Yom Kippur is part of the 7 Feasts of the Lord, through which He reveals His atonement plan for humanity.
Unfortunately, Yom Kippur is currently not celebrated among all the believers in Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior. Therefore, we examine the meaning of Yom Kippur from a Messianic Perspective.
Just as we celebrate during Passover the sacrifice which Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior made for us, so we also celebrate Yom Kippur in like manner, as He was atonement for our sins.
The Meaning of Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur commonly known as the Day of Atonement means reconciling us with God our Father. In the Torah, the name is written in plural form – Yom Ha-Kippurim, which could be an indication of its multifold nature, as it refers to more than one prophetic event.
The Prophetic Declaration
We celebrate Yom Kippur as a fulfilled prophecy, and as prophecies which points to future events still awaiting their fulfillment. The multifold nature of Yom Kippur is very significant to us as Messianic believers as we are partakers of it, in its fulfillment through Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, the act of Atonement points to Christ. Father God gave His only begotten Son to bear the sins of the world, as atonement for us.
Yom Kippur expresses three predominant Prophetic Events:
- Salvation through Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ
- The second coming of Christ
- Salvation for the Nation of Israel
God Calls Us to Him
Yom Kippur is a time in which God calls all those who believe in Him to come before Him.
Vayikra – Leviticus 23:26-32
26 Adonai said to Moshe,
27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur; you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to Adonai.
28 You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before Adonai your God.
29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people;
30 and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people.
31 You are not to do any kind of work; it is a permanent regulation through all your generations, no matter where you live.
32 It will be for you a Shabbat of complete rest, and you are to deny yourselves; you are to rest on your Shabbat from evening the ninth day of the month until the following evening.”
From the beginning, God’s atonement was not only for the Israelites but for all those who chose to follow Him.
It is important to note, that this day is determined by God and not by man. It is not by our choice but by His choice that we come together before Him. He declared the continuation of this feast through all the generations to come. When we consider the Prophetic events that only come into fulfillment at the second coming of Messiah – Christ, then this feast is an important declaration of God’s plan and promise until its completion.
We are living in exciting times, as we gain more insight from Scripture and have a better understanding of it.
Understanding Yom Kippur from a Messianic Perspective
The celebration of Yom Kippur is rich in meaning and significant to us as believers in Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior. As He offered Himself as atonement for us; we celebrate this day with the greatest gratitude. There is no comparable gift on earth to the gift of salvation, giving us eternal life with God.
From a Messianic perspective, Yom Kippur is fulfilled through Yeshua Messiah – Jesus Christ our Savior. We also celebrate it with the expectation of His second coming and being grafted into the Olive Tree through Christ; we look forward to the full restoration of the Olive Tree when all Israel is saved.
Our celebration of Yom Kippur is a sign and witness to Jews, who have not yet accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, that they may know He is truly the Atonement given by Adonai.
God calls us to humble ourselves before Him as we pray and intercede. Being saved through Christ, we fast and intercede from a different point of view, as those still awaiting their Messiah. For it is a time in which we align ourselves with the plans and purposes of God and seek His will in every situation. Though we can do so at any time, Yom Kippur provides anew the opportune time to come before God as He has called us to Him. It is a time appointed by Him.
Furthermore, it is also a wonderful time, in which we prepare ourselves for the Hebraic year which we have just entered. A fresh start aligned with God.
We Consider Our Walk of Faith
One of the significant aspects of Yom Kippur is that it depicts our human weakness. We do not have humanly, the capability to live consistently righteous before God. Though we endeavor to live a righteous life, we do falter, and throughout our lives, we regularly need to ask for forgiveness. This is not repentance unto salvation, as we are saved through faith in Christ, but it is the kind of repentance which forms part of righteous living. Through the blood offering of Christ, when we repent, we are forgiven and cleansed from all sin.
On this day, we consider our walk of faith, searching our hearts and asking ourselves certain questions to reflect on where we stand spiritually.
As an example, we could ask ourselves:
- Are we closer in our relationship with the Lord?
- Have we been drifting off and feel that tug in our hearts to return closer to Him?
- With the new year ahead of us, do we want to do certain things differently?
- Do we need to ask forgiveness for events during the past year when we followed our way instead of God’s direction?
As we search our hearts, Ruach Hakodesh – Holy Spirit will reveal to us, those things that we need to address. God ordained this day, and it is an excellent opportunity to reflect and align ourselves with His will for our lives.
Interceding for Those in Need
Throughout Scripture, we are taught to care for one another. To carry each other’s burden, and to intercede before our loving Father, for them. The act of Atonement reaches beyond our own ability and is taken care of by the One, Who can provide according to our needs. When we intercede, we acknowledge our limitations and our dependence on Almighty God, Who saves, heals and delivers.
It could be a friend, a loved one, or someone whom Holy Spirit has impressed upon your heart to lift up in prayer. We are all in need of God’s miracle-working power through Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior, in our lives and He is faithful to answer our prayers.
A Heart for the Branches Still Broken Off
On the day of Yom Kippur, Jews spread all over the world are praying and fasting before the Lord for their atonement. They offer prayer, fasting, and charity, seeking God earnestly for atonement.
As Paul said:
1 Brothers, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation;
2 for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding;
We know that atonement has always been received, not through our sacrifices, but through faith. Messiah has come, and their hearts and spiritual eyes need to be opened, so that they may see, and receive Yeshua as their Messiah.
During this unique feast each year, we are reminded that our Olive Tree still has broken off branches, and it provides us with an opportune time to pray and intercede for their salvation and restoration. May the veil be lifted from their spiritual eyes so that they may see Who Yeshua is, and meet their Messiah.
Salvation for the Nations
The time of the Gentiles coming to faith in Christ has not yet come to an end. An aspect that continues to speak to my heart is that Messianic Jews do not only focus on personal salvation, but the salvation of their Nation carries equal importance to them. They continually have an individual and collective responsibility towards each other. From them, we have much to learn about collective responsibility and salvation for a Nation.
As we learn from one another and grow together, let us then come closer together, and celebrate Yom Kippur as one in Messiah.
How We Celebrate Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is a day of complete rest, as with the Sabbath, in which we do not do usual work. It is called a “Shabbat Shabbaton”; a Sabbath of Sabbaths, a day of complete rest.
Through worship, prayer, personal denial, reflection and time with the Lord, we celebrate the true meaning of the day: atonement and salvation through Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ our Savior.
The celebration of Yom Kippur starts the evening before the Gregorian Calendar date, with an early meal, after which the fast begins and lasts until the following evening when it ends with a celebration meal. The fast lasts for 24 hours.
A food fast is a traditional way of denying yourself, but from a Hebraic perspective, life has the highest value and should not become endangered. Someone who is ill, or a woman being pregnant or nursing and girls under 12 and boys under the age of 13 are all exempt from a fast. When a person needs to take medication, they need to do so, and if a person cannot fast the full day, then they can fast for a shorter time.
As Scripture requires that we need to deny ourselves, a person can also determine in which way they commit to denying themselves other than a fast. It is ultimately between you and God, expressing the intent of denial before Him.
During this time, we spend time in prayer and meditating on His Word. It is a wonderful time in which we separate ourselves unto the Lord.
We can celebrate Yom Kippur on our own, or with family and friends.
There are also Congregations, who hold Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement Services. In the absence of such Services, it is also the custom for likeminded people to gather together in celebrating this day, through worship, prayer, and fasting until they end the celebration with an evening meal together.
When we deny ourselves as we intercede before God, we become sensitive in our spirit as we incline ourselves to Him. Jesus also taught us about the importance of fasting before our Father in Heaven.
May you be blessed in Him!
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