We are in a very special time of year. Aside from the fact that it is the changing of the seasons, and the crisp feeling of autumn is in the air and the crunch of red and gold leaves are under our feet and the fragrance of apple cinnamon and pumpkin intoxicates our senses, it is also a time of God’s holidays. Now, there are seven holidays all together that are holy to the Lord. In Leviticus 23:1 it says that, “The Lord spoke . . . saying, “Speak to the people . . . and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.”” These are not like our American holidays or other national holidays, for these holidays were set a part by the Lord. In the Hebrew language “feast” actually means “an appointment, a fixed time.” And when God calls them “holy convocations,” convocation actually means “a rehearsal.” Therefore, all of God’s holidays are God-ordained, divine appointments set by God on His calendar as dress rehearsals and foreshadowing that would be or will be fulfilled by Jesus.
The first of the fall festivals is Yom Teruah, the Day of Blowing, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets. In Leviticus 23:23-24 it says, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” Yom Teruah has been known for centuries as the day of “the Last Trump” for it is the last call to the nation to repent before the day of judgment/atonement Yom Kippur. For more on Yom Teruah visit this link https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2021/09/04/yom-teruah-2021/
Leviticus 23:26-29 speaks of the second God-ordained, autumn feast called Yom Kippur, Yom meaning “Day” and Kippur meaning “Atonement.” “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.” Furthermore, it is the ONLY day of the year that the high priest enters the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9) to apply blood to the Ark of Covenant for himself, his family, and the nation.
Yom Kippur in Scripture
In Exodus 32 we read of the first Yom Kippur. In this passage we see that Moses had come down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found that the impatient, impetuous people were all naked and dancing around the golden calf they had made for themselves. After several things transpired, Moses tells the people he will go back up to the Lord to see if he might be able to make atonement for their great sin. We see this story in Exodus 32:30-34.
“30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”31 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold!32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin–but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.”
So, Moses reascends the mountain for 40 more days, and it is said that at the end of it as Moses descends the mountain with second set of Commandments, that this was God’s mercy extended to the people on the first Yom Kippur. While Moses was on the mountain those 40 more days, the people were to be preparing their hearts and lives for God’s judgment.
Later, Jesus would be in the Wilderness, fasting and being tempted by the devil for 40 days. Just as Moses went into the mountain of Sinai for forty days, Jesus went out into the wilderness for forty days. After all, Jesus is the predicted “Prophet” that Moses said would be like him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) and yet is far greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:1-3).
In Luke 4:13-30 we find an incredible story following Jesus’ fast and temptation in the wilderness. But, there is something amazing in this story that I missed for years. Yom Kippur is everywhere if you know for what to look. Let’s take a look!
“13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.14 Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.15 And He taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’ “24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country.25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land;26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”
We’ve read this story before and have probably heard sermons on it at some time or another. But, what was happening here has probably been lost on us because we did not know about God’s holidays and the scripture passages that were read on those holidays. The fact that Jesus read Isaiah 61 meant beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Yom Kippur. This then meant that it was the Fall season. This also meant that Jesus had been out in the Judean wilderness for forty days in the heat of summer. This also meant that Jesus was essentially telling them that their Jubilee passage of Isaiah 61 was now fulfilled through Him. In other words, Jesus was their Jubilee who had come to set the captives free, and it was the “acceptable year of the Lord.” Interestingly enough, Jesus ended His reading of Isaiah 61 mid sentence. He did not finish the sentence which reads, “and the day of the vengeance of our God.” He did not finish the passage because the day of judgment has not yet come. However, the day of the Lord’s atonement had come through Jesus, and was fulfilled that day in their hearing. The day of the Lord’s vengeance, even as seen in the book of Revelation, is still in the future and is coming and will be fulfilled in Jesus.
But there’s more…
In Luke 4 we read of Jesus being pushed and pulled and pummeled to the edge of a cliff. This is significant and is directly linked to Yom Kippur as well. Historically, on Yom Kippur, two goats were selected, both without blemish. One was selected to be sacrificed in the Temple for the people while the other was selected to be what was called the “scapegoat.” Now, it was on the “scapegoat” that all of the sins of the people were placed. After this ceremony was conducted, the “scapegoat” bearing all the sins of the people was marched out of town where it was to be released into the wilderness. The problem was, the scapegoats didn’t stay in the wilderness, but instead kept coming back into town! So, they decided to make sure that the goat died, because they did not want their sins returning to them. Thus, certain people were selected to drive the goat into the wilderness where they would drive it off of a cliff.
Well, in Luke 4 it is the holiday of Yom Kippur and Jesus has just read Isaiah 61 and has declared Himself to be their atonement, their deliverance and has also gravely offended his listeners by saying they have no faith and are as bad as their unbelieving forefathers. Thus, His audience decided to treat Jesus as their “scapegoat.” It’s as if they were saying, “Are you really saying our atonement? Are you really saying you’re our deliverer? Well then, let’s see if you mean it! How dare you say you’re a prophet and can save us! Here, put actions to what you’re saying and die like the scapegoat! See how you like being a prophet now!” They were furious, and they in a blind rage treated Jesus like the scapegoat of Yom Kippur when they attempted to drive Him off of the cliff.
But…God had other plans. Jesus was not the scapegoat. He was the Passover Lamb, and would lay down His own life as a ransom for many when the time was God’s appointed time, not man’s.
Christians and Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of God’s feasts and is the holiest of His holy days, and is the final day of what are called “the Days of Awe” (which are 10 days sandwiched between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur). It is and has historically been a day of fasting and prayer. However, it is not merely a Jewish holiday. It is God’s holiday that will one day be fulfilled, and therefore it applies to Christians today.
Though many adhere to fasting on Yom Kippur, the Bible does not specifically mention physically “fasting” on this day. Truly, the fast that God requires of us as Christians is not necessarily a physical one, but is something deeper as found in Isaiah 58. In Isaiah 58:3-10 we read of the Jews who were keeping Yom Kippur by fasting, but God was not pleased with them at all because the fast He requires is not simply a bodily one, but is one wherein our hearts are changed and our actions follow. Let us take seriously what the following scriptures say and take them to heart until they become faith in action. We as Christians need to take seriously the call to humble ourselves before our God, to confess our own individual sins and to pray for God to clean house in His Church. He is coming again soon for a Bride without spot and without wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).
Isaiah 58 reads, “3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ [referring to Yom Kippur] “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high.5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.”
I John 3:16-18 agrees wholeheartedly with Isaiah 58 when it says, “16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
And James 2:15-17 agrees with both Isaiah 58 and I John 3 when it says,“15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Let us as Christians therefore, keep Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in the way that God requires: with a change of heart toward our brothers and sisters in Jesus. Let us humble ourselves and repent; let us chose to love one another; let us build each other up as the Day of the Lord draws near. Indeed, let us live out John 13:34-35 which reads, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”