Michael Boling – The Feasts of the Lord: The Fulfillment of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

Day of Atonement

In our previous post, we explored the background and celebration in ancient Israel of the Day of Atonement also known as Yom Kippur. In keeping with how we have addressed all of the other feast days thus far, in this post, we will examine the fulfillment and future fulfillment of this holy convocation. I will be using the Complete Jewish Bible translation in this post in order to demonstration how the terminology we discussed in the previous post, is found in the passages of Scripture that identify the fulfillment of this feast.

In Romans 5:8-9, the Apostle Paul writes “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” In this passage, we clearly see that Christ’s death was the atoning sacrifice for our sin. His shed blood did that which the blood of bulls and goats, to include the azazel, could never fully do.

The establishment of the Day of Atonement with the various sacrificial rituals, all pointed to one individual, Jesus the Messiah. The book of Hebrews spends a great deal of time outlining the fact that the sacrificial system was a temporary goal that was leading to a time when the Perfect Lamb of God would come to deal with the sin problem. No longer would there be a need to shed the blood of an animal or to send an animal into the wilderness. At the cross, the shed blood of the Lamb of God atoned for our sins before a holy God.

If we remember back to our last post, it was noted the Day of Atonement was a yearly convocation, one that was to be celebrated permanently. Let’s first look at why this had to be celebrated yearly with the requisite sacrifices and cleansing rituals. Once a year, the high priest presented himself to God on behalf of the people, following the sacrificial requirements in order to atone for his own sins, the sins of his family, and the sins of the people of Israel. There was a yearly requirement to perform this sacred duty because until the coming of the Messiah, the shedding of the blood of the perfect Lamb who was promised to come and deal with the sin problem had not yet taken place. Hebrews 5:1-5 states:

“For every cohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness. Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people. And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was. So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become cohen gadol; rather, it was the One who said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”

Let’s reintroduce ourselves to some terms as we examine this passage. The cohen gadol is the high priest. He was appointed to represent the people before God and to offer the required gifts and sacrifices in the temple. Notice that Hebrews 5 mentions the necessity for the high priest to offer sacrifices for his own sins due to his own weakness and proclivity to sin. The high priest was a godly man, but not a perfect man. The shedding of the blood of the animals was necessary because the Messiah, the perfect One, had not yet come to do what that system could not. Jesus willingly took it upon himself to be that perfect sacrifice. In doing so, he is not our great high priest in the order of Melchizedek as noted in Hebrews 5:6 which states “Also, as he says in another place, “You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.” No longer was there a need for the Aaronic priesthood to offer the blood of animals. Our Great High Priest, Jesus the Messiah, came to be that representative before God on our behalf so that through Him we can access God.

While the blood of the animals had to be shed once a year, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was a payment that is once and for all for sin. There is no longer a necessity to perform those rituals. Hebrews 10:1 declares “For the Torah has in it a shadow of the good things to come, but not the actual manifestation of the originals. Therefore, it can never, by means of the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, bring to the goal those who approach the Holy Place to offer them.” These rituals were a shadow of a more perfect system. The yearly sacrifices, while certainly a requirement by God, were a portent of things to come, a system in which there would be one perfect sacrifice for sin. Those who approached the holy place to offer the sacrifice of the animals, again had to repeat this practice yearly. We find in Hebrews 10:11-14, the plan of God as revealed with the coming and sacrifice of the Messiah on the cross:

“Now every cohen stands every day doing his service, offering over and over the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this one, after he had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, sat down at the right hand of God, from then on to wait until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has brought to the goal for all time those who are being set apart for God and made holy.”

The Messiah offered a once and for all sacrifice, THE atoning for our sins. This sacrifice was the goal promised long ago in Genesis 3:15 when God promised that a Redeemer would be sent to bring a solution to the sin problem. The cleansing rituals necessary as part of the sacrificial system in order to not be struck dead while entering the Holy of Holies have also been set aside for a better way. Now remember it is still a requirement of the bride of Christ to be holy and chaste. With that said, in order to access the Holy of Holies, there is no longer a need for involved bathing rituals or special clothing. Why is that? Let’s look at Hebrews 10:19-22:

“So, brothers, we have confidence to use the way into the Holiest Place opened by the blood of Yeshua. He inaugurated it for us as a new and living way through the parokhet, by means of his flesh. We also have a great cohen over God’s household. Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting — with our hearts sprinkled clean from a bad conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Notice what the shed blood of Christ did on our behalf other than the obvious atonement for sin. His shed blood opened the way into the Holiest Place granting us access to God, repairing that broken relationship caused by sin. This was done by means of Christ’s broken body, his parokhet. We can now approach the throne of grace with a sincere heart. Also notice the reference to washing and cleansing in verse 22. Our bodies have been washed with pure water, removing the need for those bathing rituals or special clothing. Through Christ’s body and blood, we have access to God. What a glorious thing to think about, is it not?

Daniel Fuchs provides a valuable comment on this noting:

“How much better is the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest! He did what no Levitical high priest was able to do. As a Man, He was without sin; He did not need to offer a sacrifice for His sin. He was able to offer His sinless human life as a sin offering for others. Because He was God and Man, He was both Priest and Victim. As One who conquered death, He offered Himself as our atonement on the cross.”[1]
Another interesting element of the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement by Christ is the payment of the 30 pieces of silver to Judas Iscariot. Leviticus 17:11 notes “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.’ It is believed by that “Thirty pieces of silver was the ransom price of blood.”[2] Also of note, “The Greek word hilasmos, translated at “propitiation,” has the same meaning as the Hebrew word kaphar, which is translated as “atonement.” The purpose of the Day of Atonement was to teach us about Yeshua, who is our atonement.”[3]

A final aspect of the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur we will discuss is the future fulfillment of this feast. The Apostle Paul in Romans 11:25-27 stated “For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won’t imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra’el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra’el will be saved. As the Tanakh says, “Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya‘akov and this will be my covenant with them, . . .when I take away their sins.” Also Joel 2:15-16 states ““Blow the shofar in Tziyon! Proclaim a holy fast, call for a solemn assembly.” Gather the people; consecrate the congregation; assemble the leaders; gather the children, even infants sucking at the breast; let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride the bridal chamber.” Many feel these passage speak of a time yet to come when there will be a revival among the Jewish people as they come to the knowledge that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

So the Day of Atonement can come for anyone who recognizes Jesus as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who came to solve the sin problem. However, just as the Day of Atonement feast concluded with the neilah, or closing ceremony, one day there will be that great Shofar blast when the bridegroom returns. The “closing of the gates” will take place and unlike the current yearly celebration of the Day of Atonement where another year comes and another time of putting off that all important decision to grasp hold of the cross. One day that Shofar will sound and it will be too late. Do not delay that decision for Christ if you are wavering. He came to shed his blood for you, to make payment for your sins. Call on his name today!

In our next post, we will take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles as we close in on wrapping up this series on the Feasts of the Lord.

[1] Daniel Fuchs, Israel’s Holy Days: In Type and Prophecy (Neptune: Loizeaux Brothers, 1985), 68.
[2] “Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement,” Feasts of the Lord, September 15, 2013, accessed September 15, 2013,http://www.feastsofthelord.com/ss/live/index.php?action=getpage&sid=204&pid=2192.
[3] Ibid.

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