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Yom Kippur



Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur
Jewish Calendar Tishri 10
Gregorian Calendar September/October
Spring or Fall Fall Feast
Scripture Leviticus 23:27-36
Significance Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) points to a great host of people, Jews and Gentiles, who will be saved when Jesus physically returns to earth.

Four main elements comprise this significant feast.

  A Holy Convocation
    The purpose of the "holy convocation" was to draw the focus of the people to the altar of divine mercy. The Lord called the people of Israel to gather in His presence and give their undivided attention to Him.
  Prayer and Fasting
    The people of Israel were to humble (afflict) their souls (Leviticus 23:27). This was explained by later tradition to indicate fasting and repentance. Israel understood that this was a day for mourning over their sins. The seriousness of this requirement is repeated in Leviticus 23:29: "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people" (Leviticus 23:29).
    Offerings are central to the Day of Atonement; in fact, the Bible devotes an entire chapter (Leviticus 16) to them (also see Numbers 29:7-11). In addition to these, when the Day of Atonement fell on the sabbath, the regular sabbath offerings were offered.
  Prohibition from Labor
    The Day of Atonement was a "sabbath of rest" (Leviticus 23:32), and the Israelites were forbidden to do any work period. If they disobeyed, they were liable to capital punishment! (Leviticus 23:30)

Whereas the Feast of Trumpets occured on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri, at the new moon, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred ten days later on the tenth of the month. The ten days from Trumpets to the Day of Atonement are known as "the days of awe" which include penitence, prayer, and fasting in preparation for the most solemn day of the Jewish religious calendar - the Feast of Tabernacles. Unlike biblical times, the modern Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) does not include animal sacrifices.

The focal point of this feast involved the high priest entering the holy of holies. However, before entering, he had to first bathe his entire body, thus going way beyond the mere washing of hands and feet which were required for other occasions. This washing symbolized the high priest's desire for purification. Rather than wearing his usual robe and colorful garments (Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8), he was commanded to wear special garments of linen.

The high priest sacrificed a bullock as a sin offering for himself and for his house (Leviticus 16:6). After filling his censer with live coals from the altar, he entered the holy of holies where he placed incense on the coals. Next, he took some of the blood which was taken from the slain bullock and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:13) and also on the ground in front of the mercy seat, providing atonement for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:14-15). Then he sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering for the people. Some of this blood was then also taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled there on behalf of the people (Leviticus 16:11-15). Next, the high priest took another goat (called the "scapegoat"), laid his hands on its head, confessed over it the sins of Israel, and then released it into the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:8,10). The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside of the city and subsquently burned; the day finally concluded with some additional sacrifices.

According to Hebrews 9-10, this ritual is a symbol of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, who did not need to make any sacrifice for Himself but rather shed His own blood for our sins. As the high priest of the Old Testament entered the holy of holies with the blood of sacrificial animals, Jesus entered heaven itself to appear on our behalf in front of the Father (Hebrews 9:11,12). Each year the high priest repeated his sin offerings for his own sin as well as for the sins of the people. This ritual was an annual reminder that perfect and permanent atonement had not yet been made; but Jesus, through His very own blood, accomplished eternal redemption for His people (Hebrews 9:12). Just as the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was burned outside Israel's camp, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem so that He might redeem His people from sin (Hebrews 13:11-12).

According to Jewish custom, three books are opened on the Feast of Trumpets: the Book of Life for the righteous, the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and the Book of Life those those in-between. If a man is deemed righteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the righteous at the Feast of Trumpets. If a man is unrighteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and he will not survive the year. If a man is deemed in-between, judgment is delayed for ten days from the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of the Day of Atonement. It is during that period of time that a man is given opportunity to repent before the book is closed and his destiny sealed. Thus, at the Feast of Trumpets, the Church will be raptured and the Lord's wrath will begin on the earth. It will occupy a relatively brief period of time.

At His physical return to the earth, many Jews who survived the Lord's purging (wrath) of the earth, will be saved. The prophet Zechariah wrote of that event this way: "And it shall come to pass, in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zechariah 12:9-10).

And Paul, in the context of a believing remnant from among the nation of Israel at the end of the age, wrote: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:25-26).

But it will not be Israel's Day of Atonement. From among the nations of the world, many will not take the mark of the Antichrist. And when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth, many will repent of their sins before the Book of Life is forever closed. The Lord has these Gentiles in mind in His Olivet Discourse. He taught: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shephered divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:31-34)

It is the multitude from among the nations, along with those from among the sons of Jacob, who will enter the millennial Kingdom still in mortal bodies (as distinct from the raptured and glorified Church who will inhabit New Jerusalem).

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Feasts of the Lord
Introduction Passover Unleavened Bread
Firstfruits Weeks Trumpets
Yom Kippur Tabernacles Conclusion

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This teaching was written by David Holt Boshart, Jr.
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