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By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries

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Bible quotations are taken from the New King James Version (NKJV).


God healed me on the Day of Atonement. He did so at that time for very important reasons, which I will come to in a moment. They have everything to do with His immaculate nature and His purpose for mankind. I will explain.

A contemporary worship song exhorts us:

You shall be holy
And in everything be true
For I the Lord am Holy
And My Word belongs to you.

But you and I are not holy. We were both born into a world of wickedness, where sin is the norm, where evil attitudes prevail, killing is commonplace, rape is rife, and deceitfulness flourishes. Humanity's tolerance of such evils is abhorrent to God. And if you condone sin, you are equally abhorrent to Him.

But He doesn't want to reject you. He wants to show you His love, and share that love with you. However, He can only do that if you are as horrified at sin as He is, and turn away from it in all its forms. Then He can forgive you, cleanse you, and purify you to be holy like He is pure.

The Day of Atonement is all about making that possible.

God's Transcendent Holiness

As we gathered to worship God on the Day of Atonement – in the NT also called 'the Fast' (Acts 27:9) – God reminded us of His holiness:

I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy, for I am holy (Lev 11:44).

Unfortunately, to thick-skinned, hard-hearted, self-centred 'believers', this is just a platitude. It is a distant, unreal, imaginary concept – nice-sounding but empty. The fleshly person, because he wants things for himself, regards it as unreal, unattainable, and irrelevant to him. He gets what he wants in the physical. And, because he is self-orientated, he meets with others for 'worship' to make himself feel good, to satisfy himself, or appease his conscience.

His motivation is not God's. He doesn't come to please Him; to begin or further the process of sanctification. He does not want to yield to God's Spirit for his own inner transformation; to put out the necessary effort to make changes to himself, to his attitudes and heart. That's all too much effort, or too painful to his ego. He prefers his own justification rather than God's justification through Jesus' blood. He justifies himself, as he holds onto what he should renounce and relinquish even though it hurts to do so.

Holiness – being totally pure and without sin – goes against the grain for humans. It's the opposite of egocentric desire. It's why the carnal mind doesn't want God, can't relate to God, can't 'see' God, and doesn't care either. Perhaps you can view these words in a different light now:

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully (Ps 24:3,4).

You have probably read them before, perhaps many times, but never quite seen the extent to which God requires your transformation! Holy motives are not merely recommended; they are required!

If you are a Christian who lives for yourself, you won't see your ugliness to God. You will fail to grasp His displeasure. He wants you to change so that He can love you. He yearns to see His love transform you. His love is not given for self-indulgent comfort. He comforts, yes. But He doesn't do it for your selfish reasons. He does it for His purposes. That's why He let me suffer for some days before He healed me on His holy day. I'll come to that shortly.

Atonement is for purification of sin. The first thing that needs purifying in you is your attitude. If you excuse your sins, He can't purify you. You are resisting His holiness.

Sin is execrable, not excusable! But how many believers think the reverse!? They do not know God yet.

When you have the attitude which Psalm 24:3-4 exemplifies, He will be able to impart something to you – His righteousness:

He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation (Ps 24:5).

People have trouble obeying God because their inner motives are not purified enough. They care about themselves and put themselves first. Some think about the implications of obedience before they obey. When it hurts them too much, they draw back. They prefer sin to righteousness.

Abraham wasn't like that. He was willing to do whatever God said, no matter what the cost to himself. You must do whatever God says, or you will find Him going further and further away from you.

We have to understand that there is nothing more fundamental and important to God than His holiness. That's the core of His being. He is utterly pure and untainted by evil. We are defiled. That's why we, as humans, need atonement.

Atonement is For Purification

Sin separates us from God (Is 59:1,2). God requires purity – purity in actions and purity in motive. Notice:

...remember all the commandments of the Lord your God and do them... [do] not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined... remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God (Num 15:39,40).

We have all failed to live up to God's perfect standards of righteousness. That disobedience has incurred His wrath (Rom 1:18), but in His love, God has provided a covering (atonement) so that we can be shielded from His anger and hot displeasure. Under the Old Covenant sacrifices made atonement for the sins of the people. They reminded the people of their sins, and looked forward to the perfect sinless sacrifice of Jesus who would come to make complete atonement for all mankind for all time.

James Hastings explained about the meaning of Atonement:

        The word 'atonement' (at-one-ment), in English, denotes the making to be at one, or reconciling, of persons who have been at variance. In OT usage it signifies that by which sin is 'covered' or 'expiated', or the wrath of God averted. (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p 71, art. Atonement.)

Only through Jesus – because of His complete sinlessness or purity – could atonement be effected and reconciliation achieved. God's purpose was:

...to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him [Jesus]... having made peace through the blood of the cross (Col 1:20).

Such a provision demonstrates His immense love and grace. But we are to be careful not to treat His grace lightly! For the very act of Jesus' terrible sacrifice reminds us of sin's awful consequences, not to be taken lightly!

The most general, but indispensable, preparation in the OT lies in its doctrines of the holiness, righteousness, and grace of God; also, of the sin and guilt of man. God's holiness (including in this His ethical purity, His awful elevation above the creature, and His zeal for His own honour) is the background of every doctrine of atonement. As holy, God abhors sin, and cannot but in righteousness eternally react against it. His grace shows itself in forgiveness (Ex 34:6,7); but even forgiveness must be bestowed in such a way, and on such conditions, that the interest of holiness shall not be compromised, but shall be upheld and magnified. (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, p 71, art. Atonement.)

Apostate theology today undermines God's holiness by dispensing grace as unconditional. God's grace is not, and never was, unconditional! Let me repeat what James Hastings said:

        ...forgiveness must be bestowed in such a way, and on such conditions, that the interest of holiness shall not be compromised, but shall be upheld and magnified.
        Hence the bestowal of forgiveness in connexion with intercession (Moses, etc.), with sacrificial atonements, with signal vindications of the Divine righteousness (Phinehas) [see Num 25] (Ibid.).

But we have rash and ridiculous theologies extant today which claim that 'the law is done away', or which undermine the holiness of obedience to the ten commandments in some way, or which says that love is the manifestation of that obedience – and such love is left to human interpretation and imagination to define. All this is corrupt and flagrantly violates God's holy standards for humanity!

Atonement is for purification, not for licence!

Atonement is the only basis on which you can have union with God – and that, only if you have holy desires.

You can't work your way into God's presence – God had to provide atonement for you. And nor can you enjoy God's presence in your life through grace only – without a perpendicular zeal for His holiness.

There is no getting around this issue. The Day of Atonement reminds us of our need for cleansing from sin and of how God has provided it – atonement:

        It provides a means by which the people, notwithstanding their sin, maintain their fellowship with God, and enjoy His favour. It rests in all its parts on the idea of the holiness of God, and is designed throughout to impress on the mind of the worshipper the sense of the separation which sin has made between him and God. Even with sacrifice the people could not approach God directly, but only through the priesthood. The priests alone could enter the sacred enclosure [the tabernacle]; [and] into the Most Holy Place even the priests were not permitted to enter, but only the high priest, and he but once a year [on the Day of Atonement], and then only with the blood of sacrifice, offered first for himself and then for the people; all this signifying that 'the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest' (Heb 9:7,8). (Ibid.).

Now, as Hebrews explains, Jesus has made that possible. The veil of the temple was ripped apart at His death, from top to bottom, and the way is now open for those with pure hearts to come before God.

But the way is not open for casual Christians. He doesn't accept you if you want to keep your sins.

"Come just as you are..." yes. You can't come any other way! But don't come with the idea that you can stay that way. After you have been justified (made just before God, i.e. regarded as sinless by God because of Jesus' atonement for you), you must be sanctified (made holy, without sin or any evil). That is a process. It's not complete at one stroke, nor by whim. It takes a rigorous outworking on your part, as well as God's patience with you while you battle against your wrong motives.

When Moses Approached God

Do you remember what God said of Moses? There was no one on earth more humble and meek than Moses! (Num 12:3.) He was a remarkable man.

That doesn't mean what many Christians think. Moses was no wimp! Meekness is not weakness. When a person is meek, he is teachable because he thinks little of himself. That was Moses all over. He had such low self-esteem that Aaron often had to speak for him until his confidence was raised. But when it came to zeal for what was right, you wouldn't want to be near Moses! A fiery indignation erupted – even into physical violence at one time (Ex 2:12).

When Moses came down Mt Sinai with the two tables of stone engraved with God's commandments, Israel was indulging in idolatrous heathen rites of sexual depravity (Ex 32:6). Moses 'lost' it, and in his rage, he threw the tablets of stone on the ground as a physical demonstration of his fury.

Are we to conclude that Moses had a temper? Or should we realise that fury is very right when it is directed against sin? The latter.

Yet, despite Moses' good motives, even he could not approach God without a spiritual covering. He learned firsthand of the holiness of God the day he saw the burning bush in the desert.

...he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!... Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground..." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God (Ex 3:4-6).

Are you afraid to look upon God? Do you have that awe for Him? We all need more fear of God. It's the beginning of wisdom (Ps 111:10). Sadly many Christians don't have much at all! They are not afraid to sin; they hold onto wrong attitudes of resentment, hatred, anger against others, unforgiveness and malice; or they coddle their lust and greed; they appease envy and vice.

God requires a complete turning away from sin. You can't retain what you want, to make yourself feel good, or excuse your laziness and apathy. You may be weak, but you have to seek Him for His strength (Is 40:29-31). He will give it to you as you show your resolve to deal with your sinful weaknesses.

Do you grasp the principle? Don't just pray and leave it up to God while you do nothing. YOU have got to do the doing. As you demonstrate – like Moses did with his vehement smashing of the stone tablets – that you really mean business, THEN God comes to your aid and gives you the spiritual strength. While you are lukewarm, indecisive and flaccid, He can't help you. You've got to be desperate and determined.

That's the basis of approaching God with success – resolve or zeal, coupled with humility. Remember Moses; he was our example in the OT. Remember Jesus; He was our example in the NT:

...who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb 5:7,8).

There is no atonement without suffering.

Atonement And Suffering

Don't think that Jesus has done everything for you. While He has paid the price of all sin, and made atonement so that you can receive forgiveness and healing, do not believe the lies of 'charismatic soothsayers' who claim you don't have to suffer.

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us, arm yourselves also with the same mind... (1 Pet 4:1).


... for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God (1 Pet 4:1,2).

Suffering is humbling and it has a part to play in your being willing to relinquish sin. If, while you are prone to sin, you received all you wanted, and had all your natural desires fulfilled, you would not develop a love for God. You wouldn't perceive your need for Him. Life would seem too good to want Him, let alone care about His holiness. So, having all you want physically would detract from the purpose of your life, which is to come to see your sinfulness, and to desire to be holy like God.

Holiness is the opposite of selfishness. Selfish people are ugly to God and completely unlike Him. God's love is beautiful and outgoing. His love is the antithesis of human self-will and selfish pursuit. Of course, doing what you want or like comes so easily that you don't have to think about it. Hence waywardness is a natural 'allergy'. Human nature is 'allergic' to God. It reacts against Him (Rom 8:7).

So then, those that are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8).

Because they are not seeking God but seeking to please themselves.

Suffering can sometimes bring you back to God – through the humbling that takes place – so that you have a willingness to yield to Him in spiritual submission and obedience from the heart.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your Word (Ps 119:67).

It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes (Ps 119:71).

In affliction you see your true motives clearer than in the good times. And, as you turn your heart back towards God, to doing what He wants instead of what you want, He can then apply the love of His atonement to you. He can forgive you and cover you. You are safe in His love.

Job didn't perceive how glorious and spiritually pure God was before he suffered. And he suffered dreadfully! But, because of what God allowed him to go through, Job came out of his trial with clarity of perception and true appreciation of God.

If Jesus hadn't suffered so terribly in death, if He had just simply been shot through the head with a bullet, you and I would not have come to see how vile sin is from God's perspective. As ghastly as it was, God had to allow Jesus to die so horrendously. The physical torture was illustrative of the spiritual depravity He was delivering us from!

Yet people still want to hate others, lust after evil things, pursue their own selfish goals in rebellion and defiance of God's love, and excuse their own demented attitudes!! It beggars belief! How slow of heart we are to believe what God is trying to tell us!

If you want to stay ugly, carry on sinning; carry on with all your repugnant habits; carry on fuelling resentment, pride and stubbornness. But don't think you can benefit from the Atonement. Only believers receive – true believers, I mean – and they are the kind whom James defined as ACTIVE Christians.

Your fruits reveal like an open book what is in your heart (Matt 12:33). Some Christians display a rotten, foul interior! They desperately need cleaning up. They need the Atonement.

And if they are not willing to humble themselves voluntarily, God will have to bring them down, either through affliction or some other way.

God Heals On Atonement

I mentioned at the outset that God healed me on the Day of Atonement. I had been suffering from intense toothache for some days. I have (at present) some rotten teeth that have broken off, leaving only the roots, and they had become infected.

Some would say that I should get them extracted by a dentist, but my past experience with dentists is what has led to the problem. Over 30 years ago, a dentist claimed I needed fillings in nearly all my back teeth. Perhaps it was true that I did have cavities in all the teeth, but I have my doubts, because I learned later that dentists on the NHS in Britain were paid for the work they did. There was money to be made from people's misfortune, and rogue dentists could easily claim you needed work doing when you didn't. How could you disprove their claim without going to another dentist (which was not easy at the time)? So I let him drill them all out and fill them with poisonous mercury fillings! (Something else that we learned with hindsight!) Not knowing God as well as I do now, I didn't think I had any other option.

But God promises to heal ALL our sicknesses (Ps 103:3), and restoring rotten teeth is no more difficult for Him than healing cancer, blindness, or restoring missing limbs. In a dream some years ago, He revealed that He would restore all my teeth, so I trust Him for that. I should not trust in the arm of man.

If you have that faith, then you can trust Him too. But until your faith is grounded in Him, I am not telling you that it's wrong to go to a dentist. For some it may be their only option. It's your choice. However, I would encourage you to seek Him until you have the unshakeable faith to know that He cares for you and that you can throw yourself completely on His mercy as Psalms 18 and 103 illustrate.

The toothache was excruciating at times. It would come and go. Naturally, I asked God to take it away, but He didn't. I had to use natural remedies to alleviate the pain. It was a gruelling ordeal, but I'm sure it was no worse than many other saints (and others) have had to endure! This went on for about a week and the Day of Atonement was approaching. I wondered how I was going to manage to cope on that holy Day. Not being able to take food supplements to alleviate the inflammation, I knew that if God did not intervene, I would spend the day writhing in agony in bed, no use to others who would come for fellowship.

As the time approached, I stocked up on mineral and vitamin supplements (which had, up till then, been able to alleviate the pain for hours), but within a few minutes after the Day began, the pain returned. God was demonstrating a point. He likes to do the impossible and to make sure you are in no doubt that He has performed a miracle!

I had come to the end of what I could do. So I started to read Psalms 24 through 26. (As you yield to God, He will show you what to do when you need help.)

Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of Glory shall come in (Ps 24:9). To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You... (Ps 25:1,2).

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses! Look on my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins (Ps 25:16-18).

This humble prayer of David touched God's heart thousands of years ago, and God is no less merciful today! But, He also sees the value in your character of endurance, or perseverance. So, don't get discouraged when He doesn't deliver you immediately. Peter wrote:

May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Pet 5:10).

As I was declaring my faith in Him, reading out loud those Psalms, God lifted the pain, and He took me through the Day of Atonement virtually pain-free. I still have the rotten teeth – He will heal those when it is His time – when the miracle will cause others to see His glory too.

Why did He heal me on the Day of Atonement and not earlier? Why did He deliberately tailor all these circumstances to zero-in onto that day? Because it's a holy day (Lev 23:27-32). It's still holy and God wants a holy people.

God was proving a point — the signal importance of this Day of holiness, emphasising its sanctity in conveying His holiness to us. ALL God's people should observe it, as well as ALL His Holy Days.

So, remember:

You shall be holy
And in everything be true
For I the Lord am Holy
And My Word belongs to you.

Recommended Reading:
The Festivals of God (Fes). Faith and Healing (FH). Why Jesus? (WJ)
Why Did Jesus Die? (WJD) Faith: Raising Our Level Of Expectation (F).


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