Friends, tonight begins the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. God commanded Israel to set this day aside as a solemn Sabbath. With fasting and humbling of the spirit, God’s people are to take account of their sins and repent before the most Holy God. This day was the one and only day each year that the High Priest, after much preparation, was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and sacrifice for the sins of the people.
Often people today don’t see the value in keeping this day set apart. The Messiah is our High Priest and has sacrificed once and for all. So, what purpose do this fasting and affliction serve? Should we not merely rejoice in our atonement that has already been accomplished? Wouldn’t grieving on this day to mean we are trampling on our saving grace?
By no means!
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing,what zeal, what punishment!”
2 Corinthians 7:10-11
This humbling and fasting is something God calls His people to remember. It is not worldly, but Godly. And therefore it leads us to examine ourselves and hopefully produces repentance in us. Even though we have been atoned for, God still calls us to continually seek repentance. A heart of repentance is a heart that has turned around and is returning to God.
We must be careful, though, as we are reminded of the words of our Messiah. We must not fast and deny ourselves in order to merely appear pious. In our families or with our fellowships it is appropriate to share this time of grieving over our present sinfulness. But, we should still remember that this truly is a humble and personal time with God.
In addition, the Day of Atonement foreshadows the day of judgement when we all will stand before the throne. We will come face to face with YHWH and we will deserve to die. We will still be called to account for every deed, good and bad. But because of grace we can boldly stand before the throne, not because of our own perfection, but because of the righteousness of the Lamb that covers all our sins.
I pray that this Day of Atonement be not just about rejoicing in the grace we have been given. May it be a day that we fast and pray, that we plead with God to reveal sin, even unknown sin, in our hearts. May it be a day that we are filled with a Godly grief that in turn produce a zealousness and a longing for God’s righteousness. May it be a day of soul-searching repentance and refocusing our lives on God.
We could just rely on grace to cover our sins. But, that is not what God asked His people to do. God asked His people to continually work to remove sin from their lives. Not because the sacrifice wasn’t great enough to cover, and not because he wants them to follow a list of do’s and don’ts.
God asks his children to search their hearts for sin and repent from any unrighteousness because he wants is family to desire to be holy as He is holy. God wants our faith to be perfected, our love to be perfected and our Christ-likeness to be perfected. He wants to dwell with us and us to dwell with Him. This is how we can stand on judgment day, not with fear, but with confidence.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.”
1 John 4:16-17
Below is a fantastic resource on the Biblical calendar. Each of the seven appointed times that YHWH has establish, as well as Sabbath, are described. Each one has lists of passages to read, as well as practical ways to celebrate. There are also downloadable resources linked with each of the appointed times. Feel free to read this as you contemplate on the feasts of YHWH and the truths they bring to our lives.
May you have a blessed time of soul searching and repentance as you turn towards God’s righteousness. May you remember the confidence we have in our Messiah’s sacrifice and covering, and rejoice in the graciousness of our Holy God.