Preparation and Practice: The Feast of Atonement
The Feast of Atonement is the holiest day of the year. It is called “Shabbat Shabbaton” or the Sabbaths of Sabbaths. IT is a day that we abstain from work and chores to honor the God of Creation, just like the weekly Sabbath. We burn our sin lists close to the Feast of Atonement so that we can go in before the Lord as clean as possible. For more information about preparation coming up to Atonement, please read the prior blog on the Sin List, which was posted a few weeks ago.
Atonement is a total fast. This means there is no eating or drinking on this day. It is an annual Sabbath, so no work is to be done. If you have any medical conditions, please contact your medical provider as to the extent that you are able to fast. The goal is to find out the maximum amount you can fast without harming your health.
As an example, some people with diabetes might have to keep a small flask of orange juice with them to keep their blood sugar from going down. Others who take life-saving medications might have to eat some crackers and drink a small amount of water. Again, the goal is that food/drink is kept to a minimal as needed to prevent health problems or emergencies.
Since it is a total fast, you might want to do a “practice fast” or two leading up to the actual day. A practice fast might be no food with water. Or, you might do a fast with no food or water to see how you hold up. Since fasting is required on Atonement, it is important do to whatever you think it necessary to prepare yourself for that day.
I will say as a matter of practice that a few days before the fast avoid spending a lot of time outside or over-exerting yourself. A few days before, really pace yourself drinking water, as you don’t want to become dehydrated beforehand. Atonement starts at sunset like all other feast days. That day, you want to do as little as possible. Conserve energy and calories. The meal you eat before the fast needs to be salad. Don’t eat either too much or too little. I don’t take vitamins the day the fast begins since they cause me to be thirsty, but other people take a different view on that. You have to know your body. Avoid sweets, soft drinks, and fast food, as they will dehydrate you. Pace yourself on the water. I have done quite a bit of fasting over the years, and this advice is sound and true. It will get you through!
Practicing This Day
Thirty minutes before sunset we take communion. We do this because the high priest had to make a sacrifice for his family before he could make the sacrifice for the nation. We have to get right with God before we can encounter Him.
One other thing we do for Atonement is wear white. We learn from Exodus 28 and Levitcus 16 that the High Priest had white garments that he wore into the most holy place on this day. When you read the book of Revelation, everyone has white on. It is the dress code of Heaven. We believe that Jesus wore white the day that He ascended. This is why Mary thought He was the gardener (John 20:11-17). Gardeners wore white because it was good to wear in hot weather. In John 20, Jesus was preparing to enter into Heaven to offer His own blood on the Ark of the Covenant!
In Leviticus 16, the Bible tells us what the high priest had to do on the feast of Atonement. This gives us a picture and type of what Jesus did in Heaven when He made Atonement for us. Atonement is the day when each of us have a God encounter in Heaven awaiting us. We just have to make some reasonable preparations and expect great things to happen.
In the Atonement room at Hungry Hearts, we keep it cold in the room. We do this first and foremost because it makes fasting easier. As aforementioned, I have done much fasting in my life. Colder weather makes it easier. Secondly we keep it cold because the priests don’t need to sweat (Ezekiel 44:18).
At Hungry Hearts, we do not have any preaching on Atonement. We worship for about 3 1/2 hours during the night portion and then 5 1/2 hours during the day portion of Atonement. We use the most intimate worship music we have. It is not a time of shouting, but a time of slow introspection and admiration of God. Since we can’t eat, drink, or work on the day, what else are you going to do? We start the evening service at sunset and then the day portion of the celebration around 1 pm the next day. Before the day service starts, I usually read the book of Hebrews. It is the book of the Bible that describes what Jesus did when He went to the Heavenly Temple on our behalf. I usually start the worship with thanksgiving for the great blessings of God in my life. I then transition to praying for my family, friends, church, and nation. I then turn my entire admiration and attention to receiving whatever God has for me.
We will worship until sunset. When sunset arrives, start drinking water slowly. When you feel rehydrated, eat up! Start with easy foods like salad before you eat heavier foods like meat.
This service is a great format that you can use in your home.
During the worship service, make sure to bring a notebook because the Lord will speak to you. Also, bring a flashlight. It will be needed to see and take notes. Keep in mind that atonement is the 10th day of the 7th month. It is the last day of the 10 days of Awe. 10 is an important number in the Bible.
Rebekah’s family begged she stay 10 more days before they let her go to marry Isaac (Genesis 24:55). It was 10 days between Nabal’s rejection of David and the Lord striking Him dead (I Samuel 25:38). Every 10 days Nehemiah was abundantly supplied with wine of all kinds (Nehemiah 5:18). There were 10 days from the time the people of Judah asked for a Word from the Lord until Jeremiah actually received one. There were 10 days between Daniel’s request to abstain from the King’s Table from when the king’s men checked on them. There were 10 days before Paul was brought to Agrippa. Jesus ascended to Heaven 10 days before the Feast of Pentecost.
We can see some interesting parallels between all of these ten day accounts. Ten days’ grace means the Lord is allowing us to change our mind for the better. Rebekah could have decided to stay with her family. It is also a transition period in our lives. Daniel and his friends’ appearance actually improved over the ten days. This event started a transition of ascension in the kingdom of Babylon. They were exalted to leadership positions and tremendous opportunities from this point forward. Will we leave our past to embrace our future, as did Rebekah? Rebekah prophetically represents the Bride of Christ marrying Isaac, represents Jesus! We have Ten Days to decide. There were Ten Days that Jeremiah waited to receive the Word from the Lord about the future of the Jewish people
On the Feast of Atonement, the 10th day, the Lord has a Word for you about your upcoming year. He wants to direct you, but He wants to see if we are willing to make the change during the allotted time.