Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

10 July 2015

July Tenth, My personal Yom Kippur, Seinfield, and Gospel Doctrine Lesson #24 (NT)

Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.

Abstract: In the Book of Mormon, specifically in the book of Nephi (19:23) the prophet is discussing with his family some difficult passages in the Brass Plates, or the Hebrew Scriptures (primarily the teachings of Isaiah, as well as Moses). One way that he helps to expound the teachings is with a phrase that they should "liken" the scriptures unto them, that the scriptures may be for their profit and learning (Or a lamp unto their feet as the Psalmist says). This discussion focuses on a verse that I have likened unto myself. I do not claim scholarly expertise in Hebrew, Old Testament literature, or hold a high amount of information on specifics to the rites, ordinances, and feasts in the Old Testament, but I do find them incredibly interesting and useful in many ways, especially as I study the New Testament this year and find the Savior "likening" the Feasts and Ordinances to His primary messages, as in the Feast of Tabernacles when he references Light and Water -- Two symbols of the Feast -- in John 7-9 (See Here and Here for some examples of that). My purpose in writing this is more for personal reflection and likening to myself and less for scholarship and exact understanding of Jewish Feasts, but perhaps in so doing, more ways to liken scriptures will be found.


I have forgotten the day and setting at which I found the verse located above, whether it came from a general reading of the Old Testament, or from a more purposeful study of topics. The latter is more acknowledged, because I was at the time preparing for my mission and going through preparations to go to the Temple for the first time. My "Temple Prep" experience was uniquely inspiring to me, as it primarily involved a meeting with my Bishop wherein he gave me a list of words to study, such as Creation, Sacrifice, Atonement, and other words that held significance to worship in the scriptures. He stated, to my recollection, that if I were to carefully study the words that he gave me, that I 
would find understanding of, and sources to, the Temple experience (Paraphrasing, but it was a helpful conversation to me, as I had graduated Seminary recently and found great comfort in the scriptures, as well as treasures of knowledge). I had received my mission call sometime after that, or possibly before, but the date of my mission was on July 10 (Today being the 13th anniversary of that date). At some point after the call, I saw this verse and the date struck me as significant as the Day of Atonement, purification, soul-afflicting, and an offering of fire. I was and am aware that the calendar recollection is different for the Hebrew calendar (see Calendar to the right). Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement typically occurs in our reckoning in September or October, but in the Seventh Month (Tishri) in the Jewish Calendar. I enjoyed this verse, and others like it when I thought about the day I would leave for my mission. I realize that it was primarily coincidental, but one that gave me a great deal of "likening" for I was about to serve the Lord as an ordained minister as an Elder in His church, going out to the world to testify of the Mission of Jesus Christ and His Atonement and Ministry. I realized then, and even more now, that that was an offering of "fire", and purification was necessary. Not merely purification of the soul, but of temporal concerns, as well as spiritual and emotional ones. A constant prayer before my service as a missionary was that I would be prepared emotionally, spiritually, and physically for the experience. My soul was afflicted through the experience (in good ways) because I was able to become more than I was through that and other experiences. 

 I think that the Pattern in the Calendar listed above is significant as well. While I don't understand all of the intents and facets of them, there is some neat correlations to Christian and more specifically Latter-Day Saint traditions and patterns. For example, the passover relates firstly to the Hebrew Scriptures in reference to Moses:

"And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this self-same day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. …And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” (Ex. 12:17, 26–27.)

It is later referenced by Jesus as a reference to His resurrection when Death would "pass over" all mankind. President Hunter, a Modern Apostle and well-versed in the Old Testament said:

"I believe it is safe to say that Passover is without equal in the Jewish calendar of celebrations. It is the oldest of the Jewish festivals, celebrating an event in advance of receiving the traditional Mosaic Law. It reminds every generation of the return of the children of Israel to the promised land and of the great travail in Egypt which preceded it. It commemorates the passage of a people from subjection and bondage to freedom and deliverance. It is the Old Testament festival of springtime when the world of nature awakens to life, growth, and fruition.
Passover is linked with the Christian observance of Easter which we celebrate this weekend in this great conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Passover in the Old Testament and Easter in the New Testament testify of the great gift God has given and of the sacrifice that was involved in its bestowal. Both of these great religious commemorations declare that death would “pass over” us and could have no permanent power upon us, and that the grave would have no victory."

In remembrance of His sacrifice, the Sacrament of Bread and Water were instituted. It is taken to remember the covenant of Baptism, and that soon a promised comforter would come. A major manifestation of that comforter would be known as the day of Pentecost. Elder Oaks, another Apostle explains further:

When He introduced the sacrament, the Savior also gave teachings and promises about the Holy Ghost. On that sacred occasion known as the Last Supper, Jesus explained the mission of the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost. The Comforter would testify of Him and reveal other truths. Jesus also explained that He had to leave His disciples in order for the Comforter to come to them. When I depart, He told them, “I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). After His Resurrection, He told His Apostles to tarry in Jerusalem until they were given “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). That power came when “the promise of the Holy Ghost” was “shed forth” upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:33).

The pattern continues, as the first ordinances of the Gospel are Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. 

The Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Ha-Shanah) has interesting history, as it relates the the restoration of the Gospel in the latter-days, and specifically the doctrine of Gathering. The primary symbolism is of God remembering the Covenants and restoring anew from exile. Trumpets signify revelation and a call to Israel (Good articles Here [Quote below] and Here):

Joseph Smith received the golden plates on the Israelite Day of Remembrance (or Rosh ha-Shanah).
Biblical references and interpretation by Jewish sages through the centuries set this day as the day God would remember his covenants with Israel to bring them back from exile. Also called the Feast of Trumpets, this day features ritual trumpet blasts to signify the issuance of revelation and a call for Israel to gather for God’s word of redemption. The day,which is set at the time of Israel’s final agricultural harvest, also symbolizes the Lord’s final harvest of souls. Furthermore, it initiates the completion of the Lord’s time periods, the Days of Awe, and signifies the last time to prepare for final judgment and the Messianic Age. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon is literally fulfilling such prophecies of the day.

The principle of remembering does well for the individual just as it does for the nation, as one commits oneself through the covenant of the Gospel. One of my favorite analogies regarding remembering and covenants comes, light-heartedly enough, from Seinfield. 

Making Covenants is not important in and of itself; it is the remembering and keeping of them that truly matter. Thus, after making the initial covenants, we are to remember them after we make them. 

The Day of Atonement shortly follows the feast of trumpets, signifying a purification and readiness once the call has been made. following that, an even greater outpouring of light and water are promised through the Feast of Tabernacles. I have found great strength in studying the New Testament this year and recognizing the format, or conditions of the covenants, as well as the promised blessings of them. For example, the discussion of Jesus with Nicodemus at the beginning of His ministry included a discussion of being born of water and the Spirit, which has many connotations, including baptism of water and the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as a recognition of following both the conditional elements of the covenants (the requirements) as well as not simply completing them in form only, but truly allowing the ordinance with its accompanying covenants to change the individual, or to become. It is no small significance that at the end of His ministry, he is reiterating similar principles in the Feast of Tabernacles with His I AM statements of being the Light and the Water (as well as the Bread, the True Vine, and so one). John 7:37 references the Last Great Day, but whether this refers to the Feast mentioned, or simply the last day of the Prior feast is unknown to me at this time. It shows a completeness and fulfilling of covenants when Jesus asks them to come unto Him and partake of a lasting Peace, rather than anything temporal, and this is what we are asked to do as well as we prepare for our own "Last Great Day". 

Hanukkah is a sacred Feast day as well, and in my mind associated with a redeemed state, or one that is completed after a final battle. Similar to the feelings of rejoicing after all enemies are conquered, Death being the final one, this Feast recognizes a redemption through action and covenants as well as faith in a Redeemer. 

Purim to me signifies a complete freedom from governments, kingdoms, and other entities that will occur when One comes to govern over all the earth in wholeness and Fulness. Similar to the prior Feast, redemption is at hand, and rejoicing in being able to to governed in purity.

That was a bit of a lengthy discussion, and I appreciate your attention. It is fascinating, even from such a cursory glance to look at the Jewish feasts, how Jesus incorporated then into His teachings, and how overall we can view them as an overarching personal journey as individuals who are seeking to build the kingdom of God through ordinances.

James E Faust, another modern apostle, elucidates on counsel from Joseph Smith regarding being Born Again in this way:

Today I wish to speak about the blessings that flow from covenants with the Lord. As a foundation, I begin with the covenant the Lord made with the house of Israel: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 1
This covenant is universal for those of any race being “baptized into Christ.” 2 As Paul states, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” 3
Covenants are not simply outward rituals; they are real and effective means of change. “Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances.” 4 We should always honor and keep sacred the saving covenants we make with the Lord. If we do, He has promised, “Thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” 5
I am ever grateful for the covenants I have made with the Lord and my family, and am grateful for the pattern in the scriptures that shows the true power behind the outward rituals. Jesus Christ taught regarding them while on the earth, and continues to do so with His church today. I know that the ceremonies, feasts, and ordinances mentioned are sacred and this was in no way a comprehensive or scholarly approach to how they were performed or their significance anciently, but a recollection and a likening to help my in my personal ministry and understanding.

Feel free to share your insights, approaches, and understanding in the comments below.

[For study purposes, if you click on underlined links of names, it will take you to the full address of the sermon discussed].


  1. Orion, I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for sharing it with me and for sharing your personal Yom Kipper with me. It is hard to believe it has been 13 years!

  2. I would never have put all those together in a million years, but I think you're spot on (and brilliant to make the correlation). Lived the Seinfeld reference which again I'd never thought of. I've always said you were the clever one!