Yom Teruah is passing by, and we rejoice, and believers in Mashiach Yeshua, look forward to Sukkot. But, isn’t there a holy day between? Certain feasts, seem to get all the glory, while others, seem to be . . . neglected. Yom Kippur, seems to be one of those.
To our natural brothers, the Jews, this would seem scandalous, since to them it is the most kadosh (holy) day of the calendar. But then, they would probably say what does it matter to what a bunch of crazy goyim do?
But many of us adopted olive branches kind of ignore Yom Kippur, because we’re not sure what to do with it. How can we talk about a Day of Atonement, when Yeshua is our atonement? Aren’t we doing despite to the Ruach of grace? Crucifying afresh the risen lord? Trampling under foot, His precious blood? What do we have to do with a day so clouded with animal blood?
But if Yom Kippur is somehow invalidated, nullified, brushed aside, then why do we take the Pesach as Kadosh? For that matter, why any feast day, when they all had sacrifices for them? For that matter, why Pesach with its overlaid tradition of the Bread and Wine? Why do we keeping drinking His blood, when it was shed ‘once’ and for all?
I think, the first thing we need to avoid is putting our understanding ahead of our obedience. A mitzvah is for us to do and to meditate on the why. Not to wrestle with a why, and try to make it into a do. If YHVH tells us to keep a certain ritual, we aren’t really qualified to decide if the ritual is right. I cannot tell you, why communion is sensible. Why can’t we simply tell each other to remember, His body and blood? Why do we have to do a ‘rehearsal’? Why do the feasts have to fall when they do in a year? Why can’t I simply do a lesson, once a year like a re-certification? Why the tie to the seasons? Why can’t Shabbat be simply once any seven days, instead of the seventh day?
Should I ‘waste’ time, trying to figure out a why to these things before I start doing? Or is it that the doing, will cultivate the why? Do we tell our children to wrestle with why’s when they are young? Do we ask them to think about whys, or do we tell them do, and then hope the why will become evident?
As parents, we know in the basic practices of life, the do precedes the understanding. I wish I could cite the verse that I’m thinking of, but Ya’akov 1:5-8, suggests the same principle. The wavering man, the one who shrinks back from the wisdom of YHVH, won’t receive it. Wisdom comes after the decision to do.
So the step is obediance, and understand comes second. And what are we commanded? Vayikra 16:29-31 “And it shall be a chokkah [a rehearsal, an enactment, a custom] for ever unto you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and shall do no manner of work, the home-born, or the stranger that sojourneth among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; it is a chokkah for ever.” Vayikra 23:27-32 says much the same, but with even more repetition of not working and afflicting the soul.
This sounds very offensive to believers in Mashiach: again, He is out atonement. What do we have to do with this thing?
The next thing we need to trust is that Elohim is not schizophrenic. What I mean is that He doesn’t talk out of both sides of His mouth. He doesn’t tell you one thing and then tell you something completely different. He was not surprised by His own plan of redemption. The Mashiach was slain before the foundation of the world, Hit-Galut (Revelation) 13:8. Think about that.
YHVH knew before Adam, before Moshe, that the sacrifice, the gift offered to cleanse our sins is the blood of Mashiach, not of any four-footed kosher, herd animal.
So was YHVH teaching us to tread underfoot, the blood of His own son, for thousands of years? For thousands of years shedding the blood of animals, when it never accomplished anything?
Oh, we say, that it was a picture for us, of Mashiach that was yet to come. But why the picture? Was Avraham imputed righteousness on the basis of offering? Or the basis of faith? Wasn’t it he, our father, that taught us that YHVH would provide the offering? We are told that father Avraham looked up on mount Moriah, and saw the work of Mashiach. We knew since Adam and Chavah that the work of deliverance wasn’t by us, but by the Mashiach who would crush the head of the serpent. Acts 2 tells us that David in the Ruach knew of Mashiach and His death and resurrection for us.
So it begs the question: Why all the sacrificing, at all?!?! If we have already been saved on the basis of faith in Mashiach, then sacrifice is a red herring. If you don’t believe, then it’s just a ritual. And a misleading one because it’s like offering a gift to someone you have wronged. You start to think, that you’re now even, and thus misunderstand the debt at entirely.
And if you already believe, then you know it has nothing to cleanse you, so why does this animal have to die? Why is a price exacted from you, when YHVH wants to teach you that the work cannot possibly be done by you?
Consider, an even more perplexing problem. Y’ezekiel 45:17, speaks of a future temple, in a future state of Isra’el, where the tribes are together in peace. “And it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel: he shall prepare the sin offering, and the meat offering, and the burnt offering, and the peace offerings, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel.”
The “make reconciliation” is the same word for atonement. Who is this prince? 34:24 and 37:25, identify him as David. Some suggest this is actually Yeshua.
Now, why would David or Yeshua be offering anything for atonement? Yeshua had no sin for which to atone; and David is a believer in Yeshua therefore covered under the blood; so why point to anyone, but directly to Yeshua for atonement? It doesn’t even matter if there’s blood of an animal or a stick of gum offered, the point is scripture says it’s for atonement, and we know nothing needs to be added to Yeshua’s blood.
Let me ask further. When Yeshua was born, did Miriam (Mary) make a sin offering to be cleansed from giving birth? Yes. So you’re telling me, that the woman who brought the Mashiach into the world–having never even had sex, mind you–in obedience to YHVH’s will, is offering a sin offering? That doesn’t sound right either, does it?
Was Yom Kippur being observed in the time of Yeshua? If so, then every year, the Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) was going into the temple and shedding blood and confessing sin on behalf of this sinless Mashiach. Was that doing despite to who Yeshua was? How dare the Cohen say “we” have sinned, with Mashiach there? Shouldn’t Miriam or Yosef, or one of Yeshua’s talmidim have gone to the Cohen and said, “You need to say, we–except for Yeshua!”
What was Yochanon the Immerser (John the Baptist) doing at the Yarden river? Luke 3:3 “…preaching the immersion of repentance for the releasing of sins…” This is very interesting, not only is there a freedom from sin, without temple sacrifice or profession of Mashiach, but along comes Yeshua to be baptized for sins that He hasn’t committed. What does, Yochanon say, Matt 3:13-14 “Then cometh Yeshua . . . unto Yochanon, to be immersed of him. But Yochanon forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?”
Yochanon recognizes this dilemma. Much as Peter later says, “You shall never wash my feet!” But what does Yeshua say?
Mat 3:15 “And Yeshua answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
The man who has no sin to remit is receiving the act of remission from a sinner: why? To fulfill all righteousness. In fact, the word “becometh” means to tower up. To be suitable. Like when someone says to a woman, “That’s very becoming on you.” In other words, it makes beautiful to fulfill all righteousness.
So let me propose, an alternate perspective of offerings, and sacrifices. My Mashiach paid what He could, for a debt that wasn’t His. Now the word offering isn’t about giving up, but giving. Minchah: it’s a gift. So He gave Himself for us. Since our debt was larger than anything we had to give, then by definition He overpaid. He gave more than was owed.
Now, what do we have? If we are made like Him, then wouldn’t we want to give as well? Not of owing, because His was not of owing. Not in exchange, but simply to give because He has given. Now are we ourselves, enough? He gave the most valuable thing He had. Further, the Kingdom comes with Him so we got Him and His Kingdom. So even those things that we have, they are His too, and yet He keeps on giving them to us. So then, even if we give our souls, our minds, and our bodies. Is that enough? Do we say, “We’ve given you enough.” His gift was infinite! It was all that He had. Why would we want to give less?
When you think of it that way. The fact that we might offer, gift, an animal to Him (which I’m not suggesting, I’m merely saying if we were in a position to do it, rightly). Then would that be strange? Or would it be strange that we would not give every animal, every dollar, every scrap of land, every moment of time?
It is not that the life of an animal is somehow too sacred to give to the Son of Elohim; it is that how could we give less than everything? Our lives and the life of every subject to us. It’s not that what we have is too sacred, it’s that He does not ask for it. Right now anyway.
So then, when you look back to what Yeshua did at the Yarden. You see, He gave a righteous act, a ritual, that He did not owe. Just as He stood, no doubt, at Yom Kippurim and confessed sins that were not His. And at Pesach consented to the ritual slaughter of a Pesach lamb on His behalf, though Death had no claim on Him. He suffered it because it was right, and He looked to do all that was right, not just the right that was due from Him. He didn’t say, “I’ve done enough.” He said, “How may I do more?”
So then let’s look at Kippur. Covering. Atonement. We fear, that perhaps we are ‘despiting’ Him because we might confess a sin on this kadosh day. That we afflict ourselves, might devalue His gift. But let me ask you. Do you confess your sins on any other day?
1 Yochanon 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Ya’akov (James) 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another . . .”
Luke 11:4 “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us . . . ”
If we are encouraged to confess our sins, both to the Father and to man, and in fact are taught by Mashiach to pray for forgiveness, in general . . . then why would it be wrong to do it especially on Yom Kippur? If it does not despite on one day, why on a mo’ed? Do we not sin?
Is our thinking backwards? It isn’t strange that we, who are redeemed, would confess and forsake and ask for forgiveness; it would be strange that we wouldn’t. Because we of all people know forgiveness is there! He took on Him sins that were not His own. Why would we not even admit those that are our own?
And what is confession? Y’hoshua 7:19 tells us the story of Achan and the forbidden thing taken from Yericho. And Y’hoshua says, “Give glory to Elohim, and confess!” Likewise Phillipians 2:11 tells us that confessing Yeshua is lord, gives glory to Elohim. Confessing truth always glorifies Elohim. That means, when you sin and you know it was sin, and if you refuse to acknowledge exactly what it is, then you are withholding glory from YHVH.
The point I’m trying to make in this is that confession, atonement, all these things are gifts. Offering anything is not about our debt, it is about our abundance. We are not devaluing the work of Mashiach by trying to give something back to Elohim, anymore than we are devaluing His provision when we tithe. When He gives to you, your natural, supernatural response is to give in response. The fact that what you are giving is totally inadequate to the debt is irrelevant, because what you are really giving is obedience, not merely an object or word of offering–you are bearing fruit and that was the reason that the seed was sown.
Atonement isn’t about undoing a gift. It is the natural response of someone who has been given a gift. When my wife kisses me, I don’t kiss her back because I owe it to her, but because I am so filled with love that I have to give back. If I’m full of love and goodness, there can be no other response. Did the woman weeping at Yeshua’s feet, do despite to His mercies on her? No! The fact that she wept and kissed and wiped his feet with her hair, an offering hardly less than a sheep, was because she deeply understood what had been given to her. Giving is the response to a gift.
What did you think? That Mashiach gave you something to keep to yourself? Or that you should give to everyone except the one who gave to you? Don’t we understand that the whole point was to make us like Him, who is the greatest giver of all?
So what of this Yom Kippur? Is it wrong to confess my own sins? Certainly not, we are told to in the Torah and in the writings of the Shellachim (Emissaries). Is it wrong to offer a gift? Certainly not. Even if it were to be the life of animal? Again, not suggesting this here and now, but you eat animal yourself don’t you? And you pour out the blood as is commanded, don’t you? So why would Elohim, be the one person to whom you would refuse meat? Or don’t we remember that the sin offering was eaten (Vayikra 6:26)? Elohim deserves more steak than anyone else.
Is it wrong for us to afflict ourselves as an act of atonement then? As if keeping your sin inside, wasn’t affliction. Suppose, it had nothing to do with atonement. If you had the flu you might abstain from eating, so why would it be wrong to do the same, but in connection with prayer and confession? Do you see my point, how this thinking doesn’t even make sense? Why is it okay to afflict yourself for a physical ailment (which, as you’ll recall, He died for those too), but not for a spiritual one?
Consider the One, we follow. He didn’t have to die. He didn’t owe us anything. He did it because that was what His Father wanted. It pleased YHVH to afflict Him. For Him to be bruised. To make the Captain of Deliverance perfect through suffering. Why would the servant be above the suffering of His Master? We are told that if He suffered, so will we. Why is it a surprise, that we would willingly suffer instead of only unwillingly?
And that’s a huge part of Yom Kippur, because when you study it, you find that it was for the Tabernacle, because of the sins of the people. Not primarily for individuals. Again Yeshua who had no sin, participated. When Moshe went up the mount to “make atonement” after the golden calf, it wasn’t for himself, because he hadn’t done the crime. It was for others! Of course, you would confess your own sin, but Yom Kippur goes beyond that, to the sins of others and to the sins of your people, and many of them may not have repented. So if Mashiach afflicted Himself for you, then why would you not afflict yourself for them? Mishlei (Proverbs) 14:34 can literally be translated: “Righteousness exalteth a nation, And the goodliness of peoples is a sin-offering.” When we do right, we are making intercession on behalf of those around us. 1 Sh’mu’el (Samuel) 15:22 says, “…to obey is better than sacrifice…” So if He calls us to afflict our souls, and we obey. That is better than sacrifice. We don’t need to understand how our suffering, or offering of any kind, fits into the economy of Elohim, all we need to know is that He commands it.
We are made into His Image. We are to be like Him. It is not strange that we would follow His example. Taking the sins of others on ourselves. It is strange that we would not. Even stranger is to believe in YHVH’s infinite mercies, but fear that if we, in love, corporately confess and forsake sin, willingly afflicting our own souls . . . that somehow would offend Him.
So this Yom Kippur. Get right with YHVH. It’s what you should have done any day, and every day. Confess your sins to Him. And while you’re at it, seek out your brothers and even strangers that you have wronged, and tell them. Ask for their forgiveness. That’s you doing right. That’s you making an offering. Spiritually, we are called to be Cohenim of Heaven aren’t we? And if they forgive you, then you have helped them to make an offering as well. And if they don’t, then may your affliction count for them. May it be a gift to the one who has given you so much, and perhaps He will give them more time to change.
We should not be afraid, to give back to Elohim.