Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) has arrived. It is celebrated every year on the 10th of the Hebrew month of Tishri, and this year beginning at sundown of September 18th and ending at sundown the following day. Yom Kippur is considered to be the holiest holiday in Jewish tradition and is the final day of the Ten Days of Awe starting on the first day of Tishri. This is a day that the Word of God designates as an eternal statute. “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month on the tenth day of the month you shall humble yourselves and not do any work, whether the native-born or the stranger who lives temporarily among you” (Leviticus 16:29). During the time of the first covenant, it was required that the High Priest of the Lord would sacrifice an animal on the altar for the atonement of sins, and specifically for Yom Kippur, the High Priest would release all of the sins and wickedness of Israel to a goat (scapegoat) that was then released into the wilderness (Leviticus 16). “ For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). This act is no longer necessary for us, because Yeshua took upon Himself the sin of the world, and His sinless blood was spilled for the atonement of our sins forevermore. “But when Christ 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” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
There are two fulfillments of the redemptive purpose of Yom Kippur, the only feast of the seven with two, which are Jubilee and Judgement. The Jubilee, which we see fulfilled in Christ’s crucifixion as the lamb of God, is also the fulfillment of Passover, which is the forgiveness of sins. The second fulfillment is Judgement which has not yet come to pass. It is key to understand that Jesus came first as the lamb not to judge, but to heal and forgive. In Luke 4:18, in His first sermon, Yeshua reads from Isaiah 61:1-2 speaking of Himself saying, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God”. However, Jesus leaves out the last part of these verses that says “To proclaim the day of vengeance of our God”, because He had not yet come for that purpose. In the second fulfillment of Yom Kippur we see Him coming as the Lion instead of the Lamb to judge the nations. “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory and majesty and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32). The judgement has not yet come, but we must be ready, because it is coming soon.
As we celebrate Yom Kippur, we must be careful as Believers, not to look to tradition and teachings outside the Word of God to tell us how to observe the feasts. Each festival has a redemptive purpose and is simply a rehearsal for things that have been fulfilled and have not yet come to pass. In the case of Yom Kippur, we celebrate the gift that “In Jesus we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It is a reminder that we must ask Adonai for forgiveness daily and to forgive those that have wronged us (Matthew 6:12) as we begin this new Hebrew year of 5779. We must also ask ourselves if we are truly ready for the return of the Lion of Judah as the judge, as well as to look at the state of our nations and see whether it is a sheep or goat nation. After making our assessment, and aligning ourselves with the heart and mind of the Father, we start the new year afresh, ready for what may come. As the remnant we must not be followers of rituals without understanding, but rather led by the understanding and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Just as in the case of true worship, we must not just be singers of songs, but rather worshippers in Spirit and in Truth. During this Yom Kippur, let us celebrate the freedom that we have through the blood of Jesus that “cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14), and be free of condemnation of sin as we live by the Holy Spirit. In this freedom, let us celebrate His goodness, mercy, grace and perfect love on this day which God has decreed as an eternal statute.