If you look on your calendar today you’ll see a little notation informing you that it’s a Jewish holiday – Yom Kippur. In the Old Testament it was referred to as the Day of Atonement. This was a solemn day of fasting, prayer and repentance. The nation of Israel gathered together to confess their sins –both corporate and individual – to seek atonement and reconciliation with God.
This was the one and only day of the year that the High Priest could step beyond the veil in the temple and enter into the Holy of Holies – the sacred place where the presence of God rested. The priest represented the people and served as a mediator on their behalf. He sacrificed a spotless (perfect) goat or a lamb as a sin offering and sprinkled its blood on the Mercy Seat.
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
Outside, the priest laid his hands on another goat and confessed Israel’s sin once again. This “scape goat” was taken outside of town and allowed to wander away in the wilderness, symbolically carrying their sins away with him.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus died on the cross, He became a sacrifice for us.
“It was our weaknesses He carried – it was our sorrows that weighed Him down… He was wounded and crushed for our sins… The Lord has laid on Him the guilt and sins of us all.”
Speaking prophetically, Isaiah said, “Yet when He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish, He will be satisfied. And because of what He has experienced, my righteous Servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for He will bear their sins.”(Isaiah 53, NLT)
The blood of Jesus was shed for us. That day on the cross, He paid the penalty on our behalf. He removed the barrier that separated us from God. We have been set free from the power of sin and death. Matthew 27:51 tells us that at the moment He died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”
We have been given access to the Holy of Holies. We can enter the presence of God without fear or shame. Our sins have been forgiven, blotted out, washed away in the blood of the Lamb. Thanks to Calvary, a day of sorrow has become a day of celebration!
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Horatio Spafford (1828-1888)
If you missed it, earlier this week guest blogger Leslie Vernick shared When You Can’t Forgive Yourself — helping us understand why we sometimes have such a hard time embracing God’s forgiveness. Also important: Don’t Let Your Failures Define You!
Today’s Question: Will you be celebrating Yom Kippur today? Is there something you could do to honor the meaning of this special day — in your own quiet time or with your friends and family?