"The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom Kippur, a holy convocation to you, so you are to afflict yourselves" (Leviticus 23:27).
Today is Tishri 6 and Yom Kippur is Tishri 10. Although every command related to that day, given in Leviticus 16, is for the High Priest to carry out, three commandments are for the people of Israel: Do no work, assemble, and fast. The word for fasting means humbling ourselves. The practice of fasting clears the schedule from procuring and preparing food, clears the system from the digestive process that causes us to becoming sluggish, and all for the purpose of having all the time and all the senses focused on extended times of repentance and returning in prayer. Very few things are so formative, spiritually speaking, as Yom Kippur, as these activities are highly effective as discipleship opportunities.
The temptation of Yom Kippur, however, is to confuse repentance. Some would approach the day from a fulfillment theology posture, which is a form of replacement theology, claiming that Jesus has fulfilled Yom Kippur so now we don’t have to, thus quenching the opportunity for the Spirit to work in their lives. Others confuse it with rabbinic practice and prayer, leaving little room for the Spirit’s work. Yet others go deep into self-condemnation for their weakness of the flesh and defeat in following the Lord, as if them feeling bad about their weaknesses is the offering the Lord desires. A day designed to receive freedom from spiritual defeat is stolen, like a seed that falls on untilled ground. What should we do?
In Judaism, we speak of being a Master of Repentance, that is, being a person who, by constant practice, knows very well how to return to the Lord and receive strength in their weaknesses and defeats. How then do we properly return, repent before the Lord?
1. Never forget you are a son or a daughter, not a slave.
2. Conviction of sin is not condemnation for sin, either by God or myself. The word for conviction in John 16:8 means to bring to the light. Let the Spirit be the one who brings to the light, to your attention, what He wants you to confess, and avoid confession coming from condemnation.
3. Finally, understand that repentance means returning, not simply a change of mind. The prodigal son had a change of mind when eating the pigs' food, and that led him to return to his father. The real heart of confession and repentance is a return to the Father in whatever areas we have gone astray.