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The Day of Atonement

Reading: Leviticus 16

1. Atonement

The word 'atone' means 'to make amends, to make up for some error or deficiency. '

When the human (Adam) and the Mother of all living (Eve) were first created and placed in the Garden of Eden they as were as sinless and innocent as new born babes. Though fully grown, they had absolutely no idea whatsoever of evil - or even of good. Of YaHuWaH 's commandments they knew nothing, accept that they were not to eat of a certain Tree in the garden of Eden. But doubt (which is the parent of sin) entered the mind of Adam and Eve. Doubt matured into disobedience (sin) and atonement became necessary. The Creator's command to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was disobeyed and Adam and his wife Eve became guilty. That fearsome verdict of 'death' hung over them and they immediately became aware that they had done something terribly wrong. They became afraid of YaHuWaH and, realizing that they were naked, they hid themselves from Him.

Gen:3:22 And YaHuWaH Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.
23: Therefore YaHuWaH Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24: So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

2. The Way of Atonement

We thank YaHuWaH Elohim that He didn't wipe out mankind there and then in Eden. Instead He made a way of escaping the death penalty. In this sermon I'll call it the Way of Atonement. To be sure it's important to know what sin is. But, because we have all sinned and face the death penalty, its far more important to know the Way of Atonement:

  • The way back to YaHuWaH
  • The way back to purity and holiness
  • The way out of death row
  • And the way back to Life eternal

Anyone who studies the book of Leviticus will see that 'atonement for sin' was made on a daily basis. Every time an ancient Israelites sinned, whether through ignorance or not, he/she was guilty; and was required to bring a sin offering (bullock, ram, lamb, goat, turtledove, pigeon etc.) to make atonement, to make amends, to make up for the deficiency of sin. This procedure, which involved 'blood sacrifices,' went on day after day for thousands of years; from the days of Adam to the days of YAHUSHUA the Messiah. It only stopped after YAHUSHUA the Lamb of YaHuWaH, the reality to which all blood sacrifices pointed, was slain on mount Calvary and when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.

CALVARY: Most modern Bible translations have removed the name Calvary. This name appears only once in Scripture, in Luke 23:33. Check out the version you are using. If it has no Calvary, you can be certain that it's a counterfeit Bible; because Calvary is central to the whole plan of salvation. Removing it is a serious error.

The Almighty's purpose in requiring sin offerings was to instruct His people concerning certain spiritual facts:

  • Sin, a violation of YaHuWaH 's commandments, results in death - eternal death.
  • To escape the death penalty, a sinner was permitted to bring a 'substitute' to be slain in his/her stead. The substitute had to be a faultless, innocent animal or birds (bull, ram, goat, lamb, kid, turtledove or pigeon).
  • The innocent victim was then slain and its blood sprinkled on the altar and the repentant sinner. He/she was then pardoned by Almighty YaHuWaH for that particular sin. In other words, the 'substitute' bore the death penalty on behalf of the repentant sinner.
  • The sinner was to 'go and sin no more.'

All these sin offerings pointed to YAHUSHUA the Messiah's death on Mount Calvary. He is the reality - the Lamb of Elohim, which taketh away the sin of the world.

3. The Priest's Part

It was the duty of the priest to make the atonement. This fact comes through in verses after verse. (Lev.4:20,26,31,35; 5:6,10,13,16; 6:7; 7:7 etc) On the Day of Atonement the High Priest Aaron made atonement once a year for himself, his family and the people of Israel.

Exo.30:10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto YaHuWaH.
Num:8:19 And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel: that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.
Num:8:21 And the Levites were purified, and they washed their clothes; and Aaron offered them as an offering before YaHuWaH ; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them.

Aaron makes Atonement through Prayer

Besides officiating in the atonement ceremony, priests also made amends for Israel's sins by various other actions. Examples are:

Num:16:44 And YaHuWaH spake unto Moshe, saying,
45: Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.
46: And Moshe said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from YaHuWaH the plague is begun.
47: And Aaron took as Moshe commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
48: And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.

Phinehas makes Atonement through Action

Num:25:6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moshe, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7: And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
8: And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
9: And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
10 And YaHuWaH spake unto Moshe, saying,
11: Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy.
12: Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him My covenant of peace:
13: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his Elohim, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

4. The Mercy Seat

The top section of the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments, is called the 'Mercy Seat.' YaHuWaH the Almighty Elohim of Israel communed with His people from 'above the Mercy Seat.' The Mercy Seat reminds us that between the law of YaHuWaH, which was inside the ark, and the justice of YaHuWaH, there is mercy! Without it none of us sinners would ever make it to the Kingdom. The ark represents YaHuWaH 's throne and His government. His Kingdom is based on law, mercy and justice. The ark of the covenant pictures all these things. And yet, strange as it may seem, the New International Version has no Mercy Seat. Instead we read of a 'cover.' As for the Good News for Modern Man, it refers to the Mercy Seat as 'the lid.' What tragic mistranslations these two versions are!

Exodus 25:17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
18: And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.
19: And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
20: And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
21: And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
22: And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The Hebrew name for the Day of Atonement is Yom Kippur. It is the most solemn day in the sacred calendar. It occurs on the 10th day of the seventh month.

Lev.23: 26 And YaHuWaH spake unto Moshe, saying,
27: 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 YaHuWaH.
28: And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before YaHuWaH your Elohim.
29: For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30: And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31: Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32: It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

Cleansing the Sanctuary

Besides the above, certain other rituals took place on the Day of Atonement. They were:

  • YaHuWaH would appear in a cloud upon the Mercy Seat.
  • Aaron the High Priest, clothed in a linen garment, entered the Most Holy place with the blood of a young bullock for a sin offering and that of a ram for a burnt offering - for himself and his house.
  • Aaron was to take a censer full of burning coals from off the altar and pour sweet incense on it and bring this within the veil; so that the cloud of incense would cover the Mercy Seat.
  • Aaron would then take the blood of the bullock and sprinkle it with his finger on the Mercy Seat seven times.
  • Aaron was also to take two kids of the goats from the people. After casting lots, the kid chosen as YaHuWaH 's goat was slain as a sin offering.
    The other goat, the scapegoat AZAZEL, was then released into the wilderness.
  • In short, on the Day of Atonement special acts of atonement were made on behalf of YaHuWaH 's people. They were cleansed, purified and made 'at-one' with the Almighty; all this being made possible by the blood of YAHUSHUA the Messiah.

The Jubilee Trumpet

It was on the Day of Atonement of each 49th year that the Jubilee, the 50th year, was to be announced by the shofar blast on a ram's horn - a 'yobel.' This signifies the time when the Almighty will give the signal for the real Jubilee, when mankind is to be freed from Satan's slavery. That year will be highlighted by signs in the sun, moon and stars. Wait for it, because it is near.

Lev:25:8 And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10: And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
11: A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12: For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13: In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.

The Jubilee year is still awaiting fulfillment. When it finally arrives, the following will happen:

  • A great trumpet blast will be heard throughout the world - on the Day of Atonement! Elohim Himself will blow the shofar. Zech:9:14 And YaHuWaH shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and Adonai YaHuWaH shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
  • A Sabbatical Year will be announced and freedom will be proclaimed throughout our planet.
  • All mortgages and debts will be cancelled and men will return to their Elohim-given inheritance.

6. Our Messiah YAHUSHUA

In the New Testament the word 'atonement' appears only once; and then it refers to YAHUSHUA The Messiah. He makes atonement for His people with His own blood.

7. Summary

  • All have sinned and come short of the glory of YaHuWaH. Therefore all of us are under a death penalty.
  • To be 'at-one' with YaHuWaH we must find a substitute to take our place: someone to die in our stead.
  • YAHUSHUA the Messiah has already paid the price for man's sin. It remains only for us to avail ourselves of his sacrifice and mercy.
  • We must all stand before the Judgment seat (throne) of Elohim. make sure that we are sprinkled with the blood of the Messiah. Failure in this respect will result in eternal death.
  • One day soon the Jubilee shofar will sound - throughout the world. It will herald our total freedom and reconciliation with the Almighty. We will then enter our inheritance - never to be enslaved by Satan and sin any more.