The Jewish civil new year 5783 has come and gone, and to many, it was a bit of a disappointment that the Rapture didn’t take place on Rosh Hashanah (Yom T’ruah or the Day of Trumpets) this year. I am of those who expect the Rapture imminently, but I also understand that we cannot know the day or the hour of that event when Yeshua will come in the sky and call the believers up before the Tribulation. But after Rosh Hashanah comes Yom Kippur, and we should continue to pay close attention. So, how does that relate to Yom Kippur, the Great Tribulation and the Antichrist?
As I have explained before, I see a connection between Rosh Hashanah and the Rapture, Yom Kippur and the Great Tribulation and Sukkot (Tabernacles) and the Millennial Kingdom. The Fall Feasts have a thematic connection to the end times not necessitating an exact day fulfillment. In fact, all the Levitical Feasts of the Lord found in Leviticus 23 have a prophetic significance as it pertains to the redemptive career of the Messiah. It is quite beautiful to behold when we connect all the dots. But again, Rosh Hashanah is behind us, and we are now in the ten days of awe in preparation for the most solemn day of Yom Kippur known as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
Rabbis teach that the fate of all Jews is decided on Yom T’ruah (The Day of Trumpets), but it isn’t sealed until Yom Kippur. This is a time of introspection and repentance when Jewish people go out of their way to seek forgiveness from anyone they might have hurt throughout the year. The sabbath that falls within these ten days is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Sabbath of repentance).
Leviticus 23:26-32 tells us that the Day of Atonement is all about repentance, humility and affliction: 26 “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “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. 28 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. 29 If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30 As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 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.”
Yom Kippur is a very serious and solemn day on the Jewish calendar, possibly the most important of the year for Jewish people. It is never referred to as a feast but rather, as a fast. It is known by several names, including Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, Shabbat Shabbaton: The Sabbath of Sabbaths (Leviticus 16:31), and Yom Hakippurim: The Day of Atonements (Leviticus 23:27). It is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is the only time that a day other than the Sabbath is also called a sabbath.
Biblically, Yom Kippur is never connected to a fast, but based on Leviticus 23:27-29, the rabbis decided that the “affliction” of the soul must refer to abstinence from food. According to Judaism on this day of judgment, all deeds–good or bad– are weighed in heaven and God inscribes one’s name in one of three books (Wicked, In-Between or Righteous), sealing their fate for the next year until the next Yom Kippur. The basic rabbinic principle of Yom Kippur is that man can atone for his own sins through works. It relies heavily on the affliction of the body. Yom Kippur is a time when Jewish people experience affliction of the body more than the traditional affliction of the soul. It includes no eating or drinking. No washing or bathing. No anointing (creams, ointments, perfume). No leather shoes (luxury items). No sexual relations with spouse.
Yom Kippur is a day of repentance and expiation of sins by God, also based on Ezekiel 33:19: But when the wicked turns from his wickedness and practices justice and righteousness, he will live by them. The book of Jonah is also read to teach that you cannot run from God and that God will forgive whoever repents like the Ninevites. It is found in three passages of the Torah: Leviticus 16:1- 34; Leviticus 23:26-32 and Numbers 29:7-11. In the Torah, it served three purposes: To cleanse the people and the Tabernacle, to remind Israel of her national standing before God, and to call for individual repentance.
Leviticus 16:1-34 details the duties of the High Priest and serves as the foundation for 16:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
Yom Kippur will be fulfilled by the Great Tribulation also known as The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and will culminate with Israel’s national Atonement in the Tribulation.
Ezekiel 20:33-38 sets the stage, “33 As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; 35 and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. 36 As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.
God will purge rebels and regenerate willing unbelievers who seek the righteousness of God through Yeshua the Messiah. This will bring about Israel’s national regeneration. The key word biblically and rabbinically is “affliction,” both of the soul and the body. On Yom Kippur, atonement was made for the nation, not the individual through the sacrifice of the two goats. But national atonement was not achieved unless there was an affliction of the soul at the individual level. Two other key passages to be considered for Yom Kippur’s fulfillment are Hosea 5:15-6:3 and Zechariah 12:10-13:1.
During the seven-year Great Tribulation, “left behind Israel” will suffer the affliction of the body as two-thirds of all Jewish people alive at that time will perish (Zechariah 13:8-9; Hosea 5:15). Additionally, Zechariah 12:10 and Hosea 6:1-3, speak of the spiritual affliction of Israel that will lead to a corporate acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel and will usher the physical Second Coming of Yeshua.
There is a beautiful prophetic connection between all the feasts of the Lord and the end times. Believers should really be excited about what is to come and how God has perfectly linked it to His “yearly convocations” but when it comes to Yom Kippur, we all need to reflect. What is so exciting about billions left behind to suffer and die, including half of the world population and within those numbers, two-thirds of the Jewish people alive at that time?
We look forward to the Rapture and rightfully so, and we look forward to the 1,000-year Messianic kingdom on earth when we will tabernacle with God in the flesh. Accordingly, none of us look forward to the Tribulation since we will be taken out before it starts. Yet, we need to think of all those left behind at the mercy of the Antichrist. Things will start with a promising peace treaty (Daniel 9:26-27), but soon the Antichrist will turn on people and demand to be worshipped as god. People will either take the Mark of the Beast and survive the Tribulation, only to be doomed to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire for rejecting Yeshua, or they will reject the Mark and become Tribulation martyrs.
The Tribulation is as certain to happen as the Rapture will. We are still here on earth, and people who don’t know Yeshua are also around us. Now is the time to be bold with the Gospel because the clock is really ticking. If any of the five red heifers turn out to be kosher, we could see the ashes of that animal come to Jerusalem within one year (a plot of land on the Mount of Olives has already been purchased for the sacrifice of the animal). Then, all we need is for the Temple to be rebuilt, and I believe that the Antichrist and his peace treaty with Israel will be instrumental in that part.
Be encouraged to know that any Jewish man you share the Gospel with now could potentially become one of the 144,000 Jewish men used by God to change the world during the Great Tribulation. Now is not the time to be quiet. We know the whole story; we know the players and we know the end. The victory is ours, so, let’s share the Gospel with those who need to become members of the blessed Body of Messiah!