Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement
This week we’re learning about the most sacred day on the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur. This upcoming fall holiday is a solemn day with great significance not only for the Jewish people but for Christians as well. God established this holy day in the book of Leviticus to cause the Israelites to repent of their sins with sacrifices using the blood of goats. But these sacrifices only covered the people’s sins. They didn’t cleanse them forever.
As believers, we are privileged to receive the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins. Fortunately for us, we are not called to repent the same way as the Israelites were in the Old Testament. Their Yom Kippur sacrifices were only temporary. They had to be done again and again. God made a better way, sending His only Son, Jesus, to die once to take away our sins and bring us into a right relationship with Him permanently. May this biblical truth bring you great joy and draw you closer to the Lord this week!
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. We're glad you're with us. Everything related to today's program, and every previous episode, can be found at foiradio.org. Once again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Hey, and while you're at our website, foiradio.org, you can find out how you can be a part of our national prophecy conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In fact, that's what we're going to be teaching on today. We're doing the seven feasts of Israel for our national prophecy conferences in Lancaster, and I'll be teaching on the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Last week, I looked at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but this week we're going to dive into a fall feast that's actually coming up pretty soon, the Day of Atonement.
Steve Conover: We look forward to Chris's second message in this series, but first in the news Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli tourism is on the mend, back to nearly pre-pandemic highs. The pandemic put a halt on nearly all tourism for two years, two years since Israel was one of the first countries to close their borders to tourists and travelers in March 2020. An astounding 250,000 tourists entered in July 2022. At the same time last year, there were only 50,000 while in 2020, only 6,000 passed through Israel's borders.
Chris Katulka: Here's my take, Steve. The year prior to the pandemic, Israel welcomed a record 4.5 million tourists in 2019, which contributed more than $2 billion to their economy. The pandemic took a massive toll on Israeli tour guides who lead pilgrims through the holy land. Well, these 2022 numbers show that the world is still eager to see the holy land and experience Israel firsthand.
Chris Katulka: Hey, just another reminder, September 11th through the 13th, that we will be holding our National Prophecy Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where you're going to be able to hear our expert staff teaching on the seven feasts of Israel, not only the history of the seven feasts of Israel, but also the prophetic significance of each feast as well. We'll be looking at feast days like Passover, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles.
And this conference is totally free. So if you live in the Lancaster area, I hope to see you there. Let us know that you've come because of the radio program. To register for this free conference, go to foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Now I will be there teaching on two feasts. The first is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which we talked about last week actually, and also Yom Kippur. And that's what we're going to be looking at today, is the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. A very solemn time for the Jewish people, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, and even today.
But I want to share why this day is so significant for the Jewish people and for you as a Christian. First, let's start in Leviticus, the Book of Leviticus, the book where you love to go to do your morning devotions. Am I right? Okay, be honest. When was the last time you read through Leviticus?
I understand. It's a tough book and it's tough because of its culture and its worship that was practiced during the days when Leviticus was written, during the days of Moses is thousands of years removed from us. Yet the reality is, it has a profound impact on our faith as believers in Jesus the Messiah. It's here in Leviticus, that we get our most detailed account of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Think about this. Leviticus is actually made up of two types of writing genres. The first type is called the legal genre of writing. You know, that fine print that you never read because it will put you to sleep. Hence the reason why most people glance over Leviticus. But if you're in a court and you're before the judge, when it matters, that legalese means everything to you.
Leviticus has narrative writing as well as a genre. Not much, but it's in there. And oftentimes, the narrative writing will drive the legal text. Think about it like this. If you ever watch shows like Law and Order or NCIS, the legal moments of those shows are often driven by a plot line. Maybe it's a murder mystery or something happened between a married couple. There is a story of breaking the law that leads to all of the legal documentation in court. And that's really important because events that unfolded in Leviticus lead up to the laws and regulations concerning the Day of Atonement.
And that one narrative text that drives it all is the unauthorized fire that Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron the High Priest brought before the Lord when they defiled the sanctuary. They defiled a sanctuary because they came to God haphazardly without any regard. They were consumed, you remember? They were consumed by his holiness. Because of that, God establishes the Day of Atonement. He establishes Yom Kippur.
Now, let's get to the legalese, the fine print in Leviticus. There are actually two types of sin. First is unintentional sin. And here's what I mean by that. Let's say you go to the grocery store and you find yourself at the checkout line. I'm actually speaking from experience here. And let's say you go through the self-checkout line and you forget to ring up one of those items on your list. You pay and you walk out and you didn't even notice until you got home that you "stole" something that wasn't yours. Well, you unintentionally stole. You still stole something. It's wrong. It's a sin, but you didn't do it intentionally. You did it accidentally. In the Old Testament, there was a sacrifice for you. You sinned, but it wasn't your intention to steal in your heart and break the law of God. Accidents happen and there's forgiveness for you.
But then there's intentional sins. And that would be someone who walks into a store and steals intentionally. They grabbed something and stuck it in their jacket pocket and walked out. Now, here's the thing. There's no sacrifice for intentional sins. They must face their punishment. Just think about King David. He sinned against God with Bathsheba, and then killed her husband Uriah. And in Psalm 51, when David is pleading with God for forgiveness, he says, "If there was a sacrifice I could offer you, I would give it. If there was an offering I could give that would forgive my sins, I would offer it to you." But there wasn't one because David committed two of the worst sins right out of the 10 Commandments. He murdered and committed adultery, and David deserved to be stoned to death twice over. And he should have had his kingship stripped from him.
This is where the importance of Yom Kippur comes into play, the Day of Atonement. Sinful people are like a virus that spreads. We're all familiar with that now, living in our COVID-19 age. The things that you touch as a sinful person become unclean and they need to be Cloroxed. They need to be wiped down. Our sin actually can permeate everything. In fact, we talked about this last week. If you listened, remember we learned that sin is like yeast and a little bit of it can cause an entire batch of dough to rise. That's a problem when a holy God is dwelling in your midst. And the Day of Atonement is going to deal with all of the sins of Israel: the unintentional, the intentional, and even the spread of sin that makes the holy things in the tabernacle and temple more unholy. There's a cleansing, a purification that takes place.
Here's what's vital to know about Yom Kippur. It's annual. It doesn't cleanse once for all. It only covers. In Leviticus, the high priest would cast lots over two goats. The one goat was chosen to become the sacrifice whose blood was spilled and used to cleanse the Holy of Holies where God's presence dwelt. And it was only once a year that the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, into God's presence. The high priest would then take the other goat, which was called Azazel. He would place his hands on the goat and transfer the sins of Israel onto this goat. Hence you get the name “scapegoat.” Then this Azazel scapegoat would be sent into the wilderness carrying all of Israel's sins away from the camp. So on the Day of Atonement, on Yom Kippur, the sin that permeated the community was covered by the blood of the goat.
And then the other goat carried all of Israel's sins away from the camp. Friends, God provided a way to cleanse Israel of her sins for the year. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the day God forgives Israel of all of our sins to restore a right relationship with her. But it's only temporary. It would have to be done again year after year after year. And this is why Jesus, our high priest and his eternal sacrifice, is so important.
Now, before I show you why it's important from the book of Hebrews, let me just say that understanding the Jewish roots of our Bible is incredibly important to the Christian life. And this is why I'm extremely excited that our in-person national conferences are back and we are studying the seven feasts of Israel, feasts like Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits. Hey, join us September 11th through the 13th at Eden Resorts and Suites in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and discover God's rhythms of redemption through the feasts of Israel where we'll be looking not only at the historical significance of each feast, but also its prophetic significance. To learn more on how you can register, go to foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org.
We're continuing our study on Yom Kippur. Now, today Jewish people don't have a tabernacle or temple to offer their sacrifices so they offer up prayers, which the rabbis say replace the physical animal sacrifice. Also, charitable giving and fasting is equivalent of sacrificing for God, which provides forgiveness. As followers of Jesus, we know good deeds don't bring forgiveness. You can't pray your way into heaven apart from Christ, you can't buy your way into eternal life with charitable giving. And you certainly can't fast your way into heaven. If you did, there would be no reason for Jesus or his sacrifice.
The Day of Atonement was a gift of God for the Jewish people to annually course-correct their spiritual relationship with him. It wasn't works-based, it was faith based, believing that the sacrifice would provide a temporary cleansing for the nation's sins. And yet the writer of Hebrews picks up on Yom Kippur and he says this about the sacrifice of Jesus in Hebrews chapter 9 verse 11. He says this, "But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is not of this creation. And he entered once for all into the most holy place, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God."
This is such an amazing set of verses in chapter nine of the book of Hebrews. Here, the writer of Hebrews is saying that Jesus is our high priest and he's not like the other high priests from the Old Testament, from the old covenant who were subject to sin or even death. Jesus is eternal and perfect and he stands ready eternally to represent us before our holy God. Not only is Jesus our high priest, but he's also our sacrifice. The writer of Hebrew says that the blood of bulls and goats purified, but it had to be done over and over, and over, and over again.
Jesus' sacrifice is once for all and look at what it says, "the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself without blemish to God purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." One of my favorite verses there, “that the blood of bulls and goats covered sin temporarily, but the blood of Christ cleanses us once for all.” And on top of that, look at what it says, "It purifies our conscience from dead works to worship and serve the living God." The sacrifice of Christ gets into the deep places of our mind and thoughts and motives and our heart and it cleanses even the darkest areas, the areas where people can't see, the areas where people can't hear what you're saying or what you're thinking or what you're feeling.
Jesus's blood cleanses it all forever, eternally. And why does he cleanse all of those areas of our lives through his eternal sacrifice? Look, it's not so that we can get a free ticket into heaven. It's much greater than that. Heaven is our inheritance. It's our reward. But look at what the text says. “Christ cleanses us that we might worship the living God.” That we might serve the true king, that we might live lives pleasing to our Father.
This fall, as Yom Kippur rolls around, as Christians I want to encourage you to do something. You might not be Jewish, but stop and praise God, remembering that through Christ's eternal sacrifice, we have not only our high priest but also our eternal sacrifice that has cleansed us from our sins. Our conscience is clean that we might serve the living God.
Steve Conover: Chris, near the end of your message you mentioned a favorite verse about the blood. Why was the blood sacrifice necessary?
Chris Katulka: Blood sacrifice always solidified a covenant that God was making. And that's what's amazing. He solidified the blood covenant with the Mosaic, the Old Testament with the Mosaic Law. And what's important is that God is going to fulfill and bring into line the new covenant that was promised in Jeremiah chapter 31. And that must be done through blood as well. That's why the eternal sacrifice that Jesus made is what enables us to cling to the new covenant.
Chris Katulka: And I'll just read this from Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 33. It says, "For this covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord, I will put my law within them and I will write it on their hearts and I will be their God and they will be my people." So here, God is saying, "No longer are you going to be relying on the laws of the tablets, but now the law of Christ will be in your heart." And that is all because of the shed blood that Jesus provided for us, which is eternal. We don't have to go back year after year, after year it's once for all. It solidifies the covenant for the new covenant to come in, that we might have the law written on our hearts, that we might have a relationship with our God.
Steve Conover: Jesus paid it all.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenage Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: In Israel, people are preparing for the Feast of Rosh Hashanah followed by the greatest holy day of all, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This is the only holy day people fear. 30 days beforehand, they begin to pray day and night for forgiveness.
Recently, some people came to me and said, "We want you to forget about your strange ways and come with us to pray." When I asked who had sent them, they replied, "No one sent us. We have come on our own." "No," I responded. "You did not come on your own, but God sent you so I could tell you that he has already forgiven my sins." "Oh yes," they agreed. "He forgives us every year at this time of the great fast." "This is not what I mean," I countered. "I came to God only once. I put my faith in him and he forgave my sins. He can forgive your sins also once forever." They were not interested in anything I said.
"If you will do as we ask," one told me, "you will have no more trouble with us." I told them, "I'm not afraid of you. I fear only God." "How can you fear God when you do not believe in him, but in Jesus?" another asked. I replied, "The Lord said, 'I've had enough of burnt offerings of rams.” Isaiah 1:11. I believe only in one offering, and that is the offering of the Lord himself who gave himself for us. "From what book did you take that?" one asked. Quickly I turned to Isaiah 53. And then I told them, "He is the one in whom I have trusted and he has given me peace. I know that when I leave the world, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. You have come to tell me that I may experience trouble from you, but I'm not afraid anymore." "Not even about your life when demanded?" "No, because I know whom I belong."
At this point, someone said, "If you're not afraid of us, then let us make a cease fire and speak together as good friends." "That is what I have been waiting for," I replied, "I do not hate you. You're my dear friends and you're welcome to visit me anytime." All of them said, "We cannot believe this." "May I read to you from the New Testament and tell you why I am so happy?" They agreed and I read Romans 12:9-21. After I finished, one man asked, "These things are nice to hear, but if Jesus loved his enemies, then why did the Germans who are Christians persecute the Jewish people so badly?" I replied, "I am sure that they were not true believers.
"Now, many in Germany are sorry for what they did and are again calling on the Lord, but they are not really clean within. They only hope they are clean just as you hope when you pray at Yom Kippur. On the Day of Atonement, you will not be sure if the Lord is forgiven your sins. But I know he has forgiven mine. My friends, why do you continue to live in fear? The Lord is your atonement. He will receive you into his family and forgive your sins. You came hatefully to warn me, but the love of the Lord has been with us. We should thank the Lord that he is with us." These people left my home feeling differently than when they came. They left with love in their hearts and smiles on their faces. Praise the Lord.
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life and ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our Friends of Israel Ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine and clothing, and we even promote the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere.
So when you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. You can click right there on our Donate link. Also be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us. We hope The Friends of Israel Today is helping you grow in your understanding of God's Word. If so, we'd love to know, so reach out to us on our contact form. It can be found at foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Also, for our podcast listeners on Apple, would you please take the time to rate our program because your comments, your ratings are going to expose the Friends of Israel Today to new listeners. Just listen to some of the comments that have already come in. One writes, "A solid podcast on the scriptures, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. So encouraging." Another one writes, "What a blessing. I love the Jewish roots of my Christian faith. The segment Apples of Gold is like listening to our grandpa."
Listen, when you share and comment on Apple, we really believe that it's going to spread and allow the Friends of Israel Today to reach new listeners. So if you believe it's important to teach about Israel and the Jewish people, leave us a comment so that others can benefit from the Friends of Israel Today.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong, Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey, 08099. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry, proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA (SEPTEMBER 11-13, 2022)
Apples of Gold: Yom Kippur—The Lord is Your Atonement
During Rosh Hashanah and before Yom Kippur, a group of people came to Zvi to convince him that his way to God was wrong and asked him to come to the synagogue to pray and observe Yom Kippur. But Zvi knew that the only way to God is through Jesus the Messiah who sacrificed himself for our sins. Zvi was able to share the Scriptures with them and have an open and honest discussion about how he knew for sure that God had forgiven his sins.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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