Second of the fall festivals, the Day of Atonement like the rest of the Festivals of Yehovah, speaks of huge spiritual realities. In fact, absolutely life and death type realities. For Yehovah designed every aspect of the Day of Atonement to reflects the ministry of the Messiah in the great heavenly tabernacle, the very throne room of God, (The Holy of Holies that exists in heaven) and man’s corresponding responsibility.
The Bible explains that mankind’s bottom line condition is that of sin. Every person who was ever born upon the earth (With the exception of Yeshua) was born into sin, (Having the very nature of rebellion in him or her) and has practiced self-will, which amounts to sin. (Ps. 51:5, Ro. 3:10-18) Further, no man, irrespective of whatever prop he may endeavor to use to try to lift himself, such as education, political ideas, the practice of religion, etc, has ever been able to overcome the sin nature that he was born with. This leaves man with an absolutely desperate situation before the eternal God, for God is holy and cannot abide with sin. (Is. 59:2, Ro. 6:23) For sin to come into His presence is to see it consumed, along with the one who bears it, for God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 10:31, Heb. 12:29) The bottom line prognosis is that every man because of his sin condition is worthy of eternal death, to be assigned for eternity in the Lake of Fire away from the presence of the Holy One. (Rev. 20: 11-15)
BUT, God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love that He has had for us, on His own, completely apart from any contribution of man has provided a means for the substitutionary payment for the sins of every man. This substitutionary payment was, and remains, Yeshua of Nazareth. (Eph. 2:1-5) Revelation 1:6 sums it up: And from Jesus Christ, (Yeshua, Messiah) who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of this earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. That friend is what the Day of Atonement is all about. It was/is a day designed by the Holy One to provide a picture of how atonement has been provided for the Believer, and to speak of the judgment that will come upon every soul that does not abide under the Blood of Messiah.
Points of Moses’ Command To Keep (It is for us as Christians to celebrate) the Day Of Atonement, and the Meaning it Brings to Christianity
--Leviticus 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Yehovah)
The tenth day of the seventh month…The seventh month of Yehovah’s calendar begins with the Day of Trumpets. The celebration of the Day of Trumpets stands as a warning that the final and great Day of Atonement is coming, which stands for two great spiritual realities, that of atonement, (Which provides forgiveness to the Believer) and that of judgment. (That is to be executed upon all who have refused the gospel of Messiah) The ten days between the Day of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement have been traditionally held by Jews as days provided for self-examination, the which is an on-going exhortation in the New Testament Scriptures. (2 Co. 13:5) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own-selves…… As Messiah Himself said, (Mk. 13:35-37) “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning. Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Why are men exhorted to watch? I suggest to you that the last and final Day of Atonement will also be the Great Day of Judgment where eternal destinations are to be set forever. Judgment will be made in regard to each soul of man, and the decision will be forever. (Rev. 22:11-12) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
There shall be a day of atonement…Oh thank God for the reality that a day of atonement has been provided by the eternal God through the blood of our Messiah. The truth is, that if we abide in Messiah we have been washed, we have been cleansed, we have been forgiven. (1Co. 6:11, Rev. 1:5) Yet, our salvation has not yet been brought to completion. We as Christians have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise which is the earnest of our eternal inheritance, (Eph. 1: 13-14) however, we must hold to the faith until we are brought into His presence in order to experience our salvation in its totality. (Mat 10:22, Rev. 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, Rev. 3:5, 3:12, 3:21, Rev. 21:7) Yes, if one abides in Yeshua, that one is saved, but yet he is being saved, and will not see the total completion of his salvation until he stands approved in the presence of the Holy One.
It shall be an holy convocation unto you… As in the cases of the other Festivals of Yehovah the Day of Atonement was, and remains a day for the people of faith to rehearse the great heavenly truths that are comprised with in it. It cries to be acted out yearly, for the sake of causing men to soberly consider the gravity of all it represents. (2 Co. 5:11)
And ye shall afflict your souls…One way is by fasting: Yeshua taught, (Mk. 2:19-20) Can the children of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. The truth is, the Bridegroom (Yeshua) has been taken away from us, and it is now our lot to afflict our souls by fasting. Why would we as Believers fast? To humble ourselves, (Ja. 4: 6-10) as a part of adjusting our focus and perspectives, our priorities. (Col. 3:1-6, Heb. 12: 1-3, 2 Co. 4:17-18) In short that we might be empowered to turn off “self”, and turn on to Him. I believe that there is extreme importance and need for this. However, I do not believe that afflicting our souls on this day should be limited to going without food, but can, and should also include the setting aside of entertainments, martial relations, in short, any activity of man that is not directly pointing to the reality of the meaning of this festival day.
- And offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Yehovah) Let me remind you again, there is no animal sacrifice that remains to be offered, for the LAMB of God became the sacrifice that was demanded to pay for our salvation. (Heb. 8:12-14, Heb. 8:23-28, Heb. 9:5-14) However, the sacrifice of a contrite spirit, or a worshipping and thankful spirit, of an attentive and obedient spirit, these are always welcome before Yehovah. (Micah 6:8)
--Leviticus 23:28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD (Yehovah) your God. (Your Lord) The Day of Atonement is commanded by Yehovah to be a 100% complete Sabbath, absolutely no work is to be done. This is a picture of the rest that Believers have in Messiah. We are to rest in Him while He provides our salvation. (Heb. 4:5-11) Our part is purely to believe, and in that belief take steps of obedience which prove our cooperation. (Eph. 2:8-9, Phil. 2:12)
--Leviticus 23:29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among the people. We as Christians are to afflict our soul on this day as a picture of the reality that we must live as people that mourn over sin. Any person that is comfortable, who is at home with his sins, he is to be cut off from the household of faith. (Ja. 4:9-10, Mat. 5:4, 1 Co. 5:1--13) It is better in the here and now that we separate the sinner out of the household of faith, in the hope that such a one will repent and do right, than to cover his sin, and have him pass into the presence of the Almighty in his sin. For at that time the unbelief that exists in him which sponsored his sins will cause him to be condemned to eternal separation from God. (1 Co. 5:7-13)
--Leviticus 23:30-31 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statue forever throughout your dwellings. It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath. Once again the illustrated point is that there is no work of man that can earn salvation. We rest in His salvation. (He. 4:7-11) Our pressing, our effort is only to keep the faith, to walk in the faith even as is expressed in the words of the Apostle Paul who as an aged man said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8) Paul’s struggle, his maintaining, was not to earn salvation, but to walk worthy of it since he had received the promise of it. The faith he had received demanded that of him, and the faith we have received demands that of us. (Ro. 12:3, Eph. 4:1, 2Co. 6: 14-18, Jo. 6:29)
An Overview Of The Day Of Atonement As Lived Out Among The Jew’s Of Old, And The Meaning Bought Into Christianity By These Actions (Leviticus chapter 16)
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement the Jewish High Priest was to wash himself with water and dress himself with the High Priestly garments. He was to select a young bollock without blemish which was to be offered for a sin offering to atone for himself and his household. He was then to present two male goats before Yehovah at the door of the Tabernacle/Temple. He was then to cast lots, allowing the lots to determine which goat was to become a sacrifice for Yehovah, and which goat was to become the scapegoat. The high Priest was then to kill the young bullock putting some of its blood into a container. At the same time he was to take a censor full of burning coals off the altar and a hand full of sweet incense which had been beaten small. These things were to be taken into the Holy of Holies, within the veil. He was to put the incense upon the coals so that the smoke created a cloud which covered the mercy seat. He then was to take the blood of the young bullock and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat in an easterly direction. He was to apply the sprinkling seven times. The blood of the bullock was to atone for his sins, and the sins of his household. He was then to leave the Holy of Holies and kill the goat that had been selected by the casting of lots for Yehovah, this was to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the people. He was then to re-enter the Holy of Holies and with his finger sprinkle the blood of the goat seven times in the same manner as he had done with the blood of the bullock. The Tabernacle/Temple was to be completely empty of all persons while this ceremony was being performed. He was then to leave the Holy of Holies and go out to the Altar where he was to sprinkle the blood of both the bullock and the goat seven times upon the horns of the altar. This action was to cleanse and hallow it.
The next step for the High Priest was to take the second goat and lay his hands on its head, and confess over it the sins of the people, thus putting on the goat the sins of the people. The goat was then to be sent away into the wilderness at the hand of a fit man. The High Priest was then to go into the Tabernacle/Temple to remove his High Priestly garments where they were to remain, then he was to again wash himself with water. Having again dressed, he was to go out and offer his burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings of the people, and make atonement for himself and the people.
The person who had taken the scapegoat into the wilderness and let it go, was to upon his returning wash himself and his clothing, and then he could return to the camp. The remains of the young bullock and the goat offering whose blood was used within the veil to make atonement for the people, were to be taken outside the camp/city and burned with fire. Afterwards the person who had done the burning was to wash himself and his clothing, and then he was to return back into the camp/city. All the while all these things were taking place the people were to afflict their souls, and they were to do absolutely no work of any kind. This was to be an everlasting (For a very long period) statue in Israel.
The High Priest pictures Yeshua (Heb. 8:1-2, Heb. 9:11, Heb. 9:24)
The fact that the High Priest was to not enter the Holy of Holies any time He might choose, but only once per year, and that only on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement pictures that Yeshua Himself, who is the Great High Priest, entered the Heavenly Tabernacle into the presence of the Eternal God once, and there remains in the presence of God. (Heb. 9:7)
The High Priest was instructed to enter within the veil. This pictures the separation that existed between sinful man, and a holy God. The literal veil of the temple was torn by the Almighty at the death of the Messiah, symbolizing that the barrier of sin that stood between the Almighty and man had been dealt with by the death of Messiah, and a new and living way had been opened up for man to approach God. (Mat. 27:51, Heb. 4:16, Heb. 6:19, Heb. 9:1-15, Heb. 10:20) The Holy of Holies symbolizes the throne room of God.
The High Priest was to stand before the Mercy seat, which was/is upon the Ark of the Covenant between the cherubims. We must also understand that within the Ark of the Covenant were laid the tablets of the Law which Moses had received from the hand of Yehovah at the time he (Moses) had gone unto the mountain for forty days and forty nights. (Heb. 9:1-5) These things picture the reality that Yehovah is a God of law, and that His covenant with man is based in law, and the Law (Torah) has never been done away with, (Eph. 3:31) but through the atoning work of Messiah MERCY has triumphed over Law, and a way of forgiveness for man has been provided by Yehovah, thereby allowing man to enter into Yehovah’s presence. (Ro. 3:20-29) For the Presence of Yehovah was found over the Mercy Seat, and between the cherubims. (Ex. 25:17-22)
The High Priestly garments picture the heavenly garments that Yeshua was adorned in as He entered, and remains to this day in the very throne room on high. (Heb. 8:5, Heb. 9:24-25, Rev. 1:9-18)
- The sprinkling of the blood of the young bullock and goat seven times upon the Mercy Seat Eastward unto the Ark of the Covenant was evidence that for 1,500 years Yehovah demanded that the blood of animals be shed on the Day of Atonement as a temporary covering of the sins of men. The sprinkling being done seven times testifies that each year it was again complete, and it was therefore accepted. Howbeit, in a very temporary manner, and of course it must be understood that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin, they only served as a picture of the blood of Messiah. Messiah’s blood was shed once, for all men for all times, and is absolutely complete in its atoning power. (Heb. 9: 7-15) There is no sin for which it cannot atone for. (Mat. 12:31-32, Jo. 3:38) If a soul of man can be convicted by the Holy Spirit, then that sin can be forgiven if the person will call upon the name of the Lord. Amen! (Ro. 10:13) For it was Messiah’s blood that anointed the west end of the Mercy Seat upon the Ark of the Covenant at the time of Messiah’s death. Yehovah had predetermined 600 years earlier at the time of Jeremiah, (And at the invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar) to have the Ark hidden in a cave below where Yeshua was many years later to be crucified. Thus when Messiah’s blood mixed with water ran from His side and went down through the cracks in the rocks caused by the earthquake (Mat. 27:51) Yehovah’s righteous judgment of sin was forever satisfied.
The High Priest was to sprinkle the blood of the bull seven times on the Mercy Seat eastward to atone for his own sins, and the sins of his household. Reality is that Messiah had no need of any atoning sacrifice for His sins, because He was sinless. (Ro. 5:14-19, 2 co. 5:21, Heb. 4:5) The shedding of His blood was purely and strictly for the atoning of our sins.
The High Priest was to cast lots in the selection of the goats, thus determining which was to serve as the sacrifice, and which was to serve as the scapegoat, thus leaving it to Yehovah’s determination. This pictures that Yehovah chose Messiah to die for our sins thus becoming the atoning sacrifice, and that it was also Yehovah who determined that Messiah was to be taken without the camp to suffer and be humiliated. (Ps. 40:6-8, Is. 53:1-12, Acts 2:23) Further, it was Yehovah that determined that Yeshua descend in death into the lower regions to preach to the spirits held there. (1 Pet. 18-20, Mat. 12:39-40) Also this leaves the picture that by Yehovah’s hand we who are called to identify with Messiah are chosen to be participants in His sufferings. (Phil. 1:29, 1 Thes. 3:4, 1 Tim. 4:10, 2 Tim. 2:12, 2 Tim. 3:12, 1 Pet. 3:14-17, 1 Pet. 4:15-19)
The High Priest, when entering the Holy of Holies was to take with him a censer of hot coals from off the altar, and his hands were to be filled with sweet incense ground very fine. Upon entering the Holy of Holies he was to put the incense on the hot coals in front of the Mercy Seat, which again was upon the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the tablets of the Law. The smoke from the incense created a cloud around the Mercy Seat which pictures the prayers of the saints having been carried into the very presence of God by the person of Messiah. Here, in Yehovah’s presence the prayers of the saints are heard in that He is a God of love, and because of that love He has provided a way for mercy to triumph over judgment, so that He can hear and answer the prayers of those who cry to Him for salvation. (Rev. 5:8, Rev. 8:3-4)
The fact that no man was allowed to be present in the Tabernacle-Temple during the Day of Atonement pictures the reality that salvation was not complete, and an access had not been made for man into heaven until such time as Messiah provided for our atonement and entered Heaven Himself. (Heb. 9:7-8, Heb. 10:19-20) It was Yeshua Himself who became the mediator of a New Covenant, and our direct and personal mediator to God.
- The fact that Yehovah commanded that the Day of Atonement “to be a statue forever unto you”, (Lev. 23:31) which I believe can be interpreted as “until times indefinite”, carries with it the thought that the festival was to go on for a very long time. However, we know that this festival, as all the Festivals of Yehovah cannot literally be kept, for animal sacrifices have been made obsolete, the priesthood of the line of Aaron has been replaced by Messiah Himself, and the Temple is in non-existence. However, we can on that day celebrate the truths contained in this festival, and with our lives we can keep the truths contained in the Festival. (Heb. 8: 1-13, Heb. 9:1-15, Ro. 3:31, Col. 2:16-17)
An American Watchman,
Gregory A DeHart