Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, the most significant holy day in Judaism, begins tonight and runs through sundown tomorrow. Jews observe this event with prayer and repentance, much as the Old Testament Israelites did. It was established during the time of Moses as the Day of Atonement, and is described in Leviticus 16: “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

If you’re not familiar with the Biblical Day of Atonement, take a few minutes to read about it. The account is full of a lot of “Old Testament language” about priests, sacrifices, offerings, and (literal) scapegoats—things that might feel foreign to modern Christians. But in describing the process by which God granted the people of Israel forgiveness for their sins (through an annual ceremony of sacrifice), it very directly foreshadows the manner in which Jesus Christ would one day sacrifice himself for our sins.

Christians today don’t observe the system of Jewish holy days and feasts established in ancient Israel. But the Day of Atonement is an appropriate time to reflect on the weight of sin and guilt in our lives—and the merciful God who washes it away.

Related posts:

  1. Sin and redemption on the Day of Atonement
  2. Monuments and Memorial Days: remembering who we are

Posted by Andy

Filed under Holiday