Yom Kippur Day of Atonement

YOM KIPPUR by Julia Glattfelt

Now that you are discovering that the Feasts of YHVH are for all who love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the idea of Yom Kippur might take some adjustment. Do we still have to fast today? What is important to understand about Yom Kippur, the second of the Fall Feasts?

In brief, Yom Kippur is the ‘Day of Atonement.’ It is a high Sabbath (extra-special!) that happens on the tenth day of the seventh month (there are those numbers again! See the article on Yom Teruah). According to Leviticus 23:32 it is to be a ‘Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls.”

The Temple service that was conducted by the High Priest on this day was extraordinary. Only the High Priest was permitted into the Holy of Holies, and only on this One Day out of the entire year! Along with incense and the blood of a sacrificed bull and goat, the High Priest made ‘atonement’ for himself, his family and the entire congregation of Israel. You can read more about this in Leviticus 16-17.

This event happened every year so that all Israel had the opportunity to return to a right relationship with the Father by the atonement performed on this day.

Since Yeshua (Jesus) has become our High Priest, this atonement process occurs in heaven under the blood of His sacrifice. It is our opportunity to confess our sins, and those of our nation.

What does it mean to ‘afflict our souls?’

Traditionally, this has been interpreted as a day of fasting. It isn’t necessarily the only way to demonstrate this command, but going without food or water for a whole day is certainly one way to ‘afflict’ our souls. It is a time to concentrate on Him and offer our prayers of repentance for all we have done or failed to do and for the sake of our national sins.

There are some legitimate reasons not to do a fast, so it is not a commandment. The spirit of the term ‘afflict our souls’ seems to indicate that we do some introspection. We don’t do our usual and customary things. It is not a time to party, or indulge in special things that delight our flesh, but a time to sincerely seek Him and His favor and forgiveness. We all know that we fall short, so finding something to repent over and hand over for His cleansing should not be too difficult (although sometimes it is painful!)

It should be a time to grow closer to Him. At-One-Ment: a time to do an assessment on our life, and to get our focus on Him and His Instructions. It is a time to pray for our nation and our fellow-believers as well.

From experience, I can say that the first time I did a fast for this day I was scared. This was way out of my comfort zone (but maybe that is the whole point!). It totally changed my attitude and gave me a sense of peace that is difficult to put into words. To overcome your ‘flesh’ by denying yourself food, water or what you desire is not fatal. On the contrary, it provides a certainty that what we do or do not eat has no bearing on our actually being alive in that day. It brings it into focus that we are alive because of Him and His grace to us. It gives me confidence that I can overcome my flesh!

I think this may be an inadequate explanation of my experience, but the take-away message I hope you get is that it is a blessing. It is not impossible, or even that hard. One day out of a whole year where you really dig down and concentrate solely upon Him and how to get in right standing with Him is not too much to ask. It doesn’t preclude prayer time or even fasting on other days, but this one is for you, your family and your nation. It is worthwhile and special, for us and most especially because it is His Feast.