The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32, NAS)
Yom Kippur is and has been considered the most holy day among the Feasts. Historically, it is the one day of the year on which the High Priest was enabled to enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the entire nation of Israel.
Leviticus chapters 16 and 23 give us a look into the ceremonial cleansing of the priest, selection of the goats, and ultimately, the intercession and atonement for the nation of Israel. From the evening at sunset, to the following evening at sunset – a full day would take place where all of Israel would cease from their labor and eating, while the High Priest presented his sacrifice before Yahweh in the Holy of Holies. If any impurity was found in the High Priest, he would instantly fall dead upon entrance into the Holy of Holies.
The High Priest’s sacrifice involved selecting two goats, and casting lots to see which Yahweh would choose. One would be slaughtered as a sacrifice to Yahweh. The other, however, served a different purpose. The High Priest would lay his hands on the this goat, confess the sins of the nation on it, and release it to the wilderness, to “Azazel”. It is interesting to note, this goat would not be sacrificed.
Today, we observe and commemorate Yom Kippur, through fasting, just as the people of Israel were commanded to do. It is a solemn time of commanded rest. Yom Kippur serves as a day of remembrance, reflection, and ultimately, a promise that atonement will take place for His people, as a nation.
Yom Kippur also provides prophetic insight regarding the return of the Messiah, as conquering King, when all the nation of Israel will be restored and the final Judgement of the world takes place. In that day, the sheep will be separated from the goats, to which the words are spoken in the Revelation, “Depart from me, you worker of lawlessness, for I never knew you.”
You can read more about other appointed times of Yahweh by clicking here.