September 20, 2004
"On this day atonement will be made for you, to
cleanse you. Then, before the LORD , you will be clean
from all your sins" (Vayikra / Leviticus 16:30)
This Friday evening begins the most solemn day of the
Jewish year. All over the world on Yom Kippur (The Day
of Atonement) Jewish people gather to spend hours in
reflection and prayer in hope that God would cleanse
us from our sins committed over the past year.
In the days of the Jewish temple, as long as the
correct procedures were followed, cleansing from sin
was assured. But Judaism, after the destruction of the
Temple, which occurred about forty years after Yeshua
the Messiah came, redefined itself and claimed that
the synagogue rituals were a sufficient substitution
for the sacrificial rites given by Moses.
This contradicts both the Hebrew Bible and the New
Covenant Writings regarding the necessity of sacrifice
for the cleansing of sin. As foretold by the Hebrew
Bible, the death and resurrection of Yeshua is the
basis upon which this cleansing is granted.
But why do we need cleansing? Why is forgiveness
necessary? According to most people today there is no
such thing as true guilt. Guilt is something imposed
upon the human mind by people who have created
arbitrary codes of conduct. What is right or wrong for
one person is not necessarily right or wrong for
someone else. This implies then that freedom is a
state of mind. If we could only think of ourselves
correctly, then we could live life to the fullest.
This way of thinking exists even among some who claim
to believe the Bible. Yeshua is often viewed as the
one who came to free us - not from the guilt that
comes from sin - but from the burden of rules and
codes of conduct.
While we need to be careful not to put upon ourselves
obligations over and above that which God has given,
let us not be fooled into thinking that true human
freedom can be found in being released from any sense
of moral or spiritual obligation. Any attempt to live
without God-given guidelines will inevitably result in
confusion and disaster.
It is our failure to conform to God's standards that
got the human family into trouble in the first place.
One of the reasons for the giving of the Scriptures
was to make us aware of this. Once aware of our
failure we have the opportunity to participate in
God's ultimate solution through Yeshua.
Receiving God's cleansing in no way dismisses our need
to live according to God's rules. Far from it, it is
his cleansing that enables us to live godly lives. As
we do so, we will continue to fail, since we are not
yet made perfect. The good news is that what Yeshua
did for us continues to cleanse us as we look to him
for that cleansing.