Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yom Kippur - Redemption Day

Here is another message from our brother Joseph in Israel.  I post it here today because tonight at sundown is the beginning of a holiday instituted by Yahweh through Moses called: The Day of Atonement, which in Hebrew is Yom Kippur. (see: Lev. 16:3–10; 23:26–32; and Num. 29:7–11)  This is one of the three major holidays all Jews are commanded to observe.  It’s mentioned in Hebrews 9-10, where the readers are reminded that the High Priest would only enter the Holy of Holies once a year (on Yom Kippur) and then only after first having offered sacrifices for himself, so he’d be clean enough to approach God for us.  Now we have Jesus who performs this priestly function for us, having offered himself on the cross as the Lamb of God. 

Remember that atonement is more than mere forgiveness, it’s redemption.  A price was paid for our sins!  (Isaiah 53)  Consider your own sin & guilt before God, and let today be a reminder of the great price that redeemed us from our life of sin and folly.

We are at the gate of Yom Kippur this week-end.  If you have not seen Yom Kippur in Jerusalem you have never seen how important atonement really is in your whole life.  There is nothing anywhere in the world like Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in Jerusalem.  Generally speaking Christians talk about Grace, God's saving Grace.  This of course is true and important, but for most Christians the issue of forgiveness of sins and atonement is not at the top of their charts.  In fact in the modern churches, the big and famous ones, sin is not a topic that is very popular, prosperity, getting rich, having the good life, five cent psychological massage, these are the topics that ring the church bells today.  All these things that are in fashion now are not bad at all, and most of them are important, but forgiveness of sins is the most important asset of the Good News that Yeshua is the Messiah.

I believe that there are three steps that must be restored in the church:
  1.  Admission of guilt and recognition of sin.  I don't mean the Adamic sin from the Garden of Eden, I mean my sins and my shortcomings, the ones that I am aware of and know that I committed them. 
  2. Confession and repentance of my sins that includes restitution for all that is possible to restore. 
  3. A commitment to give grace to each other like the grace that we have received from God's love in Yeshua the Messiah. 
The church needs to restore these steps and teach them and drill them back into the hearts and minds of the people who fill the pews.  I don't mean to bring a message of condemnation to the people and making them feel guilt.  I mean giving the people the hope and the power to be delivered and cured from guilt by accepting the grace of God offered for our transgressions.
Yom Kippur the Jewish Day of Atonement is very effective to bring to our awareness this issue of sin.  Israel is generally speaking a secular country.  Only 25% of Israel is religious and what we would call Orthodox Jewish, but on Yom Kippur 70% of the nation fasts 25 hours without food or drink.  There is no transportation on the streets of Jerusalem, there is no shops, no restaurants and no movies and no T.V. and no radio.  The country is paralyzed in the most wonderful way.
The Synagogues are full of people who normally don't go to Synagogues to pray.  The prayers are long and a very long list of sins is repeated several times during the day with a list of more than 150 sins.  There is not a human being alive that would not take a mental note of 20 or 30 sins from that list that he is guilty of.  A person can't help it, he instinctively feels the heavy burden of his own life and sin and at least for that moment knows that he needs to repent and fix his life by seeking God.
Israel is the only nation that has such a day of fasting and meditating on our sins, as a nation and as individuals.
There are people who after the Day of Atonement when after 25 hours of fasting go home and turns on the Television and returns to normal life.  At that point a person forgets the fasting and the praying and the commitments that he made during the long hours of fasting and worship and essentially say to himself, "I have done what is right.  I have gone to Synagogue and prayed.  I have fasted from food and drink.  I can now return to my normal life with a clean page, because God forgave my sins.  I am a good person!"  The feeling of commitment and holiness at times does not last too long.  This is not only true for Jews it is also true for Christians who have a moment of spiritual enlightenment and soon forget the commitments that they made to God. 
We are all in the same situation and that is why we need each other and the community of the saints to enhance our awareness of sin and the great big door of God's Grace that in Yeshua can wash us clean from sins, guilt, and make us eligible to receive the Spirit of God.

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