Jesus in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

Jesus in Yom Kippur is the second part to this series. To read about the first part, Rosh Hashanah, click here.


Yom Kippur (Lev. 16) is “thee” holiest day of the year for Jews. While living in Jerusalem, we saw the extent of sacredness that this day takes on. Typically, even for other sabbaths or festivals, secular shops will be open, cars are still on the road, and life still happens despite most of the city being shut down. But not on Yom Kippur. There is absolutely no car on the road. There are no shops open. Jerusalem looks like Thanos snapped everyone out of existence and it is quiet. For those of you who have never lived or visited Jerusalem, it is ALWAYS loud. 


Yom Kippur is a full day of fasting or “denying themselves” as a way to cleanse themselves (Lev. 16:29-31). It’s a day devoted to reading scripture and remembering that all humans are imperfect people who need redeemed by a perfect God. Yom Kippur is very much a somber day of remembrance. But there is something beautiful about this day. It’s a day of renewal and cleansing. It’s a day that offers us hope knowing that even though we screw up, we have a God who loves and cares for us to redeem us. 

During the ceremony of Yom Kippur for the ancients, there were two goats involved. One would be sacrificed as a sin offering and the High Priest would take the second goat, place two hands on the head, and “confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins.” This is what’s called a ritual of elimination, which was popular in the ancient Near East (for more information on this ritual and “Azazel” click here). Following the ritual, the goat would be released into the Judean Desert, which Jerusalem sits right next to. 


So how do we see Jesus in Yom Kippur? There’s a great article from (Article Here) that goes through the entire day. In their article they write: “For believers in Yeshua, the scapegoat is a picture of the Messiah, who was sent “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Like the scapegoat, Yeshua receives our iniquities and transgressions and takes them from us; unlike the scapegoat, his sacrifice is good for all time, rather than needing to be repeated from year to year.”

Here’s the truth. I’ve sinned. You’ve sinned. We’ve all sinned. But we have a Messiah who took on our iniquities when he was crucified on the cross. As Peter said, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 4:18-20)


Yom Kippur should absolutely be observed by Christians. It should be like Good Friday for us. A somber day when we remember the sacrifice that Yeshua made for us on that Cross by taking our sins. In every Seder meal we quote John the Baptist who looked upon Jesus and said, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29

If you’re looking to observe Yom Kippur in 2019 it falls at Sunset from October 8th through sunset on October 9th.

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