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Today, all across the globe, Jewish people will embark on a 25 hour period of intensive prayer and fasting. It is known as Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. It is the hope of every Jew who participates on this day, to whatever degree, that God will forgive their sins in recognition of these acts of confession and repentance. In a real way, those Jews who observe this day with loyalty and commitment are admitting they are sinners, that God is holy, and that in some way their sins must be dealt with in order to be right with God.
It is a long-standing Jewish tradition that actually began way back in the days of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness. Leviticus 16:30-31 says, “For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever.”
However, this “forever” statute did not mean that the observance of Yom Kippur was to be kept forever, for every Yom Kippur under the old covenant was simply pointing to the final Yom Kippur of the new covenant. That final Yom Kippur occurred when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, gave His life to atone for all the sins of God’s people (Isaiah 53:5-6,8). Christ’s sufficient sacrifice on the final Day of Atonement secured forgiveness of sins for everyone who believes in Him, forever!
Here is how the Hebrews writer explains Christ as the fulfillment of the OT sacrificial system. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until His enemies should be made a footstool for His feet. For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” Hebrews 10:12-14
Spend some time today praying for Jews around the world that they would come to understand the freedom and fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sacrifices, prayers, fasting, and observing Yom Kippur will never suffice. These things will never remove our sins. They never have completely removed sin. That’s why the Israelites had to continue to offer sacrifices. They were temporary measures revealing our need for a permanent solution. Christ is the answer. Christ is our atonement, and He completely removes our sins if we would believe in Him. Yom Kippur is not meant to lay upon us the impossible burden of paying for our sins but is meant to point us to Christ who as Mediator and High Priest can reconcile us to God. The Day of Atonement was fulfilled 2,000 years ago when Jesus died. We can never do what He has already done!
Dear Jewish friend, trust in Christ as your only atonement on this Day of Atonement!