Sunday, 23 September 2012

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement & Reconciliation(2)

It has been said that ‘judgment is that which tells us what we are, and the Good News of the Gospel is that which tells us that we do not need to remain such’. 

The following three passages highlight 3 different Hebrew words that describe and explain how God liberates us from ourselves:

 Matthew 6.12  Forgive us 5545 our debts, as we forgive our debtors.And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one....For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 5.21-24 You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. ….
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled 7521 to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Leviticus 16:30  On that Day the priest shall make atonement 3722 for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

These 3 Hebrew words have different, but complementary meanings:

1.  5545 salach means to forgive, to pardon, to spare.

2. 7521 ratsah means to be pleased with; specifically, to satisfy a debt, to consent with, to reconcile self, to agree well together.

3. 3722 kaphar means to cover, to cleanse, to pardon, to restore, to make reconciliation.

There is a sense that to be ‘forgiven’ 5545 makes everything alright again, and so we carry on as before….probably making sure that we don’t make the same mistake again.

But there is more to being ‘forgiven’ 5545 than that. There is the next step in restoring and ‘reconciling’ 7521 our relationship with those we have wronged….including the LORD.  We need to be cleansed, be restored, and to agree well together…..if we are to complete the process as the LORD recommends.

The Mishnah, Yoma 85b, states that ‘for sins against God, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) brings forgiveness. For sins against one's neighbour, the Day of Atonement brings no forgiveness until one has become reconciled with one's neighbour.’

I wrote in last week’s Blog that on Yom Kippur the opportunity to re-experience God's love for us is greater than it is at any other time…. because Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement when we can be ‘reconciled’ 3722 to the LORD, be restored in Him…on the specific Day in His calendar of  Feasts.

This is the Good News of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which enables us, and liberates us, to be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19 

Many of us suffer, and have suffered, from a ‘broken heart’ as a result of loss, anger, death, or separation. These tragic situations and relationships in our lives desperately need His restoration and ‘reconciliation’ 3722......His atonement.

Perhaps the following 7 questions might express the agony of those of us who are suffering from a broken heart :

1. To whom do I go when spiritual darkness engulfs my soul? 

2. Who can observe my least apparent symptoms, and understand what I have resolved not to reveal of my grief ?

3. Who can discern, by an ability to see into the depths behind the symptoms, the extent of my pain and grief that has to be revealed?

4. Who can explain to me that no amount of my anger, my pain, my grief, my depression, or my despair, is beyond the power of Jesus to heal?

5. Who can explain to me how Jesus redeems, seeks, saves, identifies with, and brings me out of the valley of the shadow of the death of my broken heart, into His pasture, feeding peacefully on Him?

6.  Who can explain to me how God can heal me and ‘make me complete in every good work to do His Will, working in me what is well pleasing in His sight’?

7.   Who can explain to me how God ‘illuminates the wholeness of His Being towards me bringing order, providing me with love, sustenance and friendship, and setting in place all that I need to be whole and complete in Him’…and healed from a broken heart, crushed in grief?

There are 3 beautiful examples in the Gospels of being ‘reconciled’ 3722, restored, and filled with all the fullness of God when Jesus said that He came ‘to heal the brokenhearted’. 

What does it mean to be 'brokenhearted'. The Hebrew words used in Psalm 147 and Isaiah 61 can give us a clue

Psalm 147:3  He heals the brokenhearted 7665 and binds up their grief.6094

Isaiah 61:1  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, 7665

The two Hebrew words are shabar 7665 and ‛atstsebeth 6094: 

shabar 7665 means to be brokenhearted, like being crushed, as when grain is placed on a threshing floor or in a millstone, and crushed to burst out the seeds from the hull. 

 'atstsebeth 6094 means to be in  pain from grief.

Luke 4:18  The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,7665

How does Jesus ‘heal the brokenhearted’? Perhaps there is a clue in the following two passages:

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

He is able and willing to do this for us because, at His Crucifixion:

He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; .. and by His stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53.4

Since Jesus confirmed Isaiah 61 in Luke 4.18, it seems logical that we should have evidence that He ‘healed the brokenhearted’ in His Miracles recorded in the Gospels. 

There are 3 specific people who were healed from their broken hearts.  All three of them had an only child who was either ‘dead’, or ‘dying’, or living a ‘living death’.  Is it not striking that God Himself gave His only begotten Son...

In each case, as a result of what had happened to their ‘only child’, their hearts had been broken, crushed,7665 and the pain caused them great grief 6094. The 3 parents were:

1. The Widow of Nain in Galilee:  Luke 7.11-13:
He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. When the LORD saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’

2.  Jairus:  Luke 8.41-50:
There came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue.
And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, for
he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. ….While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, ‘Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.’  But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’

3. The epileptic boy’s father: Matthew 17.14-15, Mark 9.22, Luke 9.38-39: 
A man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, ‘LORD, have mercy on my son, for he is my only child, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.…to destroy him…. a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him.. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’

So…there are 3 beautiful examples of ‘reconciliation’ 3722, restoration, and being healed from 'a broken heart'.  Did God Himself also suffer from 'a broken heart' as He bore our griefs and sorrows at His Crucifixion?

I wrote in last week’s Blog that on Yom Kippur the opportunity to re-experience God's love for us is greater than it is at any other time. 

The Apostle Paul pleads with the Corinthians ’to be reconciled to God’. Paul uses the Greek word katallage which means atonement, reconciliation:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us (made atonement for us) to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (atonement) …so we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.  1Corinthians 5.18-20

Why does Paul emphasise ‘reconciliation’ rather than writing, ‘Now all things are of God, who has forgiven us through Jesus Christ,…’

Perhaps because we need to be cleansed, be restored, to agree well together, and to be reconciled…..if we are to complete the process as the LORD recommends.

I began this Blog by noting that ‘judgment is that which tells us what we are, and the Good News of the Gospel is that which tells us that we do not need to remain such’. 

If you  have suffered from, or are still suffering from a ‘broken heart’ as a result of loss, anger, death, or separation....I pray that Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will be for you a Day of ‘reconciliation’ and restoration in the LORD.

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