As we approach the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar, I wanted to share with you my short commentary on Leviticus 23:27:
“….it shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:27). One of the most common questions that will be asked amongst Jews over the next few days is, “Did you fast on Yom Kippur?” However, let it be known that fasting on Yom Kippur is not biblical. It is traditional.
The Bible says something else, but it was interpreted by rabbis throughout the course of Jewish history as neither eating nor drinking, but praying and making petitions before God for forgiveness. The irony is that fasting is being perceived as the way to “afflict our souls”, but the most common blessing one Jew will hear from another during that very season is, “Have an easy fast”.
Should we fast? Should it be easy? What are we doing this for? Is it for us? Is it for God? Is it so we will feel good about ourselves? What then is the reason a man feels terrible with the way he conducts himself throughout the year that makes him feel so good about himself after not eating for 25 hours? Is it our soul that we afflict by not eating or just our very empty tummies?
God has asked the nation of Israel to afflict their souls. In light of the Scriptures, one must search how they ought to afflict their soul. Please pay close attention to the fact that there were two things required from the nation of Israel at the same time; affliction of the soul and an offering made by fire. Tradition is nice when it leads you to where the Word of God is leading – true worship and humility. Whenever tradition portrays ME as the holy one, and ME as the suffering one, and ME as the righteous one, then this tradition is no better than any false doctrine or false teaching of other religions and faiths who believe in other gods.
When God says, “afflict your souls”, He is talking about our spirit, not our body. I can show you numerous books and courses of how to get along without eating much. Weight loss programs have become a very popular thing in our “health-conscious world.” Glorifying God and humbling ourselves in His sight so He will lift us higher and higher is something that only the Word of God, written and in the flesh (Jesus), can show us how to do.
My point is very simple: The Jewish tradition has missed the point of this holiday, aside from the failure to mention Jesus. Instead of afflicting the soul, they choose to afflict the body (a very common thing in many new age and old age religions) so the spirit can feel good, clean, and even happy about its ability to make a sacrifice to the God it worships. In other words, we afflict the wrong thing. We shift our focus from God to us, as usual.
What is the affliction of the soul? Here’s how it all relates to Jesus. Someone can afflict their soul only when they understand that they have no chance becoming holy by their own strength and works. This helplessness is the worst thing someone’s soul can experience. What then is our option if we cannot do it by ourselves? This is where the concept of an offering comes in – the one who was offered for us since we cannot justify ourselves by our own strength and works.
Peter and Paul, both Jewish people in every respect, were well acquainted with the Law and the traditions. Both of them understood the precious truth that was revealed in Messiah’s life, death, and resurrection. In His life, he was purer than anyone else and fulfilled the Law. Later on, He would make Himself the perfect “Passover Lamb” who was examined while being alive for its purity. In His death, we understand how insufficient the blood of an animal was and how perfect the sacrifice of Christ was and is.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’” Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), He then said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He took away the first so that He could establish the second. By that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,[a] says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Allow me to conclude with these wonderful words that should echo in the ears of all who still believe that somehow there is something we can do to please God aside from our simple, but sincere trust in the One whom God has sent to pay our debt and remove sin’s power once and for all:
for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
And you shall call His Name Yeshua (Jesus’s name in Hebrew which comes from the word “salvation” in Hebrew) – For He will SAVE His people from their sins.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – you and your household.
Afflict your souls, oh Israel, by understanding that your own strength and deeds will NOT save you! Rely on the perfect sacrifice that is better than any animal can ever be, and is the only Way, Truth, and Life – Yeshua!