Tonight, at Sundown starts the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur that is a symbol of God’s grace through the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world. Therefore, there is great significance to us who are believers in Messiah. Hebrew: Yom: Day of; Kippur (Noun) or (Verb): Cover or conceal.
On this day, Jews ask God for forgiveness for their sins to secure their fate. Jews attend worship services where the prayer book is used during holy days and read and recited specific prayers. At the end of the services, a shofar or ram’s horn is blown to signal the end of Yom Kippur.
Is Yom Kippur in the Old Testament? Leviticus 16:3-5 says, “When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering. Then he must wash his entire body and put on his linen tunic and the undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are his sacred garments. The people of Israel must then bring him two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering.”
At the time Leviticus was written, before the Day of Atonement, the high Priest stayed awake all night in meditation and preparation for entrance into the Holy Holies. This was a HUGE moment that happened only once a year!
Leviticus 16:7-10 says, “Then he must bring the two male goats and present them to the LORD at the Tabernacle entrance. He cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be sacrificed to the LORD and which one will be the scapegoat. The goat chosen to be sacrificed to the LORD will be presented by Aaron as a sin offering. The goat chosen to be the scapegoat will be presented to the LORD alive. When it is sent away into the wilderness, it will make atonement for the people.”
These two goats stood before the Priest would cast lots to see which goat should be God’s and which would be for God’s people.
The High Priest alone would pull aside the curtain with no middle partition, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies. The Priest would enter and then sprinkle blood on the top of the Mercy Seat that was the top portion of the box called the Ark of Covenant contained the two tablets of the law, the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod, which budded, and a jar of manna.
Is Yom Kippur in the New Testament? Hebrews 9:1-10 says, “That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. A gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant were in that room, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now. When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high Priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year…”
Leviticus 16:20-22 says, “When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, and the altar, he must bring the living goat forward. He is to lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the sins and rebellion of the Israelites. In this way, he will lay the people’s sins on the head of the goat; then he will send it out into the wilderness, led by a man chosen for this task. After the man sets it free in the wilderness, the goat will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.”
Sin was removed from the people of Israel by placing hands on the remaining goat that received the people’s sins. This is an amazing picture of Jesus, who has come as our great High Priest. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is now our High Priest. The High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies on behalf of the people of Israel as Jesus entered the Holy of Holies on our behalf at the cross.
Hebrews 10:1-5 says, “The old system in the law of Moses was only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality of the good things Christ has done for us. The sacrifices under the old system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But just the opposite happened. Those yearly sacrifices reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
Hebrews 10:11-14 says, “Under the old covenant, the Priest stands before the altar day after day, offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled as a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy.”
One of the messages we can take away from this amazing event is that amid our failures and our dark time, the message to us is that because the goat is gone, our sins are forgiven! When somebody reminds you about your past and wants you to hold on to our failures, we can say with confidence because “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
And because we have repented, we are now forgiven of our sins, and our sins have been removed “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). When we feel afraid, ashamed, wounded, guilty, remember that the “goat” is gone and will never return!
The redeeming message to believers is that when we met Jesus and confessed our sin, we were born from above, born again, remade, and now we aren’t who we were. We are now a new creation. Our old self is gone. The new self has come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
This picture that this event from the Old Testament gives us is that the Priest takes that goat and sends it out into the wilderness, and now the goat is gone, and it’s not coming back. Jesus, who is now our scapegoat, took all our sins away by nailing them to the cross so that we would be free and live free.
The Jewish greeting on Yom Kippur is g’mar tova, which means a good final sealing. Another is tzom kal which means easy fast.