YOM KIPPUR - THE
DAY OF ATONEMENT
How can sinful man live in perfect
peace and harmony with the perfectly holy God? This is the
most pertinent question that mankind can ask for it involves all
that is good in earthly life and eternity.
"For I am the LORD your God.
You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy;
for I am holy. . ." Leviticus 11:44. The
fundamental meaning of holy is "separate from sin".
"The LORD looks down from heaven
upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand,
who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together
become corrupt; There is none who does good, No not one."
Man has no answer as to how sinful man
can be reconciled to a holy God. Every formula of man and
every effort of man falls short "for all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23.
GOD MUST PROVIDE FOR MAN'S
Man's disobedience to God and the
consequent sinful permeation of his nature came as no surprise to
God. God made a plan whereby all mankind who truly desires
to do so can be reconciled to Him. ". . .Knowing that you
were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or
gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without
blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before
the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times
for you." 1st Peter 1:18, 19.
GOD GAVE PICTURES OF HIS SALVATION
God's plan of salvation required an
innocent substitute to receive the sentence of death instead of
the people who committed the sin. This can be seen in the
skins of animals providing an acceptable covering for Adam and Eve
to fellowship with God once again. (Genesis 3:21). It
is seen in Abel's sacrifice of a lamb (Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4).
It is seen in the ram being sacrificed instead of Isaac (Genesis
22; Hebrews 11:19). It is seen in the blood of the Passover
Lamb providing protection from death to the firstborn of Israel
(Exodus 12:12, 13). It was seen in all the sin offerings by
the priests of Israel (Hebrews 8:4, 5); 9:24; 10:1). The
picture that gave the fullest and clearest picture of the
sacrifice of Christ was Yom Kippur-The Day of Atonement. For
devout believers in Israel it was the holiest day in the year.
THE PURPOSE OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
In the Bible the Hebrew root word for
atonement (kaphar) carries the meaning "to cover" with the goal of
bringing at-one-ment between God and man. "For on that
day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that
you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD."
The Tabernacle was the center of
Israel's camp. Three tribes were camped on each of the four
sides of the Tabernacle. It consisted of an outer court
surrounded by a linen fence, except for the entrance on the
eastern end. The Tabernacle building was approximately
fifteen feet wide and forty-five feet long. It was divided
into two sections. The Holy Place was fifteen feet wide and
thirty feet long. The Holy of Holies was a cube of fifteen
feet. Between the entrance and the Holy Place was a brass
altar where sacrifices were made. Outside the Holy Place was
a laver of water for washing. Inside the Holy Place were
three articles of furniture: the menorah or lampstand, the
table of shewbread and the table of incense. Inside the Holy
of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. It contained the two
stones upon which God had written the ten commandments. The
Mercy Seat was like a lid on top of the ark. Two golden
cherubim looked down on the Mercy Seat from each side.
Aaron's rod was also in the Holy of Holies as a reminder that he
was God's chosen high priest.
God dwelled in the Holy of Holies in
the form of fire glowing through a cloud pillar. This pillar
of cloud and fire led Israel through forty years in the
wilderness. When it stopped the Levites would set up the
Tabernacle with the Holy of Holies located directly below the
pillar. The twelve tribes would set up their camps in their
assigned places. The pillar of fire and cloud would descend
into the Holy of Holies.
Israel knew that God was holy from the
perfect law He had given and ways that He enforced that law.
Alongside of plagues that took the lives of thousands for
disobedience the two sons of Aaron were slain for coming into the
Holy Place at the wrong time or in the wrong way, and possibly
under the influence of alcohol. The day they were slain was
the day God chose for the Date of Atonement to be observed
Israel also knew they were a sinful
people and they were grateful God provided a way for their sins to
be punished and separated from them. This enabled them to be
in fellowship with their God Who was holy, but also loving and
THE PERSON WHO CONDUCTED THE ATONEMENT
The High Priest Along Did The Work.
Aaron, the High Priest executed all
activities of the Day of Atonement. Although other priests
and Levites had been involved in the preparations it was the High
Priest who did all the work on the Day of Atonement. "There
shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to
make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may
make atonement for himself; for his household, and for all the
assembly of Israel." (Leviticus 16:17). This
reminds us of how Jesus was alone as He agonized in Gethsemane and
His sweat became as great drops of blood. He prayed:
Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me;
nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done." (Luke
22:42, 44). Jesus was alone as He endured the scorn and
insults of Israel's rulers. He was alone before Pilate and
Herod. He was alone as the soldiers pressed a crown of
thorns on His head; beat Him with whips and tore His beard from
His face. He was alone on the sorrowful walk of the Via
Dolorosa. He was alone as He suffered on the cross for our
sins. Yet, when Jesus triumphantly said, "It is finished"
the work of redemption was complete and available to all mankind.
THE HIGH PRIEST HUMBLED HIMSELF.
He must remove his regal High Priest's
garments that were referred to by the people as "his golden
garments". After that, he must wash himself and put on the
white linen garments of the common priest in which he did all his
work. This was a picture of Jesus Who "being in the form
of God...make Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a
bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man...He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death
of the cross." (Philippians 2:6-8).
THE HIGH PRIEST WAS REQUIRED TO
There were times when he bathed his
whole body and times when he washed his hands and sometimes his
feet. He had to be clean to make an atonement for others.
Even so, we read of Jesus, ". . .Who through the eternal Spirit
offered Himself without spot to God. . ." (Hebrews
THE HIGH PRIEST WAS REQUIRED TO
MAKE ATONEMENT FOR HIMSELF Before He Could Make Atonement For
"Thus Aaron shall come into the
Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and
of a ram as a burnt offering:" "Aaron shall offer the bull
as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for
himself and for his house." (Leviticus 16:3, 6.
See also 16:11-14).
The High Priest was instructed to kill
the bull for a sin offering and catch its blood in a bowl.
He was to take that bowl of blood, a pan of burning coals from the
altar, and a hand full of incense into the Holy of Holies.
He dropped the incense on the burning coals creating a smoky cloud
of sweet incense. He then sprinkled some blood on the mercy
seat and on the ground in front of the mercy seat. God was
indicating that even though the blood of animals cannot take away
sin He would look at that blood through smoke and accept it as the
blood of the coming Savior. The High Priest would become
ceremonially clean in the eyes of God and thus empowered to make
atonement for the sins of the people. This he did in a
similar manner with the sacrificial goat.
The New Testament fulfillment is
described in Hebrews 7. Jesus was not empowered to offer
sacrifice by the blood of animals but by the oath of God. "The
LORD has sworn and will not relent, You are a priest forever
according to the (eternal) order of Melchizedek...a High
Priest...fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled,
separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who
does not need. . .to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins
and then for the people's for this He did once for all when He
offered up Himself." (Hebrews 7:21, 26, 27).
THE PROCESS OF THE ATONEMENT.
The Congregation Afflicted Their
Souls Throughout The Day of Atonement. (Leviticus 16: 29).
They searched their hearts; acknowledged every known sin; admitted
their guilt and the righteous condemnation of their sin.
They also confessed their desperate dependence on God to grant
atonement for their sin.
The Congregation Provided Two Goats.
And he shall take from the congregation. . .two kids of the
goats as a sin offering. . ." (Leviticus 16:5).
The two goats were paid for from the public treasury and pictured
God's plan to atone for His people's sins.
The Sacrificial Goat. - The sacrificial goad was selected
by lot. It was slain as a sin offering. Aaron took the
blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled the blood on the mercy
seat and before the mercy seat as he had done with the blood of
the bull. He also sprinkled that blood to cleanse the
tabernacle and the brass altar of sacrifice. All of this
cleansed the tabernacle and its contents. Atonement was also
made for the sins of the people. (Leviticus 16:15-20).
The Scapegoat. - The High Priest placed both hands on
the head of the scapegoat and confessed "over it all the
iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their
transgressions..." (Leviticus 16:21a). In doing so
he transferred the sins of the people to the goat. He then
placed the scapegoat into the hands of a suitable man who
took the goat away to a place in the wilderness. This
pictured the sins of the people being permanently separated from
them in the eyes of God. It is described in Psalm 103:12
with these words, "As far as the east is from the west, so far
has He removed our transgressions from us.". This was a
cause of great rejoicing to the people of Israel.
Those who have accepted Christ's
sacrifice as being made for them and have trusted Jesus to be
their Savior on the basis of that sacrifice can rejoice even more.
Jesus affirmed, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My
word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and
shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto
life." (John 5:24).
THE HIGH PRIEST CLOSED WITH BURNT
The High Priest removed the white
linen clothes in which he had conducted the atonement. He
bathed himself; put on his golden high priest garments; went out
to the brass altar and offered a burnt offering for himself and
the people. The carcasses of the sacrificial offerings were
burnt outside the camp. The sins of the people had been
covered and there was nothing between God's people and their God
for another year.
We read of Jesus, "But this Man,
after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at
the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are
made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected
forever those who are being sanctified." (Hebrews
Through faith in Jesus Christ you can
be one of those who are perfected forever by His one offering.
Copyright © 2002
Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.