Fall Feasts of Israel
Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement
Theme: Messiah Yeshua: So Great an Atonement!
- To remember God’s promise to Adam after he sinned against God in the Garden…
- To remember that the introduction of the Law was the shadow of the the great redemption to come…
- To remember the power of the atoning sacrifice of God’s Holy One
- For the remission of sins
- For the rescue from condemnation
- For the ransom from the power of sin
Given to all those who trust in Him, to those who trust in His Name…
That we might begin to hate sin and to desire all things in which God delights; that we might give all honor and glory to Yeshua the Lamb God provided to take our punishment for our sin; that we might begin to learn the power of His sacrifice over our sin which no longer condemns the believer, but yet still defiles; that we might pray fervently for others who are not yet sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life by faith in the Lord Yeshua—So Great an Atonement!
My Prayer: Blessed art Thou, O LORD, our God, King of the universe! I will celebrate the mighty holiness of this day, for it is one of trembling mingled with great rejoicing. Because of Yeshua’s Great Atonement, You have applied His Righteousness to me, so that I may serve You with joy and gladness all the days You have ordained for me this side of Heaven. Because of Yeshua’s Great Atonement, You have applied His Righteousness to me so that when You raise my body from the grave I will be made incorruptible and I will dwell among the redeemed by His blood with You forever. For this cause I pray with trembling: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me! Amen.
The Feast of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is one of the most solemn of the Biblical Holy Days. It is also complex in that those who are tuned in to the significance of this holy day realize there is both affliction of the soul and a thanksgiving for a way of reconciliation with God. Yom Kippur comes from the Hebrew word kapporeth which means covering or mercy seat. The lid on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies was the mercy seat or kapporeth. On Yom Kippur the Jewish people beg God for mercy and forgiveness for their sins.
When we examine ourselves in the Light of a Holy God, we should realize that God owes us no means of atonement at all. The Day of Atonement is the blessed celebration of the grace of a Holy God in providing A Way for forgiveness of our rebellion and treason against Him.
Leviticus 23:27-32 says that Yom Kippur follows the Feast of Trumpets on the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Yom Kippur is the Hebrew for “Day of Atonement.” After its observance, there are four days of preparation for the next festival beginning on the 15th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Tishrei.
Leviticus 23:27-32 appoints for Israel a national day of “afflicting your souls,” person by person, family by family.
Because there is no fellowship with a Holy God without satisfying His requirements under the Law for full atonement for unrighteousness, God Himself established forever that the Day of Atonement may not be celebrated without the offerings He appointed for that holy day.
Leviticus 16 outlines the labors of the high priest on that day. His work is solemn and bloody as he pours out the lifeblood of innocent animals to cleanse the Most Holy Place of the defilement his sins and Israel’s sins have brought there. He must put off the splendid priestly garments he wears at all other times and become humbled before God. The entire 24-hours is ablaze with the unrelenting fire of burnt offerings on the altar of sacrifice. A young bull, seven lambs and one ram follow the lamb which burns on the altar in the morning (Numbers 28:4-8; 29:7-11). The high priest trembles as he enters the Most Holy Place with the smoking scented coals from the altar of sacrifice. If his sins and the sins of his people have reached this holiest of sanctuaries, have they reached the Heaven of heavens? Is the cloud sufficient to shield him from the judging gaze of a holy God? Were the bullock and the goat whose blood he must sprinkle at the mercy seat truly unblemished? Is seven times enough for all the iniquity in Israel? Will this blood save Israel from receiving punishment seven-fold? Mercy would be a blessing at this moment. The outer courtyards are empty now; no one was permitted in the courts of the Tabernacle or the Temple while he labored alone before the God of Israel. They were waiting for him, reassured only by the sound of the bells on his hem as he moved about in the Most Holy Place. Would he live to discharge the live goat bearing the sins of Israel far from the gaze of God? As he returns from the Holy of Holies, he hears the collective gasp of relief rise from those who wait in hope outside. The live goat is led away to a wilderness reserved for the spirits of the damned, from which the goat would never return. The goat’s destination is insured by sending the most reliable servant available to attend it. His labors not yet complete, the high priest bathes, changes his garments, and prepares the ram to be the burnt offering for himself, his sons, and for all the people (Leviticus 16:24). This burnt offering is then followed with the regular evening burnt offering, and the high priest is then relieved by another.
The description of God’s requirement for the offerings is given in the Law as all those whether from flocks or herds, whether male or female, to be without blemish (Leviticus 4.3-32; 5.15-18; 9.2-3).
Without the Temple, Israel languishes without the altar of sacrifice, without the atoning blood. God took away the Temple and the old sacrifices to give us a perfect Sacrifice through the Blood of Yeshua the Messiah…
The blood of bulls and goats could only provide forgiveness until a man thought or did something sinful again; then more bulls and goats would have to die–over and over, again and again. The blood of bulls and goats and lambs cannot do the job of cleansing the deep well of sin in the heart of a person. One minute after the sun went down on the Day of Atonement, a person could be in trouble again with God. The more a person was aware of sin in his/her life, the more often he/she was at the altar of sacrifice with a sin offering…
Anyone who thinks upon the character and being of God, His holiness and gracious provision for the Covenant with Him, understands that Yom Kippur is not intended to be bitterly, uncomfortingly grievous. Sin, however, is grievous because it separates people from knowing the God of all joy. The thought of separation from God ought to plague our souls with grief. Nevertheless, while we are making unflattering, unpleasant discoveries about our being and character, yielding to God’s search for things that destroy the deep pleasure of relationship with Him is a true–if pungent–feast for the soul. The more we acquire a taste for God’s extraordinary character, the more often and eagerly our soul will pant for the strong savor of Yom Kippur. Mingled with the bitter tears of our self-exposure and confession, God offers the “Main Course” of His Holy Covenant: reconciliation through the blood of His appointed atoning sacrifice, offered by the priestly mediator of His ordination. If we perform 612 mitzvot (good deeds or meritorious works) and neglect this one, we are guilty of sin in all the other 612. The mitzvot are holy, but we are not holy. Our mere performance of them does not change our character of unholiness in the gaze of a holy God. God alone is holy. He has given this “feast” to the unholy as THE WAY to reconcile them to Him. There is no other way, for God has said: “…it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11)…
God’s provision for the offering is seen and spoken by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53
The description of this great offering comes into clear focus in Hebrews 10.1-4
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.”
If Yeshua’s atonement only pays for the sins of a believer, he would only be restored to the innocence of Adam. As soon as the believer sinned again, Yeshua would have to die again. But Yeshua’s atonement is so great that God does more than take away the believer’s sins. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement also rescues the believer from the enemies that rebel against God’s goodness–our sin nature and Satan’s influence on it. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement enables the believer to serve God without distrust in holiness and righteousness before Him all his days. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement cleanses the believer’s conscience from acts that lead to death, so that he may serve the living God…
If the atonement of the Holy One only restored to us Adam’s former innocence, we would once again be in peril of the Fall; but the atonement of Christ is so great that one who believes in His atoning sacrifice receives more than Adam’s former innocence. Although Adam was created innocent, he was not created incorruptible. As David wrote in Psalm 23: “I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” For that eternal security to be accomplished, the one who believes what David wrote must be restored beyond Adam’s former innocence; he must be redeemed to the very righteousness of Messiah Himself: that is, he must be made so new that, by the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua the Holy One, he is made incorruptible. The one who believes in Messiah’s atoning sacrifice receives the very righteousness of Messiah imputed to him, so that when he is raised from the grave he is raised incorruptible…
Here is the “bottom line:”
The only works of righteousness that serve to justify a sinner are the works of Christ.”
The Scriptures are clear on the subject of our need for an advocate, a mediator before a holy God. Because God is holy, no one may come near Him in a corrupted state Numbers 3.10. Anyone who does so, dies…
In the “First Covenant” of God’s grace, Moses has recorded the calling of God’s chosen mediators from among God from the tribe of Levi—the chief ministers—His priestly mediators–from the sons of Aaron:
Now take Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to Me as priest, Aaron and Aaron’s sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar…So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually. And you shall put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord. So Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord continually.”
They were from among sinful men who must, themselves, make offerings for their own cleansing before they can minister on behalf of others:
For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was.”
These priests did all the work of making the offerings, interceding for the transgressors among the faithful of Israel, and the nations who believed in the only true and living God. The priests, chosen by the grace of a holy God, were the mediators before the throne of God on behalf of the people. The priests, chosen by the grace of a holy God, were the mediators of the covenant of reconciliation for sinful men. The labors for the work of atonement required of the priestly mediator were “continual” on all days. Leviticus 16.1-22 shows us that on this holiest of days the labors were arduous and detailed and painstaking and unrelenting.
The Temple in Jerusalem is gone, and the requirement set forth in the First Covenant in the Law for the sin offerings cannot be met. God took away the Temple and the imperfect priesthood to give us the Perfect Priest through the atoning work of Yeshua the Messiah…
In the “Last Covenant” of God’s grace, God reveals the Everlasting Priestly Mediator in Hebrews 7.24-8.2:
But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
Messiah came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself with His own blood, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the New Covenant, by means of death, for the atonement of the transgressions under the first covenant that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance”
And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Without faith in the atoning work of Yeshua Himself as God’s chosen Mediator for sin, no one in our days–neither Jew nor Gentile–can escape the punishment imposed upon those who dare draw near to a holy God as their own advocate…
While I was studying the traditions of the Jewish observances of the Day of Atonement, I found the following among their traditional prayers:
Our righteous Messiah has departed from us. We are horror-stricken, and have none to justify us. Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions He carries who is wounded because of our transgressions. He bears on His shoulder the burden of our sins, to find pardon for all our iniquities. By His stripes we shall be healed–O Eternal One, it is time that you should create Him anew!”
…straight from the text of Isaiah 53.4-6…
Without the Temple and its Scriptural sacrifices, rabbis have adopted a tradition which asserts that the red blood cells each man prevents by his fasting and his good deeds will serve as atonement for his own iniquity.
Another tradition on Yom Kippur is Kol Nidre, the Hebrew term meaning “all vows.” This traditional prayer which annuls all vows taken by the Jewish people, appears to have been introduced by a prominent rabbi in Babylonia during the eighth century A.D. The prayer ushers in Yom Kippur. Just before sunset on Tishrei 9, in synagogues worldwide, and while Torah is lifted for all to see, the cantor begins the antiphonal prayer:
All vows, obligations, oaths, anathemas, be they called konam or konas or by any other name, which we may vow or swear or pledge…from this Day of Atonement until the next…we do repent. May they be deemed to be forgiven, absolved, annulled or void–and made of no effect. They shall not bind us nor have power over us and the vows shall not be considered vows nor the obligations obligatory, nor the oaths oaths.”
Rabbis who understand God’s view of the keeping of vows regarded the tradition as unscriptural and, therefore, unorthodox. The custom grew in acceptance during the eighth and ninth centuries while the emperor Charlemagne was forcing oaths upon Jews in the courts through brutality and torture. Later, during the 13th century and onward, Christian vows were forcibly imposed upon the Jewish people under the brutality of the Inquisition. Christians who understand God’s view of the taking and keeping of vows recognize such coercion as unscriptural and, therefore, unorthodox. Rabbis permitted the dispensation of Kol Nidre arguing that the vow involves the conscience of the one who vows alone, and not any other involved. God alone knows the mind of a man. They reasoned that God could absolve a man of the responsibility of a vow of conscience made to God–especially under duress; but a promise made to another man must be fulfilled. The recitation of Kol Nidre alone was offered as the mitzvah by which a man could be absolved of a vow of conscience. This bloodless “sacrifice” offered by the lips of a sinful man, then, became the reconciliation for a Jew coerced into claiming faith in Messiah Jesus. For a Jew caught “between the Devil and the deep blue sea,” Kol Nidre became the “grace” at Yom Kippur to renounce his Christian “confusion” and be reconciled to a Judaism with no Temple and no Scriptural Atonement…
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
For disciples of Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur carries with it the weight of the glory of a holy God. We are reminded of our sin and rebellion against God and our offenses against our neighbors. Perhaps the prayer of Daniel the prophet would be a more fitting observance on Yom Kippur for the disciple of Messiah Jesus:
And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You. O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. And He has confirmed His words, which He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, by bringing upon us a great disaster; for under the whole heaven such has never been done as what has been done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come upon us; yet we have not made our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Your truth. Therefore the Lord has kept the disaster in mind, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works which He does, though we have not obeyed His voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly! O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name’.”
For disciples of Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur is another day in your life of confession and repentance before a holy God. Yom Kippur is another day in your life for trusting in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for forgiveness. Yom Kippur is another day in your life for remembering that the atonement of Yeshua is so great that He has the power to cleanse and renew your heart to obey God more and more…
For disciples of Messiah Jesus—whether Jewish or non-Jewish—Yom Kippur carries with it the sweetness of Yeshua’s Great Atonement. While we submit to the searching gaze of the Spirit of God, we enjoy the counsel of the Spirit of God who testifies:
Messiah has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself”
There is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Holy Spirit”
Ministering Servants for the Great High Priest
In the “First Covenant” of God’s grace, Numbers 3.5-9 tells God’s people that Moses’ male descendants from the tribe of Levi were given wholly and holy, as ministering servants, to the priesthood of Aaron’s male descendants…
In the “Last Covenant” of God’s grace, 1 Peter 2.9 tells God’s people that all those who believe in Messiah Yeshua, our Great High Priest, are given wholly and holy, as ministering servants to Him…
For the priesthood of believers in Messiah, walking with God, remembering His holiness and the Great Atonement He accomplished through our Great High Priest are more than traditions, they are Life…
…that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
If you are a believer in Messiah Yeshua, you have been taken by God as a gift to your Great High Priest. How fitting that on Yom Kippur the priesthood of believers would draw near the Throne of Grace with intercession for the transgressors, i.e., those of Israel yet to believe.
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
We who are given as ministering servants to Messiah Jesus, our Great High Priest are appropriately bidden to pray for the Spirit of grace and supplication to be poured out upon the blind among the people of Israel; to pray for the coming day when she recognizes her Holy One, her Great High Priest (Isaiah 66.7-10; Zechariah 12.10-14)—that Israel would know LIFE in Yeshua!
We who are given as ministering servants to Messiah Jesus, our Great High Priest are appropriately bidden to pray for the Jewish people and ask God to show them their Great High Priest, Messiah Yeshua. Remember to intercede for them daily… Isaiah 37.4; 53.12; Luke 23.34
…and for all who walk in danger of facing a holy God without Jesus as their Advocate in the High and Holy Place…
…How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?”
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the House of the LORD our God I will seek your good.”
*NOTE: In the right hand column of my site, there is a link to Bible Gateway, which provides excellent, free, online access to multiple translations of the Bible. There is easy access with search windows to find passages either by a word or phrase or by the Bible reference itself. Enjoy discovering the Word of God online.
High Holydays—A Season of Remembrance, Awe and Rejoicing, from DISCIPLING THE MESSIANIC BELIEVER, first edition pp. 389-436, ©1990 & 1991, Revised 1995, 2003, Patricia Stachew, Stillwaters Publications, Reston, VA. All rights reserved.
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