Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yom Kippur - What This Day Means To Christians?

Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement; it begins this Friday evening (September 13) at sundown. This is a holy day in which the entire public Jewish sector of Israel essentially shuts down. While today Israel is mostly a secular State, still millions of Jews will humble themselves by fasting for 25 hours of both food and water.

By Wailing Wall by Cyclist on DeviantArt

Kippur in Hebrew means "to cover over; to pacify; to make propitiation; to ransom by means of substitute." It should not be hard for Christians to see that Jesus fulfills the need for Yom Kippur; He is our "Kippur." Going back to Biblical times a goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies. A second goat had the sins of the nation confessed over it and then was led far into the Judea desert and released to "bear away" the sins of the people.

"Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD's lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before YHVH, to make atonement upon it, and let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:8-10).

Of course, Jesus also fulfilled the part of Kippur for He bore our sins on the cross. He became our sin for us and then too the punishment of death for our sins. When we confess our sins, the sins are cleansed and also carried away from us. God choses to not remembers them anymore. He see us righteous in Christ.

By EkStenseth on DeviantArt

The goat that "bore away" the sins of the people was considered damned/cursed. Jesus because cursed for our sins; he died a cursed death on the cross. Today in Israel a common curse word contains "azazel" which is the Hebrew word for "scapegoat." 

In 70 A.D. the second temple was destroyed and the shedding of the goat blood ended. The Jews confessing their sins today simply remember the shedding of the goat blood. A child or seeker might ask, "Where is the shedding of the blood today? How are my sins forgiven or carried away?" 

Hebrews 9:22 states "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" 

Christian Jews, after accepting Jesus as Lord, understood the shedding of blood was no longer needed because Jesus shed his blood once and for all --for all people and all time. His was the ultimate sacrifice that fulfilled all of God's need of propitiation; Jesus was, is and forever shall be the our ransom for sin. He was both the blood sacrifice and the "sin-bearer." 

Pray for the Jewish community today and through this weekend that many will ask, "Where is the blood sacrifice?" as they celebrate Yom Yippur. Pray for the Holy Spirit to open their eyes to see Jesus as the fulfillment of this sacrifice. 

In our daily life, we are asked to bear one another's burdens when we pray for each other. I have always found it interesting that the Greek word for bearing burdens can mean two different ways. We can come along side and carry the burden with our friend we are praying for or we can carry that burden away for them and take it to Christ. Occassionally when someone asks me to pray for them, I ask them which way they want me to bear the burden. Some burdens are necessary for growth, to transform us to Christ; others are piled upon us from ourselves, others and our enemy and keep us from doing the kingdom work God desires that will bring Him glory.

As you go throughout this weekend, consider... have I confessed all known sin? Have I released the shame, guilt and sorrow to God? Have I forgiven myself and others? Have I accepted Jesus' clean righteousness in place of my sinfulness? Have I turned - repented - to sin no more in the same way? Aim I only carrying the burdens God wants me to have? Is my life free, and at peace with God, to bring Him glory?

In my own life, I have to continually examine myself with these types of questions. It is a wonderful thing to be focused on God and His purpose for your life. It is so easy to distort and get entangled in the world and sin. Talk with God. Confirm that you are walking in peace with Him and then do the next right thing He wants you to do. 

Have a great day, 

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