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The Feasts of Israel – The Day of Atonement(s)

These are the Lord’s appointed times, holy assemblies, which you must proclaim at their appointed time. (Leviticus 23:4 NET)

Historical Background of the Day of Atonement(s)

God gave the following instructions concerning the Day of Atonement(s) in 1446 B.C.

The LORD spoke to Moses: “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must humble yourselves and present a gift to the LORD. You must not do any work on this particular day, because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:26–28 NET)

The Day of Atonement(s) is the tenth day of the seventh month on the Hebrew religious calendar. (1) This is the Hebrew month of Tishri (the post-exilic name, Ethanim, the pre-exilic) corresponding to the Gentile months of September through October. Tishri is also the first month on the Jewish civil calendar, which makes it the month of the Jewish New Year (1). (3)

It is observed between two other significant Feasts of Israel: The Feast of Trumpets (1) and the Feast of Tabernacles (1).

The Day of Atonements was not designated as a “Pilgrimage Festival,” meaning there was no requirement for all males to be in Jerusalem during this time, as required for Pilgrimage Festivals (1).

Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16 NET)

Three annual Pilgrimage Feasts that all males had to attend:

  • Festival of Unleavened Bread
  • Festival of Weeks
  • Festival of Tabernacles

However, the sound of trumpets of the previous Feast of Trumpets on Tishri 1 would announce to those living outside Jerusalem that the Day of Atonement, followed by the Feast of Tabernacles, a pilgrimage feast, would soon occur.

Hebrew Calendar with Feasts
Scripturally Derived Names

Yom Hakippurim

Yom means “day,” Ha means “the,” and kippurim means the plural word “Atonements.” Together, they literally mean “Day [of] the Atonements.” Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) accurately indicates the plural form of atonement. However, the definite article “the” is replaced with the indefinite article “a.”

And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, ‘Only—on the tenth of this seventh month is a day of atonements; ye have a holy convocation, and ye have humbled yourselves, and have brought near a fire-offering to Jehovah; and ye do no work in this self-same day, for it is a day of atonements, to make atonement for you, before Jehovah your God. ‘For any person who is not humbled in this self-same day hath even been cut off from his people; and any person who doth any work in this self-same day I have even destroyed that person from the midst of his people; ye do no work—a statute age-during to your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23:26–28 YLT)

However, most, if not all, other versions translate plural kippurim as singular.

For example:

And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and bring an offering by fire near to Yahweh. “And you shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before Yahweh your God. (Leviticus 23:26–28 LSB)
The LORD spoke to Moses: “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It is to be a holy assembly for you, and you must humble yourselves and present a gift to the LORD. You must not do any work on this particular day, because it is a day of atonement to make atonement for yourselves before the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:26-28 NET)

There was not just atonement for one thing on the Day of Atonement(s).

“The priest who is anointed and ordained to act as high priest in place of his father is to make atonement. He is to put on the linen garments, the holy garments, and he is to purify the Most Holy Place, he is to purify the Meeting Tent and the altar, and he is to make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This is to be a perpetual statute for you to make atonement for the Israelites for all their sins once a year.” So he did just as the Lord had commanded Moses. (Leviticus 16:32–34 NET)
  1. Atonement for the High Priest, Priests, and their families.
  2. Purification of the Most Holy Place, The Holy Place, and the Golden Altar of Incense.
  3. Atonement for the People of the Assembly (i.e., the Nation of Israel, including the non-priest Levites)

Note that the Day of Atonement ritual does not mention the purification of the horns of the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering. However, the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering horns are purified from the sins of a leader (Leviticus 4:22-26) and sins of common persons (Leviticus 4:27-35) under the Sin Offering (1) rituals. Nevertheless, the Day of Atonement ritual does pour out the mixed calf and goat blood remaining from the Tabernacle purification at the base of the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering for purification. ( Leviticus 4:4-7;4:14-18)

Yom Kippur

Yom means “day,” and Kippur is from the Hebrew word kaphar, meaning “to cover,” which is translated as atonement. Taken together, they literally mean “Day Atonement.” The concept of the Old Covenant usage of atonement is simply that of covering. That is, their sins were covered by this offering. (2)

‘And it hath been to you for a statute age-during, in the seventh month, in the tenth of the month, ye humble yourselves, and do no work—the native, and the sojourner who is sojourning in your midst; for on this day he maketh atonement for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins before Jehovah ye are clean; it is to you a sabbath of rest, and ye have humbled yourselves—a statute age-during. (Leviticus 16:29–31 YLT)
“And this shall be a perpetual statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native or the sojourner who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before Yahweh. “It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a perpetual statute. (Leviticus 16:29–30 LSB)
“This is to be a perpetual statute for you. In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you must humble yourselves and do no work of any kind, both the native citizen and the foreigner who resides in your midst, for on this day atonement is to be made for you to cleanse you from all your sins; you must be clean before the Lord. It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves. It is a perpetual statute. (Leviticus 16:29-31 NET)

This is the Day of Atonement singular, as it only refers to the Atonement for the people. Today, since presently there is no Temple with the High Priest and Priest performing their mandated rituals, this is an accurate description.

Shabbat Shabbaton

“It is to be a sabbath [shabbat] of solemn rest [shabbaton] for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a perpetual statute. (Leviticus 16:31 LSB)

Shabbat means “Sabbath,” and Shabbaton means “Sabbaths.” Taken together, it means the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” The Day of Atonement, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, is the holiest of all rest days. All the laws that apply to the Sabbath (1) also apply to this day, making it the Sabbath of Sabbaths. (2)

It is to be a “perpetual statute.” This would appear to contradict the New Testament teaching that sacrifices were no longer necessary with the death of the Messiah. But the Hebrew word for perpetual used here does not actually mean “eternity” as we use it in English today. The Hebrew word literally means “up to the end of a period of time.” What that period of time is must be determined by the context. Sometimes, it indicates “up to the end of a person’s life.” At other times, it is used as “up to the end of human history.” But it also can mean “up to the end of an age or dispensation,” as is the case here. It would be a statute as long as the Law of Moses was in effect. This was to be followed strictly, as Leviticus 16 says, until the end of the Dispensation of the Law, when the Messiah became the final sacrifice for sin. (2)

The New Covenant scriptures are in agreement.

Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME, IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME, TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’” After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time UNTIL HIS ENEMIES ARE PUT AS A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying, “THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,” He then says, “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:5–18 LSB)

In their writings, the rabbis refer to this day by the Aramaic word yoma, which literally means “the day,” with a definite article because of the special significance of this particular day. (2)

The Purpose of the Feast
“This is to be a perpetual statute for you. In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you must humble yourselves and do no work of any kind, both the native citizen and the foreigner who resides in your midst, for on this day atonement is to be made for you to cleanse you from all your sins; you must be clean before the Lord. It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you must humble yourselves. It is a perpetual statute. (Leviticus 16:29–31 NET)

In addition, the Tabernacle needed to be purified once a year on the Day of Atonement(s) because it was defiled by the sins of the Israelites.

“ ‘Thus you are to set the Israelites apart from their impurity so that they do not die in their impurity by defiling my tabernacle which is in their midst. (Leviticus 15:31 NET)
So he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities. (Leviticus 16:16 NET)
But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person must be cut off from among the community, because he has polluted the sanctuary of the Lord; the water of purification was not sprinkled on him, so he is unclean. (Numbers 19:20 NET)
The Lord spoke to Moses: “You are to say to the Israelites, ‘Any man from the Israelites or from the foreigners who reside in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death; the people of the land must pelt him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and cut him off from the midst of his people, because he has given some of his children to Molech and thereby defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. (Leviticus 20:1–3 NET)

Just as the land is defiled by blood, so too it is defiled by sin.

“You must not pollute the land where you live, for blood defiles the land, and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed there, except by the blood of the person who shed it. Therefore do not defile the land that you will inhabit, in which I live, for I the Lord live among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35:33–34 NET)
They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood— the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. The land was polluted by bloodshed. (Psalm 106:37–38 NET)
He turned streams into a desert, springs of water into arid land, and a fruitful land into a barren place, because of the sin of its inhabitants. (Psalm 107:33–34 NET)
“ ‘You must be sure to obey all my statutes and regulations, so that the land to which I am about to bring you to take up residence there does not vomit you out. (Leviticus 20:22 NET)

Realize a defiled house or tent makes those in it unclean.

“If the infection returns and breaks out in the house after he has pulled out the stones, scraped the house, and it is replastered, the priest is to come and examine it, and if the infection has spread in the house, it is a malignant disease in the house. It is unclean. He must tear down the house, its stones, its wood, and all the plaster of the house, and bring all of it outside the city to an unclean place. Anyone who enters the house all the days the priest has quarantined it will be unclean until evening. Anyone who lies down in the house must wash his clothes. Anyone who eats in the house must wash his clothes. (Leviticus 14:43–47 NET)

In the same way, since the land was defiled by the sins of the people living in it, the Tabernacle, being in the same land as the Israelites, was defiled by their sins. The Tabernacle was defiled by the uncleanness of the Israelites in whose midst it was.

“ ‘Thus you are to set the Israelites apart from their impurity so that they do not die in their impurity by defiling my tabernacle which is in their midst. (Leviticus 15:31 NET)

The defilement of a member of the community defiled the Tabernacle.

Anyone who touches the corpse of any dead person and does not purify himself defiles the tabernacle of the Lord. And that person must be cut off from Israel, because the water of purification was not sprinkled on him. He will be unclean; his uncleanness remains on him. (Numbers 19:13 NET)

Land Defiling Sins

“ ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things, for the nations which I am about to drive out before you have been defiled with all these things. Therefore the land has become unclean and I have brought the punishment for its iniquity upon it, so that the land has vomited out its inhabitants. You yourselves must obey my statutes and my regulations and must not do any of these abominations, both the native citizen and the resident foreigner in your midst, for the people who were in the land before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become unclean. So do not make the land vomit you out because you defile it just as it has vomited out the nations that were before you. For if anyone does any of these abominations, the persons who do them will be cut off from the midst of their people. You must obey my charge to not practice any of the abominable statutes that have been done before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them. I am the Lord your God.’ ” (Leviticus 18:24–30 NET)

Idolatry:

  • Worship of false gods (Jeremiah 3:9)

Bloodshed:

  • Child sacrifice (e.g., abortion (1)) (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:3; Psalms 106:35-39)
  • A man who hangs on a tree is cursed, and if he remains on the tree overnight, the land itself will be defiled (Deuteronomy 21:23)

Immorality:

Covenant Breaking:

  • Breaking of an oath (2 Samuel 21:1)
  • Injustice (Proverbs 13:23)

Therefore, the Most Holy Place, the Holy Place, and the Golden Altar of Incense needed to be purified from the sins of the Israelites with blood on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:14-19)

Five Important Concepts that Assist in the Understanding of the Day of Atonement(s):

First, the Hebrew word for “atonement” comes from the Hebrew root kafar, a root that is found one hundred-ten times in the Old Covenant, primarily within two books: Leviticus and Numbers. The basic idea of the word “atonement” is “to cover.” This is seen in the book of Genesis, where it is used of covering Noah’s ark with pitch to protect it from water seepage. (2)

Make for yourself an ark of cypress wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover [Hb. kafar] it with pitch inside and out. (Genesis 6:14 NET)

The concept of the Old Covenant usage of atonement is simply that of “covering”; their sins were covered by this particular blood offering. (2)

for the life of every living thing is in the blood. So I myself have assigned it to you on the altar to make atonement for your lives, for the blood makes atonement by means of the life. (Leviticus 17:11 NET)

Atonement

Atonement conveys the notion of both propitiation and expiation. In modern usage, atonement, therefore, is something accomplished by God through Christ on the cross. Atonement is also an act of Christ that is, in some sense, offered to God.

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. (Hebrews 9:14 NET)

The ultimate goal of the atonement is the reconciliation of sinners with God.

For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised. So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer. So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!” God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14–21)

Objectively considered, reconciliation focuses on God’s attitude toward sinners—i.e., He is willing to delay sin’s punishment of the sinner; subjectively, God is willing to be reconciled to all sinners who meet His condition of faith in Christ. Christ’s atonement is fundamentally an act of reconciliation between sinful humanity and God.

Sherman describes the atonement this way: “In its most basic sense, it answers the human problem. It is the activity of God the Father in the Son through the Spirit that overcomes the bondage, desire, pride, dislocation, estrangement, alienation, evil, or limitation that separates humanity from God and thus enables the restoration of the true and proper relation between them.”

Propitiation

Propitiation, giving prominence to the secondary meaning of the Hebrew verb kaphar (“cover”) and the primary meaning of the Greek hilasmos, is an act prompted by God’s love, mercy, and grace, whereby His holiness and justice are demonstrated via substitutionary sacrifice for sin. Endemic to the meaning of the word “propitiation” is the turning away of God’s wrath against sinners.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18 NET)

God’s love and wrath are compatible aspects of His nature, and the concept of propitiation in Scripture always includes both.

The word “propitiation” encompasses two aspects of the atonement:

  1. God’s justice is satisfied, and His wrath against sin and sinners is removed.
  2. Sin is objectively atoned for, and guilt is removed.

Where there is sin, there is always guilt—objective guilt before God since sin is a violation of God’s law and subjective guilt in the human heart due to our personal responsibility for our sin. We are obligated to keep God’s law, but because of our sin, we are powerless to do so. We deserve condemnation for our sin. Moreover, sin brings separation between God and humanity—i.e., broken fellowship. Sin incurs God’s condemnation of those who are guilty. Guilt demands punishment, hence the cross. Forgiveness is extended based on the cross, which grounds God’s forgiveness of sin.

Note that Christ’s advocacy with the Father is connected to the fact that He is the propitiation “for our sins.”

(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.  (1 John 2:1–2 LSB)
In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10 LSB)

His death on the cross has satisfied the justice of God and averted the wrath of God.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, for a demonstration of His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26 LSB)

Expiation

The term expiation includes the primary meaning of kaphar (Hb., “cover”) and the secondary meaning of hilasmos (Gk., “removal of sin and cancelation of punishment based on substitutionary sacrifice”). The focus of expiation has to do with the effect of atonement on sin itself. Again, expiation is the removal of impersonal wrath, sin, or guilt. Recall propitiation means the placating [appeasing or satisfying] of the personal wrath of God. In other words, propitiation brings the wrath of God into the picture, while expiation can leave it out. If one wanted to use both words correctly in connection with each other, then one would say that Christ propitiated the wrath of God by becoming an expiation for our sins. (8)

Second, if broken down by its syllables, the word “atonement” is “at-one-ment.” The basic concept is that of bringing together two parties who have been at enmity or have animosity against each other. It is an Old Covenant concept only, as the word is not found in the New Covenant. It is used in a theological sense for all that Yeshua (Jesus) did on the cross. In the Old Covenant, the Hebrew word “atonement” has a much more limited meaning: it means “covering” and emphasizes the bringing together of two parties who have been at enmity with each other. (2)

Third, the thing to note about this particular occasion is that it was a day of national atonement. There is a common misconception that on the Day of Atonement, every individual Jewish person had to bring his own sin sacrifice for the year, but that was not the case. Instead, one goat, one blood offering, was offered up for the whole nation on this occasion. The purpose of this national Day of Atonement was to cover all sins that were not covered by the individual atonement. The Sin offering (1) was an individual atonement, as was the Trespass offering (1). These were brought throughout the year as necessary to cover individual sins and trespasses. But the occasion of the Day of Atonement was to cover all sins that were not covered by the individual atonement. (2)

It also helped the very poor who could not afford a blood sacrifice for the Sin Offering (1) during the year and had to offer a meal offering. On the Day of Atonement, the blood was sprinkled upon the Atonement Plate (i.e., Mercy Seat) on this one and only occasion. This sprinkling of blood upon the Mercy Seat would provide blood for the very poor, who were allowed to bring a bloodless offering when they offered a Sin Offering. (Nevertheless, the poor man’s sins were covered by blood because his Meal Offering was used as a Sin Offering and placed upon the twice-daily Burnt Offering, thereby coming in contact with its blood.) Furthermore, on the Day of Atonement, one goat was offered up for the whole nation, with the animal’s blood sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat; on that occasion, the sins of the very, very poor were also covered). (2)

So, with this one-day offering, one atonement was made for the whole nation. However, there is a particular emphasis on individual appropriation.

A blood offering was provided for the whole nation on this Day of Atonement. But it applied only to those who would afflict their souls, those who would repent, and those who would believe. In the words of Leviticus 23, where the Day of Atonement is mentioned again, it states that the blood sacrifice only applied “to the individual who afflicted his soul.” (2)

Although Jesus died for all sins of all time, for all men everywhere, that by itself will not save anyone because the benefits of Messiah’s death are applied only to those individuals who repent and believe (1).

Intentional Sin Forgiveness through Confession

Sins committed unintentionally by “straying” from the commandments (Leviticus 4:3-35) or other types of transgressions (Leviticus 5:1–6), there was forgiveness available through the Sin Offering (1).

This contrasts with a sin of rebellion or presumption (i.e., flagrant sin), a calculated sin of defiance against God, for which there is no sacrifice. The penalty for those sins was to be cut off or executed.

“ ‘But the person who acts defiantly, whether native-born or a resident foreigner, insults the Lord. That person must be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person must be completely cut off. His iniquity will be on him.’ ” (Numbers 15:30–31 NET)

One could not bring an offering for such a sin nor get near the Tabernacle to offer an offering, even if one existed since they had been “cut off” and thus barred from the Sanctuary.

However, three “intentional sins” cases can be converted to “unintentional sins” by adding public confession to the sinner’s remorse, thus qualifying them for sacrificial removal. Recall that “straying sins” did not require public confession, only remorse on the sinner’s part. (16)

1) Intentionally failing to testify when a witness

‘When a person sins in that he hears a public curse against one who fails to testify and he is a witness (he either saw or knew what had happened) and he does not make it known, then he will bear his punishment for iniquity... when an individual becomes guilty with regard to one of these things he must confess how he has sinned, and he must bring his penalty for guilt to the LORD for his sin that he has committed, a female from the flock, whether a female sheep or a female goat, for a sin offering. So the priest will make atonement on his behalf for his sin. (Leviticus 5:1,5 NET)

2) The nation of Israel’s “intentional sins” and “straying sins” on the Day of Atonement(s)

Aaron is to lay his two hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins, and thus he is to put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man standing ready. The goat is to bear on itself all their iniquities into an inaccessible land, so he is to send the goat away in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:21–22 NET)

3) Restoration of the nation of Israel after sin that resulted in their exile

However, when they confess their iniquity and their ancestors’ iniquity which they committed by trespassing against me, by which they also walked in hostility against me (and I myself will walk in hostility against them and bring them into the land of their enemies), and then their uncircumcised hearts become humbled and they make up for their iniquity, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. (Leviticus 26:40–42 NET)

This foreshadows forgiveness of all sin, including straying and intentional, in the New Covenant.

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NET)

Fourth, there are three primary purposes for the Day of Atonement(s) to consider.

  • It provided a yearly opportunity to cleanse the priests, the tabernacle, and the people.
  • It reminded Israel of her national standing before God.
  • It called for individual repentance. Again, a distinction must be made between national provision and individual appropriation. On this day, there was a national provision of atonement, but it was appropriated only by individuals who repented. Therefore, there is a call on this occasion for individual repentance. (2)
And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and bring an offering by fire near to Yahweh. “And you shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before Yahweh your God. “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. “And as for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will cause to perish from among his people. “You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your places of habitation. “It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26–32 LSB)
‘Then on the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall humble yourselves; you shall not do any work. (Numbers 29:7 LSB)

The command in Scripture for the Day of Atonement was the humbling of the soul and not the body. While fasting is not expressly mentioned in this scripture, fasting is a way of humbling the body that can humble the soul.

Then I called for a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from Him a direct journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions. (Ezra 8:21 LSB)
“Yet even now,” declares Yahweh, “Return to Me with all your heart And with fasting, weeping, and wailing; And tear your heart and not your garments.” Now return to Yahweh your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, And relenting concerning evil. (Joel 2:12,13 LSB)

Nevertheless, the fast must be the one that God has chosen.

‘Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we afflicted our souls and You do not know?’ Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And oppress all your workers. “Behold, you fast for contention and quarreling and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high. “Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to afflict himself? Is it for bowing one’s head like a reed And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed? Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to Yahweh? “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To release the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the afflicted homeless into the house; When you see the naked, you cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:3–7 LSB)

Consequently, on this day, the Israelites abstained from food and work. Food could not be prepared or consumed by anyone of their own nation or even strangers who dwelt among them. Anyone who did not fast was excommunicated.

Furthermore, anyone who performed any work on this Sabbath of Sabbaths (other than the priests and Levites involved in the Tabernacle’s service) would suffer the death penalty.

And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and bring an offering by fire near to Yahweh. “And you shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before Yahweh your God. “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. “And as for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will cause to perish from among his people. “You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your places of habitation. “It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26–32 LSB)

The celebration began on the evening of the ninth day of the seventh month and continued until the evening of the tenth day of the month. The fast was observed for twenty-four to twenty-six hours. “It starts before sundown when it is still light outside until after the next sundown when it is dark outside and three stars can be seen in the sky.” (6)

Fifth, this was the most important religious day of the Jewish religious calendar. This was true under Moses, and it was also true in rabbinic theology.

In addition, the Jubilee Year (1) was always proclaimed on the Day of Atonement(s).

“ ‘You must count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, and the days of the seven weeks of years will amount to forty-nine years. You must sound loud horn blasts—in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, on the Day of Atonement—you must sound the horn in your entire land. So you must consecrate the fiftieth year, and you must proclaim a release in the land for all its inhabitants. That year will be your jubilee; each one of you must return to his property and each one of you must return to his clan. That fiftieth year will be your jubilee; you must not sow the land, harvest its aftergrowth, or pick the grapes of its unpruned vines.Because that year is a jubilee, it will be holy to you—you may eat its produce from the field. (Leviticus 25:8–12 NET)

Required Sacrifices

These sacrifices and offerings were in addition to those required daily (1)

For the High Priest and Priests (Leviticus 16:3,4,6)

A burnt offering consisting of a Ram. The appropriate meal (grain) (1) offering of wheat flour (1), olive oil (1), frankincense (1), and salt (1) were placed on top of the sacrificial animal, followed by the drink offering of wine (1). In addition, a bull for the sin offering (1) was required, with no grain or drink offerings accompanying it.

For the Most Holy Place, Tabernacle, and Golden Altar of Incense (Leviticus 16:14,15)

For the Nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:5,7-10)

A burnt offering consisting of a Ram. The appropriate meal (grain) (1) offering of wheat flour (1), olive oil (1), frankincense (1), and salt (1) were placed on top of the sacrificial animal, followed by the drink offering of wine (1). In addition, two goats for the sin offering (1) were required, with no grain or drink offerings accompanying them.

The Festival Offering (Numbers 29:8-11)

But you must offer a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old, all of them without blemish. Their grain offering must be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs, along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the purification offering for atonement and the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings. (Numbers 29:8–11 NET)

A burnt offering (1) consisting of a bull, one Ram, and seven lambs was required. The appropriate meal (grain) (1) offering of wheat flour (1), olive oil (1), frankincense (1), and salt (1) were placed on top of the sacrificial animals, followed by the drink offering of wine (1). In addition, a kid for the sin offering (1) was required, with no grain or drink offerings accompanying it. (3)

The animals to be sacrificed had to have the following four general characteristics. The animal had to be: 

  • ceremonially clean, 
  • utilitarian, meaning “usable for food” or sustenance, 
  • domesticated (i.e., those that obeyed their master’s will and more or less were endeared to the offerer), and
  • types of animal sacrifices (see “Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant” table immediately below)
Sacrifices and Offerings of the Old Covenant

In addition, the animal to be sacrificed had to meet the following three criteria:

  • Condition – perfect without spot, blemish, disease, or deformity (cf. Malachi 1:8)
  • Gender – Male (6) and
  • Age – generally, the lamb or kid had to be one year old (i.e., a lamb or kid at the peak of life and health). Sometimes, it could be as young as eight days old (Leviticus 22:27) or as old as three years (Genesis 15:9). The young bull and ram must be older than seven days (Leviticus 22:27) or as old as three years. (Genesis 15:9)(2)
“In this way Aaron is to enter into the sanctuary—with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. (Leviticus 16:3 NET)

The high priest himself must first deal with his own sins before he can deal with the people’s sins. Aaron had to provide for himself, and subsequent high priests had to provide for themselves: a young bull (i.e., a calf) for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. The principle to be found here is that the sinful human high priest had to atone for his own sins before he could atone for the people. A limitation of the Aaronic priesthood was that the high priest was a sinner who had to atone for his own sins before he could atone for the nation’s sins. (2)

He must put on a holy linen tunic, linen leggings are to cover his body, and he is to wrap himself with a linen sash and wrap his head with a linen turban. They are holy garments, so he must bathe his body in water and put them on. (Leviticus 16:4 NET)

The High Priest’s Day of Atonements Uniform

Only one time of the year did the High Priest not wear the Golden Garments.

On the Day of Atonement(s), the High Priest wore the holy “white” garments.

High Priest’s Holy (White) Garments

The simple white of his array, in distinction to the “golden garments” which he otherwise wore, pointed to the fact that on that day, the high priest appeared not “as the bridegroom of Yahweh” but as bearing in his official capacity the emblem of that perfect purity which was sought by the atonements of that day. (4)

In the Bible, fine white linen represents perfect righteousness. So, from within, the High Priest was symbolically clothed in perfect righteousness. (7)

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood there before the angel. The angel spoke up to those standing all around, “Remove his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have freely forgiven your iniquity and will dress you in fine clothing.” Then I spoke up, “Let a clean turban be put on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood nearby. (Zechariah 3:3–5 NET)

 In the prophecies of Zechariah, the removal of Joshua’s “filthy garments” and the clothing him with “change of raiment” symbolically denoted – “I have freely forgiven your iniquity.” Similarly, those who stand nearest to God are always described as arrayed ‘in white.’’ (4)

But you have a few individuals in Sardis who have not stained their clothes, and they will walk with me dressed in white, because they are worthy. The one who conquers will be dressed like them in white clothing, and I will never erase his name from the book of life, but will declare his name before my Father and before his angels. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:4–6 NET)

That day was the year’s highest and most holy day, the Day of Atonement(s). These garments are made from white linen (1), hence their designation “the white garments.” 

This uniform (1) consisted of four “White Garments”:

  • Tunic (Long Shirt – Inner Garment)
  • Turban (Hat or Mitre)
  • Sash (Linen Belt or Girdle)
  • Linen Leggings (Short Pants – Undergarments)
Linen Leggings (Boxer Shorts)
He must put on a holy linen tunic, linen leggings are to cover his body, and he is to wrap himself with a linen sash and wrap his head with a linen turban. They are holy garments, so he must bathe his body in water and put them on. (Leviticus 16:4 NET)

Before putting on the Day of Atonement(s) Uniform, the High Priest must wash himself. The washing represents a symbolic cleansing of any ceremonial defilement. Therefore, the High Priest is cleansed so that he might minister on behalf of the people. (7)

The word bathe means “immersion.” The high priest would immerse himself in water for ritual cleansing and then wear these Day of Atonement(s) clothes. (2)

And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it. “And Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it; when they come into the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water, so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to minister, by offering up in smoke a fire sacrifice to Yahweh. “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his seed throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:17–21 LSB)

There was also a standing requirement to wash their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle or approaching the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering. On all other occasions, this was the only requirement, whereas on the Day of Atonement(s), the High Priest was to immerse his whole body. (4)

Now that he was properly dressed for the occasion, the High Priest began the ceremony. The Day of Atonement(s) is the most solemn of all days. This is the day for making atonement or covering for the sins of the entire nation of Israel. It was the one day of the year when the High Priest could go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. He would offer the blood of the sin offering on the Mercy Seat. God would accept it as covering for the sins of the people. (7)

The pressure was on the High Priest. If he made a mistake, the whole nation would be without forgiveness. So God gave detailed instructions to the High Priest. The High Priest is in complete charge of the service. He must perform all by himself. No one can help or touch him until the ceremony is completed. (7)

1. The High Priest Confesses His Sins and the Sins of His Household

The high priest is just a man, so he must make atonement for his sins before representing the nation. That does not give you too much confidence, knowing that the person representing you before God is a sinner, just like you are. But since he is a man, he does understand your problems. He can identify with you, and you with him. You know he is sweating it out on your behalf. But it seems he dies as soon as you get to know him. Then somebody else takes his place. And the new High Priest may not even like you. This constant change with a mere human priest is very unsettling, but it is the best you have got. (7)

Tabernacle Model (9)(10)
Tabernacle of Moses

The young bull for the high priest and the priesthood’s sin offering (1) stood between the Temple porch and the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering (1). It was placed towards the south, but the high priest, who stood facing the east facing the worshippers, turned the head of the sacrifice towards the west (that is, to face the sanctuary). The high priest then laid both his hands upon the head of the young bull and confessed something similar to this: (4)

“Yahweh! I have committed iniquity; I have transgressed; I have sinned—I and my house. Oh, then, Yahweh, I beseech You, cover over (atone for, let there be atonement for) the iniquities, the transgressions, and the sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned before You, I, and my house—even as it is written in the law of Moses, Your servant: “For, on that day will He cover over (atone) for you to make you clean; from all your transgressions before Yahweh you shall be cleansed.””  (4)

2. The Scapegoat is Chosen

He must also take two male goats from the congregation of the Israelites for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron is to present the sin offering bull which is for himself and is to make atonement on behalf of himself and his household. He must then take the two goats and stand them before the Lord at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, and Aaron is to cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and one lot for Azazel. Aaron must then present the goat which has been designated by lot for the Lord, and he is to make it a sin offering, but the goat which has been designated by lot for Azazel is to be stood alive before the Lord to make atonement on it by sending it away to Azazel into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:5–10 NET)

The first part of the service, that for the High Priest and his household, had taken place close to the Holy Place, between the porch and the altar. The next was performed close to the worshipping people. In the eastern part of the Court of Priests, that is, close to the worshippers, and on the north side of it stood an urn called Calpi, in which were two lots of the same shape, size, and material—in the second Temple they were of gold; the one bearing the inscription “la-YHWH” (i.e., for Yahweh), the other “la-Azazel,” (i.e., for Azazel). These two goats had been placed with their backs to the people and their faces towards the sanctuary (westwards) and gazed at the high priest and his entourage as they approached. The two goats, however, must be altogether alike in look, size, and value; indeed, so earnestly was it sought to carry out the idea that these two formed parts of one and the same sacrifice, that it was arranged they should if possible, even be purchased at the same time. (4)

The high priest now faced the people, standing between his substitute, the deputy high priest (on his right hand), and the chief priest of the division of priests that had temple duty that week (on his left hand). He shook the urn, thrust his two hands into it, and simultaneously drew the two lots, laying one on each goat’s head. As he held the lots to the foreheads of the goats and determined the outcome, he declared them “a sin offering to the Lord.” The two goats together were viewed as one singular offering. Popularly it was deemed a good sign if the right-hand lot had fallen ‘for Yahweh.’ (4)(11)

The goat upon which the log “for Azazel” fell was immediately identified by a crimson strip of wool tied to one of its horns. It was then turned around to face the people whose sin would be later placed on its head. The goat determined “for YHWH” remained facing the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering, where it would soon be offered as a sin offering for the Nation of Israel. (11)

3. The Confession of Sin of the Priesthood and their families, then the Bull is sacrificed.

“Aaron is to present the sin offering bull which is for himself, and he is to make atonement on behalf of himself and his household. He is to slaughter the sin offering bull which is for himself, (Leviticus 16:11 NET)

With this presentation of the scapegoat before the people commenced the third and most solemn part of the expiratory (8) services of the day. The high priest now once more returned towards the sanctuary and, a second time, laid his two hands on the young bull, which still stood between the porch and the altar, to confess over him, not only as before, his own and his household’s sins, but also those of the priesthood. The formula used was precisely the same as before, with the addition of the words “the seed of Aaron, Thy holy people,” both in the confession and in the petition for atonement. Then the high priest killed the young bull, caught up his blood in a golden vessel, and gave it to an attendant to keep it stirring so it would not congeal.

The Veil (The Life) (9)

4. The Incense Offering is prepared and then offered by fire in the Most Holy Place.

and take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord and a full double handful of finely ground fragrant incense, and bring them inside the veil-canopy. He must then put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the cloud of incense will cover the atonement plate which is above the ark of the testimony, so that he will not die. (Leviticus 16:12–13 NET)
And Moses said, “Show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will make all my goodness pass before your face, and I will proclaim the Lord by name before you; I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.” But he added, “You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.” (Exodus 33:18–19 NET)

No human can see God’s face and live.

Advancing to the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering, he next filled a gold fire pan with a long handle with burning coals and then arranged two handfuls (Lit, filling the hollow of his hands) of extra finely ground and beaten (i.e., made into a powder) fragrant incense (Exodus 34:34-48) and placed it in the gold ladle designated to hold it. (4)

Ordinarily, everything brought in actual ministry unto God must be carried in the right hand – hence the incense in the right hand and the fire pan in the left hand. But on this occasion, as the censer for the Day of Atonement(s) was larger and heavier than usual, the high priest was allowed to reverse the common order. (4)

Every eye was strained towards the sanctuary as, slowly bearing the gold fire pan and the incense, the figure of the white-robed high priest was seen to disappear within the Holy Place. After that, nothing further could be seen of his movements. (4)

First, he must pass through the outer room called the Holy Place. He goes by the Gold Lampstand (1) and the Golden Table of Showbread (1) but stops at the Golden Altar of Incense (1). He has coals from the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering in a golden fire pan and a golden ladle filled with two handfuls of incense.

The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons when they approached the presence of the Lord and died, and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother that he must not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil-canopy in front of the atonement plate that is on the ark so that he may not die, for I will appear in the cloud over the atonement plate. (Leviticus 16:1,2 NET)

God spells out the limitation: Aaron is not permitted to come into the holy place at all times, which was the second room of the Tabernacle. He is not to enter that room where the mercy seat is upon the Ark because God was found in the visible form of the Shechinah Glory upon the Mercy Seat. The Hebrew word for Mercy Seat here is kaporet, which means “cover” or “lid.” The seat concept is also found in Psalms 99:1, which is that of an atonement cover, or lid, [or plate.] (2)

Yahweh reigns, let the peoples tremble; He sits enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth quake! (Psalm 99:1 LSB)

Essentially, the atonement lid or plate of the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat. There were two cherubs one on each end, overshadowing the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, and the Shechinah Glory light was between the two cherubs over the Mercy Seat. When Aaron entered into the Holy of Holies, he saw a visible manifestation of the presence of God: the Shechinah Glory. Aaron was warned not to feel that he could enter that room freely; such thinking would lead to his death, just as his two sons had died. (Leviticus 10:1-11) In other words, he was allowed to go into that room only on the Day of Atonement. Furthermore, as the high priest, he alone was allowed to enter that particular room. During the entire duration of the Mosaic Law, there was only one man, of one family, of one clan, of one tribe, of one nation, of one race, of all humanity, whoever had access to God’s presence, and even for him, it was only one day of the year. (2)

God then states the reason why Aaron must take special precautions as to when and how he enters the room: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. Therein lies the reason for the danger of death: the presence of God in visible form, the Shechinah Glory. Therefore, he was the only one to enter and he was to enter only on this one day of the year. Furthermore, he was never to enter without blood; he did not dare go in unless he was given the protection of blood itself. Otherwise, God warns, He would become not just a cloud but a consuming fire, as was the case with the two sons of Aaron. (2)

The curtain of the Most Holy Place was folded back, and the High Priest stood alone and separated from all the people. Then he goes behind the veil into the inner room called the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place (1). (7)

Remember that the only piece of furniture in the Holy of Holies is the Ark of the Covenant. It is a small chest about two feet high, two feet wide, and four feet long. The lid attached to the Ark is called the “The Mercy Seat” or “Atonement Plate.”

He stood in front of the Golden Ark of the Covenant with the mercy seat overshadowing it; above it, the visible presence of Yahweh in the cloud of the Shechinah, and on either side, the outspread wings of the cherubim; and the high priest placed the fire pan between the two bars of the ark (Exodus 25:12). (4)(12)

May it please You, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that neither this day nor during this year any captivity come upon us. Yet, if taken into captivity this day or this year, let it be to a place where the law is cultivated. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that lack come not upon us, either this day or this year. But if lack does visit us this day or this year, let it be due to the liberality of our charitable deeds. May it please You, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that this year may be a year of cheap and plenty, of fulness, of intercourse and trade; a year with an abundance of rain, of sunshine, and of dew; one in which Thy people Israel shall not require assistance one from another. And listen not to the prayers of those about to embark on a journey [who might pray against the rain]. And as to Thy people Israel, may no enemy exalt himself against them. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that the houses of the men of Sharon may not become their graves [on account of the situation of that valley, which is threatened either by sudden floods or by dangerous landslips].

The high priest was not to prolong this prayer lest his protracted absence might fill the people with fears for his safety. (4)

5. The Bull’s Blood is Sprinkled before the Ark of the Covenant.

Then he is to take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the eastern face of the atonement plate, and in front of the atonement plate he is to sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger. (Leviticus 16:14 NET)

While the incense was offered in the Most Holy Place, the people withdrew from proximity to it and worshipped in silence. At last, the people saw the high priest emerging from the sanctuary and knew that the service had been accepted. He rapidly took the bull’s blood from the attendant, who had kept it stirring. Once more, he entered into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled with his finger once upwards, towards the mercy seat (aka, atonement plate), and seven times downwards. Not intentionally tossing it upwards or downwards but as though he were cracking a whip. He counted as he did so: “Once” (upwards), “once and once” (downwards), “once and twice,” and so on to “once and seven times,” always repeating the word “once,” which referred to the upwards sprinkling, to prevent any mistake. (4)(12)

Referring to the blood, the verse instructs him to sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat on the east. He does not sprinkle the blood on top of the Mercy Seat. The word upon means “against the front of it,” specifying toward the front of the lid. This sprinkling is done only once. According to rabbinic tradition, the sprinkling is upward. At any rate, this provided the atonement for the priest’s sins. (2)

Furthermore, it states: and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. The word before means the blood is sprinkled on the ground before the Ark. In rabbinic tradition, the priest sprinkled this blood downward. Again, this provided the atonement for the priest’s sins; he sprinkles once upward and seven times downward as though he were cracking a whip (2)

Coming out from the Most Holy Place, the high priest now deposited the bowl containing the blood in a golden stand stationed before the veil of the Most Holy Place. (4)

6. The Goat is Sacrificed and its Blood is Sprinkled before the Ark of the Covenant

“He must then slaughter the sin offering goat which is for the people. He is to bring its blood inside the veil-canopy, and he is to do with its blood just as he did to the blood of the bull: He is to sprinkle it on the atonement plate and in front of the atonement plate. So he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities. (Leviticus 16:15,16 NET)

Then the high priest slaughtered the goat set apart for Yahweh, collected the blood in a golden vessel, and, entering the Most Holy Place a third time, sprinkled as before, once upwards towards the mercy seat (aka, atonement plate), and seven times downwards on the ground as though he were cracking a whip. Again he deposited the bowl with the goat’s blood on a second golden stand before the veil. (4)(12)

7. The young Bull’s Blood is Sprinkled towards the Veil of the Most Holy Place.

So he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities. (Leviticus 16:16 NET)

Taking up the bowl with the young bull’s blood, he next sprinkled once upwards and seven times downwards towards the veil outside the Most Holy Place as though he were cracking a whip. (12)

The Goat’s Blood is Sprinkled towards the Veil of the Most Holy Place.

So he is to make atonement for the holy place from the impurities of the Israelites and from their transgressions with regard to all their sins, and thus he is to do for the Meeting Tent which resides with them in the midst of their impurities. (Leviticus 16:16 NET)

Taking up the bowl with the goat’s blood, he next sprinkled once upwards and seven times downwards towards the veil outside the Most Holy Place as though he were cracking a whip. (12)

Note the imagery of Jesus’ Passion (1) throughout the Day of Atonement(s) Ritual.

Blood spattered as the fingers are moved in a whipping motion.

I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not hide My face from dishonor and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6 LSB)
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged severely. (John 19:1 NET)

Three forms of corporal punishment were employed by the Romans in increasing degree of severity: fustigatio (beating), (2) flagellatio (flogging), and (3) verberatio (severe flogging, scourging). The first could be, on occasion, a punishment in itself, but the more severe forms were part of the capital sentence as a prelude to crucifixion. The most severe, verberatio, is what is indicated here by the Greek verb translated flogged severely (μαστιγόω, mastigoō). People died on occasion while being flogged this way; frequently, it was severe enough to rip a person’s body open or cut muscle and sinew to the bone. It was carried out with a whip that had fragments of bone or pieces of metal bound into the tips. (19)

“Then he is to go out to the altar which is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He is to take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it all around on the horns of the altar. Then he is to sprinkle on it some of the blood with his finger seven times, and cleanse and consecrate it from the impurities of the Israelites. (Leviticus 16:18–19 NET) (cf. Leviticus 4:7,18)

Finally, pouring the blood of the young bull into the bowl that contained that of the goat, and again the mixture of the two into that which had held the blood of the young bull, so as thoroughly to commingle the two, he smears the mixed blood on each of the horns of the Golden Altar, and then, making a clear place on the altar free of coals and ashes, sprinkled the mixed blood seven times on top of the Golden Altar of incense. (4)(12)

Note that the Leviticus 16 verses do not identify if the horns are of the Golden Altar of Incense or the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offerings. However, this is clarified in Exodus 30:1-10, where the construction details for building the Golden Altar of Incense (1) are given.

You must not offer strange incense on it, nor burnt offering, nor meal offering, and you must not pour out a drink offering on it.  Aaron is to make atonement on its horns once in the year with some of the blood of the sin offering for atonement [Hb. Atonements]; once in the year he is to make atonement on it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD.” (Exodus 30:9,10 NET)

9. The mixed Bull and Goat blood is poured out at the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering.

What was left of the blood, the high priest poured out on the west side of the base of the Brazen Altar of Burnt offering. (cf. Leviticus 4:4-7;4:14-18).

The Atonement of the Priests and Purification of the Tabernacle is Completed

and he is to purify the Most Holy Place, he is to purify the Meeting Tent and the altar, and he is to make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. (Leviticus 16:33 NET)

By these atoning sprinkling, the high priest had cleansed the sanctuary in all its parts from the defilement of the priesthood and the worshippers. The Most Holy Place, the veil, the Holy Place, the Golden Altar of Incense, and the altar of burnt-offering were now clean alike, so far as the priesthood and as the people were concerned, and in their relationship to the sanctuary, both priests and worshippers were atoned for. So far as the law could give it, there was now again free access for all; or, to put it otherwise, the continuance of typical sacrificial communion with God was once more restored and secured. Had it not been for these services, it would have become impossible for priests and people to offer sacrifices and obtain the forgiveness of sins or have fellowship with God.

But the consciences were not yet free from a sense of personal guilt and sin. That remained to be done through the “scapegoat.”

10. The Scapegoat Sent into the Wilderness

“When he has finished purifying the holy place, the Meeting Tent, and the altar, he is to present the live goat. Aaron is to lay his two hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins, and thus he is to put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man standing ready. The goat is to bear on itself all their iniquities into an inaccessible land, so he is to send the goat away in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:20–22 NET)

Most solemn as the services had been to this point, the worshippers would chiefly think with awe of the high priest going into the immediate presence of God, coming out alive, and securing for them by the blood of propitiation the appeasement of God’s wrath and the continuance of the Old Testament privileges of sacrifices and of access unto God through them. What now took place concerned them, if possible, even more dearly. Their own personal guilt and sins were now to be removed from them (i.e., expiated), and that in a symbolical rite that was the most mysterious and the most significant of all. All this while the “scapegoat,” with the “scarlet thread,” telling of the guilt it was to bear, had stood looking eastwards, confronting the people, and waiting for the terrible load which it was to carry away “unto a land not inhabited.” (4)

Laying both his hands on the head of this goat, the high priest now confessed and pleaded something similar to this:

‘Ah, Yahweh! They have committed iniquity; they have transgressed; they have sinned – Thy people, the house of Israel. Oh, then, Yahweh! cover over (atone for), I entreat You upon their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, which they have wickedly committed, transgressed, and sinned before You -Your people, the house of Israel. As it is written in the law of Moses, Your servant, saying: “For on that day shall it be covered over (atoned) for you, to make you clean from all your sins before Yahweh ye shall be cleansed.”

And while the prostrate multitude worshipped in the name of Yahweh, the high priest turned his face towards them as he uttered the last words, “You shall be cleansed!” as if to declare to them the expiation (i.e., absolution and remission) of their sins. (4)

  • Three times in the solemn confession that the high priest made over the young bull for himself and his family;
  • Three times in the confession that the high priest made over the same young bull for the priesthood and their families;
  • A seventh time, when the high priest cast the lot as to which of the two goats was to be “for Yahweh;” and
  • He spoke it three times in the confession over the so-called “scapegoat,” which bore the people’s sins.

Furthermore, ten is the biblical number representing perfection. (cf. Psalms 19:7)

Then, a strange scene would be witnessed. The priests led the sin-burdened goat out through “Solomon’s Porch” and, as tradition has it, through the eastern gate, which opened upon the Mount of Olives. Here, an arched bridge spanned the intervening valley, and over it, they brought the goat to the Mount of Olives, where one specially appointed for the purpose took him in charge. Tradition enjoins that he should be a stranger, a non-Israelite as if to make still more striking the type of Him who was delivered over by Israel unto the Gentiles! Scripture tells us no more of the destiny of the goat that bore upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel than that they “shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness” and that “he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.” But tradition supplements this information. The distance between Jerusalem and the beginning of “the wilderness” is computed at ninety stadia, making precisely ten intervals, each half a Sabbath-day’s journey from the other. At the end of each of these intervals, a station was occupied by one or more persons, detailed for the purpose, who offered refreshments to the man leading the goat and then accompanied him to the next station. By this arrangement, two results were secured: some trusted persons accompanied the goat all along his journey, and yet none of them walked more than a Sabbath-day’s journey – that is, half a journey going and the other half returning. At last, they reached the edge of the wilderness. Here they halted, viewing afar off, while the man led forward the goat, tore off half the “scarlet-tongue,” and stuck it on a projecting cliff; then, leading the animal backward, he pushed it over the projecting ledge of rock. There was a moment’s pause, and the man, now defiled by contact with the sin-bearer, retraced his steps to the last of the ten stations, where he spent the rest of the day and the night. But the arrival of the goat in the wilderness was immediately telegraphed by the waving of flags from station to station till, a few minutes after its occurrence, it was known in the Temple and whispered from ear to ear that “the goat had borne upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited.” (4)

Then, according to tradition, the high priest, still wearing the linen garments, went into the “Court of the Women, and read the passages of Scripture bearing on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16.; 23:27–32; also repeating by heart Numbers 29:7–11). A series of prayers accompanied this reading of the Scriptures. The most interesting of these supplications may be thus summed up:

  • Confession of sin with prayer for forgiveness, closing with the words, “Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who in Thy mercy forgivest the sins of Thy people Israel;
  • Prayer for the permanence of the Temple, and that the Divine Majesty might shine in it, closing with the words, “Praise be to Thee, O Lord, Who inhabitest Zion;
  • Prayer for the establishment and safety of Israel and the continuance of a king among them, closing with the words: “Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who hast chosen Israel;”
  • Prayer for the priesthood, that all their doings, but especially their sacred services, might be acceptable unto God, and He is gracious unto them, closing with the words: “Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, Who hast sanctified the priesthood;” and,
  • Finally (in the language of Maimonides), prayers, entreaties, hymns, and petitions of the high-priest’s own, closing with the words: “Give help, O Lord, to Thy people Israel, for Thy people needeth help; thanks be unto Thee, O Lord, Who hearest prayer.”

The High Priest in Golden Garments

“Aaron must then enter the Meeting Tent and take off the linen garments which he had put on when he entered the sanctuary, and leave them there. Then he must bathe his body in water in a holy place, put on his clothes, and go out and make his burnt offering and the people’s burnt offering. So he is to make atonement on behalf of himself and the people. “Then he is to offer up the fat of the sin offering in smoke on the altar, and the one who sent the goat away to Azazel must wash his clothes, bathe his body in water, and afterward he may reenter the camp. The bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought to make atonement in the holy place, must be brought outside the camp and their hide, their flesh, and their dung must be burned up,and the one who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may reenter the camp. (Leviticus 16:23–28 NET)

These prayers ended, the high priest washed his hands and feet, took off his “linen,” put on his “golden vestments,” and once more washed his hands and feet before proceeding to the next ministry. He now appeared again before the people as the Lord’s anointed in the golden garments of the bride-chamber. He offered the Festival Offerings of the day, starting with “one kid of the goats for a sin-offering,”’ probably with special reference to these festive services, which, like everything else, required atoning blood for their acceptance. The flesh of this sin-offering was eaten at night by the priests within the sanctuary. Next, he sacrificed the burnt offerings for the people and for himself and finally burned the “inwards” of the atonement offerings, whose blood had formerly been sprinkled in the Most Holy Place. This, properly speaking, finished the services of the day. (4)

But the high priest had yet to offer the ordinary evening sacrifice, after which he washed his hands and his feet, once more put off his “golden” and put on his “linen garments,” and again washed his hands and feet. Before entering the Most Holy Place a fourth time on that day, to fetch from it the gold fire pan and the gold incense dish he had left there. On his return, he washed once more hands and feet, put off his linen garments, which were never to be used again, put on his golden vestments, washed hands and feet, burnt the evening incense on the golden altar, lit the lamps on the candlestick for the night, washed his hands and feet, put on his ordinary layman’s dress, and was escorted by the people in procession to his own house in Jerusalem. The evening closed with a feast. (4)

The Day of Atonement(s) in the Scriptures

The altar was rebuilt on this occasion. When the altar was rebuilt, the sacrifices were resumed before the Temple was completed in 516 B.C.

When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites were living in their towns, the people assembled in Jerusalem. Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his priestly colleagues and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his colleagues started to build the altar of the God of Israel so they could offer burnt offerings on it as required by the law of Moses the man of God. They established the altar on its foundations, even though they were in terror of the local peoples, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and the evening offerings. They observed the Festival of Temporary Shelters as required and offered the proper number of daily burnt offerings according to the requirement for each day. Afterward they offered the continual burnt offerings and those for the new moons and those for all the holy assemblies of the Lord and all those that were being voluntarily offered to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. However, the Lord’s temple was not at that time established. (Ezra 3:1–6 NET)
The priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, some of the people, the temple servants, and all the rest of Israel lived in their cities. When the seventh month arrived and the Israelites were settled in their cities, all the people gathered together in the plaza which was in front of the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly which included men and women and all those able to understand what they heard. (This happened on the first day of the seventh month.) So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon before the men and women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood on a towering wooden platform constructed for this purpose. Standing near him on his right were Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Masseiah. On his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. Ezra opened the book in plain view of all the people, for he was elevated above all the people. When he opened the book, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people replied “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah—all of whom were Levites—were teaching the people the law, as the people remained standing. They read from the book of God’s law, explaining it and imparting insight. Thus the people gained understanding from what was read. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priestly scribe, and the Levites who were imparting understanding to the people said to all of them, “This day is holy to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping when they heard the words of the law. He said to them, “Go and eat delicacies and drink sweet drinks and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared. For this day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Then the Levites quieted all the people saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy. Do not grieve.” So all the people departed to eat and drink and to share their food with others and to enjoy tremendous joy, for they had gained insight in the matters that had been made known to them. (Nehemiah 7:73–8:12 NET)

On this occasion, Ezra read the Law of Moses before the Jewish people. A Jewish custom arose to stand up and read the entire Mosaic Law.

Since considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous because the fast [Day of Atonement(s)] was already over, Paul advised them, (Acts 27:9 NET)

What was the meaning of a rite on which such a momentous issue depended? Everything about it seems strange and mysterious—the lot that designated it, and that “to Azazel;” the fact that though the highest of all sin-offerings, it was neither sacrificed nor its blood sprinkled in the Temple; and the circumstance that it really was only part of a sacrifice—the two goats together forming one sacrifice, one of them being killed, and the other “let go,” there is no other analogous case of the kind except at the purification of a leper when one bird was killed and the other dipped in its blood, and let go free. Therefore these two sacrifices – one in the removal of what symbolically represented indwelling sin, the other contracted guilt so that two animals were required, of which one was killed, the other “let go.” (4)

The people’s sins were confessed not on the goat that was killed but on the one that was “let go in the wilderness,” and it was this goat which “bore upon him all the iniquities” of the people. (4)

“When he has finished purifying the holy place, the Meeting Tent, and the altar, he is to present the live goat. Aaron is to lay his two hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins, and thus he is to put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man standing ready. The goat is to bear on itself all their iniquities into an inaccessible land, so he is to send the goat away in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:20–22 NET)

So far as the conscience was concerned, this goat was the real and the only sin-offering “for all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,” for upon it the high-priest laid the sins of the people after he had by the blood of the young bull and of the other goat “made an end of purifying the Holy Place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the Golden Altar of Incense.” (Leviticus 16:20) The blood sprinkled had effected this; but it had done no more, and it could do no more. (4)

Now the first covenant, in fact, had regulations for worship and its earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, which contained the lampstand, the table, and the presentation of the loaves; this is called the holy place. And after the second curtain there was a tent called the holy of holies. It contained the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered entirely with gold. In this ark were the golden urn containing the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. And above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Now is not the time to speak of these things in detail. So with these things prepared like this, the priests enter continually into the outer tent as they perform their duties.  But only the high priest enters once a year into the inner tent, and not without blood that he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is making clear that the way into the holy place had not yet appeared as long as the old tabernacle was standing. This was a symbol for the time then present, when gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. They served only for matters of food and drink and various washings; they are external regulations imposed until the new order came. (Hebrews 9:1–10 NET)

The symbolical representation of this perfecting was by the live goat, which, laden with the confessed sins of the people, carried them away into “the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:21) to “a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22). The only meaning of which this seems possible is that confessed guilt was removed from the people to the head of the goat as the symbolical substitute; however, the goat was not killed, only sent far away into “a land not inhabited.” (4)

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13–14 NET)

Consequently, under the Old Covenant, sin was not really blotted out, only put away from the people, and put aside until Christ came, not only to take upon Himself the burden of transgression but to destroy it and to take it away. (4)

The word Azazel, which only occurs in Leviticus 16, is by universal consent derived from a root that means “wholly to put aside” or “wholly to go away.” Whether, therefore, we render “la-Azazel” by “for him who is wholly put aside,” that is, the sin-bearing Christ, or “for being wholly separated,” or “put wholly aside or away,” the truth is still the same, as pointing through the temporary and provisional removal of sin by the goat “let go” in “the land not inhabited,” to the final, real, and complete removal of sin by the Lord Jesus Christ. (4)

All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. (Isaiah 53:6 NET)
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But Yahweh has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:6 LSB)

Typologically, the scapegoat sent into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement to face Azazel (the fallen angel (1), Satan) represented Jesus being led into the wilderness to face Satan (a fallen angel (1)) (Leviticus 16:5-10;20-22) in temptation after His water baptism and then later Jesus taking our sin into the Abyss after His death on the cross.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ ” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). (Romans 10:6–7 NET)

Thus viewed, not only the text of Leviticus 16 but the language of Hebrews 9 and Hebrews 10, which chiefly refer to the Day of Atonement, becomes plain. The “blood,” both of the young bull and of the goat which the high priest carried “once a year” within “the sacred veil,” was “offered for himself (including the priesthood and family) and for the errors (or rather ignorances) of the people.” In the language of Leviticus 16:20, it purified “the Holy Place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar.” That is, it made possible the continuance of sacrificial worship by priests for the people. But this live scapegoat “let go” in the wilderness, the high priest had confessed and on which he had laid “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,” meant something quite different. It meant the inherent “weakness and unprofitableness of the commandment” and meant that while the law was perfect, “the law made nothing perfect, but was the bringing in of a better hope.” (4)

The law of the Lord is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. (Psalm 19:7 NET)(cf. Psalms 93:5)
On the one hand a former command is set aside because it is weak and useless, for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18–19 NET)

In the Old Testament, atonement is designated as a “covering up” by a substitute and the mercy seat as “the place of covering over.” By the covenant mercy of God, guilt and sin were indeed removed from the people, that they were “covered up,” and in that sense atoned for, or rather that they were both “covered up” and removed, but that they were not really taken away and destroyed until Christ came. They were only taken into a land not inhabited until He should blot it out (i.e., destroy it) by His own blood.

On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NET)
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed—not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Christ. (1 Peter 1:18–19 NET)

That the provision which the Old Testament made was only preparatory and temporary until the “time of the reformation;” and that hence real and true forgiveness of sins, and with it the spirit of adoption, could only be finally obtained after the death and resurrection of “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”(4)

And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us. (Hebrews 11:39–40 NET)

Thus in the fullest sense, it was true of the “fathers” that “these all … received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. (Hebrews 10:1 NET)

For “the law having a shadow of the good things to come” could not “make the comers thereunto perfect.”

For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. (Hebrews 10:2–4 NET)

Nor yet was it possible “that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. (Romans 3:25 NET)

The live goat “let go” was every year a remover of sins which yet were never really removed in the sense of being blotted out – only deposited, as it were, and reserved until He came “whom God hath set forth as the mercy seat … because of the passing over of the former sins, in the forbearance of God.”

And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15 NET)

“And for this cause, He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that, death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, they which have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (4)

Once understood, many passages will occur that manifest how the Old Testament removal of sin was shown in the law itself to have been complete indeed, so far as the individual was concerned, but not really in reference to God. (4)

For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands—the representation of the true sanctuary—but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. And he did not enter to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (Hebrews 9:24–28 NET)

Until He came to Whom as the reality these types pointed, and Who “now once at the end of the world hath been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship.For otherwise would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers would have been purified once for all and so have no further consciousness of sin? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year after year. For the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1–4 NET)

And thus did the types themselves prove their own inadequacy and insufficiency, showing that they had only “a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things themselves.” (4)

The religious leaders considered it a good omen if the priest drew the lot marked “for the Lord” in his right hand (i.e., the goat to be sacrificed). However, according to traditional Jewish writings, the lot “for the Lord” appeared in his left hand for forty years before the temple’s destruction. This bad omen caused great fear of impending doom. (18)

The High Priest tied a crimson wool thread around the scapegoat’s horns and sent him off into the wilderness accompanied by a priest. Instead of sending the scapegoat into an inaccessible land or wilderness, the goat was escorted for twelve miles to a designated place, where the priest pushed the goat bearing Israel’s sins over a cliff. A portion of the crimson thread for the scapegoat was attached to the temple door before the goat was sent into the wilderness. When the goat was pushed off the cliff and died, the thread on the door at the temple was said to turn from red to white. This was a divine sign to the people that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven. (18)

This was based on their understanding of this verse: (3)

Come, let’s consider your options,” says the Lord. “Though your sins have stained you like the color red, you can become white like snow; though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet, you can become white like wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NET)

Rabbinic writings tell us that for forty years before the temple’s destruction, the thread stopped turning white. (18)

Further signs of doom were that the westernmost light on the Temple candelabra would not burn. This was a bad omen that the Temple’s light would be extinguished. (18)

In addition, the Temple doors would open by themselves. The rabbis saw this as a sign that the Temple was going to be destroyed by fire as God’s judgment for their ungodliness. This was based on their understanding of this verse: (3)

Open your gates, Lebanon, so that the fire may consume your cedars. (Zechariah 11:1 NET)

The obvious significance of these signs is that they began to appear forty years before the temple’s destruction.

Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14, 31 A.D.  (April 25, 31 AD), and the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on Aviv 10, 70 A.D. (August 5, 70 A.D), fulfilling this scripture:

Now as Jesus was going out of the temple courts and walking away, his disciples came to show him the temple buildings. And he said to them, “Do you see all these things? I tell you the truth, not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!” (Matthew 24:1–2 NET)

Furthermore, the Second Temple was destroyed on the anniversary of the First Temple’s destruction by the Babylonians on Aviv 10, 585 B.C. (August 17, 586 B.C.)(Jeremiah 52:12).

It was a most dramatic way for God to demonstrate that Jesus was the ultimate human reality of the Day of Atonement. His death provided the once-and-for-all forgiveness for sin. (3)

The reason why God was no longer forgiving the sins of Israel through the two goats is found in the following verse: (4)

Now where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:18 NET)
Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin. (Hebrews 10:18 AMP)
And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. (Hebrews 10:18 NLT)

Jesus had paid the price for the forgiveness of sin and sins; therefore, no other sacrifices were needed or accepted.

The High Priestly Garments Point to Jesus

But now, a perfect High Priest has come to fulfill what the Old Covenant High Priest could not do. The New Covenant says that Jesus was in the form of God. This means that He had the same nature and attributes of God. In other words, He was God coming to us in human flesh. Other scriptures describe His preexisting glory. (7)

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11 NET)

The prophet Isaiah saw Him high and lifted up on His throne, and His glory filled the heavenly Temple. (7)

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke. I said, “Too bad for me! I am destroyed, for my lips are contaminated by sin, and I live among people whose lips are contaminated by sin. My eyes have seen the king, the Lord who commands armies.” (Isaiah 6:1–5 NET)

Peter, James, and John saw Him on a high mountain. His appearance changed before their very eyes. (7)

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. (Matthew 17:1–2 NET)

John saw Him again in the book of Revelation. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like fine brass. His voice was as the sound of many waters. His glory was an unapproachable light. To look upon Him was to look upon glittering diamonds and shining rubies. (7)

His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. (Revelation 1:14–15 NET)
Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it! And the one seated on it was like jasper and carnelian in appearance, and a rainbow looking like it was made of emerald encircled the throne. (Revelation 4:2–3 NET)
I charge you before God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus who made his good confession before Pontius Pilate, to obey this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ —whose appearing the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will reveal at the right time. He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see. To him be honor and eternal power! Amen. (1 Timothy 6:13–16 NET)

Yet our Lord did not cling to His pre-existing glory. Instead, He laid aside His garments of glory and beauty. Realize in a blood covenant, the garment represents the person. God did not have a garment, as He is clothed with light.

He covers himself with light as if it were a garment. He stretches out the skies like a tent curtain, (Psalm 104:2 NET)

He laid aside His own glory to be a High Priest for us who would feel our infirmities and be tempted as we are. (7)

For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NET)

He would be a God we could identify with and who could identify with us. He is the One the High Priestly garments were pointing towards. (7)

Dresses for the Service

At the same time God laid aside His glory, He dressed Himself for the perfect atonement service. He dressed for the service by preparing Himself a body and becoming one of us. The Creator became the creation. The Master became the servant. The Son of God became the Son of Man. The Lord of Glory became a baby in a manger. And they called His name Jesus (Yeshua). (7)

And He looked just like everybody else. You could not tell Him from the next guy. He did not have a halo around His head. He was not glorious and beautiful in His appearance. (7)

Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the LORD’s power revealed through him? He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. (Isaiah 53:1,2 NET)

He just wore a plain white linen robe. But no man spoke like this man, who perfectly fulfilled the Old Covenant as He began His ministry at about 30 years old (actually 32 years old (1)).

So Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years old. He was the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, (Luke 3:23 NET)

Symbolic Washing

His first action was to allow John the Baptist to baptize Him in the Jordan River. In this way, Jesus identified Himself with the Old Covenant High Priest, who was washed in water on the day he was set apart for his priestly ministry. (7)

But so we would understand that He really did not need cleansing, Jesus said, (7)

“For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:19 LSB)
And I set myself apart on their behalf, so that they too may be truly set apart. (John 17:19 NET)

Earlier, He had declared Himself to be the truth. (7)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 LSB)
Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NET)

The Sin Offering for the World

The High Priest, after the seed of Aaron, was a sinner, just like everybody else.

Then many of the people, who had come with Mary and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and reported to them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called the council together and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary and our nation.” Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.”(Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish nation, and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of God who are scattered.) So from that day they planned together to kill him. (John 11:45–53 NET)

However, Jesus was a High Priest after the seed of God. He was begotten of God the Father. He was very God but also very man. He was perfectly righteous from within and knew no sin. Therefore, it was not necessary that He sacrifice for Himself. Instead, He sacrificed Himself for us. He who knew no sin became sin for us. (7)

God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20 NET)

He became that once and for all perfect sacrifice. He got up on the altar by His own free will. That altar was the cross. There, He became the sin offering for the world. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (7)

He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:8 NET)

As part of God’s conditional covenant with Israel (often called the Mosaic Covenant or Mosaic Law), God emphasized activities outside the camp. For example, the burning of the sacrificed sin offering was to take place outside the camp (Exodus 29:14). Even the ashes of the burnt offerings were to be taken to a clean place outside the camp (Leviticus 6:11) (13)

While at first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything vitally important about how the outside of the camp was used in Israel’s law and culture, the writer of Hebrews brings to our attention an important nuance in the ministry of Jesus Christ. First, the writer reminds readers that the bodies of animals sacrificed under the Law of Moses were taken outside the camp and burned (Hebrews 13:11). The writer then explains that Jesus, in order to sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside of the city gate (Hebrews 13:12). Matthew recounts that, after Jesus’ injustice of a trial, He was taken outside the city to a place called Golgotha (“place of the skull”) and crucified there (Matthew 27:33). (13)

In Hebrews, we understand that Jesus was taken outside the city to bear reproach and treated as an unclean criminal unqualified to remain in the city. We are then to go to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach (Hebrews 13:13) and knowing that we do not have a lasting city here; rather, we are seeking that which is to come (Hebrews 13:14). Jesus died the death of a criminal, outside the city, so that we might all be qualified through His blood to have righteousness and eternal life and to be part of His coming kingdom.

He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth. He was led away after an unjust trial— but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him. Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins. So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.” (Isaiah 53:3–12 NET)

As Isaiah explains, the Messiah would be despised and forsaken and not esteemed by men (Isaiah 53:3). In a remarkable irony, this Savior would carry humanity’s griefs and sorrows, and yet humanity would look at Him as if He were the one “punished by God” (Isaiah 53:4). All our iniquity would fall on Him (Isaiah 53:6), and by His sacrifice we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5). (13)

Paul puts it this way: Jesus was fully God and worthy of glory, but He allowed Himself to be stripped of His glory, became a man, and was humbled to the point of death as a criminal on a cross (Philippians 2:6–8). John adds that Jesus did this so that by believing in Him, we could have life in His name (John 20:31). That Jesus died outside the city or outside the camp just adds to the humiliation He was willing to undergo in His love for us. How can we not respond to such a One with trust, love, and thanksgiving? No greater love exists than the kind He showed for us (John 15:13). (13)

The Resurrection

On the morning of His resurrection,

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” (John 20:16–17 NET)

Like the Old Covenant High Priest, no one could touch Jesus until He had completed His work. (7)

But later that same evening, Jesus appeared to His disciples and said: (7)

Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them. (Luke 24:39–43 NET)

Jesus said flesh and bone rather than flesh and blood. That is because all of His blood was poured out at the foot of the cross.

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out immediately. (John 19:34 NET)

The blood being poured at the base of the Brazen Altar of Burnt Offering provides a foreshadowing of Jesus’ blood being poured out to the base of the cross. (Leviticus 4:4-7;4:14-18).

But now that His work was over, they could touch Him. It happened just like it did in the Old Covenant, except this was not the blood of a goat. (7)

On resurrection morning, Jesus the Messiah ascended from the borrowed tomb to the third Heaven on Resurrection morning as High Priest, having made atonement for sin at the Cross with His body being both the Earthly Temple of God (John 1:14;2:19,21. Mark 14:58. 1 Corinthians 6:19. Colossians 2:9) and its Mercy Seat (Romans 3:25). 

But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. (Hebrews 9:11–14 NET)

Although our Lord’s atonement was completed at the Cross, Jesus was still required to enter heaven (1) as our mediatorial High Priest after making an everlasting and eternal atonement for sin. Jesus entered into that more perfect Tabernacle in heaven. He went right into the heavenly Holy of Holies. Jesus presented Himself at the throne of God to His and our Father in His glorified flesh and bone (Luke 24:29) yet bloodless body, the evidence that mankind’s sin debt had been paid and the bill of debt obliterated through His blood that was freely and completely poured out. (Hebrews 9:12. Colossians 2:14. Acts 3:19. John 19:24)

In addition, Jesus’ blood also cleansed Heaven from the defilement by the sin of Adam, who apparently had access to Heaven via the Garden or, rather, the Orchard of God in Eden. This Orchard was not created but rather planted on Earth from Heaven (Genesis 2:8). When Adam sinned, it defiled the land of the Orchard, which resulted in defiling the Tabernacle in Heaven. Adam’s sin allowed Satan to re-enter Heaven (1) after being cast out. Nevertheless, after this cleansing by Jesus, Satan can no longer enter Heaven (1) as all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to Jesus. (1) (Matthew 28:18) Unfortunately, Satan still has authority in his world system (Acts 26:18) for a little while longer until he is thrown into the Lake of Fire. (1)

Now, the efficacy of our Lord’s blood rested not in the fact that it was human blood but that it was human blood of a unique kind. It flowed in the veins of One who was as to His humanity, sinless, and as to His Person, Deity. The combination of these two, sinless humanity and Deity, made it unique and efficacious. It was the only sacrificial blood that could be sprinkled on Heaven’s Mercy Seat (i.e., Jesus, cf. Romans 3:24,25; 1 John 4:10), the only blood that the High Court of Heaven would accept as atonement for human sin. This blood poured out on Calvary’s Cross gave Messiah access as High Priest into the Holy of Holies of heaven. (17)

Jesus the Messiah as High Priest of the New Testament, passed through the first heaven (i.e., Earth’s atmosphere), the second heaven (i.e., outer space), and into the third heaven (God’s spiritual planet Heaven) (2 Corinthians 12:12). Consequentially, Jesus the Messiah ascended from the borrowed tomb to the third Heaven on Resurrection morning as our Great High Priest (1) having made atonement for sin at the Cross with His body being both the Earthly Temple of God (John 1:14;2:19,21. Mark 14:58. 1 Corinthians 6:19. Colossians 2:9) and its Mercy Seat (Romans 3:25). 

Again, Jesus did not need to take His physical blood into the Heavenly Tabernacle since it had already been poured out on Himself as the living Tabernacle, Mercy Seat, and High Priest of God during His Passion, which included His death on the Cross. It was the real High Priest entering the real throne room of God as the real sacrifice. With His blood, He purchased our eternal salvation. In that bloodless, glorified human body, which is an eternal testimony that sin is paid for, our blessed Lord entered heaven. (17)

This is part of the will He has left us in the New Covenant in His blood. (7)

Certificate of Debt

And so he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance he has promised, since he died to set them free from the violations committed under the first covenant. For where there is a will, the death of the one who made it must be proven.For a will takes effect only at death, since it carries no force while the one who made it is alive. (Hebrews 9:15–17 NET)

But when someone dies and leaves a will, there must be evidence of the death before the will can be executed. The evidence that this will and the New Covenant can be executed is the blood of Jesus. All who claim His death as their personal sin substitute receive the gift of the will, which is eternal life in union and communion with God. (7)

When criminals were jailed in Rome, their crimes and the number of years’ penalty were listed and nailed to their cell door. Each year, the jailer would go by the cell door and mark off the time served until the debt had been paid. This paper was called a Certificate of Debt. It stayed nailed to the cell door until the debt was fully paid. Then, the jailer would take the Certificate of Debt to the judge, who would stamp it “paid in full.” Then, the prisoner would be set free. (7)

This is what God has done for all who will receive it. He took our Certificate of Debt that lists all our sins, and He nailed it to the cross of Jesus. (7)

He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14 NET)

And when it was over, the Judge hanging on the cross cried out, “It is finished.” (7)

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 NET)
When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NET)

This was His victory cry. He meant that our sin debt had now been paid in full. When we appropriate this payment in our own life, we can be set free from the penalty and bondage of sin. (7)

The Perfect Atonement

So even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood.For when Moses had spoken every command to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded you to keep.”And both the tabernacle and all the utensils of worship he likewise sprinkled with blood. Indeed according to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. So it was necessary for the sketches of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves required better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands—the representation of the true sanctuary—but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. (Hebrews 9:18–24 NET)

We have been forgiven and made clean once and for all by the blood of Jesus. He is the perfect sin offering. Through His blood, He has forever made us holy and righteous in the eyes of God. The blood of Jesus did what the blood of bulls and goats could never do. It did not just cover sins; it took them away to be remembered no more. So He does not offer Himself repeatedly as the High Priest of the Old Covenant had to keep bringing the sin offering year after year. If that was necessary, He would have to die again and again. But He came once and for all to put away the power of sin forever. Just as it is destined that men die only once, and after that comes the judgment, so Jesus died only once as the offering for the sins of the world. (7)

And he did not enter to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. And just as people are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment, so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many, to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation. (Hebrews 9:25–28 NET)

So, when sins have been forgiven and forgotten, there is no need to offer more sacrifices to eliminate them. The blood of Jesus has removed our transgressions from us as far as the East is from the West.

As far as the eastern horizon is from the west, so he removes the guilt of our rebellious actions from us. (Psalm 103:12 NET)

Now, the distance between East and West cannot be measured. It is infinite. So is the distance that the blood of Jesus has removed us from our sins.

The angels must have shouted for joy that day when Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies with His own blood. His wounded, pierced, bruised body was the final burnt offering. God the Father received the sacrifice of His only begotten Son as a sweet aroma. (7)

Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. (Ephesians 5:1–2 NET)

The High Priestly Garments

The veil of the glory of God has now been lifted off of Jesus. As our High Priest, He has now put back on His garments of glory and beauty (1). (7)

but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone. (Hebrews 2:9 NET)

God the Father has exalted Him and given Him the name that is above every name (1). (7)

You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth— and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5–11 NET)

The Perfect Priest

Unlike the Old Covenant High Priest, Jesus lives forever. Since He lives forever, He is always there to remind God the Father that He has paid for our sins with His own blood. (7)

So if perfection had in fact been possible through the Levitical priesthood—for on that basis the people received the law—what further need would there have been for another priest to arise, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in Aaron’s order? For when the priesthood changes, a change in the law must come as well. Yet the one these things are spoken about belongs to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever officiated at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord is descended from Judah, yet Moses said nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. And this is even clearer if another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest not by a legal regulation about physical descent but by the power of an indestructible life. For here is the testimony about him: “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”On the one hand a former command is set aside because it is weak and useless, for the law made nothing perfect. On the other hand a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. And since this was not done without a sworn affirmation—for the others have become priests without a sworn affirmation, but Jesus did so with a sworn affirmation by the one who said to him, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever’ ”—accordingly Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. And the others who became priests were numerous, because death prevented them from continuing in office,but he holds his priesthood permanently since he lives forever. So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. For it is indeed fitting for us to have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need to do every day what those priests do, to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people, since he did this in offering himself once for all. For the law appoints as high priests men subject to weakness, but the word of solemn affirmation that came after the law appoints a son made perfect forever. (Hebrews 7:11–28 NET)

Therefore, He is exactly the kind of High Priest we need. He is not going to die and have to be replaced. For God, the Father has given Him the place of glory and honor in heaven. (7)

Jesus now ministers before God the Father as the holy and righteous representative of all His covenant children. He constantly bears our name on His shoulders and over His heart in the very throne room of God. He ministers there on our behalf as the perfect mediator we need. Therefore, we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. (7)

I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NET)

We confess our sins in His name and know He has forgiven us. (7)

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NET)

Because our names are sealed on His shoulders and over His heart, He is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. God accepts us in our High Priest. (7)

Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling, and to cause you to stand, rejoicing, without blemish before his glorious presence, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, and now, and for all eternity. Amen. (Jude 1:24–25)

Therefore, when Jesus died, the veil in the Temple that hid the glory of God from the face of the people was split down the middle. It was no longer needed because the New Covenant had been cut at the cross. Jesus, through His blood, has carried us to His and our “Father’s house.” Now we all may walk right into the heavenly Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus. We may pray directly to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit. (7)

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:14–16 NET)
At that time you will ask in my name, and I do not say that I will ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26–27 NET)

All believers in the Lord Jesus are now ministering priests of the Most High God. Speaking of this priesthood of the believer, Peter writes, (7)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9–10 NET)
and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5–6 NET)
They were singing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals because you were killed, and at the cost of your own blood you have purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You have appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9–10 NET)

The High Priest on the Throne

After Jesus’ blood was poured out on Himself as the living Tabernacle and Mercy Seat of God during His Passion on the cross, He did something that the Old Covenant High Priest could not do. He sat down on the throne.

This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20–23 NET)
I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21 NET)
And the one seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new!” Then he said to me, “Write it down, because these words are reliable and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NET)
So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” ’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:30–36 NET)

The High Priest is on the throne because His work is complete. Looking ahead to this time, the prophet Zechariah wrote about a time when the King-Priest, Jesus, would be on the throne. (7)

Indeed, he will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed in splendor, sitting as king on his throne. Moreover, there will be a priest with him on his throne and they will see eye to eye on everything. (Zechariah 6:13 NET)

Just as the Mercy Seat was on the Ark of the Covenant, Jesus is on the throne of God. There He represents us before God the Father. He is the High Priest of all who have personally accepted Him as their sin offering. (7)

All humanity must stand before God in the heavenly courtroom of eternity. And the only evidence presented for the will to be executed is the blood of Jesus. If you have appropriated His blood, He will be your advocate before God the Father. The blood of Jesus will cry out on your behalf, “holiness unto the Lord.” You will be accepted in your righteous High Priest. (7)

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34 NET)

However, if you are not covered by His blood sacrifice, Jesus cannot represent you as your High Priest. The will cannot be executed. The verdict will be guilty. You will stand before God in the Great White Throne Judgment. (7)

John had a vision of this judgment. He said,

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened—the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12–15 NET)

These people always said they were good enough to approach God on their own good works. They claimed they did not need all that “blood business.” God judges them on their own good works, just as they desire. But they are cast into the lake of fire because their works of self-righteousness cannot cry out on their behalf, “Holiness unto the Lord.” This is not God’s desire, but He will not violate our free will. We determine our own destiny. (73)

The Fulfillment of the Day of Atonement(s)

The first feast of the fall season, or the latter rains, is the Feast of Trumpets (1). This festival was to be celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri (Leviticus 23:23-25). The feast commemorated the beginning of the Messianic kingdom and the disastrous fate of the unbelieving Gentile nations. From the beginning of Rosh Hashanah until the Day of Atonement are ten days. These ten days are known as “the days of awe,” and according to Jewish tradition, are the final period of time that the world and Israel have to repent before God’s final judgment is unleashed. The Feast of Trumpets is also believed to be the world’s birthday, the beginning of the Messianic kingdom, and the day in which the Messiah will reveal Himself and re-gather Israel back to the land. Since the first day of Tishri was when God created the earth, it seems very appropriate that Jesus, as the Angel of the Lord, stands upon the earth on this same day, reclaiming its possession for His kingdom (1). (20)

The next feast, which takes place ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, is the Day of Atonement. This is to occur on the tenth day of the month of Tishri. As previously stated, the ten days between the two feasts are for the repentance of national Israel and the rest of the world (1). When the Day of Atonement has been reached, those who have not repented and have not placed their trust in Jesus as the Messiah will be judged along with the rest of the world. This is confirmed in Leviticus, where God states that those who do not afflict their soul or repent will be cut off from His people (Leviticus 23:29). The Day of Atonement is considered to be the holiest day of the Jewish year. This was the only day in which the high priest was allowed to enter the inner temple. On this day, God would grant or deny redemption to the nation of Israel. On this same day, God will accept the repentance of the nation of Israel and return for their deliverance. It is this period that Daniel refers to in his prophecy of the seventy weeks: (20)

“Seventy weeks have been determined concerning your people and your holy city to put an end to rebellion, to bring sin to completion, to atone for iniquity, to bring in perpetual righteousness, to seal up the prophetic vision, and to anoint a most holy place. (Daniel 9:24 NET)

The Seventieth Week will come to a close as Israel repents and is grafted back into the family of God.

“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NET)
And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree? For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:23–27 NET)

This final redemption of Israel fulfills the Day of Atonement, in exact chronology, precisely ten days after Jesus takes possession of the earth on the Feast of Trumpets. (20)

The Israel of God

Out of His sovereign desire to reveal Himself to us, the Creator of the universe needed a people through whom He could make Himself known. He could not reveal Himself to us in the fullness of His glory without destroying us with His manifested presence. He needed a people group. God could have chosen any people group. As we learn in the Bible, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants as the ethnic people through whom He would reveal His redemptive plans and purposes on the earth. (21)

God did not choose the Jewish people because they were better than any other group. He chose them because He found in Abraham a man who believed in the One True God and followed Him. Abraham’s descendants, later known as the Jews, were not unique because of some inherent superiority but because of their high calling:

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the LORD favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the LORD brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the LORD your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. (Deuteronomy 7:6–11)

While the Jews were the first of God’s people, the Creator made it clear that He would also call a people to Himself from among the Gentiles. In all three divisions of the Hebrew Bible, the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and the Psalms (K’tivim), the Lord revealed that He would include Gentiles as part of “My people.”

From the moment God called Abraham, He told Abraham that he would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.

I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12:3 NET)

God’s covenant people would include “whosoever will” as they responded to the revelation He gave through Abraham.

Before God even brought the Hebrews into the Promised Land, He reached out to the Gentiles and said,

Cry out, O nations [Gentiles], with his people, for he will avenge his servants’ blood; he will take vengeance against his enemies, and make atonement for his land and people. (Deuteronomy 32:43 NET)

The psalmist calls the Gentiles to worship the Lord:

Praise the Lord, all you nations! Applaud him, all you foreigners! (Psalm 117:1 NET)

Isaiah spoke of the Messiah who would come from the seed of Jesse, the father of King David. (21)

He prophesied that the Gentiles would seek Him:

At that time a root from Jesse will stand like a signal flag for the nations. Nations will look to him for guidance, and his residence will be majestic. (Isaiah 11:10 NET).

Luke tells the story of Simeon, a devout Jewish man waiting for the Messiah to appear. The Lord told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah.

When Jesus was presented at the Temple, Simeon prophesied:

“Now, according to your word, Sovereign Lord, permit your servant to depart in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light, for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).

Simeon was referring to Isaiah’s prophecy where the Lord said of the Messiah:

he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6 NET)

It is evident, from the writings of Paul, that God has not called two separate peoples but one people. Paul says that true Israel is made up of those who are the children of faith in Christ, not merely those who are born of Jewish descent:

Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:5–6 NET)
Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility, when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household, because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11–22 NET)

As Western believers, we must understand that Christians are part of “the Israel of God” and have become “one new man” with them. The Church is not Israel but is joined with Jews as the “one new man,” also known as the new “Israel of God.”

But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)

Speaking symbolically, Jewish believers are not grafted into the Christians’ wild olive tree, but Christians are grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree. Furthermore, the Jewish branches that were broken off will be grafted back into the Jewish olive tree.

Now if some of the [Jewish] branches were broken off, and you, a [Gentile] wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the [Jewish] olive root, do not boast over the [Jewish] branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the [Jewish] root, but the [Jewish] root supports you. Then you will say, “The [Jewish] branches were broken off so that I [a Gentile] could be grafted in.” Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! For if God did not spare the natural [Jewish] branches, perhaps he will not spare you [a Gentile branch]. Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And even they [Jewish branches]—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a [Gentile] wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated [Jewish] olive tree, how much more will these natural [Jewish] branches be grafted back into their own [cultivated Jewish] olive tree? (Romans 11:17-24 NET)

While Abraham is the natural father of the Jewish people, he is the spiritual father of all true believers.

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26–29 NET)

He is “Our Father Abraham.”

For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (Romans 4:16 NET)
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel,
 nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.” This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. (Romans 9:6–8 NET)
But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. (Galatians 4:28 NET)
But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:14–16 NET)

All Christians are spiritually Jews:

For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God. (Romans 2:28–29 NET)

Zechariah saw this “One New Man” company of people when he wrote:

The Lord who rules over all says, ‘In those days ten people [a representative number] from all languages and nations will grasp hold of—indeed, grab—the robe [tzitzit] of one Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” ’ ” (Zechariah 8:23)

Through Messiah, God has made way for all people to be His people, regardless of ethnic or national background, skin color, gender, economic status, social position, education, life achievements, age, language, customs, or traditions. No human barriers keep us from being in God’s Kingdom family. All of His people will be forever in His glorious presence.

Only those who have faith in Christ are considered God’s people. According to Paul, if one is born Jewish and rejects Christ, he is not considered part of God’s people. This is the same for a Gentile who also rejects Christ.

No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God known. (John 1:18 NET)
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27 NET)
So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:19–27 NET)
Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father either. The person who confesses the Son has the Father also. (1 John 2:23 NET)
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9 NET)

God has only provided one way of salvation: through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. (1)

I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11–12 NET)
Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is more to your advantage to have one man die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” (Now he did not say this on his own, but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish nation, and not for the Jewish nation only, but to gather together into one the children of God who are scattered.) So from that day they planned together to kill him. (John 11:49–53 NET)
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” (Matthew 23:37–39 NET)
Feasts, Festivals, and Important Occasions of the Biblical Covenants Series:
– The Spring Festivals:
– Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age:
– The Fall Festivals:
Biblical Typologies, Metaphors, & Similes Series:


Shalom
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Peace

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)


(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Bible Study Collection, vol. 181 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983).

(3) Richard Booker, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts Expanded Edition: Discovering Their Significance to You as a Christian (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2016).

(4) Edersheim, A. (1959). The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ. James Clarke & Co.

(5) Chatham, R. D. (1987). Fasting: A Biblical Historical Study (p. 3). Bridge-Logos.

(6) Eric M. Rogers. Fasting The Phenomenon of Self-Denial, p. 38

(7) Booker, R. (2017). The miracle of the scarlet thread expanded edition: revealing the power of the blood of Jesus from genesis to revelation. Destiny Image.

(8) The Distinction Between Propitiation and Expiation

Propitiation means the placating [appeasing or satisfying] of the personal wrath of God. Expiation is the removal of impersonal wrath, sin, or guilt. Expiation has to do with reparation for a wrong; propitiation carries the added idea of appeasing an offended person and thus raises the question of why the offended person was offended. In other words, propitiation brings the wrath of God into the picture, while expiation can leave it out. If one wanted to use both words correctly in connection with each other, then he would say that Christ propitiated the wrath of God by becoming an expiation for our sins.

An Important Practical Point

If God is satisfied because of Christ’s death, then what can the sinner do to try to satisfy God? The answer is nothing. Everything has been done by God Himself. The sinner can and need only receive the gift of righteousness God offers.

Before Christ died, it was perfectly proper to pray, as did the taxgatherer in Luke 18:13, “God, be merciful [lit., be propitiated] to me, the sinner.” Though provision for fellowship with God was provided under the Law, this man could not rely on a finished and eternal sacrifice for sin that would appease God once and for all. So that was an entirely appropriate prayer for him to pray. But now Christ has died and God is satisfied, and there is no need to ask Him to be propitiated. He is appeased, placated, and satisfied eternally. This is the message we bring to a lost world: Receive the Savior who through His death satisfied the wrath of God”

Ryrie, C. C. (1999). Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (pp. 341–342). Moody Press.

There are three elements that help to summarize expiation/propitiation in the Bible: 1) God was rightfully wrathful because of our sin, 2) God offered the sacrifice that averted his own wrath, and 3) God was the sacrifice that atoned for our sin. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Longman, T., III, Enns, P., & Strauss, M., eds. (2013). In The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 551). Baker Books.

Propitiation

Atonement conveys the notion of both propitiation and expiation. Propitiation, giving prominence to the secondary meaning of the Hebrew verb kaphar (“cover”) and the primary meaning of the Greek hilasmos, is an act prompted by God’s love, mercy, and grace, whereby His holiness and justice are demonstrated via substitutionary sacrifice for sin. Endemic to the meaning of the word “propitiation” is the turning away of God’s wrath against sinners (Rom 1:18). God’s love and wrath are compatible aspects of His nature, and the concept of propitiation in Scripture always includes both. The word “propitiation” encompasses two aspects of the atonement: 1) God’s justice is satisfied, and His wrath against sin and sinners is removed. 2) Sin is objectively atoned for and guilt is removed.

Where there is sin, there is always guilt—objective guilt before God since sin is a violation of God’s law and subjective guilt in the human heart due to our personal responsibility for our sin. We are obligated to keep God’s law, but because of our sin we are powerless to do so. We deserve condemnation for our sin. Moreover, sin brings separation between God and humanity—i.e., broken fellowship. Sin incurs God’s condemnation of those who are guilty. Guilt demands punishment, hence the cross. Forgiveness is extended based on the cross, which grounds God’s forgiveness of sin.

Note that Christ’s advocacy with the Father is connected to the fact that He is the propitiation “for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2). His death on the cross has satisfied the justice of God and averted the wrath of God (see also Rom 3:25).

Expiation

The term expiation includes the primary meaning of kaphar (Hb., “cover”) and the secondary meaning of hilasmos (Gk., “removal of sin and cancelation of punishment based on substitutionary sacrifice”). The focus of expiation has to do with the effect of atonement on sin itself.

In modern usage, atonement, therefore, is something accomplished by God through Christ on the cross. Atonement is also an act of Christ that is, in some sense, offered to God (Hebrews 9:14). The ultimate goal of the atonement is the reconciliation of sinners with God (2 Corinthians 5:14–21). Objectively considered, reconciliation focuses on God’s attitude toward sinners—i.e., He is willing to delay sin’s punishment of the sinner; subjectively, God is willing to be reconciled to all sinners who meet His condition of faith in Christ.

Christ’s atonement is fundamentally an act of reconciliation between sinful humanity and God. Sherman describes the atonement this way: “In its most basic sense, it answers the human problem. It is the activity of God the Father in the Son through the Spirit that overcomes the bondage or desire or pride or dislocation or estrangement or alienation or evil or limitation that separates humanity from God, and thus enables the restoration of the true and proper relation between them.”

Allen, D. L. (2019). The atonement: a biblical, theological, and historical study of the cross of christ (pp. 17–18). B&H Academic.

(9) Pictures of Israel from: Bolen, T. Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, Israel Collection, Volumes 1-5 Purchased from https://www.bibleplaces.com and used with permission.

(10) Timna Park, https://www.kkl-jnf.org/tourism-and-recreation/forests-and-parks/timna-park

(11) Kevin Howard, Marvin Rosenthal, (1997) The Feasts of the Lord: God’s Prophetic Calendar from Calvary to the Kingdom. Thomas Nelson

(12) Neusner, J. (2007). A History of the Mishnaic Law of Appointed Times: Sheqalim, Yoma, Sukkah: Translation and Explanation (J. Neusner, Ed.; Vol. 3, p. 96). Wipf & Stock Publishers.

M. [When] he has reached the ark, he places the fire-pan between the two bars [Ex. 25:12].

(13) Got Questions Ministries. (2014–2021). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Vol. 2). Faithlife.

(14) Evans, L. H., Jr, & Ogilvie, L. J. (1985). Hebrews (Vol. 33, pp. 180–184). Thomas Nelson Inc.

(15) Featured Image: https://www.gospelimages.com/paintings/105/the-day-of-atonement? by Jan van’t Hoff

(16) “The fast” refers to the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It was now into October and the dangerous winter winds would soon occur (Suetonius, Life of Claudius 18; Josephus, J. W. 1.14.2–3 [1.279–281])

(17)  Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 10, p. 159). Eerdmans.

(18) 4. I:4: It has been taught: Forty years before the destruction of the Temple the western light went out, the crimson thread remained crimson, and the lot for the Lord always came up in the left hand. They would close the gates of the Temple by night and get up in the morning and find them wide open. Said [to the Temple] Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, “O Temple, why do you frighten us? We know that you will end up destroyed. “For it has been said, ‘Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars!’ ” (Zech. 11:1).

Neusner, J. (2008). The Jerusalem Talmud: A Translation and Commentary. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

II.5 A. Our rabbis have taught on Tannaite authority:

B. Forty years before the destruction of the sanctuary, the lot did not come up in the right hand, and the thread of crimson never turned white, and the westernmost light never shone, and the doors of the courtyard would open by themselves,

C. until Rabban Yohanan b. Zakkai rebuked them. He said, “Temple, Temple, why will you yourself give the alarm [that you are going to be destroyed? You don’t have to, because] I know that in the end you are destined to be destroyed. For Zechariah b. EIdo has already prophesied concerning you: ‘Open your doors, Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars’ (Zechariah 11:1).”

Neusner, J. (2011). The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (Vol. 5a, p. 142). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

(19) Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.

Other sources that were studied but were not incorporated:

Levine, B. A. (1965). The Descriptive Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 85(3), 307–318. https://doi.org/10.2307/597813

Rainey, A. F. (1970). The Order of Sacrifices in Old Testament Ritual Texts. Biblica, 51(4), 485–498. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42615691

Snaith, N. H. (1957). Sacrifices in the Old Testament. Vetus Testamentum, 7(3), 308–317. https://doi.org/10.2307/1516202

Steinmueller, J. E. (1959). SACRIFICIAL BLOOD IN THE BIBLE. Biblica, 40(2), 556–567. http://www.jstor.org/stable/42640728

(20)  Salerno, Jr., Donald A., (2010). Revelation Unsealed. Virtualbookworm.com Publish-ing, Inc.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.  DOULOS HAL'S TOPICAL INDEX

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