DAY OF ATONEMENT
"For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute forever....And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year." (Leviticus 16:30-34)
Since the Feast of Weeks, Shevouth, Pentecost, there has been silence for four months. Suddenly the silence is broken by the blowing of trumpets on the first day of Tishri calling the attention of the whole nation to a fearful and heart chilling experience about to happen. Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, the new year.
Following the day of Rosh HaShanah and ten days of repentance comes the day of atonement. This is when the people ask God for grace and mercy by not remembering the sins of His beloved people Israel.
Yom Kippur begins at sundown at the end of the ninth day of Tishri, (7th month of Bible Year). This being the most holy occasion and solemn- "The Sabbath of Sabbaths".
Since this is the day of reckoning, between Israel and their God, it becomes a day of fasting, the foregoing of earthly pleasures and bliss, to show their Lord of their repentant nature. This also excludes the moistening of one's parched lips with water.
This fast is for everyone from the age of 13 and up, with the exception of the dangerously ill who would not survive without the eating of food.
What Yom Kippur Means
Yom Kippur comes from the Hebrew root word, Kapper, [to cover]. God now covers the sins of the people Israel by the blood of the sacrifice, and the Kippura.
Upon looking at His people through the blood He now sees them as a righteous people and the penalty of death has been paid. II Samuel 21:3 "Wherewith shall I make the atonement." The word here used is again 'Kapper' and leaves us with the thought that there is no atonement except through blood.
The Talmud says, Yoma 5a "There is no atonement except with blood." The words of the writer of Hebrews says the same, "Without the shedding of blood is no remission." (Hebrews 9:22) Blood becomes essential then for the forgivness process.
In the additional work of the Jewish people, the New Testament, we read concerning the blood, "Christ died for our sins." (I Cor. 15:3) And again in the Revelation, "....The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev, 13:8)
The sacrifice consisted of Lambs, the Red Heifer, Bullocks and two goats. The two goats belonged to the appointed sacrifice of the day. The High Priest had a box in which there were two discs on which the lot was cast concerning the fate of the goats. One was the scapegoat, Hebrew "Azazel", which carried away all the sins of the Children of Israel into the desert place to die. "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions and all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness." (Leviticus 16:21-22)
The second goat was killed by the High Priest in the Temple and its blood sprinkled to make atonement. At this time, of the day of Atonement, the High Priest was ready to enter the Most Holy Place, Holy of Holies, to finish the atonement ritual. He had with him the blood that was taken from the sacrifices and he would sprinkle the altar of burnt-offering, the altar of incense, in the Holy place, and the veil, cleansing them from the defilement of sin. He then entered in the Holy of Holies, not without the blood, and sprinkled the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant was placed and the "Mercy Seat" overshadowing it. Above the 'Mercy Seat', between the Cherubims, was the, "Shekina Glory", - the visible presence of God in a cloud. [Look at the picture, where the High Priest stands before the Ark of the Covenant, for here he brings the blood from the sacrifice, (bowl in left hand), to place it upon the horns of the Ark and the Mercy Seat.] It is here that the High Priest appeared before the very presence of God, imploring the Lord by His mysterious and sacred Name, "Jehovah".
While the High Priest was in the Most Holy Place, in the very presence of God, the people waited outside with a mounting tension of suspense as to the health of the Priest. For on the bottom of the garment of the Priest were bells attached and the people were listening for them and hearing them they knew that he was all right. The silence was deafening, for if the Lord did not acknowledge the sacrifice, and the Priest dies, or if the Priest was not worthy and he dies, the bells would stop sounding.
With a louder sounding of the bells and upon seeing the High Priest, there was a crescendo of great joy from the people, for the Lord had accepted the sacrifice and they were forgiven from their sins. He said, "Your sins are forgiven". There is great rejoicing for they are truly forgiven, from their maker and Lord of Hosts. This 'crescendo' of joy, I think today, is the again reciting of the 'Shema', which is as follows: Shema, Israel, Adonoy elohenu, Adonoy Echad. Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4) This is the witness of Israel concerning the Lord and to the world that there is One God and One Lord.
Do you know that this is the work of Israel to the world? Let's look at this from the Word of the Lord. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me thee is no Saviour....therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God". (Isaiah 43:10-12)
Do we believe in God? It is because of Israel, we believe. Is it any wonder that the devil wants to silence Israel, then he can say, "See there is no God, all your faith is in vain." All that God hath said will come to pass no matter what man does or says, and what Satan trys to do to Israel. Israel is because of God, and will be because of God. "I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King." (Isaiah 43:15)
What about today in the Temple's and Synagogue's of the world, what happens? The services begin at sundown with the cantor dressed in white, and addresses the congregation by: "By authority of the Court on high, and by authority of the Court on earth, with the knowledge of the All-Present and with the knowledge of this congregation, we give leave to pray with them that have transgressed."
The next is the reciting of the "Kol Nidrie - All Vows". "All vows, bonds, oaths, devotions, promises, penalties, and obligations: wherewith we have vowed, sworn, devoted and bound ourselves: from this Day of Atonement unto the next Day of Atonement, may it come unto us for good: lo, all these, we repent us in them. They shall be absolved, released, annulled, made void, and of none effect: they shall not be binding nor shall they have any power. Our vows shall not be vows; our bonds shall not be bonds; and our oaths shall not be oaths."
The prayer 'Kol-Nidrei' expresses the inability of man to keep his vows, promises and bonds to God. He is always in debt to his maker and must needs of a redemption by another means. God does supply the Redeemer, Saviour and Sanctifier, for He loves His children very much. Man cannot keep his part of the bargain, follow me, keep my commandments, do my statutes and on and on. We need an ATONEMENT, we can not do this in our effort. Deep in the heart of Israel, we hear the cry for the Messiah, He can do this and only He. Listen to this liturgy from the High Holy Day prayer book, under the Day of Atonement:
"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 transgressions.
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 thou shouldest create Him anew!"
They look to the Messiah to bring salvation and reconciliation with God.
Another interpretation of the root "Kapper" is 'Kofer', which means a ransom. "But there shall be laid on him a sum of money in atonement, and he shall give the RANSOM of his life whatsoever may be laid upon him" (Ex. 21:30).
This brings about another aspect of Redemption, the repurchasing of someone. Let us look at this through a story that will illustrate this very carefully.
A small boy, living in the rural area of a country, with a river running down through his fathers farm, made a boat. He worked for days on this project, carving and glueing and fixing, till it was finished. He painted it red and it was ready to use in the shoreline of the river.
For days on end he would play with his boat and run it up and down in this cove area. One day while playing, with his red boat. a friend came by and the two started talking about the adventures that they had been having, and the little red boat kept floating down the river. Upon looking around, the boy saw that the little red boat was not there by him, but was a red dot in the middle of the river heading to the mouth, to join another bigger river.
The boy was saddened that the boat was gone, and nothing could be done to retrieve his red boat. A couple of months later his father said unto him, 'Would you like to go to town with me, today?' The boy said yes and the two of them went off together. Upon entering town the boy went by the second hand store to see what had been turned in for sale. There to his surprise he saw his little red boat that he took so much care in making. Running in he found out that the boat was for sale and that it would be so much money. Much more than he had at that time.
Once again, meeting his father, he went back to the farm to work for the money to buy the little red boat. Another month past and the boy was ready to go to town again, with his money in pocket, that he had earned, to get his little red boat. Entering the store the boy put the money down on the counter and said, "I want the red boat that is in the window." The clerk went and brought the boat to the boy and he left the store. The clerk heard the boy say as he was leaving, "Your twice mine now, I made you and I bought you back. Your twice mine."
So God has Ransomed his people from a world of sin and death by the atonement sacrifice that was offered from the very beginning of time. A sacrifice that would make them "Twice His". He made them, "I....the creator of Israel," (Isaiah 43:15) "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall shew forth my Praise." (Isaiah 43:21) and He ransomed them to Himself, "For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord,.... and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all." (Jeremiah 31:11-12) through the atoning sacrifice on Yom Kippur. What glorious promises from the Lord of Glory. The Word of God is true and faithful, He will perform all that He has promised. Are the Scriptures to be fulfilled in our time? "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, 'Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.'" (Isaiah 14:24) The Prophets said that there would be an atonement that God would accept. I believe that the time is almost here in regard to the joy of Israel and the rest of the world, Messiah is coming, soon. Full redemption is around the corner.
As the end of the 24 hrs. comes and the people have said their prayers and petitions, the hour is far spent for the new day approaches.
We say again The Shema and we hear the Shofar blast (Rams Horn), the trumpet that heralds the coming of the Messiah. Here is where the HOPE of Israel, and the HOPE of the Christian converge. Israel waits for His coming, and we wait His coming. In all truth the following verses of Scripture becomes our HOPE:
"And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are they that wait for Him." (Isa. 30:18)
"And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him." (Isa 8:17)
"And it shall be said in that day, 'Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'" (Isa. 25:9)
"....O Lord, have we waited for thee; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee" (Isa. 26:8)
"O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for Thee: be thou...our salvation..." (Isa. 33:2)
"So Christ (the Anointed one) was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:28) Remember what He said, "....I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again...." (John 10:17-18) He became the Lamb, He gave of Himself, He left glory and became a man for our sakes, He took on Him the nature of Abraham's seed, to meet the requirements of the sacrifice, "For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but he took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 2:16-17) He covered our sin with His own blood, He became the Ransom for His people. Now we look for Him - "unto SALVATION."
"...Ye men of Galilee,...this same Jesus, taken up...shall so come...as ye have seen Him go..." (Acts 1:11)
"For the Lord Himself shall descend...with a shout,...and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ (the Anointed One) shall rise first: ...we which are alive...shall be caught up...with them...to meet the Lord in the air..and...shall...ever be with the Lord." (I Thess. 4:16-17)
Three days after Yom Kippur comes Succoth or THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES and HARVEST, lasting eight days, symbolic of the completion of the work of Grace. Then the whole cycle of the autumn feasts is concluded with "Simchath Torah" - the "REJOICING OVER THE LAW" Then the winter feast comes, "CHANUKAH" - the "FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS".
May the Messiah bless your going out and coming in till He comes. In the meantime, "wait" I say "wait" on the Lord. "They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me." (Isa. 49:23c)