We are about to celebrate the Jewish New Year, which is called Rosh Hashanah. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah literally means “the head of the year.” There are ten days between the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) according to the holy days calendar outlined in Leviticus 23:23–27. In Jewish tradition, these ten days are called the Ten Days of Repentance. Our Jewish sages tell us that we have ten days to make things right between ourselves and God and between ourselves and our fellow man.
As followers of Jesus, we do not believe we are able to earn God’s forgiveness—He provides salvation and forgiveness graciously and freely (Ephesians 2:8–9). Our sin always requires payment, and the Day of Atonement graphically illustrates this. The Scriptures depict the Levitical priests offering blood sacrifices at the Temple altar for sinful humanity throughout the centuries until the Temple was destroyed.
As Moses explained, “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” (Leviticus 17:11).
Yet, we know that these offerings pointed to Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. As the author of Hebrews wrote, “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself ” (Hebrew 9:26).
This atonement, achieved through the Messiah’s once-for-all death, was effective for all sins, for all time, and for all people. Unfortunately, most of my Jewish friends and family do not understand this. Jewish people today are generally unfamiliar with the Temple’s sacrificial system, which ended when the Romans destroyed this magnificent house of worship in AD 70.