By Tom Brennan
The Covenant given to the Israelites through Moses included only one day of fasting. That day was to be the most solemn and ritualistic day of the year. It is a day when the whole assembly comes together to remember their sins and transgressions, both as individuals and a people. It is time to spend the day fasting and denying ourselves the comfort of food, and to confess the past transgressions and ask forgiveness. Fasting was done with denial of other physical comforts, rough clothes were worn, no one washed that day. It was the one day of the year that each Israelite did a public demonstration of their regret for the year’s transgressions and a commitment to correct them in the year to come. Today’s world needs to put aside the comforts, indulgence and daily routine and spend a day asking for mercy. Christians need Yom Kippur.
In ancient times this was the day when the high priest took the blood of a slaughtered animal and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat. Moses, the man who walked with G-d and Joshua the slave who became a general were gone and no one could take their place entirely. One of Aaron’s descendants would be the one to enter the holiest place on earth and offer a sacrifice in the name of the people. Today that tradition is continued in the hearts of all. Christians should consider observing this solemn day as well.
The Fall sees an abundance of Feasts and celebrations, from New Years to Sukkot. But Yom Kippur stands out as a day of fear of wrath, petition for forgiveness and rejoicing at the mercy of G-d. The day is seen and observed with a reverence that amazes many others in this secular, live for the moment, mercenary world. Yom Kippur is a day when much of Israel will observe the gravity of the fact that “we all fall short of the glory of G-d”. The day is approached with solemnity and a universal sense of the ancient Temple sacrifice and the common asking for mercy by the people through the sacrifice made by the High Priest.
The destruction of the Temple in 70 CE ended the sacrificial practices and literally saw the end of the priesthood as the priests were slaughtered in the Roman assault. Yom Kippur now became a more personal matter. Instead of the sacrifice and the placing of the people’s sins on the scapegoat who cast into the wilderness, fasting and prayer at the synagogue and introspection became the most common practice.
Fasting has been a part of religious practice for millennia. Yeshua was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to prepare for His ministry. He set an example of how any major work or effort requires prayer, endurance and a will to succeed. The fast for Yom Kippur is a full 24 hour period. Certain persons are exempt, such as expectant and nursing mothers. The fast is intended to set aside the usual day’s activities and move the person towards a serious consideration of their transgressions towards G-d. It is a full Shabbat observance with laborious work prohibited. Most Israelis spend most of the day at the synagogue. At the end of the day the shofar is blown and a new time of forgiveness and renewal is celebrated.
So sacred is Yom Kippur that in 1973 Egypt, Syria and other hostile Muslim nations planned to launch a huge attack on Israel. The suddenness of the attack, mis-communications by Israeli intelligence and a certain amount of overconfidence on the part of the Israeli government led to a major invasion of the nation’s borders. Certain officers were absent and information lines were unattended for observance. Yet, by a miraculous series of events Israel recovered, threw back the invaders and even pursued them into their own countries and triumphed again.
G-d expects that we will meet the responsibilities that He alone has delegated and see them through. At one point during the Maccabees Revolt the Israelites refused to do battle on the Sabbath. To their mind they were observing Torah. But G-d had chosen them to defend their Temple and people and a battle was lost. Torah’s heart is to worship G-d and live within the guidance contained within. Life is sacred to G-d and He is the final arbiter as to when it begins and ends. Jesus/Yeshua taught that Shabbat was made for man, not the other way. Preservation of life is at the core of the Bible, and doing battle is what Shabbat can mean when the stakes are high. The Yom Kippur War was the result of a certain degree of pride and over confidence, not because everyone was occupied in observing the Sabbath day of Yom Kippur. Israel investigated and examined what happened during that war and since then pride and overconfidence have been totally replaced by a vigilance under G-d’s guidance.
Yom Kippur should be considered as a day to observe by Christians. A day of self denial, prayer, a halt to outside distractions (within our responsibilities) and a day to examine ourselves for pride and overconfidence are important. We can learn much from this year’s Yom Kippur and much from the 1973 war.Share this page with your friends
Follow News from Jerusalem