Yom HaKippurim- The Day of Atonement


Yom HaKippurim- The Day of Atonement

Within the Jewish community, Yom HaKippurim is a very important day. One does not have to read many of the 613 Biblical commandments until he finds out that there is sin in his life. I am reminded of those who assembled in Jerusalem during the days of Ezra. Ezra read the Torah to the people who had returned from Babylon. They had not been taught the Word of G-d while they were in exile, so when they were confronted with the instructions of G-d they were immediately convicted of their sin. They wept and acknowledged their need for forgiveness.

The primary part of Day of Atonement today is prayer. The main prayer is one entitled “concerning sin”. In this prayer one encounters a long list of sinful behavior. The purpose is obvious, to bring conviction to the individual. Next the prayer moves from conviction to confession. The day concludes with assurance that G-d has accepted the atonement that one has made for the forgiveness of sin. The question that is vital is “what has one done to make atonement of his sin?”

There are two serious problems in regard to this question. According to Scriptures, it is not man who makes atonement for his sin, but the High Priest. It is important to note that the High Priest did so as G-d’s representative. So the first problem in regard to Yom HaKippurim observance today is that man has taken the responsibility of making atonement for his sin upon himself without any Scriptural support for this. The second problem is the act itself of making atonement. Today the act is called “kaparot”. On the day prior to Yom HaKippurim one purchases a live rooster (women purchase a chicken) and wave it over their head three times while saying a prayer. Then the fowl is taken to the butcher where it is killed.

The prayer which is said affirms that the fowl is a substitute, a vicarious offering.  The prayer concludes with the statement, “This fowl will go to his death and I will enter a good long life”. Who has given the authority for this ritual? Man.  It is based in the reckonings of man’s thoughts and certainly not on any Biblical commandment. I reject this ritual. I prefer to continue in what the New Covenant reveals about the Day of Atonement.

In the New Covenant one finds that Yeshua is our substitute, a vicarious offering. He laid down His life in place of ours. He Who never sinned had our sins vicariously transferred upon Him. He is also our High Priest, for we read in the letter to the Hebrews,

“Seeing then that we have a Great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Yeshua the Son of G-d, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet He is without sin. Let us therefore come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrew 4:14-16

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