Yom Kippur is observed starting from sundown to sundown on the 10th day of the 7th month, the month of Tishri.
Yom Kippur means "Day of Atonement". It is also referred to as the "Sabbath of Sabbaths" because it is the holiest day of the Jewish Year.
The word "Atonement" literally means, "to cover up". The Hebrew word is - kaphar (kaw-far'); a primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel:
Yom Kippur is described in - Leviticus 16; Leviticus 23:26 - 32; Numbers 29:7-11. Please read these passages.
The day is a fast day. The Children of Israel were to fast and to 'afflict their souls'. This is the day of repentance and reconciliation to G-d.
On Yom Kippur, only the High Priest officiated. He was required to leave his home seven days before Yom Kippur to stay in the high priest's quarters inside the Temple area. On the 3rd and 7th days he was twice sprinkled with the ashes of a red heifer in case he had become unclean through touching a dead body. (Num 19:13)
The Morning Service
The Temple service for Yom Kippur did not begin until dawn the next morning. The ashes on the altar were cleared away, and four fires instead of the normal three were lit to set the day apart as distinct. On any other day, the high priest would merely wash his hands and feet with water from the priestly laver before performing his service. On Yom Kippur, he was required to totally immerse himself in a special golden bath near the Court of the Priests. This was carried out behind a large linen curtain, which revealed only the shadow of his movements to the public view. This assured that no changes were made to the required procedures.
The high priest put on his golden garments with great care. His majestic purple robe was hemmed with tiny golden bells so that the people could hear him work as he represented them. Over the top of his robe, he wore a golden breastplate, which was studded with twelve precious stones - a constant reminder that he was the representative of the twelve tribes of Israel before the true and living G-d.
After dressing, the high priest washed his hands and feet to perform the regular daily service. Following the morning service, the high priest returned to his bath chamber to change into his white linen garments for Yom Kippur. He symbolized Yeshua, who is now our High Priest, leaving the glory of heaven and taking on human flesh in order to atone for our sins.
The High Priest was the mediator between G-d and man. Who better to be the perfect mediator that the one who is all G-d and all man.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one G-d, and one mediator between G-d and men, the man Yeshua HaMashiach (Christ Jesus); Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Philippians 2:5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Yeshua HaMashiach (Christ Jesus): Who, being in the form of G-d, thought it not robbery to be equal with G-d: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the execution stake (cross).
Five times during the day he changed clothing, and five times he followed the same cleansing procedure. Five is the number of Grace. Each time, he washed his hands and feet, removed his garments, totally immersed his body, put on his change of clothing, and washed his hands and feet a second time.
The Sin Offering
Leviticus 16:6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
Now the High Priest needed to first confess his own personal sins before he could represent the people before G-d. For His sins a Bull was offered as his sin offering. Because of his relationship to G-d, G-d required a larger animal.
James 3:1 My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
He laid his hands on the head of the bull and confessed as follows:
Ah YHWH! I have committed iniquity; I have transgressed; I have sinned - I and my house. Oh then, YHWH, I entreat Thee, cover over (atone for, let there be atonement for) the iniquities, the transgressions, and the sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned before Thee, I and my house - even as it is written in the law of Moses, Thy servant: "For, on that day will He cover (atone) for you to make you clean; from all your transgressions before YHWH ye shall be cleansed."
Notice that YHWH was spoken 3 times, this symbolizes the Unity of G-d (Father, Son, and Ruach HaKodesh). It was only on Yom Kippur and only the High Priest who would speak the name of G-d. It was spoken a total of 10 times that day. Each time the name of YHWH was spoken the people prostrated themselves before G-d.
Leviticus 16:7-10 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the L-RD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the L-RD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the L-RD's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the L-RD, to make atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
Two goats were selected that were identical in their look, size, and value. Lots were cast to determine which one would be for YHWH (la-Jehovah) and the other one for the scape-goat (la-Azazel) The scape-goat had a scarlet cloth tied to its horn. The one for G-d had a scarlet cloth around its neck.
The scape-goat was presented to the people waiting for the sins of the people to be laid on him. He is a type of the Mashiach Yeshua. Pilate presented Yeshua to the people before he was led off to bear the iniquity of the people.
Tradition has it that when the sacrifice was fully accepted the scarlet cloth on the scape-goat became white.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the L-RD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
However the tradition goes on to say that this miracle did not take place for the 40 years before the destruction of the temple. This would have been the since Yeshua died for our atonement; the scape-goat was no longer necessary.
After this the High-priest placed his hands on the bull a second time and confessed his sins, the sins of his household, and the sins of the priesthood.
Leviticus 16:11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
He then killed the bull and caught his blood in a vessel, and gave it to an attendant to keep it stirring, so that it would not coagulate. He took a censer of burning coals from the brazen altar and a dish of incense (frankincense). He stopped to wash at the brazen laver and then preceded into the holy place.He entered the Holy of Holies and placed the golden censer before the mercy seat. He added the incense to cause a cloud of smoke to fill the room.
Leviticus 16:12-13 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the L-RD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the L-RD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
This was done because sinful man cannot look on the full glory of G-d. Remember this was the only day of the year that the High Priest was permitted to enter into the presence of G-d.
The incense speaks of his pleading on our behalf. Because of his vicarious death, all who come in repentance may receive a pardon for sins. Thus, we see how the atonement began with Yeshua's intercession.
Leviticus 16:14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
The High Priest took the blood from his own sin offering and sprinkled it 7 times before the mercy seat. 7 is the number of perfection.
When he exited the Holy of Holies the High Priest deposited the bowl with the blood before the veil.
Leviticus 16:15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
Then he went out to the brazen altar and killed the goat that was set-aside for G-d, being careful to catch the blood in a vessel. He made his third trip into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the goat's blood 7 times before the mercy seat. Upon leaving the Holy of Holies he left the vessel of goat's blood before the veil.
Note: Whenever the High Priest left the Holy of Holies he backed out of the room so as not to turn his back on G-d. If you visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem today you will see the Jewish visitors walk backwards away from the wall were they believe Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) dwells.
Leviticus 16:16-17 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
He took the bowl of the blood of the bull and sprinkled it 7 times before the veil, outside the Holy of Holies. This procedure was repeated with the goat's blood. This was done to make atonement for the holy place.
Leviticus 16:18-19 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the L-RD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
Then the bulls blood and goats blood was combined and thoroughly mixed together. He then sprinkled each of the horns of the altar of incense with blood. He also sprinkled the top of the altar of incense with the commingled blood seven times. He was careful not to get the sin-laden blood on his clothes during this whole procedure. The remaining blood was poured out on the west side of the base of the altar of burnt offering.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul (Lev. 17:11)
The High Priest then laid his hands on the scape-goat and confessed the sins of the people over it.
The scape-goat was then lead out into the wilderness to a place uninhabited. The two goats symbolize the death and resurrection of Yeshua. The goat that was slain symbolizes his death on the execution stake and the scape-goat symbolizes his resurrection.
Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
The blood of the sacrifices in the Tanakh did cover up the sins of the believers, but not until Yeshua shed His blood were the sins blotted out.
Romans 3:25 - Whom G-d hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of G-d;
Propitation = hilasterion (hil-as-tay'-ree-on) an atoning victim, or (specially) the lid of the Ark, mercy seat, (in the Temple):
2 Cor 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of G-d in him.
While the scape-goat was being led out to the wilderness, the High priest prepared the bull and the goat for the sin offering. As we learned in our lesson on the sin offering they were burnt outside the city, just as Yeshua was put to death outside the city.
After this the High Priest bathed and changed into his golden garments. This was done to impress upon the people the pervading evilness of sin, even on those who were only ceremonially affected by it.
He then offered two rams for a burnt offering and the fat of the bull and goat from the sin offering. Remember the burnt offering symbolizes the believer's total consecration to G-d.
This was the end of the special sacrifices for Yom Kippur. It was still necessary for the High Priest to perform the daily evening sacrifice. After which the High Priest bathed and changed into his regular clothes. They then went to their homes to enjoy a feast.
The work of the High priest was never finished. There were always the daily sacrifices, etc to perform and each year there was another Yom Kippur. He could never say, "It is finished". But Yeshua, our High Priest, finished the job once and for all. (Yom Kippur will be observed during the 70th week of Daniel (tribulation) in the fourth temple because many Jewish people have not received their true Messiah. During Yeshua's millennial reign there will be sacrifices offered as a memorial of His finished work on the execution stake. Just as those who lived during the Tanakh period looked forward to Yeshua's atoning death, those people living during the millennial reign look back to Yeshua's atoning death.)
John 19:30 He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Matt 27:50-51 And Yeshua (Jesus) cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom;
The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was torn! Notice it says from top to bottom. This veil was very thick and would not have been possible for a human to rip it. The separation between G-d and man was no longer necessary. The price had been paid.
Hebrews 10:12 But this (man) Yeshua, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of G-d;
For 1930 years it has not been possible to perform the Yom Kippur service as described in the Torah. There has not been a Temple. If Yeshua's shed blood did not atone for your sins. Where is your atonement?
Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
Hebrews 9:22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
As you spend Yom Kippur in prayer and fasting, why not ask G-d to show you how you can be sure your sins have been atoned.