While all of the Feasts of the Lord are appointed times of worship, celebration, and reverence to our Savior, Yeshua, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is a day to afflict our souls and be still. Though most see this as a solemn day, it’s become one of the most significant days of my life that I look forward to each Fall!
What is Yom Kippur?
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” (Leviticus 17:11)
Then, when the Tabernacle was built, the Lord instructed the Israelites on how to observe Yom Kippur:
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you— because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” (Leviticus 16:29-34)
During the Time of the Tabernacle and Temple
Before Aaron’s sons violated God’s sacrificial law, the High Priest used to enter the Inner Court of the Tabernacle multiple times a year; however, after Nadab and Abihu’s defilement, God instructed Moses, “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.” (Leviticus 16:2)
From then on, the only day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies was on Yom Kippur when he would sprinkle the sacrificed blood on the Ark of the Covenant to make atonement for the people of Israel.
When the Temple was built, the Israelites would travel to Jerusalem each year to observe the Feasts and offer sacrifices to the Lord. Until Yeshua’s Crucifixion, Yom Kippur was the only day the nation of Israel could be renewed and forgiven of their sins. But then, our Messiah took our place on the cross and became our Passover Lamb!!
After Yeshua’s Crucifixion
On the evening before Yeshua’s arrest, He ate His Last Supper with His disciples and performed the first communion, confirming Himself as our eternal atoning sacrifice. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” (Matthew 26:26-29)
Yeshua’s blood not only washed us clean but also broke the divide created when the Israelites rejected Him at Mount Sinai. The curtain separating us from the Holy of Holies was torn when Yeshua died; no longer would we have to go to the Temple to be close to Him or sacrifice for our redemption.
“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God… For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:13-14, 24-28)
Yeshua redeemed Israel so we could be saved! During His First Coming, He restored what was broken (the covenant with Israel) and fulfilled the Spring Feasts (which are about our personal relationship with Him). On His return, we will see the world restored (the fulfillment of the Fall Feasts, which are about the nation of Israel), receive the promise of salvation, and once again be made ONE with our Lord and King!! How amazing is that?
What NOT to do on Yom Kippur
In Judaism today, the Jews observe ten days of awe — from Yom Teruah to Yom Kippur. During this time, they do good deeds and seek forgiveness in the hope that their names will be written in the Book of Life. The Jews believe these acts will assure their salvation; shockingly, MANY believers have adopted this mindset! Every year, I see people I know write generic Facebook posts saying, “To those I may have wronged, I ask forgiveness.” And “May your name be written in the Book of Life.” It truly stuns me to see believers participating in these Jewish traditions, especially when the Bible clearly states that the inheritance of eternal life comes ONLY through the Messiah and following the Lord’s commands! (1 John 5:1-5)
How Should We Observe this Feast?
Yom Kippur is an incredible day of setting aside ALL of our distractions and putting our focus solely on the ONE worthy of praise! Though we continue to afflict our souls (through fasting, turning off technology, or however the Lord leads you — the Bible is not specific) and take the day off work to rest in the remembrance of what Yeshua did for us, it is not a day of worry or sorrow. Thanks to Yeshua, we don’t need to live in fear that our salvation must be acquired through good works and deeds; however, many are still lost and searching. So, rather than following unbiblical practices, I implore you to use this day to intercede that Israel and the rest of the world would learn who their Savior is, accept the atonement of Yeshua’s blood, and be set free from the chains that bind them! (Read 1 Kings 8:33-34, 46-51)
Until the Messiah’s return, Yom Kippur (and the rest of the Fall Feasts) remains unfulfilled; therefore, we must be diligent as we pray for the restoration of Israel. The Father is waiting to reveal Himself to His people and show them what He wants to do through them, so I pray that as you set this day aside, your faith will increase, and the Lord will open your eyes to the redemption and freedom found in the Messiah!
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:9-11)