Yom Kippur is the 10th day of the 7th biblical month. In 2019, Yom Kippur begins at sundown October 8, as referenced on the Astronomically and Agriculturally Corrected Biblical Hebrew Calendar.
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In the Hebrew Torah (Lev. 23:27-28) this day is called Yom HaKippurim (in the plural), which literally means Day of “coverings”, as this is the day when the High Priest would pour the blood of a goat over the Kaporet (the Hebrew for the Mercy Seat, same root) to atone (cover) for the many sins and transgressions (plural again) of the nation of Israel.
On Yom Kippur, we are told to do no work whatsoever and to “afflict our souls” or “deny ourselves.” This is most often taken to mean fasting, or not eating.
Most people who observe Yom Kippur do not eat or drink from sunset to sunset. The point of fasting is to help us focus on things that are more important than our body’s desire for food. Our relationship with our Creator is the most important in our lives.
It is easy to get caught up in thinking and worrying about day to day things, so fasting on Yom Kippur is the reminder that all those kinds of needs come after our need for our Father and his love and grace.
Are There Other Ways to “Afflict Your Soul”?
Those that may not be able to fast the entire day can eat differently. Foods prepared the day before and foods that are not elaborate or sweet can be a way to experience denying physical desires and focusing on more important things.
Other things people do on Yom Kippur to “afflict their souls” include:
- not watching television
- not playing games
- avoiding the Internet and other electronics
- not making phone calls
- not driving, etc.
And of course, we are commanded not to do any kind of work. It is a day of complete rest.
Remember The Purpose
Whether you are ready to completely fast from all food and water on Yom Kippur, or you are just ready to deny yourself your normal favorite foods, make sure you are thinking about what is really important on this day.
When you are feeling hungry, remember that Yeshua tells us that he is the Bread of Life. Our relationship with him is what truly feeds us. Eating food every day allows us to live, but knowing and loving the Father is what allows us to live holy lives that please him. And the Father’s grace and mercy allow us to live eternally.
What Is An “Acceptable Fast”?
While it is widely understood that Yom Kippur is a day to fast, fasting is not just about food. Isaiah 58: 1-12 discusses an “acceptable fast” to YHVH. Consider the following verses from Isaiah 58:
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to give your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh?
YeHoVaH’s feasts are the perfect time to think about performing an act of service for others. Consider providing food to your local food bank or clothes to a local shelter in honor of this day in which we consider the blessings and provisions we get from the Father. The “acceptable fast” outlined in Isaiah includes righteous actions such as these.
Yom Kippur’s Future Fulfillment
In the last days, Yom Kippur is the final day of YeHoVaH’s judgment on the world, which is why it is a day of repentance now as we look toward its final fulfillment.
Fittingly, the 10 days that precede Yom Kippur are known as the “10 days of awe”. It is this time, between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur that many people reflect on the previous year and determine if amends need to be made with anyone in their life. These days are representative of our lifespan on earth, a time under the grace of Yeshua’s salvation and before the time of the wrath of the Almighty — a reminder of the urgency to do our best work for the King of Kings, and to serve our fellow man to the best of our ability. The number 10 in Hebraic understanding represents completion and perfection; it’s no coincidence that the Almighty chose this number of days between these two all-important feast days to urge us to “get our lives right” in the time that we are given.
Yom Kippur marks the end of YeHoVaH’s wrath upon the earth. The righteous will have been gathered to Messiah and are saved from this wrath. Once the Almighty’s wrath is ended, it will be time for the wedding feast of Messiah and his people (the Feast of Sukkot).