Yom Kippur: (The Day of Atonement)
For it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; and you shall be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:30-31 NAS).
On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement...for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God.... You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 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 [Vayikra] 23:27-28,31-32 NAS).
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 [Bamidbar] 29:7 NAS).
Yom Kippur: Names, Themes, and Idioms
Understanding the Priestly Service for Yom Kippur
Leviticus (Vayikra) chapter 16, specifies the tenth of Tishrei as the date on which the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) shall conduct a special ceremony to purge defilement from the shrine and from the people. The heart of the ritual is that the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) shall bring a bull and two goats as a special offering. First, the bull is sacrificed to purge the shrine from any defilements (what might now be called uncanny vibrations) caused by misdeeds of the priest himself and of his household (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:6). Secondly, one of the goats is chosen by lot to be sacrificed to purge the shrine of any similar defilement stimulated by misdeeds of the whole Israelite people (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:7-8). Finally, the second goat is sent away, not sacrificed, to cleanse the people themselves. The goat is marked for Azazel and is sent away to wander in the wilderness (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:10). Before the goat is sent out, the high priest lays both his hands upon its head and confesses over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their misdeeds, and so putting them on the head of the goat. Thus, the Torah adds, "The goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region..." (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:20-22).
Azazel: The Scapegoat
The Hebrew word for scapegoat is azazel. Azazel was seen as a type of satan (Ha satan) in the intertestamental Book of Enoch (8:1). The sins of the people and thus the punishment of the people were laid upon azazel the scapegoat. He would bear the sins of the people and the punishment of the people would be upon him. Azazel being sent into the wilderness is understood to be a picture of satan (Ha satan) being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).
Let's take a closer look at this ceremony found in Leviticus (Vayikra) 16:7-10. In Leviticus (Vayikra) 16:8, the first lot said, "La Adonai" (To the L-rd). The second lot said, "La Azazel" (To the scapegoat). The high priest (Cohen HaGadol) took the two golden lots, one marked La Adonai and the other marked La Azazel, and placed one upon the head of each animal, sealing their fate. It was considered a good omen if the lot marked La Adonai was drawn by the priest in the right hand, but for 40 years prior to the destruction of the temple (Beit HaMikdash) in 70 C.E. (Common Era, which is the same as A.D., the Latin for "in the year of our L-rd"), the lot La Adonai was drawn by the priest on the left hand (Talmud, Yoma 39a). In any event, the sins of the people were laid upon the scapegoat (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:21-22). Except for the 40 years prior to the destruction of the second temple (Beit HaMikdash), the lot La Adonai came out on the right hand of the priest and the lot La Azazel came out on the left hand of the priest.
G-d gave this ceremony of the casting of lots during Yom Kippur to teach us how He will judge the nations of the world prior to the Messianic age known as the Millennium. The nations of the world will be judged according to how they treated the Jewish people. Those nations who mistreated the Jews will be goat nations and they will go into the left hand. Those nations that stood beside the Jewish people will be sheep nations and will enter into the Messianic kingdom or the Millennium. Yeshua taught us about this in Matthew 25:31-46.
Yeshua during His first coming was a type of the goat marked La Adonai. Yeshua was a sin offering to us as G-d laid upon Him the sins of the whole world (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 53:1-6; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:3-4; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John [Yochanan] 2:2; 4:10).
In the ceremony of the two goats, the two goats were considered as one offering. A crimson sash was tied around the horns of the goat marked azazel. At the appropriate time, the goat was led to a steep cliff in the wilderness and shoved off the cliff. In connection with this ceremony, an interesting tradition arose that is mentioned in the Mishnah. A portion of the crimson sash was attached to the door of the temple (Beit HaMikdash) before the goat was sent into the wilderness. The sash would turn from red to white as the goat met its end, signaling to the people that G-d had accepted their sacrifices and their sins were forgiven. This was based upon Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 1:18. As stated earlier, the Mishnah tells us that 40 years before the destruction of the temple (Beit HaMikdash), the sash stopped turning white. This, of course, was when Yeshua was slain on the tree.
Additional Aspects to the High Priest Ceremony
In order to enter the Holy of Holies, the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) was first to bathe his entire body, going beyond the mere washing of hands and feet as required by other occasions. The washing symbolized his desire for purification (Numbers [Bamidbar] 19). The washing was of his clothes and his flesh (Numbers [Bamidbar] 8:5-7; 19:7-9). This was done in conjunction with taking the blood of an animal with the finger and sprinkling the blood upon the altar (Number [Bamidbar] 19:1-4; Leviticus [Vayikra] 8:13-15). This ritual is once again seen in Numbers (Bamidbar) 31:21-24. The spiritual understanding of this is given in Hebrews 9; and 10:19-22. The sprinkling of blood upon the altar is also mentioned in Exodus (Shemot) 29:1-4,10-12, 16,20-21; and Leviticus (Vayikra) 1:3-5,11; 3:1-2,8; 4:1-6; 5:4-6,9. Once again, the spiritual understanding is found in Hebrews 9:11-14,23-25, and First Peter (Kefa) 1:2.
Yeshua is the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) of G-d (Hebrews 3:1). In John (Yochanan) 20:17, Yeshua said, "Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father...." These were the same words that the priest spoke before he ascended the altar. Yeshua can be seen as Priest by looking at some other Scriptures. In Numbers (Bamidbar) 19:11, if you touched a dead body, you were unclean for seven days. After being unclean, purification took place on the eighth day. This is the meaning behind what happened in John (Yochanan) 20:24-27.
Rather than wearing his usual robe and colorful garments (described in Exodus [Shemot] 28 and Leviticus [Vayikra] 8:1-8), Aaron was commanded to wear special garments of linen (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:4). Yeshua was seen wearing the same thing in Revelation 1:13-15. Daniel also saw this and described it in Daniel 10:5-6.
By slaying the animals at the altar and applying their blood to the altar, the garments of the high priest became very bloody and G-d instructed them to be washed (Leviticus [Vayikra] 6:27). However, on Yom Kippur G-d declared in Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 1:18, as it is written, "...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow...." Spiritually speaking, a white garment represents purity and the absence of sin (Revelation 7:9,13-14; 19:8).
In Numbers (Bamidbar) 15:37-41, fringes (tzi-tzit) were put on the hem of the garments to remind the people of the Torah or G-d's Word. Consider the woman with the issue of blood (she was unclean) coming to Yeshua (the High Priest of G-d) to touch the hem of His garment and be healed (Matthew [Mattityahu] 9:20-22). The children of Israel were instructed by G-d to wear the garments Yeshua had on in Matthew 9:20-22. These garments were instructed by G-d in the Torah to be worn as just stated in Numbers (Bamidbar) 15:37-41. When the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem (tzi-tzit) of Yeshua's garment in Matthew 9:20-22, it was a picture given to us by G-d to communicate to us that she believed Yeshua's word by faith (emunah) and was made well because of her faith.
Face to Face
The high priest (Cohen HaGadol) could only go into the Holy of Holies once a year (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:2; Hebrews 9:6-7). (G-d issued a warning that no man could see His face and live (Exodus [Shemot] 33:20). But because on the Day of Atonement the priest could be in G-d's presence (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:2), another term for the Day of Atonement is "face to face."
By the time of the second temple, this ritual [the high priest's (Cohen HaGadol) ceremony] had been somewhat elaborated, and one crucial element had been added to it. That element was that on three separate occasions, in a grand crescendo, the high priest appeared before the people, and three times he recited a formula of confession in their hearing. The first confession was on the account of his own sins and those of his household; the second, on the account of the priestly tribe of Levi; the third, on the account of the whole people.
On this occasion only, in the entire year, the confession included the priest's saying aloud the name of G-d embodied in the Hebrew letters YHVH (called the Tetragrammaton). This was the name that G-d gave and explained to Moses (Moshe) at the burning bush, the name that was a kind of distillation of "I am Becoming Who I am Becoming," the name that was not a name in the sense of a label by which G-d could be called and controlled, and therefore the name that could not be said aloud. It was, therefore, all year long euphemized by saying, whenever YHVH appeared in the text, or invocation, Adonai, The L-rd. Only on Yom Kippur was the name said, aloud, in all its original awesomeness.
(How the name was pronounced on this occasion was so thoroughly protected from record-keeping, that might profane it, that we no longer know how it was done.)
In each confession, when the high priest reached the recitation of the name, the whole people would prostrate themselves and say aloud, "Baruch shem K'vod malchuto l'olam va'ed," which means, "Blessed be the Name of the radiance of the Kingship, forever and beyond." On the third recitation, the one for their own sins, they knew that the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) had just before-on this one occasion in all the year-entered the Holy of Holies, the inmost room of the temple (Beit HaMikdash) where G-d's Presence was most fully felt. He entered it three times, and only then came out to confess on behalf of all the people and put their sins upon the head of the goat for azazel.
The result of this triple entry into the Holy of Holies, this triple recitation of G-d's most holy name, and this triple prostration by the entire people, was an utterly awesome sense of G-d's Presence making atonement for the people, cleansing them of all their sins, permitting them to begin the year afresh, renewing their lives. So total was this sense of transformation that, after it, the mood of the people shifted from solemn awe to joyful celebration. The young, unmarried men and women went to dance in the fields and to choose spouses for themselves. Yom Kippur and the fifteenth of Av were the only days in the year when this kind of mass public espousal would take place.
Therefore, when the high priest stood before G-d on this day, he was said to be "face to face" with G-d. Because of this, Yom Kippur became known by the phrase "face to face." "Face to face" terminology was used in First Corinthians 13:9-12, as it is written:
For we know in part; and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
Both verse 11 and the phrase in verse 12, "For now we see through a glass, darkly" come from the Jewish Midrash.
"Face to Face" is the title of a chapter in Arthur Waskow's book, Seasons of Our Joy, on the topic of Yom Kippur. "Face to face" is an idiom for Yom Kippur. Why? It was on Yom Kippur that the high priest had to go behind the veil of the temple. At that moment, the nation had to hold its breath because the nation's fate depended upon G-d's accepting the sacrifice. At that point, the high priest was "face to face with the mercy seat of G-d."
When the high priest (Cohen HaGadol) entered the Holy of Holies, he saw the L-rd's presence as a brilliant cloud hovering above the mercy seat (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:2). The word for mercy seat in Hebrew is kapporet. It comes from the root word kaphar, which is the same word used for "atonement." The mercy seat can also be translated as the seat of atonement. The mercy seat is described in detail in Exodus (Shemot) 25:17-22 and 37:6-9. This is the place where Moses (Moshe) met and spoke with G-d face to face (Exodus [Shemot] 25:22; 30:6; Numbers [Bamidbar] 7:89).
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, comes on the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (September/October). It is the last day of the Ten Days of Repentance, and it is the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar. It is believed that those who have not been good enough to be written in the Book of Life immediately on Rosh HaShanah are given ten days to repent, pray for forgiveness, and do good deeds until Yom Kippur, when their fate will be decided. The entire Day of Forgiveness (Yom Kippur) is spent fasting and praying. Because this day is the most solemn day in the year, it is known as "The Day."
Fasting is one of the most important of the mitzvot (commandments) leading to atonement. The Torah says three times, "And this shall be to you a law for all times: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month you shall practice self-denial" (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:29; 23:27; Numbers [Bamidbar] 29:7); tradition (the Jewish understanding) interprets self-denial as fasting. For this reason, Yom Kippur is known as "The Fast Day."
The Great Shofar
As mentioned earlier in this book in Chapter 7, when the shofar (trumpet) was discussed, there are three primary shofarim (trumpets) to the Jewish people and these three trumpets are associated with specific days in the year. These three trumpets are:
It is on Yom Kippur when the Great Trumpet, known in Hebrew as the Shofar HaGadol is blown. This is referred to in Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 27:13 and Matthew 24:31.
Neilah: The Closing of the Gates of Heaven
Neilah is the closing or final service of Yom Kippur. It is the Jewish belief that the gates of Heaven are open during the days of repentance to receive our prayers for forgiveness and that they close after the neilah service. (Specifically, they are open on Rosh HaShanah to let the righteous into Heaven and remain open until the neilah service of Yom Kippur.) When the final blast of the shofar (the Shofar HaGadol, the Great Trumpet) is heard at the end of the neilah service, those who have observed the day with sincerity should feel that they have been inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
Spiritual Understanding of the Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement was the most solemn of all the feast days. It was the day of cleansing for the nation and for the sanctuary. On this day alone, once a year, the high priest entered into the holiest of all, the Holy of Holies in the temple, within the veil of the temple, with the blood of the L-rd's goat, the sin offering. Here he sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat. The blood of the sin offering on the great Day of Atonement brought about the cleansing of all sin for the priesthood, the sanctuary, and Israel as a nation (Leviticus [Vayikra] 16:29-34).
The Day of Atonement
In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 52:13-15, the suffering servant, Yeshua, Messiah ben Joseph (Yosef) is seen sprinkling many nations. In Ezekiel 36:24-26, it is the Jews returning to Israel from the Diaspora whom G-d will sprinkle clean water upon when they return back to the land of Israel.
The Day of Atonement Ceremonies
As we look at the ceremony itself, we will be able to see how it points to the Messiah Yeshua Himself. In addition, we will be able to see how it relates to the believers in the Messiah.
Life for a Life
The biblical name for the day of Atonement is Yom HaKippurim, meaning "the day of covering, canceling, pardon, reconciling." Occasionally, it was called "the Day of the Fast" or "the Great Fast" (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:27-31; 16:29-34).
G-d told the Israelites to sacrifice an animal as a substitute for their own sentence to die. This life for a life principle is the foundation of the sacrificial system. The Torah allows a monetary ransom be paid for an individual deserving death (Exodus [Shemot] 21:28-32). The guilty person here was the owner of an ox that had killed a person, and the owner of the ox was responsible for the death caused by his ox (Exodus 21:30 says that money paid in place of the death of the owner was a ransom price).
Messianic Fulfillment. Yeshua died on the tree as a substitute for us, who deserved death because we sinned against G-d. Yeshua paid the ransom price for us to G-d (Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). The ransom price was 30 pieces of silver (Exodus [Shemot] 21:32; Matthew [Mattityahu] 26:14-16; 27:3-6).
Thirty pieces of silver was the ransom price of blood in dying in the place of the truly guilty and making atonement for the guilty. In the case of a thief or murderer, there is no atonement for them (Exodus 22:1-2; Numbers 35:31). This is why there is no atonement for satan (Ha satan) (John 8:44). Thirty pieces of silver was the ransom price of blood and the shedding of blood made an atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11; Romans 5:8-11). The Greek word hilasmos, translated as "propitiation," has the same meaning as the Hebrew word kaphar, which is translated as "atonement" (Romans 3:23-25; 1 John 2:2; 4:9-10). The purpose of the Day of Atonement was to teach us about Yeshua, who is our atonement (Hebrews 10:1-10).
The Significance of Blood in the Bible
The Day of Atonement is the tenth day of Tishrei (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:27). It is significant that repentance (the season of Teshuvah) must precede redemption (Yom Kippur). G-d purposed that animal sacrifices were only appropriate when presented with a contrite and repentant heart (Psalm [Tehillim] 51:16-19). With this in mind, the Day of Atonement was to be kept as a perpetual statute throughout all generations (Leviticus [Vayikra] 23:31).
G-d divinely placed Yom Kippur before the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), which is called "The Season of Our Joy." The children of Israel (and all believers in the Messiah Yeshua) could only rejoice once they were redeemed and their sins forgiven.
Yeshua's Second Coming and Yom Kippur
If you examine the Scriptures concerning the second coming of Yeshua back to earth, when He will set His foot upon the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4), you will find that it uses Yom Kippur terminology. Here are a few examples.
The first example is in Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 52:13-15. First, let us examine Isaiah 52:13-14 so we can identify that this is referring to Yeshua the Messiah. Then, we will look at Isaiah 52:15.
In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 52:13-14 it is written:
Behold, My servant shall deal prudently [the servant refers to the Messiah], He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. [The New Covenant (Brit Hadashah) references to this include Acts 2:32-35; 5:30-31; and Philippians 2:9-11.] As many were astonied at thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men (Isaiah [Yeshayahu] 52:13-14).
This description of Yeshua, the suffering Messiah, is drastically different than how Yeshua is portrayed in Hollywood.
This description depicts a lamb going to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 52:14 depicts a man so marred that He did not resemble a man. Furthermore, Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 50:6 says that His beard was ripped out. Psalm (Tehillim) 22:14,17 says His bones were out of joint and that He was naked before the peering eyes of men. They even bit him (Psalm 22:13).
The Romans used a whip with nine strands, and each strand had bone, glass, and sharp metal in it. The purpose of the whip was to strip away the flesh so the organs would hang out of the body. Psalm 22:16 says they also pierced His hands and feet. Psalm 22:18 says they gambled for His garments. Recognizing that Isaiah 52:13-14 is speaking about Yeshua during His first coming to earth, Isaiah 52:15 will speak about His second coming.
In Isaiah (Yeshayahu) 52:15 it is written:
"So shall He sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider."
The phrase, "So shall He sprinkle many nations" is a reference to the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat of G-d by the high priest during Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:14). This is also referred to in Leviticus 1:5,11; 3:2,8,13; 4:6,17; 7:2.
The garments of the high priest were covered with blood after he had performed this task (Leviticus 6:27). After this, G-d accepted the sacrifice, and as the high priest hung out his garments, a miracle took place. His garments turned from bloodstained red to white.
G-d was saying in this that He had forgiven their sins and this forgiveness was shown by the garment (symbolic of man's life), being sprinkled upon by blood (the blood of Yeshua), Yeshua forgiving man's sins, and thus his garment turning white. Isaiah the prophet wrote, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
Yeshua's garment went from being stained from His blood when He died upon the tree to being pure white today. White garments represent righteousness before G-d (Revelation 3:4-5; 7:9,13-14). Yeshua is described this way in Revelation 1:13-14. Yeshua is our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14; 9:11). Yeshua sprinkled His blood for us (1 Peter [Kefa] 1:2).
Moses (Moshe) led the children of Israel out of Egypt by keeping the Passover and sprinkling the blood as found in the Torah and referenced in Hebrews 11:24-28. In fact, G-d promised to sprinkle Israel when they returned to the land of Israel from the Diaspora. This can be seen in Ezekiel 36:24-27.
In Isaiah 52:15, when it says that Yeshua would sprinkle the nations, it refers to what the high priest did on Yom Kippur on the mercy seat of G-d so G-d would forgive the sins of the people. Yeshua came as a prophet in His first coming; now He is the High Priest and is coming back as a King. Isaiah 63:1-3 describes the second coming of Yeshua, and verse 3 talks about His garments being sprinkled with blood. Once again this describes Yeshua, the High Priest coming back to earth on Yom Kippur.
In Joel (Yoel) 2:15-16 it is written:
Blow the trumpet in Zion [the trumpet (shofar) spoken of here refers to the trumpet ushering in the Messianic Kingdom, the last trump that is blown on Rosh HaShanah] sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly [this speaks of the fast associated with Yom Kippur]: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet (Joel [Yoel] 2:15-16).
Please refer back to the previous chapter on the wedding that takes place on Rosh HaShanah and the honeymoon. In this passage in Joel, we can see that the seven years of the tribulation, known as the birthpangs of the Messiah or Chevlai shel Mashiach, are over and the Messiah is coming back with His followers to go to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
In Joel 2:17 it is written:
Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar [once again, this speaks of an event that took place annually, the priest ministering in the Holy of Holies], and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? (Joel [Yoel] 2:17)
What is being communicated here by the phrase "spare Thy people"? For the answer we must turn to Zechariah 12 and 14:1-9. In these passages, we can see Yeshua coming back after the birthpangs of the Messiah (tribulation), and Jerusalem (Yerushalayim) about to be under siege. Yeshua saves Jerusalem (Yerushalayim). His feet are placed on the Mount of Olives. There is a great earthquake, and the Messianic Kingdom comes in full power. There is no nighttime anymore, and the L-rd will rule the whole earth. At this time, the gates of Heaven are closed. The last Yom Kippur ceremony is called neilah, the closing of the gates, and is the concluding ceremony to Yom Kippur. However, this is not the rehearsal (miqra), but the real thing. At this point, it is too late to make a decision to accept Yeshua the Messiah into your life.
Yeshua spoke of this same event in Matthew (Mattityahu) 24:27-31. In Matthew 24:31, the trumpet that is being blown is called by Yeshua the great trumpet. This is the trumpet that is blown on Yom Kippur known as the Shofar HaGadol. This trumpet will usher the return of Yeshua to rule as Messiah ben David during the Messianic age.
The themes of the fall feasts are numerous and are especially meaningful to the believer in Yeshua. The festivals and the entire Tanach (Old Testament) are fulfilled and speak about the Messiah (Psalm [Tehillim] 40:7; Luke 24:44-47). Understanding the fall festivals will enrich our lives and walk (halacha) as believers in the Messiah. The final fall festival, Sukkot, is no different. The festivals of the L-rd are fulfilled in Yeshua the Messiah while at the same time revealing tremendous insight on how to live for Yeshua on a daily basis. Baruch Ha Shem! Blessed be His Name!
Taken with permission from THE SEVEN FESTIVALS OF THE MESSIAH By Eddie Chumney
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