There's More to the Day of Atonement than just Fasting
The Day of Atonement falls occurs on Tishri 10 in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar. This is during the fall in North America. The Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur – is a day of repentance. It's is a day when observers fast, or do without food or water for the day. The main purposes for this are to allow special time to worship our God as well as to humble ourselves. We spend time looking at our lives over the past year and seeing where we have fallen short. This is different from a "New Years Resolution" in that we don't just say the words; we make a plan of action to better ourselves over the upcoming year.
When I explain this to some people, the first response I often get is "legalism". I don't think that is true or the intent. I am absolutely convinced that we cannot earn salvation. That grace comes from our Father in heaven and His son Jesus. This is the only way to salvation. I am also convinced that sin is a grievous thing, it never is good and it never helps. We always have to pay for our sins; there is no getting around it. The less we sin the better. Sin not only hurts ourselves, it can hurt our spouse, our children, our relation, our co-workers and our neighbors. Do we want to sin? Of course not. So why not spend time every year focusing on how to eliminate it?
Taking it to the Next Level
Now we need to take this great Feast day that God has given us to the next level. The Day of Atonement assures us of the seriousness of sin. In Romans 5:8 the apostle Paul tells us "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Do we think that Jesus, God in the flesh actually came to earth, lived as flesh and blood and died for us if there was not a mighty good reason? Of course there was, it made forgiveness possible. For "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Heb. 9:22).
On the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament the High Priest offered sacrifices to atone for the people of Israel. Jesus has sacrificed Himself to atone for us. The Hebrew word "Kippur" when translated into English means atonement or covering. Yom Kippur, the blood sacrifice of Jesus provides the covering of our sins. Without it, we are lost. Think of it this way, has God changed His view on sacrifice or have we changed our view on sin? It’s not the offender who set the price. Sin is a terrible thing to God and it always has been. Changing the label on poison just makes it more dangerous.
The symbols of fasting, wearing white on the Day of Atonement, or the other symbols that are practiced are all fine and good, but in the long run they cannot replace Jesus sacrifice. We need to acknowledge the seriousness of our sins, and that is where these symbols can help, although we cannot make the necessary changes by ourselves. We have all offended God yet through His amazing grace He found a way to forgive us. He has provided the Kippur – the atonement – through Jesus.
Does Jesus Sacrifice make us Irresponsible to Others?
Some may argue that Jesus sacrifice makes us irresponsible with the license to do whatever we want. Jesus and Paul clearly rebuffed that concept. Jesus told us that we need to forgive others from our hearts (Matt. 18:21, 35). Paul told us that the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good (Rom 7:12). We need to do our best to obey the teachings of Jesus.
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God, with his graciousness and love has provided a sacrifice for us. The sacrifices in the Old Testament were all made looking to the final atonement that Jesus would bring. We are covered in Jesus blood. We die and live with Him by faith.
The Day of Atonement is a special time set aside by our Father. A time for us to examine our lives, cleanse ourselves, and make plans to eliminate sin. It is also a time to recognize the importance and value of the sacrifice of Jesus. Baruch Ha Shem – Praise the Lord the great Adon Olam – Master of the Universe.
For more information on the Day of Atonement plus other informative topics related to all of the Feast Days the book called "The Wonder and Majesty of God's Festivals and Holy Days" is recommended reading.
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