Yom Kippur is upon us. It begins this coming Friday night at sunset. While Jesus very deliberately related his Crucifixion to the Passover, other signs can link his death to the feast of Atonement.
To begin, the feast of the atonement takes place shortly after the Jewish New Year, the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hoshanah. Good Jews reflect on their lives and seek to improve them, during the time in between. Yom Kippur is the only celebration in the Torah upon which it is commanded to fast, in sorrow for our sins. Along with the normal offerings, there are two goats. One has the sins of the people confessed over him, and he is sent out to the desert to the demons. (We might recall that Jesus too faced the devil in the desert and defeated him) The second is sacrificed for the sins of the people, but first the priest must sacrifice for his own sin. It is dramatic. The hem of the High Priests robes have little golden bells. A rope is attached to his leg. If the bells stop ringing, God has struck him dead, and he is pulled out with the rope.
The priest is aware of this, and aware that two of Aaron's sons were struck dead for offering incense to God in an unauthorised manner. A day of great solemnity. Incense is offered over the altar, which is then sprinkled with blood. The High Priest, leaves, washes and changes his clothes, confesses the sins over the second goat and sends it to the desert.
It is the day of Atonement, when God forgives Israel their sins. Now St. Paul tells us, that with the one, full and perfect sacrifice of Jesus, there is no further need for sacrifices. Jesus has paid the full price. But the Gospels speak in a more eloquent way. As Jesus dies, the curtain separating the holy of ho lies from the holy place rips in half. This shows the end of the sacrificial system (after all the Holy of Holies was empty, had been since the time of Jeremiah), but more importantly, it shows that we no longer need an intermediary to enter into the presence of the living God. The blood of Jesus has paid the price once and for all. Amateur archaeologist Ron Wyatt even claims that the Ark of the covenant was in a cave under where Jesus was crucified and that the blood of Jesus fell on the Ark as the blood of the lamb did in days of old. If this is true it shows how wonderfully God planns things.
But we are reminded, not one of us, no not one deserves to enter into the presence of God. Before a just Lord we all merit the death sentence, and there is nothing we can do on our own to merit life. It takes the blood of Jesus, and nothing but the blood of Jesus, as the old song says. So as we approach the day of atonement, let us remember the final day of atonemement, when the true lamb of God shed his blood for you and me, that we could enter into the presense of the Father. And let us cry Father, but let us too aknowledge him as LORD.
+Mar Michael Abportus