SHOULD THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST FAST ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?
Under the Creator God's covenant with ancient Israel, the Day of Atonement was to be observed with a mandatory fast (abstaining from food and drink). Many of the Jewish faith and some individuals and groups who profess to follow Christ still fast during this festival.
Fasting on the Day of Atonement was a part of the yearly Day of Atonement rituals that would guarantee that the Creator God's presence would dwell among the Israelites for another year.
There are three basic things that must exist in order for fasting on the Day of Atonement to fulfill the purpose for which it was intended under the Creator's covenant with ancient Israel:
1. A temple in Jerusalem in which God's presence can dwell.
2. A Levitical Priesthood to officiate on the Day of Atonement.
3. A sacrificial system officiated over by the Levitical Priesthood.
A short survey of the Books of the Law will reveal that it is impossible for the Sovereign Father's earthly children or any Israelite to observe the Day of Atonement as set forth under the Creator God's covenant with ancient Israel without denying the sacrifice of Christ. Moreover, without a temple in Jerusalem for God's presence to dwell in, a Levitical Priesthood, and a sacrificial system, the conditions and the reasons for which this national fast was intended do not exist.
Clearly the Day of Atonement cannot be observed as it was in ancient Israel until all of the prerequisites are in place for its observance as required by the law of the covenant. However, some people feel that, because some of the Sovereign Father's elect who lived during the time the temple existed in Jerusalem practiced some of the rituals and observances associated with the Creator's covenant with ancient Israel, fasting on this festival is mandatory regardless of the lack of the prerequisites.
Whether or not the followers of Christ must observe a fast on the Day of Atonement is an issue concerning the laws that the Creator gave to national Israel and which of these laws are still binding on the Sovereign Father's holy nation and earthly family of king-priests during the gospel age of salvation. Therefore, the only logical place to find the answer to this issue is the in the New Testament.
PAUL AND A FAST
Many point to the fast noted in Acts, chapter 27 verse 9 as proof that the Sovereign Father's earthly family must observe a fast on the Day of Atonement, just like the ancient Israelites did.
Although the Day of Atonement is not mentioned by name in this scripture, the circumstantial evidence in chapter 27 indicates that the fast noted in verse 9 took place in the seventh month. The weather conditions noted placed the fast in late fall or winter; therefore, many Bible scholars and researchers have assumed that in verse 9, the use of the Greek word 'nesteia', which means abstinence from food, refers to the Day of Atonement. But, there is no scriptural or historical proof that this assumption is correct. Moreover, the fast of Gedaliah was also observed by the House of Judah in the seventh month, adding to the uncertainty concerning the fast referred to in verse 9.
A WARNING TO CHRISTIANS ABOUT JUSTIFICATION
The apostle Paul gives the following warning and instruction to the Colossians to continue in the belief and practice of the faith that they had been taught regarding salvation and jjustification.
Col 2:4-17 KJV
"And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in him: Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving" (vs.6-7 ).
Paul said the following concerning people whose beliefs and practices were in opposition to God and who would attempt to subvert, confuse, and lead the Colossians astray in their worship and service to God. This warning included those who were teaching that gentile converts needed to observe the law of Moses for justification.
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (vs.8-10).
The English word complete in verse 10, is translated from the Greek word pleroo that can mean to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish, satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task). These Colossians were complete in their transformation from what they were as a human with the spirit of man to a son of the Father's new creation having his holy spirit dwelling within them.
"In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" (v11).
The act of circumcision for the ancient Israelite male was the outward sign of a covenant relationship with the Creator God. Circumcision made without hands, is the circumcision of the heart (i.e., one's inner being).
"Buried with him (Christ) in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God (the Sovereign God), who had raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, had he quickened (i.e., made alive) together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (vs.12-13).
The Colossians were free of the penalty of the law, they were sinless and kept in a sinless state of existence because of the sacrificial blood of Christ, their faith in his sacrifice, and their willing obedience to their heavenly Father.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (vs.14-15).
It is clear from the scriptures that the things that are against you prior to repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the holy spirit are your sins (i.e., your violation of God's law) and it is these sins that are blotted out through the sacrificial blood of Christ.
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an festival, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ (i.e., but the reality is Christ)" (vs.16-17).
A case for the observance of the Annual Festivals, the New Moons, and the weekly Sabbath being required by Christians today and also being required in the future after the return of Christ can be easily made, because the early church observed these days and prophecy clearly shows that some of these days are to be observed after Christ returns. However, a case for the observance of the sacrifices and rituals associated with these festivals during this gospel age is extremely difficult to make.
For national Israel, the primary reason for the observance of the Day of Atonement was to have their national sins set aside in order for the Creator God to dwell among them for another year.
The setting aside of national Israel's sins and the purification of the people was accomplished through the sacrifices and rituals performed on the Day of Atonement. Obedience to this process assured national Israel that at that moment in time they were justified (i.e., viewed as being innocent of their violation of God's law) and that the Creator God's presence would continue to dwell among them for another year.
For the Sovereign Father's holy nation and earthly family of king-priests, all sacrifice and ritual concerning justification have been fulfilled for all time by Jesus Christ for every person to whom the Sovereign Father has given his spirit of adoption and accepted into his holy family:
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb.9:11-12 KJV).
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. to him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And had made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev.1:4-6 KJV)
Paul, Peter, and Justification
Paul's reprimand of Peter because he was setting a wrong example by his hypocritical behavior and causing division among the elect shows that it is through Christ's sacrifice that a person is justified (i.e., made innocent) before the Sovereign Father, not through works of the flesh.
"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray" (vs.11-13 NIV).
Peter stopped associating with gentiles because he feared the condemnation of those sent from James. Traditionally Jews were forbidden to eat with gentiles believing that this close association would defile them.
"But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, If you, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel you the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" (v14 KJV).
The truth of the gospel that Paul spoke of in verse 14 is the good news that the practice of sacrifice and ritual for justification were unnecessary for a person who was reconciled to the Sovereign God and made innocent before him through the sacrificial blood of Christ.
Peter had ceased to practice Jewish traditions and customs that were clearly in opposition to God's law and he had ceased to practice the sacrifices and rituals required for justification under the Creator's agreement with national Israel.
To paraphrase, Paul was telling Peter: You have forsaken Jewish rituals and tradition and are living as a gentile, so why are you now requiring the gentiles to live as Jews?
The Sovereign Father is equitable in his offer of salvation. He does not favor one nationality or race over another nor does he have different sets of rules for different people. See Acts 10:34, Rom.2:11; Eph.6:9.
Paul's rational for what he said to Peter concerns being justified (i.e., made innocent of sin):
"We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (vs.15-16 KJV).
The works of the Law included the rituals preformed during the festivals, such as fasting on the Day of Atonement. Fasting on the Day of Atonement was a work of the law and was required in order to be found innocent and in harmony with the Creator God and his law.
"But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor" (vs.17-18 KJV).
If a person seeks to be made innocent through the sacrifice of Christ and then voluntarily places themselves under the Mosaic Law by attempting to be justified through obedience to it, that person is attempting to be justified through physical works. Paul asks, "Is Christ the minister of this?" Paul then explains that, if he attempts to revisit the law of sacrifice and ritual in order to be justified before the Father, he then comes under the penalty of this law — a law under which there is no forgiveness of sin.
No one can seek to be justified through both the sacrifice of Christ and the law of sacrifice and ritual. To do this, denies the power of Christ sacrifice to totally wash away one's sins and make one totally innocent before the Sovereign Father.
In verses 19-21, Paul argues that it is through the law of sacrifice that he is now dead to the sacrificial system of justification:
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" (vs.19-21 KJV).
What exactly did Paul mean when he said, "I through the law am dead to the law?"
The law requires the death penalty for those who violate it; therefore, Paul could not continue in the law for the purposes of justification, because he was dead to its penalty through the sacrificial blood of Christ. Paul's argument is that, if he continued to seek justification through obedience to the law, Christ's sacrifice would be meaningless.
Paul understood that no one could obtain eternal justification through the works of the law. This is why he said, "for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."
Circumcision, The Mosaic Law, and Justification
During the early years of the church, some individuals believed that obedience to the Law of Moses and its symbols of justification were necessary in order to be justified before their heavenly Father. Because of this belief, a council of elders was convened in Jerusalem to resolve this issue.
Acts 15:1-6 KJV
"And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved" (v1).
The issue concerning circumcision had to do with a person's covenant relationship with God. Under Israel's national agreement with the Creator God, if a man was not circumcised, he could not have a covenant with God, because male circumcision was symbolic of this agreement.
"When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy to all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter" (vs.2-6).
It seems that the primary reason for the conference was to settle the question of circumcision for non-jews; however, as with all open forums other questions always come up. Added to the question of circumcision was the question of whether or not gentiles must obey the "Law of Moses."
Because these men knew that the blood of Christ paid the penalty for their sin and that they were now justified (i.e., made innocent before the Father). The question before the council was whether or not a person also must practice circumcision and other laws given through Moses in order to remain justified before the Father?
The Apostles James renders his decision in verses 19-21:
"Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write to them, that they abstain from pollution of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time had in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day" (vs.19-21).
Notice that circumcision as a symbol of a covenant relationship with God the Father is not required and neither are the laws concerning sacrifices and their attending rituals, which were necessary for justification under the Creator's covenant with national Israel.
"Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting to the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, you must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment" (vs.22-24).
The edict of Acts 15 gives clear guidelines in order to determine which of God's laws are mandatory for gentiles to practice. Laws given through Moses concerning a covenant relationship with God and the sacrificial laws and their attending rituals required for justification under the Creator God's covenant with national Israel were not mandatory for gentiles to practice.
"It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the holy spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That you abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well. Fare you well" (vs.25-29).
Acts 15 and the edict given concerning gentiles, clearly shows that gentiles were justified and remained justified through the sacrifice of Christ and that the sacrificial system of worship and its attending rituals that pertained to justification were not binding on gentiles.
Because God the Father does not have a dual standard in order for a person to be justified and remain justified, the same in guidelines set forth in Acts 15 apply to all individuals within the Father's earthly family of king-priests.
The observance of the Day of Atonement required that sacrifice and rituals be performed at the temple with an officiating priesthood; therefore, in order to practice the Day of Atonement rituals as prescribed in the law, the temple in Jerusalem and a Levitical Priesthood must exist.
Works of the Law
Paul and his companions resisted those who demanded that Titus be circumcised. This clearly shows that Paul and others of the Eldership were upholding the edict of Acts 15 concerning justification and the Gentiles.
"Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preached among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you" (Gal.2:1-5 NIV).
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even as we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Gal.2:16 KJV).
Would it be wrong for a follower of Christ to be circumcised or wear a fringe on their garments or write the commandments upon their door post as required under the Creator's covenant with ancient Israel? These three things are all works of the law and were a part of the first agreement between the Creator and national Israel, but they are not a part of the new agreement between the Sovereign Father and his earthly nation of king-priests.
If a person does not do these things to obtain justification before the Sovereign Father, these acts would not be wrong to perform. However, for one called to salvation during the gospel age to perform these acts in hope of being justified would be wrong; because, the motivation for doing these acts would be an attempt to gain justification under the law of justification by works; therefore, one's works would deny the sacrifice of Christ.
It is through Christ that a person can be totally justified (i.e., made innocent) before the Father without the works of the law. Notice what Paul says about trying to be justified by the works of the law:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free, and be not entangled with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say to you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace" (Gal.5:1-4 Para.).
The Nazarite Vow, Sacrificial Law, and Ritual
is true that Paul observed certain aspects of the sacrificial law and ritual.
However, he did not practice these laws and rituals in order to be justified
(i.e., to be made innocent before God). He practiced these laws because these
laws were guides to righteous behavior. Also the temple was still in existence
at that time; therefore, certain rituals, which were
not concerned with justification could still be practiced by the elect,
such as those noted in Acts 21:17-26:
"And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of you, that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that you art come" (vs.17-22).
The English word 'customs' in verse 21 is translated from the Greek word ethos and in the context of verse 21 means a usage (prescribed by habit or law).
"Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law" (v23).
These four men of the elect had taken a nazarite vow which was perfectly legal for the elect to do while the temple existed.
"As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication" (v25).
Notice that the gentile elect were not required to perform any of the sacrifices and rituals that Paul and these men were required to perform in order to consummate their vow.
"Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them" (v26).
It is important to understand that a nazarite vow is not a requirement for being justified (i.e., made innocent) before God. A nazarite vow was a voluntary action.
The consummation of the nazarite vow required that sacrifice and ritual be performed at the temple in Jerusalem with an officiating Levitical Priesthood. Without the temple and the priesthood to perform sacrifice and ritual as prescribed in the law, nether Jew nor gentile can perform a nazarite vow.
The Day of Atonement and the Elect
Hebrews, chapters 8 and 9 speak of the necessity for a new covenant between God and national Israel and the difference between the old and new covenants. The writer also explains why the sacrifices and rituals of the Day of Atonement no longer apply:
"For finding fault with them [the Israelites], he [the Creator God] said, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah" (v8).
Here we see that the new covenant is to be made with regathered Israel. And according to biblical prophecy, this will only happen after Christ returns.
"Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people .And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest" (vs.9-10).
The major difference between the old and new covenant is that it will no longer be necessary to have symbols as reminders of God's law, because his law will be a part of a persons mental make-up.
"For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (v12).
In verse 12 the writer speaks to the fact that sins were never forgiven under the first covenant with national Israel. On the Day of Atonement all past and present sins were remembered by the Creator God and only allowed to be set aside through the sacrifices and rituals of the Day of Atonement. But under the new covenant relationship with national Israel, sins will be forgiven and forgotten.
In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away" (v13).
Verse 13 tells us that the first covenant with national Israel in ready to disappear; therefore, it was still a valid covenant at the time the writer penned these words.
Under the terms and conditions of the new covenant with national Israel after Christ returns, Israel will still have a temple, sacrifices, rituals, and a physical priesthood. See Ezekiel chapters 40 through 48. However, the agreement that the Sovereign God has made with his earthly family of king-priest is devoid of animal sacrifice and their attending rituals. See 1.Pet.2:5; 1.Cor.3:16-17; 6:19.
The Tabernacle and the High Priest
The writer to the Hebrews continues the theme of the covenants and the sacrificial system in chapter 9. Although verses 1-6 do not speak directly to the sacrifices, the rituals, and the Day of Atonement, they are important because they firmly fix the setting in which the writer explains the necessity for Christ's sacrificial blood and its impact on the Day of Atonement and its sacrifices and rituals.
"Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the show-bread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy-seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly" (vs.1-6).
Although much of the symbolic meaning of the first tabernacle, its details, and its appurtenances are lost in antiquity, the fundamental meaning of sacrifices and rituals can be understood through the writer's comments to the Hebrews.
"Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people" (vs. 6-7).
Verse 7 refers to the sacrifices and rituals on the Day of Atonement, which was the only day that the high priest could enter into the holy of holies.
If the high priest did not perform the sacrifices and rituals correctly and the people did not fast, all of their sins which God remembered on that day would not have been set aside and symbolically sent away with the live goat.
"The holy spirit thus signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a symbol for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and different washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation" (vs.8-10).
The writer explains that the way to the "holiest of all", which refers to the Sovereign Father's heavenly temple, was not known during the existence of the tabernacle. Today the way into the "holiest of all" is known. This way is through Christ and his sacrificial blood.
Verse 10 tells us that the physical sacrifices and ordinances, of which fasting was an ordinance required on the Day of Atonement, were only symbolic and were imposed until the time when they would be replaced with a more desirable method of justification. That time of reformation was the coming of Christ to sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity and to replace the sacrificial systems requirement for animal sacrifices and rituals for justification.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (vs.11-12).
Christ who is the high priest for the Sovereign Father's earthly family of king-priests has come through a the heavenly temple and has obtained forgiveness of sin once and for all through his sacrificial blood.
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (vs.13-14).
Christ is the final atonement for the sins of humanity. It is through Christ's sacrificial blood that sin is washed away and forgotten and a person is made sinless and can remain sinless.
A key to understanding what is meant in verse 14, is to remember that this letter is written to Hebrews who understood the sacrificial system and the rituals necessary for justification under the Creator God's covenant with national Israel. The dead works that are purged from one's thought process is a reference to the laws, sacrifices, and rituals that were necessary under the first covenant for the setting aside of sin.
During the gospel age of salvation, a person having the Sovereign Father's spirit of adoption is innocent (i.e., justified) in his sight and can worship and serve him in spirit and truth without performing animal sacrifice and the attending rituals that were required for justification under the first agreement with national Israel.
Jesus told a Samaritan woman, "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn.4:23-24 KJV).
Continuing in Hebrews 9 verse 15.
"And for this cause he is the mediator of the new agreement, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first agreement, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives. Whereupon neither the first covenant was dedicated without blood" (vs.15-18).
The first covenant with national Israel was dedicated and sealed with the blood of an animal because it pertained to physical blessings. The new covenant and testament contains eternal blessings; therefore, it was dedicated and sealed with the sacrificial blood of Christ whose origin was heavenly and eternal.
"For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the agreement which God had enjoined to you Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these" (vs.19-23).
The writer again explains the necessity for the life blood of a perfect sacrifice to fulfill the symbolism contained in the blood of a sacrificial animal in order to spiritually purify and forgive sin. Remember that it was impossible for sin to be forgiven with the sacrificial blood of an animal, sin could only be temporarily set aside through animal sacrifice.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entered into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world had he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (vs.24-26).
Christ has fulfilled all of the symbolism and ritual pertaining to justification for us through his sacrificial blood and is now our intercessory high priest before the Father.
"And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation" (v27).
All of the sacrifices and rituals performed in observance of the Day of Atonement, including the mandatory fast, were performed for only one purpose. That purpose was to place national Israel back into harmony with the Creator God, so that the Creator's presence would continue to reside in the temple.
In ancient Israel God's presence resided in the tabernacle and later in the temple in Jerusalem. But, where does God's presence reside today? The apostle Paul's writings leave no doubt as to where the presence of God resides on earth today:
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone corrupts the temple of God, God will bring that one to corruption; for the temple of God is holy, which you are" (1.Cor.3:16-17 KJV Para.). See also 1.Cor.6:19-20; 2.Cor.6:16.
The New International Version translators of the Bible use even stronger language in their translation of these verses:
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple" (1.Cor.3:16-17 NIV).
The ancient Israelites fasted in order to show their obedience and to beseech God not to leave his dwelling place among them. During this gospel age of salvation, the Sovereign Father's elect children have his holy spirit residing within them, are considered sinless, and are the Father's personal temples on earth. Therefore, they have no need for the sacrifices and rituals performed on the Day of Atonement which included a mandatory fast. Notice what the apostle John wrote about the spiritual relationship between the Father, Christ, and the Father's elect children:
one has seen God [the Sovereign Father]
at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love having been
perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because
of his spirit he has given to us. And we have beheld and bear witness that the
Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus
is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and have
believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the one abiding in love
abides in God, and God in him"
(1.Jn.4:12-13). See Lk.24:46-49; Acts 5:32.
"If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him" (Jn.14:23 KJV).
After Christ's death and resurrection, he came to his disciples and said, "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen" (Matt 28:18-20).
The writer to the Hebrews relates the following binding promise to the Father's elect children:
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" (Heb.13:5-6 KJV). See also 1.Sam.12:22; Psa.37:26-28.
Ancient Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement in order to show their obedience to the Creator God and in order to beseech him not to leave his dwelling place among them.
None of the other possible reasons noted in the Bible for performing a fast would apply to the Day of Atonement, because the only reason for the observance of the Day of Atonement by national Israel was to temporarily set sin aside for another year in order to restore harmony between the Creator God and the Israelites.
Symbolically, all of the sacrifices performed in observance of the Day of Atonement pointed to the future sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of sin through which the Sovereign Father would make a person innocent before him. Moreover, the two goats chosen by lot were symbolic of Israel's reconciliation with God. The slain goat symbolically paid the price of sin and the live goat symbolically removed sin.
These goats were both symbolic and prophetic of the perfect process of atonement (i.e., the method and the result). The blood of the slain goat represented the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, and the live goat represented sins set aside, awaiting Christ's perfect sacrifice in order to obtain total forgiveness of sin and its removal forever.
"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (vs.1-4).
The law of sacrifice and its attending rituals were a shadow (a dim reflection) of what was to come through Christ. No matter how diligently performed, the law of sacrifice and its attending rituals had no lasting benefit. These sacrifices and attending rituals only had a temporary benefit, because sin could not be forgiven under the first agreement between the Creator God and national Israel, sin could only be temporally set aside.
"Wherefore when he comes into the world, he said, Sacrifice and offering you would not, but a body have you prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you would not, neither had pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second" (vs.5-9).
Remember that in Hebrews chapter 8 the writer records that the first covenant was to be replaced and was ready to vanish. Christ's sacrifice removed the necessity for justification through physical works of animal sacrifice and ritual.
In regard to the Sovereign Father's elect children, Christ's sacrifice has not only eliminated the need for sacrifices and rituals for the remission of sin, but also removes the need for sacrifices and rituals for purification. Through Christ's sacrifice one can obtain forgiveness for all their past, present, and future sins, be decreed innocent and pure, and remain in total harmony with their heavenly Father.
"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool" (vs.10-13).
Christ's sacrifice fulfilled the totality of the symbolism of sacrifice and ritual of the Day of Atonement. There is nothing left to be fulfilled in the future. Therefore, the celebration of the Day of Atonement today is a memorial of what has happened, not what will happen. And what has happened is that Christ sacrificed his life to remove the necessity for animal sacrifice and ritual to temporarily set sin aside in order to proclaim a person innocent.
"For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the holy spirit also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more" (vs.14-17).
Those of the Father's new creation are witnesses of the total fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Christ's sacrifice eliminated the necessity for animal sacrifice and ritual in order to temporarily make a person innocent in God's sight. Through Christ's sacrifice a person can have their sins totally forgiven and forgotten.
"Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (vs.18-20).
Because of Christ's sacrifice, the Father's children are not constrained by the sacrificial and ritualistic system of worship that the Creator God gave to ancient Israel. The Father's worship system for them is a new and living way that provides eternal life to the worshiper.
Christ's sacrifice removed the requirements of animal sacrifice and ritual for justification through the physical works of animal sacrifice and ritual.
The Father's earthly family of king-priests do not need to fast in order to ask him to forgive their sins. Nor does a person having the indwelling of the holy spirit need to fast in order to ask the Father to maintain his presence within them. The Father's earthly children have his promise that he will forgive them if they ask in sincerity and in a repentant attitude. They also have his promise that he will never leave them as long as they perform his will and truly desire his presence within them. Therefore, there is no need to fast for these things on the Day of Atonement?
Although there are a number of reasons that a person having the holy spirit dwelling in them might want to perform a fast, none of these reasons should be the same reasons ancient Israel was required to fast on the Day of Atonement.
The Sovereign Father's elect children are holy and are set apart for a sacred purpose and no longer have a need of the sacrificial and ritualistic system that ancient Israel was required to perform under their agreement with the Creator God.
"And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works" (vs.22-23).
The symbolism of the Day of Atonement was totally fulfilled by Christ’s sacrifice and none of the sacrifices or rituals need be performed in observance of the Day of Atonement by the Father’s earthly children. Because the Father’s earthly family is totally justified before him. If a person fasts on the Day of Atonement for justification, that person is in essence saying that Christ's sacrificial blood is powerless to forgive their sin.
Some festivals are to be observed as memorials of past events, such as the Passover. And some are to be observed in anticipation of future fulfillment, such as the Feast of Trumpets, and the Feast of the Eighth Day. The Day of Atonement falls into the category of past fulfillment because Christ is the atonement for all humanity.
The Passover must be observed by the elect, because Christ said to observe it in remembrance of him. The elect observe other festivals as memorials of past events, in anticipation of future events, or for the spiritual lessons contained in these festivals. However, none of the festivals are to be observed for justification, because justification comes through Christ's sacrificial blood.
Jesus the Rock and Redeemer of Israel
In the following scriptures, Paul leaves no doubt that he believed Jesus Christ is the Rock and Redeemer of Israel through whom total justification comes:
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: AND THAT ROCK WAS CHRIST" (1.Cor.10:1-4 KJV). See also 1.Pet.1:10-11.
"Israel, that pursued the law of righteousness, has not succeeded in their attempt to conform to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not pursue it through faith, but attempted to conform by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling-stone and rock of offense [Christ]: and whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed" (Rom.9:31-33 Para.).
The apostle Peter also confirms Paul's analysis that Christ is the prophetic ROCK through whom a person can be made innocent before the Sovereign God:
"Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be confounded. To you therefore which believe he is precious: But to them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereto also they were appointed" (1.Pet.2:4-8 KJV). See also Psa.118:22-23; Matt.21:42; Acts 4:11-12; Eph.2:20; 1.Pet.2:21-24..
While being questioned by the high priest and elders about his authority to heal a lame man, Peter explained that it was through the authority of Jesus Christ that he healed this man. Moreover, he explained that Jesus was the Savior of humanity:
"Be it known to you all, and to all people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 10:10-12 KJV).
Because the Creator God of Israel and Jesus Christ are both called the only Redeemer and Savior, they must be the same being. If they are not the same being, there is a problem that cannot be solved using the Bible, because the Creator God of Israel and Jesus Christ are both the same being according to the Bible. Jesus Christ is the Savior, Redeemer, and justifier of mankind to the Sovereign Father.
The End-Time Temple
Some people might wonder if it will be important for the elect to fast on the Day of Atonement when the Levitical priesthood begins to officiate in a temple in Jerusalem dedicated to the Creator God.
The scriptures confirm that, before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., some of the elect practiced some of the sacrifices, rituals, and observances, which demanded a priesthood and temple for their practice (See Acts 21:17, 26-27). From the events noted in Acts 21, one could assume that, when the temple system is again established in Jerusalem, if one of the elect who lives during this time desired to fast on the Day of Atonement out of respect for the temple system, one could do so with a clear conscience. However, because the Father's holy spirit dwells within his earthly children, one could not fast for the same reason as was done under the law of sacrifice and ritual. To do so would deny the sacrificial blood of Christ which was shed for the forgiveness of sin.
The Elect Are Reconciled to the Sovereign Father
"Now we know that what things soever the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom.3:19-24 KJV).
The Sovereign Father's earthly children are reconciled to him through the sacrificial blood of Christ, repentance, and baptism, and they have his presence dwelling within them through his holy spirit (1.Cor.6:19). Because of this, they are kept in a continual condition of righteousness and purity before him. Moreover, they also have the promise that he and his Son will not leave them; therefore, there is no logical reason for the Father's earthly children to fast on the Day of Atonement, which is the day on which Israel as a nation fasted in order to show their obedience and their sincere desire for the Creator God to dwell among them.
By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w63 - rev.1 10/04/07