The melancholy emptiness of Yom Kippur


Yom Kippur is the highest holy day in the Jewish calender. It is the most solemn day of affliction, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, and the kernel of the Levitical covenant. In Israel the day is marked with almost universal quiet and reflection - a deeply impressive and powerful display of piety.

However it is also the emptiest of the great Jewish feasts. How could it be otherwise? For on the Day of Atonement, now that the Temple it was designed to serve has been removed, there can be and is no further Atonement.

For as Leviticus itself makes plain, 'for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.' כִּי-הַדָּם הוּא, בַּנֶּפֶשׁ יְכַפֵּר Lev. 17.11.

        This fine picture taken from here.

Why should the LORD so design Israel's affairs to leave it bereft of the very crown and centre of her religion? The answer is given so plainly and clearly by Daniel, who in mournfully praying for the Temple's restoration, was foretold its future second destruction, near the end of seventy sevens. The LORD hasn't taken away without Himself providing something far better.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Dan. 9 v.24)    6 glorious fruits of the Messiah's work.

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself (or 'to Him there is nothing'): (v.26a)    The Hebrew word is the same used in Torah for a judicial punishment:      יִכָּרֵת  ֹ

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week... (v.27a)

The Messenger of the Covenant has come and confirmed the Holy Covenant with His own blood and His own body.

What need now of mere symbols and shadows? It would be a supreme folly to reestablish an old ruptured wineskin out of disdain for the new and better wine.

Come, Behold the Lamb!

A wretched foundation, which made me feel physically sick with fear for its author - repentance alone can never justify.

'Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.'
(Romans 5.9)