Today marks our fourth Yom Kippur observance since leaving the traditions of men behind, and it has been an interesting one.
As many of my readers know, we are in the unenviable position of being ‘homeless.’ The house we were renting was sold and we had to move out a month ago without having found a suitable rental or purchasable dwelling that meets a litany of requirements. Chief among those requirements is a few acres for our dairy goats. So, while we are staying with friends to remain close to my eldest son’s college for his daily commute and near my work, we have been forced to ‘farm out’ our animals. Five of our Nubian princesses went to the breeder and the five girls from this spring’s kidding, went a state away to be housed on my father-in-law’s farm.
We had hoped it would be temporary, but weeks have stretched into a month and the breeder called. What to do with the other five, but to transport them to my father-in-law’s (FiL) to keep the herd together.
Well, as timing would have it, my wife’s 30th high school reunion is this weekend, and my FiL is being ordained tomorrow as a deacon in the Baptist church… so, early last week I came to the difficult realization that we would have all of this going on over Yom Kippur. Then I got the call… My FiL let me know that we would spend Saturday (Shabbat/Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year) mending fences so the goats would have sufficient grazing.
Feel the angst? Yom Kippur in Babylon!
I so long for the day when we can dwell in a land (or even, by Abba’s grace, in THE Land) where all understand what the ‘righteous requirement of the Torah’ is and why all who follow Messiah are to follow it! But, we are not there… yet.
I spent much of last week wrestling in this quandary with the realization that the goats HAD to go. If the goats HAD to go, and we would be staying in FiL’s house, then skipping any of the aforementioned events, fence mending included, would be in very poor form. What to do?
Ultimately, I came to the difficult decision that biting my lip and seeking to walk in peace and be a vessel of grace, despite the high holy day, would be the best course of action. And, while today has been challenging, it has not been without lessons and blessings.
An early challenge was dealing with a couple sons who, though normally hard and eager workers, really wanted to fast and do ‘minimums.’ Neither would lead to a proper witness and I nixed both ideas.
Later, as we broke for lunch, I wanted to introduce the topic of Yom Kippur at the table, but incessant prattling never yielded an opening. I had to leave the topic alone. Perhaps at lunch tomorrow? Who knows. I do pray for an opportunity to discuss it.
The blessings were several.
As we worked, I had multiple opportunities to discuss various related topics with a couple of the boys.
At one point we found ourselves quietly singing ‘I enter the Holy of Holies’ by Paul Wilbur.
And, we discussed the kapparah (sacrifice) of Messiah and what the purpose of ‘afflicting our soul,’ not as a means of earning any merit, but to remind us of our inability and frailty such that we desperately need a Divine Substitute.
Possibly chief among the blessings was pondering the significance of fence mending on this day.
We weren’t simply mending fences, we were trying to make them goat proof… Among livestock, goats would be the Houdinis. Our five young girls, still diminutive in stature, are particularly adept at finding a weak spot and slipping through, not unlike the hard human heart. How we look for ways to avoid obedience, even bending Scripture through great theological gymnastics to avoid the simple straight-forward truths contained therein.
Isn’t that what Yom Kippur is really about? Mending fences and being submissive to our Father’s definition of holiness and not to our own?
His Torah is a fence and the Atonement of Messiah Yeshua covers when we have escaped, but we are to learn to live within the fence He established and not the pastures of our own choosing.
11 thoughts on “Yom Kippur in Babylon”
Inevitably during the annual cycle of the appointed times it happens.
When it does I am always comforted by this…
Zephaniah 3:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
18 “I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts—
They came from you, O Zion;
The reproach of exile is a burden on them.
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And the two verses after, as well!!
Thanks for that!
I don’t think there’s anything built in to Yom Kippur or the Days of Awe that promises a trouble-free life. I’ll say more later, especially about so-called “Babylon” but whatever is happening for good or for ill, is in the hands of God.
Just when I thought we weren’t doing it right, here you come and remind me that it’s the heart attitude that Abba most wants to cultivate. That’s why I take much comfort in II Kings 5:17-19 and Hosea 3:4-5. Thanks, Brother. Praying for you to land in the right dwelling very soon.
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Thanks, I’ll have to read hose passages.
Thanks for 2 Kings 5:17-19. Never noticed that! How powerful is v. 18??
That fits well with the deep meaning of Jonah that I gleaned from this commentary, http://www.alephbeta.org/course/lecture/whats-jonah-really-about, Hope you have time to enjoy this and pray you find a suitable dwelling.
Hope you had an easy fast.
First of all, I have nothing but compassion for you and your family’s situation. When my children were much younger, I found myself suddenly unemployed and unable to very quickly return to the same level of income my family normally expected.
We eventually lost the house we were living in and for years, we subsisted on a less than enviable income with both my wife and I working long, hard hours so our children wouldn’t lack for necessities. I eventually decided on another career so found myself going to university full time and working full time for over two years, then struggling to establish myself in a new field.
After nearly a decade, we were fully back on our feet, but the scars of the past have never quite healed and are with us all today, even though my children have since grown and I have a grandson now.
All that said, the High Holidays are a good time to have bad times. Let me explain. As you well know, the month of Elul leading up to the Days of Awe and the ten days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur themselves are supposed to be a time of deep introspection, teshuvah, repairing of life and relationships, and drawing nearer to the Father. In very good times, this isn’t easy to do since, after all, life is good. There are few complaints. Everything’s coming up roses, so to speak.
But in bad times, it is much easier to connect to our pain, sorrow, to see our mistakes graphically revealed before our very eyes and sometimes the eyes of the world. We know exactly who we have disappointed and often, those people are close to us and their very presence is a stark reminder of how we’ve failed them and failed God. From there, reaching a broken spirit and a torn heart within us is all we have left, and we, like David in Psalm 51, cry out to God in our pain, fully aware that we don’t deserve His forgiveness.
It is in these times especially that we need God the most and discover He is readily available. We also see His great and abundant grace and mercy and then finally, finally when He grants relief, we can access real gratitude from the heart. What we do next, when times begin to improve, shows whether we’ve really changed or not.
Babylon, since you bring it up, is everywhere and nowhere. Ultimately, we carry it around with us like old luggage. Blaming the externals doesn’t help because God controls what is good and what is bad. No one worships the Father without some form of “man-made tradition” even in Hebrew Roots/One Law, so no one has the right to boast that they are spiritually better than the person in the Church pew or the seat in the Synagogue. Before God, the playing field is level. We have all sinned. We have all fallen short. From personal experience, I know this better than most.
What we suffer in life is less important than how we live through it for in good times and bad, the one absolute constant we can rely upon is the presence of God.
“Babylon is everywhere and nowhere..”
I like that. Certainly, we did have blessed fellowship with friends and family, some even in church this evening. I was referring more to the ‘Babylon is everywhere’ side from the perspective that the whole system we live in, economic, work-wise, holiday related, etc.. is broken, and until Messiah returns, we have to deal with the fact that it is not subject to His laws. We get glimpses and He allows us to have respites wherein we can participate unfettered, but as you and others have reminded me, this has all transpired in the Elul to Yom Kippur window, a time of testing and revealing.
Indeed, Abba has revealed much to me in this time… both in myself and in many who are around me. We trust His purpose and plan, but that doesn’t always make it easy… LOL!
Blessings to you, brother!
Pete, I feel your pain. I was a single mom of 6 and ended up homeless for 11 months. But God knew it was necessary to get me back in the fold and I now know it was one of the best things that could happen to me.
I think mending fences is the perfect work to do on Yom Kippur, if you have to work. (And obviously God knew this was coming.) In our study a couple of weeks ago, Rabbi Matthew from TAK suggested that it would be a beautiful thing if the denominations of those following Messiah could come together, seeking forgiveness from each other for differences, then forgiveness from God for division. Not in a way that would water down the faith, but in a spirit of unity of family, seeking to serve the living God. Mending fences.
I am praying that our Father will put you exactly where He wants you and that it will be the fulfillment of your heart’s desire.
Thank you for your prayers! He is indeed faithful and will do just that!
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