THE DAY OF ATONEMENT, IN A NUTSHELL
SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: LEVITICUS 16
In this short commentary, I would like to look at the “Day of Atonement” the “Day of Redemption” in the Hebrew, “Yom Kippur” or “Yom HaKippurim” (The day of the coverings).
This year, 2021, this day occurs today, September 16th. It began last night at sundown and ends today at sundown. It is a day of fasting and remembering our shortcomings, our faults, and also, remembering what our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ) did on our behalf on Calvary’s cross.
According to Leviticus, the high priest would, on this day, and only on this day, go into the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant rested, first in the Tabernacle and then in the Holy Temple.
He would prepare himself with scripture readings, he would have to stay awake the whole night, prepare himself emotionally, spiritually, and physically. On this day, this very special day, HE would meet with GOD, in HIS Holy Room, the Holy of Holies.
He would offer incense, and sprinkle the sacrificial animal’s blood on the Ark of the Covenant. He would intercede for himself, for his family, and for the whole people of Israel. Then there were two goats, one would be selected by lots to take upon itself all the sins of the people and be led away into the wilderness, pushed off a cliff, never to return. The other goat would also, take upon itself the sins of the people, and be sacrificed.
Why is it called “Yom HaKippurim?” or the “Day of coverings?” Well, we need to understand that back then, before Yeshua gave his life for us all, the sins of the people were only “covered” and it wasn’t just one animal, it was two goats, rams, and bullocks. This was to be done year after year.
One might think why animals were used in sacrifices? An animal is not born with a sin nature, animals are innocent and pure in the eyes of God, and therefore, a few of those animals, namely the sheep, goats, rams, and bulls symbolized Yeshua, as being pure and innocent, worthy to carry our sins.
Yet we read in Hebrews that the blood of the animals had no power to eradicate sin, nor cleanse our consciousness from the stain of sin. That is why Yeshua/Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, His one-time-only sacrifice for sin was all-sufficient. It put us AT-ONE-MENT, being at one mind with God. He looked upon the sacrifice of His only begotten Son as all-sufficient, and unlike the priests who sprinkled the blood inside the Tabernacle and Temple on earth, our Messiah sprinkled his own blood inside the Heavenly Tabernacle, not built with human hands. With his blood, he interceded for every single human being on this planet, past, present, and future
It is also taught in Judaism that on this day, the Book of Life is sealed, and those inside the Book of Life will have eternal life, and those not inscribed, will be separated from God for all eternity (if they do not repent) or until next year when they will have another chance.
Yet this teaching has its faults. If this were indeed true, then where is the mercy of our loving Father? He who is not willing that human souls perish, but to come into his presence through “Shoov” (returning in repentance).
While there is the “Book of Life” and also, “Book of works” where our good deeds are written down. The “Book of Life” is not closed and sealed on Yom Kippur, but open 24-7 while mankind has the breath of life within. It is sealed when a person dies, and his or her soul departs from the body. If the person has received Yeshua as Savior, that name will be written in the Book of Life, if not, it will not be there.
Here is a thought to chew on. One might wonder if a person’s name is written in the Book of Life at birth, and is still written in the Book of Life throughout that person’s life. If that person receives Yeshua/Jesus as LORD and Savior, his or her name will be permanent in the Book of Life, if the person dies, rejecting our Messiah and His redemptive work on Calvary, then, that name is erased. We have no idea if that is what happens, but it would make sense. It is something to think about though.
So on this day, it is good to contemplate on our personal relationship with God, on our spiritual condition, if there is unconfessed sin in our lives, if we harbor resentment against someone who has, perhaps, wronged us. It is a time to NOT think of physical food, but of the spiritual food that goes into our heart, mind, and soul through God’s inspired Holy Word. Surely we can go without eating physical food for 24 hours, yet many go without meditating on God’s Word for days, perhaps weeks, they are starving themselves in the spiritual realm.
On this day it is accustomed to wearing white apparel, signifying how our Heavenly Father sees us through the blood of Yeshua, innocent and pure, sinless, the price of sin paid for completely. White is the symbol of purity, and even though we still have the sin nature, our heavenly Father sees us without it, he sees us as sons and daughters of light.
So, have a “thoughtful” and “reflective” Yom Kippur.
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