The Day of Atonement and You
As part of the Exodus from Egypt—recorded in Exodus 12—God instituted seven feasts.
These feasts are detailed in Leviticus 23, where God instructed the children of Israel on how He wanted them to hold these seven holy gatherings each year. He established these special days on the Jewish calendar so the people would need to travel to Jerusalem three times a year.
There are so many reasons for us to study the Feasts of Israel:
- The Feasts of Israel reveal Christ Jesus.
- They present truths which the Holy Spirit reveals to us.
- In them we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
- They foreshadow things to come.
- The feasts are prophetic symbols and examples.
- They are presented for our learning.
- The feasts reveal heavenly things.
Three Clusters of Feasts
The feasts fall into three clusters:
The first three feasts—Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits—occur in rapid succession in the spring of the year over a period of eight days. They are referred to collectively as “Passover.” Their purpose was (and is) to teach the children of Israel how to find and enter God’s true peace.
The fourth feast, Harvest, occurs fifty days later at the beginning of the summer. By New Testament times this feast had come to be known by its Greek name, “Pentecost,” a word meaning “fifty.” During this feast, the Hebrews were taught explicitly how to receive and live in God’s supernatural power.
The last of these gatherings, the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles, extend over a period of twenty-one days in the fall of the year. They are known collectively as “Tabernacles.” The purpose of this season was to teach the children of Israel how to enter God’s rest and protection.
Each of these feasts were extremely significant times for the Hebrews, for they pointed the children of Israel and their descendents to honor God for what He had done in their lives. More importantly, each feast pointed to the Messiah, distinctively describing a vital part of His life and ministry.
Day of Atonement
Let’s look specifically at the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.
The Day of Atonement was the time for national and sanctuary cleansing. On this day, sacrifices were offered for atonement or reconciliation. The special and peculiar offerings were those of the two goats:
And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house. And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. (Leviticus 16:5-9)
One goat was slain, and the other was taken to the wilderness at the hand of a man, bearing away the sins of the people. It was on this day, which took place once a year, the high priest entered into the holiest of all, within the veil, with the blood of 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 sins, all iniquities, and all transgressions. The priesthood, the sanctuary, and Israel as a nation experienced the atonement of the blood. That day, they were reconciled to God.
Leviticus 23:26-28 explains:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.
Numbers 29:7-11 also talks about this solemn day:
And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein: But ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the Lord for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings.
Day of Atonement’s Threefold Fulfillment
The Day of Atonement has a threefold fulfillment:
- In Israel—the Day of Atonement was the most solemn of all days throughout the land. God Almighty declares this through the prophet Zechariah: “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” (Zechariah 3:9). The nation of Israel yearly observed the Day of Atonement, but one of these days God will fulfill the promise of Zechariah when Israel will be saved.
- In Christ Jesus—We must also understand that this feast was fulfilled completely in the Person and ministry of our wonderful Lord Jesus when He hung on Calvary’s cross and said, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
- In the believers—When we stand before Him on that day, clean and perfect, the feast will be fulfilled in us, the church. Then we will know the fullness of the manifestation of the power of His blood, which will destroy the power of sin forever. We will stand perfect before His throne, free at last from all iniquity, transgressions, and death.
Reconciliation Between God and His People
The word, atonement, means “reconciliation,” for that day will bring full reconciliation between God and His people. And the Day of Atonement, established as the most solemn of all feasts, was fulfilled in Christ Jesus when He died on Calvary’s cross. That solemnity will be turned into celebration as we see the full manifestation of this feast!
What a day that will be when the power of the blood of Jesus Christ will bring us, the church, to perfection—making an end of all sin, all iniquity, all transgression—as we stand perfect in His glorious presence!
The Day of Atonement and You
The Exodus miracle is one of the most amazing accounts in history. The children of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt. They were totally healed. Even more, God gave them supernatural guidance. He “went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light” (Exodus 13:21). God allowed His glory to linger as they walked toward the Promised Land.
All the seven great feasts of the Lord—Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfuits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles—pointed back to what God did to establish His covenant with the children of Israel. All, likewise, point to Christ the Savior.
Of all the seven yearly appointments with God, the Day of Atonement was (and still is) the most solemn and awe-filled of commemorations. It was a time set aside for national and sanctuary cleansing. On this day special sacrifices were offered for atonement or reconciliation.
The fall season, specifically the time of Atonement, is a holy time with God. It was the time Joel was writing and prophesying about.
Today few people honor this feast day, this Day of Atonement, but God has given the Word to those of us who are beginning to understand and declare the significance of God’s command to honor His holy days.
The people of God everywhere are starting to catch the vision that God has put within the modern church: His holy days are still holy.
His holy convocation is still being called to all who will listen!
However, for nearly seventeen centuries, these powerful truths have been mostly ignored and even rejected by Christians. Thankfully, that is now changing. It must change! There is too much at stake during these crucial, prophetic days.
This Fertile Season
I want to ask you to place a significant seed in God’s soil and see it work for you. Just as a special sacrifice was offered on the Day of Atonement, let me ask you to bring a very special offering.
As with all references to seed throughout the Bible, we are told, time after time, to expect a harvest. Especially during this fertile season, plant your seed in the good soil of this ministry. Be part of a truly historic hour as we take the life-saving and miracle-working Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations through crusades, broadcasts, and mission outreaches.
God will multiply your special offering back to you in supernatural ways. The Lord Jesus promises:
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).