“The LORD said to Moses, ‘The tenth day of this 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 is to 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. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.’” (Lev 23:26-32)
From one hour before sunset on the ninth day of the seventh month, until at least two stars are visible in the sky the following night, is the Day of Atonement on the LORD’s calendar. This is the most sacred day of the whole year. During this time we are commanded in the Bible to deny ourselves and not eat or drink for twenty-five hours. The time is spent in prayer and repentance.
The Day of Atonement, called Yom Kippur in Hebrew, is one of the Feasts of YHWH. If you have become His beloved child through faith in His Son, this Feast, or rather this fast, is for you. Remember that Yeshua did not say, “If you fast—” but “When you fast—”Yom Kippur is such a day.
The church has incorporated altered versions of three of the Spring Feasts of the LORD, calling them Easter and Pentecost, because the Spring Feasts were fulfilled when Yeshua came the first time. But the church has discarded the Feasts that have not yet been fulfilled. Paul did not write in Colossians 2:17 about the Feasts “These are a shadow of the things that were to come,” as it says in the NIV translation. He wrote “which are a shadow of things to come” (NKJV) showing that all has not yet been fulfilled. The Feasts are very important as they contain teaching for us today about “things to come.”
Yom Kippur – When the Final Purification Has Been Accomplished
Yom Kippur represents the day when the earth has been completely cleansed with the fire of God’s judgments from all sin and impurity. Yeshua will return on the Feast of Trumpets, when he will begin to judge the world in righteousness. The ten following days leading up to Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe. These days predict the time when the earth will be cleansed by fire. “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”(2 Pe 3:7) “This will happen when the Lord Yeshua is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” (2 Th 1:8) “— the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Co 3:13-15)
On Yom Kippur, which marks the end of this period of judgment, Yeshua will make his physical entrance into Jerusalem to bless his people with salvation. “For I tell you [Jerusalem], you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Mt 23:39) “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west.” (Zec 14:4) Zechariah 3:9 promises, “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.” Five days later, when thesucca is ready, he will begin to reign from Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Yeshua fulfilled the first part of the Day of Atonement when he came the first time. In the end he carried his own blood into the Most Sacred Place in heaven to make atonement for us. The final part of the rituals on the Day of Atonement is when the High Priest comes out from the Most Sacred Place in the Temple to bless the people. This will be fulfilled at the time of Yeshua’s physical return to Jerusalem. “Messiahwas sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28)
Observing the Day of Atonement Today
The LORD has given us the observance of the Day of Atonement as part of the preparation for “what is to come” (Col 2:17 NASB) when Yeshua returns. Paul wrote to Timothy, “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Messiah Yeshua.” (2 Ti 3:15) We need the wisdom of the Scriptures in order to make it in these last days. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Pr 1:7)
The important lesson that all of us must take to heart with fasting, repentance and prayer on the Day of Atonement is summarized in 2 Peter 3:11-15,
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new [renewed and cleansed by fire]heaven and a new [renewed and
cleansed by fire] earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
Yom Kippur is to be observed before the Eternal with fasting, 25 hours without any food or drink. It is a day of preparation for the coming of the Messiah when we need to cry out with King David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps 139:23-24)
On Yom Kippur we ought to remember the serious words of the Apostle Peter,
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’” (1 Pet 4:17-18)
If we take the lessons of Yom Kippur seriously, we will be part of the glorious Bride at the great wedding supper of the Lamb symbolized by the Feast of Tabernacles beginning five days later.
“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.’ And again they shouted: ‘Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.’
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: ‘Amen, Hallelujah!’
Then a voice came from the throne, saying: ‘Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, both small and great!’
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: ‘Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, ‘These are the true words of God.’” (Rev 19:1-9)
It is in preparation and anticipation of this great event that we observe the Day of Atonement. We must go through Yom Kippur in order to reach the final Feast. As we approach the end of this age, the lessons learned from the Day of Atonement will become more and more important.
Yom Kippur is also a day to fast and pray for the final salvation of all of Israel.
“Prepare the way for the LORD”