“The LORD said to Moshe, ‘The tenth day of this seventh month is Yom-Kippur, you are to have a holy convocation, you are to deny yourselves, and you are to bring an offering made by fire to the LORD. You are not to do any kind of work on that day, because it is Yom-Kippur, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day is to be cut off from his people; and anyone who does any kind of work on that day, I will destroy from among his people‘” (Leviticus 23:26-32).
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. The Hebrew word kippur comes from kapparah meaning ‘covering’ or ‘atonement.’ The root of kapparah derives from kofer meaning ‘to ransom’ or ‘atone by offering a substitute.‘ According to Torah, an animal –– a lamb or goat –– was required as a substitute offering for sin. The offerer would place his hands on the head of the animal, called shemicah, and confess his sins over it. The animal was sacrificed and its blood was sprinkled on the Altar by the priest covering the person’s sin.
The Day of Atonement was a day of special rituals and offerings. It was only on this day of the year that the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for himself, the Temple, and for the nation of Israel. His priestly duties were specifically outlined in Torah and it was vitally important that he follow them precisely or he would lose his life. It was also on this day, and only on this day, that the high priest would speak the memorial name of God –– yod-he-vav-hey.
His ‘armor of God’ consisted of a turban with a gold crown with “Holy to Adonai” written on it, a breastplate with stones for the Tribes of Israel, an outer robe decorated with pomegranates and bells, an apron, four linen garments, and a belt and pants. In his holy garments, the high priest would offer a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He would enter the Holy of Holies where he would burn incense that rose in a cloud of smoke enveloping the Ark of the Covenant. On the kapparah or covering of the Ark, he would make atonement. Using his fingers, the priest would sprinkle some of the blood from the burnt offering on the mercy seat between the cherubim and on the ground in front of the Ark. He did this seven times in order to purify the Holy of Holies. According to the commands set out in the Torah and explained in the Talmud (the oral ordinances written down), the high priest made 43 trips between the Outer Court and the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.
“God put Yeshua forward as the kapparah for sin through his faithfulness in respect to his bloody sacrificial death. This vindicated God’s righteousness; because, in his forbearance, he had passed over [with neither punishment nor remission] the sins people had committed in the past; and it vindicates his righteousness in the present age by showing that he is righteous himself and is also the one who makes people righteous on the ground of Yeshua’s faithfulness” (Romans 3:24-25).
The Tabernacle and its system of worship is how God taught Israel that sin hinders access to His presence. Their sacrifices and offerings only covered their outward sins so they had to remain in the Outer Court. The blood of bulls, goats, and sheep on the Altar of Sacrifice could never bring inward purification that would remove the iniquity of sin in their hearts; only when that happened could they enter the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
Another offering on the Day of Atonement involved two goats. After casting lots, one goat was sacrificed to God and its blood sprinkled on the Altar cleansing it from all of Israel’s sins. The other goat, called the scapegoat, had a different destiny. The priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat as he confessed the sins of Israel. This goat would not be sacrificed, but set free in the wilderness to take the sins of Israel far away. The sacrificed goat’s blood made atonement for their national sins; the scapegoat took their sins far away into the wilderness where it died.
During the day of Passover, Pilate had two prisoners, Yeshua and Barabbas sent to him. According to a Passover tradition, Pilate would offer to set one of the prisoners free. Yeshua who was the ‘Son of the Father’ was chosen as the ‘goat’ to be sacrificed. Barabbas, whose name means ‘son of the father,’ became the ‘scapegoat’ and was released into the world to die a natural death.
The Talmud records that the priest would tie a red wool cord to one of the horns of the scapegoat before it was released. He would also put a red wool cord on the outside of the door to the Temple. When the cord on the Temple turned white, it was a sign that the scapegoat had died and God had forgiven the sins of Israel. If it stayed red, the priests were filled with sorrow for their guilt had not been removed.
Josephus, a Jewish historian, states that 40 years before the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE, the red wool on the Temple door no longer turned white; it stayed red. The priesthood had not only become completely corrupt, but as Israel’s spiritual leadership, they had rejected Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel. Each year that the red wool remained red, they became increasingly aware that God was no longer accepting atonement for their national sins through the sacrifices of Yom Kippur.
“Come now,” says the LORD, “let’s talk this over together. Even if your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; even if they are red as crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
Our High Priest
“But when Messiah appeared as High Priest of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tabernacle which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. He entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever. For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to God as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:11-14).
Yom Kippur reveals valuable truths about Yeshua as a High Priest who made atonement for not only corporate Israel, but also for the world. He entered the heavenly Tabernacle and offered his blood on the heavenly Ark of the Covenant. Because he was a sinless High Priest, he only had to enter the Tabernacle one time for all eternity. His ‘goat’ blood offering brings forgiveness of sin to anyone who trusts in his atonement. His ‘scapegoat’ death also purifies men by removing the iniquity in their hearts, sending their sins “as far away as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“Unlike the other high priests, he [Yeshua] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:27).
“We have this hope as a sure and safe anchor for ourselves, a hope that goes right on through to what is inside the Holy of Holies behind the curtain, where a forerunner has entered on our behalf, namely, Yeshua, who has become a High Priest forever” (Hebrews 6:19).
Books and Eternal Destiny
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
According to Jewish tradition, two books are opened on Yom Kippur. The destiny of the righteous is recorded and sealed in the ‘Book of Life‘ and the destiny of the wicked is recorded and sealed in the ‘Book of Death.’ Moses, David, Daniel, and Yeshua, acknowledge that these two books exist, and names can be blotted out of the ‘Book of Life’ (Exodus 32:32, Psalm 69:29, Daniel 7:10, Revelation 3:4-6).
The ‘Days of Awe’ are the ten days between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement when Jewish people around the world become introspective. They seek to find whatever sin and rebellion may separate them from God. They look for what has soiled their spiritual garments in unrighteous living so that their names are not blotted out of the ‘Book of Life.’ They spend ten days repenting, immersing themselves, and preparing for Yom Kippur. They do not want face the same judgment as the wicked; they do not want to be thrown into the lake of fire where there is eternal torment (Revelation 20:12-15).
During the ‘Days of Awe,’ and the month before known as Elul, John immersed Jewish men and women in the Jordan River for repentance of sins as they prepared for Yom Kippur. Yeshua arrived at the Jordan River to be immersed on the first day of Elul, spent 40 days in the wilderness, and returned to the Galilee on Yom Kippur proclaiming the gospel message of repentance for salvation (John 4:17).
There is a final Day of Atonement still to be fulfilled. Everyone who has ever lived will appear before the judgment seat of Adonai and give an account of their lives, whether they died in the sea or were kept in Hades for the day of judgment. Those who names are found in the ‘Book of Life’ will be rewarded with crowns; they will not experience the second death. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life, or were blotted out, will experience the second death and receive the judgment of eternal torture in the lake of burning fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered over; Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not reckon against his account” (Psalm 32:1-2, Romans 4:7-8).
Israel’s National Day of Atonement
While numerous Jews accepted Yeshua’s offering of atonement in the first century, Israel as a nation rejected it because of their corrupt leaders. However, Israel will repent as a nation and accept Yeshua’s atonement on a future Yom Kippur.
Zechariah prophesies about this Day of Atonement when Adonai will pour out His Spirit on the nation of Israel. He will lift the veil from their eyes and corporately transform their minds and hearts (2 Corinthians 3:15). They will see Yeshua, the one they pierced, and mourn. They will receive the kapparah of Yeshua and he will become their High Priest. At that time, “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
“When that day comes, I will seek to destroy all nations attacking Jerusalem; and I will pour out on the house of David and on those living in Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer; and they will look to me, whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son; they will be in bitterness on his behalf like the bitterness for a firstborn son ” (Zechariah 12:10).
The Fast of Atonement
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly” (Joel 2:13-15).
The payment for individual sin through Yeshua’s atonement is already settled. However, even as his followers, we can continue to use the ‘appointed time’ of Yom Kippur to remember the nation of Israel and their need to corporately repent of rejecting Yeshua. When they do, they will usher in the Messianic Era.
‘Denying oneself’ is part of the Biblical command for Yom Kippur. As part of our faith in Yeshua, we can fast for his brothers and sisters around the world. They pack synagogues on Yom Kippur praying and confessing their sins, but they face the consequences for their rejection of Yeshua. Without a Temple, there is no Altar for sacrifice; without a Levitical priesthood, there is no high priest to service the sacrificial system; without bulls and goats, there is no blood. For Jews around the world, Yom Kippur is a day of sorrow and despair. By fasting and interceding for them, “they may see one they have pierced” before the books are opened. The veil may be lifted and they may see Yeshua, their High Priest and receive the atonement they desire deep in their souls.
For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.
©2011 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved. No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article, please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive. To learn more about the Feasts of the LORD, purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts study guide and the leader’s guide for group learning.