They call it a Jewish holiday – Yom Kippur.
It’s the Day of Atonement, all right, but it’s not just for practicing Jews. As Leviticus 23 makes clear, today is not a Jewish holiday, it’s one of the feasts of the LORD.
In other words, it’s for everyone who believes the Bible and in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and Jesus.
Christians should especially find it appealing, since they believe in the forgiveness of sins by the one they consider to be the “Jewish Messiah.”
What has become increasingly clear to me in my study of the Bible over the years is that Jesus – or Yeshua, as He was known to his brethren – did not come to Earth in human form as the Son of God to start a new religion called Christianity, which, after all simply means followers of the Messiah. God did not mean for gentiles to adopt man-made customs and holy days apart from what He had specified.
Yeshua came to fulfill the promises of the all the Hebrew prophets. Neither he nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should celebrate His birthday on Dec. 25 – the traditional birthday of the pagan deities Tammuz and Mithra. Neither He nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should celebrate the Babylonian holiday of Ishtar, or Easter. In fact, neither He nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should observe Sunday as the Sabbath.
These were all traditions of men trying to blend pagan cultures with a touch of Christianity.
But the God of the Bible doesn’t like mixing pagan mythology with His commandments or pagan holidays with his appointed feasts.
That’s why it may surprise some of you that this Christian, this follower of Yeshua Ha’Maschiach, is observing Yom Kippur today – the Day of Atonement. My family will fast and pray just like Jews around the world and more and more Christians who are rediscovering the Hebrew roots of their faith.
The Day of Atonement is a high holiday – a Sabbath. I’m not working today until sundown. And I stopped working yesterday at sundown. That’s because by God’s reckoning of time, the day begins at sundown, not sun up and not midnight.
What I am saying to Bible believers is that God doesn’t want us celebrating our pagan holidays. He expects us, however, to observe His divine appointments. Those come weekly at sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. And there are additional spring and fall feasts, or appointed times, like Yom Kippur, in which we are called out to meet Him.
Some modern American Christians might arrogantly suggest they don’t have to atone for any sins because Jesus already did that for them. While it’s true that Yeshua died for the sins of those who make Him Lord of their life, that atonement doesn’t come without sincere repentance.
And repentance is not a one-time act. It’s not a collection of magic words we say one time in our lives so that we have license to sin some more. Repentance is a continual process, because we all fall short of the mark.
It’s not just individuals who need a Day of Atonement.
In ancient Israel the high priests prayed for the sins of the nation, too.
America could take a lesson from that experience.
We are a nation in moral free fall.
We’ve lost our ability to discern right from wrong.
We don’t even accept that there is such a thing as sin anymore. Sinners, we’re told, are just those practicing alternate lifestyles.
But this can’t go on forever – just as it couldn’t go on forever in ancient Israel when the nation went adrift.
God is longsuffering because He loves us. But like any good parent, He will not enable His children forever. He will discipline them in an attempt to bring them back to His authority – not wishing any should perish.
So if you think today is just another Jewish holiday, think again.
Today is one of your God’s feasts, one of His appointed times. He wants to meet with you. He wants to bring you back into covenant with Him.
Remember what it says in Isaiah 1:16-18: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
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