Our entire world is a war zone. We see people suffering and dying all around us. God is working to save us, but evil does not easily let us go. What or who is this evil power? Who is the enemy? Is there a person or supernatural being behind all this carnage? If so, what does he want? The Bible answers these questions.
According to Leviticus 16, Kippur had cosmic implications. The people submitted “all the iniquities of the people” to divine judgment. The expression “all the iniquities/sins” runs as a Leitmotiv in Leviticus 16 (verses 21, 22, 30) and also appears in the psalm inspired by this great festival (Psalm 130:8). The Day of Atonement is the moment where the sins of all Israel receive atonement, or forgiveness. Forgiveness was ensured during the year through the “perpetual” sacrifice; but on the Day of Atonement, it needed the backup of other sacrifices. The expiation of sin was not an individual matter anymore.
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occupies a central place in Seventh-day Adventist theology. Parallel with Jewish understanding, Adventists regard the Day of Atonement as the most solemn and climactic experience of the entire round of holy days described in Torah. As in Jewish theology, Kippur is interpreted by Adventists as a time for the completion of a divine investigative judgment of human beings.1
As I write this article, the High Holy Days of Judaism have come. It is the beginning of the month of Elul, the month of preparation for the coming day of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and my Jewish friends have invited me to celebrate this time with them. Thus we meet each day to pray the prayer of teshuva for ourselves, for our loved ones, for the congregation as a whole.
This process of teshuva is one of returning to God. It involves a sincere turning away from the sins of the past year and a serious consideration of the reasons that stood behind those sins, so that we will take care not to repeat our former mistakes.
Day of Atonement, Day of Forgiveness, why is it that Kippur is the most solemn and sacred day of Jewish festivals?
Yom Kippur was the most solemn and sacred day in the Israelite liturgy. The importance of the celebration of this day became so meaningful that in the first century it was simply called “the day” or “the great day.” However, the real meaning of the ceremonies performed during this day were for centuries a matter of controversy, due especially to the fact that the other rituals of the year that are related to those performed on the Day of Atonement were never well understood. Fortunately, thanks to the intensive research performed mostly by Jewish theologians,1 “the spiritual significance of the priestly cult, as reflected in the laws of the Pentateuch, has been clarified to an increasing extent in recent years.”2