The evening of 22nd September this year marks the beginning of the Day of Atonement in the Hebrew calendar. It is considered to be the most holy of all the holy days, the day historical Israel was given the opportunity of having all their sins taken away so that they could be in unity with God again, at one-ment with Him. In Leviticus 16, the original Hebrew word used is ‘kipur’, meaning literally ‘to cover’. In the context of Yom Kipur (the Day of Atonement), concepts such as appeasement, cleansing, forgiving, being merciful, pacify, pardon, purge, put off, and reconciliation all come into focus, giving a beautiful overview of all that was in the Father’s heart when he gave instructions for this event.
Most of the Hebrew calendar events God instituted are known as Feasts, days of celebration, rest from work, and definitely lots of food! Yom Kipur however is different. It is not a feast day but a fast day. Instead of celebration and rest there is much repentance and soul searching as the individual seeks at one-ment with God, forgiven, cleansed and reconciled.
For followers of Jesus today, the New Testament letter to the Hebrews is a wonderful guide to explaining some of the ceremonies of Yom Kipur as a pattern of the atoning, unifying work He carried out on our behalf. Instead of a High Priest, we have Yeshua, the Son of God. Instead of the blood of animal sacrifices, we have the very blood of our Messiah and Saviour. Instead of entering the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies to be in God’s presence, Yeshua entered God’s very throne room, as Paul affirms in Romans, “Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Romans 8:34
The Day of Atonement is a poignant time in God’s calendar. Not only is it a wonderful opportunity to stop and take stock of our own lives, bringing into the light things that we need forgiveness for and giving pause for our hearts to come back into alignment and unity with the heart of Jesus, but it is also one time of year when Jewish people world over pack into their synagogues and prayer houses. In the same way that many ‘secular Christian’s will pack into churches for Easter and Christmas, Yom Kipur is the day that many secular Jewish people will attend their synagogue services. Please pray for them, that as they seek at one-ment with God, they will have a revelation of Yeshua, their High Priest and Messiah!