As the Day of Atonement approaches I can’t help but think of how the restoration of the family of God plays a part in the fulfillment of this day (Hebrews 9:1-28 Hebrews 9:1-28 1 Then truly the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the show bread; which is called the sanctuary.
3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
5 And over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.
7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.
17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives.
18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined to you.
21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.
American King James Version×, 10:1-23). Since the Garden of Eden, the unified family system has been under attack. The fulfillment of what Atonement pictures gives us hope of that unity and oneness being returned to the family. From its inception, the true intent of the creation of mankind was an intricate plan to expand the God-kind, and to increase the God family (Genesis 1:26 Genesis 1:26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
American King James Version×). This plan would be unlike any other creation that God and the Logos had performed. Their sincere desire to expand was fueled by a great love— agape . Through this agape the family environment would thrive (1 John 4:7-19 1 John 4:7-19 7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God. 8 He that loves not knows not God; for God is love. 9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us.
American King James Version×). This special bond that promoted oneness was carefully designed so mankind could experience as a member of the God family (Genesis 1:26-28 Genesis 1:26-28 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×, 2:15).
When we look back at the details of creation in the book of Genesis, it can be best described as a moment in time that dreams are made of. This utopian environment was something we can only imagine today: the perfect Creators, His perfect creation and His plan filled with hope. Since the time of creation, God desired to have a personal relationship with His creation—mankind (Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
American King James Version×; Romans 8:38-39 Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
American King James Version×). This creation was definitely not an accident, nor was it left up to chance. It was a deliberate design with every detail configured to perfection (Job 38:4-7 Job 38:4-7 4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding. 5 Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line on it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×). When it was completed, God stepped back, marveled at the work of His hands, and called it very good (Genesis 1:31 Genesis 1:31And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
American King James Version×). God enjoyed His new creation and found pleasure in it. His desire was to be a part of this creation, to provide them with everything they need to grow together in unity. This marked a special and unique time of oneness between God and mankind, and all was at peace.
Scripture is unclear how long this peace had lasted, but during this time they lived as a perfect family in this pleasant environment. God wanted this first man and woman to continue in this unity and to keep this environment growing. He blessed this first union between man and woman, and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply, to cultivate this unity (Genesis 1:28 Genesis 1:28And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
American King James Version×, 2:18, 24). Both were to be joined together, and establish a household united as one. This is the foundation of unity as designed by God. It was planned to last for an eternity.
However, this perfect family environment and plan of unity would not last. A being who hated the idea of a peaceful, unified family would soon enter the picture (Genesis 3:1-6 Genesis 3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.
4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:
5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
American King James Version×). Through his influence, sin would come forth, putting this unified family environment in jeopardy. Satan’s influence over mankind destroyed the oneness, introducing sin, and causing a separation between them and God (Isaiah 59:1-2 Isaiah 59:1-2 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
American King James Version×). This marked a time of division, that has continued on through today, creating the very first broken family situation in mankind’s history.
The family was meant to operate in unity—never was it meant to become divided (Matthew 12:25 Matthew 12:25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
American King James Version×). Satan, the father of all sin, is the sole being responsible for creating the broken, divided family environment (Genesis 3:14-15 Genesis 3:14-15 14 And the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life: 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; it shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
American King James Version×). He hates the idea of family and unity. Believing he has the power to destroy the hope of God’s plan, Satan continues to this day to break up the family environment in our marriages as well as in our congregations. We were created and called to be a united family, not a divided group of strangers. Failure is imminent if unity is not sought after and achieved.
To keep this unity, we must operate by the principle that God founded us upon agape . He passed this principle onto His creation so we can learn how it applies to living a fruitful, unified life. This unity through agape is a selfless action, a true sacrifice for others. It teaches us to let go of our own selfish desires and be joined together to produce a wonderful new creation. Satan, on the other hand, wants us to abandon the idea of sacrifice for others and place our attention on selfish gain. He pulls us away from seeking unity; in fact, he promotes the destruction of unity.
An Object Lesson in Oneness
What then does the Day of Atonement have to do with unity and the restoration of the family of God? I wondered this myself, and as I began to search for the answer, I was taken all the way back to my childhood.
As a child, when I heard the word “Atonement” I automatically interpreted it into another completely different word—fasting. I only viewed Atonement as that dreaded day that stood between me and the Feast of Tabernacles. I remember my mother teaching my brothers and me the importance of why we keep this day. My mother took the word “Atonement” and divided it into three small words, “AT-ONE-MENT.” She explained that this day was designed and meant (ment) to instruct us on how we are becoming “at one” with God the Father and Jesus Christ. I remember her explaining that our longing to be connected with what we desired, food, is a way that we could relate to how God and Jesus Christ long to be connected with us. As a child I didn’t fully understand how feeling hungry had anything to do with this being “at one.” In fact, I didn’t understand what being “at one” actually meant until our family’s life was turned upside down.
When I was about five years old, my brothers and I began to notice a change of atmosphere beginning to take place in our home. Our world was never perfect, but it was our home, mommy, daddy, and us three kids. Although we were still young, we were not ignorant of the fact that some type of separation was beginning to take place. An uneasy fog hovered over our household, and the blatant absence of our father began to be questioned by my brothers and me.
Before long, our family was destroyed by a nasty, heartbreaking divorce. We were left destitute, broken emotionally and physically. The smiles faded and laughter was seldom heard in our home. Our eyes were now full of tears. Oneness was no longer part of our family; sin had snuck in, planted its evil seeds, and shattered our world. I remember praying and asking God why did we have to have so much pain? I felt alone in the world and all I wanted was a family that was together.
As I look back at the painful experience divorce had on my family, I now view oneness in a completely different light. Every year as Atonement approaches, those lessons always come to mind and re-energize my desire for oneness to return. My experience is a prime example of why oneness is essential for peace and growth. The family environment, spiritual and physical, has suffered far too long due to the consequences of separation brought on by sin (Isaiah 59:2 Isaiah 59:2But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
American King James Version×). We all eagerly wait for the restorations of unity between God and mankind, in fact this whole creation groans for it (Romans 8:18-22 Romans 8:18-22 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×).
The oneness designed through marriage is vital for us to learn now. Marriages—good ones—take time to properly develop, and take both parties actively working together toward unity. Marriage provides the perfect opportunity for us to learn this type of godly unity (Ephesians 5:22-32 Ephesians 5:22-32 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
24 Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the church:
30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
American King James Version×). In return, we can recognize and fully respect the work that They have done for each of us.
The Day of Atonement reminds us of the need for sacrifice and a heart willing to seek unity. Atonement and its symbols (Leviticus 16:1-34 Leviticus 16:1-34 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died;
2 And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to Aaron your brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is on the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat.
3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen turban shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8 And Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil:
13 And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the testimony, that he die not:
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remains among them in the middle of their uncleanness.
17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goes in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar round about.
19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
20 And when he has made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear on him all their iniquities to a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
23 And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there:
24 And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people.
25 And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn on the altar.
26 And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp.
27 And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.
28 And he that burns them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
29 And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you:
30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
31 It shall be a sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
34 And this shall be an everlasting statute to you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.
American King James Version×) point to the only solution that will ultimately bring unity back to this creation: the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ. This day should encourage us to continue to work on our part: overcoming, seeking repentance and staying active in developing a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Atonement emphasizes the culmination of both God the Father’s and Jesus Christ’s selfless actions to build a holy family (Hebrews 2:9-10 Hebrews 2:9-10 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×). We can be assured that sin and the author of it will be cast away, giving way to a time of unity with God once again. This day pictures the ultimate fulfillment of this sacrifice, removing forever the cause of division and the restoration of our relationship within the family of God in perfect unity.