Atonement

 

Ushering in the Ten Days of Awe

 

This is the beginning of the Jewish New Year 5781. I may not have a full grasp of the rich traditions in the celebration of this High Holy Day, but I do know the greatest Jewish man that ever lived. Jesus celebrated this holiday with great reverence because he knew the One True God, His Father, and He was raised by Jewish parents.

Rosh Hashanah

This year Rosh Hashanah began on September 18th and ended on the 20th. This High Holy Day lasts two days, but both days are considered one long day of 48 hours. It is celebrated on the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Rosh Hashanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets, when the shofar is blown. According to tradition, this is a time of great repentance, when God judges all creatures.  During the ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, God inscribes the names of the righteous in the “Book of Life:” those who fail to make the list are condemned. Those unfortunate souls must perform a “Teshvah” or repentance. You have ten days to look inward and atone for all your sinful behavior. This is a time for the Jewish people to remember their history and to pray for the Jewish nation of Israel.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest of all the Jewish holidays. Traditionally on this day the Jewish High Priest would set aside seven days away from his normal family life to prepare for the sacred Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 8:33 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition

The High Priest withdrew to his chambers in the Holy Temple. Throughout the week he would immerse himself in the studies of the Law relating to the task that he had to perform on the sacred day. There was always a designated High Priest in case he inadvertently became defiled. On the Day of Atonement no one was permitted to witness the performing of the incense because they followed the strict rules of the Torah.

 

Image from the Temple Institute, two red heifers born in Israel

The Red Heifer

Once a year the High Priest would sacrifice a red heifer. He would sprinkle the blood from the cow on the Mercy Seat, and the ashes were used for purification of the Jewish people. It has been 2,000 years since the Israelites have atoned for the sin of their nation in this manner. The red heifer was used on the Day of Atonement in both Temples; the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans.

Temple Institute Menorah
Temple Institute Table of Show Bread and other sacred vessels
Temple Institute Third Temple Replica

On several of our visits to Jerusalem we have visited The Temple Institute. This organization has dedicated their time and efforts to reconstruct all the vessels needed to build the Third Temple. One of the last things they needed was the red heifer. This cow cannot have any blemish and no white hair can be detected. The last time I visited the Temple Institute, they were still working on the DNA for the red heifer. Two years ago two red heifers were born; they are closely monitored for any defects. The news of the birth of these special cows can only mean that Jews are going to build their Temple in anticipation of the Messiah. This cow can not be older than four years. These are strict Levitical rules they must adhere to.

19 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: This is a statute of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish and on which no yoke has been laid.

 Two goats were chosen for the sin offering; one goat was for the Lord and the other was the scapegoat. The Hebrew word Azazel (scapegoat) was the name of the place where that scapegoat was sent. Azazel is a high cliff in the Judean desert from which the goat was cast to its death. Upon this goat were the sins of all Israel.
My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for our nation to come together in peace during Yom Kippur. Lord, You are our High Priest, and we wait in anticipation of Your Second Coming. Lord, fill the earth with the sweet-smelling scent of Your holy incense. Allow us to hear the trumpets as they hail Your holy presence. We place all of our petitions upon Your Holy Mercy Seat. Consume them, and let them be a pleasing sacrifice. Forgive us of all transgressions, and bless us to become better servants in Your Kingdom. Amen.

12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!

 

 

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