I wake up early this morning and it is quiet, so quiet. John is fast asleep. "It is Yom Kippur," I remind myself, "the day most holy to God." I lay in bed for a few more minutes pondering that idea. "Why?" I wonder. "What makes it the most holy day?"
Traditionally, in Judaism, it is known as a day of fasting. Jews worldwide fast from sundown to sundown, twenty-four hours, on this day. I planned to do this because for me, fasting has always been a way to put aside all the distractions and time spent on food preparation, consumption and clean-up. Thus it gives me much more time to spend in the Presence of the Lord, studying His word, praying, and worshiping Him. It also quiets my body as the work of digestion ceases, and it quiets my mind as I am able to focus on the Voice I am longing to hear. But is fasting really what Yom Kippur is all about?
Last evening we watched a video that brought correction and new revelation about this holy day. I'm grateful to Rabbi Zev Porat, who carries within him such fiery passion to reach the Jewish people with the message of the Gospel, and who has such a command of the Hebrew language and knowledge of the Torah. And I am grateful also that God has given me a teachable spirit, still willing to correct what I have believed in error. In this video Zev shows the mistranslation of the term "deny yourself" or "afflict your souls" found in Leviticus 23:26-29. It is even used in the Complete Jewish Bible, which I am quoting below:
26 Adonai said to Moshe, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai. 28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God. 29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people;
What I learned last evening from Zev's video is that the word in Hebrew, which was translated as "afflict" or "deny" is actually anah, which basically means to humble yourself. The Scriptures do not say "deny yourself food" nor do they say "afflict yourself with fasting." When you think about what this day really represents, it is all about atonement being made for sin. It is about the blood of Messiah that covers (Hebrew word kippur) our sins. And so I feel like the Ruach is showing me the deeper meaning of this day and how I am to keep it. Not only should I refrain from working, but I can refrain from many things I ordinarily do with my days, so that I can spend this day with my Redeemer and contemplate the powerful meaning of His blood that covers my sins and sets me free from a life of bondage.
I am to anah myself before the Holy One of Israel. I am to spend time in prayer, confessing my sins to Him and asking His forgiveness. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Wash me completely from my guit and cleanse me from my sin. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Read all of Psalm 51 - lift the verses up to God from your own broken and contrite heart. I see anew that this is truly what He is looking for in His children; a deep humility and an overwhelming gratitude for our blood-bought salvation in Yeshua. He is coming soon and I believe that Yom Kippur will be fulfilled by His bema, His judgment seat, when we will stand before Him. On that day I feel certain I will want to do more than fast from food - surely I will be on my face, utterly ashamed and undone by all the sin of my past and simultaneously overwhelmed by the flood of the cleansing fountain washing over me, to purify me and prepare me as the spotless bride of My Messiah! I will be immersed in an outpouring of Love such as I have never known!
Is it wrong, then, to fast on this day? No! It is never wrong to fast as led by the Holy Spirit. But I am grateful that today I am entering into the deeper understanding of anah as I prepare to lead our small group in surrendered worship to our King, bowing low before Him and washing one another's feet. Blessed Yom Kippur to each of you.
Kelly Ferrari Mills