What does the Holy Day of Yom Kippur have to do with your identity in Yeshua? How can the rituals of the High Priest back in Temple times on Yom Kippur make a difference in your life today? That’s what I’d like to explore as we prepare for Yom Kippur during these 10 days of Awe.
To understand our identity in Yeshua, we look to Ephesians 1:4 where it says that we were chosen in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. Furthermore, Colossians 1:22 tells us that Yeshua has reconciled us by His physical body through death to present us Holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
That all sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Yet how many of you feel holy and blameless in your day-to-day lives? How many of you see yourself as without blemish and free from accusation – even when you are being criticized, rejected, or blamed by others? When you are feeling inadequacy, failure, shame or guilt?
If you are like so many of us, we know these scriptures in our heads, but not in our hearts. Therefore, we don’t act on them in our day-to-day life situations. We’ve read them numerous times, but we don’t let them penetrate our hearts and free us from condemnation from ourselves or others. We have become almost numb to them as if they are speaking of a future state when we are with Yeshua in heaven, but are not “really” to be experienced here on earth today. Yet G-d’s desire and plan is that His will and His truths be experienced here on earth today as they are in heaven. (Matt.6:10)
That’s where Yom Kippur comes in the picture for me. When I study the rituals that were required of the High Priest on Yom Kippur, it gives me visual pictures of how God sees me and my identity in Him. These images penetrate my heart and I’m able to use them in every day situations here and now.
Let’s take a look at some of these rituals, I picked three of my personal favorites:
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 Yom Kippur – 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 came before G-d to make atonement, He had to make sure that he was ritually clean. Yikes! Five baths and ten washings of the hands and feet in one day, now that’s what I call being clean!
2 – While in the Holy of Holies, the incense that was placed on the coals had to come directly from the High Priest’s two palms – a “double handful.” When he would transfer the incense from the spoon directly into his two palms at the same time, not even one tiny grain was allowed to fall! No imperfection, not even a grain, was permitted in the Holy of Holies!
3- When the High Priest was finished with the Temple services, he had to take off his white garments before interacting with anyone. Otherwise, the people would have burned up just from being near garments that were exposed to G-d’s holy presence in the Holy of Holies!
These practices are such powerful communicators and pictures of how holy, holy, holy G-d is, and the degree of perfection that is required of you to be able to enter into His presence! Yet as a believer in Yeshua, you can enter into His presence at any time — in Yeshua, you have boldness and access with confidence (Eph. 3:12), you can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16), and you have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Yeshua (Heb 10:19). So then what does that tell you about how God sees you? In His eyes, you are clean, pure, perfect, and worthy because of Yeshua’s blood, regardless of what you do, how you feel about yourself or how others see you!
Now once these powerful pictures are in your heart, you can carry them into every situation in your life! Here are some examples: When you feel inadequate or inferior in a new situation or with a new group of people; or when you feel intimidated by someone who seems so much “higher or better than you” in some way — remember that if you can enter into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies, knowing all that was required of the High Priest, this means you must be holy, blameless, cleansed, and pure! You can then hold onto that identity no matter where you are or who you are with!
When someone is upset with you, or acting out of their own strongholds and blaming, condemning, or rejecting you – you don’t have to see yourself as they do! You can picture the Holy of Holies and the purity of the High Priest at Yom Kippur and have that “visual proof” and reminder of your true identity – holy and blameless, free from accusation.
When you make a mistake, you don’t have to condemn and punish yourself, God doesn’t see you any differently and Yeshua already took your punishment. You need to confess any sin to be cleansed from unrighteousness that would give the enemy a handle in your life, and you restore your intimacy with God.
Isaiah 1:18 tells us – Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be as wool. I’d like to share a striking picture that will transport this truth straight into your heart: On Yom Kippur, a piece of crimson wool was tied to the scapegoat (who represented the sins of Israel) before he was lead to his death, and another piece was tied to the entrance of the sanctuary. The Talmud reports that when the scapegoat was sent off the high cliff in the desert, the crimson wool on the sanctuary would miraculously turn white, a sign to the people that their sins had been covered for another year. In Yeshua, though your sins are as scarlet, they have been covered for all eternity, and G-d now sees you as white as snow!
The Holy Day of Yom Kippur not only holds significant meaning for our future (its ultimate fulfillment when all Israel is cleansed and saved (Rom 11:26; Zech 13:1; Ezek 36:25, 37:23)), but also for our lives today, here and now. Let the powerful pictures of the High Priest in the Temple services long ago speak to you about G-d’s holiness and how He sees you. Allow them to enable the truths of Eph 1:4 and Col 1:22 to take root in your heart. Let them be an anchor so that your identity is not dependent upon your situation, how you feel about yourself or how others see you. Then the truth of Gods Word will live not only in your head, but in your heart as well, for as a man thinks in his heart, so He is!!! (Prov 23:7).