By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel
“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)
The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar.
It is a rehearsal for Judgment Day.
Yom means “day” and Kippur comes from a root that means “to atone,” related to the biblical name of the covering of the Ark (the kapporet).
Yom Kippur 2017 is on Saturday (Shabbat), the 30th of September.
However, a Jewish holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will keep Yom Kippur on the sunset of Friday, the 29th of September.
Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed, and it’s interesting that this year Yom Kippur falls on the weekly Sabbath. According to Orthodox Jewish sources, “all other fast days are postponed until Sunday when they fall on Shabbat. However, unlike all other fasts, Yom Kippur is not postponed, and is fully observed even on Shabbat.” Indeed, the Torah dubs Yom Kippur, “Shabbat Shabbaton” — the “Shabbat of Shabbats.” Many of my secular Jewish and Israeli friends do not consider themselves to be “religious;” nevertheless they honor this day in some way, by abstaining from work, by fasting for 25 hours or attending synagogue services.
Yom Kippur is a day to “afflict the soul.” (Leviticus 23: 27) Ideally, the fast is a complete fast, without food or water, but exceptions are made for the elderly, infirm, pregnant women.
The Jewish people believe that on this day God enters his verdict in books which are sealed. This day is, essentially, according to “Judaism 101,” your last appeal, your last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate your repentance and to make amends.
At the beginning of Yom Kippur in the synagogues the cantors sing the Kol Nidrei ( “All vows”), a fascinating disclaimer, with its touching melodic phrases:
“All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. . . . Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”
The leader and the congregation then say together three times, “May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault.” This is corporate prayer–holy activity that many evangelical churches need to learn more about when seeking God’s favour and forgiveness for our national sins.
Judaism is the foundation of our ethics. That is why I describe myself as a Judeo-Christian. Without my Hebraic roots, Christianity cannot be explained or understood.
Followers of Rabbi Jesus/Yeshua believe He died to make Atonement as God’s sacrificial Lamb upon the altar of the Cross. The Cross is history’s centrepiece. We choose to look by faith to the judgment of our sin on his Cross for all time and eternity. When we look at the Cross, as Moses lifted the brazen serpent in the wilderness, we live, and our sins are forgiven vicariously.
The Jewish people have a saying for this day, “May your name be inscribed.” Born again Christians are eternally grateful to our Jewish Saviour that because of the merit of his finished work on the Cross. When we put our faith in Him, our names are inscribed and sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Israelis say to one another during these Days of Awe, “g’mar hatima tova,” meaning may your name be inscribed favorably in the Book of Life, because the Jewish people believe on Rosh Hashana a person’s name is written into the Book of Life, and on Yom Kippur the books are sealed. Thank God, as long as the Gospel door of hope is open, our names can still be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life anytime that we repent and believe the Good News! (Luke 10: 20; Revelation 3: 5; 13: 8; 20: 12)
We honor our Jewish brethren on Yom Kippur because we know they are seeking God fervently. They believe Messiah is yet to come; we believe He has come but that He is coming again to save all of Israel!
It is interesting that the Jewish people believe that on this day only sins against God are dealt with, not sins against another person. The rabbis teach first to seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them, and if possible, this must be done before Yom Kippur.
In the Old City of Jerusalem in Christian and Muslim quarters, it is business as usual. But in the Jewish areas and out in the highways of Israel, it is reverentially, almost eerily quiet. Cars are not moving. To drive out on one of the highways today, you would feel like a big sinner. There is a stillness in the streets of Israel unlike any other nation experiences.
No other nation that I know of engages in a total fast annually, humbling themselves before God in deep national and individual repentance. The Almighty will honour it and will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication. (Zechariah 12:10) Amen!
In the synagague services as Yom Kippur ends, there will be a long shofar blast. Ten days ago, Yom Teruah, the “day of alarm/shouting,” is also called the Feast of Trumpets, but the word trumpet (shofar) is not mentioned in the Bible concerning Yom Teruah. Now think about this: Leviticus actually stipulates that a shofar is to sound on Yom Kippur.
So it is awesome to me that in Judaism Yom Kippur is the day of the last call to repent before a big trumpet blast! That concept is definitely a Christian concept, my friends: “Today IS the day of salvation.” Today IS the day of the last call. Why? God never promises us tomorrow.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.“(Hebrews 3: 15)
Yom Kippur can therefore possibly be a foreshadowing of the Rapture. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17 teaches that the trumpet shall sound, the dead in Messiah shall be raised and those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the atmosphere.
The text of Lev 23: 24 concerning what we call the “Feast of Trumpets,” in fact, says Yom Teruah תְּרוּעָ֖ה. Teruah is the festal shout. Therefore the Feast of Trumpets is literally Yom Teruah=Day of Shouting, interpreted to mean blast of trumpets. However, on the other hand Leviticus 25: 9 is very specific about trumpets associated with Yom Kippur: “Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.”
Furthermore, and this is incredibly rich–the service at the end of Yom Kippur is often called THE CLOSING OF THE GATES!
Soon the gates of mercy will close, my friend, just as God Himself closed the door of Noah’s ark, and only those who were shut inside were saved. Jesus is our ark of eternal security. We are living in an extended period of grace. All who call upon the Lord SHALL be saved!