Yom Kippur, the Day of Reconciliation, is more than just a Jewish “Holy Day”. It is not simply a day of repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation. It is more than that. As early in Scriptures as the book of Leviticus (Vayikra), chapter 25, one can sense that this day, on the 10th day of the Seventh Month, is a day with PROFOUND PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE. In this chapter, the Day of Yom Kippur is mentioned within the framework of the YEAR OF JUBILEE (Heb: “Shenat Hayovel”) – a year that is supposed to be observed, and set aside, every 50 years. How exactly is Yom Kippur connected to the Shenat Hayovel? One can already see the connection, by looking at the two concepts, “Yom Kippur” and “Shenat Hayovel”. Yom Kippur means DAY of reconciliation. Shenat Hayovel means YEAR of being brought forth or led away or released, specifically with the sound of the RAM’S HORN or the shofar. So, Yom Kippur, every year, is a reminder of the special Yom Kippur, every 50 years, and this special Yom Kippur is a reminder of the end-time Day of Yahweh, prophesied about many times in Scriptures.
Throughout Scriptures, the blowing of the shofar or the trumpet is repeatedly connected to the great, END-TIME DAY, that will mark the end of the dispensation that we know. It will introduce another dispensation (one could almost call it “another world”), that no one has ever experienced before. In ISAIAH 27 it is written that Yahweh has set aside a future day, upon which a shofar will be blown, and people shall come from many countries and worship Yahweh in Yerushalayim. In ZECHARIAH 9 it is written that the future coming, or arrival, of Israel’s King, will be announced with the sound of the shofar. In 1 CORINTHIANS 15 it is written that at the last trumpet, the dead will be raised and then be changed from corruptible to incorruptible beings. In 1 THESSALONIANS 4 it is written that there is a day set aside when Y’shua Himself shall come down from heaven “with the trumpet of Elohim” and that He will gather with Him, both the dead in Messiah and those who will be alive and counted among the people of Yahweh. There are many more references to the shofar being related, directly or indirectly, to the final stage of the world as we know it, which will also be the time of the coming of Messiah.
Yom Kippur is nothing less than one of the most important REMINDERS of the coming Day of Yahweh. I was looking in the pre-Messianic prophetic books for a central theme that runs like a GOLDEN THREAD through all the prophesies concerning the future Day of Yahweh. In the past we have already seen that the Day of Yahweh will be both a time of judgment and a time of redemption. We know that this day will somehow relate to the coming of Messiah – in a different capacity than his first coming to this world, when He was born in the town of Bethlehem. We know that the Day of Yahweh will be the introduction of the long awaited “kingdom of heaven upon the earth”. But isn’t there something else that we have missed, I thought to myself, and I kept looking for some kind of golden thread. And then I found something that comes very close to being a golden thread running through all of these Scriptures about the end-time.
There are a few references to the Day of Yahweh in the New Testament, but it is in the pre-Messianic prophetic books, basically ISAIAH TO MALACHI, that we find by far the most references to the reality of the Day of Yahweh, and also the exact words, “Day of Yahweh” – approximately 22 times. And, of course, many more instances of similar descriptions, like “in that day”, “in those days”, “in that time”, “day of visitation”, “day of trouble” and “day of his coming” – all referring to “the Day of Yahweh”. What else do we find in Isaiah to Malachi? Surprisingly, what I found there, very much like a golden thread, was the expression, “THE NAME OF YAHWEH” – approximately 22 times! It made sense, because this is the one “Day” that Yahweh had decided to connect directly to his Name: Not the Day of Judgment or the Day of Redemption, but the Day of YAHWEH! It made sense, because, around the time of Y’shua’s birth, when the ancient temple was still in use, but the Name of Yahweh was a forbidden word in the vocabulary of ordinary people, Yom Kippur was the only day of the year when the high priest (alone) was allowed to speak out the Name of Yahweh, when he prayed for the forgiveness of the sins of the people. In those days Yom Kippur was sometimes referred to as “Yom Hashem” – “THE DAY OF THE NAME”. But long before the Jews have decided to ban the Name of Yahweh from their vocabulary, the prophets freely used the expression “the NAME of Yahweh”, and they almost always did so in the context of the future DAY of Yahweh. Let us take a look at a few of these passages.
Isaiah 24 present us with a picture of the SOUNDS that will be heard on the Day of Yahweh: the mourning of the earth (v3); the sighing of those who once were glad at heart (v7); the ceasing of the sound of tambourine and other musical instruments (v8); no more singing coming from the drinkers of wine (v9); the desperate crying for wine in the streets (v11); the shaking of an olive tree (v13) and the sound of the righteous ones, singing about the excellency of the Elohim of Israel and praising THE NAME OF YAHWEH!
Isaiah 30 is addressed to those who have chosen a lifestyle of making plans without consulting Yahweh and seeking refuge in the shadow of the strong people and self-centered ideas of this world. The end of these ones may be compared to the swelling out and the instability of a high wall, leaning over to one side. It will simply tumble down at a time when it is least expected (v13). In the light of the coming Day of Yahweh, the people of Israel are encouraged to turn back to Yahweh – which is also the basic message of Yom Kippur! He is waiting impatiently to show favour to them (v18); He will listen to their pleas and their cries (v19) and He will heal their wounds (v26). And within this context, once again, the NAME OF YAHWEH is mentioned (v27). For some, His Name is a stumbling block. But for those who are prepared to trust Him wholeheartedly, his Name is a STRONG TOWER. The righteous run into it and they are saved!
Isaiah 56 is another announcement of the future Day of Yahweh. Yahweh Himself is speaking: “NEAR is my deliverance to come, and SOON is my righteousness to be revealed” (v1). And then Yahweh specifically speaks about people like us, who are not ethnical Jews: “The foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to serve Him, and to love THE NAME OF YAHWEH, and to be His servants, while guarding the Shabbat, and holding onto My covenant – these ones I shall bring to My set-apart mountain, and I shall let them rejoice in My house of prayer” (v6). In all of Scriptures, this is without a doubt the STRONGEST EVIDENCE that we have, that it was never the intention of the Creator that people should stop calling upon his name. It is also clear evidence that loving the Name of Yahweh would be one of the MAIN CHARACTERISTICS of the “foreigners who chose to join Yahweh” – people like us who are gathered here today in South Africa to observe Yom Kippur, because we have discovered that it is a day of far-reaching significance, also for us!
Joel 2 begins with the words, “blow the shofar … for the DAY OF YAHWEH is coming.” In the rest of the chapter, Yahweh calls upon the people to be prepared for this great Day and one can clearly see the connection with YOM KIPPUR: “Turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning and tear your heart and not your garments, and turn back to Yahweh your Elohim, for He shows favour and compassion; He is patient, and kind and will grant you forgiveness” (v12-13). And once more, the golden thread of the Name of Yahweh is seen: “Then you shall eat (as opposed to fasting) – eat and be satisfied – and you shall praise THE NAME OF YAHWEH your Elohim, who has done with you so wondrously. And My people shall never be put to shame” (v26). Later in the same chapter, we hear the words that Kefa (Peter) quoted, 800 years later, in Acts 2, and caused 3000 people to come to belief in Y’shua: “Everyone who calls on THE NAME OF YAHWEH will be saved” (v32).
When Y’shua declared in his WELL-KNOWN PRAYER, shortly before his death, “I have revealed Your Name to those You gave Me”, He knew that this was the Name connected, not only to Yom Kippur, but also to the future Day of Yahweh. He also knew that the words spoken by Joel, “Everyone who calls on the Name of Yahweh will be saved”, had something to do with the reason why Yahweh had sent Him (Y’shua) to this world. And we have come to understand that Y’shua was sent to this world as Yahweh’s representative, so that when we repent and ask for forgiveness in Y’shua’s Name, it is the same as calling on the Name of Yahweh. And what is more, focusing on repentance and forgiveness on Yom Kippur is the most appropriate way of preparing for the coming Day of Yahweh and the second coming of this One who became our High Priest and Doorkeeper of the gateway leading to Yahweh!