The Meaning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement – September 14, 2013

Yom-KippurEvery day throughout our lives we have been making choices. Some seem trivial, yet it’s the little choices day by day that have made us who we are. How do I choose to spend my time? What is my day-to-day reaction when things don’t go my way? What are the things I most value? Do I make the extra effort to let the people around me know that I care? More than anything else in life, what defines us is our choices. Most of these choices are small, though many are not. What will I choose for a career? Who will I marry? Where will I settle down to live? The big choices, thankfully, don’t come to us every day. But there are many important choices that do. Our lives are simply brimming with choices to be made.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is about these choices. Good or bad, these choices shape our direction. We can think of the Fall Feasts of God as the map time for our lives: Rosh Hashanah is about determining our destination. Will we partner with God in His destiny for us? Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is God turning on His heavenly satellite navigation — it’s about charting or re-charting our course toward that ultimate destiny.

Yom Kippur is a solemn time, but it is a time of joyful opportunity. It is a time to ask ourselves: How can I participate with God in His plan for my life? What is it that might be standing in my way? Yom Kippur is about coming before God, so that together we can recalculate the specific direction our life is taking, and recalibrate our choices so that we then will be empowered to fulfill our destiny. Every Yom Kippur is an opportunity to look at the decisions we have made in life and to honestly ask ourselves: Am I on course toward the destiny that God has set out for me? Have I made a wrong turn? Have I veered off track? Have I made some mistakes along the way that have taken me in a direction I would rather not be headed?

God has given us this time on Yom Kippur to take stock, check our direction, and make the changes needed to stay on course. God’s purpose is to fill you and empower you, so that you can reach your ultimate destination in Him. Yom Kippur is His way of checking your progress, and giving you a time to make corrections, catch the wind of His Spirit, and renew your vision for the course ahead. Yom Kippur is an affirmation of the value of your life; an affirmation of the value of each day, and every choice that you make. The more significant the life, the more precious are its details.

On Yom Kippur it is as if God were saying to us, “No one is perfect, everyone makes wrong turns. I want you to know that I believe in you. You are very, very important to me and what you do with your life is important! There are little changes in direction that, if left unaddressed, can lead you to places you and I never wanted to see you go. So I want you to take a day, reflect on your direction and your choices, and if need be, recalculate. Whatever you do, please take care. Take care of the small things, the almost invisible choices—those most precious details of character and life. Your destiny depends on it.”

So on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, we wash, dress in white, and fast from food and liquids for 25 hours, beginning at sunset. We spend our time in prayer: “Search me, oh God, and know my heart… try me and know my ways. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

Take this time to ask God to show you anything that you need to change. Repent of any sin between you and God. Confess and make right any sin between you and another. Use this time to seek Him for new direction. Many times this becomes a time of new ideas, new strategies, and new beginnings in prayer as God re-tunes our way, and re-calibrates our direction. The Rosh Hashanah destination is the same – that we will fulfill God’s destiny for our lives. But the Yom Kippur heavenly satellite directions can change, as God re-charts our way within His plan!

Yom Kippur begins the evening of September 13, 2013, and ends at sundown the next day.

About jscotthusted

J. Scott Husted is a writer, educator, minister and teaching missionary currently living and working in Seoul, South Korea. He carries a passion for cultivating authentic community, the establishment of the house of prayer, the plight of children at risk around the world, and raising up a new generation of leaders with a passion for the Kingdom of God.
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