Closing thoughts on the Lord’s Appointed Times

As we are about to end the wonderful season of God’s appointed times, also known as the High Holy Days, I want to share some final thoughts as I close this blog mini-series of A Season of Reflection, Repentance, and Celebration.

God gave us “mo’adim”, appointed times, to reflect upon Him, repent before Him and celebrate Him as a community. However, I would like to encourage us disciples of Messiah to not just wait for this season, but also to reflect upon Him, repent before Him, and celebrate Him every single day.

As I was preparing to teach at my congregation on Yom Kippur, I was thinking about the scriptures in which the Lord commanded the children of Israel to observe the Day of Atonement:

“And this shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall torture (תענו) your souls, and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is to be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may afflict (עניתם) your souls; it is a permanent statute.” Leviticus 16:29-31 (emphasis mine)

I have been reflecting on the meaning of the words, “torture (afflict) your souls”. What could God have meant by that, and what can we learn from it? This past Yom Kippur, I realized how this command actually reflects Yeshua. Messiah Yeshua obediently humbled Himself, and “tortured (afflicted) His soul” to the point of death on the stake, in order that I might have abundant life! In doing so, Yeshua gave me the ultimate example of what it means to afflict one’s soul.

In essence, to “torture” our soul really means to die to self, to our desires, strengths, plans, etc. In the past we were to “torture our soul” only once a year, during the Day of Atonement, and indeed this command is still of value when we join the entire assembly of Israel during this time (see more in my article Why I Observe Yom Kippur).

Now as Yeshua’s followers, we have a new understanding of what it means to afflict our souls, as Yeshua Himself told us: “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross (stake) daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23) Humbling ourselves before the Lord is a daily process where we deny our flesh, and open ourselves to receive His spirit, which allows us to live abundantly free from all that entangles us.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us continue the spirit of this season by daily reflecting upon Him, repenting before Him, and celebrating Him.

This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel, October 19, 2016, and reposted with permission.