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The Day Of Atonement

Today is the Day of Atonement. Observant Jews would greet you on this day with "Gmar Chativa Tova." It is sometimes referred to as the day of "at-onement" with God, based upon the time when all of God's chosen shall be accepted into the God family. As it turns out, this is not the best definition. We all know that it is a day of fasting, but what is the meaning and purpose of this day?

Today I want to take you through some scriptures and other sources which describe the Day of Atonement, fasting, and the significance of this day. I have given much of this sermon before, some of you will remember it, but it is appropriate every year on this day.

1. Let's Begin by talking about the Authority Behind This Day:

The Day of Atonement is, of course, the 10th day of Tishri or Ethenim, the seventh Biblical month. It is today, the most solemn day of the year in Judaism. Yom Kippur is the one day nearly all Jews consider to be sacred. In Israel even most secular Jews fast on this day and consider it a day of introspection. If you judge the importance of this day by the punishment it carries for breaking it, the weekly Sabbath is a more important day because breaking the weekly Sabbath carries the death penalty. Breaking Yom Kippur seems to only carry the penalty of being cut off from God's people, with the implied destruction of the individual before he can return to his people.

The removal of sin and acceptance by God, which is the most commonly accepted theme in Judaism, was only for a year, though it has a deeper meaning. Heb 10:3 reads: "But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins," and that is why we give you a message about each holy day every year on that particular holy day.

But, as the rest of Hebrews 10 shows, atonement now points forward to eternal removal of sins through the blood of Christ. We will talk more of Heb 10 later.

Let's begin by reading the commandment to keep this Holy Day in Leviticus 23:

Lev 23:26-32 The LORD said to Moses, {27} "The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny [afflict] yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. {28} Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. {29} Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. {30} I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. {31} You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. {32} It is a Sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny [afflict] yourselves. From the evening [ereb #6153] of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your Sabbath."

Verse 32 specifically states when this High Day is to be observed: On the tenth day of the seventh month, from sunset the evening before to sunset the evening of the tenth.

2. Now let's talk about the Old Testament observance:

Lev 16:34 says "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites." And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Atonement means to cover sin or to be reconciled to God through Christ's sacrifice.

Lev 16:1-10 describes the ritual of Atonement and how it was to be done only once a year:

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. {2} The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. {3} "This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. {4} He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. {5} From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. {6} "Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. {7} Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. {8} He is to cast lots for the two goats--one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.

Many texts use the word "Az-azel'" for "scapegoat." Az-azel', H5799, is defined by Brown-Driver-Briggs as "entire removal", meaning this goat symbolically carried away and removed the entire sin and guilt from sacred places into the desert. It probably also symbolized entire forgiveness. In my opinion this more closely describes the purpose of this goat. The word "scapegoat" implies one who is being blamed for something he did not do. Some say Azazel' means evil spirit, but there is little agreement in the various commentaries and dictionaries regarding the original meaning of this word. Frankly, we just don't know the meaning. Continuing at verse 9:

Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. {10} But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat.

We can see why both goats were required: one to symbolically carry away sins, the other as a sacrifice for the sins of Israel. One carried away unknown current sins; the other died for known past sins.

Skip down to verse 15.

"He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. {16} In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. {17} No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. {18} "Then he shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on all the horns of the altar. {19} He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites. {20} "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. {21} He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites--all their sins--and put them on the goat's head.

One theory has it that this pictures the blaming of Satan for the sins of the world. Continuing in verse 21:

He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. {22} The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert.

Per the theory just mentioned, this would picture Satan's banishment to outer darkness for all eternity. However, there is also evidence God will destroy Satan. See Isa 14:16-17, Ezek 28:18-19, and Rom 16:20. G4937 - To put Satan under foot and trample on him.

{23} "Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. {24} He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. {25} He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar. {26} "The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. {27} The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up. {28} The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

Although there is much controversy over the meaning of the Azazel' goat in verses 15-28, the important thing to remember about these verses is that all this was done in order to atone for or cover the sins of the people. A secondary purpose was to impress upon the minds of the people the conviction that the whole tabernacle was stained by the sins of a guilty people, that by their sins they had forfeited the privileges of the divine presence and worship, and that an atonement had to be made as the condition of God's remaining with them. In essence, we in the Church are faced with the same choices today: Keep the Day of Atonement with fasting and without work and, as we will see, be reconciled with God and man, or be caste, by God, outside His family of Saints.

Continuing in verse 29:

"This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work--whether native-born or an alien living among you-- {30} because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. {31} It is a Sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. {32} The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments {33} and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community. {34} "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites." And it was done, as the LORD commanded Moses.

3. Now let's discuss what most people associate with this day - FASTING

We know that the Old Testament commands the Day of Atonement but there is evidence that Paul observed it too. It has not been "nailed to the cross" as many Protestants would have us believe.

Acts 27:9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast.....

A major benefit of fasting is to be able to humble oneself before God.

Even Pharaoh was expected to humble himself:

Exo 10:3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, "This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself [give in or yield] before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me.

David teaches us that humility can be accomplished by fasting:

Psa 35:13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.............
Psa 69:10-11 When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; {11} when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me.

What are some other benefits of fasting?

Fasting enables us to get closer to God. It is a spiritual, not just a physical, experience.

Exo 34:28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant--the Ten Commandments.
(Ezra 8:21-23 NKJV) Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. {22} For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, "The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him." {23} So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.

Esther wanted to be close to God so He would inspire the King not to kill her:

Est 4:16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

Paul had an experience which drove him to fast so that God would explain to him what he was to do with his life. We must realize the total change in lifestyle and values Paul was to undergo after that time and how these thoughts must have tormented him during his three days of darkness, fasting and solitude. Paul needed to get some answers from God after his shocking experience on the road to Damascus.

Acts 9:9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

What are some rules about fasting? Christ tells us in Matthew 6:

Mat 6:16-18 "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. {17} But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, {18} so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

These New Testament scriptures make it clear that we should fast. But only God needs to know when we fast.

Mat 9:14-15 Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" {15} Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

Christ explained that there was no reason for them to mourn over their separation from God due to their sins while He (Christ) was physically with them. This is an example of how fasting brings us close to God. Fasting is an act of humility in God's presence.

Notice the humility expressed by Peter in 1 Peter 5:

1 Pet 5:5-11 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." {6} Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. {7} Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. {8} Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. {9} Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. {10} And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. {11} To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

As we fast, consider that our lives need more than just the physical sustenance of food. For life, we also need the forgiveness and spiritual sustenance of God. Fasting will get us closer to God so that we can be better fed by God through His Holy Spirit and His Word.

Philo [Phy'-low] of Alexandria, a Jewish contemporary of Jesus Christ, recorded his thoughts about fasting on Yom Kippur:

"Moses called Yom Kippur a feast because of the time at which the celebration of the fast occurs, namely, when all the annual fruits of the earth have been gathered in. [I might add: A point made in our Calendar booklet] To eat and drink of these without delay would, he held, show gluttony, but to fast and refrain from taking them as food shows the perfect piety which teaches the mind not to put trust in what stands ready prepared before us as though it were the source of health and life. For often its presence proves injurious and its absence beneficial. Those who abstain from food and drink after the ingathering of the fruits cry aloud to us with their souls, and though their voices utter no sound, their language could hardly be plainer. They say, "We have gladly received and are storing the benefits of nature, yet we do not ascribe our preservation to any corruptible thing, but to God the Parent and Father and Savior of the world and all that is therein, Who has the power and the right to nourish and sustain us by means of these or without these. See, for example, how the many thousands of our forefathers as they traversed the trackless and all-barren desert, were for forty years, the life of a generation, nourished by Him as in a land of richest and most fertile soil; how He opened fountains unknown before to give them abundance of drink for their use; how He rained food from heaven, neither more nor less than what sufficed for each day, that they might consume what they needed without hoarding, nor barter for the prospect of soulless stores their hopes of His goodness, but taking little thought of the bounties received rather reverence and worship the bountiful Giver and honor him with the hymns and benedictions that are his due.........Besides, it was meet and right when everything has shown abundance as they would have it, and they enjoy a full and perfect measure of goodness, that amid this prosperity and lavish supply of benefits, they should by abstaining from food and drink remind themselves of what it is to want, and offer prayers and supplications on the one hand to ask that they may never really experience the lack of necessities, on the other to express their thankfulness because, in such wealth of blessings, they remember the ills they have been spared."

Mat 4:4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " He quoted this from Deut 8:3.

Isaiah also recognized the value of living close to God and being able to soak in His Word and His knowledge as he described the millennium. Please turn to Isa 11:9.

Isa 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

What is God's View of Fasting?

Isaiah describes God's view of most people's fasting in the next verses we are going to read. Contemplate as we read these verses because what he says here about God's view of our fasting can apply to us on the Day of Atonement or any other fast day:

Isa 57:14-58:14 And it will be said: "Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people." {15} For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. {16} I will not accuse forever, nor will I always be angry, for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me-- the breath of man that I have created. {17} I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his willful ways. {18} I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, {19} creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel. Peace, peace, to those far and near," says the LORD. "And I will heal them." {20} But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.

Look around you. Listen to the radio and TV. Read balanced or conservative newspapers. Search out accurate news on the Internet. Consider the attitudes of those without God's Spirit. All that you see is like mire and mud.

{21} "There is no peace," says my God, "for the wicked." [They can not find real peace.] {58:1} "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. {2} For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. {3} 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. {4} Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. {5} Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day [Day of Atonement] for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? {6} "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? {7} Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? {8} Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. {9} Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, {10} and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. {11} The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. {12} Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. {13} "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, {14} then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

4. Teshuvah:

We have just talked about fasting, but the verses we just read bring out another aspect of the Day of Atonement. My recent sermons "Preparing for Trumpets" and "Days of Awe" pointed out that the Day of Atonement was the last day of Teshuvah. There are four aspects of Teshuvah: Regret, taking responsibility, reconciliation, and resisting the sin again. As Christians we might say that Teshuvah means recognizing our sin against someone as sin; regret for offending someone else, including our Father; repentance; and a turning around and going the other way. Teshuvah actually started on Elul 1. For the accepted Saints it ended one month later on the Feast of Trumpets. But for most of the world it continues until the Day of Atonement. I talked about that in previous sermons. The period from Trumpets to Atonement is described as the Days of Awe, which many compare to the tribulation. The Days of Awe represent mankind's final chance to make amends with God and man, and for their names to be written in the Book of Life.

Before continuing on, I want to interject a thought for your consideration: The Palestinian uprising against Israel began with the visit by then Israeli MK Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount on what we know as the correct Day of Trumpets. The uprising of people rioting against the Jews has been described by Palestinians as not a political uprising (i.e. not between governments), but a war between religions. Are we seeing a type, a foretaste, an example, of the troubles and persecutions of the tribulation? The last ten days have been the Days of Awe, the Days of Trouble. Today is the final day of that ten day period. You might want to read Jeremiah 25 to refresh your knowledge of this terribly troublesome period of time. . . . But, back to the sermon. We were talking about confessing our sins against others.

The point of confession is to recognize that one has committed a sin, and before whom the sin was committed, and to be whole heartedly ashamed of it, and to regret it; and He who knows all the hidden things will bear witness that the sinner will not sin again, nor return to his folly. Just as sacrifice without Teshuvah is called an abomination - "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination" as we read in Proverbs 21:27 - so a confession without the heart's agreeing not to sin again is called an abomination.

During Teshuvah, people grow closer to God, but on the Day of Atonement, God grows closer to us. This is an important concept for us to keep in mind.

Teshuvah requires that we must love our neighbor, including our Creator, as our self.

Some people dread the day of Atonement because they hate to fast. That is a very shortsighted view. The Day of Atonement should really be a day of rejoicing because that is the day God sweeps away the transgressions of all who repent.

5. This brings us to the True Meaning of the Day of Atonement

As we just said, the days between Trumpets and Atonement are called the Days of Awe, the last ten days of a forty-day period called Teshuvah. Teshuvah actually began on Elul 1, August 7th in 2013. These days are dedicated to obtaining the forgiveness of those one has offended the previous year, both God and man. They are, in essence, days of repentance or turning around. The Jewish community rightly believes that it is harder to be forgiven by another person than by God but that forgiveness cannot be obtained from God until one has obtained forgiveness from his fellow man, for when one has offended his fellow man, he has offended God. Yom Kippur is dedicated to obtaining forgiveness from God.

The Christian community believes the same thing. This is stated as part of what most people call the "Lord's Prayer", which is really a pattern or model prayer, given to us by Christ. It can be found in Matthew 6:

(Mat 6:12 NKJV) And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

This verse is then expounded on in verses 14 and 15:

(Mat 6:14-15 NKJV) "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. {15} "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Is there any difference, then, between the Jewish understanding of forgiveness and the Christian understanding of forgiveness as given in verses 14 and 15?

Just what is atonement? It is another of many 'religious' words that is often used but not always understood. The best definition we can find is the one used in the scriptures themselves. The English word 'atonement' is found many times in the Old Testament, but only once in the KJV New Testament. However, the Greek word which is translated "Atonement" in the KJV of Romans 5:11, G2643, is translated into its more accurate meaning "Reconciliation" in the other three places where the same Greek word is used. Thayer's Lexicon defines G2643 as an adjustment of a difference, a reconciliation, a restoration of the favor of God to sinners that repent and put their trust in the expiatory death of Christ.

In the Old Testament, it is derived from two Hebrew words, kaphar and kippur, from which comes Yom, meaning "day", and Kippur, meaning "atonement".

The root word kaphar (kah-far') means "to cover". See Strong's #3722. The second word translated atonement is kippur and it means "expiation or atonement". See Strong's #3725.

"Atonement" is the preferred translation. So we have a day with several meanings. If you read the definitions in Strong's you'll see what I mean. But the main theme is basically the same. Yom Kippur is the day in which God will be reconciled with His creation. It is a day for Him to be merciful, to pardon, to cleanse and to forgive.

Yom Kippur was the only day of the year that anyone among the children of Israel was able to come "face to face" with God and live. This occurred when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. It could only be done with great preparation and care.

Paul also addressed this future face to face encounter.

1 Cor 13:12 (NKJV) For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

According to Paul, we are not yet "face to face" with our Father, but the time will come, as pictured by this day, when that will occur. Then we will know God fully, just as He knows us fully right now.

Isa 59:20-21 (NAS) "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. {21} "And as for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

So this is the meaning of the Day of Atonement in God's Master Plan for his Saints and eventually for all mankind: It pictures the time when God will fully forgive His people's transgressions and be accessible on a face to face basis. That explains why we fast this day. God is always closer as we fast.

(Isa 44:22 NKJV) I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."

God has redeemed us (payed for our sin) with the sacrifice of Christ.

6. Washed by Blood:

How does God blot out our transgressions and redeem us? We read this verse before, but let's read it again, this time from the literal translation:

(Lev 16:30 Literal) "For on this day he shall atone for you, to cleanse you; to cleanse you from all your sins; before Jehovah you shall be clean.

Notice that the word "priest", as shown in the KJV, is not in the literal translation. It was added by the translators. Other translations agree that the word "priest" should not be there. While the temple/tabernacle stood, atonement was made by the blood of the sacrificial animal. Since 30 AD, the sacrificial animal's blood was replaced by that of Jesus Christ. As we have read so many times before, Christ did not come to do away with the law. He came to fulfill it. Lev 16:30 still holds. He washed us in His blood rather than that of an animal. He fulfilled the law.

Now let's go back to Heb 10.

(Heb 10:1-14 NKJV) For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. {2} For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. {3} But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. {4} For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats [See Lev 16:3] could take away sins. {5} Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. {6} In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. {7} Then I said, 'Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.'" {8} Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), {9} then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. {10} By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. {11} And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, {13} from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. {14} For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Verses 12 and 13 are quotes from Psalms 110:1.

I mentioned a moment ago that He washed us in His blood. Here is a Jewish parable that kind of describes the effectiveness of our washing.

"As a nut which if it falls into filth, can be picked up and wiped off and rinsed and washed and then can be eaten, so it is with Israel: However much they besmirch themselves in iniquity all the days of the year, Yom Kippur comes and makes atonement for them, as it is said in Lev 16:30."

And so it is with us.

In Conclusion:

Brethren, when you fast on the Day of Atonement or anytime, fast with purpose, not just because it is the thing you are supposed to do. Fast to be close to God so that you can seek out God's way of life; be accepted by God; seek out God's help in obeying Him in every facet of our lives. Recognize that this Day of Atonement pictures the unbelievably wonderful day when we will be accepted by our Father because He has forgiven us of all the sins we have committed against Him and our fellow man; a day when we will be able to see the Father as He is.

Strive to be known as one who does what is right in our relations with both God and our fellow man; one who does not forsake God's commands. Live a just, righteous, loving life, showing fairness and justice to others. Don't let this day become just another day when we don't eat. Make it a springboard for the rest of our lives.

By the grace of God, may you all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

This sermon was adapted, with permission, from an article in Hebrew Roots publications.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
14 September 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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