Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the fifth of six Jewish Mo’edim or appointed times determined by God in the Torah. It occurs every fall between the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles. For Jews in Israel and around the world, this feast is one of the most significant and solemn observances that define the Jewish identity alongside the keeping of the Passover. Each year on this date, the Jews fast and “afflict their souls” (Leviticus 16:31) for a full day, recalling their sins over the past year and repenting through a series of traditional prayers and observances. It is their hope that God will accept these actions as penance, forgive them, and grant them one more year of life by writing their names in the book of life.
This day takes on a slightly different meaning for our community in Israel, and has an even greater spiritual significance. For many years now, we have been hosting a conference in Hebrew, in which different congregations from the Jerusalem/Tel Aviv area participate. We begin by gathering on the afternoon of the eve of Yom Kippur for fellowship and an early dinner before beginning the fast. We then spend some time in worship followed by traditional Jewish prayers. Because there is no movement of vehicles anywhere in the country, we stay together over-night for this event.
“All vows we are likely to make, all oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”
On the eve of Yom Kippur, this prayer is chanted in synagogues all over the world. It is thought that this prayer was conceived during a time of great persecution, when Jews were being forced to convert to other religions at sword’s point. Today, if a Jew should agree to convert to any religion other than Judaism by coercion, this prayer would effectively excuse them from any utterances they may have been forced to make against God and the Jewish scriptures.
As believers in Yeshua, we understand that this prayer has been used by Jews throughout history to reject Yeshua again and again, even as far back as the day of His crucifixion:
“And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” – Matthew 27:25
While by this the Jews of that time meant to accept the full responsibility of Yeshua’s death, we believe this passage can be seen in a different, more prophetic light. Because of the atoning blood of Yeshua, this declaration or vow points to a time when Jews as a people will claim not the blood guilt of Yeshua’s death on the cross, but the atoning power of His blood over their lives and the lives of their children. This prophetic thought becomes the foundation of our prayers and intercession for the Jewish people.
The next day, all throughout Israel Yom Kippur is a national holiday and the only Sabbath that is fully enforced by the state. Nearly all businesses are closed and all public roads and highways are shut down. It is also common for people to wander the normally congested city streets by foot or for children to ride their bicycles up and down the deserted freeways as the entire nation comes to a halt to observe this special Sabbath.
It is during this time at our conference that we join synagogues around the world in the traditional reading of the book of Jonah. This story is highlighted on Yom Kippur as a repentance story meant to provide inspiration and hope for receiving God’s forgiveness. But as believers in Yeshua, we also know that we don’t have to wonder whether God will forgive us our not, for our forgiveness is sure – through Yeshua’s death and resurrection.
In the Scriptures the Feast of Trumpets seems to coincide with the trumpets announcing the great tribulation of the Book of Revelation. However, there is yet another trumpet call on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 25:9). It seems that Yeshua’s return will be somehow connected to this day as it is detailed in Zechariah 12. We therefore conclude our gathering with worship and cries of “Baruch haba b’shem Adonai!” or “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
(Please note that this is a private gathering of local congregations and their members. Due to limited accommodations, this event is not open to the public.)
Our team hosts three major yearly events centered on three specific Biblical events that carry strong, prophetic end-time implications:
- The Fast of Esther, while not a mo’ed or “appointed time,” is taken from the book of Esther and is not only a clear illustration of the ongoing attempts of Satan to annihilate the Jewish people, but of what our response to such attacks should be as believers in Yeshua.
- The appointed time of Shavuot or Pentecost is better known as the day the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles as they waited in Jerusalem as instructed by Yeshua. In Simon Peter’s explanation of the event, he quotes one of Joel’s prophecies where the Lord says that He will pour out His Spirit “on all flesh.” The full scope of this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled therefore we continue to gather on this day in earnest expectation of its final and complete fulfillment in these last days.
- The appointed time of Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement contains many allusions to the ultimate salvation of the people of Israel in connection to the Second Coming of Yeshua. Historically, this was the day the high priest entered the holy of hollies to make blood atonement for the sins of Israel. Today it is a nationally recognized day of fasting observed by secular and religious Jews alike. As they fast and pray, hoping that their sins will be forgiven, we gather together to pray and prophesy that they would come to know and accept the only true and eternal atoning blood of Yeshua.