Atonement and Freedom

Dear friends,

Yom Kippur (beginning tonight 9/18 at sundown and ending tomorrow 9/19 at sundown) is the holiest day of the year for the Jews.  Their observance of Yom Kippur typically includes a 25-hour fast from eating, drinking, washing, and sexual activities.  Religious Jews hold five services at the synagogue throughout the day to pray, to read, and to meditate.  The contemporary practice is nonetheless quite different from the statue stated in Leviticus (16:1-34 and 23:27-28), in which the high priest makes “atonement for the priests and all the people of the assembly.”  As we have learned last year in our ETB study of Leviticus, the high priest will make atonement of the people through two goats, one to be offered and another to be sent into the wilderness, symbolically carrying the iniquities with it to a desolate land.  Theologically, the first goat symbolizes propitiation, the act of making peace with God.  The second goat symbolizes expiation, the act of carrying the sins away. 

Christians understand the Cross of Jesus Christ as taking the sins of the believers away and thereby, reconciling the believers with God.  Therefore, the Day Jesus died on the Cross was the last and ultimate Yom Kippur.  We no longer observe Yom Kippur every year.  Instead, we symbolically re-enact the last Yom Kippur whenever we memorialize the Lord’s Supper.  Moreover, unlike the second goat which goes into the no man’s land and is to never return, we believe that Christ will return one day.  Therefore, the memorial of Lord’s Supper calls for not only contrition and repentance, it should be celebrated with hope and joy.  As John Piper says, we are Finally Alive!

This coming Sunday, Pastor John Frazier will continue our study on Galatians 3:23-29 and 4:1-7.  The reconciliation with God means that the redeemed are no longer objects of wrath, but sons and daughters of God.  Born-again Christians are no longer slaves to sins, kept under guards by the Law, but are true heirs of God (Gal. 4:7), with a spiritual freedom which includes specifically the freedom from the observance of “special days, months, seasons, and years” (Gal. 4:11).  That is one main reason why Christians believe that we are no longer bounded to the religious holidays described in Leviticus. 

Even the observance of the Sabbath day!  Our understanding of the Lord’s day is quite different from the Mosaic Sabbath.  That’s why I say it is okay to outreach on Sunday.  It is okay to do work on Sunday, period.  If you have not read this article on Sunday school, which I pointed to you before, I strongly recommend that you find some time this week to read and think about it:

How the Forgotten History of Sunday School Can Point the Way Forward (Facts & Trends)

Our spiritual freedom gives us not only the right to sleep and study God’s Word on Sundays, or any holidays, it gives us the right to do some good works for God on those days!

Ironically, if we could name one thing that is sacred to most Europeans and Americans, it is perhaps our vacation days!  To work on holidays or vacation days is such a profanity, legislations exist aplenty to prohibit it – at least until quite recently.  In effect, vacation becomes a cultural legalism, second only to retirement, or putting money away for it.  You say, what’s wrong with that culture?  Well, how about the fact that our body is designed to need rest every day?  You cannot save up your sleep time and hibernate one day every week, or two weeks every year!  In fact, if you have enough rest every day, you don’t have to spend your holidays and vacation days sleeping in a hotel room that cost you $200 a night!  Instead, you can do some good works you don’t otherwise have time to do while having some fun!

Let me give you two ideas:

  • Members from CBCGL will be serving the homeless at Living Waters this coming Saturday morning starting at 8:30AM.  Please contact Marina (marina.lam@lowell.church) if you are interested.  If you have signed up already, you can sign up for tasks here.
  • New students from UMass Lowell will be invited to an apple picking trip this coming Saturday from morning (arriving 10:30AM) through early afternoon (~2PM) at the Parlee Farms in Tyngsboro.  We need your help to make friends with new students.  Contact me if you are interested.

Our spiritual freedom in Christ is not only the basis for our personal freedom to do good charity and evangelistic works, but also our social-political freedom to fight for larger causes we hold dear.  We do live in a democracy and all citizens have a moral duty to be well-informed about civic issues so that we can dispense our citizen’s voting privileges appropriately.  Political activism requires a lot of careful and diligent works.  I am persuaded that Christians and churches have important roles to play in such civic engagement, especially in keeping some social issues alive – issues that we are mandated by our biblical conviction to speak out as prophets of our time.

That’s why I am making this open invitation: if you as a fellow believer in Christ want to elevate our collective consciousness by drawing attention to certain civic issues, you are welcome to ask me for time to make a presentation at church.  As a non-profit organization, we cannot endorse any political candidate.  However, we do want to be educated about public issues of the day and we want the issues to be examined with fairness and balance.  If you are thinking about running for political office and want to share your calling with your fellow brothers and sisters, we want to hear about it, too!

There will be regular prayer meeting and Friday bible study at church this week.  I hope to see you there!

Blessings,

Gideon Lee

English Ministry Pastor, CBCGL