A Special Yom Kipur Message
Having, then, a great כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, Kohen Gadol passed through the heavens—יֵשׁוּעַ, Yeshua, the Son of God—let us hold fast to the profession of faith. For we have a כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, Kohen Gadol not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one tempted in all things likewise as we are, yet remaining apart from sin. Let us come near, then—unhindered—to the throne of unmerited favor, so that we may receive loving-kindness and find unmerited favor—for timely help. (עִבְרִים Iv’riym 4:14-16, mjlt)
Each year on Yom Kipur—the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on Israel’s annual calendar—it is the responsibility of the lone Kohen Gadol (high priest) to take the lives of innocent animals and, with their shed blood, make atonement for himself and all the people of Israel. And for that brief moment, he and the people for whom he stands as mediator before God, are clean—their sins covered by the blood.
But where that temporary, earthly sacrifice is limited by its reliance upon men in need of their own atonement, the Master Yeshua—who is both our humble Passover lamb, and our great Kohen Gadol—”passed through the heavens” to meet everyone’s need forever… not just year after year, but once and for all. Therefore, with the Day of Atonement having been fulfilled in Him, “let us hold fast to the profession of faith” that not through the blood of animals nor the efforts of men, but only through Yeshua—the Son of God, the everlasting intercessor—can we stand eternally covered and clean before our Creator.
Should we not, then, be in awe, and find overwhelming confidence and peace in the accomplishment of this impossible thing: that Yeshua, God in the flesh—who has done for the world what no other man could ever do—made a way for us not just through His godliness, but through His humanity as well? And it is not an imaginary humanity—a fabricated shell with the appearance of a man’s, encasing the true, inner divine person. No, like every other Kohen before Him, His full, unmingled humanness was a necessary and key component for obtaining our atonement.
Indeed, we fragile beings, full of flesh and filth, require a mediator who has Himself experienced our condition. He needs to be able to stand before God as a legitimate representative of the people, seeking atonement on our behalf. And that is why, in Yeshua, “we have a כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל, Kohen Gadol not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” Though fully God, He also knew birth, life, love, adversity, joy and death. Fully man, He has intimate knowledge of everything we go through… including temptation.
This reality, if we can grasp it, will set us free, indeed.
In order for Yeshua to “sympathize with our weaknesses,” His real humanity (not a contrived one) had to include the real susceptibility to temptation (not a perceived one). As inconceivable as this may seem—as blasphemous as some may allege it appears—Yeshua nonetheless was “tempted in all things likewise as we are.” In. All. Things. This means that there is not a temptation on earth that Yeshua was not tempted by. Every conceivable sin in the world at some time presented itself to Yeshua, enticing Him to follow.
And this is where we find our victory, confidence and hope: that even though He was tempted in all things as we are, “yet [He remained] apart from sin.” The man Yeshua—fully human just like us—resisted temptation and overcame sin! Therefore, through Yeshua’s mediation of our atonement, and by following His lifelong example, we too have the authority to resist, and overcome, and remain apart from sin.
This is why we are now worthy to approach God without obstructions: because Yeshua gave His life to make the way for our cleansing, covering, and freedom from sin. Yeshua’s example, then, as a perfect, sinless human, ought to assure us that if we will walk in the reality of our atonement, we too can aspire to Yeshua’s achievable standard. So “let us come near, then—unhindered… that we may receive loving-kindness and find unmerited favor—for timely help.” Let us believe that since He is like us, we can be like Him.
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