Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement) is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. It is a day of fasting and prayer. It is a time of reflection and teshuvah (repentance). It is a solemn day of asking forgiveness.
Nothing has really changed from a century ago. Like today, Orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews gather at the Western Wall together. While Yom Kippur is now over both in Israel as well as here in the U.S. (with Succot or the Feast of Tabernacles to begin), Jews all over the world cherish this intentional opportunity to reflect upon their spiritual lives and to seek the face of a holy yet forgiving God.
This year even marks the 40th year anniversary of the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Pulled literally from the synagogues filled with soldiers on this holy day, Israel found herself in need of defending themselves against the surprise attacks from surrounding Arab countries. It’s remarkable how Israel were successful in surviving their formidable foes aiming to annihilate the Jewish nation.
Living in the spirit of Yom Kippur means living in the recognition of God’s hesed or grace. Like our Jewish friends who fast on this holy day, who mourn and literally weep over sins they commit, and who cry out to God for forgiveness, God’s grace is sought. While their search for God and His grace falls unfortunately short of recognizing and discovering that the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan is completed in Yeshua / Jesus, Jews still exhibit a heart-felt pattern of prayerfully approaching a holy God with a penitent spirit.
Living in the spirit of Yom Kippur also means preparing one’s heart for the receiving of God’s provision. The Jewish festival called Sukkot (or Succot) takes place five days after Yom Kippur (on the 15th of Tishrei). Sukkot is a time to celebrate God’s provision to the ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert. One of the commands is to live in a temporary booth, or Sukkah). But this 7 day celebration (also called Z’man Simchateinu) is also marked with a explicit command to rejoice. Without a spirit of Yom Kippur, true rejoicing would not be possible nor genuine on a spiritual level. I guess we can conclude that God timed these festival perfectly, taking a person from a season of repentance to a season of joy.
As believers in Yeshua, Christians find our joy in our walk of faith through our relationship with God through the mediation of Christ. Living in the spirit of Yom Kippur allows us to rejoice in our cleansing and sanctification. Praise be to God for His transforming atonement through Christ!