How to Celebrate The Day of Atonement

A four-year-old and a six-year-old presented their Mom with a house plant. They had used their own money and she was thrilled. The older of them said with a sad face, “There was a bouquet that we wanted to give you at the flower shop. It was real pretty, but it was too expen … More


Following the feast of Pentecost, there is a four-month gap in God’s calendar before the next feast. This gap could represent the age we are now in, the age of the church, when we should be devotedly involved in the harvest (Matt. 9:36-38). The ‘Feast of Trumpets” was held on the first day of the seventh month and ushered in the new civil year (vv. 23-25). The Jews used this first day of their new year for prayer, meditation, and confession. They sought to make a new beginning with the Lord. On this “Day of Atonement,” the 10th day of the seventh month, all work was suspended and a holy convocation was observed.

The emphasis in this passage is on how the ordinary Israelite was to observe the day (vv. 26-29). He was to hold a sacred assembly and present an offering to the Lord by fire and do no work. The prohibition to do no work was absolute (vv. 30-31). In contrast with the prohibition against occupational work, this prohibition appears to forbid even minor household chores such as lighting the fire or cooking (Ex. 16:23-30). This is a time of complete rest just like the Sabbath, and everyone must go without eating from the evening of the ninth to the evening of the tenth (v. 32).

The meaning of “deny himself” probably includes fasting and possibly other exercises such as wearing sackcloth and ashes. The penalty for violating this rule of complete rest from all work was by being cut off from His people. This was seen as a direct judgement from God. There is also a prophetic message to this “Day of atonement.” After Israel is gathered into her land, the Jews will see their rejected Messiah, repent of their sins and be cleansed. What a wonderful day that will be.


In New Testament times we are not required to give any particular day to prayer, meditation and confession. However Sunday is a day that most Christians try to devote to the Lord each week. Although it is not a requirement I want to rest from work and spend more time seeking fellowship with the Lord.  

Leviticus 23:23-32 (English Standard Version)

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