Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Day of Atonement

Scripture: Exodus 20 v 22 - 24: "And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
 23  Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.
 24  An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee."

The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is to the Jews their most holy day.  The instruction for it came from God Himself when He gave Moses the tablets of stone written with the finger of God, which are the ten commandments by which men shall live.  This year the Day of Atonement is observed from 18 - 19 September, that is today. 

During the Israeli trek from Egypt to the Promised Land,the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, a moveable tent structure, consisting of an outer court, an inner court and the Holy of Holies, which contained the Ark of the Covenant, was set up. Inside this Ark are the tablets of stone, Aaron's almond rod that budded before Pharoah, and a pot containing manna.

Around the Tabernacle area the Israelites camped in twelve camps, one for each tribe.  On Yom Kippur they would bring from each family an animal or dove to be sacrificed at the door to the Tabernacle.  The priests would collect the blood in a later, or basin, and this would be carried by the High Priest into the Innermost Sanctum.  This was known as the Holy of Holies and the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice from all the tribes upon the Ark for God's forgiveness of sin for another year.

The Holy of Holies was protected by a 4" thick curtain interwoven with strands of gold.  Only the High Priest could enter into it once a year on the Day of Atonement.  This year today is that day.  The High Priest had to go through many purification and other rituals to be worthy to enter into God's presence.  He wore elaborate garments with pomegranates and bells around the hem.  He also had a golden rope tied round his ankle.

He would take the blood and stand before the curtain into the Holy Place.  By the power of God he would be translated through the curtain.  The only other way in would be by crawling underneath it.  Unthinkable. Once he was standing before the Ark he would sprinkle the sacrificial blood upon it to make atonement for the sins of Israel for a full year.

If the sacrifice was acceptable to God he would move back to the curtain.  The anxious Priests would be listening for those little bells on his garments to ring so that they would know their High Priest was still alive and they would not need to extract him by pulling on the rope around his ankle.

At the Last Supper, a Passover Seder, when Jesus took the Cup of Elijah, He said "This cup is the New Covenant in My Blood."  The Cup of Elijah is never drunk at a Seder. It is only for the Messiah when He comes. So Jesus was showing them and telling them who He is.  He was also replacing the Day of Atonement with Holy Communion for those who would be born again after His resurrection.

At the moment of His death, the 4" thick curtain guarding the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem, split from top to bottom.  Jesus opened the way for every one of us to have communication with the Father.  His Blood atoned for our sins once and forever.  If we accept His forgiveness and walk in His ways, we have eternal life in Heaven.

On the Day of Atonement, Jewish people dip themselves in a river for all uncleanness to be washed away for the whole year. After Christians are born again they get baptised in water once which causes their sinful nature to die and to receive the righteous nature of Jesus.  Baptism identifies us with the death and resurrection of Jesus. Under the water we are exchanged with Him so it's no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me.

It is good to understand what the Old and New Covenants mean for us today.  We can always learn from the origins of things that are important to God, and to accept and live in the New Creation that Jesus gave us.  Remember the New wine that needs new wineskins? If you try to put new wine in old wineskins they will burst as they are too rigid and lack flexibility.

The Holy Spirit is the New Wine that needs a new creation, a pure vessel, through which it can be poured out to refresh and uplift the born again saints, who must bring this knowledge to those sinners who are ready to believe the truth about salvation.  We had our Day of Atonement the Day we were born again, and it lasts forever if we closely follow the Lamb.

Prayer: Father God, we pray for Israel to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ their Saviour and Messiah.  Open their eyes and hearts Lord, and remove the veil that prevents them from entering in to Your salvation. Father let them know they are already forgiven and acceptable to You.  In Jesus' name. Amen.