Yom Kippur: Shadow or Substance?

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Sundown this evening will mark the beginning of the most solemn day on the Hebrew calendar: Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  Ten days of awe follow the recently celebrated Rosh Hashanah (Jewish civil new year) and lead into Yom Kippur.  These have been days in which the Jewish people have prayed, fasted and examined their lives, ahead of the Day of Atonement.  They know repentance is necessary, but trust in the rituals of their feasts (and other things) to bring atonement.

Leviticus 23:27-28 provides Biblical foundation for this important Jewish commemoration:

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.

The King James Version translates “humble your souls” as “affliction of souls.” Rabbis have interpreted that to mean observant Jews should afflict their souls by fasting.  But is it the soul or the body that is afflicted by fasting?

Perhaps the greatest affliction of soul is brought about when one realizes they are sinful and have absolutely no means of becoming holy on their own.  There is no chance!  To be eternally hopeless is the greatest possible affliction of soul (mind, will and emotions)!

Furthermore, what are the offerings by fire to be offered?  Not only are sinful humans hopeless in affliction, but we are also hopeless in offering the perfect sacrifice (offering).

As a Jewish person commemorates the feasts of Israel, they view only a shadow rather than the substance, and the shadow leaves them hopeless.

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
~Hebrews 10:1 [Emphasis mine]

things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
~Colossians 2:17 [Emphasis mine]

You see, the feasts so faithfully commemorated by practicing Jews, are simply shadows.  Christ, the fulfillment of the feasts, is the substance!

As Christians, we understand the Passover Lamb (Jesus) was offered as the perfect sacrifice for us!  In so doing, His holiness was imparted to us, thereby forgiving our transgressions and covering our sin!  The blood of Jesus did what we cannot do on our own: it atoned for our sin.  It will atone for theirs as well!

However, before our Jewish friends can see the substance, they must come to the place of affliction by understanding their own strength and deeds will not atone for sin.  Their eyes must gaze upon Jesus, the fulfillment of each feast, rather than the rituals that are merely shadows of Christ.

Believers, we are not perfect, so we must not lord salvation over our Jewish friends.  However, we must pray for the Substance (Yeshua…Jesus) to become recognized and trusted by the Jewish people.

This Yom Kippur, will you faithfully pray for the Jewish people?  They have brought us salvation through Jesus Christ.  Let’s pray they will claim Jesus the Messiah as their own.  May there be a great awakening on this Day of Atonement!

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