Celebrating Yom Kippur

On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.
~Leviticus 23:27-28

Tonight at sundown, the holiest day of the Jewish year will commence.  Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) speaks prophetically of the Second Coming of the Messiah, the restoration of Israel  and God’s final judgment of the world.  However, let’s first view Yom Kippur through orthodox Jewish eyes.

The Torah states that Yom Kippur was the only day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies in order to call upon the name of YHWH (Yahweh, the sacred name of God).  Blood sacrifices (of animals) would be offered for the sin of the people, and the High Priest is the only one who could present that sacrifice before a Holy God.

According to traditional Judaism, Yom Kippur was actually the tenth day of the “Days of Awe.”  On Rosh Hashanah the names of the righteous were supposedly written into the Book of Life, while the unrighteous were written into the Book of Death.  Most names were not written into either, but had 10 days to repent before sealing their fate on Yom Kippur.

The modern-day observance of Yom Kippur, though, focuses on personal repentance.  Thus, it is a day marked with fasting and praying.

In light of the New Covenant, however, we find that Jesus is the fulfillment of Yom Kippur!  Yeshua (Jesus) has become our Kohen HaGadol (High Priest), according to Hebrews 4:14-16:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Indeed, Jesus our High Priest, understands our weaknesses, and even invites us to enter the throne room and draw near to Him for mercy and grace!  Furthermore, He is our blood sacrifice, forgiving our sin and washing us clean!  Under the Old Covenant, sacrifices merely “covered” sins, yet the blood of Jesus fully atoned for our sins…washing them away forever!  (Take some time to read Hebrews 7-10 for wonderful insight into the “once-and-for-all” sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.)

So, as we look upon the Jewish Day of Atonement, here are the take-aways:

  • Jesus is our atonement!  He is both the High Priest, authorized and capable of entering the Holy of Holies on our behalf, and the sacrifice!  It is by His blood we are saved!
  • This Jewish holy day holds incredible prophetic significance for our Jewish friends, as Jesus Himself will indeed come again and Israel will experience national redemption when Jews recognize their Messiah!  Romans 11:26 promises that all Israel will be saved!  What an incredible Day of Atonement that will be!

ברוך יום כיפור  Blessed Yom Kippur!

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