Tuesday, September 25, 2012

105: THE MOST SACRED OF DAYS: Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement

Tonight begins the holiest day of the year in the Jewish religion. It is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. We read in the Old Testament referring to this solemn day --"For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before God" (Leviticus 16:30) It is the Day of AT-ONE-MENT with the Lord. According to the Gregorian calendar, Yom Kippur begins at sundown tonight, (Tuesday September 25) and ends Wednesday evening (September 26) at sundown.  

Last night as I sat down with my family, I tried to explain to my kids the best I could about Yom Kippur, and how it fits in with the other “feasts” or “appointments” of the Lord.  Really briefly this how I explained it on a level of an 8 year old. I am still learning as well, and know there is much I don't know.

We have special days when we celebrate and remember important things. For example, Christmas is a very special day when we remember the birth of Jesus. Easter is another special day when we remember Jesus' resurrection. 

Other people have special holidays that help them remember Christ as well. It is important for us to understand these other holidays. They call them “feasts” which means an "appointment", or a day that we shouldn’t forget, kind of like when we have an appointment to go see the Doctor. But these appointments are even more important, these are appointments we have with our Savior.

In the Jewish Religion, there are seven “appointments” or holidays  that have special meaning and are very symbolic. Each one of these seven “feasts” teach us more about Christ and prepare us for His Second Coming. The first three feasts happen in the Springtime... around Easter time. They are called:  Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the First Fruits of the Harvest. These special “feasts” help us remember what Jesus Christ did when He came to the earth over 2000 years ago. Those days help us understand Christ mission when He was willing to lay down his life for us as the sacrificial Lamb. (The Passover) Because of His Atonement we can be washed clean from sin (Feast of the unleavened bread)  and because of His Resurrection we can once again live again back into His Presence. (Feast of first fruits of the Harvest)

Fifty Days later, is the fourth feast which is called the Day of Pentecost or Feast of Weeks. It happens in the summer. This day represents the day that the Lord calls to us to become one with him. In essence it is as though He has asked us to be  “married” to him. We are the bride and He is the bridegroom. We are basically “engaged”. During the engagement, the Lord leaves us to prepare a house for us. While He is gone, we are not faithful to Him.

The last three feast are in the Fall. They are symbolic of when Christ will come again. It is about the Second Coming. But because He loves us so much, the Lord sends a messenger to let us know that He is coming back and that we need to repent, or turn back to Him. The 5th feast is called the Feast of Trumpets.  On this day we blow a special trumpet called a shofar. It is actually a ram's horn. It is a reminder for us to turn back to Jesus and repent. It is the day we prepare for our "marriage" to Him. Angel Moroni came to Joseph Smith on this special holiday 5 years in a row. We put the Angel Moroni on top of our temple and he is blowing a trumpet to help us remember that the Lord is returning and we need to prepare.

During the feast of trumpets is also a time of creation. When new life is created. It is part of the wedding ceremony and honeymoon. This is also very sacred.
The sixth feast is Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement.  It is a sacred and holy day. Blood is shed for new life to come forth.

The last feast is the Feast of Tabernacles. It is the symbolic of the celebration of the wedding. Kind of like the wedding reception... a time of peace and joy. It is the Millennial season.   

So in these simple terms, I am beginning to understand this important dates as well as my family. IMuch more could have been said, but this is only a beginning... and I am learning more.

Following is an excerpt from an email I received from a friend yesterday that sheds more light onto the importance of this day, the Day of Atonement:

"But what does this Holy Day point to for us?

First we must look to the Book of Mormon to understand the role of the law of Moses in teaching us about what is to come:  (Mos. 16:14)

What most may not remember about the Law of Moses is that Moses was ALSO given the 7 Holy Days as a major component of the Law of Moses, which were to be strictly observed "in all their generations, and in all their dwellings, forever". Hence, the 7 Holy Days or "Feasts" have much to teach us about, "....those things which are to come".  They are indeed a "shadow" that serves as an invaluable blueprint of what the future holds for us. One that we ignore at our own peril.

So, that brings us back to the question of what, exactly, does Yom Kippur foreshadow in these, the last days?

One of the duties of the High Priest on Yom Kippur is to sprinkle the sacrificial, "cleansing" blood at several places in the temple, including the Holy of Holies. Typical usage of the word "sprinkle" denotes a few drops here and a few drops there. But that is not the case on this holy day as it actually involves gallons of blood! And therefore, upon completing his very sacred duties involving copious amounts of blood, the High Priest emerges from the Holy of Holies with his white linen clothing effectively soaked in crimson colored blood...all the way down to his  bare feet which too had been stained red with great drops of blood... (which I submit, would appear to the careful observer, as one who had just "trod the wine press".....hmmm, a stirring image, wouldn't you say? Certainly no coincidence.)

Yom Kippur is all about His RETURN to earth as the great High Priest ! Who, because of HIS Great Atonement, will be wearing RED as a symbolic reminder of the copious amount of His blood that was spilled in Gethsemane and Golgatha 2,000 years ago. And therefore it is absolutely incumbent upon us to know about Yom Kippur and to make it mean something to us personally, collectively and to finally SEE what it is trying to prepare us for.  It would be a travesty, in my opinion, to chalk it up to some "Jewish Holiday" that we as Mormons don't need to know about because the law of Moses is dead. Fulfilled. Nothing we have to "worry about anymore"...because nothing could be farther from the truth!  Yes, blood sacrifice was done away with when the Savior died on the cross, that is true.  But the 7 Holy Days were not done away.  Just the opposite. In Leviticus, the Children of Israel were told to observe them "forever...in all their generations."  

Ask yourself why. Why would He, Jehovah, want them (and "them" includes the Nephites---the Book of Momron makes that absolutely clear) to participate in and observe Yom Kippur and the others from year to year?  Because each of those 7 Feasts or Holy Days testifies of HIM, HIS MISSION, HIS LIFE and as we see with YOM KIPPUR, HIS Atonement and Return to earth.

I encourage all of us to take some time to ponder on the importance of Yom Kippur this Wednesday and perhaps even "afflict your soul" as you see fit... Simply identify something that brings you comfort and then, for just one day, place it on the altar as a small token of gratitude for HIS sacrifice."


Our Jewish brothers and sisters take this Holy Day very seriously.  Here are a few of the things they do and do not do on this day:

·         They fast from food and water
·         They do not wash or anoint their bodies
·         They do not wear leather footwear
·         They abstain from marital relations
·         They request and receive honey cake, (symbolic that we are all recipients in God's world and in prayerful hope for a sweet and abundant year)
·         They immerse in a preparatory mikvah  
·         They give extra charity
·         They eat the pre-fast meal
·         They bless their children
·         They light a memorial candle as well as the holiday candles
·         They hold five prayer services
·         They read from the Book of Jonah
·         They acknowledge/confession of sins eight times in the course of Yom Kippur,
·         They recite from the book of Psalms every available moment
·         And lastly…. it is a fact that even to this very day on Yom Kippur, nobody in Israel drives a car. Even the secular Jews observe this Holy Day in that they will typically fast and refrain from driving a car.  They say it is so eerily quiet in Israel on Yom Kippur that it is otherworldly.