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Day of Atonement: 2 Ways to Celebrate Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement: 2 Ways to Celebrate Yom Kippur

Last week, I showed you 3 ways to observe Rosh Hashanah. This weekend is Yom Kippur, also known as the “Day of Atonement”. I’m going to show you 2 ways that you too as a Christian believer can celebrate this important, God-given holiday.

God originally instructed to Israel to observe Yom Kippur in Leviticus 23:26-32

The Lord said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”

Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is about resting. Unlike Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur isn’t so much about self-reflection and repentance. Instead, on Yom Kippur, the Israelites were told to make animal sacrifices as atonement (Numbers 29:7–11). This means that Yom Kippur is mainly about (1) Resting, and (2) Atonement. In order to understand this “Day of Atonement”, though, we must first understand what is atonement.

According to Webster’s dictionary, atonement is, “Amends made for an injury or wrong.” Think for a moment about something horrible you did as a child. Maybe you were playing baseball in the yard, swung too high, and the ball flew through a window. Maybe you made up an elaborate lie but got caught. Whatever it may be, imagine that incident in your head. Did you have to pay consequences for your wrongdoing? Probably. Maybe it was a spank on your backside (I do not miss those days). Maybe you were “grounded” and something was taken away from you for a week. Maybe you missed out on some cool event you had been looking forward to. Whatever the case may have been, you had to do something in retribution for your actions.

Atonement is exactly that. It doesn’t necessarily equate punishment, but it does mean there are consequences to wrongful actions. In this same way, there needed to be ultimate atonement for our sins, so that we could have fellowship with God. (Remember, we can’t have full fellowship with God on our own because He is holy.) Initially, atonement required animal sacrifices for sins (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10). However, animal sacrifices had to be regular (even daily). One sacrifice was a not one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

Numbers 29:7–11 explains that Yom Kippur isn’t just a day of rest – it was also a time to offer these animal sacrifices. However, as with all things in the Old Testament, Yom Kippur is a reflection of Christ’s atonement to come. His sacrifice, or atonement for our sins, means we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices because He paid the ultimate price. Earlier, I quoted Webster’s dictionary’s definition of atonement. However, the full definition includes: “The reconciliation of God and man thus brought about by Christ.” Check these verses below:

Earlier, I quoted Webster’s dictionary’s definition of atonement. However, the full definition includes: “The reconciliation of God and man thus brought about by Christ.” Check these verses below:

 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:25-26 (NIV)


Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:14-17 (NIV)


Here are your 2 ways to observe Yom Kippur this weekend:

  • To observe the atonement: Read through the Book of Hebrews. Then, thank God for being your High Priest and offering the perfect sacrifice for your sins, Jesus Christ, His Son, as atonement.
  • To observe the sabbath portion: Take some time to rest this weekend. What tasks can you lay aside for a day? What social obligations can you turn down so you can rest with the Lord? How can you have a spirit of restfulness? Think about it.


Will you observe Yom Kippur this weekend? How? Tell me below!

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