Hebrew Biblical and Modern Israelite Holidays
Tishrei 5781 / September 2020
Hag sameakh (happy holiday) and blessings, friends in Messiah!
Shalom aleikhem (peace to you), and I hope all is well with you in these ten “Days of Awe” and repentance since Rosh ha Shanah! I hope you will join with us in heart and mind and spirit to continue to worship, celebrate, and enjoy this month’s Hebrew Biblical holydays. The Biblical Hebrew term is ha moedim, “the appointed times,” that are now upon us. I encourage you to design something special that you will do devotionally to help you participate in this wonderful holydays month. Join me and interested fellow believers in Yeshua (Jesus) in this blessed and spiritually powerful time in the Biblical calendar and culture! It is Adonai Elohim’s (Lord God’s) schedule that His people start this Israelite civil year 5781 in a spiritually cleansing and reviving way.
The autumn Hebrew Biblical holydays (commonly called the High Holy Days) are described as follows. I will summarize here the second holiday: Yom Kippur.
September 27 (sunset) to September 28 (sunset)
Some relevant passages for reading and meditation: Gen. 17:1; Lev. 16-17; 19:2 with 20:7; 23:26-32; Ezra 9; Isa. 6; 53:4-12; 2 Chron. 7:14; Psalm 51; Jer. 18:7-10; Dan. 9:1-19; Jon. 2; 1 Kings 8; 21:25-29; Rom. 8, 11; 12:1-3; Mark 1:14-15; Heb. 9-10; Matt. 5:23-24; 18:21-35; Luke 17:1-4; John 3:16-18; Eph. 1:5-14; 1 John 1:6-10; Acts 9:1-20.
“For I, YHVH [LORD], am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your Elohim [God]. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy.” — Leviticus 11:45
Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement. Literally “Yom Kippur” means “day of covering,” referring to covering, hiding, of people’s sins once each year. For this holyday, there are several powerful devotional meanings to consider.
First, in Biblical Israelite society, and as a conservative holyday tradition continuing in Judaism, Yom Kippur is viewed as the most holy and sacred day of the Jewish calendar year. This is because Yom Kippur was the one day in each year that the precious Ark of the Covenant, representing YHVH Elohim’s (LORD God’s) presence with His people, could rightfully be approached and seen. Furthermore, the Israelite High Priest was the only one permitted by law to approach the Ark and seek atonement at it. Otherwise the Ark was reckoned as too divinely holy to be seen. The Ark of the Covenant was nicely symbolic of Elohim’s invisible but real holy presence with His people. Yom Kippur was the annually set day for YHVH Elohim (LORD God) to generously forgive the past year’s sins for the entire Israelite nation, if the required atonement ceremony detailed in Leviticus 16 was properly obeyed.
Second, Yom Kippur is a very serious day in which Adonai Elohim (Lord God) is to be given great glory and honor for His gracious forgiveness of the sins of His people, provided they should repent of their sins and seek His holy clean refreshment for this new Israelite civil year 5781. Concerning spiritual life, Divine forgiveness of human sins is of supreme importance; Yom Kippur therefore is properly to be a sober and serious holyday of worship, humility, simplicity, and self-denial. Appropriate for this day would be our deliberate self-denial and humility, a complete Sabbath rest day from work, with fasting, prayer, sincere repentance, asking Divine forgiveness, and renewed heart and mind to generously forgive others.
The law recorded in Leviticus 23:26-32 clearly demands the seriousness of this holy day, including threat of Divine punishment for the uncaring disobedient rebel against Elohim (God). The harsh warning in Leviticus 23 is because Yom Kippur provides an annual time for spiritually healthy sanctifying focus and opportunity to embrace Elohim’s (God’s) generous atonement for one’s sins.
Third, while it is true that people can sincerely pray and seek Adonai Elohim’s (Lord God’s) forgiveness any day of the year, Yom Kippur was designed to provide a special annual occasion for YHVH’s (LORD’s) united people to focus on His forgiveness of their sins, and enter this new Israelite civil year seeking His favor and refreshed personal holiness. For individuals, families, people groups, and whole nations, all have sin and wrongdoing that should be repented of and cleansed away by Elohim (God). There are possible just and fair hurtful consequences for uncaring unrepentance or rejection and dishonor of Elohim’s (God’s) holiness and forgiveness.
Fourth, some ancient Messianic Jews, and Gentile Christians (Biblically viewed as spiritual Israelites), believed and understood that Meshiakh Yeshua’s (Messiah Jesus’) bloody crucifixion fulfilled the Day of Atonement holy blood sacrifice for Divine forgiveness for sins of Elohim’s (God’s) people. Meshiakh Yeshua (Messiah Jesus) also became the lasting Hebrew High Priest, the only one able to fully approach Elohim’s (God’s) holiness and accomplish forgiveness for His people who seek it. Yom Kippur and Crucifixion Day (Good Friday in the springtime) are complement holydays to seriously and humbly honor Yeshua ha Meshiakh (Jesus the Messiah) as both lasting Great High Priest and Lamb of Elohim (God) for atonement.
Let us not be confused and think that Yom Kippur holyday has no modern value for us to sincerely observe, since Meshiakh Yeshua’s (Messiah Jesus’) bloody crucifixion accomplished the lasting sacrificial atonement for sins (Romans 3:25). Yeshua’s (Jesus’) blood atonement is valid for those who accept and believe it. Yeshua’s (Jesus’) bloody crucifixion-atonement covers believers’ due condemnation for their sins; but believers are not yet released from their earthly struggle with their weak, selfish, and sinful human nature (compare Romans 7). While Yeshua’s (Jesus’) grand atonement for believers’ sins is embraced, Yom Kippur holy day observance remains a valuable time to focus and also intercede for others. It is good if we prayerfully seek forgiveness every single day for our wrong words and acts, for by that we daily honor Elohim (God). And it is good to focus intensely and seek forgiveness from our Adonai (Lord) one special holy day each year for its own spiritual cleansing for the individual, or on behalf of one’s family, or on behalf of the community, or even for the nation.
Consider how this Biblical holiday month, beginning Israelite civil year 5781, presents both celebration and serious worship intended to make us joyful yet humble, repentant, cleansed, forgiven of the past year, and sincerely rededicated to Elohim (God) and Meshiakh Yeshua (Christ Jesus) and His ways and purposes. Yom Kippur valuably gives us a sober and worshipful Shabbat rest day of humble self-denial for purpose of holy and sacred cleansing at the end of the ten “Days of Awe” of repentance from our sins. Our holy Scriptures take Adonai Elohim’s (Lord God’s) holiness, Meshiakh Yeshua’s (Messiah Jesus’) sacrificial and priestly roles, and the real value of Yom Kippur forgiveness very seriously, as Leviticus 23 and Hebrews 9 confirm.
Individuals, families, people groups, communities, and nations are accountable to Adonai Elohim (Lord God) for their transgressions, and in need of atoning forgiveness each year. There is need of sincere intercessory prayer warriors to seek that annual atonement, valid and possible through the Great High Priest, Yeshua (Jesus). Join in Yom Kippur holy and humble worship. Do good, and have holy fear, repentance, and faith-filled cleansing with spiritual revival by the atoning blood of Yeshua (Jesus)! Let us also generously forgive each other our wrongs! Let us nobly and prayerfully intercede for others’ forgiveness and spiritual revival, including for our whole nation!
May Elohim Shaphat (God the Judge) and Meshiakh Yeshua (Christ Jesus) forgive us and help us to forgive others.
May our El-Kadosh (Holy God) give His people spiritual revival and greater depth of true intimate relationship with Him.
May Great High Priest Yeshua (Jesus) help His people be sincere prayer intercessors for sinful others and their nation.
May El Shaddai (God Almighty) fill His sincere believers with His Ruakh Kodesh (Holy Spirit) and His good fruitful results. Amen
Barukh Yom Kippur!
(Blessed Day of Atonement!)