The Biblical Doctrine of Reconciliation.
A Scripture Study
He who has My commandments and keeps them, It is he who loves me. And, he who loves me shall be loved of my Father. And, I will love him and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
The previous two Shofars (Volumes 604 and 605) examined four commandments of Yahushuah as written in the Bible's King James Version (KJV) of the Good News (Gospel) of Matthew. The purpose of this series of articles is to share the Word of our Savior so that Bet Yeshurun Assembly (BYA) may learn His commands and keep (obey) them. As seen in the above verse from John's Gospel, following Yah's standards for human conduct shows we love Elohim. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son reciprocate with their love and further revealing of their Will and Way of Life.
BYA is truly blessed to read our Redeemer's Words. While ancient Israel heard the Voice of Elohim ("Shema, O' Israel"), they did not fully understand or obey His Way of Life. "But this thing, I commanded them saying, 'Obey my voice! I will be your Elohim and you shall be My people. Walk in all the Ways that I have commanded you that it may be well unto you.' But, they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, went backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt) unto this day, I even sent you all my servants, the prophets (nevi'im), daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they hearkened not to Me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck. They did worse than their fathers." (Jeremiah 7:23-26)
May BYA heed what was spoken through Yah's prophets and follow the Way of Elohim with softened hearts. "Wherefore as Ruach ha'Qodesh (the Holy Spirit) says, 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.' Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, 'They do always err in their heart. They have not known My Ways." (Hebrews 3:7-10)
The last Shofar discussed Yah's command about not being angry without a just cause and about not belittling others with insulting names. (Matthew 5:21-22) Yahushuah follows this with another command. "Therefore, if you shall bring your gift to the altar and there remember (recall to mind) that your brother has ought (something certain, or anything) against you. Leave your gift there before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
What? Before offering my gift to Yah, must I first settle all my differences with others? Yes, Yahushuah says so! If I'm aware (know) of certain unresolved relationship issues, I'm expected to approach the person who I offended and seek to peaceably settle our differences. Then, I may return to approach Yah with my offering.
Yahushuah gives a specific directive, "be reconciled." This term is from the Greek word "diallasso" (G1259) which means "to change, to change the mind of anyone, to reconcile, to be reconciled, to renew friendship with one." Webster's Dictionary says "reconcile" means "to make friendly again or win over to a friendly attitude; settle (a quarrel, difference, etc.); make consistent, compatible; bring into harmony."
Yahushuah also directs us to reconcile with our "brother," a word which is translated both times from "adelphos" (G80). The last Shofar article explained "adelphos" means practically everyone, i.e. "a brother, whether born of the same two parents or only of the same father or mother; having the same national ancestor, belonging to the same people, or countryman; any fellow or man; a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection; an associate in employment or office; a brethren in Mashiach, his brothers by blood, all men, apostles, Mashiachayim, as those who are exalted to the same heavenly place." (Strong's) So, the person with a grievance toward me can be family, a friend, a neighbor, a work associate, or a member of my Assembly.
Let's study the profound, rich words about reconciliation. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of Elohim! How unsearchable are His judgments and His Ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of Adonai? Who has been His counselor? Or, who has first given to Him and it shall be recompensed to Him again? For, of Him, through Him and to Him, are all things: to whom is glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)
Three times, Yahushuah mentions the word "gift." It comes from a Greek word "doron" (G1435) that means "a gift, present; gifts offered in expression of honor: of sacrifices and other gifts offered to Elohim, of money cast into the treasury for the purposes of the temple and for the support of the poor; the offering of a gift or of gifts."
The word "offer" is from "prosphero" (G4374). It means "to bring a present or a thing, to reach or hand a thing to one." While translated from Greek, He likely said the Hebrew word "qarab" (H7126) for "offer" which means "to draw near, approach." It indicates that if you don't reconcile with brother or sister you can't draw near or approach YAH....
"Altar" is "thysiast?rion" (G2379). It means "the altar of whole burnt offerings in the court of the priests in the temple at Jerusalem; the altar of incense which stood in the sanctuary or the Holy Place."
Need some tips on reconciling with estranged family members? Check the scriptural example (Genesis 32–33) of Esau and Jacob who were separated for over 20 years from a brotherly dispute over a family inheritance (birthrights and blessings). Do you long to meet long-lost family with tears, hugs, kisses? "Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck and kissed him. And they wept." (Genesis 33:4)
How sweet are the fruits of reconciliation! This reunion enabled brothers to jointly bury their dad. Isaac gave up the ghost, died and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him. (Genesis 35:29) Esau originally planned for a double burial upon Isaac's death. Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him. Esau said in his heart, "The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will slay my brother Jacob." (Genesis 27:41)
Also note that after Jacob reconciled with Esau, he then focused on building his family home and offering his altar gift to Elohim. This is precisely the pattern that Yahushuah teaches. "So, Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. Jacob journeyed to Sukkoth, built a house and made booths for his cattle. Therefore, the name of that place is called Sukkoth. Jacob came to the city of Shekem, which is in the land of Canaan (Kena'an), when he came from Paddan Aram and pitched his tent before the city. He bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shekem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. He erected there an altar and called it El Elohe Israel. (Genesis 33:16-20)
Scripture also says that the reconciliation process often involves forgiveness. For example, Yahushuah's followers are told that before praying (a sacrificial offering) they are to forgive those who offended them, so that YAH may do likewise for them. "When you stand praying, forgive, if you have ought (anything) against any; that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (Mark 11:25)
Webster's says "forgive" means "to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; stop being angry with; pardon; to give up all claim to punish or exact penalty for (an offense); overlook; to cancel or remit (a debt)." So, reconciliation is a two-way street. It may require one or both parties to forgive each other.
Yahushuah's "Unforgiving Servant Parable" (Matthew 18:23-35) is another reminder to pardon, or overlook the offenses of others so that Elohim will treat us similarly. "Then his lord, having called him, said, 'O you wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you desired it of me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee?' His lord was wroth and delivered him to the tormentors until he should pay all that was due to him. So, likewise shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." (Matthew 18:32-35)
Need a practical example on Yahushuah's command to reconcile? He promptly gives one from the perspective of a court-room setting. "Agree (reconcile) with your adversary (opponent) quickly, while you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison." (Matthew 5:25)
The word "agree" is translated from two Greek words: "isthee" (G2468), which means "be thou, agree, be, to give thyself wholly to" (Strong's); and "be thou" (Thayer's) combined with the word "unoeho" (G2132), which means "to be well minded, that is reconcile" (Strong's); "to wish (one) well, to be well disposed, of a peaceable spirit" (Thayer's); and "to favor, be well affected or well-minded toward another, to be friends." (Zodhiates) "Unoeho" is also a compound word of "eu" (G2095) or "well" and "nous" (G3563) meaning "mind."
So, if you offended a person who has now taken steps to settle the matter before a judge, you are placing yourself at great risk. America's judicial system was highly respected and known throughout the world for being just and equitable. Ever since America began enacting measures to separate (i.e. estrange) church (i.e. Elohim) from state (i.e. laws, precepts and rulings), we can no longer rest assured of receiving fair results from human judges.
If two parties will agree to abide by Yah's teachings, they can be totally assured of fairly resolving their differences. Such agreement (reconciliation) might very well include restitution (financial compensation) for harm done. Such a system is well codified within Torah. Are you interested in reconciling with an extremely unhappy person who is heading to take you into court? As Yahushuah advises, you do well to open up a dialogue with them. Perhaps, you might start by asking, "Can you forgive me? How can I make it up to you?"
Have time for another Yahsome example of reconciliation? The "Prodigal Son Parable" (Luke 15:11-32) contains so many nuggets of wisdom from Yahushuah that I could easily devote an entire Shofar article on His spiritual messages from just this one teaching. Search it out for yourself. Meditate upon it. Ask Yah to reveal what He desires you to hear and do about reconciling with our Heavenly Father, because that's the root message of this parable.
Do you truly believe that YAHUAH Elohim is anxiously, lovingly awaiting your move to reconcile with Him? Do you know that He's always on the look-out over this vast earth for that one lost sheep that seeks a return to Him? Are you aware that our reconciliation process with YAH began nearly 6,000 years ago when Adam and Eve disobeyed Yah in the Garden? At that time, they separated from Elohim. We, as their offspring, also became estranged of Yah. Today, our faith walk is all about being reconciled (reunited) with Father (Abba). Our life's wilderness journey is all about being restored into Yah's spiritual guidance.
As BYA: (1) changes (repents) from its human ways and traditions; (2) seeks to follow in the footsteps of Yahushuah; and (3) strives wholeheartedly to obey all of YAHUAH's commandments, we are on the right road to reconciling with Elohim. Here's the caveat (warning). Take heed! Yahushuah says that we cannot be completely reconciled with YAHUAH (i.e., totally offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices), if our relationships with others are dysfunctional.
So, it behooves us to extend all the necessary personal efforts to reconcile with those of whom we are estranged of. This might involve a humble admitting of fault, or admission of selfishness, or any number of things we'd rather not admit, especially to someone with whom we severed a relationship with. Can you put yourself in the shoes of the "prodigal son" and admit to them that you wallowed amongst pigs?
If you approach a Believer, or someone who has Elohim's Spirit within them, you can expect forgiveness. Then came Peter to Him and said, "Adonai, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?" Yahushuah said to him, "I say not to you until seven times. But, until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
What if you're unsuccessful at reconciling? If you humbly ask for, and are refused another's forgiveness, recall and have faith in the Unforgiving Servant Parable. Let Yah be their judge. Toss your pain upon Yahushuah's altar. Approach your Living Elohim with a clear conscience and a soft heart. Trust in YAHUAH with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
May Yah's mercy and grace be upon us as we forgive others their trespasses. May we ask others to forgive us for our trespasses, and may we wholeheartedly pursue our own reconciliation with Elohim. Shalom, Curt
Thoughts for Meditation
"The image of God is mercy within mercy within mercy." Thomas Morton
"At about the time we make ends meet, somebody moves the ends." Herbert Hooper
"Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it." Maya Angelou
"I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good." Maya Angelou
"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened." Billy Graham