Restoring Oneness to the Family of God
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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, 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). 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). This special bond that promoted oneness was carefully designed so mankind could experience as a member of the God family (Genesis 1:26-28, 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; Romans 8:38-39). 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). When it was completed, God stepped back, marveled at the work of His hands, and called it very good (Genesis 1:31). 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, 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). 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). 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). Satan, the father of all sin, is the sole being responsible for creating the broken, divided family environment (Genesis 3:14-15). 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). 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).
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). 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) 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). 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.