Yom Kippur -- Day of Atonement

yom kippur

God calls the Israelites to seven "appointed times" (aka festivals/holy days), written about in Leviticus 23.  To understand one of the "appointed times" is to understand all seven in their context.  Briefly, these appointed times were given to us by God so His people, the Jews, could understand the coming of the Messiah and the Messiah’s role in redeeming and restoring man back to God (restoration was needed after man fell in the Garden of Eden).

eden

eden

The "appointed days" were instituted by God because the God of the universe wants to have a personal relationship with us and these holy days were designed to be personal. Each one points us to the Messiah and God’s plan for the world through Him.

Leviticus 23:2 says, “…the appointed times of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My appointed times.”  The word “convocation” isn’t a word you hear every day! It translates “a rehearsal.”  Rehearsal for what? The festivals are to be yearly “rehearsals” of the future events regarding redemption. God gave the "appointed times" to teach us about the major events regarding redemption.

Basically, there are seven "appointed times:" Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the Feast of Pentecost, The Blowing of the Shofar (aka Rosh Hashana or Feast of Trumpets),  Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and Tabernacles (aka Feast of Booths).

                                            Seder plate

                                            Seder plate

The first three holy days are under the umbrella of Passover and although each has a story related to a lesson learned in the Old Testament, they all point to the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah. The Feast of Pentecost points to the coming of the Holy Spirit. All of these "appointed days" mentioned so far have been historically fulfilled during the first coming of the Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua). Each of these holy days will be written about on this website as they occur throughout the year.

The last three of the seven appointed times mentioned, have a future fulfillment during the second coming of the Messiah.

Here, we will focus on “Yom Kippur” also called “Day of Atonement,” which is always ten days after the Feast of Rosh Hashana. As most Jewish holy days, it begins at sundown, October 7th and lasts 24 hours. The Scripture related to this Day (Yom) is Leviticus 23:27-32.  The historical setting refers to the Priest entering the Holy of Holies once a year and cleansing the people’s sins. It was and is considered the holiest day of the Jewish year. The Day of Atonement is an appointed time in which God decided to meet with the Jews in a way that is different from any other time of the year. They ask God to reveal to them ways in which they are weak. Most of the day is spent in the synagogue.

For Christians who practice Jewish holy days, Yom Kippur is a time to celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice, allowing us to personally go before God. No longer is a High priest needed and Jesus paid the price—once for all.

Sounding a shofar

Sounding a shofar

In Jewish synagogues, the people have been hearing the blowing of the shofar for 40 days leading up to this 24 hours. The shofar (rams horn) is a wake-up call for each to examine their lives.  They ask themselves….”Am I serving God? Am I living for God? How can I improve?”

Compare these Scriptures relating to Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9):  “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water and put them on.”

Prior to entering the Holy of Holies, the high priest had to first make sure he was clean before he could bring the sins of the people before God.

"Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness."

goat

One goat was offered as a sin offering. The other was a scapegoat and the high priest would place his hands on this goat, representing the sins of the people, and send it out into the wilderness, never to be seen again.  When we confess our sins and repent from them (turn away from them), God forgives our sins and they have vanished!

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people….and make atonement for the Holy Place because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and all their sins.” (Leviticus 16:3-16).

Now check out Hebrews 9:11-14: ‘Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Jesus

Jesus, Yeshua, Messiah, became the High Priest….actually took his place.  Jesus came with His own blood….not from a goat.  He was sacrificed and saved us, “once for all.”  That means He became THE sacrifice…only needed once….and for all…everyone…Jew and Gentile alike. (Did you know that a Gentile is anyone other than a Jew?) Now, we are able to stand before God directly and be seen as without sin as Jesus took our place for that sin. We no longer need to go through a High Priest (or any priest, for that matter). Jesus is all we need!

So, Yom Kippur is a day of repentance. When we repent, it is far more than just “confession.” It is more than saying you are sorry.  It means you commit to turn away from your sinful path and return to God.  It is a commitment not to continue with that sin.

water

Yom Kippur is a fast—a day without food.  It is a denial of self. It is a yielding of ourselves to God so we may live in His presence. It is a rehearsal for the second coming of Jesus, Messiah!

Pray for Israel (and Jews around the world) as they celebrate their holiest holy day. It was Yom Kippur in 1973 when Israel was attacked by those surround them in Syria and Egypt. Although this surprise attack was on their holiest day with forces outnumbering them, Israel fought their enemy and with God’s help, defeated them!

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Today Israel is once again surrounded by enemies threatening their very existence….Threats from Iran, Turkey and now Syria. Pray that history does not repeat itself on this holy day for the Jews and that all Jews will focus on God and find true salvation in Him.