Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year. What are the ways Believers can celebrate Yom Kippur and remember its significance and purpose?
Rosh Hashanah is a festive holiday—celebrated by eating apples and honey to sweeten the start of a new year. However, the week that follows is a time for reflection, atonement, and ultimately forgiveness.
In the weeks preceding Yom Kippur, we ask for forgiveness from God, as well as each other.
Historically, God was honored on the day of atonement by focusing and reflecting on relationships with God and others. Other traditions known to honor this holy day were fasting, refraining from work, and time spent in prayer.
The deeper meaning of the fasting, abstained activity, and focused prayer was to get rid of any distractions that take our eyes off the Lord. Concluding this time, there was a wonderful feast shared with loved ones.
Ways Believers Can Remember Yom Kippur Through Observances
- “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”—Mark 11:25
The Lord grants us forgiveness through the blood of Christ. Yeshua taught about forgiveness, which Apostle Paul shared to others:
- “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”—Matthew 6:14-15
- “…If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”—Luke 17:3-4
- “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”—Ephesians 4:31-32
Jesus spoke about forgiveness many times to His early followers, and His teaching is still applicable to us today. Start with the relationships that mean the most to you, and cover your efforts in prayer.
Here Are 7 Ways Believers Can Celebrate Yom Kippur
When you honor Yom Kippur, remember it is about repentance, reflection, and renewal. For this reason, you can celebrate Yom Kippur with a heart and ministry of reconciliation, redemption, and restoration!
1. Ask for Forgiveness from Strangers
Have you had any misunderstandings recently that caused some type of conflict with a stranger or acquaintance? Maybe you overheard a co-worker say something incredibly rude or hurtful, or someone cut you off in traffic. Now is the time to forgive them.
- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9
Pray for those who have hurt you that someday they too may find the path to God.
2. Ask for Forgiveness from Your Neighbors
As Believers, we are to serve those around us in our community. We are instructed to love our neighbors so that all of God’s children can live together in peace and harmony.
- “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”—Romans 15:2
The better we get along with our neighbors, the more alignment we create in our community—and the more present God can be with us. We are not easily broken, just like the three-stranded cord.
3. Ask for Forgiveness from Your Friends
Are there friends you haven’t spoken to in far too long? Was there an argument that strained your friendship? Be swift to listen to them. Reach out to them as a way of displaying the love and forgiveness of Christ.
- “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God”—James 1:19-20
Try to see things from their perspective so that you can mend the friendship. Friendships are often strained, but the relationships among the brethren are critical.
4. Ask for Forgiveness from Your Children or Parents
Our parents do all that they can for us, and at times they may worry if it is enough. You can bring them reassurance by letting them know that you are grateful for what they’ve done for you.
- “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”—Exodus 20:12
Forgive them for their shortcomings and remind them that bringing you into this world was the greatest gift that anyone could ever ask for. This act of forgiveness is a way to honor each other.
5. Ask for Forgiveness from Your Spouse
Your spouse is your chosen life partner, and the Lord wants to bless that union. The relationship between a husband and wife is a way of honoring God.
Of all your relationships with people, you will devote the most time to your spouse and work alongside him or her for a significant part of your life.
- “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives…”—1 Peter 3:1
- “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”—1 Peter 3:7
Even by asking forgiveness for the smallest offenses, this gesture can go a long way in keeping your relationship healthy.
6. Ask for Forgiveness from Yourself
Since the fall of man, we have been flawed. We are born sinners, but through a spiritual birth—we are born again! We can be thankful for the redemptive restoration of Yeshua, our Messiah!
God’s design is for you to align with His will. He has given you a divine destiny through the path of redemption.
Because God declares us forgiven, we must come into alignment with God’s Word—and also forgive ourselves for the times that we stumble along the path.
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”—2 Corinthians 5:17
As you reflect on your sins and your mistakes, don’t forget to forgive yourself just as God has forgiven you. Remember, you are a new creation who is deeply loved.
7. Ask for Forgiveness from God
Your relationship with God is the most important relationship in your life. If you choose to fast—just as your spiritual forefathers did—remember that atonement is not to be taken lightly.
- “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”—Matthew 6:33
To continue to grow in your relationship with God—seek first His Kingdom. Renew your commitment. Align your mind, will, and emotions with Him.
If prayer comes more easily to you on a full stomach—so be it. What God is truly seeking is a pure heart, open to forgiveness and understanding. He is the Potter, and you are the clay.This is the principle of the Jewish roots of Christianity, the foundation upon which your faith is built upon.
Corporate Prayer: Let Us Pray Together!
When it comes to relationships, whether with loved ones or those we hardly know, listening, forgiving, and understanding are the building blocks of strong bonds. If there’s one thing we can take away from this day, it is the value of atonement.
No matter how much we stumble along and stray from our path, God will always love us.
“…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Hebrews 13:5
In turn, we are called to always love and forgive one another—just as God has forgiven us.
The Jewish roots of the Christian faith teach unshakable faith in God by recalling the times that God saved His chosen people. From remembering how He brought Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, to when He grafted you—the wild olive branch—into His family… He is trustworthy.
We must never forget that He is the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes. As we commemorate the appointed Feasts of the Lord, our relationship with Him is strengthened, and our walk deepened.
Try to bolster every bond this Yom Kippur. Ask for forgiveness, be generous, and love others.