Café Menu for Monday, September 29, 2014
Today’s Special is: The Day of Atonement
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Tammy Priest
No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement...
Leviticus 16:17 NIV
Where I am going you cannot come.
John 13:33b NIV
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
It's the holiest day on the Jewish, Old Testament calendar. It's the one day each year when, at God's command, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies: God's earthly dwelling place. There the high priest offered the blood of a perfect lamb on the mercy seat, in order to cleanse God's people from their sin.
The spiritual standing of the entire nation was at stake. Yet the people couldn't do anything to help. They weren't even invited to Jerusalem for this most holy moment - Yom Kippur isn't one of the three mandatory pilgrimage feasts.
What happened inside the veil was entirely between the high priest and God.
In the same way, what transpired on the Cross was entirely between Jesus, our Great High Priest, and the Father. The Messiah took His own blood and mercifully placed it on the altar, entering a place no one else could go. He entered death, not to submit to it, but to conquer it forever.
But just because the Israelites couldn't enter the sanctuary, that's not to say they had no role in their atonement. Quite the opposite. They did have to do something - we have to do something. Something that goes completely against human nature. They had to trust.
God told His people to do one thing: honor the atonement made on their behalf. They were to fast and pray and do no work at all - not just a Sabbath, but a Shabbat Shabbaton, a sabbath of sabbaths.
Their only participation in their atonement was to receive it. And that's a beautiful thing.
It's also a beautiful thing that the Israelites weren't invited to Jerusalem for the sacrifice that purchased their pardon. Because that means it didn't matter where they were. God's pardon was equally available to the poor shepherd and the pious priest.
The same is true for us. Just like the Israelites observing the Day of Atonement, in order to receive His forgiveness, we are commanded not to do, but to trust; not to give, but to receive. We can accept Him in the sanctuary or the slum, the mission field or math class.
Whether you are far or near in this moment, He beckons you to simply accept what He has done and given. To simply let go and allow Him to restore what is broken. No matter who or where you are.
When I first realized that God didn't invite His people to the holiest moment of the year, it didn't sit well with me. After all, the national atonement ritual should be an occasion when the entire nation gathers together, right?
But then I thought about the people who couldn't make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem: the weak, wounded and poor. And lots of the women. That's me and you and really everyone I know.
The fact that no one had to go meant that everyone was included. The same is true for what Jesus accomplished on the Cross. None of us could go to that place, yet not one of us is exempt from its victory. No matter where you are or where you've been, His victory is yours.
Almighty Father, thank You for the gift of Your forgiveness, for binding up my brokenness. Forgive me for the ways I try to "help" You save and fix me. Help me to simply receive what You have done for me on the Cross. "Simply" receiving sometimes isn't so simple. Give me the strength to be still and receive Your mercy and grace in this moment. Through the Savior who saves completely. Amen.
© 2014 by Tammy Priest. All rights reserved.
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