I learned so much from Yom Kippur this year
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (John 7:37 ESV)
I probably started studying the festivals, or appointed times, found in Leviticus chapter 23 about eight years ago. As a matter of fact, I preached on the month of Tishrei (The 7th month on the Hebrew calendar) and the Feast of the Tabernacles about 2 years ago. It was New Year’s Eve and I thought it would be great to talk about the Day of Atonement and try and make our New Year’s Celebration a sacred time. I suggested that we take this turn of the New Year and make it a time of deep spiritual reflection, afflicting of our own souls, and recognize that Jesus wants to give us Living Water.
My heart has often ached for a Sacred and Holy observance during the holidays but it always feels like Christians are fighting this battle of Easter, Christmas, and even the New Year, in vain. Do you know what I mean? To me, it feels like I am trying to find a moment to just stuff Jesus into these celebrations, to tell the story of His birth or His death – BUT – “hurry up kids because we have to be here, there, and everywhere.” I love getting together with my family! I enjoy buying gifts for people that I love! I love celebrating and watching the excitement on the faces of the little ones! I love the Christmas lights, the food, and just plain seeing people that I only get to see once a year. However, here is the tension… it never feels Holy or Sacred, no matter how hard I try to make it that way. A couple of years ago I started asking myself these questions:
What if we are trying to make something sacred that was never sacred to begin with?
If that is the case, my heart longs for sacred times to honor my God.
This year during Yom Kippur
I decided to honor Yom Kippur this year. This is a High Holy day for the Jewish people and has been since Leviticus.
- “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God…You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:27-31)
After my full day dedicated completely to the Lord, I had a few more quesitons:
If God has appointed – sacred times – for us to observe, why are we re-creating our own and trying to fit Him into ours?
Why am I not simply observing what He has already set apart as Holy?
If, as a Gentile believer, I have been grafted into the Jewish nation then aren’t these my appointed times also? (I am in no way suggesting that Gentiles can become Jewish, or that we should even try)
- “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree…” (Romans 11:17 ESV)
Jesus Christ has become our High Priest and has atoned for our sins, once and for all. On this year’s Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) I stood in AWE as I considered the fact that I was helpless to pay for my sins, that there was (and is) nothing I can do to enter into His Kingdom. What a humbling day of considering our Holy God who would come and dwell among sinners, pursue those in darkness, and then give His own life so that I could partake in Heaven’s eternal blessings. My heart is longing for the ancient paths, the paths of holiness found in scripture. I believe the “church” has a lot of confusion around what is Holy and how to live set apart. Too often this has turned into religious legalism, this was happening in the days that Jesus walked the earth and it is still happening today. I am in no way promoting a legalistic doctrine that man has instituted, trust me I have been down that road and have been severely burnt on that road. All of God’s blessings are secure within a life of righteousness and today, this is all I am seeking. I have too much at stake to be concerned about anythings else.
In the opening scripture of this post, John 7:37, did you notice the time-frame? Scripture says: “On the last day of the feast, the great day…” Right after the Day of Atonement we enter into a celebration called “The Feast of Trumpets”. It was on the last day of this pilgrimage feast that Jesus stepped on the scene and declared that He was the source of living water. This is a time of the final Harvest in Jerusalem and one day, I believe, will be the time of God’s final Harvest of His true followers. I have so much more to say about all of this and will continue to post but today I leave you with this verse:
- “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33, ESV