Blog: “The Day of Atonement”

Today at sundown is the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. You can read about God’s implementation of the Day of Atonement to Israel in Leviticus 16. One of the things that has stood out to me as I have been praying is the beginning of verse 34, “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you . . .”

In essence the Day of Atonement was the most sacred day of each Jewish year. It was the day, set apart by God, in which the high priest would go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies to make “atonement” or intercession on behalf of the entire nation of Israel. It was a day of fasting, a day of solemnity, a day of hope and a day of introspection. It was a day in which sin was remembered and forgiveness was longed for, a day in which one man went into the presence of the Holy God with the blood of bulls to ask for atonement for a nation. This day was sacred, serious and holy. All around the world the Day of Atonement continues to be a holy day. Today, Tuesday, at sundown until Wednesday at sundown people of Jewish faith and descent will acknowledge the day and while the blood of bulls will not be poured out forgiveness will be asked for.

The Day of Atonement is a lasting ordinance and as such I believe that we should also acknowledge it but not as those pleading to be atoned. We should acknowledge this day as those who have been washed, that have been sanctified and that have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:11). The author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus was a better High Priest, of a better covenant with better promises secured by a better sacrifice. Jesus Himself is our High Priest that presented Himself as our sacrifice for sin “once for all”. With His own blood rather than the blood of bulls Jesus ended the sacrificial system by offering Himself one time for all sin of all men. For those of us in Christ the Day of Atonement is a reminder that the veil has been opened and the mercy seat has become free for all to find atonement. As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Our sins have not been covered they have been removed! We have been redeemed!

I want to ask you to join me in celebrating our redemption in two ways today and Wednesday, through thanksgiving and intercession. First, I am asking that we all fast at least one meal for no other reason than to give thanks for our salvation; that we would pour all of our attention and affection upon Jesus in the same manner in which He poured His blood out for us; that this time of fasting would be an act of love in response to the love that has been bestowed upon us. Second, I would like for us to take at least one hour of that day, somewhere between sundown on Tuesday and sundown on Wednesday, to pray and intercede for the salvation of God’s chosen people, Israel. I pray that our redemption would make us debtors to Israel, that we would choose to pour ourselves out that God’s chosen people would also become His blood bought children, that they would receive the fullness of their inheritance by putting their faith in Jesus the Messiah as their Passover Lamb. Pray for Jewish friends and neighbors, pray for synagogues in your community, give thanks for being grafted into the tree by standing in the gap and pleading for the redemption of the natural branches (Romans 11).

I am often struck by the question of Hebrews 2:3, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”? I pray that we would further unfurl the benefits of our salvation by acknowledging the lasting ordinance of the Day of Atonement through thanksgiving and intercession. I pray that we would be overwhelmed by Jesus’ sacrifice that has made us sons and daughters and that we would join Jesus in making intercession for those that have not yet been redeemed.