Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur: The Day

The Resurgence has an interesting article on Yom Kippur:

Today Jews around the world are celebrating Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is considered the holiest and most solemn day of the year in modern Jewish practice. What relevance does this Jewish celebration have for Christians? Biblically, quite a lot.

Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement, which is the climax of the Old Testament sacrificial system and is the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. It was a day of great bloodshed and a day on which the gravity of humanity’s sin could be seen visibly. Because of its importance, it eventually became referred to simply as “the Day.”

The Center of the Pentateuch

  • Leviticus 16-17.

On this day, the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of Israel in order to avert the holy wrath of God for the sins of the past year and to remove their sin and its stain from them. Two healthy goats without defect were chosen. They were therefore fit to represent sinless perfection.

Two Images of the Atonement

The sacrifices of the Day were designed to pay for both sin’s penalty and sin’s presence in Israel. The shedding of blood and the sending off of the scapegoat were meant to appease God's wrath against sin and to cleanse the nation, the priesthood, and even the sanctuary itself from the taint of sin

  • Lev 16:30.

The Lamb of God

The Day of Atonement was a foreshadowing of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and our great High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness. These great images of the priest, slaughter, and scapegoat are all given by God to help us more fully comprehend Jesus’ bloody sacrifice for us on the cross.

Jesus Christ fulfills and accomplishes forever what the two goats symbolized. The Old Testament sacrifice of animals has been replaced by the perfect sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:26, 10:5:10; 1 John 2:1-2 and 4:9-10). Christ paid sin’s penalty (Rom 3:25-26 and 6:23; Gal 3:13). He redeemed us (Eph 1:7), paying the price that sets us free (1 Cor 6:20; Gal 5:1). He turned away God’s wrath (Rom 3:25) and reconciled believers to God (Eph 2:16) so we can be forgiven for our sins and cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

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