Parashat Yom HaKippurim (Day of Atonement) Leviticus Chapter 16
Maftir: Numbers 29:7-11
Haftarah: Isaiah 57:14-58:14
This Shabbat is also the Day of Atonement. In addition to the readings listed above for the morning service, there is also a special reading for the afternoon service. Each Yom Kippur during this time the entire book of Jonah is read. Many times I am asked if I really believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. My answer is absolutely, the work of G-d does not contain any errors. Usually I immediately receive a follow up question. This question is, “How could Jonah live for three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish?” The answer is he did not live during this time, but rather he died. Most who hear this are surprised by my answer. Many will ask if I have Scriptural proof for such a point of view.
In the book of Matthew, certain ones of the Scribes and Pharisees demanded a sign from Yeshua. Yeshua responded, stating an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign. Then He remarked that no sign will be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah. What did Yeshua mean by the sign of Jonah? As Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights; so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Yeshua died upon the Cross and His soul descended into Sheol (the heart of the earth). But after those three days and three nights, He rose from the dead. Hence, when Yeshua was speaking to the religious leaders who were demanding a sign, His response pointed to His resurrection from the dead.
In fact, in the book of Jonah the reader is told that Jonah descended into Sheol,
“And he said, ‘I cried from my trouble to HaShem and He answered me, from the belly of Sheol I called, You heard my voice.” Jonah 2:3 (verse 2 in English)
Sheol is the place for the dead; hence Jonah died, but HaShem restored his life to him. Often people will respond with verses like Colossians 1:18 which states that Yeshua is the firstborn from the dead. Their intent is how could Jonah rise from the dead if the Bible clearly states that Yeshua is the firstborn from the dead? Many people in the Scriptures are recorded as having died and then later rising from the dead. There are two reasons why these other resurrections do not infringe on Yeshua’s title as the firstborn of the dead.
First, when Yeshua rose from the dead His body was changed. He had a glorified body, similar to the one which believers will receive at the time of the rapture. When these other people were restored to life, they ended up dying again at a later time. Obviously Yeshua will not. Secondly, the term “firstborn” is a technical term which implies specific theological truth. This term relates to an inheritance or heir. In other words, Yeshua is the One Who will inherit all those who died in Him. It is significant that one also reads that Yeshua is the firstborn among many brothers (believers) and the firstborn of all creation. The message is simply that Yeshua will have preeminence in all things relating to the Kingdom.
Yom Kippur, i.e. the Day of Atonement, is related as well to the Kingdom. Usually in the Bible this day is referred to with the phrase יום הכיפורים which is actually in the plural; hence, the proper translation would be “the Day of Atonements.” Yeshua is called our High Priest, which also relates to this day. What is the connection? The term Day of Atonement is in the plural because the work of Yeshua, our Great High Priest, not only atones in this age, but also for the age to come, i.e. the Kingdom.
Share this Post