By: Hannah Nesher, Voice For Israel—
Shalom Chaverim (friends),
Greetings from the Land of Israel where in just a few short minutes from now the sun will be setting and we will enter into the holiest day of the biblical calendar – Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) (or Yom Hakippurim יום הכיפורים).
”And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:26-28)
The main themes of Yom Kippur are repentance and forgiveness. As is customary, people have been asking forgiveness from one another in the days leading up to this time. We also come to God seeking His forgiveness.
In Israel, virtually no one drives their car on this one day of the year, leaving the streets totally empty of vehicles. This has created a unique Israeli custom: Israeli boys and girls to play safely in the streets or ride their bikes, thereby fulfilling an ancient prophecy:
The LORD Almighty gave this message to Zechariah: “I will return to Jerusalem, my holy city, and live there…. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets….” (Zechariah 8:1,5)
Is Yom Kippur relevant to non-Jewish followers of Yeshua? Many of those of us who know Yeshua as the atonement (kapparah) for our sins still fast and pray with and for our people Israel. We welcome you to join us in praying that ‘all Israel will be saved.”
“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you.” (Leviticus 16:29)
Yom Kippur is not just for the Jewish people but also for all those who have joined us, including non-Jews who follow the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. We are now ‘one new man’ – equal citizens in the commonwealth of Israel.
To all those who are not native born of Israel who want to join us in celebrating the chagim and observing God’s mo’adim (appointed times), we say ‘Bruchim Ha’ba’im’ (Welcome!).
Going Behind the Veil
Why is this day so holy? It is because only on this one day in the entire year was the Jewish High Priest (the Cohen Hagadol) allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies (K’dosh Hak’doshim) to make atonement for the sins of the nation of Israel.
“The LORD said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die.” (Leviticus 16:2)
Jewish High Priest wearing Hoshen and Ephod in the Holy of Holies.
But when Yeshua died on the execution stake, that restrictive veil was torn, from top to bottom. The tearing of one’s garments is a Jewish custom that signifies grief or mourning. So when Yeshua’s father saw that His son was dead, He tore the curtain from top to bottom – from the heavens to the earth.
“And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38)
In contrast to this time when only the Cohen could come into the Holy of Holies and only once a year (on Yom Kippur), as followers of Yeshua, we now have 24/7 access to our Heavenly Father through a new and living way. Halleluyah!
“By his death, Yeshua opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” (Hebrews 10:20)
And yet, Yom Kippur holds tremendous significance for us as New Covenant Believers. It can be a somber time of fasting and prayer, but also a joyful one in remembrance of our Covenant relationship with God.
Let us be ever thankful that our names are written in the Book of Life and let us take this day of fasting and prayer as an opportunity to ask for God’s mercy upon all those who have not yet received the revelation of His love and mercy in His Son, Yeshua Hamashiach (the Messiah).