About a month ago, eleven new Israeli believers from a congregation in the north were baptised, and five of them were Israeli-born “sabras”. This might sound a small number but we are praising God wildly over here. This is the pitter patter of the early rains of revival. As we approach Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement this weekend, Jewish believers in Israel will be joining in the country-wide fast, but with a different twist. Unlike the rest of Israel’s Jews, they will not be fasting to atone for their sins, because they know that Yeshua their Messiah has already taken care of all that, once and for all. No – their fast is one of intercession for their dear brothers and sisters who do not yet know Him and the atonement He has bought for them at great cost.
Yom Kippur is a day instituted by God for the people of Israel to get all of their sin confessed and paid up, to wipe the slate clean, via a ceremony involving the High priest, a bull, and a couple of goats. On this day and this day alone did the high priest – and only the high priest – have permission to enter the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. To get too close to the Ark without permission was a fatally dangerous enterprise. All of the Yom Kippur activities had to be done very precisely, exactly as God had ordained in Leviticus 16 in order for the atonement to be successful.
But now there is no temple, no Holy of Holies, no Ark and no high priest to carefully perform all of these ceremonial duties with bulls’ blood and scapegoats.. What are the people of Israel to do? After the temple was destroyed around 70 AD, the devastated Jewish leaders arrived at their solution – to substitute prayers for sacrifice. They refer to Psalm 141:2, which says, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
But we who know Yeshua know that there is a new and living way to enter the Holy of Holies, and receive atonement for our sins – not just once a year, but any time we like! We don’t have to save up our sin for an annual event – we can just come boldly into the throne room of God and ask for forgiveness based on the blood of Yeshua, whenever we need our conscience cleansed. Yeshua is our high priest, who perfectly performed all the duties necessary to accomplish peace with God for us – once and for all.
Today in Israel, people will fast from sunset to sunset, dress in white to go to the synagogue services, and refrain from driving and regular activity as they reflect on their sins. There are other traditions such as swinging a sacrificial chicken over the head to atone for the family, and giving gifts to charity. There is the idea that God is checking over everyone’s life, the way a car might have a yearly look-over, and deciding if you should be written in the Book of Life, Death, or be in limbo while your good and bad deeds are judged. All of these ideas have the same notions of penitence for sin, but they do not really deal with the problem. Why?
Leviticus 17:11 explains: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
It is necessary, in order to pay for sin, for blood to be shed. A life for a life. This is why the blood of Yeshua is now the only way for Jewish people and all people across the world to receive forgiveness.
“He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:12-14)
But the light of this truth is dawning in Israel. Just as we have been happy to see the former rains falling in Israel this week, so we are delighted to report about the Israelis who are coming to faith in Yeshua the Messiah, knowing that this is only the beginning. Please join us as we pray and fast this friday evening to saturday evening, on Yom Kippur, for the Lord to reveal the truth about the atonement Yeshua has bought for us.