Spiritual Leprosy – Memorial of Trumpets

Mt. 8:1-4     . . .behold, there came a leper and he worshipped Him [Yeshua], saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean’.  And He [Yeshua] stretched forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed!  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (healed).

Is. 53:4       Surely He [the Arm of the LORD] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Rosh Hashana, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, is the first set time of YHVH after the giving of the Law at Shavuot to Israel.  For New Testament believers in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, for us too at this point in history approaching the return of the Lord Jesus in great power and great glory, it is a new season after the long intervening ‘summer’ since the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church, putting God’s law in our hearts and minds.

The appointed times of the LORD help us to understand the plan of God to make a holy people for Himself, which includes a process of sanctification and glorification over our lifetime until He completes the work He has begun in us.  The Feast of Ingathering –which includes the three set times of Trumpets, Atonements, and Booths during the seventh month of the calendar which the LORD made for Israel– is a very important time in this process.  It includes God’s demand –and our need– for both personal and corporate accountability.  The Holy Spirit is working to convict of righteousness, of sin, and of judgment not only in the world, which includes Israel, but also within the Church, the Body of Messiah.  I think every Spirit-filled Christian knows it –feels it– in his or her own soul and spirit.  This will intensify as the Day of the LORD draws ever nearer.  But we are saved by faith –praise God!– in what the Lord Jesus the Messiah accomplished on the cross, setting us free from Satan’s lies and accusations, and giving us new clothes of salvation and righteousness!  Therefore we do not need any longer to strive and fight to prove ourselves acceptable in God’s sight, but rather we can enter into the joy of knowing that God our Father loves us because we believe in His Son Yeshua.  Instead of war and fear of death, Jesus has given us His peace and assurance of life eternal with Him.

What does all this have to do with the leper?  Much actually, and I hope that you will prayerfully consider and meditate on it afterwards (read Lev. 13 & 14).  The leper suffered not only physically from his bodily disease, but even more in that he was stigmatized as unclean and immediately put out of the community.  Just after the chapters which record the sermon on the mount by Jesus, He demonstrates the truth He had been teaching regarding the Kingdom of God:  He touched the leper who came to Him, and cleansed him.  According to the Torah, there was no cure for leprosy:  no sacrifice was offered until after a leper was cleansed, and this was only after a prolonged process of several examinations by the High Priest.  Even then there was no assurance that the leper would be healed and so fit to return to his town and to enter the House of the LORD.

Sometimes leprosy came from the hand of God for a specific serious sin, for example in the cases of Miriam –Moses’ sister, Gehazi –Elisha’s servant, King Uzziah.  Other times a person was stricken for no apparent specific sin.  But in any case, the person with leprosy was stigmatized and put outside the community, and even had himself to warn people to keep away.  The leper could only live with other lepers, because the condition was contagious.

I remember reading the book Ben-Hur.  In it the mother and sister of Ben-Hur were stricken with leprosy even though they were women of God.  What they did though, even in their humiliation and suffering in their shame in the eyes of other people, was to speak to the other outcast lepers of the Lord’s love and faithfulness.  I praised God, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like ours.  Jesus has come to bring love and healing into our lives:  the Kingdom of God is within us in Messiah.

Leprosy was evident when the wound exposed raw (living) flesh (Lev. 13:14).  Because it was contagious, the law required isolation of the leper until he was cleansed.  We do not always want to admit that we have an open wound that is a threat to the lives of others.  The letter to the Hebrews warns against bitterness as though it were contagious (Heb. 12:15).  A root of bitterness can grow where there is resentment and unforgiveness.  In the Tenach, the fear and unbelief of the ten spies infected most of the other Israelis (Num. 14:36); Korah infected the Levites who died with him for not accepting Moses and Aaron (Num. 15); Satan infected one-third of the angels (Rev. 12) when he rebelled against God.  Leprosy, we see, can also be a spiritual disease, and is not just my personal problem.  It can infect my family, my house and home, my congregation (Lev. 14:34; 1 Pet. 2:5), my clothes or “habits, works, ministry” (Lev. 13:47; Is. 64:6).

The best cure for any disease is prevention.  At the first signs of illness or injury, admit it and go to the doctor.  The key to cleansing and healing for one whose wounds are still open and incurable after much time has passed, or after we thought that we had dealt with a matter, is again first of all to confess that we are not well.  The place to go is the cross of our Lord.  He Himself was stricken by God for our transgressions.  He knows what it is to be rejected; He came to heal the sick and cleanse the lepers (Mt. 11:5).  Yeshua touched the unclean leper who cried out to Him.  He touched him –He accepted his person.  The Son of Man loved him with the love of God the Father.  We are called to do the same for those who ask.

The apostle Jacob (James) tells us by the Holy Spirit to confess our sins to one another, praying for each other, so that we may be healed (James 5:16).

I want to quote here from a letter I received:

“As God’s servant you belong in only one of two places –in the battle on the front line, or (if you get wounded, which happens in battle) in the hospital getting well.  What many don’t realize is that, while the healing is always available, you have to take yourself to the door of the hospital and ask to be admitted.  Some get right up to the door and then, out of fear, pride, or unforgiveness, don’t go in.  They can’t go back to the battle, where they would be a burden in their condition.  So they wander around the countryside while the wound begins to fester.  After a long while they see a dangerous infection setting in and run back to the hospital in panic.  But by then it is too late –nothing can be done.  They can’t fight, they can’t get healed –they can only walk around as lepers, looking for other lepers to sympathize with them.  You must go to the cross with your wounds when I send you, or you will become a leper.”

[Let us all be quiet before the Lord and search our souls, bringing before Him our open wounds, which perhaps only you and He know about, and the raw wounds which have grown and infected others.  Now is the time to confess our transgressions before God that also prevent our healing.

Afterwards, those who want us to pray with you, come to the front row and we will pray together.]

Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets

Lev. 23:24-25    – a Shabbat, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation, an offering made by fire
Is. 62:6-12      – remind YHVH of His salvation for Israel and for Jerusalem

The devil is busy sowing his bad seed amongst the good seed of the Kingdom of Heaven  (Mt. 13:24-30).  The Lord Yeshua tell us that this bad seed–and its fruit–will remain until the end of the age.  The Day of the LORD (YHVH)–the day of vengeance of our God (Amos 5:18-20; Is. 61:2)–will bring to an end all the kingdoms of this world, and in their place will be the Kingdom of God and of His Messiah Yeshua (Dan. 7:9-14; Rev. 11:15-18).  There is a promised Day of judgment (Acts 17:30-31), when Yeshua, the Judge of both the living and the dead, will make a distinction between good and evil, holy and profane, clean and defiled.  It marks a time when there will truly be a “new year”,founded upon a completed work of redemption.  He will bring in everlasting righteousness, and His Kingdom will not pass away.  HALLELU-YAH!

God wants us to remember His covenant and the promises of the covenant for those who believe in the LORD Yeshua.  He wants us who remember to remind Him–as did Moses, David, Daniel, Nehemiah–and to remind each other–as did Paul, John, Peter–of the blood of the covenant, the blood of Yeshua, and of His death and resurrection which gives all who put their trust in Him for salvation living hope.  God has saved us by His power and grace; He has made us His people in Messiah; He has given us the Spirit of Holiness and placed His Law within our minds and hearts. He has given us clothes of salvation in place of our own unacceptable garments.  The LORD has made it abundantly clear that He is the only true God.

The devil has been active and succeeding in trampling down truth (Dan. 8:12) in part because of those within the church who have been sleeping (Mt. 13:25).  The LORD, who neither slumbers nor sleeps while He watches over and keeps His people, is longsuffering as He allows us to learn and mature with respect to the reality of things.  But the day and hour draw near for the Deliverer and the Judge to come–because of the promises He has made in His covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with David; even with Adam and Eve; and because of the even greater promises He has given through His Son Yeshua.  The Holy Spirit is giving a WAKE-UP CALL WITH BLASTS FROM THE SHOFAR (Eph. 5:14-15; Is. 60:1-2):

–Remember the Word of God which is truth and abides forever;
–Remember to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to persevere through to the end of testing and troubles;
–Remember from where you have fallen and renew your first love with the Lord Yeshua;
–Remember, you are saved by mercy and hope–through faith, not by your own works;
–Remember to fear God who has forgiven you your sins and gives hope of true freedom;
–Remember!  The Lord Yeshua said that He will come back for us so that we can be with Him;
–Remember that Jesus died as the judgment and punishment for my sins and for our sins.

The Holy Spirit is calling the lambs and the sheep to hold fast to what we have received and not to let anyone take away what our Father in Heaven has promised is ours through faith in His Word (Rev. 3:11).  The enemy has fought hard to prevent us from accepting — and afterwards enjoying — what is ours now in the Kingdom of God:  we are in Messiah; Messiah is in us; Messiah is with us all the days until the end of this world; God loves us as a Father and calls us His children; He forgives us from all our sins against Him; we have eternal life with the Lord, our Husband, as an inheritance according to God’s own promise, and He can not lie.

Jews and Muslims especially do not want Christians (whether Jewish or gentile) to live in the truth of what God has revealed through the New Covenant.  They argue over Jerusalem, but the Sovereign YHVH has chosen it as the city where His Name shall be.  Because of their own unbelief, envy, and bitter root, they do not want believers to enjoy our present liberties.  Even within the Body of Messiah, there are those who seek to deprive their own brothers and sisters in the faith from the joy and liberty that accompany a close personal relationship with Father, whose love is without measure for any who draw near to Him with humble assurance and thanksgiving.

Our own sense of guilt and shame work to prevent us from progressing further by faith in the Land of Promise –the Kingdom of God– which the Father is pleased to give us.  As a result of our own sense of unworthiness, we begin to tolerate things which God has already declared unworthy of  Him.

We begin to resort again to things which enslave us.  We lose sight of the necessity to continue fighting the good fight of faith until it is all over.

The Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets reminds us to examine and to judge ourselves, to see if we are really standing in the faith (2Cor. 13:5), and to acknowledge how great a salvation the Lord Yeshua has purchased for us with His own blood.  Remember, you were bought with a price.  God is sounding the trumpets to gather a final great fruitful harvest of all His redeemed people together, who have each taken to heart his sins of unbelief, dishonor, and disobedience against the Law of Messiah which He has put within us.  When we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us because He is satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We have an abiding sacrifice; there is no need for us to offer another but rather to remember and praise God for the once-for-all and sufficient sacrifice of the Son of God, our Redeemer.

The Father is sending out the message to all of His sons and daughters that we remember who we are–a holy priesthood unto God.  He desires us to unite for His sake and to give Him the honor due to Him and to His beloved Son Yeshua.  Our Father reminds us to remember that He has delivered us from the bondage (Egypt) and the vanity (Babylon) and the immorality (Sodom) of this world.  He wants us to voluntarily come out from all this, esteeming above all Zion (the heavenly new Jerusalem) and the glory of the Lamb who sits upon the Throne.  Our Father wants our joy to be in Him (Neh. 8:10) and to look for and love the appearing of the Lord Yeshua (2Tim. 4:8).  Listen to the clear sound of the trumpet blast –the loud Voice which calls out, “Come unto Me all who want life!”– and remember to praise our great God and Savior!

Amen.