Yom Kippur

Jewish Ministry

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Jews fast from food, water, bathing, sex, and the wearing of leather shoes.

During the temple days, Israel brought two goats before the Lord. Lots were drawn. One goat was chosen for the Lord and the other goat was deemed the scapegoat.

The goat that was chosen for the Lord was offered as a sin offering. Then, they put a scarlet cloth on the scapegoat. Leviticus 16:5 says that the two goats are the sin offering, but only one dies. Leviticus 16:15–16 says that the dying goat was sacrificed to make atonement for Israel. Leviticus also says that the living goat was presented to make atonement.

The goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:10).

One goat died and the other lived. Both were needed to fully make the atonement. This is fulfilled in the sacrifice that Jesus provided. He died for our atonement. However, for the atonement to be complete, we must live for God. This is why the New Testament calls us to be “living sacrifices:”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).

The Mishnah (Jewish oral law) says some interesting things about the scapegoat. After the scapegoat was chosen by lot, priests would tie a scarlet cloth to the horns of the scapegoat. After the dying goat was killed, the scarlet cloth on the living goat was torn in two. Half of it was tied to the scapegoat. The other half was tied to the doors of the temple. The scapegoat was brought out to a field by a strong man.

Israel became fearful that the scapegoat would wander back into the camp carrying Israel’s sin back. So, the strong man pushed the scapegoat off a cliff to its death. According to the Mishnah, the cloth that was tied to the temple doors turned white when the scapegoat fell to its death. The Mishnah says that the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 was not a surprise because 40 years before the cloth stopped turning white. Remarkably, Jesus was crucified around A.D. 30,which is 40 years before the temple was destroyed. In other words, according to the Mishnah, the scarlet cloth stopped turning white the year that Jesus died for our sins. Those who believe in Jesus recognize that Jesus’ death means that though our sins be as scarlet, we are now as white as snow!

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
–Isaiah 1:18

Jesus has fulfilled Yom Kippur!

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:11–15).