Today is Yom ha Kippurim (literally, “Day of the Coverings”), also known as the Day of Atonement. Abba asked a revealing question in the early hours of the morning as I was waking up. It came to me as an epiphany: Is Yom ha-Kippurim really a day to repent? I wanted to respond, “Well, obviously!” But the Spirit asked me to reconsider that maybe this day is not the day to begin repenting but the end of repentance. On Yom ha Kippurim a covering is made for the people. What’s important to remember is that Yom ha Kippurim is not one of the Holy Days in which Yehovah instructs any specific travel to Yerushalayim. What this means is that a covering is made for the people of Yah whether they are near or far away. This fact illustrates an important lesson: the covering is not our doing but something being done to us. We are passive in this process.
Maybe Yom ha Kippurim should not be viewed so simply as Repentance Day. Instead, maybe this day represents the result of whether we have or have not repented in this life. We often think of Yom Teruah (Day of Noise, aka Feast of Trumpets) at the beginning of this 7th month as the announcement that the King is coming. We are forewarned. We are given 9 days. Now, this is the time for repentance! In fact, this is our last chance. We are given one last period of time to repent and come under His authority. We have 9 days for soul-searching, confession and repentance. We have 9 days to decide if we will come under His covering or not. Because when the Day of Coverings comes, time is up and a covering will be made for us. It will either be Yehovah’s covering over us drawing us near to Him or it will be the weight of our sins on our heads driving us away from Him.
It is always a good idea to repent while we are on this earth for this is the beginning and end of the gospel (Mark 1:15, Luke 24:46-47) . But symbolically and prophetically, Yom ha Kippurim represents a day when the deal is done and it’s too late to make any changes. The Righteous Judge has made His judgment based on our willingness to repent or not. On that day He gives to us what we have decided according to our own free will: His covering or our sin. This day will come, when there is no more confessing, no more repentance, no more changing one’s life around. What’s done is done and we will stand before His throne awaiting His judgment and a covering: everlasting life with Him or banishment from His presence. The knowledge of this reality in our future should be what drives us to repent in our present.
On Yom ha Kippurim, there is nothing in our power that we can do about this covering. That’s the whole point. The blood of Yeshua is the “covering” Yehovah made for His children. A covering has been made for us… by Yehovah. It is the only covering He has made available for us to draw near to Him and it is His covering, not ours. We repent because we love Him, not to provide a covering for ourselves because any attempt to provide a covering for ourselves by what we do or don’t do is already a failure (Gal 2:21). We can’t provide our own covering. He alone provides us with the covering that allows us to enter into His presence. The whole point of Yom ha Kippurim is that Yehovah, in His great mercy, covers the sins, iniquities and transgressions of His children, those who belong to Him. Yes, we are aware of our sins because standing before Him we know painfully well that all have sinned and fall short of His glory. Yes, our sins are brought to our attention and we recognize our guilt, but I don’t think it’s His desire at this time that we focus on fixing ourselves. I think it’s His desire that we focus on what He has done and is doing for His children, for those who have humbled themselves under His authority.
We are commanded to humble ourselves on this day (Lev 23:27). To “humble” (anah) is to recognize ownership (Gen 15:13, Gen 16:9), to recognize He is master and we are servant. Such humility towards the sovereign creator of the universe should cause us to fall down before our Lord in worship. We should proclaim His worthiness and our utter reliance on Him. We should thank Him for forgiving all our sins and for His covering which cost the life of His Son, Yeshua. And we should praise Him for His promise to look on us with grace because we have come to Him through the covering He has provided. How could we but serve Him with the most grateful of hearts, and we haven’t even spoken of how He now wants us to call Him, “Abba”! Maybe this type of humility is what Yehovah is after. I’m starting to think this is what He desires when he tells us to “anah” our souls on Yom ha Kippurim. May it be our great honor and pleasure to do so!