Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement: Messianic Overview

This year Yom Kippur begins sundown September 29, 2017

In the Bible, Yom Kippur bears three names:

  1. Day of Atonement
  2. Day of Judgment
  3. Sabbath of Sabbaths.

Yom Kippur occurs on the tenth day of Tishri. This is a holy day of the Lord that remains “a statute forever.”

Day of Atonement is the day in which the people of Israel are to be judged by God and the sins of the nation of Israel are atoned.

The Day of Atonement is also referred to as “the Day of Redemption.” This day pictures the transference of sin. It is a time of fasting, cleansing, and reflection which is to be observed once a year.

The Day of Atonement served as a reminder that the daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifices made at the altar of burnt offering were not sufficient to atone for sin. Even at the altar of burnt offering the worshipper stood “afar off,” unable to approach the Holy Presence of God, who was manifest between the cherubim in the Holy of Holies. On this one day in the year, atoning blood was brought into the Holy of Holies, the divine throne room, by the high priest as the representative of the people (New Bible Dictionary).

It is customary to wear white on this holiday, which symbolizes purity and the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Isa. 1:18). Some Jews wear a kitel, the white robe in which the dead are buried.

Weakness of the Law

The commandment itself explains the weakness of the law. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect (Heb. 10:1).

The Jew knew something was missing. There is a multitude of sacrifices. The sacrifices attempt to supplement one another but there is still something missing, because Hebrews 10:4 says: For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Obviously, this means of taking away sin was temporary. The sacrifices, are only a forerunner, like John the Baptist, or to prepare the way for the better hope (Edersheim 1994, 241) described in Hebrews 7:19: For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

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