Yom Kippur: Day of Atonement



The 10 Days of Awe following Yom Ha T’ruah conclude with the Day of Atonement, the most solemn day of the year. In Biblical times, this was the one day of the year that the High Priest would enter behind the curtain into the holy of holies  to make atonement for the sins of the people. It was a serious responsibility and he needed to make preparations to be able to present himself before the Lord’s presence on behalf of his people. 

So much in this appointed time points to and rehearses the atonement that Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) would make for the sins of the whole world. The Book of Hebrews goes into great detail about how Jesus, our great high priest, has fulfilled the Day of Atonement: Unlike the imperfect sacrifices of the ancient High priests that had to be repeated year after  year, his perfect sacrifice was made once and for all!

When we were living in Israel, this day was always incredible to witness. A few hours before sunset the whole country begins to shut down and a stillness descends over the nation. Traffic stops and the roads become empty of cars, all the shops and businesses close up. TV and radio stop broadcasting. Children take advantage of the car-less streets to ride bikes and skateboards in the middle of the road. Groups walk for hours in the freedom of traffic-less roads (walking in the middle of an empty motorway is surreal!). Walking past overflowing synagogues you can hear the traditional prayers and music. 

Even in modern times, it is the one day of the year when the majority of Israel contemplates the seriousness of sin and the consequences of not being right with God. Many still maintain the traditional 24 hour fast without food or water, which is not easy in the hot, arid climate. Without a temple and animal sacrifices, prayer and fasting is offered as penitence in the hope of being written in the book of life for another year. 

Families and friends gather together after the synagogue service to break the fast with a meal. Within a few hours the sound of hammering will rise from around the neighbourhood as many rush to begin the building of the Sukkah for the next feast - The Feast of Tabernacles.


IN THE BIBLE
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves [fast] 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... 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... atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”  - Leviticus 16:29-34






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SUGGESTIONS FOR CELEBRATING

>> Thank the Lord for what he has done in your life and how He has provided an atonement for sin.

>> Why not take this opportunity to fast and pray today.

>> Pray and fast on behalf of your nation. That God would have mercy and forgive us and heal our land.

>> Pray that as the Jewish community around the world fast and pray today, they would receive a revelation of Yeshua, our Great High Priest who paid the price with his own blood. 

>> Pray for Israel as they turn towards God on this day. Pray that each heart that is open and seeking would find truth.

>> Read and study the book of Hebrews for a New Testament perspective. 

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IN THE BIBLE

“...the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

"But when Messiah came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal 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 Messiah, 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 this reason Messiah is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”  - Hebrews 9:6-15