They call it a Jewish holiday – Yom Kippur.
In English we call it the Day of Atonement, but it’s not just for Jews. As Leviticus 23 makes clear, Yom Kippur is not a Jewish holiday, it’s one of the Feasts of the Lord – or, more clearly, an appointed time, a Holy Convocation.
In other words, it’s for everyone who believes in the One True God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Christians should especially find it appealing, since they believe in the forgiveness of sins by the one they consider to be the Hebrew Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Son of God.
What has become increasingly clear to me in my study of the Bible over the years is that Jesus, or Yeshua, as He was known to his brethren – did not come to Earth in human form to start a new religion called Christianity, which, after all, simply means followers of the Messiah.
Yeshua came to fulfill the promises of the Hebrew prophets. Neither he nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should celebrate His birthday on Dec. 25 – the traditional birthday of the pagan deities Tammuz and Mithra. Neither He nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should celebrate the Babylonian holiday of Ishtar, or Easter. In fact, neither He nor anyone else in the Bible ever suggested we should observe Sunday as the Sabbath.
These were all traditions of men trying to blend pagan cultures with a touch of Christianity.
But the God of the Bible doesn’t like mixing pagan mythology with His commandments or pagan holidays with his appointed feasts.
That’s why it may surprise some of you that this Christian, this follower of Yeshua Ha’Maschiach, is urging you to begin observing Yom Kippur this feast season. Your family will fast and pray just like the Hebrews around the world. You will join more and more Christians around the world who are rediscovering the roots of their faith.
The Day of Atonement is a high holiday – a Sabbath. Take it off. Stop working until sundown. That’s because by God’s reckoning of time, the day begins at sundown, not sun up and not midnight.
What I am saying to Bible believers is that God doesn’t want us celebrating pagan holidays. He expects us, however, to observe His divine appointments. Those come weekly at sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. And there are additional spring and fall feasts, or appointed times, like Yom Kippur, in which we are called out to meet Him.
Earlier, I wrote about the other two coming up next month. The Day of Atonement begins this year Sept. 15 and ends at sundown the next day.
Some modern American Christians might arrogantly suggest they don’t have to atone for any sins because Jesus already did that for them. While it’s true that Yeshua died for the sins of those who make Him Lord of their life, that atonement doesn’t come without sincere repentance.
And repentance is not a one-time act. It’s not a collection of magic words we say one time in our lives so that we have license to sin some more. Repentance is a continual process, because we all fall short of the mark.
It’s not just individuals who need a Day of Atonement.
In ancient Israel the high priests prayed for the sins of the nation, too.
America could take a lesson from that experience.
We are a nation in moral free fall.
We’ve lost our ability to discern right from wrong.
We don’t even accept that there is such a thing as sin anymore. Sinners are just those practicing alternate lifestyles.
But this can’t go on forever – just as it couldn’t go on forever in ancient Israel when the nation went adrift.
God is longsuffering because He loves us. But like any good parent, He will not enable His children forever. He will discipline them in an attempt to bring them back to His authority – not wishing any should perish.
So if you think Yom Kippur is just another Jewish holiday, think again.
The Day of Atonement is one of your God’s feasts, one of His appointed times. He wants to meet with you. He wants to bring you back into covenant with Him.
“The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” by Joseph Farah is available in both hardcover and e-book versions.
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