Sunday, October 3, 2010

Reflections on the High Holy Days (Part 2 of 3)

In my last post, I wrote about  the Jewish High Holy Days beginning with Rosh Hoshanah, followed by the Ten Days of Awe.   Now, I will reflect on Yom Kippur, which means "Day of Atonement", and is the holiest day of the Jewish year. Atonement means "covered", so it is the day when all the sins of the Jews of the past year are "covered".

As Messianic believers, we are Jews and Gentiles who believe Yeshua (Jesus) covered our sins on the cross by shedding his blood, once and for all, forever.  So why observe Yom Kippur?  Because G-d commanded it in Leviticus 23:27  "... on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement:   it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and you shall afflict your souls..."

The Ten Days of Awe have prepared us for observing Yom Kippur, and we come to the synagogue with humble, repentant hearts.  The rabbi and congregation wear white clothing as a reminder of G-d's holiness.  The ark curtain and the Torah cover are also white, further reinforcing holiness.

During the service the Kol Nidre is sung.  This beautiful, old Hebrew song has tones of sadness and repentence resounding throughout, as a reminder of the attitude we are to have about our sins.  There are special prayers and readings done by the rabbi and the congregation.  At one point, we read through a long, detailed  list of sins. After each sin is read, we pause to reflect on that sin, and to search our hearts for its' presence in our lives,   It is traditional to press our fists to our hearts as we confess our sins, symbolizing the pain sin causes.

Each year during the service, I am always amazed to become aware of some sneaky sin that has wormed it's way into my life.  This year it was "confusion".  How did I forget that I can always come to Him for the right thoughts any time I'm in need?  And, I must admit...I hadn't thought of confusion as a sin until that moment on Yom Kippur.    G-d reminded me that it is through reading the Word I become sound-minded, and will not fall for the lies of the world through people, television, books, the internet, etc.   Forgive me, Father. Thank you  for showing me this, and I'm so grateful that Your blood covered my sins.

Also during the service, we have the opportunity to confess our sins to the congregation as a whole, if need be.  For instance, if our attitude or words have hurt the group.  One person humbly did so this year.  We also are encouraged to go to anyone we have hurt to apologize and make amends.

Yom Kippur is a bitter-sweet time.  It is bitter because we are sad to be reminded that our sins have hurt G-d and others.  It is sweet because Yeshua's blood paid for our sins and brought forgiveness....and sweet because of renewed relationships.   

As a Messianic Jew, I observe Yom Kippur, but growing up in a Christian church, I did not now what I was missing.  In the late 1990's, with a great desire to acquire wisdom , I began to study the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament).  Through that study, I saw what a tremendous amount of blood had to be shed for sins. and gained a whole new appreciation of Yeshua's blood sacrifice.   Somehow, the New Testament teachings about His blood did not affect me the way the Old Testament teachings did.  In the Old Testament we read in Leviticus 17:11  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul." In the New Testament we read, "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." (Hebrews 9:22).

Can you imagine having to take an offering to the Temple every time you sin?  Now think about that sin that you can't seem to overcome...and having to repeatedly go to the priest and have more blood shed to pay for that sin.  I'd never thought about it that way.  It puts sin in a whole new perspective, doesn't it?   Now think about those sins you weren't even aware of committing.  Those sins are still serious and have consequences. We need to be reminded of these things.  That is why Yom Kippur is to be observed yearly - as a reminder of G-d's holiness, of sin's seriousness, and of the wonderful forgiveness G-d offers through Yeshua

Up until the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70, on Yom Kippur, the blood of animals was presented to G-d as an atonement for sin.  Since A.D.70,  no blood sacrifices have been made.   So what's a Jew to do?  Those who do not believe in Yeshua's blood as their atonement, depend on their mitzvot (good deeds) to atone for their sins.  Our mission, as Messianic believers, is to share the wonderful, good news about Yeshua, because His blood covered all sins.   
May His Name be blessed and praised forever!

P.S.  For those who would like more information, there is a treatise on Yom Kippur in the 9th chapter of Hebrews in the New Testament.

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  1. WOW! This is so interesting. I have never heard of this date before. I will have to go to Hebrews and read this,Thank-you.
    God Bless,

  2. This is very informative. The pictures are helpful in understanding your comments. I wish all Jewish people recognized Jeshua as their messiah. One day the whole world will know. I look forward to that day. Thank you for sharing this insightful post.

  3. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing with something beautiful.
    Have a wonderful week,

  4. This reminds me of the commandment in the Bible to "examine ourselves" to see if we are in the faith. Thank you for reminding us to examine ourselves and repent in any of the areas we fall short. And thank God for Jesus so we don't have to pay the consequences if we repent! Where would we be without Jesus?

    Thank you for linking to Something Beautiful!


  5. Last year I spent most of the day of Yom Kippur at the services at a reformed synogogue--it made the readings and prayers that much more poignant to me to reflect that for the majority of those present, they had no knowledge or understanding that the atonement for the sins had, indeed, already taken place in Yeshua.


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