Yeshua’s Atonement

There is a danger of having no regard for Yeshua’s identity or for His atonement. The danger is eventually being cast into the lake of fire. Very few really want to go there.

To capture both of the concepts of regarding Yeshua’s identity and His atonement, let’s look at Colossians 1:13-23 while taking a few tangents along the way.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He (the Father) has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Yeshua), 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

What exactly is the power of darkness that the Father has delivered us from? Ephesians 2:2 indicates it’s this world; more specifically, it the prince of the power of the air which is a spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Acts 26:18 refers to it as the power of Satan. When we serve the power of the world, we have no regard for Yeshua; but, we can change our minds. As we start to have regard for (respectfully fear) who Yeshua is and what He has done for us, and begin to obey His commandments (repent), we are ushered into Yeshua’s kingdom.

This deliverance from bondage to sin was not possible without redemption; a price had to be paid for our iniquities. The Greek word for redemption is apolutrosis; it means liberation that was obtained by a paid ransom. In this case, the ransom was paid with Yeshua’s blood.

Yeshua was also a propitiation; that’s something that is used to make someone less angry with us when we’ve offended them. First John 2:2 says that the Messiah was the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins and for the whole world. First John 4:10 says that God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins because of His love for us. We need to be extremely grateful He was willing to do this for us. We need to love Him since He first loved us and we need to demonstrate that by obeying His commandments.

The Father has accepted Yeshua’s offering as a ransom for our redemption and as a propitiation for our sins. Once atonement (reconciliation) was made by Yeshua, God responded by forgiving our sins. We still need to make reparations when applicable because that’s our part of the atonement process. The Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis; it means to release or pardon.  That’s what we need to do when we forgive others; this is part of the reconciliation process.

Some people may wonder why Yeshua’s death was even necessary. We must understand Isaiah 59:2. It says, But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” Sin separates us from God; this is not a New Testament concept. Originally, this verse referred to God’s people in Isaiah’s day but it applies to us as well because according to Romans 3:23, no one is without sin. Our sins don’t go away just because we start obeying God’s commandments. We need to have those sins removed or at least covered in order for reconciliation to take place. The latter was what the Levitical offerings were for; they also pointed to Yeshua who would be the Passover Lamb that would continually take away (present participle) the sin of the world (John 1:29). It is probably true to say that the reason the Levitical offerings will be made during the millennial reign of Messiah is to look back in gratefulness for the atonement Messiah made for us.

During Messiah’s millennial reign, Satan will be a prisoner in the abyss; his final destruction will come much later. Unfortunately, the Levitical offerings did not stop the power of the devil which is still at work in this world today. Hebrews 2:14-18 explains: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Yeshua) Himself likewise shared in the same [by taking on human flesh], that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren [by taking on human flesh], that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” When propitiation was made, God’s anger was appeased. Yeshua’s death makes it possible for Satan to eventually be destroyed. We are still waiting for all of Yeshua’s enemies, including death, to be put under His feet. A spiritual battle is still being waged in the spiritual and physical realms; meanwhile, Yeshua is in heaven officiating as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

No ordinary man could pay the ransom for our redemption and be the propitiation for our iniquities; all mankind is sinful and is not qualified to do these things. Only Yeshua’s blood was suitable for atonement because He was without sin or blemish (Hebrews 4:15). He had to be without sin because all animal sacrifices had to be without blemish; offerings with blemishes were an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 17:1).

Isaiah 53:6-9 prophesied: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [Yehovah] has laid on Him [Yeshua] the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death.” This verse shows us that it was God’s plan for Yeshua to be a substitutionary sacrifice long before Yeshua was born. When the time came, He did not defend Himself. He was scourged, spit on, and mocked. A crown of thorns was forced down on his head. He was nailed to a tree; once He died, His body was thrust through with a spear so that blood and water poured to the ground at the base of the tree. He died with robbers, but was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

Yeshua was slain from the foundation of the world in the heavenly realm. I believe atonement was accomplished there for all mankind.  Although His blood was not applied to the actual earthly altar when He died on the cross, the Levitical patterns He fulfilled in the earthly realm still have significance. We need time and insight to understand all of these things better.

Yeshua fulfilled the typology of the Levitical offerings which atone and/or cleanse those who trust in Him:

  • Passover Lamb
  • Sin Offering
  • Guilt Offering
  • Burnt Offering
  • Peace Offering
  • Grain Offering
  • Red Heifer
  • Birds of the Purification Ritual
  • Offerings of the Day of Atonements

Many people will say that Yehovah did not really delight in the sacrificial system that He had established. Their thinking is based on Isaiah 1:11. It says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.” Their thinking is warped because they fail to see the context found in Isaiah 1:1-20. The sacrifices, incense, and sacred assemblies/feasts of God’s people troubled Him because of the peoples’ iniquities. Yehovah wanted to hide His eyes from them and not listen to them. He told them to cleanse themselves spiritually; He wanted them to stop doing evil; rebuke the oppressor; learn to do good; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow; and seek justice. These represent the weightier matters of Torah.

The Levitical offerings were part of God’s plan, but they had to be accompanied by repentance; and reparations were expected to accompany the guilt offerings. Today, we must repent (turn back to and obey God’s commandments), offer appropriate reparations for our trespasses, and trust in the atonement that Yeshua’s offering provided.

Some people may wonder if there is any other evidence in the Tanach that suggests the Messiah would provide atonement for His people. I believe so! Daniel 9:24 is known as the prophecy of the 70 weeks (shavuiym). It is a prophecy of the coming of Messiah the Prince. One of the things He was supposed to do was make reconciliation for iniquity; blood atonement is the only way to do that. Yeshua offered expiation (made atonement) by offering His lifeblood for us; His blood was shed on the Preparation Day of the Passover in a couple of ways:

  • John 19:1-2 – when Yeshua was scourged, and when a crown of thorns was put on His head.
  • John 19:34 – when blood and water flowed from Yeshua’s body when a soldier pierced His side with a spear.

Typologically speaking, the offering of Isaac by Abraham also pictured the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua. In addition, Elijah’s battle of the bulls on Mount Carmel was also a veiled indication of Yeshua’s death. Yeshua was represented by the bull which was killed by the priests of Baal, but whose flesh was not consumed. The bull which was killed, cut up by Elijah, and consumed by Yehovah’s fire, was a picture of the Beast of Revelation being killed and cast into the lake of fire. This dual action is typical of the typological significance of the various Levitical offerings.  The account of Phineas in Numbers 25 is also a shadow of the results of Yeshua’s stonement: the new covenant (covenant of peace), Yeshua’s everlasting priesthood, and being thrust through by spear in order to stop the power of death.

I can’t stress enough that blood atonement was the primary way to appease the Father because this was the method that Yehovah set forth from the beginning. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” This is evident as early as in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal and used the skins as a covering for Adam and Eve. After that, we see evidence in Scripture of using offerings before approaching God long before the book of Leviticus was written.

Yehovah accepted blood as an atonement for sin because of His grace (chesed). Proverbs 16:6 says, “In mercy (chesed) and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” Once atonement/appeasement is made (kaphar), we must not use it as a license to continue to sin. We must have regard for Yeshua and do our best to be obedient to God’s commandments.

Now that we’ve looked at atonement, let’s go back to our passage in Colossians 1 to take a closer look at who Yeshua is. Verse 15 says, “He (Yeshua) is the image of the invisible God (the Father), the firstborn over all creation.” Here we see the pre-existence of Yeshua; He existed before His human birth.

Verse 16 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (see also Philip. 2:13). 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Yeshua pre-existed creation; He had the authority to create everything including powers with various kinds of authority. Everything was created for His pleasure.

How would you feel if what you created did not bring you the pleasure you intended? To bring it closer to home, how do you feel when your rebellious teenagers are disrespectful and have no regard for you? You probably desire them to be more like they were when they were younger; they were probably more obedient then, and had love and respect for you.  Imagine how Yeshua feels about us.

Verse 18: And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (proteuo = the first place). Considering what Yeshua has done for us, He deserves the preeminence! Love and respect should come with that!

Verse 19: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood (atonement) of His cross.” Yeshua’s fleshly body was like a full body suit that the Father could inhabit and use to interact with creation. It was a way He could reach out and say, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword (Isaiah 1:18-20).” Don’t you want to say this to your rebellious teenagers so they might choose to be reconciled to you? This is how God feels. He’s gone the extra mile to make reconciliation happen by providing atonement for sin.

Verse 21-23: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (atoned) 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”  Yeshua’s goal is for us to be reconciled with the Father so He can present us as an offering without blemish to the Father. The circumstances we face in our life are another means by which God is perfecting us; this is separate from salvation.

As we walk the path set before us, we need to yield to the will of the Father; be faithful; stand firm in the Word of God; and never commit apostasy. We need to always have regard for Yeshua, for who He was, is, and will be. We must not continue to sin in an effort to make grace abound; it’s not going to happen. Instead, we need to walk in newness of life so we can be made perfect.

Will you do that?

My blessing for you: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

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Why We Struggle

Do you ever wonder why your life goes the way it does? Have you lost your job? Have you lost a friend or loved one? Did you just find out you have cancer? Do you ever wonder why Satan seems to have your kids firmly in his grasp? Bad things that happen are not always because of sin and evil desires.

One time Yeshua saw a man who was blind since birth. Yeshua’s disciples assumed the reason he was blind was because someone had sinned, either this man or his parents. In John 9:3, Yeshua answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” As it turns out, Yeshua healed this man on the Sabbath, this of course caused a stir among the religious leaders. Later, this man found out who Yeshua was; he believed and worshiped Him. This was the perfect response to the works of God.

There was no indication of generational sin here that caused this problem.

Sometimes, when your life goes awry or when Satan seems to have your kids firmly in his grasp, it’s so the works of God can be revealed in those situations at some point in time.

Diseases like cancer may or may not have a spiritual origin; it may be a result of poor diet or exposure to carcinogens. It may be a time to make serious life changes. A job loss could be giving you the opportunity for something better or to teach you to trust the Father. The loss of a friend or loved one may simply be because it was their time; it’s also a time for you to reflect on what is most precious in life and to cherish the times you shared together. I know that doesn’t take away the hurt; grief is often a painful a process that people must work through.

wolfSpiritual warfare is not always the cause of the troubles we face in life but sometimes it is. We are sheep who are trying to keep our families in a safe sheepfold. Often a thief is trying to find a hole in the wall because he can’t come through the door. John 10:10 tells us this thief/wolf is determined to steal, kill, or destroy us and/or our families. His voice calls out to us in one way or another to tempt us to sin or to pledge our allegiance to Satan in exchange for love, power, riches, or fame. We also have our own desires to sin that we give into. Life’s circumstances often cause us to be depressed. Some of us contemplate, attempt, or are successful at committing suicide because we listen to a lying voice from the kingdom of darkness.

Some people may experience demonic visitations. This is not the norm, but it does happen. If this is happening to our children, we may find ourselves unsuccessful at keeping them away from our children permanently. We might have difficulty finding the doorway that allowed this to happen; there may not even be one!! Satan might realize your child will become a great threat to him someday. His goal may be to destroy your child before that time comes; this was the idea behind killing the baby boys around Moses’ and Yeshua’s birth. This may be accomplished through a variety of forms of temptations and destructive sins.

Children don’t always listen when they are told not to talk to these kinds of “strangers.” Children need to be taught and reminded to:

  • test the voices they hear;
  • command unclean spirits to leave in the name of Yeshua;
  • flee from them if possible;
  • get help if necessary;
  • keep you constantly informed of what they are dealing with.

Sometimes, life is a constant spiritual battle that we don’t dare share for fear of being ostracized as a lunatic or isolated further for one reason or another. Hard-core spiritual warfare is scary; it’s not for the weak. It can make you strong; but, it can also drain you. This is right where Satan wants us to be—alone, afraid, and defeated.

Somewhere along the way, we may not have learned how to properly hear the voice of the Good Shepherd who is the way, the truth, and the life. Yeshua is the voice of truth we need to be listening to. If we have trained ourselves to hear His voice, it is sometimes easier to know what to do. At times, we may cry out for help because the battle of life has been too intense for too long. The question of why things are often so difficult remains. We long for that abundant life Yeshua spoke of in John 10:10.

We need to understand that sometimes our lives are part of a much bigger picture. Life is not always just about us. When Yeshua heard that Lazarus had become sick, Yeshua said that it was not a sickness unto death, “but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Yeshua delayed in going to heal Lazarus. By the time Yeshua arrived in Bethany, Lazarus was dead and buried but Yeshua was glorified by raising Lazarus from the dead. I’m sure many put their faith in him as a result of the news of that miracle spreading from place to place.

Our struggles may not be because of sin; what’s happening in our lives may be an opportunity to bring glory to God. Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” We were created for Yehovah’s glory. We don’t know if that glory will come through life or through death; but, it is why we were created.

When faced with life’s challenges, we must not be afraid. We need to accept the worst that may come, but pray for the best to come. If it is a true spiritual battle, we need to clothe ourselves in spiritual armor and fight. We need to ask the righteous (those who are Torah observant) to join us in warfare prayer because their prayers accomplish much. No matter what happens, we must trust Yehovah, and constantly give glory to Him.

The Great Commission

Passover is a time to remember how Yeshua became our Passover Lamb. It fills me with great joy to know that Yeshua rose as firstfruits from the dead and to realize this was the fulfillment of the Day of Firstfruits (Yom HaBikkuriym)! It’s now time to Count the Omer for the next 50 days!

barley_w483_h725Acts 1:3 tells us that during a forty day period after His resurrection, Yeshua presented Himself alive to the apostles He had chosen and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. In Matthew 28:19-20, while Yeshua was with the apostles in Galilee, He told them to go and: “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” These verses are often called the Great Commission.

During the time Yeshua’s 12 disciples walked with Him, Yeshua taught them the Scriptures just as other rabbis taught Torah to their disciples. The only difference was that Yeshua taught based on His own authority instead of quoting the teachings of other rabbis. Yeshua wanted the 12 to pass on His teachings and commands to others.

At some point, the disciples left Galilee and returned to Jerusalem. In Acts 1:4-8, Yeshua told them not to depart from Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, which would give them the power they needed to be Yeshua’s witnesses throughout the earth. They were filled with the Spirit on the 50th day – on the Day of Pentecost (Yom Shavuot). When that happened, Yeshua kept the promise He made to His disciples in John 14:17-18. Yeshua did not leave them as orphans; He came to dwell with and in them in the form of the Holy Spirit. Not only would the Spirit empower them to do great things, the Spirit would cause them to remember what Yeshua had explained to them.

Previous to Yeshua’s death, in Matthew 24, Yeshua spoke with His disciples about the sign of His coming and the end of the age. He spoke of wars and rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes; we are experiencing this more than any time in the past. Those who believe in the Messiah are literally losing their heads because of their faith and because of the hatred of their enemies. Torah-lessness is rampant and it is hard to believe that we will be able to endure to the end and be rescued from barbarianism. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to preach the gospel of the kingdom to every nation, language, and people group.

Despite these efforts, we are not quite yet to the very end of days. There are more events that must take place that are explained in the book of Revelation and in several other portions of Scripture. We need to understand that there will be false messiahs and prophets that will show really powerful signs in order to lead people away from the true Messiah. We must be knowledgeable and equipped to test everything so we won’t be led astray in these last days.

Because of the tetrad of blood moons timed during the feasts of 2014-2015, our minds are occasionally focused on the last days. People are pondering the significance of the blood moons while knowing that at some point the sun will become dark; the moon won’t shine; the stars will fall from heaven; and the heavens will be shaken. At some point, the Son of Man will finally come with power and glory on the clouds with His angels to gather His elect together.

Before that time comes, we need to get back to the task of Matthew 28:19-20 that Yeshua gave His disciples:

  • A – Instruct (matheteuo) all nations;
    • B – Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
  • A’ – Teach them to observe what Yeshua commanded His disciples.

These two verses form a simple chiasm or concentric structure.

Let’s start with A and A’. We have a few problems here; we’ve sat under mixed teaching for so long that not everyone is properly equipped to teach or discern truth. Some of what we have been taught is correct but some of it isn’t. We need to test everything we’ve ever been taught and untangle ourselves from this unholy mixture so we can correctly observe Torah (which is what Yeshua taught) and properly instruct the nations.

You know, the people of Yeshua’s time had a similar problem. Oral traditions had been added to written Torah and were a burden too great to bear. If that wasn’t bad enough, the spiritual leaders of the day were not leading by a correct example; they would say one thing, yet do another (Matthew 23:2-4). Yeshua had to properly teach Torah (His easy yoke) to His disciples so they could go and properly instruct the nations. Fortunately, there were some people like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true. Everyone needs to be like them.

As we shed the lies we once accepted, learn what truth is, and put it all into practice, we need to pass that truth on to others by whatever means we have available. This is not easy because:

  • People’s ears don’t want to hear the truth;
  • They have been deceived and blinded by what sounds good and reasonable;
  • They often like their traditions and often don’t want to let go of them.

We need to pray for the eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf to be opened so they can see, hear, and receive truth; and be willing to obey it.

Now let’s look at part B of our chiasm: baptizing people “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In the Christian churches, these are the words used when pastors baptize people. When did using this phrase start? Is that really Scriptural? Have you ever even thought about that?

How did the disciples do this in the book of Acts? What name did they baptize with?

  • Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
  • Acts 8:16: “For as yet He [the Spirit] had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • Acts 19:5: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

As we carry out the Great Commission, we must not forget that we are in the last days. We need to make sure we are abiding in Yeshua the way He abided in the Father. That means we need to learn how to obey Torah as it was originally intended. It’s not a bunch of principles to obey as we see fit either; Torah is often very specific and we need to accept that! We need to obey it like Yeshua did in His time and apply it to our present day culture as best we can. Don’t think Torah was abolished because of the cross or because of faith. In Romans 3:31, Paul said Torah was not abolished (made void) because of faith; he established Torah.

Once we are back on track, we need to revisit the Great Commission. We need to know what the apostles did and how they did it. It should come as no surprise to us that they traveled and wrote letters! Today, some may be called to travel to other nations but others may be called to use technology such as email, the internet, and social media to reach people beyond their physical locations.

Now that we have a viable means of obeying this commandment, let’s take a closer look at the book of Acts to see that the apostles did several things “in the name of Jesus” [Yeshua]:

  • They healed people (Acts 3:6)
  • They taught people even though they were forbidden to do so (Acts 4:18-19)
  • Paul preached boldly (Acts 9:29)
  • Paul commanded a spirit to come out of a girl who had been fortune-telling (Acts 16:18).
  • Paul gave instructions to deliver one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:4-5)

The also commanded that things be done in the name of Yeshua:

  • They commanded their readers to give thanks to the Father (Eph. 5:20))
  • They commanded their readers to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the ordinances (paradosis) they had received (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
  • They told those who were sick to go to the elders of the assembly in order to be anointed and prayed over (James 5:14).
  • They encouraged everyone to believe in the name of the Son of God [Yeshua] for eternal life (1 John 5:13).

Bearing these things in mind, let us ask the Father in the name of Yeshua to give us the power and authority we need to do what the apostles did. Let’s make sure that we are reaping a good healthy harvest and not a harvest of diseased tares. Let’s make sure that this harvest is properly conforming itself to the Way, Truth, and Life who is the Firstfruits from the dead. As we do these things, we need to keep watching the signs that we see around us so that we will know how much closer we are getting to Yeshua’s return.