Yom Kippur - The DAY of Atonement





Yom Kippur, from the Hebrew word "kapper"--which means "to cover over"--falls on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishri, and brings to an end the ten Days of Awe which begins with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Ha-Shanah) on the first day of Tishri.  Depending on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur occurs annually either in mid to late September or early October, and is the second of the three festivals--Feast of Trumpets, DAY of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles, which are observed within a twenty-one day period in the fall of each year.


Leviticus 23:27-32 instructs, "The tenth day of the seventh month is the DAY of Atonement.  Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire.  Do no work on that day, because it is the DAY of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.  Anyone who does not deny himself on that DAY must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that DAY. You shall do no work at all.  This shall be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a Sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves."


Although forbidden but once a year, on the DAY of Atonement the High Priest would cautiously part the holy curtain between the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. There he would enter the Temple to see the Ark of the Covenant where the Shekinah Glory of Almighty dwelt over the Ark between the cherubim.  He would take the blood of sacrifice and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat of the Ark thereby covering the sins of the penitent that had collected throughout the year.  All those with unrepentant attitudes would be cut off from among the people of Israel.  In reality, it symbolized the DAY when judgment (probation) would end--when individuals would either be saved or lost.


Paul wrote, "Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had... the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant.  This Ark contained the... stone tablets [Ten Commandments] of the Covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the place of atonement... when everything had been arranged like this, 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 of the people had committed in ignorance," Hebrews 9:3-7.  The DAY of Atonement ceremony portrayed Christ's entrance into the Most Holy Place with His own blood "having obtain eternal redemption," Hebrews 9:12, but it also foretells the end of the age fulfillment in Messiah's salvation of the saints and the DAY of His judgment and "cutting  off" of the rebellious nations.


Yom Kippur is the holiest and most solemn DAY in the Jewish calendar.  The day is spent in prayer and fasting, and in seeking God's mercy.  Many follow restrictions of bathing, anointing the body with oil, wearing leather shoes and sexual relations--all considered pleasurable.


Yom Kippur is also understood to be a DAY of announcement.  God's special name was reserved for use only on the DAY of Atonement.  On this DAY "Yahweh" was pronounced by the High Priest before the assembled masses in the Temple courtyards. 


It is understood that on this most solemn DAY the whole world is suspended in judgment--who shall live and who shall die.  One scholarly Jew writes, "the concluding service of Yom Kippur takes its name and imagery from the symbol of the closing of the gates of Heaven.  Originally it may have referred to the closing of the Temple gates.  This imagery of time running out recurs throughout the service.  For example, the liturgy is changed from zakhreimu le-hayyim to hotmeinu le-hayyim--from "remember us" to "seal us"--in the Book of Life,"  The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary, p. 117, Michael Strassfeld.  The annual DAY of Atonement is the rehearsal for the DAY of the LORD!


Yom Kippur is the DAY when the following words are declared by Messiah, just before His return: "The time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be," Revelation 22:10-12.

See the The Kingdom Calendar Pt. 18 for the Yom Kippur connection to the end-times.

More About Yom Kippur on Wikipedia.

Messianic Pastor Mark Biltz teachs about Yom Kippur.