What’s Wrong With That? (Continued)

Posted: August 25, 2020 in Christian Living, Holidays, Music & Videos, Revival
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Yom Kippur / The Day of Atonement Begins at sundown on September 27th – 28th, 2020. It is the second of the Fall Feast Days commanded by God. Although, it is not so much a Feast day as it is a fast day and a repentance day—and why it is one of the most holy days of the Hebrew calendar.

“This is to be a permanent statute for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you shall humble yourselves and not do any work—whether the native or the foreigner who resides among you—because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble yourselves; it is a permanent statute…This is to be a permanent statute for you, to make atonement once a year for the Israelites because of all their sins.” (Leviticus 16:29-34)

The Day of Atonement points to the day of the Second Coming of Messiah when he will return to set up God’s kingdom on earth. It will be the Day of Atonement for all nations when they will “look upon him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and The Jews will receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:1-6; 25-36)

Yom Kippur is described as a Shabbat of solemn rest in the Torah, a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. It is the culmination of a period of time during which we are required to take stock of their lives, to ask forgiveness from friends and family, and to take steps toward self-improvement for the year to come. As with other of God’s holy days, the Day of Atonement is not a “Jewish only” holy day. Notice that in Leviticus 16 God told Moses that the Day of Atonement is a “permanent” statute. And it is to be observed by both the “native or the foreigner” who resides among the Israelites.

Traditionally, Jews believe that after judging a person for their deeds over the past year, God decides who will be sealed in the Book of Life. But most simply use the day as a time to reflect on what they want to do differently and how to improve their lives in the year to come.

Yom Kippur is observed for a 25-hour period, beginning at sundown, by refraining from work that is prohibited on Shabbat, and refrain from eating or drinking. Some add five additional prohibitions: bathing; anointing the body with oil; wearing leather shoes; and having sexual relations, but I have yet to find any Scriptural proof of this. In fact, Jesus said, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” And in Isaiah 58 the prophet tells us that the fast that God chooses is to “loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free.”  

There are two meals associated with Yom Kippur: the pre-fast meal and the break-fast meal (obviously, for the duration of the fasting holiday, no food or drink is allowed). The pre-fast meal is known as seudah ha-mafaseket (literally, “meal of separation” or “concluding meal”). Meals usually should be prepared with minimum salt, as this could cause dehydration during the fast. It is also important to drink plenty of water before the fast. *Because of health problems or because of their age, some may be excused from a complete fast. To avoid complications, those people should try to only drink fruit and vegetable juice. 

The break-fast meal usually consists of hi-carb dairy foods, and sometimes brunch-style recipes like bagels, quiches, soufflés, eggs, cheese, etc. While others indulge in heavier traditional meals with soups, salads or brisket. 

The Importance of Atonement 

‘Atonement’ to many is an unfamiliar and foreign word. According to the dictionary, it means the action of making amends for a wrong or injury, but in the context of the teachings of the prophets, Jesus and apostles, it also involves reparation or amendment for sin:

 “…If someone sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor…He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value, and pay it to the owner on the day he acknowledges his guilt.” (Leviticus 6:1-6)

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38) 

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)

It seems that Christians today believe that the way to amend for a wrong is to pray, ask God for forgiveness, and God will cleanse them of their sin. This is always a good thing to do, but they fail to deal with what is the far larger problem of wrongs committed: Instances of everyday nastiness, error, foolishness, lack of empathy and shortsightedness. Leaving the wrongs unaddressed is not only wrong, but sinful.

Here, as in so many areas, we can be inspired by the example of God’s word. God’s word has always given us a particular insight on how to focus on the hurt of others. God knows how easy it is for us to feel it, how hard it is to express it, but also how awkward but necessary it is for us to make amends for perpetrating it. We discover God’s response in the Day of Atonement. 

The Day of Atonement is a solemn day when God instructs us that we must set aside our usual family and commercial activities and mentally review our actions over the past year, identifying all those whom we have caused pain, or behaved unjustly towards. And also to seek out those whom we have frustrated, angered, discarded casually or otherwise betrayed and offer them a complete apology and recompense, if necessary.

This is God’s will as the requirement for forgiveness—so long as the apology is real. I have experienced people who have told me that they were sorry for doing something that hurt me, but their actions let me know that they weren’t sincere. I have even had some who claim that they wanted to apologize to me for bad feelings they had against me, but they really only wanted to let me know what I said or did that upset them.

Too many times we run away from our victims and act with strange rudeness towards them—not because we aren’t bothered by what we did, but because what we did makes us feel uncomfortable around them. Our victims therefore, have to suffer not only the original hurt, but also the subsequent coldness we display towards them on account of our own guilty conscience. 

But the Day of Atonement helps to correct this. A period in which human error is proclaimed as a general truth makes it easier to confess our sins to each other. It is more bearable to own up to the hurt we have caused others when we realize how cleansing it will be for us.

We, as God’s people, need to learn from the Day of Atonement. Functioning without a culture of atonement implies that we are okay, or that our imperfections and sinfulness are all covered by God’s grace. Of course we are deeply imperfect, but we can’t ever progress and live together in harmony if we can’t regularly offer and accept a sincere apology. We need to learn, from God’s word and the example of Jesus and the apostles how to confess our sins, not only to God, but to each other. And forgive ourselves and others. So what’s so wrong with that?

And after we complete our fast and realize how much we need to repent and change maybe, just maybe, we will begin to try to understand each other a little more. 

“We’ve turned from Your ways

Lord Your fruit we’ve ceased to bear

We lack the power we once knew in our prayers

That gentle voice from heaven

We cease to hear and know

The fact that He has risen no longer stirs our soul

Revive us oh Lord

Revive us oh Lord

And cleanse us from our impurities

And make us holy

Hear our cry

And revive us oh Lord!”

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