Yom Kippur and the Second Coming of Jesus
By: David R. Parsons, ICEJ VP and Senior Spokesman
There is a connection between Jesus being tested and dying at Passover and then fulfilling the further priestly role foreshadowed in Yom Kippur when he ascended to the Father and placed His blood on the ark in the heavenly temple on behalf of all who believe in Him. Yet Yom Kippur has further prophetic significance, especially in connection with the second coming of Jesus. This also is born out in the New Testament, as seen in the parable of the Wedding Feast.
Parable of the Wedding Feast
The Parable of the Wedding Feast told by Jesus appears in Matthew 22:1–14 and is paralleled by the Parable of the Great Banquet in Luke 14:7–24. In Second Temple times, a wedding was a sacred and joyous thing. The feasting and merriment even lasted for up to a week or more, and it was considered a mitzva (good deed) to share in the joy of the occasion. When Jesus told this parable, His hearers understood the picture He was creating because such traditional weddings were a part of Jewish culture.
Thus we read in Matthew 22 that a certain king arranged a marriage for his son and invited the usual list of nobles and elite, but they all had better things to do—and some even killed the king’s servants. So he sent out more servants to invite people from the highways and hedges—both bad and good. Luke 14:15–24 describes it as “a Great Banquet,” but presumably, it is a wedding feast, as the preceding verses in Luke 14:7–14 have Jesus cautioning us to take the lowly seats at wedding feasts, lest we get bumped from the front row. So these are profoundly similar parables.
Matthew says the initial invitees were too busy with their businesses and families, while Luke says the high-and-mighty all made excuses for why they could not attend. But Matthew 22 has an extra scene. Right before the wedding starts, the king comes into the waiting room and inspects all the guests. One man did not have on a wedding garment. The king confronted him, but the man remained silent and offered no excuse. Then the king ordered that he be bound and thrown into outer darkness.
This moment of inspection of the wedding garments is incredibly instructive! The Fall feasts, or “appointments”—Yom Teruah (Feasts of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (Tabernacles)—are all tied together, and all portend the Second Coming of Jesus. They speak prophetically of the coronation of Jesus as King and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.
The Parable of the Wedding Feast assumes the listener is familiar with the ancient Oriental custom of the host providing garments for the guests who were invited to a royal feast. In ancient times, kings and wealthy men had wardrobes filled with fancy garments (today called “caftans”) as a symbol of their wealth and glory. Examples can be found as follows:
- Genesis 45:22 – Joseph gives all his brothers’ garments (but three to Benjamin).
- Judges 14:12 – Samson offers 30 linen garments and 30 changes of clothes to answer his riddle.
- 2 Kings 5:22 – Naaman promises 10 garments plus gold and silver to Elisha.
- 2 Kings 10:22 – King Jehu gives vestments from wardrobe in the temple of Baal.
- Esther 6:8 and 8:15 – Haman says: “dress him in royal robes” (Mordechai is the one dressed in royal apparel).
Even posh country clubs and restaurants today have similar strict dress codes, and small closets are stocked with appropriate dinner jackets and other attire if an improperly dressed guest warrants entry.
In the parable of Jesus, it would have been a great insult to the king to refuse to wear the garments freely offered to the guests. The man caught wearing his old clothing learned what an offense it was as he was forcefully removed from the celebration.
This was Jesus’ way of teaching the inadequacy of self-righteousness. From the beginning, God provided a “covering” for our sin. Adam and Eve tried to cover their nakedness and shame with fig leaves, but God replaced them with skins of animals, which meant a life had been sacrificed (Genesis 3:7, 21). To insist on covering our shame ourselves is to be clad in “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In the book of Revelation, we see those in heaven wearing “white robes” (Revelation 7:9), and we learn that the whiteness of the robes is due to their being washed in the blood of the Lamb (verse 14). We trust in God’s righteousness, not our own (Philippians 3:9). Further, the true church is described as “not having spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27).
Finally, in Revelation 19:6–9, a great multitude has gathered for the marriage of the Lamb, and “His wife has made herself ready: And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”’”
Just as the king provided wedding garments for his guests, God provides salvation for mankind. Our wedding garment is the righteousness of Christ, and unless we have it, we will not be allowed into the Wedding Feast of His dear Son.
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon, commenting on the Parable of the Wedding Feast, noted that it is the custom in the East for a king to provide robes for his guests. These wedding garments were a sign of grace, freely given and received, and wearing it was a sign of respect for the king and for his son, the bridegroom. So why was the one man speechless? Making excuses is the easiest game in town. But here, there was nothing to be said. He could have easily put on a beautiful flowing robe provided by the king, but he simply did not care. And he stands as a symbol and warning to us all to take heed on how we prepare for our appearance before God.
At the Feast of Trumpets, the shofar sounds to awaken our souls to a time of awe and introspection, as we are about to stand before the Lord. On Yom Kippur, the verdict is delivered whether we are to be found naked and ashamed or worthy of His grace. If you pass muster, it is time to rejoice in your salvation and join the wedding feast—the Feast of Tabernacles!
We now find ourselves in that time of preparation before the Wedding Feast. This Yom Kippur on September 24–25, let us make sure we have clothed ourselves with the righteous garments God has provided through Jesus, our High Priest, and His blood already sprinkled on the mercy seat in heaven.