The Day of Atonement focuses on removing Satan’s influence, covering sin and restoring a relationship between the Father and mankind, ultimately reaching out to the entire creation. Have we stopped to consider what our role is in this restorative process?
Chapter 32 of Exodus tells the familiar story of Israel’s rebellion, worship of the golden calf, and God’s anger. But let’s look closely at the reaction of Moses, after God states His intention to destroy the Israelites and offers to make an entire nation starting with him.
Moses was angry at Israel’s sinful behavior, so much so that he broke the tablets of the law written by the Eternal. Yet by verse thirty, Moses had shifted his focus. He wanted to bring Israel back into a relationship with God, and find a way to atone for their sins:
“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written,” Exodus 32:30-32, NKJV.
Moses was motivated to restore the relationship that had been damaged by sin. He was willing to lay down his own life for those who had sinned, even his eternal life! It was that important to him. Moses’ approach was a reflection of how the Eternal’s mind works to restore peace and harmony.
Applying this example, let’s look at our role in going to our brother as a part of the atoning process:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother,” Matthew 18:15.
At times, this instruction can be misused in an attempt to condemn, or force some type of admission of guilt. But the primary purpose of this instruction is to restore a relationship that has been damaged by sin.
Secondly, we need to consider how to approach our brother in a way that he hears us. The definition for the Greek word for “sin” is “to miss the mark” or “to wander from the path.” If a brother has wandered from the path and it comes into our sphere of understanding, we have a responsibility to love him enough to help restore him to a healthy relationship with the Father and the church community.
This requires a humble mind and spirit, outgoing concern and a thoughtful approach, actively using a godly mindset. We don’t have the power to personally atone for the sins of others, but we can help an individual understand that he or she has sinned and needs to engage in the process of repentance.
In Ezekiel 22, God is seeking those who will “stand in the gap.” As it was for ancient Israel then, so it is for spiritual Israel today, God is looking for anyone who will love and care enough to stand in the gap and be part of the atoning process. When God looks down from His throne, let’s make sure we are a people about His work, using His mind, and accomplishing His purpose!
By Matt King