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Communion (1995 Series)

Day of Atonement

Scheduled for October 12

Yesterday was (by my calendar) Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  The Mishnah Tehillim, a sacred Jewish text from the Middle Ages,  records this legend about this day:


The numerical value of the letters in the word “Satan” {Hebrew Hasatan} adds to 364, the total number of days in the year, less one.  Satan can accuse the Jewish people and lead them astray every day of the year, with the exception of Yom Kippur.  On that day the Holy One, praised be He, says to Satan, “You have no power over them today.  Nevertheless, go and see what they are doing.”  When Satan finds them all fasting and praying, clothed in white garments like the angels, he immediately returns in shame and confusion.  The Holy One asks him, “How are My children?”  Satan answers, “They are like angels, and I have no power over them.”  Thereupon the Holy One, praised be He, puts Satan in chains and declares to His people, “I have forgiven you.”


We no longer celebrate the Day of Atonement, for Jesus Christ is our Atonement, once and forever.  The former things are passed away.  But there is a point to this legend.  It is in how we are seen.


We are sinners (those wanting points of detail in my case may consult my wife;  she has an extensive list.  Regrettably, it’s accurate).  But that is not how God sees us, looking at us through the lens of Calvary.  When He looks at us, he sees something entirely different.  He sees us, as the Scripture puts it, as if we have “have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10)”  Like Satan in the legend, he sees us as fasting and praying, clothed like the angels.  Because of the Cross, God sees us in the sinless perfection of His son, Jesus Christ.


There is another point:  it is the power that Satan no longer has over us.  Paul puts it this way:

(Rom 6:9-11 NIV)  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. {10} The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. {11} In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


The victory we celebrate in Communion is not just a victory over the grave, and the promise of resurrection to come.  It is also a victory over sin in this life.  As we look through the lens of Calvary, we see Jesus suffering, dying, buried, and rising triumphant.  As God looks at us through that same lens, he sees in us Jesus Christ.  This is the victory we celebrate, a victory for today and forever.

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