Date: The tenth day of the Jewish month, Tishri, September or October.
Name: Yom (Hebrew for day) Kippur (Hebrew for covering, referring to the covering of sin, equivalent to the English “atonement”).
Purpose: To atone for the sins of the priests and the people.
Old Testament: “Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites” (Leviticus 16:34). “The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering … Do not work on that day … when atonement is made for you before the LORD” (Leviticus 23:27-28). Also Leviticus 16; Numbers 29:7-11.
New Testament: Romans 3:24-26; Hebrews 9:7, 10:3, 19-22.
Observance: Next to the Sabbath, Yom Kippur is considered the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. It is preceded by the 10 Days of Awe, which are filled with personal reflection and repentance. In Bible times there was a solemn assembly during which the High Priest made two sacrifices for the atonement (covering) of sins.
This was the only day on which the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. He entered first to sprinkle the blood of the first sacrificed bull on the mercy seat to make atonement for his sins. The sedond time he entered to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificed goat for the sins of Israel.
The Jewish people observed Yom Kippur throughout the centuries as a day of rest, fasting, meditation and prayer to find forgiveness of sins and thus begin the new year with a clear conscience.
Tradition: Because no sacrifices have been made since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., Jewish people see forgiveness through their own prayers and the good that they do. It is customary to ask and to give forgiveness to each other, believing that God’s forgiveness depends on people being forgiving to each other.
At a service on Yom Kippur Eve, Kol Nidre (all vows), each person affirms promises to God for the coming year and prays to be excused from previous vows not kept.
Fulfillment: “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).