Last evening began Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. The Bible prescribes Yom Kippur as a day of affliction (Lev 16; 23:26-32). In the ancient world, the High Priest woke up early, donned his priestly garments, and sacrificed a bull for both himself and his family. He then cast lots over two goats, choosing one for the Lord and designating the other as the goat to remove sin. Only on this day did the High Priest enter into the Holy of Holies in the Temple to offer incense and sprinkle blood on the Ark of the Covenant. Before concluding the sacrifices by burning both the bull and the goat, the High Priest placed blood from the Lord’s goat onto the second goat. He then cast the second goat into the wilderness, thus symbolically removing Israel’s sin.
Followers of Jesus the Messiah confidently look forward to eternal life, because our names are written in the Book of Life. When Jesus died, the veil of the Holy of Holies ripped in two, symbolically breaking a barrier between humans and the presence of God. Previously, only the High Priest had access to this room, and he only entered it once a year on Yom Kippur (Matt. 27:51). However, Jesus’ death gives believers access to God, because He entered into the Heavenly Holy of Holies to offer His blood for our redemption (Heb 9:11-12). Unlike the Israelites’ annual sacrifices on Yom Kippur, Jesus’ one sacrifice continues to provide atonement to this day. Yom Kippur, for followers of Jesus, reminds us of the certainty of our redemption through the blood of our Messiah and High Priest, Jesus.
Today our Jewish friends will spend the day fasting, praying, repenting of sin, and beginning the process of renewal for the coming year. It is a time for reconciliation between man and God. However, with no Temple and no blood sacrifice, they are unable to complete this reconciliation. When the Messiah came, paid the debt of sin we owed, by being the blood sacrifice on the cross, the eternal reconciliation was made.
Want to know more? Call me.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001