Posted tagged ‘Yom Kippur’

Our Refuge, His Presence

May 6, 2011

If you are poor, tired, forlorn, and lost there is a place you can go to meet Jesus. It does not depend on your being accepted by a bunch of snooty church folks, you do not have to wear the right clothing, or smell nice. It is a certain and guaranteed thing, because it depends on Jesus alone. Therefore it is not subject to the whims and religious attitudes of men. It is also a place that many have been denied, because the most basic information about it has been obscured for hundreds of years, yielding generations of babies who know a little (or maybe just a lot of academic schlock) about Jesus, but who do not know Him personally (or by means of the Spirit).

 

The place I speak of is the place where Peter was when he was praying in Joppa, (Acts 10:10) and it is where John was when he mentions that he was “in the Spirit” at the beginning of “The Revelation Of John” (Revelation 1), It is where Paul was when he mentions casually that he was taken up to the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-6).

 

It is as if, when you hear the good news and accept it, you are set down in the outer courts of Solomon’s temple and you tramp around there enjoying all the praise bands and the religious goings on, but to get to the court of the Priests you have to seek the entrance, you have to find the door. Further on to gain access to the temple itself and the Holy of Holies which is your right as a child of the Living God, you have to find the entrance, The entrance in all cases is Jesus, getting to know Him in the most intimate way, is your doorway to these wonderful places. You might say, well this Scriptural evidence is sketchy, yet I am only scratching the surface, there are many examples of this in the New Testament, you just have to look for them, Jesus set the tone in this way of life by spending considerable time, alone with the Father, in prayer.

 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:19

 

“19 You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves,” New Century Version

 

Paul said very much the same thing in several places in his epistles, and I would like to suggest to you that for Paul the Temple he once served and the temple God was building in His people were not so different, just far more personal.

 

When you ask, seek, and knock (Luke 11:9-13) God sets up a place in your heart for His presence, a Holy of Holies to which you can retreat to be with Him. I also think that in a slightly different way He is speaking of the same thing when He said “Behold I stand at the door and knock,” Revelation 3:20-22
He encourages us to seek Him, but I believe that He also actively calls us to seek Him.

 

The initiative was God’s from the very beginning, it is our responsibility to respond. To live the life that He has so graciously provided we must walk with Him and dwell in Him. But the flesh resists this simple and beautiful gift which God has placed on our doorsteps. The flesh wants an appearance of Godliness, but please none of that radical stuff!! But sometimes, in it’s contrary way, the flesh makes a religious duty out of being radical. So you can see it all around you in the religious observances that Christians occupy themselves with every day.

 

On the one hand, it is fairly easy to detect an immature approach to the Lord, when others try to convince you to follow their example (and they will!), because the followers of babydom do not have the Spirit to guide them, they only have the book (the Bible) and lacking clarification from the Spirit they cling to whatever interpretation of Scripture they have obsessively, because that is all they have.

 

On the other hand, life in the Spirit is multifaceted, you can walk and talk with Him, listen to Him, and obey Him, He guides you, there are secrets and gifts He will share with you so that you may help people, and He has secrets and gifts for you alone, it is never dull and Scripture will unfold for you in the brilliant light of His Spirit, the very one who wrote it.

 

When you give up your feeble, and failed attempts at controlling your life and place yourself solely in His hands you will find that He is adding to you and augmenting your life beyond anything you ever thought possible.

 

This is our legitimate claim on Jesus, and He is pleased to help us receive it.

But it all starts when we find our refuge in Him, our sanctuary in His Presence.

Jesus Is Our Priest

May 4, 2010

I look at the institutional church now days and I see a tremendous deficit, we have, in our modern context, taken a concept which would aid us immeasurably in understanding what God is doing, and we have distorted it beyond all recognition. I speak of the office of priest. In our day to day lives, if anyone would identify themselves as a priest we would instantly know him to be from the Roman Catholic or Anglican traditions or perhaps a little less familiarly from the Orthodox tradition. In the Protestant world I live in, priesthood is foreign, and all too often identified solely with the Roman Catholic world. In our culture we have allowed the Roman Catholic church to define priesthood, so we tend to avoid the subject, and give it short shrift whenever we encounter it in Scripture.
I am hoping that today we can get to the bottom of this subject. A subject which deserves far more attention than we have given it in the past.
So what is the definition of a priest? This is what the Merriam-Webster’s website says

“Main Entry: priest
Pronunciation: \ˈprēst\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English preist, from Old English prēost, ultimately from Late Latin presbyter — more at presbyter
Date: before 12th century

: one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God; specifically : an Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic clergyman ranking below a bishop and above a deacon.”*

Let’s look at the first part shall we?
Webster says; “one authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion especially as a mediatory agent between humans and God;”
This definition is the most general possible and applies to human religious priesthood, christian or pagan.
If you dig into the Bible, for that is where we will find the full definition, you will discover another facet of priesthood, a true priest is one who is appointed by and sent from God. There is also a sense from the appearance of Melchizedek the King of Salem (Shalom or peace) in Genesis 14, that God will provide a priest.  So here is the first clear requirement of priesthood, a true priest is one whom God has chosen and sent.

A second requirement is that a priest be from among the people who are being represented. Melchizedek was a human and he represented humankind to God, Aaron was a Hebrew and he represented the descendants of Jacob to God.
An angel or any other kind of non-human could never be a priest for humans. Therefore to be our High Priest Jesus had to become one of us. By means of the creative power of the Holy Spirit, through Mary, He became a human being. Jesus was a descendant of Abraham through Mary and, by adoption, of David through Joseph in order to represent Israel and to be it’s King, but as a human being He represents us all. Therefore as one begotten of God, He is the God-man and at the same time the man-God.

So now we come to the wrinkle which God threw into the concept of priesthood, which departs from the Old Testament office of human priest. He is revealing the reality of priesthood to us, in that Jesus was, in His earthly form, Immanuel or God with us, So we have a person who is a human being to represent us to God, and He is at the same time God to represent God to us. This reflects the ministry of the high Priest of Israel, who went through the veil into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to bring the blood of the sacrifice into the presence of God, standing as a representative of the people to God, and then he would come back out through the veil to pronounce the blessing to the people, announcing the forgiveness of God to them, thereby representing God to the people. Jesus is the only person begotten of God, that is, who came directly from God, who was chosen and sent by God and revealed in human history. He is the only human who ever lived who is actually fully qualified to speak to God for humankind and to speak to us for God. Thus He is the only way to God. He is the door, He is the gate, He is the only true Shepherd.

A priest does what the rest of the people cannot do for themselves, he goes into the presence of God and pleads for those whom he represents. So it is that this man Jesus was the High Priest for all humanity on that day so long ago when He went through the veil of death into the very presence of God to present His blood as a sacrifice for us all. Then He came back out through that veil, back to life in His body, to announce God’s blessing of forgiveness, but as God sometimes does He introduces us to something new. Jesus did not simply repair His old body, to be just like ours, no, He raised it to be as it should be, the singular mark of representing God to us, and the signpost of our future as ones who will be like Him.

So let us review.
A true priest is one whom God has chosen and sent.
Jesus is the Messiah or the “anointed” or “chosen one” of God.
In our culture, in the traditions which ordain “priests”, we seem to think that we can choose someone, train him, and voila! he is a “priest”. We as humans wish to choose our own representatives. Yet in situation after situation in Scripture if someone whom God did not choose sets himself up as a priest, not only does God not accept this, but disaster usually follows. It is quite clear from Scripture that Jesus is the “chosen one”, let’s save ourselves a lot of grief and go with God’s choice.

A priest must be from among the people who are represented.
Jesus was a human being and a member of the tribe of Judah. therefore representing Israel and humankind before God.

In a twist from God, Jesus was divine, making Him uniquely qualified to speak to us as God. This confirms the chosen nature of priesthood, for God sent Jesus, a vital part of Himself, to show us Himself. This simply would not have been possible with anyone else, Jesus came from God, he was chosen by and sent from God.

Finally a priest does what we ourselves cannot. He prepares the sacrifice and He goes into the presence of God to present the sacrifice and to plead for us.
Jesus sacrificed Himself and went through the veil of death into the very presence of God to be “us” before God, that is why those of us who know Him are “in Him”. Then He came back through the veil of death to tell us that we have been reconciled to God. And He did more than that in sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, to set up a Holy of Holies in our hearts, thus we are, each of us, the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Just as the Temple of God in Jerusalem was the meeting place between God and man in the world during that time. Now we who know Him are the meeting place between God and man in this present world.
Therefore we are all priests under our great High Priest Jesus. We plead for our friends and neighbors to God, and we represent God to the world.

Blessings to you all,
Nathan

*My sincere thanks to Merriam-Webster and their fine editorial staff for making this available, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/priest

Yom Kippur

September 28, 2009

It is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, sound the shofar!!
This is the day in the Hebrew calendar when the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, to offer the blood of the sacrifice for the people of Israel. Since Jesus died on the cross we no longer have to rely on the blood of cattle, goats, or rams to enjoy reconciliation with God. But this would be a good time to review what God has done in your life, your Yom Kippur has forever been accomplished.
So what lies ahead for you?
You say you don’t know?
I don’t know what He has for you, but I do know that He is willing to tell you what He wants you to do if you are willing to humble yourself and listen. Jesus didn’t embark on His own Yom Kippur lightly.  He did what He did so that you and I would have free access to Him. The veil separating us from God was torn from top to bottom. He opened it up Himself.
Like the ancient Hebrew high priest, Jesus went through the veil into a place where none of the rest of us could go and came out again to pronounce the blessing, the announcement of the complete reconciliation of God and man. He rose from death, to give you and me life.
To have this life is to have His Spirit.
This is what had been acted out in symbolic form since the time of Moses. Now it is available for all of us, when God promised Abraham that He would bless the whole world through his seed, God wasn’t kidding. That means every man, woman, and child on earth can seek Him and know Him personally. We can ask anything of Him in His name and He will respond to us individually. We can know Him. We can hear Him. We can walk with Him.
Yom Kippur as we now understand it, is our opportunity to throw open the door of our hearts to Him, to be united with Him.
We can finally experience shalom.