The Feast of Yom Kippur was concluded last night at sundown with the Ne’ilah service, commemorating the closing of the gates – when the Levite gatekeepers would push shut the gates of the Sanctuary and the Courtyard of the Temple just before the setting of the sun. As with all of the Lord’s Feasts, there are so many meaningful and significant themes that we can drawn from to apply in our daily lives today, that it’s always a challenge for me to choose just one for these blogs. I would encourage you to research and study all that you can about each of the Feasts, and I promise you that you will be blessed and experience greater intimacy with the Lord through your study.
I love studying the Temple sacrifices and practices (the biblical commandments as well as traditions) for the Feasts, especially for Yom Kippur. For Yom Kippur, unlike other ceremonies throughout the year, all of the sacred tasks had to be done exclusively by the High Priest himself. He alone was responsible for every aspect of divine service: a total of 15 separate sacrifices as well as the menorah, incense, and other services. The High Priest would set himself apart from his family for 7 days prior to YK to prepare and to study his tasks for this most Holy day.
The theme that God was impressing upon my heart as I prayed about this blog was –What do the tasks of the High Priest have to tell us about God’s holiness and about who we are in Him and how He sees us?
Here are just some very brief highlights:
1. During the day of Yom Kippur, the High Priest was required to make 5 immersions into a ritual bath; and before and after each bath He had to pour water from a golden vessel onto his hands and feet. The five immersions were most likely linked to the five atonements that took place on YK – that for the High Priest and his family, for the other priests, for the people of Israel, for the sanctuary, and for the incense altar. Every time that the High Priest was coming before God to make atonement, He had to make sure that he was ritually clean.
The required 5 immersion baths and the washing of hands and feet so powerfully communicate to us how HOLY God is. We as believers have lost sight of this. In our church culture, we have emphasized God as a close friend and pal, even a personal shopper who is hired to find and meet our needs. Now truly, He is our closest friend, our Abba father, our husband, our bridegroom; but He first and foremost Holy, Holy, Holy (And one cried out to another and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory “- Is. 6:3). He is still the same God as He was when HE commanded these rituals of the High Priest. The High Priest had to stay ritually clean when performing all tasks of YK in the Temple. The 5 atonements had to be made to cover over all of the impurities and sin for another year, so that God could continue to dwell with HIs people in the Holy of Holies.
Now that we as believers can enter into the Holy of Holies and approach God (since we have confidence to enter the Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua – Heb 10:19), do we enter with that same sense of reverence and awe? excitement and anticipation? joy and praise? appreciation and thankfulness? or do we barge in with our demands?
Only on Yom Kippur in the Temple was the Name of God (known as the Tetragrammaton) pronounced, and the High Priest would utter it on 10 occasions during the day. When he would utter this name, the people assembled there would respond “Blessed be the Name of His glorious kingdom, for ever and ever,” and prostrate themselves on the ground. This was based on Deut 32:3 in Moses’ song – “When I call upon the name of the Lord, give greatness to our God.” How often do we fall prostrate on the ground in awe of God’s presence and His Holiness, acknowledging who He is, the ultimate source of all existence and all that we are, have and do?
Let us allow the practices and commandments of Yom Kippur to remind us of God’s Holiness. Ask Him to give you fresh insight and awe into who He truly is, let it stir your hearts to worship and praise Him, to have greater thankfulness and appreciation for the miracle of being able to enter into the Holy of Holies!
2. When we have this renewed awareness and reverence of God’s Holiness, it gives us an even greater appreciation and awe of what Yeshua did for us. That a God who is so Holy — that only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies only once a year in very specific white clothing, after ritual immersions and to extremely detailed specifications in all sacrifices and offerings — would go to the extent of taking death (the ultimate defilement) onto Himself in the person of Yeshua, so that we could have relationship with HIm – is truly unfathomable and should cause us to fall on our faces before Him in thankfulness, awe, and praise!
Now what does all of this say about how wanted you are by Him? how valuable? how much He loves you and desires intimate relationship with you? how much you can trust Him? What does the fact that you can enter into the Holy of Holies say about who you are in Him and how He sees you?
When He sees you, He sees you in the Holy of Holies. As everything in the Holy of Holies was gold and pure, He sees you as pure gold, as cleansed and pure. No matter what you are struggling with right now in your life, or no matter how others may see you, how the world sees you, or how you may see yourself – He sees you as holy and blameless (for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight – Eph 1:4; but now He has reconciled you by Messiah’s physical body through death to present you Holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation – Col 1:22).
When you have placed your faith and your life in Yeshua and received His forgiveness through the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb, God cannot stop seeing you as pure gold, cleansed and pure. That’s because Yeshua did all the work, nothing can change how God sees you when you are in Yeshua. You are wearing a purple robe of righteousness (For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns His head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels – Is 61:10), and no one (not even yourself or the enemy) can take that robe off of you, no matter what you do or don’t do. How God sees you is based on Yeshua’s performance, not your own performance, other’s opinions or judgments, Satan’s accusations, or your own judgments, accusations, and self-condemnation.
In this new year, allow the Feast of Yom Kippur to “redefine” who God is and who you are in Him. Let it remind you of His Holiness — that He is always and continually worthy of your worship, praise, adoration, thankfulness, reverence, service, and commitment to pursue intimacy with Him. Let it remind you of who you are in Yeshua, and how God sees you. Meditate every morning in your quiet time on these truths, picture yourself in the Holy of Holies, “redefine” God through His Holiness, redefine your own identity through how He sees you. It will transform your life!
For more detail and teaching on the Fall Feasts, please click this link.