Spring or Fall
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) points to a great host of people, Jews and Gentiles,
who will be saved when Jesus physically returns to earth.
Four main elements comprise this significant feast.
A Holy Convocation
The purpose of the "holy convocation" was
to draw the focus of the people to the altar of divine mercy. The Lord called
the people of Israel to gather in His presence and give their undivided attention to Him.
Prayer and Fasting
The people of Israel were to humble (afflict) their souls (Leviticus 23:27). This was
explained by later tradition to indicate fasting and repentance. Israel understood that this
was a day for mourning over their sins. The seriousness of this requirement is repeated
in Leviticus 23:29: "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same
day, he shall be cut off from his people" (Leviticus 23:29).
Offerings are central to the Day of Atonement; in fact,
the Bible devotes an entire chapter (Leviticus 16) to them (also see Numbers 29:7-11).
In addition to these, when the Day of Atonement fell on the sabbath, the regular sabbath
offerings were offered.
Prohibition from Labor
The Day of Atonement was a "sabbath of rest"
(Leviticus 23:32), and the Israelites were forbidden to do any work period. If they
disobeyed, they were liable to capital punishment! (Leviticus 23:30)
Whereas the Feast of Trumpets occured on the first day of the Hebrew month, Tishri,
at the new moon, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) occurred ten days later on the
tenth of the month. The ten days from Trumpets to the Day of Atonement are known
as "the days of awe" which include penitence, prayer,
and fasting in preparation for the most solemn day of the Jewish religious calendar -
the Feast of Tabernacles. Unlike biblical times, the modern Jewish Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) does not include
The focal point of this feast involved the
high priest entering the holy of holies. However, before entering, he had to first
bathe his entire body, thus going way beyond the mere washing of hands and feet which
were required for other occasions.
This washing symbolized the high priest's desire for purification. Rather than wearing his usual
robe and colorful garments (Exodus 28 and Leviticus 8), he was commanded to wear
special garments of linen.
The high priest sacrificed a bullock as a
sin offering for himself and for his house (Leviticus 16:6). After filling his censer
with live coals from the altar, he entered the holy of holies where he placed incense
on the coals. Next, he took some of the blood which was taken from the slain
bullock and sprinkled it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:13) and
also on the ground in front of the mercy seat, providing atonement for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:14-15).
Then he sacrificed a male goat as a sin offering for the people. Some of this blood
was then also taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled there on behalf of the people
(Leviticus 16:11-15). Next, the high priest took another goat (called the "scapegoat"), laid
his hands on its head, confessed over it the sins of Israel, and then released it into
the desert where it symbolically carried away the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:8,10).
The remains of the sacrificial bullock and male goat were taken outside of the city and
subsquently burned; the day finally concluded with some additional sacrifices.
According to Hebrews 9-10, this ritual is a symbol of the atoning work of Jesus Christ,
our Great High Priest, who did not need to make any sacrifice for Himself but rather
shed His own blood for our sins. As the high priest of the Old Testament entered
the holy of holies with the blood of sacrificial animals, Jesus entered heaven itself
to appear on our behalf in front of the Father (Hebrews 9:11,12). Each year the high
priest repeated his sin offerings for his own sin as well as for the sins of the people.
This ritual was an annual reminder that perfect and permanent atonement had not yet
been made; but Jesus, through His very own blood, accomplished eternal redemption for His
people (Hebrews 9:12). Just as the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement was burned
outside Israel's camp, Jesus suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem so that He might
redeem His people from sin (Hebrews 13:11-12).
According to Jewish custom, three books are opened on the Feast of Trumpets: the Book of Life for the righteous,
the Book of Life for the unrighteous, and the Book of Life those those in-between.
If a man is deemed righteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the righteous at the Feast of Trumpets.
If a man is unrighteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the unrighteous,
and he will not survive the year. If a man is deemed in-between, judgment is
delayed for ten days from the Feast of Trumpets to the Feast of the Day of Atonement.
It is during that period of time that a man is given opportunity to repent before the
book is closed and his destiny sealed. Thus, at the Feast of Trumpets, the Church will
be raptured and the Lord's wrath will begin on the earth. It will occupy a relatively
brief period of time.
At His physical return to the earth, many Jews who survived the
Lord's purging (wrath) of the earth, will be saved. The prophet Zechariah wrote of that
event this way: "And it shall come to pass, in that day, that I will seek to destroy
all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David,
and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications; and they
shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth
for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for
his firstborn" (Zechariah 12:9-10).
And Paul, in the context of a believing remnant from among the nation of Israel at
the end of the age, wrote: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant
of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits: that blindness in part
is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all
Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and
shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:25-26).
But it will not be Israel's Day of Atonement. From among the nations of the world,
many will not take the mark of the Antichrist. And when the Lord Jesus returns to the
earth, many will repent of their sins before the Book of Life is forever closed. The
Lord has these Gentiles in mind in His Olivet Discourse. He taught:
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him,
then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all the
nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shephered divideth his sheep
from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:31-34)
It is the multitude from among the nations, along with those from among the sons of
Jacob, who will enter the millennial Kingdom still in mortal bodies (as distinct from
the raptured and glorified Church who will inhabit New Jerusalem).
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This teaching was written by David Holt Boshart, Jr.
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