Category Archives: Yom Kippur Atonement

Day of Atonement gets Personal

Day of Atonement gets Personal

Year in and year out I’ve rarely failed to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, even Thanksgiving, but Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur—give me a break. Even though I’m told in Leviticus 23:27-29 “you shall afflict your soul and do no work on the Day of Atonement,” it has only been the last few years that I have taken God’s command seriously.

To take the command seriously, I felt I should understand it better.
The scripture equates the affliction of soul and doing no work with atonement. So what is atonement? Webster’s Dictionary says it is “reconciliation”. Let’s say then, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is a very special, annual day to be sure you are right with God. That should be our every day responsibility, but God, knowing His creation, established a specific day once a year to be sure we take that responsibility seriously.

Particularly when we know we cannot be right with God if we are not right with our fellow man and woman. (Matt 25:40,44) Hence, the incorporation into the day (and in preparation for the day) with the practice of repenting—restoring of any broken relationships. These unresolved exchanges are where most of your affront to God will have occurred over the last twelve months. Hopefully, you will not have waited until the very end of the year to make amends! It is the restoration of broken relationships that is an essential part of reconciliation with God.

Why the connection between “no work” and “reconciliation”? When this observance was first commanded by God it was at Mt. Sinai, not too long after the Israelites had been freed from the shackles of slavery in Egypt. Where will a lot of your offense be likely to occur?—in the workplace! Think what an Israelite’s recent response to a slave environment might have been. Can you forgive that taskmaster you work for? Or, how about the co-worker who uses your just-gathered straw for his bricks? Or, the wife who didn’t put any horseradish in your lunch box this morning when you headed out to make bricks? Or,…fill in your own reactions to your experiences with others which should be addressed and made right.

Doing no work for a whole day becomes that dramatic pause that lets you have time to step back and asses your relationship to work itself.

Last year a big opportunity for me to atone came the morning before the Day of Atonement. My wife commented concerning the way I handled a phone conversation. I didn’t like her suggested corrections and stewed on them all day—all the while knowing this solemn day before the Lord was fast approaching. Finally I confessed to God my inability to let go of my grievance. I didn’t want to confront my wife with my angst as it wasn’t her problem—it was mine: my inability to graciously hear some positive suggestions (“Yeah, right!” had been my thoughts all day long). I repented to the Lord and soon began to feel a softening toward my wife. I could start anticipating a much more successful Holy Day. I did complete the reconciliation by also asking my wife to forgive me for my coolness to her during the day. She forgave me and asked me in turn to forgive her for her abrupt manner of “assessing” my phone conversation—ahhh…sweet reconciliation.

This little example, while not strictly from the workplace, was, nevertheless, a battle of the soul, the will. Since we are retired our home really is our workplace. During that day of preparation my mind, will, and emotions were definitely involved and this realm of the soul is Satan’s favorite battleground. It seems like this thought-life conflict should not be affecting my relationship with Father. After all, don’t I have any privacy? Well, no, I don’t! God knows my every thought and it is these thoughts which, when not dealt with, keep me from having clean hands and a pure heart. (Ps 24:4)

Why has the “affliction of soul” in the Leviticus verse been interpreted as calling for a day of fasting? To me, it goes hand in hand with the “no work” instruction. Nothing is to interrupt the total giving of this one day a year to a stringent soul searching. The soul (mind) is the reservoir of the past year’s interactions, but the vehicle which should be allowed to do the audit is your human spirit. We are body, soul and spirit. It is our spirit’s nexus with Holy Spirit which can truly purge the records of our interrelationships and thought life—of the foibles of our will and emotions. A day uninterrupted by food preparation and consumption excludes the soul and body from interrupting our spirit’s attuning to Holy Spirit.

I hope to spend the Day with an attitude of an ascended spirit—seeking Holy Spirit’s defining and assessing of what is stored in the recesses of my mind. This deliberate one day a year activity between Holy Spirit, my human spirit, and my mind will bring me to the close of a highly successful day of reconciliation with my fellow man, myself—and upper most—Father God.

Yom Kippur–Day Ten–The Day

Yom Kippur Day Ten—The Day

It’s here, tenth of Tishri, tenth Day of Awe—Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.

If you’ve followed my last two posts you are aware I am covering a commandment from the Ten Commandments each day from the Feast of Trumpets on 1 Tishri through 10 Tishri.

These ten days are called the Days of Awe, possibly because of the awesome experience the Lord intends Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, to be for those who celebrate it.

The tenth commandment says “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” My first question was, “Why is this the tenth and final commandment?” You might say, why not? One had to be last why not this one? That was probably my answer before I started this study. I’ll explain:

Covet, to me, is a wizened word by itself. It just looks small and crunched up. It might even be deeply wrinkled and toothless. It surely has no vitality. Covet in the Hebrew is חמד (chamad) which translates, in addition to covet, to various shades of desire up to idolatry. I was going to do a word search of other occurrences of covet, but Ahab and Jezebel popped into my mind.

The whole sordid mess of these two is told in 1Kings 21. It’s got it all, practically the whole Ten Commandments in one story. And it starts with Ahab coveting the vineyard of his neighbor, Naboth. Ahab was even willing to pay for it. We have false witness, murder, parent-child considerations, stealing, idolatry and I bet Ahab didn’t keep Sabbath! It all started with Ahab just wanting a veggie garden.

The tenth commandment involves neighbor, as does Ahab’s story. I’ve previously covered the inclusiveness of this word in my ninth commandment review. I found it even includes my opponent. The final operative word of the “no covet” commandment, as I see it, is “anything.” This turns out to be the Hebrew word כל (kol). Translated an amazing 4000 plus times as “all.” Need I say more?

There are at least two morals to the story: First, what can start out as a seemingly reasonable want can rise to coveting when I let my mind and emotions out from under Spirit control. That wizened word can grow exponentially into full blown sin. Secondly, and maybe even more sobering on this day of confession, repentance and forgiveness is the generational consequence of sin. Read Ahab’s story to the end. As I repent I must take into account what I may have sown into the generational line and enlarge my repentance as required.

My premise is that the “no covet” commandment is totally appropriate for number ten. As the Ahab story points out, letting covet get out of hand can release a whole bevy of commandment consequence. The commandment gives you some examples where coveting is going to temp you, but winds up saying, כל—ALL coveting violates the commandment.

Wish I could leave you on a more positive note. But really, to think of the provision the Lord has made for our wholeness and the wholeness of our generational line is praiseworthy positive.

Yom tov.

Yom Kippur Preparation Day Nine

Yom Kippur Preparation Day Nine

Today at sundown begins the celebration of Yom Kippur. On this day nine of the Days of Awe I am considering the ninth commandment of the Ten Commandments. This commandment says, “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.“

This won’t take long, my nearest neighbor is a half mile away and I really don’t know him all that well. So, I’ve had no opportunity to bear a false witness against him. What’s that you say, Lord, “think again.“

Maybe I should not take the English translation quite so literally and do a little Hebrew word study. I’ll start with “neighbor,” that should end my inquiry pretty quickly. The Hebrew word is רע (rea). Oh, my, that has a translation definition ranging from “husband” to “opponent.” The predominant thought is “neighbor,” but even “friend” and “another” are frequent translations. Looks like I’ll have to expand considerably those who might be affected by false witness.

I’m almost afraid to see what “false” and “witness” encompass. But I press on—time’s running out to sundown. “False” turns out to be שקר (shequer), short definition includes deception, falsehood, disappointment and emphasis on lying. Before I start pleading guilty I’ll look at “witness.”

This is quick, the Hebrew is עד (ed)—basically to see and tell. I won’t even try to consider what I hear through the grape vine and tell. I think that falls into gossip. That’s a whole other subject.

Before I left the “false” definition, I was already thinking of innuendo. I don’t right out speak falsely, but if the hearer wants to make some assumptions from what I said, isn’t that his sin? Maybe I give the impression I was a witness. Maybe I leave out a fact or two. As I said, a shading of my testimony from which I could look better, the other worse. I’m the hero, the other the villain. And, this is no longer just my next door neighbor to whom I could have been a false witness. This group now includes friends. It includes a husband, maybe a wife too. And, can you imagine an opponent? I can’t even give a little shaded information about my opponent?

As you can imagine, I have some work to do before sundown.
Shabbat Shalom

Yom Kippur Preparation

Yom Kippur Preparation

My sharing on both Feast of Trumpets (embracing afresh the Ten Commandments) and Yom Kippur (how to afflict the soul) has prompted me to take a deliberate approach to the ten day timeframe which embraces these two events.

You may have already guessed at my thinking—Ten Commandments—ten days. Feast of Trumpets is on 1 Tishri and Yom Kippur on 10 Tishri. If I took a commandment a day and reviewed where I am in relation to that Commandment it could be an awesome Yom Kippur. This could be called the Ten Days of Awe. Maybe somebody already thought that.

Unfortunately I didn’t make the connection early enough this year to practice what I’m preaching, but I have practiced it for “adultery” commandment #7 and “steal” commandment #8.

“Steal” has been particularly rich. A small word study of “steal,” the Hebrew גנב ganab, indicates an influence of deception and stealthiness in the stealing. It even includes kidnapping as a translation. This got me to thinking beyond the literal, physical taking of property to the more subtle taking of the self worth, emotional wholeness, even to the point of taking another’s physical as well as mental health.

This line of interpretation opens a whole new opportunity for introspection. What have my actions been toward those I “love?” Have I been an encourager or a thief? What is the undertone in my encouragement—”that was good, but can’t you do better?”

As I get older I’m realizing memory can become a problem. To tell someone, “I told you, don’t you remember?” is like a theft, a condemnation, creating a doubt—a theft of confidence, self worth. Better, to just repeat without comment and even add a silent prayer!

Words, as has been said so often, have power. Words as a tool for stealing is a whole new consideration for me. Maybe with this Yom Kippur I can stop my stealing and instead start laying up some treasures in heaven where no theft can occur.

Yom Kippur–Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement

Leviticus 23:27-29
“Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God…..(italics added)

Affliction of soul and doing no work is equated wih atonement. So what is atonement? Webster’s Dictionary says it is reconciliation. Let’s say then, it is a very special, annual day to be sure you are right with God. And, we know you cannot be right with God if you are not right with your fellow man and woman. (Matt 25:40,44) Hence, the incorporation into the day (and in preparation for the day) with the practice of repenting—restoring of any broken relationships. This is where most of your affront to God will have occurred over the last twelve months. Hopefully, you will not have waited until the very end of the year to make amends! It is the restoration of broken relationships that is an essential part of reconciliation with God.

Why the connection between “no work” and “reconciliation”? Let’s note when this observance was first commanded by God. It was not too long after the Israelites had been freed from the shackles of slavery in Egypt. Where will a lot of your offense be likely to occur?—in the workplace! Can you forgive that taskmaster you work for? Or how about the co-worker who uses your just-gathered straw for his bricks? Or the wife who didn’t put any horseradish in your lunch box this morning? Or…fill in your experience, which should be addressed and made right. Doing no work is that dramatic pause that lets you step back and asses your relationship to work itself.

My test came the morning before the Day of Atonement. My wife commented concerning the way I handled a phone conversation. I didn’t like her suggested corrections and stewed on them all day—all the while knowing this solemn day before the Lord was fast approaching. Finally I confessed to God my inability to let my grievance go. I didn’t want to confront my wife with it as it wasn’t her problem—it was mine: my inability to graciously hear some positive suggestions (“Yeah, right!” had been my thoughts all day long). I repented to the Lord and soon began to feel a softening toward my wife. I could start anticipating a much more successful Holy Day. I did complete the reconciliation by also asking my wife to forgive me for my coolness to her during the day. She forgave me and asked me in turn to forgive her for her abrupt manner of “assessing” my phone conversation.

This little example of mine, while not strictly from the workplace was a soul battle and being retired our home is our workplace. My mind, will, and emotions were definitely involved and this is Satan’s favorite battleground. It would seem that this thought-life conflict should not be affecting my relationship with Father. After all, don’t I have any privacy? Well, no, I don’t! God knows my every thought and it is these thoughts which when not dealt with keep me from having clean hands and a pure heart. (Ps 24:4)

Why has the “affliction of soul” been interpreted as calling for a day of fasting? To me, it goes hand in hand with the “no work” instruction. Nothing is to interrupt the total giving of this one day a year to a stringent soul searching. The soul (mind) is the reservoir of the past year’s interactions, but the vehicle which should be allowed to do the audit is your human spirit. We are body, soul and spirit. It is our spirit’s nexus with Holy Spirit which can truly purge the records of our interrelationships and thought life—of the foibles of our will and emotions.

The Day could best be spent in an attitude of an ascended spirit—seeking Holy Spirit’s defining and assessing of what is stored in the recesses of our minds. This deliberate activity between Holy Spirit, human spirit, and mind will bring us to the close of a highly successful day of reconciliation with fellow man, self—and upper most—Father God.