In 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan comes to King David with a story about a rich man who possesses great wealth, flocks and lands, contrasted to a poor man who has only one lamb. The poor man cherishes his lamb and raises it with his children and lets it eat at his table. When a traveler visits the wealthy man, he takes the lamb from the poor man to feed his guest. The story infuriates David who proclaims, “This man deserves to die!” At this point Nathan confronts David, “You are the man.” He explains that David’s behavior with Bathsheba, the wife of another man, parallels the rich man in the story. David responds, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

This story embodies the season we find ourselves in—the sixth and 7th month on the Biblical calendar. Particularly Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. Yom Teruah is a day for blasts or “teruah” in Hebrew. It comes on the 1st day of the 7th month and sets the stage for the rest of the month. It is a “wake-up” call, an alarm, a signal to prepare. The major part of this preparation consists of repentance and a commitment to change–to prepare ourselves for the atonement given by Yeshua at Yom Kippur. David is unusual in his response to the alarm—he owns his sin instead of excusing it or pointing the finger at someone else.

We see David’s behavior contrasted with his predecessor Saul. When confronted by Samuel over his failure to obey the word of the Lord concerning the Amalekites, Saul deflected responsibility by saying the “people” were the ones who took the best of the flocks and herds to use for offerings to the Lord. When Samuel wouldn’t accept his excuse, Saul complains “I feared the people and listened to their voice.” Saul’s inability to own his sin sabotaged any effort for repentance and cost him the kingdom.

When God accosts Adam as he hid shamefully in the bushes “Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat?” Adam responds in classic human form. “The woman you gave me offered me some fruit and I ate.” He did not say “I failed” or “I sinned” like David. He pointed the finger at both Eve and God to take the onus off of him.

Isaiah 58 proclaims what God considers effective fasting. Since it concludes with a statement about the Sabbath it is likely this chapter concerns Yom Kippur as on the weekly Sabbath fasting is prohibited. Here God proclaims in verse 9 “If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness…” “then your light will rise in darkness.” Effective fasting and effective repentance wholly hinge on our ability to respond personally and with integrity.

There is an old spiritual which intones, “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” God through his son Yeshua has given us mighty power to be transformed into his image. True repentance is the foundation of this transformation and can only be achieved by taking responsibility and ownership for our sin and voluntarily turning away from it and toward Yeshua. May God bless us with his strength to see his purposes realized in all our lives.

 

John Conrad

BYNA Elder

 

 

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