In Part 1 and Part 2 of the Yom Kippur series we've glanced at The Day of Atonement's origins in Torah, and we've surveyed a few of it’s traditional observances over the centuries. Now, we'll be getting into Yom Kippur's fulfillment , both historically and prophetically.
Yeshua our Kapparah
Which particular Bible passage best explains what Yeshua of Nazareth came to accomplish?
If you probed Messianic Jewish and Christian leaders with that question, there is no doubt that you'd receive a good variety of responses. Yet without question, the following words written by Paul to the believers in Rome would be near the top of the list:
Romans 3:21-26, TLV
But now God’s righteousness apart from the Torah has been revealed, to which the Torah and the Prophets bear witness— namely, the righteousness of God through putting trust in Messiah Yeshua , to all who keep on trusting. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are set right as a gift of His grace, through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua . God set forth Yeshua as an atonement , through faith in His blood, to show His righteousness in passing over sins already committed. Through God’s forbearance, He demonstrates His righteousness at the present time—that He Himself is just and also the justifier of the one who puts his trust in Yeshua .
In the previous sections in Romans, Paul had masterfully indicted every man--Jew and Gentile--as guilty of violating God's law . Paul's estimation of both the most barbaric of pagans as well as the strictest observer of Torah was the same: "There is no one righteous—no, not one; There is no one who understands, no one who seeks after God...There is no one who does good—no, not even one!" (Rom. 3:11-12, paraphrase ). The indictment was all-encompassing: "All have turned aside; together they have become worthless." (v. 12a).
The problem presented here is not a new one; we saw in Part 1 of this series that the entire company of Israel --not just a couple of irreverent rebels like Nadab and Abihu--had been contaminated by the poison of Sin. The tabernacle itself, and all that was in it, had been defiled due to the sinfulness of man. Thus God appointed Aaron the High Priest to perform a certain set of sacrifices, in a prescribed manner, once a year: the institution of Yom Kippur . The blood sacrifices were required in order to make atonement for Aaron's sin as well as for all the other victims of sin's venom--i.e. everyone and everything .
The blood that was shed every year at Yom Kippur and applied to the altar by the High Priest merely foreshadowed that sacri fice which was to come in Yeshua of Nazareth's death on the Cross. It is of that history-altering, atoning sacrifice that Paul writes in Romans 3:25.
This language of atonement is something that would not have been lost on Paul's first century Jewish audience. In the Complete Jewish Bible, the word most often translated as "Propitiation" in ou r English Bibles is interpreted as Kapparah: "God put Yeshua forward as the kapparah for sin" (Romans 3: 25).
For Jewish people who do not know Yeshua, so much is at stake when Yom Kippur arrives. The Books of Life and Death will be sealed at the Holy Day's end, and one can only hope that their "Tefilah (prayer), Teshuva (repentance), and Tzedakah (charity)" have been sufficient to merit God's mercy for another year.
As Messianic believers we know that much is indeed at stake, not just for the coming year but for eternity. We also believe that the verdict we receive will not be based on how perfectly we perform ed any rituals. Rather, everything hinges on our response to what God has already done. "God set forth Yeshua as an atonement, through faith in His blood , to show His righteousness in passing over sins already committed (Rom. 3:25)."
Yeshua our Kohen Gadol (High Priest)
If the death of Yeshua had been the end, then we wou ld be without hope. Yet our confidence is in a Risen Messiah, the One Who possesses a title like none other, that of our "High Priest." The writer of Hebrews says it best:
Heb. 5:5-10, TLV
So also, Messiah did not glorify Himself to be made Kohen Gadol ; rather, it was God who said to Him, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.” And He says in a different passage, “ You are a kohen forever, according to the order of Melchizedek .” In the days of His life on earth, Yeshua offered up both prayers and pleas, with loud crying and tears, to the One able to save Him from death; and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. And once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him — called by God Kohen Gadol “according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 5:5-10, TLV)
Concerning Yeshua's duties as our Mediator and High Pri est, the author of Hebrews continues:
Hebrews 9:24-28, AMP
For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with [human] hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but [He has entered] into heaven itself , now to appear in the [very] presence of God on our behalf. Nor did He [enter into the heavenly sanctuary to] offer Himself regularly again and again, as the high priest enters the [Holy of] Holies every year with blood not his own. For then would He often have had to suffer [over and over again] since the foundation of the world. But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself]. And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment, Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and once for all, will appear a second time, not to carry any burden of sin nor to deal with sin, but to bring to full salvation those who are [eagerly, constantly, and patiently] waiting for and expecting Him.
The Future Fulfill ment for Israel
Note the closing words of the last passage: "[He] will appear a second time." In looking at the passages from Hebrews and Romans above, we beheld the monumental accomplishment of Yeshua in His sacrificial death, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father, (where He now abides) as Mediator for His people. While we delight in these truths, and rightly so, we should also keep ever before us the coming fulfillment of Yom Kippur, when Yeshua returns and the people of Israel at long last embrace Him as their Messiah and Deliverer. In closing, let us make a couple of observations from the prophet Zechariah's words about the second coming of our Messiah:
Zechariah 12:10, AMP
And I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace or unmerited favor and supplication. And they shall look [earnestly] upon Me Whom they have pierced , and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him as one who is in bitterness for his firstborn. [John 19:37; Revelation 1:7]
Messianic scholars suggest that the event described above aligns prophetically with Rosh HaShanah in that it will be a time of repentance ("they will mourn...and grieve"). Look what follows in the very next chapter from Zechariah:
Zechariah 13:1, AMP
In that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem [to cleanse them from] sin and uncleanness.
When the Jewish people look upon Him, they will indeed mourn and grieve. Yet what follows is their cleansing, or in New Covenant terms, their regeneration .
Such is the promise for all Israel as she will supernaturally experience the fulfillment of Yom Kippur and the return of Messiah Yeshua. This word corroborates the word given to Rabbi Saul:
For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won’t imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra’el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra’el will be saved. As the Tanakh says,
“Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn a way ungodliness from Ya‘akov and this will be my covenant with them, ... when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27, CJB)
This is the prophetic fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the final atonement realized and received by that generation of Jews living at the second coming of Yeshua. (Kasdan)
We want to leave you with a few prayer points to consider as we bring this Yom Kippur series to a close:
- God, give me an ever-deepening understanding and appreciation of, and thankfulness for, the sacrifice of Your Son, Yeshua, in my place.
- Give me confidence, Lord Yeshua, that you now stand as my High Priest forever, interceding for me continually at the right hand of the Father.
- O Heavenly King, come quickly and redeem your people Israel; take away their sins just as you've promised and fulfill your covenant towards them.
- O God, as Jewish people around the world fast and pray on Yom Kippur, I pray that Your Ruach HaKodesh would convict souls, soften hearts, open the eyes of their understanding, and reveal Messiah to them!