The Day of Atonement

The holiday of Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Friday, September 13th. Being a Jewish follower of Jesus, I love talking about the connection between Judaism and Christianity. More specifically, I believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God spoke to Israel in the Old Testament.

Two years ago, I wrote about what I have taught my kids about Yom Kippur. Here are the highlights:
  • Yom Kippur is translated as the Day of Atonement, the day when all sins are atoned for (or, covered).
  • Because it deals with judgment for sins, Yom Kippur is one of the most holy days of the year, and is a day of fasting for those who follow Judaism.
  • God commanded that two goats were needed. One was slaughtered as a sin offering to God. The other (the "scapegoat") was let go in the wilderness.
  • Both of these goats pointed to Jesus the Messiah. He was our sacrifice for sins, and He carried our sins away (John 1:29).
Sinclair Ferguson digs deeper and explains (from the book of Hebrews) that the Day of Atonement wasn't the model of sacrifice, but a copy of Christ's atonement.

Sacrifices Today?

For many of my friends, I'm their "token" Jewish friend. I don't mind at all. It's nice to feel useful.

One question I have received over and over is:
"Why don't Jewish people still do sacrifices? Clearly it's not because they believe Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for sins, right?"
The simple answer is that the temple was destroyed in 72 A.D. The temple was where the sacrifices (at least the central, main sacrifices) were done. So when there was no temple, there could be no sacrifice.

Of course, this presented a problem. The Old Testament (= Hebrew Bible) clearly teaches that each of us has the problem with sin (Psalm 51:5, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Isaiah 53:6). In His grace, God gave Israel a system of sacrifice to deal with this sin issue.

The interesting thing thing is how Judaism got around this. They basically created a new system to "deal with their sin issue," so to speak. This system is based on 3 things: t'shuva (repentance), t'fillah (prayer), and tz'dakah (charity).

In other words, God's perfect sacrifice gets replaced by our imperfect works. Doesn't make sense to me. How Yom Kippur is celebrated today is far different than God intended.

But let us praise God for His perfect plan of salvation through the Messiah, His Son Jesus.

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."  Ephesians 1:7

Related Links:

**image courtesy of alexbruda via

No comments :

Post a Comment