Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the day when our sins are forgiven. On this day the high priest of the nation of Israel would go behind the veil in the Holy Place and perform a ceremony in the Holy of Holies. Leviticus 23:26-32.
- 26 The Lord said to Moses,
- 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Yom Kippur. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to ADONAI.
- 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.
- 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people.
- 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day.
- 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
- 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
It was performed on the 10th day of the 7th month each year. This day was the most holiest day and the most important feast during the Feast of Weeks. There were four main elements to this feast.
- The holy ones (God's people) were called together. God's people were called to the altar to focus upon Him. God's presence was with them.
- Denying yourselves means that the people were suppose to humble themselves. It is supposed to be a day of fasting and repentance.
- It was a day of offering.
- It was absolutely a day of rest. No one was to work, punishment up to the penalty of death.
The high priest would first bathe and wash his whole body and not just the regular ceremonial washing of hands and feet. This was to show a desire to be completely purified before ADONAI. He was to wear a special garment of linen instead of his usual robe of color. He would take a male bull and sacrifice it for himself. He would place the blood on the Mercy Seat (lid of the Ark) and on the ground beside the Ark. He then would take a male goat and sacrifice it for the people. Some of the blood would be sprinkled onto the Ark. Then the high priest would take another goat and lay his hands on the head. He would confess the sins of Israel, symbolizing the transference of sin onto the goat, and then let it go. Our sin would escape with the goat, hence the term escape goat, or scapegoat. The remains of the bull and goat were taken outside the city to be burned/sacrificed.
What does it mean for us? Hebrews 9-10 is the answer. This day points to Christ in all ways. Jesus is our high priest, our sacrifice, our escape goat, our atonement. Jesus was pure. He went to the cross not wearing any special garment. He was stripped of his clothes until all that remained was his undergarments. The soldiers mocked him and placed a purple robe on Him. Nothing spectacular, one color, yet one of a King! Jesus took His own blood, for no one could do this without His will, and it was spilled on the new Ark (Cross) and on the ground, since He was lifted high into the air His blood fell to the ground. The scapegoat was to show that the sins of Israel were not remembered. Jesus' death is all about how our sins are forgiven. Our sin was transferred from us to Him. But there is a difference here. The goat was done once each year; it was temporary. Jesus did this once and for all (Hebrews 7:27). His sacrifice is permanent. We are bound by law, but free in grace. And like the remains of the bull and goat that was led outside the city to finish the sacrifice, so was Jesus (Hebrews 13:11-12), where He said, "It is finished".
It is not a day we need to sacrifice anymore since we are now in grace and not held to the law. But nevertheless it is a day when we need to draw closer to God and remember what His son Jesus did for us, once and for all. The law brings death and grace brings life.
But, we need to take time to understand this day. The day where all of our sins would be forgiven for the year. The priests would sacrifice a perfect lamb for each one of us. The lamb my friends is temporary, natural, finite, a vapor in this life. Today we have a high priest who is also the perfect lamb. But this lamb my brothers and sisters (more than my friends this time) is PERMANENT! SUPERNATURAL! INFINITE! IS LIFE! He has redeemed us. He has reconciled us to Him. Our sins under grace are never remembered for the scapegoat has gone into Heaven and has taken our sins with Him.
Remember to thank God the Father today for His sacrifice of His perfect Son and for sending His Spirit to us.