Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Celebrate Yom Kippur (day of atonement)?

Yom Kippur, also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year according to Jewish tradition.

Many Christians feel obliged to follow the Jewish feasts and Yom Kippur is where it all comes together for them at a very deep and personal level.

Ultimately it comes down to a choice ...

You are either under the law and feel the need to adhere to the commandments and do the works to achieve your own salvation or you choose the Free Gift of Grace - Jesus ... simple choice ...

Yom Kippur is in the middle between the feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah on 14-15 Sept for 2015) and the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot on 28 September to 5 October 2015).

On 23 September 2015 millions will be celebrating the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. So, it may be worth our while to look at how this feast was fulfilled by Messiah Jesus in the finest details imaginable.

Yom Kippur is regarded as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths", whereas the preceding Rosh Hashanah (or rather Yom Teruah) is regarded as the new beginning and falls on the first day of Tishrei. 

Remember we previously dealt with some of the Jewish feasts hereherehere and here

As you read, bear this in mind and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how Jesus fulfilled particular aspects of the feast. Look them up in the scriptures. There are many that are not even mentioned in this post.

Yom Kippur is commemorated on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei). During this time, stretching from Rosh Hashanah, each and every Jew would have constantly reviewed and contemplated all of his or her sins of the past year. 

Jewish tradition has it that God inscribes each person's fate for the coming year into the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and then waits until Yom Kippur (the following year) to "seal" the verdict. Compare this tradition with what Paul says in Colossians 2:13-14: "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."

During the Days of Awe (the period from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur), a follower of the law tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and man. Yom Kippur is the time for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt accompanied by prescribed offers and sacrifices for atonement. At the end of Yom Kippur the orthodox Jew can only but hope that he has been forgiven by God and that the offers he presented to God may have been pleasing to Him. 

The Jewish Talmud states, "Yom Kippur atones for those who repent and does not atone for those who do not repent".

Mostly all of what is done during Yom Kippur depends on the proficiency of the High Priest. If you had a lousy High Priest, you'd expect to have few sins atoned for.

Much also depended on the offer presented to God as well as for the effective and accurate transferring of your sins onto the a goat (Azazel - see below). If you had a lousy offer or transfer of sins, you could expect to have poor atonement of your sins.

I am so glad that we had a perfect offer in Jesus and that we have a perfect High Priest in Jesus!

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Look at the meticulous details they had to follow:

Very Important, and strictly according to law and prescripts, the head priest or Kohen Gadol (in the days of the temple this could only be performed by the head priest) on the day of Yom Kippur, had to follow a precise order of services, sacrifices, and purification. See how they have ALL been fulfilled by Christ Jesus:

  • Cleansing rituals of priests and garment change 1: The priests immerse themselves in the bath called the mikvah to purify themselves from all uncleanness. The head priest or priests (later times) clothe themselves in special golden garments after immersing and washing of hands and feet in the mikvah.
  • The morning  offering (Tamid): The chief priest (Kohen Gadol) or priest (Kohen) starts the day by performing the regular daily (Tamid) offering. 
  • Rituals and garment change 2: The Kohen Gadol immerses again in a special mikvah (sea - a copper container) in the temple courtyard. He now changes into special linen garments. He washes his hands and feet twice. Once after removing the golden garments and again before putting on the linen garments.
  • The bull as a personal sin-offering: The Kohen Gadol performs prescribed rituals pertaining to confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household. He may now pronounce the Holy Name of God, יְהֹוָה or YHVH. As he does so the people immediately fall down on their faces.
  • Slaughtering of the bull: The bull is slaughtered in the prescribed manner as a sin-offering and the Kohen Gadol receives its blood in a bowl.
  • Lottery of the goats The Kohen Gadol draws lots over two goats, one being “for the Lord” and one for Azazel (scapegoat).” The Kohen Gadol ties a red band around the horns of the goat for Azazel.”
  • Incense preparation:  From the altar the Kohen Gadol takes a special shovel of embers. Holding the shovel he throws a hand full of incense into a vessel with much difficulty and in accordance with many rituals and prescriptions.
  • Incense offering: Holding the shovel and the vessel he enters the temple’s Holy of Holies (Kadosh Hakadashim). In the days of the Ark of the Covenant he would place the shovel between the poles of the Ark. In latter days he would place the shovel where the Ark would have been. He would then burn the incense on the embers according to the prescripts.
  • Sprinkling of the bull's blood: The Kohen Gadol takes the bowl with the bull’s blood and enters the Holy of Holies once again. He sprinkles the bull’s blood with his finger eight times before the Ark or where it would have been in latter days when the Ark was no more.
  • Goat for the Lord: Sin-offering for priests (Kohanim). The Kohen Gadol would now go to the eastern courtyard gate. He lays his hands (semikha) on the goat for the Lord and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim. Once again the people would fall on their faces hearing the Holy Name of God, יְהֹוָה or YHVH. The goat is then slaughtered and it's blood received by the  Kohen Gadol in another bowl.
  • Sprinkling of goat’s blood: The Kohen Gadol enters the Holy of Holies again and sprinkles goat’s blood from the bowl with his finger eight times the same way he did with the blood of the bull and in accordance with prescribed rituals.
  • Sprinkling of blood in the holy place: In the holy place of the temple the Kohen Gadol now takes the bull's blood from the stand where he left it after his previous entrance and sprinkles it with his finger eight times in the direction of the curtain (parochet) separating the holy place from the Holy of Holies. He then takes the bowl with the goat's blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner.
  • Smearing of blood on the golden (incense) altar: The Kohen Gadol removes the goat’s blood from the stand and mixes it with the blood of the bull in that bowl. He then smears the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the golden (incense) altar. He then sprinkles the blood eight times on the altar.
  • Goat for Azazel: The Kohen Gadol leaves the holy place in the temple and walks to the gate where the Azazel is being held. Near the gate he places his hands on the goat (Azazel) and confesses all the sins of the people of Israel. The people fall on their faces as soon a they hear the Holy Name of God, יְהֹוָה or YHVH. 
  • Individual confessions: During the general confession uttered by the high priest, individuals would also confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sends the goat into the wilderness for it never to return. Yet, occasionally it would return back home. So, in latter years to prevent its return, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off the edge.
  • Sacrificial animals rituals: As soon as the Azazel was led to the cliff the Kohen Gadol removes the insides of the bull and intertwines the bodies of the bull and goat. Helpers takes carcasses to the ash heaps (Beit Ha Deshen) where it is burned upon confirmation that the Azazel was no longer amongst the people.
  • Torah reading: The Kohen Gadol would now read relevant prescribed scriptures while passing through the gate and the people standing by. 
  • Rituals and garment change 3: The Kohen Gadol removes his linen garments, immerses in the mikvah in the temple courtyard once more, and changes into a new set of golden garments. Rituals concerning the washing of his hands and feet before changing is once again observed.
  • Offering of rams The Kohen Gadol offers two rams on the outer altar and receives their blood in a bowl and pours out the bowl on the northeast and southwest corners of the outer altar. The carcasses are then dismembered and the parts burned on the outer altar. 
  • Grain and Wine offering: At the same time of the offering of the rams a grain and wine offering is also made (mincha and nesachim).
  • Additional (musaf) offering: A number of additional or musaf offerings are then made by the Kohen Gadol.
  • Burning of intestines: The insides of the initial bull and goat carcasses are now burned on the outer altar by the Kohen Gadol.
  • Rituals and garment change 4: The Kohen Gadol removes his golden garments, immerses himself again in the mikvah and changes to a new set of linen garments following the rituals of washing his hands and feet twice.
  • Removal of incense: The Kohen Gadol returns to the Holy of Holies once more and removes the vessel with incense and the shovel.
  • Rituals and garment change 5: Immediately after his exist the Kohen Gadol changes again from his linen garments, immerses in the mikvah and changes into a third set of golden garments by observing rituals concerning the washing of his hands and feet twice.
  • The evening (Tamid) offering: The Kohen Gadol concludes the tamid (daily) offering in the special golden garments where after he washes his hands and feet a tenth time.

In summary: 
  1. the Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen);
  2. immersed in the mikvah five times;
  3. washed his hands and feet ten times;
  4. sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (meal) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur);
  5. the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times; and
  6. the Tetragrammaton or Holy Name of God, יְהֹוָה or YHVH was pronounced three times, once for each confession.
A lot of controversy exist amongst Jewish scholars in explaining how they derived at the many rituals, some of which are not even to be accounted for in the torah.

What remains for a follower of Jesus is, merely to admit:
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Heb 9:11-14
... and celebrate Jesus!
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