Yom Kippur ~ 18 September 2010
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Atonement and repentance are its central themes. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known as the High Holy Days.
According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the ten Days of Awe, Jews try to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers one’s self absolved by God.
For Jewish believers, Yom Kippur is seen more as a day of prayer and intercession on behalf of the people of Israel. Of course, we must have a clean heart when approaching God in this matter, just like the Temple priest did before he asked for mercies over his people.
The high priest first made atonement for personal sin (Leviticus 16). As believers we are still in need of introspection and repentance (Psalm 139:3, 1 John 1:9). We continue to have a need to humble our hearts before God (Psalm 34:183.
The high priest next made atonement for the tabernacle (Numbers 18). But those earthly items still needed atonement yearly in order to be fit for God’s dwelling. As believers, this is important because 1 Corinthians 3:16 reminds us that today, our physical bodies are temples of God, because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Even though Jesus (Yeshua) bears our iniquity (Isaiah 53:6) we still need to make atonement to allow the presence of God to fill us in a greater measure.
The high priest then interceded for God’s forgiveness upon the community. As believers, we are called to pray and intercede for the communities to which we belong, be they physical, emotional, geographical, spiritual, vocational, etc. Examples of intercession can be found many places in the Bible, including Exodus 32:11-14, Daniel 9:2-19, Isaiah 58, Ezra 9:1-6, Romans 8:26, Hebrews 7:25.
Messianic Believers also traditionally read from Hebrews 5-7 on Yom Kippur, which speak about Yeshua as the High Priest according to “the order of Melchizedek.”
Our sins are cleansed by the blood of Yeshua, our Savior and Messiah, but we participate in Yom Kippur by fasting and praying for the Jewish people and the nation of Israel as priests and representatives of the High Priest Yeshua today!
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