He (Jesus) entered once into the Most Holy Place and obtained eternal redemption, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood. (Hebrews 9:12 — EHV)
Perhaps you heard that on Monday was Yom Kippur, an important festival in the worship lives of the Old Testament people (and celebrated by Jews today). Yom Kippur is Hebrew for Day of Atonement. It was instituted by God in Leviticus 16 (I suggest reading the entire chapter if you have time right now). Our verse above is a reference to the day of Atonement.
Why do we need a day of Atonement? The answer is simple: because we are nothing but sinners. Sin is what separates us from God and keeps us from him. And as sinners, we can offer nothing to God. That doesn’t stop us from trying, of course. Many in the Old Testament saw their sacrifices as something by which they can earn God’s favor, simply by doing what he told them to do. That is a temptation for us still today—to think that by simply doing what God wants us to do, that he’d be pleased with us and save us—even if our heart isn’t in it. In verse 14 the Writer to the Hebrews calls such works, dead works, because they are nothing but lifeless rituals and done to bribe God and buy his favor. God rejects all such dead works. And so we need to be atoned, which means to be made at-one with God once again, to restore our relationship with God.
If you read Leviticus 16, then you know the intricacies of the Day of Atonement. Aaron, the High Priest offered up a bull for his own sins. Then he took one of two male goats for the sins of the people. After slaughtering the ram for a sacrifice, he took some of the blood and entered into the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was. Inside the Ark were the two stone tablets God gave to Moses containing the 10 commandments; Aaron’s budding staff; and a jar of manna. On top of a golden lid were two golden angels, facing back to back with their wings touching. It was here between these two angels that God dwelled among his people. It has been called the mercy seat, or the throne of grace. Since this was God’s dwelling place, only the High Priest was allowed to enter into the Most Holy Place only once a year, and not without the shedding of blood. The High Priest took some of the blood from the goat and sprinkled it on top of the Ark of the Covenant and at its base. Do you see the picture that God is giving here? Remember that God dwelled above the Ark of the Covenant on the mercy seat, and that the 10 commandments, a summary of the law that condemns us were in the Ark of the Covenant. The blood was sprinkled between God and the law and so that blood caused God “not to see” that law which condemns us. Through the shedding of blood the sins of the people were covered.
What a great picture this Day of Atonement gives us; and yet Jesus is better. How? The Day of Atonement took place every year. Year after year this solemn and holy day took place—a bull slaughtered for the sins of the High Priest and a goat slaughtered for the sins of the people. Compare that with Christ’s blood—and there really is no comparison: it is the blood of dirty, filthy animals, versus the very blood of God—the holy precious blood of our Savior. His blood alone can truly cover over our sins and remove our guilt before our Father. This blood is precious because it can do what no amount of gold or silver can do—purchase our salvation. John says in his first letter, the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. It is only by this holy and precious blood of Jesus that we are truly forgiven, that our souls are purified.
Christ, as the eternal Son of God, only had to shed his blood once—and it was for the sins of all people, for all time. His sacrifice on the cross then means that all of our sins were paid for, every sin ever committed was covered over by the blood of Christ. There is no sin too horrible, or no amount of sins too numerous that they were covered by the blood of Christ.
It is this sacrifice on the cross that makes us at-one with God, he has restored our relationship with our Savior, and we are his children who inherit his precious gift of salvation.
There is more to talk about on Yom Kippur, but that will have to wait for another time!
Pastor Andrew Frey
Important Update -
We rejoice that we have been able to return to the Lord’s house to worship together, but at the same time we want to do so in a safe manner. As many of you are aware, the last few weeks, the 8:00am service has been full, which perhaps made some of our members uncomfortable. First off, we encourage you to attend a different service. Both the 10:30 am and the Monday evening service have plenty of room in order for you to socially distance. In addition, our council has decided to remove the ropes in the front portion of the lectern side of the sanctuary. This section will not require social distancing. We hope that, with enough worshipers sitting in this section, it will leave enough space in the rest of the sanctuary for everyone else to socially distance. If you have any questions, please speak to one of the Pastors or Council members.
Our fall Adopt-A-Highway date is set for Saturday, October 17th at 8:00am. We also hope to have a work day on this date. Please plan on helping out! There will be more information and a sign-up sheet in the entryway shortly.
Pastor Frey has started a Bible study on the Christian and the Government—looking at what God says concerning the government and the Christians relation to his other Kingdom. We may be sick of hearing about politics already; but with so much information being thrown at us on a daily basis, it is important to step back and look at what God has to say to us. Join us Sundays at 9:15am.
Pastor Gartner also started a Bible study on "The Life of Moses -- A Study of the Book of Exodus". Please join us either Mondays at 8:00am or Tuesdays at 5:30pm.
All these Bible Classes that will be starting will be held at church. If you are not comfortable attending them in person or can't make these times and you would like to receive a recording of these Bible Classes, please contact one of the Pastors and we will send you the link for these recordings.
If you are not comfortable sending your child to in person Sunday School, we have weekly recorded videos of each weeks Bible Lesson and the Lesson sheets that we can send to you so that your child can still learn the valuable truths of God's Word. Please contact us if you would be interested in these materials.
Special Mission Offering:
Each year we designate a certain amount of money to a home mission, a world mission, and one other specially designated ministry. If you have any ideas, particularly concerning a world mission or ministry, please speak to one of the pastors.
In order to encourage and practice social distancing, we are trying to limit each Worship service to 75 people. To help with this, we added an extra service on Sunday morning. We are offering 8:00 and 10:30 services on Sunday as well as 6:30 pm on Monday. We are also asking everyone to sign up each week for whatever Worship Service you plan on attending. Please note, that we are in need of volunteers to help sanitize the sanctuary between services. When you sign-up you’ll have an opportunity to mark whether or not you are willing to help out—it only takes about 10 minutes, so we pray that you will!
You can find the link to sign-up on the front page of our website at: www.stjohn-appleton.org.
You can also signup by going directly to this link (it will be a different link each week): https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040a4aa9a62ea6fa7-stjohn2
As we go forward, we will continue to live-stream our services and posting our worship folders online. We will be recording our Sunday 8:00 am service which means you can watch anytime after 8:00 am on Sunday morning. If you need any help accessing these resources, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can find our worship services at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCsQs-LDzlHE1NTjOaVaQ2A.
You can find a bulletin for each Worship Service so you can follow along here: https://stjohncenter-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/pastor_frey_stjohn-appleton_org/EqetvOMWflhLsfsLRcDkxSgBL2cnYkpiuk8Klh7d-r_XQg?e=07dSma.