Jackson Snyder Bible                   

Day of Atonement:
Pocket of Prune Pits
Yom Kippur

Just off the whale.

Great Yom Kippur Atonement books and Resources at this link

TEXTS:

Leviticus 23:27-32 “The Day of Atonement”
Jonah 3: 1-10  “The Ninevites Repent”
1 Kings 10:1-9 “The Queen of Sheba”
Matthew 12:38-50 “On Judgment Day” 

   Last week we celebrated the Feast of Trumpets, calling to mind that Yahweh will soon come and judge then rule the nations.  We blew the shofar (ram’s horn) a hundred times, and proclaimed our desire in cries to heaven that Yahweh would be swift to reward those who’ve been faithful.

 

Atonement

   Having considered his judgments, now we look forward, making perfectly sure we are at-one with him.  Sundown tonight marks the beginning of the most solemn biblical holy day of all – the Day of Atonement.  We think of atonement as “at-one-ment” – that is, being united with our Father in Heaven through his son, our Savior, while yet dwelling in tents of flesh.

    Atonement gets its name from the Hebrew words “Yom Kippur,” which means “day of covering,” referring to the covering of sin.  In Bible times, the high priest would sacrifice a bull for his own sins and a goat for the sins of the whole people of Israel and collect the blood.  The priest would then enter into the Holy of Holies in the temple, the place where they supposed Yahweh himself dwelt.  This was the only day of the year that someone might enter this space without being killed.  The chosen priest would sprinkle the blood of the bull and goat on the stone altar therein.  He would also speak the sacred name “Yahweh”; it was forbidden then for anyone to utter this name except the high priest on the day of atonement in the secret Holy of Holies. 

   The high priest would also lay hands on a second goat, conveying to it the sins of all the people. This “scapegoat” would then be sent out into the desert to an evil spirit, Azazel (Leviticus 16:10).  A scarlet thread would be tied to the horns of the scapegoat and another to doors of the temple.  The scarlet reminded the people of the blood spilt for their sins.  When the thread on the door miraculously turned white, the people would know that Azazel captured the scapegoat, and that their sins had been consumed.  This old thread practice may have originated in the words of Yahweh recorded by the prophet, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).  The scarlet thread tradition was discontinued, since the thread often didn’t turn “white as snow” as it was supposed to.

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   A worship service also took place.  This one day, saints and sinners were called to pray together – there were to be no distinctions made as to who could come together, as long as all came in the spirit of humble repentance.  Also, “all vows” (“Kol Nidrei”) that the worshiper had made with Yahweh and didn’t fulfill might be annulled, and all curses that the worshiper put on himself over the course of the year might be broken.  No work was to be done, as there was much penance to do; and anyone who had attached himself to Yahweh was commanded to “afflict” himself on Yom Kippur.  This “affliction” mentioned in Leviticus 16:29 refers to abstaining from eating, drinking or washing for twenty-four hours, from sundown to sundown.  Do you think you can keep the fast beginning tonight?  (No food, drink or bathing?)

   One Jewish humorist (Shalom Aleichem) illustrates how serious is the fasting on the Day of Atonement.  Toward the end of one particular Day of Atonement service, a wealthy stranger publicly stands and accuses the worshipers of having stolen a bunch of money he’d hidden in the church (synagogue) earlier.  Everyone in the congregation is searched, but the money doesn’t turn up.  The son-in-law of the richest man in town is found hiding and refuses to be searched.  The people assume to see his pockets bulging with the stolen lucre.  So the elders forcefully search him, emptying those bulging pockets.  They don’t find any money, but they do find one pocket full of chicken bones and the other pocket full of wet prune pits.  The congregation soon forgets all about the theft of money, but sneaking snacks on Yom Kippur becomes a scandal that’s talked about for years; and the prune eater never lives it down.

 

A Milestone

   We believers in Yahshua see the Day of Atonement as a milestone in salvation history.  Luke 1 tells us of Zechariah, who was the high priest in the reign of Herod the Great (before 4 BC).  When he went into the Holy of Holies on behalf of Israel to burn incense on the Day of Atonement that year, he encountered an angel who told him that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son whose name was to be John.  The angel went on to tell the astonished priest that his future son ...

Luke 1:15-17. “...will be great before Yahweh and will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb.  He will go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, to make ready a people prepared for Yahweh."

   Of course, this was John the Baptist, son of Zechariah, who went forth to tell everybody about the coming of Yahshua our Savior, who would ultimately lay down his life as the final blood sacrifice for sin, putting an end to all animal sacrifice, the sprinkling of the blood and the scapegoat.  Yahshua did not, however, put an end to the Day of Atonement; Yahweh commanded “it to be a statute forever” (Leviticus 23:31 – read it for yourself).  Forever includes now.  We see many illusions to it in Yahshua’s life, including his being driven out into the desert to face temptation, starvation and devilish testing. 

   For us, Atonement is a day to consider Yahshua’s sacrifice and affliction, and we are to “afflict” ourselves by making the Day of Atonement one of prayer, supplication, meditation and fasting until sundown.  If you can’t fast the entire period, I’m certain Yahweh will bless you if you devotionally fast even one meal as a participation in the suffering sacrifice of his dear Son, who was the propitiation for your sins.

Isaiah 53:6.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

 

Jonah

   Customarily, the book of Jonah is read in its entirety on the Day of Atonement.  This might be a part of your own observance tonight or tomorrow along with your fasting and praying.  Yahshua makes many references to Jonah, and the most relevant is found in Matthew 13:28, our text today.  Yahshua is tempted to perform a miracle by the religious charlatans.  But he informs them that those whom they consider to be notorious sinners will one day rise from the dead to judge them as self-righteous hypocrites.  Note that.

   The notorious Ninevites will rise from the dead as judges.  Yahshua reminds these Pharisees of Jonah’s story.  We remember that a whale swallowed him after he was pitched off a ship.  He was trying to run away from Yahweh’s mission – “Go to Nineveh.  Tell them that I’ll destroy the whole city if they don’t repent.”  His shipmates learned that he’d gotten g-d mad, so they threw him over to save their own skins.  And many on that ship were converted on account of Jonah’s disobedience.  But who could blame Jonah for hiding!  Nineveh was the capital city of Judah’s fiercest enemy, home of the awesome Sennacherib, King of Assyria, who would eventually capture Judea and attack Jerusalem.  In addition, the Ninevites were notorious idolaters, godless sinners and very, very mean.  The city itself was far away and very large for those days – hundreds of miles away, requiring three days to walk it’s diameter.  Who on earth would want to go there?  Would we go to such extremes if called?  I really doubt it, though some might.

   Anyway, the most unlikely thing happened when Jonah finally did what he was told and walked through Nineveh preaching.  The Ninevites repented, afflicting themselves with fasting in sackcloth and ashes.  What’s funny is that Jonah sat up on the hill overlooking the city, hoping that Yahweh would send fire from heaven (since Jonah hated these people).  But that didn’t happen, and Jonah afflicted himself.  But the Ninevites, notorious sinners that they were, came into the grace of Yahweh and were saved – even the king was saved, and commanded every one in his authority to afflict themselves and pray!

 

The Queen of Sheba

   Next, Yahshua reminds these Pharisees about the Queen of Sheba.  Sheba is Ethiopia in Africa.  She’d traveled with her entourage all the way from Ethiopia to Jerusalem to learn about Yahweh from King Solomon.  At first she was merely impressed by all the blessings Yahweh had bestowed on the house of David, but soon she became convicted of her sins through the preaching of the King.  She became one with the Israelites, and Solomon saw to it that her sins were covered on the Day of Atonement.  The Queen of Sheba was so changed that she took the good news of the sacred name back to Ethiopia and her people.  To this day, there is a large contingency of Ethiopian Jews that trace their heritage back to the Queen of Sheba. 

   You may remember that George Bush senior put into play Operation Joshua (Yahshua) in 1991, rescuing over 18,000 Ethiopian Jews in 24 hours by airlifting them to Israel just before the Muslims moved in for the massacre.  For this, the elder Bush won The Joseph Prize for Human Rights in 2002.  If he’s remembered in the annals of the Book of Life for nothing else than being a good Episcopalian, George Bush senior will be remembered for this act of courage.  So herein lies a connection between our former president and the ancient Queen – between America and Sheba.

 

They’ll Be Resurrected

   Now Yahshua tells us that all these former heathens from Nineveh along with the Queen of Sheba will be resurrected from the dead because they heard the word of Yahweh, repented and were converted through the Atonement.  Not only that, but these former heathens, enemies and foreigners will be at the task of judging these apostate Jewish teachers and will have the authority to send them flame-ward if they’re found wanting.  Do you get the significance of this?  If I need to spell it out, it gives us an idea who will be in the resurrection of the dead at the time of the coming judgment, and also who will be doing the judging

    Now if the King of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba (who were converted to Yahwehism long before Yahshua died on the stake) will be judging religious hypocrites in the resurrection, where do you think we’ll be in that time period; we, who have the privilege of knowing Yahshua and partaking in his body and blood?  Do you think we’ll just be lounging around in our lazyboy chair with a mint julep on some southern plantation in Heaven, watching SKY television?  Well, maybe you’ll be there, or maybe you’ll be in the same fix as the hypocrites.  But “as for me and my house,” we’re determined to be behind the big oak desk at the judgment bar.  If you aren’t converted, the next time you test Yahweh, you might remember that the only sign given an evil generation is that of Jonah – three days in the belly of the whale – three days in the belly of the earth.  Repent and believe the gospel, and you’ll be judging and not judged.

 

Family Matters

   Indeed, even Yahshua’s family was standing outside where he was speaking, demanding to talk to him.  Family members are the hardest people to reach of all.  We’re embarrassed to talk to family about religious subjects.  We want our children to make their own religious choices not because we think that they have much sense, rather because we’re too lax in our responsibilities to point out the way to the truth.  They know us too well and easily see the chinks in our armor.  They might call us hypocrites if we share our faith.  Then again, they might, like the Ninevites, repent and be converted. 

   Consider the power of the Holy Spirit in such situations.  By some accounts, Yahshua’s own family didn’t believe in him until, through a miracle of the Holy Spirit, he visited them after he first visited the execution stake, and they were convinced.  Jews won’t be judged righteous just because they’re Jews nor will Christians just because they go to church or pay the preacher.  Having but nominal, undedicated faith is like being caught with a soggy pocket of chicken bones or prune pits – such are unsubstantial substitutes and signs of disobedience.  You don’t want a soggy pocket, do you?

   For Atonement means making a personal decision to “afflict oneself” with a difficult personal choice; that is, attaching oneself to the people of Yahweh, then living with the consequences of that choice for the rest of one’s life.  Atonement means having done all to assure yourself that your eternal destiny is no longer in jeopardy.  Atonement means that you feel worthy to claim brotherhood or sisterhood with Yahshua – you’re that close – you love him so much that you’re willing to keep his commandments, receive his sacrifice and carry his execution stake, if necessary.  And, by the way, lest we forget, the blessings of the Chr-st-life far outweigh the hardships.  He has blessed us and our generations, “showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6).

   Yes, these blessings of repentance and conversion I’m talking about are greatly acclaimed by some of the highest and best people, including the little Queen of Sheba.  When she heard that Solomon was famous for his knowledge of the name of Yahweh (1 Kings 10:1), she came all those many, many miles just to ask him questions about the name.  She was a novice, like you and me, interested in this divine nomination spoken but once a year behind closed doors – a name above all names that could take away the iniquity of a whole world.  Second, she brought priceless gifts in exchange not for power or influence or to appease a powerful king, but so that she might have the word “Yahweh” thoroughly explained to her.  (Please read this for yourself.) 

   And when she arrived in Jerusalem, she was amazed at the splendor of the Kingdom that Yahweh had blessed through the beloved David and Solomon.  She affirmed all that she had heard about the majesty and wealth of this Kingdom of G-d on earth called Jerusalem, the city of the great king; in fact, she said, “the half has never yet been told” (1 Kings 10:7).  Finally, she acclaimed her faith – and what a benediction it was!  The Queen of Sheba cried out,

“Blessed be Yahweh our Elohim, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel!”

  Look, the Queen of Sheba spoke the sacred name, just as the high priest Zechariah had done in the Holy of Holies.  Yet little did she know then that SHE would be brought back to life to judge the great hypocrites of the great faith to which she had been gloriously converted.  Yes, the Queen will be there to judge religious hobbyists and self-righteous do-gooders on that great day.

    If this ancient woman of color will be back on her throne someday soon to come judging Israel, then what, pray tell, do you think you’ll be doing in that great, approaching day; you who have all the benefits of the precious, atoning blood of Yahshua?  Amen.

 

P.S. Psychologists tell us that it’s a good practice to start preparing for what we’ll be doing twenty years from now.  That’s good advice.  Let me ask you a serious question.  “What will you be doing in twenty years – in the year 2030?”  Think.  If you’ve answered yourself, “I’ll be dead,” likely, you’ll be dead.  But if you answered yourself, “I’ll be doing joyful labor in the Kingdom, one way or another,” then chances are you’ll be doing so even in that distant time.  Your answer to that question, “What will you be doing?” has a lot to do with your need for Atonement today.

{Atonement Prayer: Psalm 51 responsively}

How can you keep the day of Atonement?
1) Remember that it begins at sundown tonight.  At that time, you may recite Psalm 51 as a prayer and begin your nightly fast a little early.
2) You may fast as you will during the next 24 hours.  Isaiah 58 is particularly useful for fasting.
3) You must do no laborious work if you can possibly help it.  If you must work, do so in an attitude of serving Yahweh as well as the boss.
4)  You may meditate on Yahshua’s atonement, particularly his death on the execution stake for your sins.
5)  Here are Scriptures you may use in your meditation: The four chapters of Jonah; Leviticus 23:27-32; Isaiah 53,57,58; Luke 23 or Matthew 27; Romans 5; Revelation 6:10-17.
6)  Atonement ends at sundown.  You might recite then Revelation 4:11: “Worthy art thou, our sovereign and god, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.”

Jackson Snyder  jackson AT jacksonsnyder.com  (801) 605-1715 vm  (100203)