C.S. Lewis called it the Great Divorce.” It is what happened between God and man. If I could draw it in a cartoon it would depict God looking one way, man the other, slightly turned away from each other, but looking as though they ought to be together. Satan would be looking on with a jealous eye, saying, “So you two aren’t an item anymore…”
It’s not as though the Almighty “fell out of love” with humanity. We caused the separation, and our sin caused Him to turn away (Isaiah 59:2). God cannot tolerate sin. One might even say that He’s allergic to it. Sin seems to emanate from us like a foul fragrance that we don’t notice. And our souls have an odor that’s a stench to Him.
Since we could do nothing about the stench of sin, God did. First He promised that the seed of the woman would one day crush the head of the serpent who had dared to seduce humanity into sin (Genesis 3:15). Then God set the sacrificial system in motion as a temporary measure. One day His Messiah, that promised seed, would sacrifice His own life so that the stench and stain of our sin could be removed once and for all.
We hear over and over again that Jews do not need Jesus because they can be saved by following the Jewish religion. But if the Jewish religion is an appliance, it’s not plugged in anymore. It is disconnected from saving power. The Day of Atonement is a perfect example of what it takes to connect with God, and why the Jewish religion no longer provides that connection.
The Day of Atonement is different from the 4th of July. People cannot decide what kind of celebration they want. There was never such a thing as a Day of Atonement BBQ—except on the altar of God. No one dared say, “Why do we have to tolerate all of this sad music and wailing? Let’s give it a contemporary upbeat.” Or, “What about these sacrifices? Surely we can get rid of this primitive way of doing things. And that funny looking High Priest. If he comes out sprinkling blood, he’s liable to scare the children. No, no we want to have a Day of Atonement that’s more relevant.”
God wouldn’t allow it. And He didn’t allow it. He didn’t let us choose to observe a little bit of the Law. He didn’t let us change what He said. He didn’t let us pick a convenient day. The calendar God gave was the clock of Jewish life. And when it said to call a solemn assembly, they weren’t gathering for Happy Hour. When God said to sound the trumpet, the biggest and best pipe organ in the world wouldn’t do.
It is natural and normal for people to want to change things—to look for new styles, to bring things “up to date.” But the eternal God does not change. Somehow God has never been as flexible as we want Him to be. Adam was trusted and tried with plan A, which was simply: “Don’t eat from that tree.” Then came plan B: “Don’t break that Law.” Plan C: Christ, or Messiah, is not only the way to be cleansed from sin, but the way to have fellowship with God. He is our atonement. There is none other.
Following the Jewish religion or any other man made religion* simply won’t work. Without Jesus, the Jewish people are every bit as disconnected from God as anyone else. We are all disconnected from the power source, the Holy Spirit. We are all disconnected from the Father, and are illegitimate children of sin. We are disconnected from one another and only God’s grace can reconnect us. That’s why Yeshua came: to be the Prophet who would tell the only truth, to be the Priest who would make the ultimate sacrifice, to be the Shepherd of our souls who would lead us beside the still waters. There may be many “spiritual outlets” but there is only one power cord that can connect us to God. It is the one that He provided—Yeshua, Jesus Christ, the conduit of God’s grace flow.
*The Jewish religion with no Temple and no Messiah has evolved into a man-made religion.