New Year's Day Cleaning of Old and New Temples
1. "It is to be a permanent regulation for you that on the tenth day of the seventh month you are to deny yourselves and not do any kind of work." The Jewish calendar has Nissan as the first month and Tishri as the seventh month. And the Jewish New Year begins in Tishri, which corresponds to September-October on the Gregorian calendar. According to Leviticus, the 10th day of Tishri was set aside for atonement—a day of cleasning from sin for citizens and foreigners alike (Leviticus 16:29-31, TLB, CJB | Leviticus 23:26-32, CJB, AMP).
2. "The annual Day of Atonement—of cleansing and purification marked the beginning of the new year with God. So we are going to burrow from and build upon the concept of cleansing and purification, which are familiar themes in Jewish thought; themes which should permeate our lives, every moment of everyday because Christ, our "...great High Priest—cohen gadol..." (Hebrews 4:14-15, CJB, TLB) "...has entered into heaven itself to appear now on our behalf in the very presence of God" (Hebrews 9:24, CJB, TLB) "...making us friends of God, [the means by which we] ...enjoy our reconciliation" (Romans 5:11, KJV, CJB, TLB, AMP).
3. God established atonement to keep His people in close relationship and friendship with Him. But the ancient Day of Atonement, celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish New Year, was not always remembered and regarded, among God's ancient people. And as that day and its significance was forgotten, corruption and decay flourished then just as they do today. Let us examine the status quo at a point in Israel's history when King Hezekiah took office. "...In the very first month of the first year of [Hezekiah's] reign, he reopened the doors of the Temple and repaired them. He summoned the priests and the Levites to meet him at the open space east of the Temple and addressed them thus: 'Listen to me, you Levites. Sanctify yourselves and sanctify the Temple of the Lord God of your ancestors—clean all the debris from the holy place.' ...The priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord…. And the Levities took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. Now they began, on the first day, [Yom Rishon], of the first month, [Nisan], to sanctify… the house of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 29:1-17, KJV, TLB).
4. Cleansing—physical and spiritual—is the core of atonement—reconciliation with God. To understand the significance of the cleansing work carried out by the priests, we ask this central question—How does God feel about uncleanness? "Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman's monthly uncleanness in my sight" (Ezekiel 36:17, CJB, TLB, NIV | Leviticus 15:19, CJB, TLB). How did God relate to His people during their uncleanness? "I dealth with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them" (Ezekiel 39:24, CJB, TLB, NIV | 2 Chronicles 29:6-9, KJV, TLB). We can benefit by escaping God's wrath and judgment, if we learn from sacred history how to "... wait for... [God's] Son, Yeshua, whom He raised from the dead, to appear from heaven and rescue us from the impending fury of God's judgment" (1 Thessalonians 1:10, CJB).
5. The divine standard reads thus: "...Keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed" (Joshua 1:8, CJB). Some narrowly limit the prosperity of Joshua 1:8 to material possessions, but Peter reminds us "...that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth..." (1 Peter 1:22, CJB). But this basic commandment, which should have informed and preserved observance of the Day of Atonement among God's people was abandoned! The Book of the Law existed, but people just set it aside, much like we do today, by ignoring its claims and commands that conflict with our rebellious nature. "…[But when] Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses, [he] gave the book to Shaphan, [who] brought the book to the king—[Hezekiah]…. …And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes, [and]… commanded… [that there be an inquiry] of the Lord… concerning the words of the book which has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord, which is poured out on us because our fathers have NOT observed the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book. …[And] Huldah the prophetess, [said]: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, thus says the Lord, behold, I am bringing evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the curses written in the book… because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods…. Therefore, My wrath will be poured out on this place and it shall not be quenched’” (2 Chronicles 34:14-16, 18-25, NASB).
6. Are you among those who assemble in the house of God but do NOT observe/obey the word of the Lord? After Calvary, God has ordained His children into a priesthood. His executive order states: "…You are… a royal priesthood…" (1 Peter 2:9, NASB) and "…your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…" (1 Corinthians 6:19, NASB). As priest, (Galatians 3:28 | Colossians 3:11), of God’s temple, on this first day of this new calendar year, or first day of your awakening, or reawakening, does the need exists to “…purge out the old leaven, [Galatians 5:19-21], that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened? For indeed, Christ our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7, NKJV). "So let us feast upon Him and grow strong in the Christian life, [Galatians 5:22-23 | 2 Peter 1:5-8], leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor, sincerity, and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8, TLB).
7. The time has come for you to renew your membership in the family of God. For God has a wonderful benefit plan in store for His children, which He will reveal one day. "When that day comes, a spring will be opened up for the house of David and the people living in Yerushalayim to cleanse them from sin and impurity. When that day comes, says, Adonai-Tzva'ot, I will cut off the very names of the idols from the land, so that no one even remembers them anymore. I will also expel the false prophets and the spirit of uncleanness from the land..." (Zechariah 13:1-3, CJB, TLB, NIV). God who provides leadership is warning us to turn away from sin lest we risk eternal separation from Him. "If... you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2, NKJV); and ask Jesus to "Guide [your] footsteps by [His] word, [and] don't let any kind of sin rule [you]" (Psalm 119:133, CJB).
Bro. Graham F. Watts, Sr.