Repentance is something we must do with our God-given free moral agency. Reconciliation is an ongoing process that enables us to draw closer to what God is.
God's solution to mankind's separation was sending a second Adam, Jesus Christ, to make reconciliation possible. Fasting shows our dependence on God.
The cleansing of Joshua's filthy robes in Zechariah 3 is a future application of the cleansing in Leviticus 16, when Jesus Christ cleanses Israel in the future.
Atonement, when we are commanded to afflict our souls through fasting, is a time of self-evaluation and repentance. This is the only way to have real unity with God.
A suitable sacrifice had to be offered so that the sins of mankind could not only be covered, but be completely paid for, forgiven, removed, and forgotten.
On the Day of Atonement, the one goat's blood cleansed the altar of all the sins, while the azazel took them away. Jesus Christ fulfilled both these roles.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon the uniqueness of the Day of Atonement, suggests that this day shows our frailness and total dependency on God. This day commemorates our High Priest making intercession for us, making us at one with God, and continuously working on our behalf. The atoning sacrifice covers all sin. Before Christ's sacrifice, only the High Priest could perform this task. This annual act typified the work Christ performed once for all mankind. This day pictures what Christ does continually because we keep on sinning. On this particular day, this Sabbath of Sabbaths, we are prohibited from a wider range of work than the other holy days. Consequently, refraining from work on Atonement symbolizes our inability to atone for our sins. We, humble and poor in spirit, depend upon God for everything.
In Israel, sins were symbolically placed on the altar throughout the year. On Yom Kippur, one goat's blood cleansed the altar; the second took away the sins.
The prospect of atonement and salvation is available to everybody, but only those called by the Father—not by an evangelical altar call—are eligible.
Man's estrangement from God is wholly man's fault. Atonement denotes the way harmony is achieved, making the entire world at one or reconciled with God.
If we do not keep God's holy days, we will deprive ourselves of the knowledge of God's purpose. Jesus and the first century church observed and upheld these days.
Some say the scapegoat (azazel) prefigures the Devil, others say it has been fulfilled by Jesus. Tradition teaches one thing; Scripture reveals another.
The first goat is a blood sacrifice to cleanse the altar. The second goat—the 'azazel' or 'complete removal'—is led away and freed (not bound by a chain).
While the church of God has long taught that the azazel goat of Leviticus 16 represents Satan, this traditional view has no biblical support.
Martin Collins, acknowledging that God has obviously handed the world over to a reprobate mind to let the penalties of their sins play out (Romans 1:18), maintains that rejecting God leads to a state of self-loathing and despair. Without God, human nature automatically turns toward negativity. Moral failure compounds when this self-loathing causes a progressive sabotaging of happiness. Only atonement or expiation can turn this dark depression around, providing the comfort of mental and spiritual health. Referenced three times in Scripture, Atonement refers to a specific time when the moral compass of a repentant people is reset, as contrasted from Passover, when Christ's blood covers individual sins. Atonement calls for three spiritual exercises to put our out-of-balance moral compasses back in sync with God. These exercises are 1.) balancing the ideals we strive for with the imperfect reality of our carnal selves, 2.) balancing individual needs with the needs of the larger community, and 3.) seeking balance between body and mind. The prophet Jonah had to learn these exercises as he ran away from his responsibility to preach repentance to Nineveh. His going down to the lower hold of the ship indicated that Jonah would rather face death than to see his enemies repent or to make godly decisions. Jonah's revelation that he was a Hebrew revealed to the sailors that Jonah's dereliction of responsibility caused the perilous storm. Jonah's anger at what he considered Nineveh's shallow repentance indicated He did not trust God's overall plan for mankind. On this solemn day of Atonement, as we afflict our bodies with fasting, we learn that mental nourishment is every bit as important as physical nourishment enabling us to connect the spirit in man with God's Holy Spirit, our emergent character. Not eating enables us to focus upon mental and spiritual nourishment exclusively.
Hebrews 9 and 10 clarify the Atonement ritual of Leviticus 16. The author makes no mention of Satan, but says that Jesus bears our sins like the azazel goat.
On the Day of Atonement, the live goat bears the sins of the nation. Many think this represents Satan as the source of sin, yet Scripture reveals the truth.
The goat for azazel (complete removal) bore the sins of the nation out of sight. Jesus Christ likewise had our iniquities laid on Him, and He bore them.
The Day of Atonement is not fulfilled with the binding of Satan. Rather, there are numerous prophecies of God atoning for the sins of physical Israel.
Only when we do not think so much of ourselves, feel helpless and weak, will we listen with the intensity required to truly believe, repent, and submit to God.
All that we have has come from others, especially God. The Day of Atonement points out how needy and dependent on God we are; fasting shows our frailty.
The Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53, plus the testimony of Peter and the author of Hebrews, show that Jesus fulfilled the azazel goat's role by bearing sin.
Hebrews 10:9 does not say that God's law or the Old Covenant has been done away, but that the system of animal sacrifices has been set aside for now.
The world will learn that God judges—that He has the ultimate decision over everything. After Satan is bound, God will bring about seven reconcilements.
Being poor in spirit is a foundational spiritual state for qualifying for God's Kingdom. Poor in spirit describes being acutely aware of one's dependency.
Throughout the generations, war has been mankind's solution to problems. Is there hope for the future? John Ritenbaugh gives the comforting answer: at-one-ment is possible with God!
Though Satan influences, the choices an individual make are totally his own, even for those without God's Spirit. We sin when we are drawn away by our own desires.
Fasting puts us in a proper humble and contrite frame of mind, allowing God to respond to us, freeing us from our burdens and guiding us into His Kingdom.
The fall holy days picture various judgments by God, bringing about liberty, reconciliation, regathering, and restoration.
Martin Collins, maintaining that there never has been , and never will be, another death like Jesus Christ's, reminds us that Our Omniscient God, who cannot sin, knew that we would sin and, therefore, pre-ordained a sacrifice that would satisfy all legal requirements, but would also motivate us to repent of sin and pursue righteousness, building character, living by faith, and exercising moral responsibility. The result? We grow into sharing the exact character of our Savior. The sacrifice of Jesus constitutes the death of an innocent, sinless, worthy victim for the entire human race. When Adam and Eve sinned, their overwhelming guilt and shame forced them to hide, dreading the consequences of their sin. God dealt with the transgression directly, covering their nakedness with the skins of animals—the first-time death literally appeared in Eden. These clothes of animal skins reminded them of the reality of death and symbolized how their redemption would ultimately come, namely through the sacrifice of an innocent victim at Golgotha, satisfying the wrath of God toward sin through propitiation and reconciliation, repairing the broken relationship between all of mankind and the Creator. While Passover is personal in nature, the sacrifice symbolized by the Day of Atonement is universal, pointing to God's reconciliation of the entire world, as Satan is punished by separation. Redemption refers to buying back something that was lost. The necessity for Christ's death stems from God's holiness and absolute intolerance of sin and His obligation to judge righteously. A substitutionary sacrifice is required to propitiate for God's wrath against the sins of mankind. His death brought to a climax a plethora of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Christ took on our poverty and lowliness so that we might become His co-heirs as God's children. Like Paul and Peter, we have been called for a pre-ordained purpose, and are obligated to follow His example, looking forward to His coming both as a Savior and a Judge.
The gospels show Jesus observing the Passover at the beginning of the 14th. Should we use the time when He observed it or the time He died as our guide?
Many of us have been members of the church of God for decades, and because of our long association with God's festivals, we forget that new members have little or no idea how to keep them and can be intimidated about what God requires of them during these appointed times. Richard Ritenbaugh points out the foundational principles new members need to keep in mind in observing the Feasts of God throughout the year.
Richard Ritenbaugh, providing some startling statistics showing the wastefulness of Americans, who discard nearly a third of the food they produce annually, states that the western world, and America particularly, is clueless as to what real famine is. Truly, voluntary fasting is not a twin of famine, but it provides an opportunity for God's called-out ones to afflict themselves, to forcefully bring their carnal appetites under subjection, creating the milieu of humble, contemplative reflection concerning the Source of physical and spiritual blessings. Fasting and affliction are always in tandem, producing the humble mindset to reciprocate a special relationship with God Almighty. God has historically used famine as one of the tools to get the Israelites' attention when they violated the terms of the Covenant with Him, forsaking His holy law . We should know that all curses are the result of sin, but if we genuinely repent, God will lift the affliction. God knows the difference between sincere and hypocritical repentance. If we do not want famine, then we should fast with the pure motive of restoring our covenant relationship with God. Because Adam and Eve could not discipline themselves to fast from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their offspring have been cursed with mortality to this day. As we fast, God draws us closer to Him, just as He sustained Moses during his three nearly consecutive forty-day fasts. Fasting demonstrates obedience to God and expresses self-control, mirroring the character of God, who is always in control. We demonstrate the same desire to obey God when we "fast" from unclean meats. If we fast with a double mind, going through the motions but continuing to treat our fellows shabbily, we are not fasting, but simply going hungry. Fasting merely to get something for ourselves leads to disaster, but if we humble ourselves, repenting of our sins, we reap the benefits from a relationship with God.
The intent of fasting is to deflate our pride—the major taproot of sin—the biggest deterrent to a positive relationship with God. Humility heals the breach.
Jesus was crucified late on Abib 14, yet the Passover lambs were to be killed at the beginning of the 14th. The time of Christ's death is highly significant.
We cannot assume that angels are immortal and share the same kind of spirit God Almighty has; we cannot assume they are indestructible.
Paul never taught any Jew to forsake the Law of Moses, but he did warn against Pharisaical additions for the expressed purpose of attaining justification.
Charles Whitaker, reflecting on the events taking place as Christ bid His disciples farewell upon His ascension into Heaven, suggested that the approximately 75 days between the resurrection of Lazarus and Pentecost- brought about tumultuous activity and earth-shaking events. The disciples wanted eagerly to know what would happen next, just as we do do today. In that relatively short period of time, many miraculous and dramatic events occurred, including: (1) the resurrection of Lazarus, (2) the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, (3) the Passover , (4) the ripping of the Temple veil, an event which reverberated throughout the entire Jewish world , (5) the opening of tombs, populating the region with many people who had earlier died,, (6) the resurrection of Christ, (7) the ascension of Christ, and (8) Pentecost (the miraculous beginning of the New Testament Church). But then God seemed to turn off the fulfilled prophecy machine; God did nothing further dramatic during 31 AD. Years and months rolled by, speculations emerged and fizzled, with hope that Christ would re-appear on one of the impending holy days. Paul, who thought Christ would return in his lifetime, urged people to be eternally vigilant never letting down, reminding us to earnestly love His appearing. Those who love His appearing will receive a crown of righteousness. The apparent discrepancy in the number of days in Daniel's prophecies equal 75 days, perhaps duplicating the 75 dramatic days occurring between the resurrection of Lazarus and the resurrection of Christ. We may not see those 75 days, but will receive the blessing on day 1,335 if we continue to look forward to Christ's appearing.
Forgiveness is not a feeling that washes over us, but a conscious choice. It does not mean that the offense will never come to mind, nor that all the pain vanishes.
Nine steps had to be included with the Passover observance, all within the house until morning. It takes place between sun's setting and complete darkness.
Jesus Christ's priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood because Christ tenure is eternal rather than temporal, guaranteeing both continuity and quality.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that Jesus Christ's sinlessness was not the result of being a programmed automaton, but instead as a result of volition or choice—actively struggling against carnal pulls and temptations, enabling Him to fully empathize and have compassion on those tempted in like manner. He experienced exactly the same kind of temptations and suffering we experience, qualifying Him for the role of High Priest, bridge-builder between man and God, the same role for which members of God's called-out Family are also qualifying. Like our Elder Brother, we must learn righteous judgment by continually exercising our spiritual muscle, practicing making choices, distinguishing right from wrong, but building godly character and spiritual maturity through the enabling power of God's Holy Spirit.