The 10th day of the month of Tishri is said to be the holiest day of the year in the Hebrew calendar. Its more commonly known and celebrated as Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. Atonement comes from the Hebrew word kippurim, which means reconciliation with YHVH.
The word atonement does sound serious for a reason. When you think about getting reconciled with the King, surely, its a cause for celebration. But try imagining the trepidation of having to go before the King when you know you are guilty of having committed acts that you already know He forbids. Esther asked the whole Hebrew people to fast and pray to YHVH in her behalf before she went before king Ahasuerus. Her knees must have shaken while she walked down the aisle, not knowing if she will be handed the sceptre.
The story of Esther is different in some aspect in the sense that she went before a king who had a standing order to kill any uninvited person who dares come before his throne. In the case of sinful man who wants to repent, the assurance has already been given – we have a standing invitation to come boldly before the throne of favour (Heb. 4:16)! So while the anger of YHVH is a fearsome thing, we already know that there is favour for those who humble themselves and repent.
How Yom Kippur Started
The first ever Yom Kippur is narrated on Exodus 32. At that time, the Israelites were all in the wilderness, and Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from YHVH. YHVH told Moses to go down immediately because the people have sinned! When Moses came down from the mountain, he saw the Israelites dancing in drunken stupor, and engaging in sexual orgy before a golden calf.
Despite the anger of God over what happened, He gave in to Moses’ request for Him not to kill all the Israelites. Moses stood in the gap, and apologized in behalf of the people. And YHVH forgave Israel. We can see how YHVH fulfilled the principle in 2 Chron. 7:14 in this occasion. YHVH is a just YHVH, and will do the same thing again once He sees people humbling down and repenting. Later on, the order was given by YHVH to observe the 10th day of Tishri as a feast, an Atonement, to commemorate how YHVH forgave the people of Israel (Exodus 32).
Meaning of Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is a time for people to come to repentance before judgment is made. But the feast day is more than a remembrance of the story in Exodus 32, but a prophetic feast as well. In the time of Moses, the command was for the priest to make atonement for the people (Lev. 16:33). Atonement done on this feast day, however, is not only for personal sins, but for the nation, and for the priests as well.
The old covenant believed that the Books of YHVH are open and people will be judged. Yom Kippur is the last opportunity for people to repent of their sins, before judgment is decided over their actions for the past year. The repercussions of whatever sin a person may have will take effect in the coming year. For the present life, the feast of Yom Kippur is important so that sins of the year that is gone will not affect the year that is coming in.
The Blood that Removes Sins
The root word for Kippur is kafar which could have been derived from kofer, meaning ransom or cover. This redemption means to atone by offering a substitute. In the usual celebration of Yom Kippur, the substitute given is the goat or sheep that is offered as a sacrifice. The sacrifice is necessary because Scriptures indicate that blood sacrifice constitutes the fundamental means of atonement (Lev. 17:11).
In the old times, and even in the annual celebration of Yom Kippur held in modern times, animal blood from the sacrifice provided atonement for sins. However, for the grand redemption plan of God, the sacrifice was Yahshua Himself. In the new covenant, atonement had already been done by Yahshua once for all (Hebrews 9:15).
The atonement completed with the death and resurrection of Yahshua, however, will only save a person as a person appropriates the gift of Yahshua. One cannot enjoy a privilege given, or a gift given, unless one accepts the gift, opens it, and uses or enjoys the gift. The same principle applies to the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life that had been given with the sacrifice of Yahshua on the cross. One has to receive the gift freely given by YHVH (Eph. 2:8-9) so that one may enjoy it.
Yahshua was needed to sacrifice Himself because the blood of animals will never remove the sins of people (Hebrews 10:4, Jeremiah 2:22, Job 9:30-33). Animal blood only covers the sins of people. Only the blood of Yahshua is able to erase the stain of sin (John 1:29; Heb. 7:27, 9:12, 9:25-28). Yahshua stood as the kofer for man’s sins (Hebrews 10:14).
Prophetic Meaning of Yom Kippur
This feast is also known for the removing of the veil. The Tabernacle was built to specification in the Old Testament. Every measurement and article found in the Tabernacle was, and still is, according to the specifications given by YHVH. Inside the Tabernacle, in the innermost sanctum, is the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies is where the mercy seat is found. This innermost sanctum is separated from the Holy Place by a veil, which is said to be four inches thick and is so much higher than a human being at 60 ft in height. On Yom Kippur, the high priest went inside the Holy of Holies to offer atonement for his own sins and the sins of the people (Heb. 9:7). It is the only day of the year when the high priest is allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.
This barrier that hides the innermost sanctum in the Tabernacle shows that God cannot tolerate any sin in His presence (Habakkuk 1:13). When Yahshua died on the cross, the veil was torn in two! Because of the width, length, and thickness of this veil that covers the Holy of Holies, it is widely believed only YHVH could have torn it in two. This belief is strengthened as the tear in the veil shows it originated from the top, which is quite impossible for man to do.
People who have Yahshua as Messiah are still considered partially veiled (1 Cor. 13:12). Both Jews and Christians are partially veiled. The Jews are veiled where Yahshua as Messiah is concerned, while Christians are veiled where the Torah is concerned.
YHVH wishes to remove the veil, for all to be balanced in what we know and believe about Yahshua and YHVH. Yahshua came to fulfil the law and not to abolish the Torah, so Christians still have to know the Torah (Romans 11:25-29). The Jews, on the other hand, do not know Yahshua as Messiah because Yahshua was presented to them in terminologies and concepts that they do not understand or have different meanings to them. Yahshua was presented to the Jews as Jesus, who looks anything but Jewish. But the Jews need to know that the Scriptures plainly declare that Yahshua is Messiah (Acts 10:36).
Elohim’s promise is that even the partial veil over the Christians and the Jews will be removed (1 Cor. 13:12). This removing of the veil will be done in Messiah (I Cor. 3:13-14). In fact, the prophecy is that Yashua Messiah is coming to remove the veil (Isaiah 15:7-8). Just when this grand event will happen is shown in the graph in this website. It is quite exciting to think that the day when YHVH will wipe away tears, and death is conquered is coming so soon! By the graph in this website, Yom Kippur 2021 is the much awaited day!
Article written by Contributor