The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is the highest holy day of the Jewish calendar. In the Old Testament, the High Priest made an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement. This act of paying the penalty for sin brought reconciliation (a restored relationship) between the people and God. After the blood sacrifice was offered to the Lord, a goat was released into the wilderness to symbolically carry away the sins of the people. This “scapegoat” was never to return.
Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement was a yearly feast instituted by God to completely cover (pay the penalty) for all the sins of the people of Israel.
When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jewish people could no longer present the required sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, so it came to be observed as a day of repentance, self-denial, charitable works, prayer, and fasting.
Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath. No work is done on this day.
Today, Orthodox Jews observe many restrictions and customs on the Day of Atonement.
The book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur in remembrance of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus and the Day of Atonement
The Tabernacle and the Temple gave a clear picture of how sin separates humans from the holiness of God. In Bible times, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies by passing through the heavy veil that hung from ceiling to floor, creating a barrier between the people and the presence of God.
Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter and offer the blood sacrifice to cover the sins of the people. However, at the very moment when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:51 says, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” (NKJV)
Thus, Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Hebrews chapters 8 through 10 beautifully explain how Jesus Christ became our High Priest and entered heaven (the Holy of Holies), once and for all, not by the blood of sacrificial animals, but by his own precious blood on the cross. Christ himself was the atoning sacrifice for our sins; thus, he secured for us eternal redemption. As believers, we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the full and final atonement for sin.
Uploaded on September 17, 2021