In the last couple of program’s we looked at the annual sacred event in the Hebrew Calendar, Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement and learned that this celebration actually begins a countdown called the Days of Awe, they begin with Rosh Ha’shana, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur is about preparing the heart and soul for repentance and remorse for sin. It derives it’s more frequently used name – Yom Kippur – from the festival of Purim, from the time when the Jews were saved from annihilation at the hand of Haman during the days of Queen Esther. We also learned that the sacrifice of Yom Kippur required two goats, one to shed its blood for the sins of the people, and the other to bear the sins of the people and then take those sins away into the wilderness.
The Ultra-orthodox communities perform the Kapparot where a chicken is used in place of a goat. While reciting a prayer, the chicken is circled above the head (not cruelly swung, but gently circled overhead) and then taken to a kosher butcher for slaughter and is then given to the poor for their Yom Kippur evening meal after the fast is broken. This particular custom began in the 9th century. It’s curious that even today, non-Messianic Jews understand the necessity of atoning blood sacrifice for sin, they know that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Without a Temple to offer the Biblically prescribed offering, Judaism has come up with an alternative method. Sadly, because the majority of Jews don’t recognise Jesus as Messiah and the substitutionary atoning sacrifice He made for them, they don’t understand that there is no further need for sacrifices. Please pray for the Jewish people that God would lift their blindness so they recognise Jesus as the Messiah they’ve been waiting for so long for.
On Yom Kippur observant Jews are required to attend five different services in the Synagogue as this day is essentially, the last appeal, the last chance to change the ‘judgment of God’ and to demonstrate repentance and make amends and each of the five services has a different and specific focus.
For Jewish congregations, they follow set Biblical reading passages for their meetings, and Messianic congregations follow the same reading passages from the Bible but they include additional passages from the New Covenant.
The Torah readings on Yom Kippur are: Service #1 – Lev 16:1-34; Num 29:7-11; Isa 57:14-58, 14 (Messianic synagogues include Rom 3:21-26, 2 Cor 5:10-21). Service #2 – A memorial service for departed family members. Service #3 – A retelling of the Yom Kippur service in the Temple and the priestly blessing. Service #4 – Lev 18:1-30; Jon 1:1-4, 11; Mic 7:18-20 (Messianic synagogues include Rom 3:21-26, 2 Cor 5:10-21). Service #5 – Thought to symbolise the ‘closing and sealing’ of the Book of Life, and the great shofar is sounded.
The Role Of Jesus In Yom Kippur
The significance of Jesus in Yom Kippur is obvious. First of all, Jesus is our High Priest, our go-between and mediator, (Heb 3:1-2) and God instituted the system of atonement and the forgiveness of sin to come only through the shedding of blood. (Lev 17:11) The substitutionary shedding of blood which is the ‘life for a life’ principle is absolutely essential for atonement with God.
Hebrews 9:22, ‘And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’
Jesus our High Priest, offered Himself to be the perfect sacrifice for sins – vastly more suitable than bulls and goats. The elaborate ritual and sacrificial system in Leviticus was a foreshadowing, and ‘symbolic type’ that would ultimately be fulfilled by Messiah who sacrificed Himself.
Just like the High Priest laying the sin of the people on the head of the scapegoat, God laid on Him the sins of us all: Jesus bore our sins upon Himself – He became our scapegoat!
Isaiah 53:6, ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’
Hebrews 9:24-28, ‘For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another – He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.’ (The last line is another verse emphasising that believers eagerly await the return of Jesus!)
For Messianic believers, they don’t have the same concerns as non-Messianic Jews in that they know that their salvation is not based on whether or not they fast or do enough good deeds or in denying themselves or abstaining from earthly pleasures. Messianic Jews know – as do Gentile believers – that what Jesus did for us was once and for all, a one-time event powerful and far reaching enough to cleanse and save permanently the soul who has genuinely repented and put their faith and trust in Him alone. (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:27, 9, 10:11-20; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:2, 4:10)
Some Messianic Jews participate in Yom Kippur fasting in order to reach their Jewish brethren, some participate in the fast for personal reflection but they never fast in order to gain special favour because through faith, we’ve all been brought near to God through His sacrifice not through pious actions on our own behalf. Messianic Jews participate in Yom Kippur celebrations and fasting because they remember the gravity and extreme sacrifice of Jesus in substituting Himself as the Scapegoat on their behalf. For the believer in Christ, Yom Kippur is remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus our High Priest who took our sins upon Himself, bearing them in His body on the cross and became the scapegoat that took our sins away permanently. As a result, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life which has assured us of our eternal security.
Hebrews 10:14-25, ‘For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, and on their mind I will write them,” He then says, “and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.’
I’ve mentioned this before, but there are some who don’t believe in the doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement believing it’s really a form of “cosmic child abuse”, but Scripture is clear that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Scripture is also clear in both Old and New Covenants that either animals and Jesus Himself were substituted in place of the guilty.
But why wasn’t the blood of bulls and goats sufficient to pay for sin permanently? The example I personally like to use is this: pretend that you loaned me your brand new Rolls Royce and I completely right if off it in an accident, I apologise sincerely and promise to replace your brand new vehicle with another brand new vehicle. A week later I present to you with a brand spanking new Mini Minor. It will fulfill the same function as your Rolls Royce – it will get you where you want to go in comfort, it has a motor, doors, wheels and most importantly, it’s brand new! But it’s a completely inadequate substitute; in value and all other areas it’s an inferior substitute. Kind for kind is required.
God had His plan of redemption laid out before the foundations of the world, and He established a sacrificial system to teach His people about the cost and severity of sin and that in all cases, someone has to pay for the crimes that have been committed. Knowing we could never pay for our own sins sufficiently, God Himself chose to become a human being like us and then offered Himself in our place. Kind for kind. His perfection meant He wasn’t paying for His own sin, rather He was paying on behalf of all of us and this is why the Son of God had to die for us. Substitutionary Atonement IS the Gospel and without it there is no forgiveness.
We have so much to be thankful and grateful for to God, His Son and His Holy Spirit who indwells us assisting, maturing and purifying us for our benefit and His glory. May you be more aware of all He’s done for you, especially this Yom Kippur.