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The Day of Atonement: The Offering and The High Priest…

Messiah Jesus:

So Great an Atonement!

The Feast of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is one of the most solemn of the Biblical Holy Days. It is also complex in that those who are tuned in to the significance of this holy day realize there is both affliction of the soul and a thanksgiving for a way of reconciliation with God. I have written several instructive pieces for observance of Yom Kippur, all of them with what the Scriptures say of Messiah Yeshua at the center of them.

Yom Kippur comes from the Hebrew word kapporeth which means covering or mercy seat. The lid on the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies was the mercy seat or kapporeth. On Yom Kippur the Jewish people beg God for mercy and forgiveness for their sins.

When we examine ourselves in the Light of a Holy God, we should realize that God owes us no means of atonement at all. The Day of Atonement is the blessed celebration of the grace of a Holy God in providing A Way for forgiveness of our rebellion and treason against Him.

My remembrance focuses on the power of the blood of God’s Holy One for the remission of sins, the rescue from condemnation, and the ransom from the power of sin–all given to those who trust in God’s Holy One, Messiah Jesus…

While I was studying the traditions of the Jewish observances of the Day of Atonement, I found the following among their traditional prayers:

Our righteous Messiah has departed from us. We are horror-stricken, and have none to justify us. Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions He carries who is wounded because of our trransgressions. He bears on His shoulder the burden of our sins, to find pardon for all our iniquities. By His stripes we shall be healed–O Eternal One, it is time that you should create Him anew!

…straight from the text of Isaiah 53.4-6

One of my early prayers, taken from one of my studies in years past…

Blessed art Thou, O LORD, our God, King of the universe! I will celebrate the mighty holiness of this day, for it is one of trembling mingled with joy and mourning. On this day, Your dominion is exalted and Your Throne is established in mercy. You sit upon Your Throne in Truth…You cause all who enter the world to pass before You as a flock of sheep. As a shepherd seeks out his flock and causes them to pass beneath his staff, so You cause to pass and number, tell and visit every living soul, appointing the measure of every man’s life and decreeing their destiny…O LORD, work in my life that I might more embrace what You love and renounce what You hate; that I might give all honor and glory to the Lamb God provided to take my punishment for my sin; that I might grow in learning  the power of His blood over sin which no longer condemns me, but which defiles; and that I might pray more fervently for others who are not yet sealed in the Lamb’s Book of Life by faith in Yeshua–so great an Atonement…

The Offering…

Because there is no fellowship with a Holy God without satisfying His requirements under the Law for full atonement for unrighteousness, God Himself established the tradition forever that the Day of Atonement may not be celebrated without the offering(s) He appointed for that holy day. The following passages clearly outline the offerings and the duties of the high priest on this most solemn of days: Leviticus 16 and Leviticus 23.27-32

  • The blood of bulls and goats could only provide forgiveness until a man thought or did something sinful again; then more bulls and goats would have to die–over and over, again and again.

  • The Temple in Jerusalem is gone, and not even the sin offerings can be made anymore. God took away the Temple and the old sacrifices to give us a perfect Sacrifice through the Blood of Yeshua the Messiah.

  • If Yeshua’s atonement only pays for the sins of a believer, he would only be restored to the innocence of Adam. As soon as the believer sinned again, Yeshua would have to die again. But Yeshua’s atonement is so great that God does more than take away the believer’s sins. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement also rescues the believer from the enemies that rebel against God’s goodness–our sin nature and Satan’s influence on it. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement enables the believer to serve God without distrust in holiness and righteousness before Him all his days. The blood of Yeshua’s atonement cleanses the believer’s conscience from acts that lead to death, so that he may serve the living God! Messiah Yeshua! So Great an Atonement!

This bears repeating: The blood of bulls and goats and lambs cannot do the job of cleansing the deep well of sin in the heart of a person. One minute after the sun went down on the Day of Atonement, a person could be in trouble again with God. The more a person was aware of sin in his/her life, the more often he/she was at the altar of sacrifice with a sin offering–until…

The Lamb of God…

The Scriptures tell of the provisions for the offering in God’s “First Covenant” for reconciliation and His “Last Covenant” for reconciliation in  Hebrews 10.1-4

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

The description of God’s provision for the offering is spoken by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53. The description of this great offering comes into clear focus in Hebrews 10.5-10. The Holy One Himself said…

…’Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Yom Kippur in the Newness of the Holy Spirit…

Remembering the holiness of God and the Great Atonement He accomplished through the blood of Messiah Yeshua are the most important traditions in celebrating the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Some Jewish traditions can help a child of God to do that; some Jewish traditions can distract from that calling–especially if the focus is upon observing the traditions while neglecting intimacy with God…If one has a personal “tradition” of neglecting intimacy with God all other times, he/she may not hear the call of God’s trumpet, and will not be ready and willing to observe the stillness God calls His own to practice during this holy season of rest…

If you believe that Yeshua is the Great Atonement, you can begin a new season of confessing your sins to God, trusting in Yeshua’s blood for forgiveness. Remember that the atonement of Yeshua is so great that it has the power to cleanse and renew your heart to obey God more and more…

Daily Cleansing…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

–Psalm 139.23-24

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

–1 John 1.7-10

  • ŸWhat it would be like for us if we could not see when our appearance is less than acceptable to others: dirty faces, soiled clothing, unkempt hair, etc?  We would not have the advantage of knowing and correcting the problems…

  • ŸWhat would happen to us if we failed to bathe and brush our teeth. We would smell bad; others would avoid us. In our culture we would not dream of going to school or to worship services or to work in such an unacceptable condition…

  • ŸThe availability in our culture of soap and clean running water to make us socially acceptable. It would be easy for us to take it for granted…

  • ŸBelievers in Messiah Yeshua are called by the covenant feast of Yom Kippur to daily walk in the light of God’s Word; and to daily “bathe” and be cleansed by the blood of Yeshua, The Holy One.

how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him?

–Hebrews 2.3

“The Priest” (Go to Page 2)

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