From sundown to sundown tonight on September 21st represents the most important celebratory observance of the Jewish people, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Historically it was the only day the high priest entered into the Holy of Holies to make reconciliation for sin of the people by the blood sacrifices of sanctified animals that covered the transgressions of the people. Through fasting and a prayer called Viddui which is a call of repentance with a plea for forgiveness.
The components of the Viddui consist of a central call of confession and repentance for not only individual Jews but for all Jewish people around the world. The Viddui recognizes what the prophet Jeremiah declared that “the heart is deceitful above all things” and deeds need to follow repentance.
According to Reverend David Pileggi, who serves at the Christ Church in Jerusalem’s Old City, declared after studying the Jewish roots of Christianity for thirty years,
“One thing that we learn from the Jewish people, something quite important, especially about Yom Kippur is that it’s not enough to say you’re sorry. You have to confess, say you’re sorry and then at the same time take practical steps to change your behavior”, noted Rev. Pileggi.
An authentic experience with Jews or Christians is to repent by confessing, ask for forgiveness, then correctly apply the grace of God for change to make amends by not doing the transgression again. God never endorses the ongoing practice of sinful behavior under any circumstances.
The initial call for repentance mirrors what Jesus required when His ministry commenced in the beginning His three and a half year ministry. Yom Kippur being the Day of Atonement is the central theme to reconcile Jewish hearts back to Yahweh God after wandering away during the year.
Christians can find a parallel between Yom Kippur and the teachings of Jesus which according to Christianity fulfills the Old Testament law.
An important teaching in the New Testament declares if you bring your gift to the altar and your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift.
Jewish tradition also says to get your relationship right with your neighbor, with your brother, with your family member, forgive and then be reconciled. Then on the Day of Atonement when you begin to fast, pray, and confess, then God will hear you as you have forgiven others.
The exact teaching is articulated by Jesus in the Gospels when Christ declares “if you do not forgive, then neither will your heavenly Father forgive you”. The basic teaching of obtaining mercy is to demonstrate mercy yourself. Having proper respect for God’s grace does not mean you have free reign to sin when one wants.
With the knowledge of the law comes the knowledge of sin. Since there is none righteous according to the Holy Scriptures, there is only one way to cover sins and that was by blood because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
The Temple high priest would sprinkle the blood of sanctified animals on the mercy seat to cover the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement once yearly, thus God would overlook their transgressions based on that blood.
Christ shed His blood which cleansed the sins of the transgressor, a little different effect than merely covering the sin. In each circumstance blood would be used to remit the sin away from the sinner since the wages of sin is death.
Yom Kippur is a reminder not only to the Jewish people of the problem of sin, but why nobody can remove the effects of sin by their own accord.