Wednesday 23 September 2015

Hebrews 10 : 18-22 « Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin… »  

Yom Kippour, 10 days after Rosh Hoshanna,  is considered to be the holiest and most solemn day of the year. Yom Kippour (Great Forgiveness) or the Day of Atonement  is devoted to fasting, prayer and repentance. Its central them is forgiveness and réconciliation with God, and with our enemies.  At the time of theTemple, after great ceremony, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year, where the Divine Presence dwelt, to obtain forgiveness for the people.  The Hebrew language calls this part of the temple the “bedroom” because it represents the most intimate place in the house of God. Jewish scholars say: “Even the greatest of the righteous can never rise and get closer to God than the one who has been forgiven.”

It gives us a picture of a child holding a balloon at the end of a string.  We are the child, God is the balloon.  By our sin, we cut the string that attaches us to Him.  But by His forgiveness he restores the relationship by tying a knot in the string. A string with a knot in it is shorter that it previously was!  At the time of Yeshua, the scribes dictated the conditions for forgiveness. To receive forgiveness from God, il was necessary to have the priest offer a sacrifice in the Temple on the Day of Kippour, after a period of penitence.

But the gospels present Yeshua declaring “Your sins are forgiven” without a sacrifice or a high priest.  The scribes thought it was blasphemy! The words of the Messiah were dynamite, exploding the philosophy of the day and insisting that forgiveness is based above all on a relationship, and not a scapegoat. This was a revolution!

Forgiveness is not the same as the policeman who stops you for speeding and then decides not to give you a ticket because he’s in a good mood. Forgiveness is a restored relationship, a healing, a renewed communion  that is more solid and much deeper. Have we become too familiar with  His forgiveness, too flippant about His grace, too hardened to recognise His mercy, and unable to forgive others? We cannot give only what we have ourselves; in fact, we are only able to forgive because we have truly received His forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a free grace that removes us from the requirements of the scribes. It is the strong affirmation that our righteousness is perfect before God even though we are the greatest of sinners.  This day is an opportunity to revive in us HIs revolutionary forgiveness, paid for by the sacrifice of His life, which gives us access beyond the veil to the bedroom, face to face with His glory. It is here that His voice calls those who have been forgiven and reconciled “My Beloved”

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