How does Yom Kippur fit into a Christian’s celebration of God? Join AMBrewster as he unpacks the biblical beauty of the Day of Atonement and provides us multiple ways we can observe it to God’s honor and glory.
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Welcome to the Celebration of God. If you have’t yet subscribed, you really should. If you haven’t yet checked out CelebrateGod.org, you really should. And if you haven’t followed The Celebration of God on Instagram and Facebook . . . that’s right, you really should.
We want to lift your arms as you learn to celebrate God every moment of every day. And our social media channels are just one helpful way we can do that.
But we don’t have much time today, so I’ll remind you that free episode notes and transcripts are available at CelebrationOfGod.com, and we’ll jump into our discussion concerning how we can prepare for, observe, and disciple during the Day of Atonement.
We need to lay two important foundations.
1. I am not suggesting that we need to observe the Day of Atonement the way the Jews do. I don’t even believe that born again Messianic Jews need to celebrate the Day of Atonement at all.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in observing it. And I’ll explain why in a moment.
2. We need to make sure we understand what God intended for the Day of Atonement.
There are a number of passages we could read from the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 16:1-34, 23:26-32, 25:9) — which I’ll include in today’s notes — but I’m going to stick with chapter 16 for our instruction today.
Leviticus 16, “1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the Lord and died.”
That’s an important observation. God is going to use that event to remind us that sinful people cannot stand in the presence of a perfectly holy God and live. We need to be perfected.
“2 The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.”
Now, it’s important to remember that the earthly tabernacle was a symbol of heavenly realities. God could never fully dwell in the smallest room of a tent, but this was supposed to be a physical representation of Him.
And the priest, the sacrifice, and the scapegoat were supposed to be earthy representations of the work the future Messiah was going to accomplish.
“3 Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on. 5 He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6 Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8 Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. 11 Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. 12 He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. 13 He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die. 14 Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.”
Keep in mind that all of that was solely to atone for the the High Priest’s sins because no sinful man can stand before God.
“15 Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. 17 When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. 19 With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it. 20 When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. 21 Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”
I plan to spend much more time in the future unpacking all the glorious imagery here, but for the born again believer, much of it should be obvious since we ourselves are recipients of salvation.
Even though Aaron — the first Jewish High Priest — was a sinful man, he represented part of the ministry of the Messiah. The fact that he had to offer a sacrifice for his own sins and bathe himself and clothe himself in a sanctified way are all intended to teach us that the perfect High Priest would’t need to do any of that.
From there we witness the sacrifice for the people. Things need to die in order to atone for sin. Sin is that wicked. But the blood of bulls and goats can’t wash away anyone’s sin. They were only intended to be a picture of the future sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God — Jesus.
And the scapegoat is a beautiful picture of the fact that when we trust in the Messiah’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.
Now, returning to Leviticus 16:23, the Lord lays out the rest of the Day of Atonement.
23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. 24 He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar. 26 The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp. 27 But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. 28 Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp. 29 This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; 30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. 32 So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.’ And just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so he did.”
Now, there’s a little more to the whole celebration that can be read in the other passages I’ll include in today’s show notes, but that’s the main idea.
So, how does a Christian observe the Day of Atonement within The Celebration of God?
The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is to be celebrated by the Jews from Sunday, September 27th through Monday the 28th in 2020.
Our plan is to observe it during the same time period. Of course, you’re free just observe it on Sunday or Monday, but biblically the Jews calculate their days from evening to evening not morning to morning.
Now, we’re not going to be sacrificing anything or blowing rams horns or sending scapegoats into the wilderness. In fact, if you’ve been paying attention, this is not necessarily a celebratory day for us.
We’ve just celebrated Creation Week. At the end of Creation, everything was good and pleasing to God. Mankind was innocent and fellowshipped with God face to face.
But something terrible happened. Mankind sinned.
Because of man’s sin, God instituted the plan He ordained in eternity past. The seed of the man would be born who would crush the head of the serpent and redeem mankind from his sin. The seed of the man was to be the Messiah.
So now, just two weeks after celebrating the Creation of God, we must now observe the Fall of Man, and the Day of Atonement is the perfect time to do so.
Whereas the Jews were looking forward to a day the spotless Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world introduced to mankind through Adam’s sin, so we too must look back to the Fall as well as anticipate the glorious celebration of God’s redemptive plan coming to fruition.
So, here’s the philosophy behind why we observe the Day of Atonement the way we do.
1. The Day of Atonement reminds us that there is a cost for sin.
Romans 3:23, “The wages of sin is death.”
2. The Fall of Man reminds us that we’re all sinners because we’re all in Adam.
Romans 5:12 reads, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.“
And I John 1:8-10 warns, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
I know it’s not comfortable to focus on hard, ugly Truth. Mankind’s intuitive response is to retract from anything and everything uncomfortable.
But the Bible is filled with hard Truths on which we must mediate.
Remember, beauty is never so gorgeous as when there is something ugly against which to compare it.
We can’t know where we have to go until we first acknowledge where we are. We are all born sinners.
Until we and our students and children and congregations and families and friends and communities embrace that Truth, there will be no salvation for them.
We must acknowledge our sin, confess it, and proclaim that Jesus is the risen Lord if we ever hope to have a relationship with Him.
It’s the first great act of celebration any of us will ever do.
Therefore, observing the Fall of Man shortly after celebrating Creation and before Halloween, Christmas, and Easter is chronologically beneficial.
First comes God’s perfect plan. Then man sins. Death and fear and slavery descend on man. Christ comes, lives, dies, and raises again to purchase our redemption.
It really is a beautiful course of events on which we would be wise to meditate as well as share with our disciplees.
1. The Day of Atonement reminds us that there is a cost for sin.
2. The Fall of Man reminds us that we’re all sinners because we’re all from Adam.
And 3. Therefore, the Day of Atonement simultaneously reminds us of our need as well as points us toward a glorious Anticipation.
So, with that said, let’s get into the details of our Preparation, Observation, Anticipation, and how we can disciple during this time.
I recommend you and your disciplees take time to prepare your hearts and Celebration Walls by reading, studying, meditating on, and posting the verses I’m going to share in today’s notes and include on the Day of Atonement page at CelebrationOfGod.com.
And we should remember to purposefully do this before we actually enter the Day of Atonement.
Regardless of whether you observe the Day of Atonement on Sunday or Monday or from Sunday evening through Monday afternoon, you should take the time to do the following:
A. Read the passages together and discuss them.
Explain the concepts to the younger children. Help the new believers understand the imagery. Talk about the symbolism of the ancient Jewish sacrificial system and the completed work of Christ.
You don’t have to send the whole day reading the Bible, but you should take some time to consciously grapple with the significance of the day.
B. There was one idea I had that I think may be very impactful.
The Fall of Man cut off man’s relationship with God. Of course, born again believers will never be cut off from God, but even Jesus Himself was temporarily separated from the Father as He atoned for mankind.
Therefore, this imagery of separation is powerful and necessary.
One thing I thought I may do with my family is take a sheer piece of black fabric and cover our Celebration Wall from the Day of Atonement all the way through Halloween.
This would represent the veil of the Holy of Holies which was to represent the separation between man and God and the necessity of a High Priest — perfectly fulfilled in Christ.
And — keep in mind — this is all imagery.
The Celebration Wall is not God. The black veil is not separating us from Him. It’s simply a reminder of the fact that our sin separates us from God.
For those who have not yet put their faith in Christ, it will be a stark reminder to them of their eternal state — separated from God in the Lake of Fire. And for those who are born again, it reminds us that our daily sins — though they don’t undo our salvation — do displease the Lord. They also hurt those against whom we’ve sinned, and they hurt us because they make it easier to sin more in the future.
We should be reminded of that reality.
Remember, the Season of Mercy is all about focusing on mankind’s desperation. We all need to recognize our need for a Savior before we can be saved.
The veil over our Celebration Walls will daily draw our minds to that fact. And for a little over a month, this veil can sit there.
Now, why a month? Why take it off on November 1st?
If you choose to observe Halloween, I’ll share with you some ways that you can redeem the observation so that we can celebrate God just as much on October 31st as we can every other day of the year.
In the same way the Day of Atonement reminds us that man sinned and therefore needs a go-between to mediate for us. Halloween can be a pregnant reminder of the additional consequences of sin including slavery to fear and self, and the inevitability of death.
And even though both the Day of Atonement and Halloween contain redemptive Anticipations of Christmas and Easter and the Consummation, this time is a powerful time to allow our hearts and the hearts of our disciplees to remember the consequences of our sin.
Now, there will be some who don’t like that.
When I’ve preached about such topics, I’ve had some who criticize me saying things like “Church should be about the happy things in the Bible.” But I completely disagree. Church should be about equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. Church should be about us one-anothering. And just like encouraging and edifying are part of one-anothering, rebuking and correcting and reproving and admonishing are parts of it too.
Church should be about the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible so help us, God.
And the Bible has an awful lot to say about sin, its consequences, price of redemption, and how we are to daily fight our sinful flesh and grow in Christ-likeness.
This time of year is not the only time, but is definitely a stunning time to do just that.
Anyway, so the veil sits there for the month of October, and then November comes and is a celebration of sacrifice and thanksgiving in preparation for the Season of Grace which heralds the incarnation of Christ Who came to this earth specifically because of the Fall of Man and the consequences of sin.
I hope you’re seeing the powerful imagery.
Of course, you are free to use, not use, or change up the veil idea if you like.
That’s just another way we can intentionally and premeditatedly celebrate God.
Now let’s consider . . .
I’m going to include a few passages that would be good to read. One passage from Hebrews in particular should be a huge blessing as you, your family, your church, and your other disciplees look forward to celebrating God’s plan for undoing the curse of sin.
Go to CelebrationOfGod.com, click on the Holidays tab, and then click on the Day of Atonement to download those passages.
And finally . . .
Don’t forget to invite others to experience this observation with you. This truly is designed to be a discipleship experience, but you have to actually do something with someone in order to truly have a worshipful experience together.
It’s not enough to have a Celebration Wall or even put things on it. You need to interact with it. You need to read the passages, talk about them, and try to apply them to your lives.
Also, we should remember that every Celebration of God is an amazing opportunity to help unbelievers see their need for God.
Creation sets forth the glorious relationship God desires to have with His creation.
The Day of Atonement highlights why we can’t have a relationship with Him in and of ourselves and shows us our need for a perfect sacrifice to wash away our sins.
How many people do you know who need that message today?
Well, though they’re not technically your disciplees, they are people the Lord wants you to evangelize so that they can become disciples of God — so that they can for the first time ever celebrate God in a relationship with Him.
And then you can sharpen each other as you both grow in your love for and conformity to Christ.
So that’s the Observation of God’s Day of Atonement.
It’s a day we observe our need and anticipate celebrating God’s plan to mercifully and graciously meet that need.
Of course, none of this means you can’t celebrate God right now for those things. You don’t have to wait until Easter. It would be amazing if you try celebrated the resurrection of Jesus every day of the year.
The Celebration of God discipleship experience is merely a way to remind us to celebrate God and to facilitate individual and corporate worship of Him.
Please subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss an episode, and share this on your favorite social media outlets. Tell all of your friends so we can celebrate God together.
And join us next time as we talk about “Celebrating God When the Holiday is Over.”
The Year Long Celebration of God is a dynamic, holistic resource that utilizes the Bible, our holiday calendars, and even the most average moments of the most normal days to equip Christians to worship God all year long
and disciple others to do the same.
AMBrewster is the creator and host of the Celebration of God. He originally designed the COG to be a discipleship tool for Christian parents to train their children to know and love God, but he quickly realized how valuable it is for all Christians. Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
Aaron is the President of Truth.Love.Parent. and host of its podcast.