With the long awaited coming of spring comes the annual spring-cleaning at the Smith household. It starts in the house as my wife and daughters wash windows, clean out closets and dust out nooks and crannies I didn’t even know existed. The Smith men—helped out by the outdoorsy Smith women—start by power washing out the old barn that has been cluttered by last year’s mud daubers and all the hay that has been thrown down to feed the four-legged menagerie. It’s a day that is looked forward to with both excitement and with dread. Excitement, because it opens up the warm season of being outside and all the life and energy that embodies, but short term dread because it represents a couple of hard days of labor.
Israel likewise had its version of spring-cleaning only it was in the fall. It was called the Day of Atonement. Like our spring, it was looked upon with both excitement and dread. Leviticus explains that it was a time wherein Israel afflicted herself as she recalled the various sins committed against her Lord.
“And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father's place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.”--Lev. 16:29-34 (ESV)
Deep humility and repentance, signified by Aaron discarding his otherwise festive and elaborate vestments for a plain and simple outfit, were the main characteristics of the sober event. God laid out very specific guidelines in regards to the sacrificial offerings and the process of cleansing the tabernacle, which was the forerunner of the temple. Departure in even the minutest detail meant instant death for Aaron.
The end of the day signified incredible excitement for if God accepted the sacrifice and the cleansing of the tent of meeting, it meant He would continue to abide with His people for another year. When you are wandering in the wilderness and trying to feed and clothe three million transients, it’s a good idea to have God on your side.
I almost cancelled this month’s prayer and fasting day, as it is only a few days before ICHE’s high days of convention. June 6-8 is a time of tremendous celebration of God’s faithfulness in the past school year and lays foundation and vision for the upcoming year. It also reminds us of another year of political and educational freedom to disciple our children at home. Knowing this, I didn’t want to be a wet blanket by saying, “Hey guys, a celebration is coming…LET’S FAST AND AFFLICT OUR SOULS!!! As I further contemplated, I realized it was absolutely appropriate to fast because just as Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement for God’s presence in their lives, so we should fast for His presence at the convention and throughout the upcoming school year.
One pitfall that we must avoid in having a yearly celebration is to take that very time for granted. As one year runs into another, it’s easy to get in the grind and just put another check mark by attending a few sessions at the convention and obtaining curriculum for next year. Let’s pray this Tuesday:
- For a real spirit of gratitude for the right and liberty to home educate.
- For a deep sense of awe, reverence and worship for Christ who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
- To have “ears to hear” what God wants to reveal to us by His Word and by His Holy Spirit that will make us more like Him and our children likewise.
- That we would receive Divine chastening for any areas of compromise, complacency or lack of vision, as well as joy in knowing the good fruit it will bring to our lives and homes.
- That there would not simply be a spirit of unity but one of solidarity which would lead us to corporate action at home, in our local churches, in Springfield and Washington.
- That everyone, from speakers to volunteers to attendees would leave refreshed, invigorated, envisioned and deeply committed to Christ and to homeschooling as one of His mechanisms for preparing the next generation.
As Christians, we know that Christ has become our atonement. Furthermore, we know that He promises to be there where “two or more are gathered in His name.” We don’t have to wonder if He will abide with us. May this day of prayer and fasting give each of us an extra sensitive heart for this week as we seek to spring-clean our heart before Him.
Executive Director, ICHE