“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
Today marks the beginning of Yom Kippur—beginning at sundown this evening and ending after sundown tomorrow; it is the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar.
It is the “Sabbath of Sabbaths” recognized as the day God’s people are closest to Him: Also known as The Day of Atonement.
“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God.”
Yom means “day” and Kippur comes from a root that means, “to atone.”
The concept of atonement is powerful. Simply put, it means “at-one-ment”—or the state of being “at one”…or being “reconciled.”
Although the word “atonement” appears often throughout the Old Testament, it only occurs once in the New Testament of the King James Bible:
“But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”
In other words, we rejoice through Christ by whom we have been reconciled to God.
As Christians, our Day of Atonement—or Day of Reconciliation—is celebrated on Good Friday when we commemorate the work of the Cross.
Although on opposite ends of the year, it is also a time of new hope, new life, new beginnings—of all things made new by the Blood of Jesus.
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
We who have been reconciled—who are “at-one-ment” with God through Christ—are reminded repeatedly in the book of Hebrews to diligently labor to enter that rest.
Neglecting to do so would be to harden our hearts in disobedience.
Three times in that section of Hebrews we read, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 3:15, 4:7)—and as we learned last week, when something is repeated three times, whether a word or a number, we should pay attention!
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.”
So today, as we acknowledge the holiest of Jewish holy days, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the original Day of Atonement, let’s not be negligent in entering the rest God invites us into through Christ.
Yet you may be asking, “How do I enter that rest?”
That may seem challenging in today’s increasingly hyperactive, hyper-connected, and hyper-opinionated world. But the answer is elusively simple: By faith.
“For we who have believed do enter that rest.”
You choose to believe in the One greater than the news reports you hear or the circumstances you see. You take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
You don’t allow your mind to “be anxious about anything, but in everything with thanksgiving you make your requests known to God” (see Phil. 4:6)—and you only allow your mind to think on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise (see Phil. 4:8)—because when you do, “the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9) and you will be at rest in Him. (See Phil. 4:7.)
That is called faith.
“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.”
And to do otherwise would be disobedient. God does not call you to strive with anguish and worry. To live your life in a perpetual state of stress. He calls you to deliberately enter into His rest.
From the foundation of the world, God established His rest. He established the Sabbath, which was to be observed and kept holy above all else:
“If you keep from doing your own business on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight…then you shall take delight in the Lord and I will make your ride on the heights of the earth.”
Today, what is keeping you from entering God’s rest? What is keeping you from taking delight in the Lord and riding on the heights of the earth?
As we join our Jewish brothers and sisters in a time of introspection, repentance, and reconciling our hearts to God this Yom Kippur, let’s anticipate all of the good things He has in store for us at the dawn of this Jewish New Year.
Let’s press into the rest He has prepared for those who love Him—and begin tapping into the incredible things He has planned for all who are called according to His purpose.
Today, when you hear His voice, how will you respond?
Will you be among…
“The people who know their God [who] shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.”
Or among those who…
“…could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!”
Traditional Yom Kippur Greeting