Our Atonement Today

A blessed Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement to you all. Earlier this month, I subscribed to Bible Gateway’s newsletter Holy Land Moments with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. It’s described as a way to learn about the Jewish background of Scripture by exploring the High Holy Days.

I’m finding it fascinating. I grew up keeping these Holy Days, but not always with much understanding of the Jewish perspective on them. While some of the Jewish tradition doesn’t relate to Christian observance of these days, they often teach a perspective that deepens my understanding. Take the Days of Awe for example. Using the 10 days between Trumpets and Atonement for self-reflection and repentance deepens the meaning of and my engagement with this holy time. And sometimes, the Jewish perspective sparks a thought about how my Christian perspective differs, such as today’s comment in the Holy Land Moments newsletter:

The central part of the Yom Kippur service is missing today. Chapter 16 of Leviticus is dedicated to the description and instructions for the Yom Kippur service that was performed when the Tabernacle and later the Temples stood. Today, we no longer have a high priest, nor do we participate in ritual sacrifices. So how do we achieve atonement?

Those who believe Messiah has come have a different answer to this question than those who don’t. Rabbi Eckstein writes,”There are three keys that take the place of the service performed in biblical times” and they “can undo our wrongdoings and change things for the better.” These things are “repentance, prayer, and charity.”

Our Atonement Today | marissabaker.wordpress.com
original photo credit: Nick Fullerton, CC BY via Flickr

While those things are important, I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord that I’m not trying to atone for myself. There’s no way I could ever do enough or be good enough to undo my own sins. Today, we do have a High Priest and He has filled the ritual sacrifices with His perfect sacrifice (Heb. 7:23-28). The “central part” of Yom Kippur isn’t missing for Christians who keep this Holy Day — it’s more real than ever. Read more

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Priests and Kings — Attached to Praise

In Genesis 29, we’re briefly introduced to a woman who plays a key role in Biblical history. Though she is largely overlooked, her legacy shaped the religion we now call Christianity in fascinating ways.

Now Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were delicate, but Rachel was beautiful of form and appearance. (Gen 29:16-17)

The matriarchs of Genesis see themselves as filling their godly role when they have children who grow up to play key roles in Biblical history. These women are heroes of motherhood as well as of faith. They have their own speaking lines, personalities, and relationships with God, but they’re typically remembered in terms of the children they raised.

Priests and Kings -- Attached to Praise | marissabaker.wordpress.com
photo credits: “Tallitot” by Robert Couse-Baker (CC BY); “Danish royal crown” by Dion Hinchcliffe (CC BY-SA); “Shofar and Candlesticks” by slgckgc (CC BY)

Leah mothered 6 of Jacob’s 12 sons, as well as the only daughter recorded for any patriarch. Her sons Levi and Judah were the ones God used to found lines of priests and kings. Though the story of Rachel and her son Joseph overshadow the other sons in Genesis, kingship and priesthood play a huge role in God’s plan and there’s much we can learn from Leah’s take on the birth of her sons. Read more

Clothed in Holiness

“What do you think dignity’s all about?”

The directness of the inquiry did, I admit, take me rather by surprise. “It’s rather a hard thing to explain in a few words, sir,” I said. “But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.” (Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day)

This quote comes from a delightful little book about a British butler looking back on his life. Much of his reminisces center around this idea of dignity. He connects dignity with “a butler’s ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits.” A butler who cannot do this is “like a man who will, at the slightest provocation, tear off his suit and shirt and run around screaming.” In short, a good butler keeps himself covered in the role he is committed to no matter how trying the circumstances.

Clothed in Holiness | marissabaker.wordpress.com
Photo: Messianic Dance Troupe by Larry Jacobsen

I would probably not have connected this with the Bible if not for a message I heard on the same day I was taking The Remains of the Day back to the library. The Rabbi at my local Messianic congregation taught on the priestly garments and how we choose to “cover” ourselves with either good or bad actions, words, and character traits. Read more

Consider the High Priest

In Hebrews 3:1, the writer tells his “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling” to “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.” The word “consider” invites us to “observe fully” (Strong’s G2657) and “fix one’s eyes or mind upon” Jesus (Thayers). That’s what we did in last week’s post for His role as Apostle, and what I hope to do this week for His role as High Priest.

Consider the High Priest | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Changed Priesthood

Christ’s priesthood is “after the order of Melchizedek.” It’s a key point in Hebrews’ discussion of Christ as our High Priest, even though we know very little about Melchizedek from his 3-verse appearance in the Torah. Read more