Starting this past Friday night through Sat the Jewish people celebrated the Holy Day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. There is much I do not understand about this day but I have learned a little bit about it recently.
Now remember that in the Temple you had the open courtyard where all Jews could go, then the Holy place (the Temple itself) where only the Priests could go and farther in was the Holy of Holies – the place where God resided – and only the High Priest was allowed to go in there and only one day a year, Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur was and still is considered the Holy of holy days where the sins of the High Priest, the sins of the Priesthood, and the sins of the people were atoned for or covered over for another year.
By the time of Jesus there was a specific way this day was handled.
-Seven days prior to Yom Kippur the High Priest left his home and moved into the Temple, to protect him and keep him ritually pure.
-At the dawning of Yom Kippur the High Priest began his duties (having stayed up all night reading and meditating on Scripture).
-The High Priest, now dressed all in white to symbolize purity, throughout the day would stand and recite prayers before the people. 10 times on this day alone during those prayers the High Priest was allowed to say the Name of God, YHWH. And each time he said the Name the people would bow face down to the ground and respond with “bless the Name.”
There are many other details that I’m not going to get in to but what I want to get across is the reverence and awe with which the day was treated bc the God to whom the day belonged was seen as a holy holy holy God, and therefore, one did not enter His presence or even say His Name lightly or flippantly.
There is a tension in our relationship with God and we need to recognize it. On the one hand you are in COVENANT with God! He will not raise His hand against you. He is your Father and you are to come like a child before Him, intimate, fully assured of His love, trusting in His faithfulness and goodness. He is your Abba!
(It had been stated it takes 2 hands to think Jewishly and that’s a good thing to remember)
On the other hand you are in Covenant WITH GOD! He is your God and you are to come with respect and even humility as a slave before the Master. He is not a man. He is not like us. He is God!
It doesn’t make sense to our western minds so don’t even try to figure it out. Acknowledge He is God. Love Him as your Father and worship him as your Lord. And by the grace of God may we learn to live in this tension of having our Father be God and God be our Father.