The Day of Atonement
Tuesday, October 11th at sunset starts the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. In Acts 27:9, it is referred to as “the Fast.” This Feast day is much different from the other Feasts. On the other Feasts, you eat the choicest foods possible and rejoice. This day is different in that it is a day of fasting, repentance, and reflection. The fast is from sunset to sunset and is abstaining from both drink and food.
It is on this day in Ancient Israel, atonement was made for the sins of the people. For this reason, the Day of Atonement is called Shabbat Shabbaton or the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It is the holiest day of the year on the Hebrew Calendar because of its significance.
On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would first wash with water and put on the sacred linen garments from Exodus 28. He was to offer a bull for his own sins and the sins of his household. This shows us that before the high priest could make atonement for others he had to make atonement for himself. The blood of that bull was then applied to the Ark of the Covenant and the Altar of Incense.
Two goats were then chosen and lots would be cast between the two of them. One goat was chosen as a sin offering and the other goat was chosen as the azazel goat or scapegoat. A red thread was tied to each of these two goats and another thread tied to the doorpost of the temple. The goat chosen for the sin offering was brought to the High Priest. The High Priest would then slaughter the goat and then apply its blood to the Ark of the Covenant and the Altar of Incense. This goat was slain for the nation.
When these sacrifices were completed, the priests would bring forward the goat chosen as the scapegoat. The high priest would place his hands on this goat and confess over it all the sins and wickedness of the Israelites. A chosen man would then chase this goat over a cliff. This was done to keep the goat from bringing the sins of the people back into the camp. As this process took place, the red thread at the doorpost of the tabernacle would turn white. This was to let them know that the Lord had covered their sins. As the Bible says, “though my sins be red as scarlet, you shall make them white as snow.”
After all this was done, the high priest washed in water and changed back into his normal priestly garments. The high priest then left the Holy Place and made more burnt offerings to the Lord. The fat from the sin offerings used in the Most Holy Place and the Holy Place were to be offered with these burnt offerings. Atonement for the people was then complete.
This ritual, performed once a year, atoned for the sins of the Israelites and allowed God to walk in the camp among them. The sacrifices made on this day were made with animals. As the writer of Hebrews explains, the sacrifices of bulls and goats were not sufficient to take away or cleanse sin (Hebrews 9:12-14). They were just an annual reminder for the people that they were sinful and needed Atonement.
That is why Christ had to come and be our atonement. An annual reminder is totally insufficient to wipe away the iniquity and rebellion from our sins. We needed something better than the blood of bulls and goats; we needed the blood of the Son of God.
When the high priest made Atonement for the Israelites, he entered a sanctuary made by the hands of men. Because this original ritual was on earth, it could not give us the standing we need to appear before the Father in Heaven. When we sin, we are deserving of the second, spiritual death. Christ’s sacrifice saves us from the second death in the Lake of Fire if we receive it! In order for us to stand before the Father in Heaven, Christ had to take His perfect blood into a Temple that was not earthly, but spiritual.
In Hebrews 9:23-26, the Bible says, “It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” Jesus didn’t have to make atonement for His household. He is perfect. Just as the high priest entered into the earthly temple and sprinkled the goat’s blood on the Ark of the Covenant and Altar of Incense, so Christ did the exact same thing with His own blood in Heaven.
There is one aspect of this Atonement ceremony that has yet to come to pass! In this ritual of Atonement, there was a second goat, which was called the azazel goat or the scapegoat. The High Priest confessed all the sins of the people on this goat and a chosen man then chased it off a cliff. This second goat represents Satan, who will have all the sins of mankind confessed over Him by our High Priest, Christ. Christ will then send a chosen angel to bind him for the millennial reign. John was shown this event in Revelation 20:1-3.
Now, let’s look at this special day on a personal level. The Day of Atonement is the last of the 10 days of Awe. God is going to decide your upcoming year on this day. He is going to make the final decision about whether or not you live or die; He is going to decide the general course of events for your life.
He is also going to decide the final course of our nation. So many people think that the right political candidate can fix our country. Nothing is farther from the Truth. Only God Almighty can save us! He is the only one who can turn things around. We must repent and turn whole heartedly to God. With our current national situation, we need God more now that ever.
Just as the High Priest in Leviticus 16 had to make Atonement for his own household, the change in our nation starts with SELF. We must look at our own lives and how we conduct our lives in private. We can’t look to people to save us; we cannot blame the sins of other groups and hope that changes things. Only when every person takes personal accountability for his or her own sins. This is true revival.
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
There are four steps to this process – humility, praying, seeking, and turning from sin. It will require all four to receive a change in our country.
Today, your name will be placed in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. May it be inscribed in the Book of Life.