YOM KIPPUR

GOD OF GLORY (Billie Mallett, published by Vineyard UK) 
Here I stand before You, before Your throne of grace 
To find help in time of need, to seek Your holy face 
God of glory God of power God of majesty 
Father, I come to You, through the blood of Christ 
I bring to You and offering of a consecrated life

Yesterday, we sang this song, and today is Yom Kippur. What I didn’t know was that the two are related…

As a child growing up in a Jewish home, we celebrated this holy day every year. Well, ‘celebrate’ probably isn’t the best word for it… Oh, there are lots of actual celebrations, feasts in Judaism, but this wasn’t one of them. Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and contrition. It is a day to be sorry for our sins, the sins of the entire year! For us, it was also a day we stayed home from school. So, that wasn’t so bad…

Nonetheless, Yom Kippur in my life was serious, deadly serious. It marked the day the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies to appear before God, Himself to ask for forgiveness for the sins of our people. It was also the day when we each stood before God to account for our own sins and to ask for forgiveness, personally. In ancient time, if the High Priest didn’t do everything just right, it meant his life. The result of his intercession also determined whether we would have a year of blessing or cursing. So, the High Priest was extra careful to perform the rituals with painstaking specificity.

Somehow, even as a child, I got the idea that I had to observe Yom Kippur with the same care. If one bit of food entered my mouth on the fast day or I left something out of my confession, I felt like I, too, was in danger! In my house we were also taught to be sorry for our sins and resolve not to repeat them. I didn’t really know what would happen if I didn’t do everything exactly right, but I surely didn’t want to chance it! Maybe I would die, like the High Priest – or just as bad – not be forgiven. Either way, it was clear to me, even as a child: Yom Kippur wasn’t Chanukah gelt or Purim sweets or Matzoh meal pancakes or Rosh Hashanah greetings. Yom Kippur was a serious matter.

Even now that I am grown – and have known the Messiah for over fifty years – that foundation has remained. From an adult frame of reference, I can tell you that my early upbringing in Judaism has left me with a profound respect for the seriousness of sin and the importance of cleansing from its stain.

Sin brings death, period. In ancient times, forgiveness meant the death of the sacrificial lamb – and maybe even the death of the High Priest! Something or someone would have to die – just to get into the Holy of Holies and out again with God’s blessings and favor. Forgiveness came on God’s terms or it didn’t come at all. It was complete, when it came, but it certainly was not cheap.

Today, I know that forgiveness of sin is still available to all who come to God in the prescribed manner. The good news is that He sent His Son, His Spotless Lamb to be the perfect sacrifice. That is why the blood of Jesus is accepted for all for the forgiveness of sin for eternity. He freely gave Himself for the sins of the world, so each of us who surrender to His love can receive forgiveness and a relationship with God that lasts forever!

Not only was God, Himself the sacrifice, but He also performed the Yom Kippur ritual for each of us – and He did it perfectly. Scripture tells us that the Lamb became the High Priest, taking His own blood into the Holy of Holies in heaven…

So, Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. (Hebrews 9:11-12 NLT)

Certainly, we must still give an account to God, confessing and forsaking our sins, but no one ever again has to worry about whether the sacrifice has been accepted or the atonement accomplished. Jesus did it perfectly, and God let us know it!

On the day Jesus was crucified, the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple, was torn in two – from top to bottom! This was not a little curtain. It was twenty feet wide by sixty feet high and somewhere between four and six inches thick. Depending upon what it was actually made of, estimates of its weight range from four to six tons! This is not something man could rip in two – and certainly not from the top to the bottom. It was GOD speaking to us, letting us know that the way had been cleared, that we could each enter the Holy of Holies – into His very presence! We could now relate to Him without fear of death because Jesus died for us.

Yesterday at our meeting, when we sang the song, “God of Glory,” I experienced an amazing thing. It’s not unusual for me to become lost in worship and even to “see things” in my mind’s eye, like videos on the back of my eyelids. Anyway, as I sang the second verse, “Father, I come to You, through the blood of Christ,” I saw a waterfall of blood before me. Instinctively, I knew it was Jesus’ blood, so I went through it – and found myself in the Holy of Holies!

In the vision, I had no idea what would happen next, but when I went through the “curtain of His blood,” but that’s what happened. Certainly, that was a neat experience, but I needed to know if it was Scriptural. So, I asked Him to show me, and He led me to this passage…

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23 NKJV)

So, what was God saying to me – that I am now saying to you? Jesus is the Way and He made the way for each of us to enter into the holiest of relationships with God – through His blood. Even though God, Himself removed the woven partition, the Holy of Holies is yet the holiest of places, where His Presence dwells. Still, sinful man should not dare to enter! We who are redeemed can only enter through the forgiveness bought by the blood of the Lamb. THANKFULLY, we are also made holy by His blood and can lead a consecrated life by His grace. That is why we joyfully sing…

Father, I come to You, through the blood of Christ
I bring to You and offering of a consecrated life
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