Yom Kippur Prayer Day
On the eve of Yom Kippur, CMJ Reps Paul and Janey joined a host of other Jewish-Christian ministries at City Temple London, for a special Yom Kippur Prayer event.
When Christians begin to investigate the Hebrew roots of their faith a question often arises, “What have the Biblical festivals got to do with me?” Every festival has some deep teaching about the relationship between God and His covenant people, the sacrifices needed to maintain that relationship, and what God has accomplished for His people in history. Once we know what we are looking for, we then see Jesus shines like a radiant light out of every festival, and how His life and mission fulfilled every aspect of God’s expectation and requirement. It’s an eye-opening experience to join in a Passover meal and see the true redemption from slavery, to see the divine symmetry in Pentecost at Mount Sinai and Pentecost in the Upper Room, and we who are Gentiles are even promised a share in the ultimate Feast of Tabernacles when Messiah again “tabernacles” with His people. Since every festival revolves around eating together, there is a real joy and pleasure in entering into the festivals with the Jewish people and having fellowship around food whilst worshipping the One who made it possible.
The one exception of course is Yom Kippur, the Day of Covering or Day of Atonement. The theology of God’s atonement is a subject of great debate and controversy in the church; but for Jewish people it is “The Day” of the year. Ten days before, at the Feast of Trumpets rabbinic tradition tells that the Books of Judgement for the last year are updated. The names of the righteous will be included in the Book of Life, the others will be written in the Book of Death; but they say God holds over His final decision for ten days, during which sincere personal repentance is practiced in the hope that should the bad deeds outweigh the good deeds of last year, the balance will be redressed by good deeds done during the first ten days of the new year! It’s not Biblical, but when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, then all sacrifices, including the very particular Day of Atonement ceremony, were concluded. The Jewish leaders needed an alternative way of establishing Atonement, so the 10 Days of Awe were instituted and the Day of Atonement became a day of personal affliction, fasting and sacrifice of time, prayer and praise. In Israel it is a solemn day when everything comes to a halt; no public transport, TV, or radio. No shops, restaurants, banks or offices are open. Nobody drives anywhere, and many, even the least religious, Jews spend at least part of the day praying in synagogue. All in the hope that God might write their name in the Book of Life for another year; whilst recognising that their human impulses will inevitably lead them towards being written in the Book of Death next year, when the cycle begins again!
We who are followers of Jesus know that He made the ultimate atonement on the cross. Our sins have been washed away completely, not just covered over, and we are assured that our names are written forever in the Lamb’s Book of Life! What better time to pray for the Jewish people, that the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob would also reveal Himself as the God and Father of Yeshua Hamashiach!
With that in mind on, 11th October the day before Yom Kippur, a group of supporters of Jewish ministry gathered at a central London church. Church’s Ministry Among Jewish People, Christian Witness to Israel, Chosen people Ministries, Messianic Testimony, Jews for Jesus, the Finnish Inland Mission, the Society for Distribution of Hebrew Scriptures and Binyamin Ministries, each shared accounts of conversations and encounters with Jewish people both in the UK and abroad. We were encouraged to hear stories of Jewish people becoming followers of Jesus, being discipled and joining fellowships. We were challenged to be more active, and encourage our Christian friends in being more active in sharing our faith with Jewish people.
But most of all we prayed - that on Yom Kippur, the day when Jewish people seek atonement, they would find it in Jesus, their own Messiah.