It was a holy night…

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining

It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

For yonder breaks and new and cloudless morn

Fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices

O night divine, o night when Christ was born

O night, o holy night, o night divine…

Christ is the Lord, o praise His name forever!

His power and glory evermore proclaim!

His power and glory evermore proclaim!

O Holy Night

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Joseph and Mary: A Love Story?

I would like to begin this blog with a disclaimer:  I am a HOPELESS romantic.  I read entirely too many romance novels in my early adult life and therefore my idea of life and love may be terribly skewed.  My poor husband.  Good thing he’s a bit of a romantic himself or else he’d be in trouble! ha!!  So  anyway, forgive me if I tend to add a bit of romance/love to the mix but I can’t hardly help it. 

Okay, let me make one thing clear first.  This is my speculation according to what I’ve read, what the Bible says, and what I believe.  It’s not that I think that scripture doesn’t say enough…on the contrary.  Scripture tells us everything we need to know.  But I also think that the Scriptures were meant to be dug into and so if we can put flesh on these people’s bones and give them some humanity, they really seem to come alive off the pages.  (Incidentally, Beth Moore is really good at that – if you’ve never read any of her books, I would highly recommend her.)

Now, it is assumed that Mary was probably around 12 or 13 years old because during that time in history, that was about the age that young women would be betrothed to be married.  Being betrothed was sort of like being engaged, only it was as binding as actually being married.  During this time, the bride would continue to stay with her family while the bridegroom built a home for her, which was often an addition onto his family’s home.  Now in the movie my son and I watched the other night, it depicted Mary as not wanting to marry Joseph…that her dad betrothed her to Joseph because of financial necessity.  I’m not sure I really agree with that.  See, I remember how I was at 13 and boys were the bees knees.  That would have been about the time the “do you love me? check yes or no” notes would start going around the classroom and the girls would be writing their new “married” names on the pages of their notebooks.  Although Mary would have been considered almost a woman at 13, she was still 13 and I can’t help but think that she could have had starry-eyed dreams of love.

And Joseph.  I’m willing to bet that his betrothal to Mary wasn’t at all about finances.  I believe with all my heart that Joseph loved Mary and wanted her to be his wife.   (Parents would usually arranged marriages then, but it wasn’t uncommon for the young man to suggest a bride.)  And anyhow, I just can’t imagine God bringing two people together who would bring the Messiah into the world, have them marry and not have any love for each other.  I couldn’t find where it said specifically how long they’d been betrothed, but betrothals usually lasted for about year.  So, Mary and Joseph at this point could have been “a couple” for several months, and living in the same village, could have known each other for a while before the betrothal.  The Bible tells us in Luke that after the angel tells Mary of the Child she will bear, that she left pretty quickly…maybe the very next day?…and went to see Elizabeth and was there for about three months.  Now you know the old saying – “absence makes the heart grow fonder” – so I can imagine for every brick laid in the home he was building for Mary, that Joseph’s anticipation of her return grew.  What would she think of the house I built?  Would she like it?  Does she miss me?  Has her love for me grown cold in this time she’s been gone?  And I wonder too about Mary.  What could she have been thinking?  Will Joseph believe me when I tell him about the angel?  Will he still want to be my husband?  Will he still love me?  Will he think I’m fat in this dress?  Okay, well maybe not that last bit.

So in all his anticipation of Mary’s return, can you imagine how heartbroken Joseph would have been when faced with the reality that she was pregnant and the child certainly wasn’t his?  I would guess his emotions were running rampant…anger that she would betray him, humiliation at possibly having thought that she loved him, anguish that she would so flippantly toss his love aside for another.  He may have even been disgusted when she told him the story of the angel and wondered to himself if she thought he was that much of a fool to believe such a story.  The Bible says Joseph wasn’t willing to disgrace her publicly, that he would just divorce her quietly – that is until the angel of the Lord came for a visit (Matt. 1:19-25).  Can you imagine Joseph’s relief when the angel told him that everything Mary said was true?  That she really hadn’t been unfaithful?  That she hadn’t given her heart to another?  And then can you imagine the knot in his stomach when he realized that she’d been telling the truth…and he hadn’t believed her.  I’ll bet he couldn’t get his yarmulke on fast enough.  I can imagine him in an all out sprint to her house, pounding on the door, calling her name.  And when she appeared at the door, I can hear him rambling, out of breath, about the angel in his dream, asking for Mary’s forgiveness for not having believed her and praying to himself that she’d still agree to be his wife.  Can you feel the energy between the two of them as they realize that God had ordained this marriage, that God had an amazing purpose for them?  I like to think that at that moment, their hearts were bound together as one.  At that moment, the two individuals became one unit as they embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

Joseph: Husband of the Year

My oldest son and I watched the movie The Nativity Story a couple of nights ago.  I can’t really attest to the accuracy of the movie – particularly because it portrayed the Magi as having been at the stable/cave at the same time as the shepherds and it is more commonly believed now that the Magi didn’t actually arrive until Jesus was a little older.

But at any rate, it did get me thinking a lot about Joseph.  The Bible doesn’t have a whole lot to say about Joseph.  In fact, he all but disappears after the incident when Jesus was 12 and was found by his parents teaching in the temple (Luke 2:42-52).  And actually, we don’t that hear much about Mary either after then until the time of the crucifixion.

But back to Joseph.  Given the lack of information we have, we could make all sorts of assumptions about Joseph.  In the Catholic church, it is believed that Mary and Joseph never had “relations” and she remained a virgin throughout her entire life.  Along with this assumption is that the siblings of Jesus that the Bible refers to were either Joseph’s children from a previous marriage or else they weren’t really siblings but rather were cousins or just “brothers and sisters” in the faith.  It is thought by some in this case that if these siblings were from a previous marriage, then it was possible that Joseph was quite a bit older than Mary (so I guess then that would explain the lack of sex/children between M and J?).  Personally, I think the idea that Mary remained a virgin her entire life is questionable and you know, either way it doesn’t take away from the miracle of the birth of Jesus in any way.   And if she and Joseph had 20 other kids besides Jesus, it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that God chose her out of all the women in history to be the mother of Christ.

But again, back to Joseph.  So I never put a lot of thought into Joseph before.  I mean, yes he was a great man – obviously there must have been something to him for God to have chosen him to be the earthly father of Jesus.  And inasmuch as God chose Mary, He chose Joseph too.  Never really considered that before.  I know, I know…duh.  But it wasn’t like out of all the eligible bachelors in Nazareth that God just lucked up that it was Joseph that Mary wound up with.  God wouldn’t have left that one to chance.  He handpicked Joseph.  God saw into Joseph’s heart, just as He did with Mary, and knew that this man would be upright and obedient before the Lord. 

So anyhow, Mary’s pregnant and Joseph knew it wasn’t by him…at most he could have had her stoned for adultery and at the least, she and her family would have been disgraced by her “sin.”  But Joseph really was a good and decent man.  He planed to divorce Mary quietly.  God, however, had other plans and He made those plans known to Joseph in a dream.  So Joseph tosses the divorce idea and takes Mary as his wife.  You can read all about that in the first chapter of Matthew.

So in thinking a minute about Joseph’s character, he most assuredly was a man of grace.  To just let that thing go like that.  To not demand retribution for what he at first deemed to be Mary’s unfaithfulness to him.  (Remember, his decision to divorce her quietly was before he’d heard from God.  His immediate response was grace.)  And too, you have to think now that not only did people most certainly taunt Mary and call her all sorts of names behind her back (well, and probably to her face) but I image that many people who were close to Joseph probably thought he was nuts for marrying what they believed was an adulteress.  They probably talked about him behind his back too.  Maybe they called him weak or foolish.  Maybe they said he wasn’t a real man since he didn’t even stand up for his rights.  One can only speculate, but I would guess this was the toughest yet most blessed decision he ever made in his life.

There’s lots more to say about Joseph so I’ll save the rest and do some more tomorrow, but just one more thing about Joseph.  We are blessed to know the whole story…we know who that Child was that Mary carried in her womb.  We know about the calling God placed on her life.  And she knew it too.  She knew in her heart she had nothing to be ashamed of.  And you know, even if somehow it had been demanded that she be stoned for her infidelity, God would have protected her.  She carried The Christ inside of her.  But isn’t it sweet just the same that God sent a man who would cover her, be her husband, and care for her so that she would not bear the shame of being pregnant, unmarried and alone?  I think that’s pretty awesome. 

No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame… – Psalm 25:3

To be continued…

Randomness at 1am…

Almost two weeks since I sat down at this keyboard with a blog in mind.  My how time passes when you aren’t paying attention.  But please don’t hold it against me.  See my brain currently isn’t functioning at its highest capacity.  And well, time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.  I thought, well for the sake of letting anyone know who might have an inclination to care, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  Just haven’t really had anything to say that I thought was worth sharing.  Still don’t really.  My day-to-day life…well it just isn’t interesting enough to hold my attention, much less yours.  So I guess I’ll share with you just a few random thoughts that are currently floating around in my mind.  Here goes…

Why is it that in many of the mainstream clothing catalogs, all the women that are modeling plus sized clothing are not “plus sized?”  I mean come on.  If I’m gonna order that dress, can I at least see a realistic idea of what it will look like when it’s on my body?

Am I the only one who is just about exhausted with Christmas music this year?  If I hear Clay Aiken doing “Mary Did You Know” one more time, I think I will just scream.  Don’t get me wrong.  I absolutely love Christmas.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  (dangit, that’s a Christmas song isn’t it???)  The reason for Christmas – Immanuel – God’s plan of redemption being set into motion is the most amazing thing!  A new mom, holding this wrinkled little baby while the man who will call himself this child’s father stares in awe.  And a crowd is gathering outside…shepherds who have seen the most amazing thing just now – an angel, Gabriel, a heavenly messenger who shares the good news of this new life – this little child, who will grow to a man, who will be a Savior for us all.  Ah yes, the bleating of the sheep, the smell of the hay, the sound of Mariah Carey in the background.  Wait, what? 

I love ginger-ale. 

So, the Bible says in Genesis 50 that when Jacob died, Joseph had him embalmed.  Now keeping in mind that Jacob was in Egypt when he died so it was the Egyptians who “embalmed” him…did that mean that he was made into a mummy?  And if so, does that also mean that there’s a chance that someone could run across his body at some point?  I mean think about the Egyptian mummies that have been recovered.  Most if not all have been in such a well-preserved state that you can still get a good idea of what they looked like.  How nuts would that be?  To actually get to see what the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel looked like???

Why is it that when men age, the hair on their head starts to fall out but their eyebrows and nose hairs go insane and then hair starts growing out of their ears.  Is this some sort of dementia on the hairs’ parts that they forget where exactly it is that they are supposed to grow but know they are in the general vicinity?

Why is it that Leo DiCaprio has to have at least one scrunched-up-face, crying-while-screaming, vein-popping-out scene in almost every movie he makes?  He’s so handsome until he makes that face. 

I don’t know who it was that came up with the idea of the non-bleeding dry highlighters, but they were some smart folks.  I can just highlight away in my Bible and won’t get confused about which page/verse it was that I had marked.  If you don’t have one of those, you really should get one.  Neat little thing.

Do you think Jesus has a favorite color?

The federal government recently redesigned the one hundred dollar bill and fancied it all up with some new high-tech security features.  However, once the bills went to print, they were in fact so high-tech that the printing presses couldn’t print them properly and so 1.1 billion bills were involved in a misprint and they are currently being quarantined until somebody can figure out how to separate the bad bills from the useable ones.  Mind you, it cost our government  somewhere in the area of $120 million to print these bills that are currently unable to be circulated.  Can somebody explain this to me?  There are people in this country with no jobs.  There are people all over the world starving to death.  But we have $120 million just lying around to waste on reprinting bills?  Seriously?  Read more about that one here.

My husband is from Panama.  I once asked him during Thanksgiving how they celebrated that particular holiday in Panama.  I’ll let you think on that one a moment.

Don’t you think it’s just amazing how our sense of smell is tied to our memory?  You know, how you can smell a smell and it will remind you of a place you’ve been or a person you love (or loved).  And that whole deja vu bit where something happens and you just know it’s happened before.  Isn’t that just the craziest thing?

Hey, do you ever feel lost?  I mean like restless or misplaced but you can’t really explain it.  Like there’s no real rational reason for you to feel that way because you have a great job, great family, great life but somehow you just feel like you don’t belong?  I might not have all the answers, but this one I know (thanks to Beth Moore for pointing this out).  If you feel lost or restless, but just can’t put your finger on why…well it’s because you don’t belong here.  This temporary dwelling will never fit exactly right because it’s not where we are meant to stay.  We are built for eternity and our souls long for Home.  Our spirits ache to be with Him, to lay eyes on His glorious face.

Welp, I guess I’ll save the rest of my random thoughts for another time.  Oh and by the way, did You know that God loves you?  I don’t mean that trite little “smile, God loves you!” kind of love.  I mean that kind of love that is deeper than the ocean, that spans time and space, that covers a multitude of sins.  Well, He does.

I don’t know Him…

When Jesus started calling Peter “Peter” it was because He said Peter was the rock on which the church would be built.  (Peter means “rock” by the way.)  Peter is in fact considered to be the first pope by the Catholic church. 

Ok but wait, isn’t Peter the one who denied Jesus just prior to the crucifixion?  Not just once but three times??  Yep, that was him.

Have you ever really considered the fact that Jesus already knew that was going to happen before He ever even met Peter face to face?  That when Jesus said to him – upon you Peter, I will build My church – Jesus already knew then that Peter would blatantly deny Him in the face of adversity. 

I don’t know Him.

That’s what Peter said when questioned. 

Yet even in knowing this about His disciple, Jesus didn’t deny Peter the opportunity to serve Him.  Although Jesus rebuked Peter sometimes, He never took away his place in the ministry of the gospel.

I don’t know Him, he said.

Peter was a common fisherman.  A Jewish man who wasn’t good enough to make it through rabbi school.  But Jesus saw something in him.  Jesus saw past Peter’s loud mouth, his quick temper, his arrogance.  Jesus even saw past the moment that Peter would pretty much chunk Him under the bus to save his own skin.  Jesus saw past all Peter’s mistakes and straight into his heart.  He saw Peter through  grace-colored  glasses.

I don’t know Him.

And I can see Jesus thinking to Himself,

you say you don’t know Me…

but you will

I have great plans for you, Peter.  Yep, big big plans.

He’s got big plans for you too.

And He’s still wearing those grace specs.

Still speechless apparently.

My last blog was entitled “Speechless” and well, apparently I was rendered more speechless than I realized.  I have found that in the times I have sat at this computer in the last few days that I literally have not had one coherant thought that was enough to be able to convey to you.  It’s not that I haven’t thought anything.  It’s not that I don’t have a million things to say about God.  Gosh, if you’d let me, I could fill your ear all day long about how wonderful He is and how absolutely head over heels in love with Him I am.  I guess it’s just been that I couldn’t seem to put words to all the stuff floating around in my head.  I just couldn’t come up with a way to say what I wanted to say, which for me is terribly unusual seeing as how I usually have a hard time shutting up.

God has just had me in a “state of awe.”  I have caught just a glimpse of His glory and have been struck so dumbfounded by it, that I can’t do anything but stand there with my mouth gapped open…in a continuous state of blown-away-ness.  I have encountered God in ways recently that are new and truly astounding to me…of course, not new to Him so much.  He’s always been this way.  It’s that I’m only just now in my walk with Him really beginning to know Him.  I’m finding that I’m no longer satisfied with the top layer of God.  Not that the top layer of God isn’t amazing!  There’s nothing about Him that isn’t amazing really, and there’s no way we will ever in this life comprehend the vastness and the magnitude of the All-Sufficient One but there’s so much more to God than just the surface religion we sometimes like to stick with.  Although it really is easier that way, right?  As long as we don’t go too deep with God, maybe He won’t expect anything from us that we aren’t prepared to give.  But the expectations of surface religion are nowhere near what God’s completed plan looks like for you and me.

I have spent much of my “surface life” waiting for God to meet my expectations and many times He didn’t.  But not because He wasn’t able to.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  I had set my expectations way too low and God refused to stoop to my level.  He wanted abundantly more for me than I could have wanted for myself.  I was ready to just settle for the next best thing in so many areas of my life, but He wouldn’t allow it.  So I just continued to suffer through all the unnecessary pain and problems of  the next best thing, thinking foolishly that “less than” was surely better than risking the agony of “wanting more.”  (See I told you my thoughts weren’t very coherant.  Hope that bit made a little sense.)

Well, God revealed something to me today that really just about did me in…I mean in a good way though.  (I’ll save that story for another day.)  It was like a total ah-ha moment on top of all the ah-ha moments I’ve had recently.  I had an opportunity to see clearly what it was I had at one time accused God of withholding from me and found myself overwhelmed at how precious my heart is to Him and how He absolutely refused to bless something in my life that would have torn me apart.  I didn’t see it then…He however did.  But here I am going into the story I said I wouldn’t tell just yet.  Moving on…

So let me ask you…when’s the last time you found yourself in an state of awe of God?  Have you stopped and taken a moment to really look at Him?  To search Him out?  Or are you living on the surface, afraid to go deep, afraid of what that might mean for your life?  I’ll tell you a secret…I’m kinda scared myself about going deep with God.  I mean, He asks us to do some pretty hard things sometimes.  But they are never without purpose.  Your Beloved will never allow you to hurt just for the sake of wounding you.  His love for you burns way too strong for that.    And if there’s ever been anything in your life worth diving into deep, I can assure you it’s Him.  Go on.  Jump in…

You are an endless ocean, a bottomless sea.

 
  
 

Um Jesus, it looks like my schedule is pretty booked today. What are you doing next week?

I have a 4-year-old who I am sure is like many little ones and does not like to go to sleep at night and fights it as hard as he can.  He has even started resorting to such desperate measures as “I’m still hungry” or “I need to pee-pee in the potty.”  Some nights are more difficult than others as he tries to convince me to turn on the TV or just keeps wiggling and wiggling.  It’s obvious that he’s sleepy by his droopy little eyes but he will not let himself get comfortable and still long enough to fall asleep.

I am so very much the same as God’s child.  I allow myself to get so restless and worked up about this thing or that and get my whole self in such an uproar that I can hardly settle back down.  God keeps saying, “just come here child and rest with Me a while,” but I just want to wiggle.  God said in His Word that He would give us rest, He would carry our burdens, He would go before us and lead the way so that we don’t have to panic about where we are going…but for some reason we still try and fight Him and that restorative rest He is calling us to.  The world has lied to us and told us that we have to be movers and shakers, that we have to always be on the go.  That somehow if our calendar isn’t booked solid then we aren’t contributing enough to society.  And God forbid if we were to say no to any requests on our time, especially if it’s a church related function.  No way.  Gotta keep moving, no time to rest, gotta wiggle, gotta go gO GO CAN’T STOP!!  So we keep right on running on empty until we collapse and all that battling accomplished nothing except to wear us slam out.  And see that’s just the thing – Satan either wants to keep us busy enough or tired enough that we aren’t able to hear a thing God says to us over the commotion of the world…or egads, even the commotion of the church!  Now isn’t that nuts?  Being so busy with “God things” that we can’t even hear God.  Been there, done that.

When we rest in God, we find restoration and renewal we can’t find anywhere else.  We can’t rightfully do the things He’s called us to do with one eye open, one eye shut and staggering around all worn out and weak.  As important as it is for our physical bodies to rest, the same is true of our spirits.  We’ve got to have spiritual restoration.  Finding time to quiet our spirits is vital for us in our faith journey.  We wouldn’t go into the desert without canteens of water, so why would we go into the spiritual battlefield without canteens of Living Water?  If we always pour out and pour out, eventually there’s nothing left unless we allow ourselves to be replenished.  We must have time to refill our canteens.  We never know what lies ahead, what battle we will be fighting and we’ve got to be ready.

In Mark’s gospel right before the whole feeding of the 5,000 thing, we are told that the disciples had just had a day of driving out demons and healing the sick.  Just before all the loaves and fishes came on the scene, Jesus told his disciples in Mark 6:31:

Then, because so many people were coming and going

that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them,

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Ahhh…come with Me to a quiet place and rest.  Oh Jesus, I am so there.

God’s lullabies are more beautiful than anything you’ve ever heard.  His voice is like silk as it envelopes us and His breath in our ear as He sings is so sweet.  He sings songs of peace, songs of grace, songs of love…songs that our souls desire so much to hear.

So stop all that wiggling, child and go rest a while with your Daddy…

 

The LORD your God is with you, 

He is mighty to save.

He will take great delight in you,

He will quiet you with his love, 

He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

In the precious blood of the Lamb…

My son’s a tough little guy for 4 years old.  He’s pretty rambunctious and into everything so it’s not uncommon to find bruises on his little legs where he’s been jumping and crawling around on the floor playing.  He and his older brother wrestle and play and well, needless to say every now and then one of them ends up with a bump or boo-boo.  Praise the Lord we’ve never had any major injuries, broken bones or the like!  As a mommy, when one of my boys gets hurt, it just pains me so bad.  My heart just aches for them.  And Lord have mercy if there are any tears shed.  I can’t hardly stand it!  I just want to scoop them up and hug  away the hurt!

Well, my 4-year-old hit his head on the door hinge yesterday and aside from a nice little goose egg on the side of his head, he also had a small cut…that bled profusely.  You know how it is when you hit your head or your eyebrow.  It seems to just bleed like crazy.  Well, he had blood running down his head, behind his ear, and on his shirt and hands.  He’s had a little cut here and there before, but never anything that caused him to bleed so much.  And as I was wiping the blood off his hands and his neck, I got just this strange feeling.  It struck me as odd at just how precious that blood seemed.  Like it felt wrong to just wipe it off his hands and then wash it off the towel and down the drain.  Something inside me, as silly as it sounds, wanted to scoop it all up and…well I don’t know, put it back in him I guess.  Sounds kinda weird, huh?  I pondered that all night. 

I was reminded in all my pondering of a scene from the movie “The Passion of the Christ” – right after the part where Jesus was whipped and beaten.  At this point, the Roman soldiers have dragged (literally) Jesus back to the prison cell to await the crucifixion.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene are still standing in the courtyard and the ground is covered in Jesus’ blood.  Mary takes these white towels, gets on her hands and knees and begins to wipe up the blood from the bricked floor.  Mary Magdalene joins her and here these two women are mopping up the blood of the man who was son to one, friend and teacher to the other, and Savior to both.  All that precious, precious blood…spillled out  for the forgiveness of sin…for us (Matthew 26:28).  It wasn’t the death of Christ that saved us…it was the blood.  His death had to come for His blood to be poured out but it was the blood that was the atonement for sin, it was the blood that signified a sacrifice had been made, it was the blood that covered the Mercy Seat on our behalf.

Our blood is the life force that pumps through our veins.  It disperses oxygen throughout our body and it removes the carbon dioxide.  If blood circulation is cut off to one part of our body, that part of our body will die.  Without the circulation of blood in us, would could not live.  The blood of Christ is our ETERNAL life force.  It brings us the breath of life and cleanses us from sin.  If we are not covered by the blood of Jesus, we cannot have eternal life.

Never think for one second that the sight of His Son’s broken body did not break the heart of our Father in heaven.  Never think for one second that Elohim Avinu, God the Father, did not ache at the sight of His Son’s blood all over the ground.  Never think for one second that The Almighty’s breath did not catch in His throat with every single drop of blood that fell from our Savior’s body.  Yes, we have been pardoned, but the cost was great.  Our Creator God gave over His one and only Son for us so that we might have life (John 3:16).  He paid dearly for us by the blood of His Son.  And you know what?  Never think for one second that God hesitated.  Never think for one second that you didn’t mean that much to Him.  You, too, are precious in His sight. 

For you know that it was not with perishable things

such as silver or gold that you were

redeemed from the empty way of life

handed down to you from your forefathers,

but with the precious blood of Christ,

a lamb without blemish or defect. 

1 Peter 1:18-19

365 day’s worth of sin, a couple of goats, a bull and a priest

Today (September 18) is the Day of Atonement. You may be more familiar with it being called Yom Kippur. Today marks the end of the Days of Awe which began Wednesday of last week with Rosh Hashanah.  This was a time to reflect and repent of sin.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are two of the feasts of Israel that God set forth.  You can get an overview of them all in Leviticus 23.

So during the Days of Awe, the Jews would pray prayers specifically of repentance and at the end of these ten days, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and he would follow to the letter the instructions set forth by God.  It was the only time anyone was allowed behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies and only the High Priest was allowed in.  Once inside the Holy of Holies, he would find himself in the very presence of God.  He was to sprinkle the blood of the bull on the top of Ark (the Mercy Seat) first for atonement for himself and his household and then the blood of one of the goats for the nation Israel.  It was a rather involved process with specific instructions to be followed.  All the details are laid out in Leviticus 16, which I encourage you to read.

This “atonement” of sin for the people of Israel occurred every year on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar.  Note that…every year.  It was never complete because every year it had to be done again.  And also take note that the High Priest before he could atone for the people, he first had to atone for his own sins.  Even he himself was only a man and needed cleansing just like the Israelites.  Really a little unsettling for the Israelites to think that the one man able to offer an atonement sacrifice of their sins was in fact just as much a sinner as they were.  Far from perfect.  The only reason he would have had the job in the first place was because he would have been a son of Aaron (Moses’s brother). 

Do you see then the freedom we have?  In Jesus, all our sins were atoned ONCE AND FOR ALL.  And they were atoned by the One who had no sin.  He was perfect.  He was the Son of God.  Oh praise!  When Jesus said from the tree on Golgotha “it is finished,” He meant it is finished.  Done and done.  His blood was poured out over Mercy Seat and our sins were covered for all time! 

Now going back to Yom Kippur remember, in the week and a half or so prior to this day, the Jews would focus on repentance during that time.  The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for repent is usually “shuwb” which basically means to turn about or to return…and that’s exactly what repentance is.  It starts with turning from sin.  But turning from sin by itself really isn’t enough.  We must turn FROM sin and turn TOWARD God.  If our repentance does not bring God back to the forefront of our focus, then we have not truly repented.  See, repentance is about more than just being sorry for something you did wrong.  I can be sorry for something I did, but that still might not be enough to keep me from doing it again.  In that case, what I feel is regret which is really just guilt wearing a different dress, you know?  Our hearts should break with the things that break God’s heart.  We should be so disgusted by our sin that we want nothing more to do with it and the separation it causes between us and God.

So I encourage you to take some time with God today and ask Him to reveal to you anything that is causing a space between you and Him.  I’ll be doing the same right along with you.  Lord, please show us the things that we are holding onto that pull us away from You.  Help us to turn away from those things and seek you with our whole hearts. 

Psalm 51 

Have mercy on me, O God, 
  according to your unfailing love; 
  according to your great compassion 
  blot out my transgressions.

 Wash away all my iniquity 
 and cleanse me from my sin.

 For I know my transgressions, 
 and my sin is always before me.

 Against you, you only, have I sinned 
 and done what is evil in your sight, 
 so that you are proved right when you speak 
 and justified when you judge.

 Surely I was sinful at birth, 
 sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; 
 you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; 
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness; 
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins 
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, 
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence 
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, 
and sinners will turn back to you.

Save me from bloodguilt, O God, 
the God who saves me, 
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips, 
and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; 
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; 
a broken and contrite heart, 
O God, you will not despise.

In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; 
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

Then there will be righteous sacrifices, 
whole burnt offerings to delight you; 
then bulls will be offered on your altar.