Yom Kippur

Day of Atonement also known as Yom Kippur is the most serious and important holy day of the Jewish Calendar, where a fast is required.

The Day of Atonement was the day the High Priest made amends—sacrifice for the sins of the people. The act of atonement brought reconciliations between the people and God. After the blood sacrifice was offered to God, a goat a goat was released into the wilderness to symbolically carry away the sins of the people. No work whatsoever may be done on the day.

The Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the year the religionphilosophy, and culture of the Jewish peopleIts central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.

It was a day of fasting and praying, a time when an annual ritual was to be performed to take away the sins of the people. In the New Testament Luke referred to this Holy Day as “the fast”. During this twenty-four hour period, Christians do not eat anything at all and come together for the worship of Lord.

Why is the day of atonement so important?

What does it mean? Almost all things are purified with blood according to the law, and without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Traditionally, Yom Kippur is considered the date on which Moses received the second set of Ten Commandments. It occurred following the completion of the second 40 days of instructions from God. At this same time, the Israelites were granted atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf; therefore, its designation as the Day of Atonement.

Date of Yom Kippur in History 

Yom Kippur falls each year on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which is 9 days after the first day of Rosh Hashanah. In terms of the Gregorian calendar, the earliest date on which Yom Kippur can fall is September 14, as happened in 1899 and 2013. The latest Yom Kippur can occur relative to the Gregorian dates is on October 14, as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043.After 2089, the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will result in Yom Kippur falling no earlier than September 15.

Gregorian calendar dates for upcoming Yom Kippur holidays are:

  • 2017 – Saturday, September 30
  • 2018 – Wednesday, September 19
  • 2019 – Wednesday, October 9
  • 2020 – Monday, September 28

Day of Atonement begins at sundown on a preceding day and ends a nightfall of the day listed.

Recognition by the United Nations

In 2015 the United Nations officially recognized Yom Kippur, stating that from then on no official meetings would take place on the day. As well, the United Nations stated that beginning in 2016, they would have nine official holidays and seven floating holidays which each employee would be able to choose one of. It stated that the floating holidays will be Yom Kippur, Day of Vesak, Diwali, Gurpurab, Orthodox Christmas, Orthodox Good Friday, and Presidents’ Day. This was the first time the United Nations officially recognized any Jewish holiday.

Observance in Israel

Yom Kippur is a legal holiday in the modern state of Israel. There are no radio or television broadcasts, airports are shut down, there is no public transportation, and all shops and businesses are closed. It is such a big deal that Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv had no cars on it in 2004.

In 2013, 73% of the Jewish people of Israel said that they were intending to fast on Yom Kippur. It is considered impolite to eat in public on Yom Kippur or to sound music or to drive a motor vehicle. There is no legal prohibition on any of these, but in practice, such actions are universally avoided in Israel during Yom Kippur, except for emergency services.

Over the last few decades, bicycle-riding and inline skating on the empty streets have become common among secular Israeli youngsters, especially on the eve of Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv and Israel in general. In 1973, an air raid siren was sounded on the afternoon of Yom Kippur and radio broadcasts were resumed to alert the public to the surprise attack on Israel by Egypt and Syria that launched the Yom Kippur War.

Scripture Reference and The Day of Atonement

The Old Testament observes The Day of Atonement in the book of Leviticus 16:8-34; 23:27-32.

Facts about Yom Kippur 

  • The Tabernacle and the Temple gave a clear picture of how sin separates us from the holiness of God.
  • When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., the Jewish people could no longer present the required sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, so it came to be observed as a day of repentance, self-denial, charitable works, prayer, and fasting.
  • Today, Orthodox Jews observe many restrictions and customs on Yom Kippur.
  • The book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur in remembrance of God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Finally, the very moment when Jesus died on the cross, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”Jesus Christ became our High Priest and entered heaven (The Holy of Holies).

I am so grateful for Jesus redeeming us by shedding his own precious blood on the cross. Christ himself was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Through his death, he obtained for us eternal redemption, so that going forward, a blood sacrifice is no longer required all we need to do is believe and accept him as our Lord and Saviour.

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