Yom Kippur 2002
The Day of Atonement
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 14 September 2002
I welcome you in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name as we gather here to continue our preparations for Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement - a Sabbath day of mourning which begins on Sunday evening, and is a statute ordained by Yahweh for all time. What we are doing now is no ritualistic performance but a time of genuine introspection as we examine ourselves before the light of Yahweh's Law, His Torah.
I am sure most of you have travelled by air and know what it is to be a transit passenger. When I journeyed to the Ukraine 10 years ago I had to change planes at Warsaw. I had to transfer from one plane to another because the first one took me no further. I could have sat on the plane that brought me from Stockholm to Warsaw hoping it might take me on to L'viv in the Ukraine but I would have been disappointed. In fact, it went straight back to Stockholm afterwards. If I had remained, it would have been a wasted journey.
Yom Kippur is exactly like that. It is a "transference". If I can use the airport illustration, Stockholm was Mount Sinai were the ceremonial Torah with all its animal sacrifices was given, and Warsaw the Cross of Christ. L'viv, my ultimate destination, is a type of the New Jerusalem, our heavenly home. The purpose of the Law given to the prophet Moses was to complete the second phase of a spiritual journey. My own journey to the Ukraine began in Oslo and I had to transfer planes in Stockholm too. So it was anciently. The world was given the Commandments of Noah to complete the first stage of its journey, the Commandments of Moses to complete the second, and the Cross of Yah'shua (Jesus) to complete the third.
The Law of Moses describes specific animal sacrifices for Yom Kippur. By means of these, the Hebrew people were able to obtain a temporary forgiveness of their sins for one year, an annual atonement. It was a day when they presented their sins before Yahweh, were judged, repented, and received the blood covering of atonement. On this day the sins of the people were "transferred" to animals. They fasted, cleaned themselves, and did some very, very serious reflection.
As a believer we should, of course, be reflecting and repenting in prayer every day of our lives. We make especial efforts on the Sabbath Day when we partake of the Lord's Supper during which we ask that Christ's blood of forgiveness be applied to us. We should also be doing this every month, and finally, once a year at Yom Kippur. This annual sacrifice reminded Yahweh's people that the daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifices made in the Temple were not sufficient to atone for sin. We are told that the worshipper, when he went to the altar of burnt offering, was obliged to stand some distance back, because he was not permitted to approach the Holy Presence of Yahweh, who manifested Himself between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. Once a year - and only at this time - atoning blood was brought to the Holy of Holies, the Throne Room of the Elohim, by the High Priest who stood as the people's representative.
The symbolism of this annual sacrifice is very important for us to understand and is not given accidentally or casually by Yahweh. It is to remind us just how serious sin is and how it separates us from the holiness of Yahweh if we are not rid of it. It reminds us that we cannot be freed from sin by our own works. A few days ago I was ministering to a victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) who had deliberately cut her arm and was bleeding. When I asked her why she was doing this she told me because it was to get rid of her sins. She knew that sin and blood were connected even though she did not know Christ and did not know was that in spilling her own blood she was actually giving energy to demons. That is why you will find both anciently and today religions demanding that the people cut or bleed themselves. The prophets of Baal did so to try and light the water-drenched sacrifice at Carmel in their contest with Yahweh's prophet, Elijah.
The Law of Moses was not, however, a final solution to sin. It was only a staying action - a defensive procedure - until permanent atonement for sin could be made. Paul tells us:
"For the law (the Old Covenant Torah), having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb.10:1-4, NKJV).
Every year the people had to repeat the same sacrifices, like someone on a journey to the Ukraine but being able to get no further than Warsaw. Every time they had to go metaphorically back to Stockholm, and each year they would return to Warsaw, to repeat the same cycle over and over again. The Hebrew people knew something was missing, for Paul says "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins". As Edersheim said, these sacrifices were only a forerunner, like John the Baptist, to prepare the way for a better hope. As Paul also says:
"For the law (Old Covenant Torah) made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God" (Heb.7:19, NKJV).
A common mistake that people who do not fully understand the Gospel message make is that they believe they can draw near to God - Yahweh-Elohim - without blood. People commonly believe that by doing good works - like being kind to your neighbour, being thoughtful, and so forth, that they can draw near to our Heavenly Father and be forgiven of their sins. This is completely false! The whole message of the Bible is that only blood can do that. Nothing a human does, however good, can obliterate his sins. Without that additional ticket from Warsaw to L'viv I would never have got there. That ticket cost money. I couldn't have obtained it by going to the Airline office and smiling sweetly at the lady behind the desk, or offering to do some errands for her. Money was the only way to obtain it. And the only way to get a ticket for the forgiveness of sins is blood. Not ours, but the Son of God's.
The High Priest under the Old Covenant had to do forty different things in the right order and in exactly the correct way to effect the annual atonement for Israel. We don't have time to go through that here but it is worth a close study sometime. In all, the High Priest would pronounce the Name of Yahweh ten times on Yom Kippur. Those standing near him would fall on their faces, and those who were farther off would say: "Blessed be His Name whose glorious Kingdom is for ever and ever." Nobody would dare move, whether those standing nearby or farther away, until the High Priest had disappeared.
The popular notion in the churches these days is that you have only to believe in Christ and all will be well. But Yom Kippur teaches us that this is wholly inadequate. Belief is not some kind of passive assent, but an active process that involves the following components. Firstly, it involves acknowledging specific sins - things we have done wrong. Secondly, it involves an act of repentance through a process of confession and then making restitution before Yahweh in order to obtain His forgiveness. Thus is you have stolen something, then the only way to obtain forgiveness is by confessing you have done it to both Yahweh and the person robbed, and then making restitution by paying back what you stole - in other words, making good. And if you are not able to do so, to come to some arrangement with the one wronged so that restitution can eventually be made. You might even be forgiven of it. But whether you are or not, you still have to assume that there is a payment to be made. The Bible actually requires that you pay back more than you took.
That is what Yom Kippur is specifically for. It is a time to get right with both man and God. Again, I repeat, this is not some ritualistic act, but has to be for real. People would fast to make sure that their flesh was still and they could confront the real issues without distractions. Yahweh puts it even more strongly: "You shall afflict your souls", He says (Lev.16:31; 23:27-32; Num.29:7). Or as a modern translation puts it, "show sorrow" (Lev.23:27, CEV). Not a theatrical display, but a genuine heart-connection. Part of this "affliction of the soul" included five statutory rules of mortification. These were to (1) stop eating and drinking; (b) have no sex; (c) not wear leather shoes; (d) use no cosmetics or lotions; and (e) to not wash any part of the body except the fingers and the eyes. Tearing ones clothes, wearing sackcloth and pouring ashes on oneself was also done anciently as a sign of mourning along with fasting (Jonah 3:6; Ezek.9:5; Josh.7:5-13; Jer.6:26; Lam.2:10). If this seems strange to you, it is really very simple to explain: we are quite simply not to be distracted by worldly pleasures but to focus instead on the inner spirit and to listen to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). In a world where putting on a tough exterior is considered 'cool', the need to experience and express genuine grief for wrongdoing is not only lacking but causing psychological repression and illness today. Hence one of the Beatitudes concerns this very thing: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Matt.5:4, NKJV). Which reminds us that the object of mourning is not mourning itself but to have the blessing of comfort, forgiveness, and a clean conscience, which only the blood of Christ can effect.
Many Christians seem to believe that once they have received Christ that they are eternally forgiven and don't need to repent any more. That, of course, presupposes that we don't sin any more. I know some Christians who actually believe that they are sin-free. There is confusion amongst Christians between habitual sin - sins we keep on repeating over and over again - and the business of sinning generally. The apostle John says:
"Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God" (1 John 3:6-9, NKJV).
Since people claim to have been born of Christ, and to know Christ, they automatically assume this means they are not sinning anymore and are sin-free. But this contradicts what John says earlier on in his discourse:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 John 1:8-10, NKJV).
Is John contradicting himself here? And if not, what does he mean when He says that everyone is a sinner (including himself) and that to deny this is to make him a liar - and then later to say that those who are born of God stop sinning? It may seem like a dilemma but the solution is very simple - and it contradicts almost everything Protestant Christianity teaches! It contradicts the anti-Torah doctrine of the churches and reminds us that Yah'shua's (Jesus') teachings in the Gospel are right after all and not to be dismissed.
This will come as a major shock to many of you as this will be a new revelation to you, and yet it has been sitting in the Bible for two millennia. Did you know that there are only three passages in the Bible on the New Birth? Two are Yah'shua (Jesus) saying that we must all be born again (Jn.3:3,7) and the third by the apostle Peter in the context of spiritual purification. Listen to what he says:
"Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having [thus] been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:22-23, NKJV).
The only way you can make sense of John is by understanding the parables of Yah'shua (Jesus) who describes the Kingdom of heaven taking root in a soul as a spiritual process consisting of a conception and a birth. When we receive Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Lord and Saviour we are spiritually conceived but not yet born. The New Birth does not come upon the profession of faith but after a spiritual gestation. And in that time, many people abort - they turn away from the faith, just as Yah'shua (Jesus) taught in the Parable of the Sower. They do not purify themselves through Christ, they do not overcome, and are themselves overcome.
Do you see the great potential for spiritual destruction when spiritual conception and rebirth are confused? It means that people become conceited, overconfident and careless to the point that they create such absurd and monstrous doctrines as "once saved, always saved". It is by no means so simple, and never has been. That is why Yom Kippur is still relevant to us today, for not only has it not been fulfilled for the human race as a whole, but it has not been fulfilled for us as individuals either, since we are in constant need of repentance and forgiveness until we have "won the crown" (Jas.1:12; 1 Pet.5:4; Rev.2:10). Any doctrine of salvation that omits Yom Kippur is a watered down and a perilous one, for biblical salvation is past, present and future. It is past through the work of Christ. It is present as we continue to struggle to work it out (Phil.2:12), and it is future when we have finished the race. If the "once saved, always saved" doctrine were true, then the Gospel would not be a Way or a Path, but a single destination point requiring no further living or proving. If the great goal is to simply receive Christ and no more, then we should be immediately translated into heaven, for there would be no purpose in remaining. But we must remain - it takes a lifetime to accomplish - a lifetime represented by the 9 days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur - the number of purification, or 333.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Judgement - the point at which we can no longer continue to "work out our salvation in fear and trembling". If by then we have not worked it out - struggled to get through the gestation period which is this life-span - we aren't going to be born again into the Kingdom of Yahweh where there is no sinning. Instead, we go back to Stockholm! Only this time there are no more flights to Warsaw - Stockholm is the end of the line.
This doctrine bothers those who feel they have must have unconditional eternal security upon receiving Christ, but they need not be alarmed. So long as we are in Him, we have that security - so long as we are daily working out our salvation. Grace gives us space to repent in. We do not lose salvation the instant we sin. But there is also no cheap salvation - it is a pernicious heresy that denies vast swathes of biblical revelation. And Yom Kippur is given to us to remind us of that.
But Yom Kippur is more than a reminder. It is also a statement of the reality of the cyclical nature of sin and forgiveness. There are times and seasons for all things. If we postpone the day of repentance, it becomes more difficult to repent as each Yom Kippur returns. We should repent as soon as sin appears lest it become buried from our memory and create within us what is called a demonic stronghold and thus becomes repetitive sin - or habitual sin. Unrepented sin gives demons right to harass and to cause us to sin the same sin again and again. Each time the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) witnesses of sin, and each time we refuse to respond, so we store up wrath for ourselves, until we reach the point where there is no forgiveness (Lk.12:10). For then we are in denial of what has been clearly revealed.
The Gospel is not a broad highway as the fake "health and wealth" Christians teach, but an exceedingly narrow path, so small, in fact, that few find it. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt.7:14, NKJV).
Mark these words carefully:
"Strive (work hard) to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you, where you are from,' then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.' But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.' There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God." (Luke 13:24-30, NKJV).
So do you want to know who you are to model yourselves after to gain admission to the Kingdom of God? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets of Yahweh! They are the models, not the modern-day teachers of watered-down Christianity. The warning is clear - if you don't, you will be "thrust out"! And what sort of men were these? They kept the Noahic Laws and/or Torah, they struggled and they overcame. That is what they did. And that is what we must do. Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself says it: "STRIVE". What does 'strive' mean? It means "to make a great and tenacious effort". You've got to keep at it! You can't give up! That is what the Master says. And what do the modern preachers say? "You don't have to do anything at all - Christ has done it for you." You have to work to take on board that atoning sacrifice through diligent character reformation on a daily basis. Christ has truly paid for our sins, which no man can do, but we have to make the effort to collect that finished work, prepare our own mental and spiritual soil, remove the obstacles, and bring it in to the soul! And that is no small effort.
At the final Yom Kippur, when Christ returns, there is final forgiveness and mercy and grace to all those who have received Yah'shua (Jesus) as Lord and Saviour and kept His commandments by walking in Torah (Rev.12:17; 14:12; 22:14). In the meantime, brethren, we cannot be idle, for Satan is ever prowling like a lion hoping to catch us asleep and seize us. You know the Scriptures on all these things so I do not need to repeat them.
This life is not easy. Often we want to give up and go home. But we have to remain until we have run our course. This life is not easy but infinitely worth it because of what awaits those who are true and faithful. If we abandon our posts of responsibility and our spiritual covering the enemy will overrun and devour us, especially in these dangerous times.
We conclude with Peter and his wise admonition:
"So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this [the new heaven], make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation" (2 Peter 3:14-15, NIV).
May we therefore soberly prepare ourselves for Sunday evening when Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement, the Day of Judgement, and the Sabbath of Sabbaths begins, when we shall meet again in solemn assembly to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. Amen.
This page was created on 2 October 2002
Last updated on 2 October 2002
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