Yom Kippur began yesterday at sunset and will end today at nightfall. The Jewish calendar notes this day as the holiest of days. It’s a time of fasting, worship and confession. In Old Testament times, a sacrifice accompanied the celebration. A perfect, unblemished lamb would have its throat slit, its legs bound and would be lain on the altar as the means to receive atonement for their sins. It was instituted when the Israelites created the golden calf and worshipped it instead of the true God. Moses, threw the tablets containing the Ten Commandments to the ground and they split into thousands of pieces. When the people realized their sin, they repented and returned to Adonai. It was then that God provided a second set of stones, outlining the way they should live from then on.
During this day, people usually refrain from eating and drinking, they do not go to work, they observe it as they would the Sabbath. The word atone means to make amends or be reconciled with God – in fact to be at-one with God. The sacrifice was an outside demonstration of laying the sins on the lamb to be burned up as an offering to God.
As Christians, our reconciliation with God was assured with the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood, His death and resurrection. The pure, unblemished Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. His blood was spilled, His body bruised and smitten.Still we believe that we sin daily and need to be reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. We no longer need to offer a sacrifice.
Repentance goes hand in hand with reconciliation. Without it we’ll never receive salvation. When you wrong someone, you first must make amends – say you’re sorry and promise to change. Our human nature draws us back into sin, so this repentance needs to happen every day. This is why we confess our sins to God. Jesus has made it possible to have an open, direct line to our heavenly Father.
The actual forgiveness does not come from what we do. If we were to get what we deserve, we would rot in hell. Our good deeds and works have no effect on our salvation. They are a result of it and gratitude to the One who provides it. Christ accepted us – sinners. He doesn’t put people into pigeon holes. He loves all of humanity.
First we must accept the fact that we’re sinners. Then we must acknowledge that we need a Savior. There is nothing we can say or do to save ourselves. In Christ alone, we have been redeemed, reconciled, renewed. Our baptism allows the Spirit of God to enter our souls – meaning that we are at one with God – AT-ONE!