Revisiting Kippur: ATONEMENT

At sunset on Wednesday begins Yom Kippur… the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. Yom means “day” and Kippur means “atonement”… although it can also be read as ransom or covering. It is the day to ask for atonement, for all that needs forgiving over the past year.


Although there are a lot of traditions and actions associated with the Jewish observance of the Day of Atonement, it more simply comes down to this:

Leviticus 23:26-28

Then YHWH spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement [yom ha-kippurim]; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble yourselves and present an offering by fire to YHWH. You shall not do any work on this very day, for it is a Day of Atonement [yom kippurim], to make atonement on your behalf before YHWH your God.”

We are called to be particularly humble on this day; we’re not to do any work; and we are to present an offering.

We are called to be humble on the Day of Atonement because if we are not humble, if we are purely walking through the traditions because we’re told we ought to, then we are not honouring YHWH:

Isaiah 1:13-14, 18

[YHWH:] “Do not go on bringing your worthless offerings, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and Sabbath, the proclamation of an assembly— I cannot endure wrongdoing and the festive assembly.

I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am tired of bearing them…

…“Come now, and let us debate your case,” says YHWH, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall become as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.”

YHWH looks at the heart and at the time these festivals were being celebrated robotically… they followed tradition without heart or passion. It had become a cultural festival not a festival of faith and devotion to God.

Regardless of all this heartless behaviour, YHWH had a plan to turn us around. We would be atoned for and redeemed. It wasn’t our job to save ourselves. YHWH would do that for us. Our sins have covered us in blood, but we would be washed clean. It was a bold and beautiful promise… and it was fulfilled by the promised Yeshua.

You are atoned for. You are free. Live in the light of that promise.

For more on the Hebrew word Kippur, click below:


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