggage together with it, and be forced to abandon the deep truths Yahweh has given to me over the years. I cannot tell you the temptation to abandon these wonderful things for a 'mess of spiritual pottage' - but it would have meant abandoning my life's work and calling. So I am trusting Him to heal by other means. Of course, I have been prepared to swallow my pride and admit, if proven to be in error, that I have gone down a wrong path. I have been prepared to abandon by life's work and become a baptist missionary or something like that in some remote part of the world. I have been prepared to do that, and even to yield to all the gibberish of the charismatics if what they teach and practice proves to be true. Indeed I tried that once, many years ago, when I was far less ill that I am today! I went to a local pentecostal minister, and was prepared to receive that so-called 'baptism of fire', so desperate was I for healing, but I also prayed Yahweh's will be done, and that the emet (truth) hold sway, and nothing happened.
There are no short cuts to the best things, there are paths we must go down, not always pleasant. I have many times resented sharing and teaching the many hot potatoes of emet (truth) Yahweh has given me, for the vast majority regard them as either erroneous or blasphemous. So many times in the past people have said to me: If only you would drop this or that doctrine or practice, you could have a powerful and successful ministry reaching millions! Many of Yahweh's doctrinal 'hot potatoes' like the creation calendar, a female Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), patriarchal headship, pre-existence, plural marriage, the festivals and Torah as a whole are loathed by not only millions of unbelievers but by as many believers too! We could give all of these up and become good baptists or pentecostals, but then what would the Remnant have? How would they be prepared for what is coming? Lies may seem innocuous but lies destroy. It's in part why the old church system has to be judged and replaced by what's coming, and what's coming will accept all of the things I have just mentioned, and more.
The Truth Costs Dearly
Yahweh never said the way would be easy for His true talmidim (disciples), only that it would be worth it. I am not prepared to sacrifice any principle of the Besorah (Gospel) simply to be liked, accepted or have a cushy ministry offered to me. The need for fellowship is strong enough because Yahweh has placed that in us but it cannot be at any cost. Sometimes we must walk alone and be fed in the wilderness as Elijah was by ravens. You can't be one of Yahweh's trusted servants if you are not prepared to do that. The emet (truth) costs, and it costs a great deal. Our mind has to be like the merchant:
The Pearl of Great Price is the Bride
"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matt.13:45-46, NKJV).
Who is that pearl? The Remnant, true, 100 percent committed, believers. Yah'shua (Jesus) the Bridegroom was willing to sacrifice all He had - His own life - to purchase that Bride. Why was He willing to do so? Because the Bride is willing to sacrifice everything she has to have Him! The sacrifice is both ways! And remember, the Bride is not the Body of Messiah! The "great multitude" (Rev.19:1, NIV) of all believers - are not the Bride. They are those believers who do not sacrifice everything, who remain disobedient, who do not "purify [them]selves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for Elohim (God)" (2 Cor.7:1, NIV), who reject the apostolic adminition to:
A Miserable or Seasonal Gospel?
"Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your simcha (joy) to gloom. Humble yourselves before Yahweh, and He will lift you up" (James 4:8-10, NIV).
Is Yahweh promoting here a Besorah (Gospel) of misery? Hardly. The Besorah (Gospel) is, by definition, 'Good News', and Good News is always the occasion for simcha (joy)! So why all the greiving and mourning? Why the cessation of laughter? Why the gloom? Because these things are seasonal, depending what the need it:
Will We Emerge Alive or Dead?
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for shalom (peace)"
We are in the season of teshuvah (repentance), the time of Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonements), because this is the occasion of straightening things out, of getting right with Yahweh as a community. This is not supposed to be a 'fun' or 'entertaining' time. How could it be? This is when members of the Body - and especially the Remnant - need to come together and deal with sin issues. And though it must begin with personal repentance, it must end as collective repentance. Today we present ourselves as a fragment of the Nation of Messianic Israel, and as that nation waited with baited breath as the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) entered the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary (which happened only once a year) to see whether He would come out alive or dead, so we must likewise present ourseves as a mishpachah or family to see if Yah'shua (Jesus) our Eternal Cohen Gadol (High Priest) will accept our repentance. How will we know? Because we will be forgiven, we will be justified, we will be sanctified, and we will go forth out of this place after sunset knowing that we are right with Him, whether our commission holds, whether we are still chosen to do what he originally chose us to do together. We will go forth with simcha (joy)!
Judgment of the World is Upon Us
"You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with simcha (joy),
that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.
O Yahweh my Elohim (God), I will give You thanks forever"
And, yes, this is also the pronouncement time on the nations because unlike any other Yom haKippurim we have experienced, we are in a Yovel (Jubilee) year and Yahweh has said He will judge the nations this biblical year! This is the time of the Mishpatim Yahweh, make no mistake about that! And though we have had lots of discussions as to how this might unfold, none of us knows exactly how it will because Yahweh has not told us. All He has told us is to be ready. Today was, and is, the deadline to be ready. I hope we all are - very seriously.
We shall return this afternoon to conclude the Yom haKippurim servives. May we return, after further contemplation and prayerful searching, to receive His verdict, whatever that may be. Remember, remember, that Yom haKippurim is not only about judgment but about mercy too, and we have much need of that! And not just us, but the whole world. Let us also intercede for our families, friends and brethren around the world, especially those who have fallen away and those who have never known Yah'shua (Jesus). Until then, may Yahweh bless you all. Amen.
B. AFTERNOON SESSION
Making a Necessary U-Turn
Shalom chaverim and welcome back to the concluding assembly of Yom haKippurim, a festival that Errol Müller once called the 'Festival of U-Turns!' Yes, Yahweh allows us to the direction when we have been travelling on a false course. He wants today, above all, that you have shalom (peace) with Him, with others and with yourself. Making a U-turn, changing direction 180 degrees when we have made wrong choices, is called making teshuvah or repenting. Today of all other days is a day to forgive and forget. It is a day to move on and leave all the junk behind, individually but especially collectively as a people of Elohim (God). Through fasting we cleanse spirit and body, during which we are to turn to the Creator, accept responsibility for our choices, repent of wrong ones, confess, forgive and be forgiven. That is how we find at-one-ment with the Father.
Being Prepared to Go Home at Any Time
"Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:36, NKJV).
None of us, young or old, know how much longer we have before Yahweh takes us home. Those of us in the autumn and winter years of our lives think about these things rather more often than those of you in the spring and summer years. Yet Yom haKippurim in part reminds us all to seriously be prepared always. A big part of that involves prayer and that is what I feel I should end this divine moed (appointment) on this year, especially for those of you who are younger or new to the emunah (faith). Since every believer, without fail, wants answers to his or her prayers, I thought we should look at the main things that make this happen, without getting into too much detail, since this is only a very short assembly.
Principles of Prayer - Elohim Exists
Firstly, we have to believe that Elohim (God) is there, that He exists. It's no use, I'm sure you'll agree, talking to yourself. Your physical senses will not show you He is there, neither can your intellect nor your feelings. Emunah (faith) has got nothing to do with feeling. You either believe He is there or you don't. It's a choice.
Our Personal Elohim
Secondly, we have to believe that Elohim (God) is personal, that He is someone not something. He's not a force. If He was, as David Pawson points out, you might just as well pray to an electricity socket . Elohim (God) is not a name for your religious feelings since praying to yourself would be absurd anyway. He's a Person and He is like us even if He is supernatural and we are not. You can talk to a fellow human being and have communication but you cannot have an intelligent conversation with a dog or a chicken. We are like Him because we are made in His image. Not only that but Elohim (God) is more than one Person. He's a Family of Beings, just as we are. Families talk amongst themselves and they also talk to persons outside their families. That's how He designed us. We do what He does 'at home' in Heaven. There's nothing mystical about prayer. It's just straightforward conversation.
Elohim Listens and Replies
Thirdly, we have to believe that Yahweh can hear us when we pray. He does not, of course, pick up the sound generated by our voice vibrating the air molecules around us in the same way that we hear one another when those molecules impact the tympanic membrane in our inner ear. He hears on a spiritual frequency whether we physically speak our prayers or just think them. Most agree that physically-speaking them helps us concentrate better as well as separating out all those other 'voices' floating around in our minds. Even if all six billion human beings prayed at the same time, He would be able to hear us all. Better still, He knows what you are going to say even before you utter words. He picks up the intents of our hearts even before we translate them into language. So we must believe He can hear us but we must also believe that He will reply. He actually loves to listen to us just as loving beings do, and He loves to respond. How He replies is beyond the scope of my short address now for there are many, many ways.
Keeping Up the Conversation
When conversations peter out, relationships dry up, both between human-beings and between us and Elohim (God). At all costs we have to keep the conversation going. If we really believe He exists, if we really believe He is personal, and if we really believe He hears us and replies, then we're in prayer business. If we disbelieve any of these three things, we're in trouble. You don't need any kind of supernatural manifestation to believe or do these things. All you need to do is make a choice - three choices-in-one - and not waiver. Then prayer begins to work and you will never want to stop. Conversation is natural. Silence is not..even though, as we saw this morning, there is certainly "a time to be silent and a time to speak". Above all we need silence to listen. Some people just can't stop talking and never take the time to listen. I suggest that listening is probably the better part of prayer.
The Problem With Bad Parents
Making teshuvah (repenting) requires a lot of conversation or prayer with Yahweh and this is one of the best times of the year to cultivate the art. It's no use waiting until we are in a desperate crisis to pray because that's what agnostics do. (Atheists don't bother to pray at all). Conversation has to be learned, and we learn initially by imitation in most cases. Satan will, of course, do his utmost to sabotage this conversation by creating either fear or unbelief - these you have to actively resist, saying 'no' to both, remembering that it is the most natural thing in the world for children to talk to their parents. What if you have had bad parents? What if some were distant or even cruel? How do you learn the art of conversation? By finding spiritual fathers and mothers to talk with, even as Paul admonished:
The Need to Be Parented
"I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Messiah, you do not have many fathers, for in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) I became your father through the Besorah (Gospel)" (1 Cor.4:14-15, NIV).
The fear to talk often comes from not being parented properly, or not being parented at all, which is why we need parents until we can stand on our feet. Everybody knows how therapeutic talking something out can be. Well, our spirits need that 'talking out' with our Heavenly Parents too, plus we have an Elder Brother, Yah'shua (Jesus), who became like us through incarnation, understands our infirmities and can relate to us as both a human being and as Elohim (God). Just how like us is He that He would persuade us to ralk to Him in such an open and free manner?
Yahweh Wants His Family Back
The Bible, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 tells the story of an Elohim (God) reckless with desire to get His family back:
"He left the house of His Heavenly Father, came to a foreign country, gave away all that He had, and returned through the cross to His father's home. All of this He did, not as a rebellious son, but as the obedient son, send out to bring home all the lost children of Elohim...Yah'shua (Jesus) is the prodigal son of the prodigal Father who gave away everything the Father had entrusted to Him so that I could become like Him and return with Him to His Father's home" .
Elohim (God) struck the decisive blow of reconciliation when he sent His Son on the long journey to planet earth. The Bible's last scene, which corresponds to the festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), which we return here to celebrate in 5 days' time over an eight-day period, like the parable of the lost son, ends in jubilation, the family united once again. Such a rescue mission - first of ourselves, and then of others around us - requires lengthy conversation, a conversation we call prayer. This is what life is all about. It's why we are here - it's all about rescuing our family from a terrible inner prison planet. Everything - absolutely everything we are called to do - is about rescue. We may, at times forget this, because the labels we use assume very specialised religious meanings over time, labels like 'salvation' and 'deliverance'. That's why in our spirits we are so attracted to rescue stories of every and any kind! This is what brings us our greatest simcha (joy). Yahweh went to enormous lengths to rescue us, a plan which begins and ends in ahavah (love). This is what moves Him, and us, to become Rescuers:
How We Miss the Central Point of Being Loved
"This is ahavah (love): not that we loved Elohim (God), but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10, NIV).
"Greater ahavah (love) has no one than this, that he lay down his chayim (life) for his friends" (John 15:13, NIV).
"For Elohim (God) so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal chayim (life)" (John 3:16, NIV).
Can anyone deny we are in need of rescuing? Can we honestly say that there is no dysfunction, no disappointment, no doubting in our lives? Can we honestly say that we are never troubled by other people's pains and sorrows and their apparently unanswered prayers, let alone our own? I have had, and still have, mammoth struggles with these things. We all do. But we also tend to miss the point when we get into such wrestling matches with the Almighty. For we can never get the answers we are so desperate for until we have allowed Yahweh, first of all, but also other human beings, to actually love us. This is the gaping hole in the lives of so many believers that leads them to pose agonisingly unanswerable questions about life that cannot be answered until we have agreed to let our Heavenly Father love us. It's such an insane contradiction and yet it is so typical of the human condition - we refuse to receive the thing we need the most. We refuse, for whatever crazy reason, the ahavah (love) offered by Elohim (God) and His children on earth.
The Big Purpose of Life
Philip Yancey reminds us, critically, I believe, on this day of Judgment - this Yom haKippurim - of the central emet (truth) of why we are believers, the 'big purpose' that circles all of these great and terrible questions, that life forces us to ask,, with a bright red marking pen:
The Necessity of Separation
"The story of Yah'shua (Jesus) is the story of a celebration, a story of ahavah (love). It involves pain and disappointment, yes, for Elohim (God) as well as for us. But Yah'shua (Jesus) embodies the promise of an Elohim (God) who will go to any length to win us back. Not the least of Yah'shua's (Jesus') accomplishments is that He made us somehow lovable to Elohim (God)" .
The most loving thing Yahweh can do to those who accept His ahavah (love) is to separate them from those who have absolutely refused to receive that self same ahavah (love) and insist on choosing the opposite of ahavah (love), hate. That is why judgment must occur not only each Yom haKippurim but each Sh'mittah/Sabbatical (7 years) and Yovel/Jubilee (50 years) too. And that's why there must be a final Yom haKippurim, one day in the not so distant future when Yah'shua (Jesus) physically returns, so that His rescue mission - and ours - is not in vain. Separation of the righteous from the wicked, often by death, is not a pleasant thing but a necessary one otherwise all the labour of ahavah (love) would be utterly in vain. Any father or mother who loves his or her family 'gets' that because we will do almost anything to protect our children. Yahweh protects His too. Separation and judgment is a part of that loving. And if you don't believe that, just look at our modern society today which protects the wrong-doer and penalises the right-doer in a system of utterly perverse justice. Man's fallen sense of 'compassion' gets everything upside down. So we are back to justice again, which we discussed at length on Shabbat Shuvah
Our mission is crystal clear, lest we have become distracted by lesser priorities and missed the picture in any way. We are Rescuers, and we rescue in ahavah (love), bringing together the Rescued and separating from those who absolutely and finally refuse to be Rescued, not because we do not care, but because to do otherwise would be to be so very, very careless and irresponsible, laying open the Rescued to terrible danger and unnecessary misery. That is the Biblical definition of holiness - to be separated from wickedness and to be separated to Yahweh. That is what it means to be qadosh. We go where we are sent, risking all, and do not go where we are not, preserving the Rescued, the blessed spiritual seed. We embrace those who want to be doves, not the adders who are finally dermined to wipe them out because they never intend to make teshuvah (repent).
C. CONCLUDING PRAYER
Brethren and sisters, it remains now for me to bring this assembly to an end and also announce the close of Yom haKippurim. Following on from last year, we shall not be concluding with the traditional, ceremonial neilah prayers but offering one of our own. Our affirmation is that the Eternal Cohen Gadol (High Priest), Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), is very much alive. Because His sacrificial death and atonement on the cross of Calvary was accepted by Yahweh the Father, and we are accepted too. If we have truly repented of our sins, then the scape-goat is gone, and with it our sins:
(Sounding of the Shofar to end Yom haKippurim at sunset)
"Holy Father Yahweh-Elohim, I come forward as the father, husband and cohen (priest) of my family, and as the spiritual father of this Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon, and I plead the blood of Atonement on myself, my family, and my brethren and sisters in this Covenant assembled both here and abroad. I plead the blood of the Lamb of Elohim (God) on our houses, on our physical bodies and on the altars of our hearts that we may be purified and leave this place of assembly with thankfulness, that we may enter through the gates of the New Jerusalem with praise, declaring that our Messiah has loved His people, has blessed His children, and given unto us a Day of Atonements, a Day of Acceptance, and the Year of Jubilee. Drench us with Your Ruach (Spirit), heal us of our infirmities, and cleanse us of all impurity and evil, I pray. Bring our spirits to full chayim (life).
"I plead for our separated family members and brethren and ask that you would show them mercy and deliverance in this time of Your Judgment of the World and tribulation that will now follow. I ask this based on no merit of our own but solely on the merits of Your grace. Cause the Destroyer to pass us by, and them, deliver them and us out of destruction and death, I pray.
"Praise the Name of Yahweh! May His name be blessed forever! In Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen."
 David Pawson, Practicing the Principles of Prayer (Terra Nova Publications, Bradford on Avon, England: 2008), p.29
 Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (Image Books/Doubleday, NY: 1994), p.55
 Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1995), p.269