Many of you are aware that Jews around the world are about to observe the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur in the Hebrew language. It is a day of fasting during which Jews all around the world abstain totally from food and water for a full 24 hours, humbling themselves before God. But did you know that many thousands of true Christians all over the world are also observing the Day of Atonement? Why would they do that?
The answer is simple. They are following the scriptural example of the New Testament Church. The church of the Apostles continued to observe the annual holy days established by God in the Old Testament, including the Day of Atonement. In the first century after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Bible records the beginning of the Christian Church on another Holy Day, the Day of Pentecost. The Apostle Peter spoke to the assembled Jews on that day. As a result of his preaching, 3,000 people were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and the New Testament Church began under the leadership of the Apostles.
Should Christians in this day and age keep the Day of Atonement? Yes, they should! Jesus and the Apostles continued to observe the holy days instituted by God. On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus observed the Passover with His Apostles and instituted the New Testament Passover symbols, which Christians understand to be symbolic of Christ, the true Passover Lamb. Jesus also observed the fall holy day season, including the Feast of Tabernacles (See John 7). In fact, the New Testament Church began on an annual Sabbath—Pentecost. Read the second chapter of the book of Acts in your Bible. The Day of Atonement is referred to in Acts 27:9 as “the Fast,” because the Day was observed by fasting to humble oneself before God.
Let’s understand! The key question Christians need to ask themselves is simply: “Am I following the example of Jesus Christ and the Apostles?” They set us an example of true Christianity—and that way of life is recorded in your Bible. The very foundation of true Christianity is defined in Ephesians 2:19–20. Notice, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.” Yes, true Christians continue to follow the example of Christ and the Apostles, even in the 21st century.
On the Day of Atonement, Christians humble themselves before God, remembering the awesome sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose blood atoned for our sins. The Hebrew word for Atonement, kapar, literally means “to cover over.” Our death penalty has been paid for us, and our sins have been buried, or “covered over.”
The Day of Atonement also looks forward to the time when the whole world will have the same opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation. That future time, tomorrow’s world, will usher in the rulership of the King of kings, Jesus of Nazareth—a time when all peoples and nations will submit to the Kingdom of God on earth. The Day of Atonement also signifies the time when the god of this world, Satan the devil (Ephesians 2:2) will be expelled and restrained for a thousand years. It is a supremely important and meaningful day to Christians.
Everyone needs forgiveness, because everyone has sinned. We urge you to deeply examine your life. Jesus and the apostles commanded everyone to repent and believe the Gospel. One major emphasis of the true gospel is that our forgiveness is made possible through the sacrifice of Christ and His shed blood. On the Day of Atonement, we deeply consider all that this day pictures in regard to our own personal lives now, as well as in tomorrow’s world when peace will be established and humanity will be at one with God.
To learn more about this important annual festival, read our informative free booklet The Holy Days: God’s Master Plan.