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A Practical Guide for Believers in Messiah

For believers in Yeshua, both Jewish and non-Jewish, the observance of Yom Kippur can hold special significance. The repentance started at Rosh HaShanah comes to a culmination with atonement ten days later. As with the traditional Jewish community, those ten days (Yomim Nora’im) can take on spiritual meaning as we meditate on the meaning of the high holy days. Although there are not many customs directly relating to the ten days, the message could be applied to a believer’s daily meditation at that time. Traditional readings from the book of Jonah, Hosea 14 and other pertinent passages can enhance one’s appreciation of the season.

With Erev Yom Kippur approaching late in the afternoon on the 9th of Tishri, special arrangements are made to usher in the holiest day of the year. Since it is called a Shabbat, the general customs for the Sabbath are in order. Yom Kippur will be a fast day for most, so the late-afternoon holiday meal becomes more vital. The table is set with the best white linen and silver. Throughout the high holy days, white holds a special meaning as it symbolizes our hope for purity and forgiveness. The wine is blessed with the kiddush; the challah similarly with the motzi. A sumptuous dinner is then served which may include sweet dishes to represent the sweet new year of forgiveness. As the sun sets that evening, the fast begins.

Some believers question whether to fast since they are already forgiven in Messiah. True, believers do not fast to obtain forgiveness, yet there are some benefits for fasting, nonetheless.

Yeshua spoke of the blessings of a fast. Although the question of salvation is already settled by faith in Yeshua, believers are still in constant need of returning to a pure walk with the father. We have sins to confess and repent of (I John 1:7-9John 1:7-9
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). Fasting can sensitize our spirits to the heart of God.

Many Messianic Jews and Gentiles fast on Yom Kippur for another reason also. As it is the one day of the religious year on which Jews around the world are packed into synagogues and praying, many believers have found it to be a special day to pray for the salvation of Israel (Romans 10:1Romans 10:1
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The evening of Yom Kippur is a wonderful time for a messianic worship service. For those who live near a messianic Jewish congregation, attending a formal Yom Kippur service can be a spiritual highlight. The music, liturgy and message all celebrate the true meaning of the day: atonement in Yeshua the Messiah!

If you are unable to attend such a group, why not plan your own service for your family and friends. You have the greatest textbook for planning such a celebration: your own Bible. Choose some songs and Scriptures that accentuate the theme of forgiveness in Yeshua. Combined with the fasting and prayer, any group has the potential for an inspiring Yom Kippur service.

By the following day, the stomach is testifying that this is a serious time of seeking God. For those who want the full Jewish experience, continue the fast, even without water, until sundown. Yom Kippur day is another time for worship services with a community of believers. The theme is the same: repentance and (for believers) rejoicing in God’s plan of forgiveness.

The afternoon might be spent at home resting and further meditating on the importance of the day. Our messianic congregation has a tradition of meeting together for the final hour of daylight for a Neilah service. This has proven to be a rich time of corporate prayer and worship as we read from a messianic siddur (prayer book), the Scriptures, and sing songs of praise to our redeemer. As the sun sets to close Yom Kippur, we bless the wine and the challah; thus the first things we taste after the fast are sweet. Then we have a break-the-fast potluck dinner as a fitting celebration on this holy day.

Blessed be the Lord God, who has secured our salvation in Yeshua the Messiah! That is what Yom Kippur is all about for those who call on his name.

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