Yom Kippur





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On the Day of Atonement, we rehearse Yeshua's work on our behalf as we concern ourselves with the cleansing, atoning work of Messiah that has wrought for us forgiveness, pardon and right standing with YHWH [Yahweh]

Although Judaism considers it the holiest day of the year, most people outside Judaism have never heard of Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur (יום כפור) means “Day of Atonement.” It is one of the appointed times on YHWH’s calendar according to Leviticus 23, namely, the tenth day of the seventh month. 

It is a fast day, a day for confessing sins, repenting and asking God for forgiveness. In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, it was a day of solemn sacrificial rituals for purification and atonement.

Leviticus 16 describes the whole ritual for Yom Kippur

On that day two goats are taken and by a lot, one is selected as the scapegoat (La Azazel), one as the sin offering to the Lord (La Adonai). 

In a dramatic foreshadow of the atonement that will be made by Yeshua, the High Priest will symbolically place the sins of the people, and thus also the punishment of the people upon the head of this goat that will be driven into the wilderness, “bearing all their iniquities” into a remote area, where it is pushed over a cliff with a scarlet cloth tied between its horns. According to Leviticus 16 both goats are spoken of as “sin-offerings,” and both “atone,” but one by dying and the other by being driven, live, into the wilderness to die.

An important key might be to look at Lev 16:15-20.  The goat that is killed and the blood that is shed is specifically said to be for the “covering” (atoning) for the sins of the people, but as related to the “uncleaness” of the Holy Place. In other words, Aaron going in, with blood from the bull for himself and his household, and blood from the goat for the people, is related to making the Tent or Tabernacle holy where YHVH dwells – among an unclean people – see v. 16.  This seems very clear. This is what we would call “ritual” cleansing. It is specifically related to the Tent/Tabernacle.

The goat that really “bears the sins” is the one sent away, into the desert as in v. 22.  All the sins and iniquities and transgressions are put on the head of this live goat and he is send away to die in the desert.

It was the only day of the year when the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, entering beyond the veil and stand before YHWH in supplication for his own sins and the sins of the people. It is also called the day of coming” face to face” – in Hebrew, panim el panim.

Entering into the holy place (Kodesh ha Kodeshim), he sprinkled the blood of the sacrificial goat on the mercy seat. The blood of the the sin offering on Yom Kippur (great day of Atonement) brought about the cleansing of all sin: for the priesthood; for the sanctuary; and for all Israe ( Lev 16 v 29-34).

It is also the only day within the seven moedim (appointed times) that is a fast day of 25 hours.

In the synagogue on this day, Yom Kippur is filled with beautiful liturgical services during which the congregation confesses their sins and prays through a series of prayers of contrition and petitions for mercy. A spirit of solemn grandeur permeates the air. Tears of repentance moisten people’s eyes as their prayers unfold in inspiring, haunting melodies. By the end of the day, when it is time to break the fast, the soul of the worshipper is satiated with the presence of YHWH.

In the days of the Tabernacle and Temple, Yom Kippur was also an appointed time of  the purification rituals of the Day of Atonement to cleanse His sanctuary – just like Yeshua cleansed the sanctuary in His day because it was used for man’s means, beyond  those of worship of YHWH.

Although there is no Temple today, the annual day of repentance is still an important spiritual discipline, as it is also part of the appointed times of YHWH.  The apostles teach that believers constitute a collective Temple of the Holy Spirit. The concentrated day of fasting, confession, repentance and petition for forgiveness is like an annual spiritual clean-up. This does not mean that we do not regularly confess our sins and repent. Nor does it mean that our sins are not forgiven by the blood of Messiah. But it has been instituted as a miqra quodesh (set apart time).

The Day of Atonement is a day for humbling one’s soul. It is the day for confession, supplication, fasting and weeping. Yom Kippur is about coming near to YHWH – face to face.  In the book of Zechariah we observe at the coming of Yeshua, that this will be on a Yom Kippur – as they come face to face with Him and recognise the One that they have pierced -and as all the tribes of Israel will mourn over this. (Zech 12 v 10-14)

Jewish custom refers to the Day of Atonement as Judgment Day because of its Biblical associations with sin, atonement and forgiveness. Also the implications of the closing of the heavy brass Nikanor Gates of the Temple in temple times, after  the Neilah service on Yom Kippur, which is the closing, final service, signifying the end of repentance opportunities and the “closing of the gates,” until the next year at Yom Kippur.

The traditional synagogue  ‘Day of Atonement service’ lasts most of the day. Since it is a fast day, the whole day is spent in prayer, confession, study and reflection.

For disciples of Yeshua, the Day of Atonement is a special and significant day. The writer of the book of Hebrews shows us how the rituals of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the work of Messiah – not in the Temple on earth, but in the heavenly Temple. He carried His own blood into the Holy of Holies of the heavenly Temple. Thus the rituals of the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the redemptive work of Messiah, as every other of the seven Biblical festivals are foreshadows of Messiah, in His first coming as Yeshua Ben Josef and His second coming as Yeshua Ben David.

The day of Yom Kippur is preceded by the days of awe (yamim noraim), the seven days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. These days are set aside by every Jew to reconsider the past year, make restitution where neccessary; repent where needed; forgive;  and to make peace with his enemies.

It is awesome to be in Jerusalem at this time. On erev Yom Kippur people are already walking to the Western Wall (as no vehicles move on this day) and this continues right through the day of Yom Kippur. The overwhelming sense of contrition and quiet resolve of every person is palpable and very touching. Even the children are accompanying parents on this journey of supplication.
The area in front of the wall is usually packed with Jews from every persuasion, be it secular,orthodox or ultra orthodox and a sea of prayer shawls meets the eye as they are all standing in front of the Kotel. (Western Wall), each in devout prayer.