The Day of Affliction and Atonement
A Daily Devotion by Chad Bird
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God.” Leviticus 23:26–28
Only once per year, on Yom Kippur (“day of atonement”), are the Israelites are told, “Afflict yourselves.” The verb anah (“afflict” or “humble”) suggests both inner contrition over sins and outer fasting from food, drink, sex, and bathing. Still today, the Jews call the time from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur the “Ten Days of Teshuvah [Repentance].” This isn’t just about “beating yourself up” but confessing sins and praying for God’s mercy. Fasting and repentance do not merit atonement but are God’s way of bringing his people to an awareness of their deep and abiding need of his mercy.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:4–7
The suffering messianic Servant of Isaiah 53 is himself anah (“afflicted” vss.4, 7). He fasted even from speech, for “he opened not his mouth.” Though he had no sins of his own for which to repent, our sins became his own, for “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6).
O Lord, who takes pleasure in your people, adorn the humble with salvation (Ps. 149:4).
Bird , Chad . Unveiling Mercy: 365 Daily Devotions Based on Insights from Old Testament Hebrew (p. 116). 1517 Publishing.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
-Pastor Darrin Sheek