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Bible verses about Day of Atonement
(From Forerunner Commentary)

On the Day of Atonement, God commands us to afflict ourselves. Fasting is the external means God gives to assist us in this. It inflicts upon us a small amount of discomfort, which is a good indicator of God's mercy. He could have commanded us to do something very painful, requiring a great deal of endurance and discipline. He has every right to do so, but instead He chose something that also shows us how much we need what He so generously supplies, such as food and water. Without what He supplies spiritually, we would not last very long in that realm either.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

The Day of Atonement is a time of fasting in conjunction with searching out our sins and repenting of them so we might be one with God and fellow man. On this day, especially, we should pursue very few of our normal daily responsibilities. Thus, as we feel the hunger and thirst pangs rise within us, we should have the time to study God's Word and meditate upon our lives. God's Word, meditation, and our body's cries to be fed should work to focus our attention on our insufficiency when denied the generous and life-giving blessings of God.

Without what God supplies, we would have no life in the first place, and now that we have life, it cannot be sustained without His continued providence. Honestly facing our need should drive us to humility and humble submission in prayer. God is the only One who can supply what we truly desire and need in order to fulfill His purpose and our hope. Jesus' prayer was that we be one with the Father even as He was one with Him (John 17:20-23). Humility is a major route to that end.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

We would normally read and expound these scriptures in the context of Passover. We normally think of Passover in terms of being reconciled to God. However, Passover and the Day of Atonement are inextricably bound in that both of them involve reconciliation.

Atonement, though, supplies answers and solutions to problems not resolved by Passover. The Passover is personal in nature, providing reconciliation of the individual to God and the beginning of unity with man in the church with Christ. It is through Passover that we learn the price of redemption and reconciliation—xno less than that of the Creator, Jesus Christ.

Atonement, however, is universal in nature and provides reconciliation of the world to God—all of mankind at one with God and each other through Christ. Passover shows Satan defeated, but still free to work out his nefarious schemes to produce confusion and division, as well as rebellion against God. Atonement, on the other hand, shows Satan defeated and punished by banishment—no longer free to do anything but to bewail his lot.

The emphasis in I Peter 1:17-21 is on the cost of reconciliation, which is vital to God's purpose because a major portion of our desire to obey God comes from our sense of obligation to God and Christ in appreciation for how much was paid for us to be free.

We will never feel this until we begin to understand that this was done for us as individuals. If only one person had ever sinned in all of God's creation, it still would have taken the life of the Creator to get him free from the wages of his sin.

He did it for us! It is easy for us to escape responsibility for His death when we conclude, "Well, He did it for all of mankind." Indeed, He did, but he did it for us as individuals too. This is the path that a person has to take in his thinking to recognize the cost that was made for us and to come to a sense of obligation. We ought to respond if only out of thanks for what He did. We owe our lives to Him.

People have been willing to give virtually everything to someone who saved their lives from drowning, snatched them out of the way of a speeding automobile, or saved them from some other kind of painful death. At Passover, we rehearse that, understanding that Jesus Christ saved us individually.


 

Leviticus 16:1-2

Even as the instructions in Leviticus 16 follow a significant failure on the part of the priesthood, we can also credibly link the Day of Atonement with an infamous failure of the whole nation, the Golden Calf incident. By piecing together the dates and spans of time from the scriptural record, a significant possibility arises. Notice these time markers:

» Israel left Egypt on the fifteenth day of the first month (Exodus 13:3-4).

» Sometime within the following week—between the sixteenth and the twenty-second day—the fifty-day count to Pentecost began.

» It is generally accepted that Pentecost occurred when God gave the law to Israel from Mount Sinai. No verse directly says this, but the text puts Israel at Sinai in the general timeframe of Pentecost. Exodus 16:1 shows that Israel was already near Sinai on the fifteenth day of the second month. Israel was still camped at Sinai “in the third month” (Exodus 19:1), when Pentecost occurs.

» After giving the law, Moses was on the Mount with God for forty days and nights to receive the tablets of stone (Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9).

» When Moses came down and saw Israel worshipping the Golden Calf, he broke the stone tablets and spent a second period of forty days and nights beseeching God not to destroy Aaron and the rest of the nation (Deuteronomy 9:15-20).

» Moses returned to the mountain for a third forty-day period to receive a new copy of the stone tablets (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 10:10).

The three forty-day periods mean that there were 120 days between Pentecost and the new copy of the tablets. Adding the fifty-day count to Pentecost brings us to 170 days. The count to Pentecost began between the sixteenth and twenty-second days from the beginning of the year, so the time between Abib 1 and the new copy of the tablets was between 186 and 192 days. This span of days is significant because the Day of Atonement falls on the tenth day of the seventh month, 187 days into the Hebrew calendar.

The Day of Atonement, then, may have occurred when Moses returned with his face reflecting God's glory (Exodus 34:29-32). It may also have been the day when he gave the law to Israel a second time, after their blatant sin. Again, this timeline is not definitive, but we are in the ballpark.

If this timeline is valid, then the Day of Atonement contains a reminder of a colossal failure, such that the law had to be inscribed a second time by the finger of God. God does not waste effort, and He does not repeat Himself or duplicate things unnecessarily. Thus, the Day of Atonement could well provide a reminder that the whole nation was on the brink of destruction, and it was through God's mercy and Moses' intercession that the people and high priest were not all blotted out.

It is no wonder that the Day of Atonement is such a solemn day! It is tied to the failure of Aaron's sons, and perhaps to the more widespread failure of the nation, resulting in the addition of the sacrificial law. It may also have been when the Creator had to repeat His holy law. The law defines sin, and breaking it requires atonement. When the author of Hebrews 10:3 writes that the sacrifices were a reminder of sins each year, he may have had some highly significant national failures in mind.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)


 

Leviticus 16:8

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is a Sabbath of solemn rest, set apart by its unique requirements to afflict one's soul and do absolutely no work (Leviticus 23:26-32). Within its instructions are a few rituals that make it even more extraordinary. Chief among these is the ceremony of the two goats found in Leviticus 16, part of a larger cleansing ritual performed once a year by the high priest.

With the passage of time and the difficulties of translation, the instructions for the two goats are far less clear to us than they were to their original recipients. In particular, the Hebrew word azazel, used for the second goat (Leviticus 16:8, 10, 26), is surrounded by speculation and contradictory assertions. A common belief among Sabbatarians is that azazel is the name of a wilderness demon. From this foundation springs the conclusion that the azazel goat—often translated as “scapegoat”—represents Satan.

If we solely use the Bible as our source, we will find no definitive statement for azazel representing Satan. What appears instead is that Satan—whose original name was Helel—has coopted the term to apply to himself in the same way he coopted one of the titles of Jesus Christ, “light-bringer” or “light-bearer” (Lucifer), for himself (see Isaiah 14:12; II Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16). Yet it is not possible for Satan to be a part of the atonement God provides for His people, a role that can be fulfilled only by the Savior.

Strong's Concordance does not define azazel as a name at all, instead giving the meaning as “goat of departure.” It identifies two roots for this word, the first of which means “goat” or “kid” (#5795). The second root (#235) means “to go away, hence, to disappear.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon says it means “complete removal.” These definitions not only fit with the Hebrew, but they also align with the instructions in Leviticus 16.

But to start with azazel as the name of a fallen angel—representative of Satan—is, at best, to begin with a conclusion, and at worst, to base crucial understanding on an apocryphal tradition. When we look at the totality of what Scripture says, a very different picture emerges.

There is wisdom in not basing a doctrine on the meaning of a word, since meanings can change or become lost with time. A far more solid foundation beyond a word's common definition must be laid. Moving past the definition of azazel, then, another foundational principle of Bible study is that significant matters—especially doctrinal ones—must be established by “two or three witnesses.” By comparing what the azazel goat accomplishes with the rest of God's revelation, its role—and thus, its identity—becomes clear. There is no second, let alone third, witness for Satan playing a role within this chapter or in the atonement for sin.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:10

The Day of Atonement ritual follows the same pattern as the ritual for the cleansing of leprosy, found in nearby Leviticus 14:3-7, 49-53. It contains similar figures and activities as the ritual of the two goats, and is a type of the more important Day of Atonement ritual. In considering the lesser ritual, nothing suggests that the two birds are somehow opposites or represent opposing personalities. Instead, the birds are two essentially equal elements, each chosen to serve a different role to accomplish a single purpose. The two goats are likewise two equal actors, which again precludes Satan, for the only place he is equal to Jesus Christ is in his own estimation!

A detail in the leprosy ritual clarifies a part of the ritual with the two goats. The bird that is set free is dipped in the blood of the one that is killed (Leviticus 14:6, 51), showing that a cleansing or sanctification is made for the bird that is then freed. This is more obscure in the instruction for the goats, but can be found in Leviticus 16:10: “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon [Hebrew 'al] it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”

The NKJV here says atonement is made upon the goat, which is a reasonable translation since 'al is simply a preposition with any number of English equivalents. Other translations and commentators, such as the Companion Bible and the Cambridge Bible, hold that here 'al indicates for the live goat—that is, the goat is presented alive before the Lord to make atonement for it. Ellicott's Commentary makes this observation: “Better, to make atonement for it, that is, it was placed before the Lord in order that it might receive expiation and sanctification, and thus be fitted for the sacred purposes it was destined to fulfil” (emphasis theirs).

Scripture backs up this observation. The azazel parallels the live bird that was dipped in the blood of the sacrificed bird and then let go. A sanctification had to take place before the second animal (bird or goat) could fulfill its role. Even though Jesus had no need to be cleansed from sin, He was still sanctified (John 10:36). In contrast, no sacrifice is ever mentioned for Satan's “sanctification” prior to fulfilling an imagined sacrificial role.

The azazel is not brought before the Lord for the sake of judgment (Leviticus 16:10), since it is the symbol of innocence at this point, as the priest has not yet laid his hands on its head. Instead, the goat stands before the Lord in order to be sanctified, receiving its charge to bear the burden of sin and depart out of sight.

In both the leprosy and the Day of Atonement rituals, one animal is killed while another is set free, with the implication of bearing the uncleanness (in the case of leprosy) or sins (in the case of the azazel) to another place. The single sin offering has two aspects: 1) the sacrifice for the payment or propitiation for sin, and 2) the complete removal of sin from view—including from memory and the consciousness. God sees to both the payment for and removal of sin; even our conscience is cleansed (see Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 9:14).

What is accomplished, then, is more than just payment for sin. The ritual makes use of two animals to show different features of this unique sin offering. One animal died as a type of payment, so that justice would be satisfied. The other remained alive to demonstrate the complete removal of sin from view.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat—Satan or Christ? (Part One)


 

Leviticus 16:20-22

The unique offering on the Day of Atonement for the sins of Israel consisted of two goats (Leviticus 16:5). The first goat was killed, and the high priest cleansed the sanctuary and the holy objects with its blood. The second goat—the azazel, the goat of departure—had all the sins of the people laid on its head, bearing them to an uninhabited land, a land “cut off.”

Jesus Christ fulfilled the roles of both sacrificial animals: He died to provide a covering of blood and open the way to the Father, and He also bore the sins of many, taking them to the land of forgetfulness—the grave. Isaiah 53 prophesied that the Messiah would accomplish this. Scripture is silent about sins being placed on Satan's head or his bearing sins in any way.

The name of this holy day derives from the Hebrew yom kippur. Kippur means “expiation,” while its root, kaphar, can be translated as “cleanse,” “disannul,” “forgive,” “pardon,” “purge,” “put off,” and “cover.” It is “the Day of Atonement [kippur], to make atonement [kaphar] for you before the LORD your God” (Leviticus 23:28). Leviticus 16:30 summarizes: “For on that day the priest shall make atonement [kaphar] for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” The holy day deals with providing a solution to the people's defilement—and, therefore, separation from God—through cleansing and removal of sins. As Leviticus 16:21-22 makes plain, the ceremony involves the sins of the people, not of Satan.

The identity of the “goat of departure” has been mired in controversy, yet even without poring over the ritual's details, we can see that the name of the day indicates only one logical way this can take place. The expiation of mankind's sins—the atoning, cleansing, disannulling, purging, and putting away of sins—is what the Savior does, by the very definition of the word, rather than what the Adversary does.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Three)


 

Leviticus 16:29

On the Day of Atonement, God requires that absolutely no work be performed (Leviticus 16:29; 23:28-31; Numbers 29:7), symbolizing that human effort is completely useless in making the proper atonement needed to keep living after sin. The Israelites could do nothing but observe what occurred at the Tabernacle, watching as the young goat was led away with all their sins. Likewise, we can do absolutely nothing to add to Christ's atoning work. Thus, it is a day without work for us as well.

Israel's works nearly condemned the nation to obliteration. In particular, the Golden Calf was a work of Aaron's hands (Exodus 32:4-5). No matter how he tried to pass it off, he deliberately fashioned an idol out of gold, something he had to work at. Similarly, the work of Nadab's and Abihu's hands included offering profane fire (Leviticus 10:1). In Haggai 2:14, God remarks on Israel's spoiling of everything she puts her hands to: “'So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,' says the LORD, 'and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.'” The works of men always contain defilement, so on the day when God removes the filth, no work can be done, lest more corruption be introduced.

The only work permitted on the Day of Atonement was performed by the high priest and by the man who led the azazel away, and both had to have an atonement made for them. For us, it is a day of solemn remembrance of the perfect work of our High Priest, who gave us precious access to the Father and removed our sins.

Atonement is also a day of afflicting one's soul. This requirement could serve as a reminder of the fasting Moses did during his interactions with God. There is overwhelming gravity in all that was involved when he fasted for forty days on back-to-back-to-back occasions. Two of those times involved meeting directly with God, receiving a pattern for life from His incomparable mind. The middle period of fasting reflects how seriously God regarded the sins and the enormity of what was at stake due to Aaron's and the nation's transgressions.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)


 

Leviticus 23:1-3

This opening shot reveals two very important principles to begin our quest to find out how to keep the holy days.

The first, repeated twice in one verse, is that these festivals are God's feasts, not Israel's, not the church's. He is their Source, He set the times, He gave them meaning, and He is their ultimate Object. We could say they are all about Him—and His plan and our part in it with Him. Our observance of these days is to focus on Him and His teaching, and with that comes wonderful spiritual and physical benefits.

The second principle appears in the command to "proclaim [them] to be holy convocations." These divinely appointed times are set apart for calling together. In today's language, a primary purpose of the feasts of God is to bring God's people together, not just for fellowship, but also for instruction and most importantly, to honor and worship God Himself. These holy times, then, contain a vitally important corporate aspect, producing unity in purpose, doctrine, and relationships within the Body of Christ.

The next verse, Leviticus 23:3, presents a third important principle: "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings." Along with the weekly Sabbath, the seven annual holy days—the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag Hamatzot), Pentecost (Shavuot, also called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest), the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, also called the Fast), the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth), and the eighth day (often called the Last Great Day)—are also Sabbaths.

Like Sabbaths, they are holy convocations, as can be seen in the ensuing instructions. In most cases, the wording is that the holy day "is a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it" (see Leviticus 23:7-8, 21, 24-25, 35-36). This means that we are not to attend to our normal, weekday work—the kinds of activities that we do on the other six days of the week. This includes not only our paying jobs, but also the ordinary work that we would do around the house, on our cars, in our yards, at the local community center, etc.

In the instructions for keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, though, God stipulates, "No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you" (Exodus 12:16). Feasting is part of the holy day experience. God wants us to eat and drink of the abundance that He has bestowed upon us in thanksgiving and joy on His appointed times, so He allows us to prepare food on the holy days. Even so, it is still better to prepare as much of the food beforehand, as on a weekly Sabbath, to get the most from the feasts.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How Do We Keep God's Festivals?


 

Leviticus 23:26-32

The Day of Atonement is a commanded feast of God. God emphasizes this day's solemnity by threatening death to those who fail to afflict their souls or who do any work on this day. Nothing is more important than being at one with Him!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Leviticus 23:26-32

To put it even more succinctly, on the Day of Atonement, we are not to eat, drink, or work at all for the entire twenty-four-hour period. It is a day of worship, instruction, prayer, and humbling ourselves before God in thanks for His marvelous work in atoning for all sin and in bringing mankind into unity with Him (see Leviticus 16:29-34; Isaiah 58:1-12; Revelation 20:1-3).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How Do We Keep God's Festivals?


 

Leviticus 23:27-32

The focus in these verses is on the spirit or attitude in which we keep Atonement. Considering verse 29, doing things right on this day is a serious responsibility. For religious Jews, this is the most solemn day of the year.

Three times in this short span of verses God commands us to afflict our souls or be afflicted. Many think that "fast" is derived from the same word as "afflict," but such is not the case. They are not cognate; in the Hebrew they have no etymological connection. They are two different words with distinctly different roots. God probably uses these different words to emphasize the attitude one should have during a fast, rather than the act itself, because it is entirely possible for a person to fast for a day and not be in the right attitude. However, when done properly, fasting can very greatly enhance the lesson of this holy day.

"Fast" is derived from a word meaning "to cover the mouth," implying that no nourishment gets past it into the body.

"Afflict," anah, is an intriguing word, giving us great insight into how God intends us to use this day. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, its primary meaning is "to force or try to force into submission," "to punish or inflict pain upon." When used in contexts involving attitude, it means "to find oneself in a stunted, humble, lowly position; cowed." It is used to describe what one does to an enemy (Numbers 24:24), what Sarah inflicted on Hagar (Genesis 16:6), and what the lawless do to the weak (Exodus 22:22). It is used of the pain inflicted on Joseph's ankles by his chains (Psalm 105:18). Moses describes Egypt's treatment of Israel with this word (Exodus 1:11-12), and in this case, it implies more than the emotional pain of slavery but something that hurt physically. Thus, in Strong's Concordance, the author uses such forceful and painful words as "browbeat," "deal hardly with," "defile," "force," "hurt," and "ravish" to describe it. Anah is a strong, forceful word.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Isaiah 1:4

The prophet Isaiah is saying the same thing in more detail as what Peter says in Acts 3:19: "Repent." That is how the breach, the separation, between God and man will be healed. That is how atonement is made. Atonement is not all something that Christ does. There will never be oneness with God until man does something with his free-moral agency.

The problem in Isaiah 1 is a hypocritical people just going through the motions. They were observing the rituals: burning incense, making the sacrifices. Yet, at the same time, their daily lives were filled with all kinds of unlawful acts—business shenanigans—that, according to God's law, is taking advantage of others. They were lying about the weights and balances, selling shoddy products, and as a rule, not conducting business in an upright way. They were murdering one another's reputations through gossip, and lying to one another using charm and deceit. God is saying that their lives were full of hypocrisy.

In the same way, people who today claim to be children of God, who attend Sabbath services and holy days yet have a heart full of greed, covetousness, anger, hatred, bitterness, envy, and so on, are simply hypocrites.

As it pertains to us, what we see in Isaiah is that there must be a relationship between worshipping God and our character in its practical aspect out on the streets, in our homes, in the way that we conduct business. We might say our character away from church, out of the eyesight of God's people, must reflect what we profess to believe. How can those who treat their fellows with contempt, greed, envy, jealousy, anger, hatred, and revenge, do those things through the week and then come to church services before God, thinking that somehow or another they are not separated from Him? Jesus says in Matthew 5:23-24, "If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift." That is quite plain.

Because of all these things, God treated His people Israel in the same way as pagan idols treated their worshippers. Remember, the idols are not alive; they do not have ears that can hear, eyes that can see, or mouths that enable them to speak. So idol worshippers made their lamentations, their prayers, and their praises to their idols, and the idol never responded. God says, "I am going to be just like an idol to you. When you talk to me, I am not going to talk to you, and when you look at me, I am not going to look back at you. I am not going to see you." So in this way, He became as one who is dumb and deaf. He did not respond to their prayers.

It is essential to note that God, in His wisdom, knew before creating mankind that mankind would sin. If there were to be both reconciliation and character building, He would have to provide a means that would not only satisfy the legal requirements, but also contain within it the moral and spiritual influences that would motivate a man to cooperate on his own.

We play a major part in this because God has given us free-moral agency. By and large, the Protestant world has convinced Americans, Canadians, and Western Europeans that Christ did it all for us. It is a bald-faced lie! But sometimes, we who know better act as though it all depended on God. God gave us free-moral agency so that we can respond to Him, put His Word into practice, and exemplify before others what God is like.

It would be nice to say that we live lives like Christ so much that we could say of ourselves what Christ said: "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father" (John 14:9). There is a Person who was really at one with God.

What God is trying to do with the things that He has provided—namely, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of His Holy Spirit—is to motivate man to repent—to change, to turn to God, to resist the desire to continue in sin—to work at building character and learn to live by faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Reconciliation and the Day of Atonement


 

Isaiah 58:3-12

The members of Isaiah's audience were fasting for all the wrong reasons! They fasted to get things from God and hypocritically appear righteous. God says, though, that we should fast to free others from their sins, to intercede with God for their healing, to help provide for their needs and to understand His will. Fasting is a tool of godly love we are to use for the good of others, and any benefits we derive from it are wonderful blessings! On the Day of Atonement, we fast to implore God to bring to pass the greatest blessing of all upon ourselves and the world: unity, oneness, with Him!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Isaiah 58:13-14

It is likely that the Sabbath here is either the Feast of Trumpets or the Day of Atonement. The chapter opens up with "Lift up your voice like a trumpet," but then the bulk of the chapter has to do with fasting. The Sabbath arises in verse 13, which indicates that, when Isaiah wrote this, God had a particular Sabbath in mind.

There are only two Sabbaths in which God says, "No work shall be done." The one is the Day of Atonement, and the other is the weekly Sabbath (which occurs fifty-two times a year). In that regard, the weekly Sabbath is more stringent than are the holy days. When holy days and weekly Sabbaths coincide, the holy day takes precedence as being a Sabbath of the first rank. But yet, in regard to the weekly Sabbath, God says, "No work shall be done."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 4)


 

Isaiah 59:1-2

Sin or iniquity or lawlessness, however we want to read it, is what has caused the need for atonement or reconciliation. Iniquity, sin, and lawlessness produce the opposite of atonement. They produce separation, not coming together. Sin separates and builds barriers between us and God and between us and other people.

He says that He will not hear. We have to understand this. It is not that He cannot hear, but because of sin, He will not hear. God does not sin, so if there is a separation between a man and God—between us and God—then it is because we have done something. We are the ones who are drifting away. However, to the human being, it seems as though God has gone far away, when He has not moved at all.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Reconciliation and the Day of Atonement


 

Daniel 9:24

The Seventy Weeks prophecy foretells a national cleansing. It is God's assurance that He will intervene to lift Israel out of her degenerate spiritual state. The word translated “reconciliation” is the same one translated as “atonement”—kaphar—throughout Leviticus 16. Nearly everything mentioned in the prophecy relates to the Day of Atonement and what is typified in Leviticus 16 regarding the cleansing and removal of sin. Even the Most Holy Place receives attention (see Daniel 8:14).

In other words, the fulfillment of the Seventy Weeks prophecy closely intertwines with the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. It is for “your people and for your holy city”—for removing the guilt of Israel and Jerusalem, representative of all the land promised to Abraham.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)


 

Zechariah 3:1-5

Zechariah 3 shows a future fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. This book was written after Judah's return from Babylon. Even after that national chastening, the people were still carnal, just as Israel is today. Here, the prophet receives a vision of the high priest, Joshua. Notably, the chapter contains the same elements and sequence as Leviticus 16. It starts with the cleansing of the high priest and ends with the cleansing of the nation. What is missing is the sacrificial animals, and this is because, here, God is providing the atonement through a different means.

The essential function of the high priest was to represent the nation to God, which is part of why the Golden Calf incident was so appalling—the nation's representative was directly involved in the sin of idolatry. Similarly, in Zechariah 3:3, the high priest is depicted in filthy garments, yet in verse 4, the filth and iniquity are taken away. The high priest receives rich robes, symbolic of righteousness from God Himself (compare Revelation 19:8).

Verse 5 mentions the high priest's turban. Exodus 28:38 reveals that the purpose of the turban was to bear iniquity, so the high priest symbolically carried iniquity throughout the year. Then, on Atonement, the iniquity was symbolically transferred to the goat of departure and sent away. In Zechariah's vision, the priestly garments are filthy, and a clean turban is needed. The high priest's defilement shows that the nation had been completely unclean. But God restores the high priest, giving His explanation in verses 8-9:

Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: Upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

Zechariah makes no mention of animal sacrifices. This removal of iniquity can only come through the Messiah, the Branch mentioned in verse 8 (see also Isaiah 4:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Zechariah 6:12).

Leviticus 18:28 speaks of the land becoming defiled and vomiting out its inhabitants. The Day of Atonement is an annual type of bearing away of sin, out of the land, so the land and its people become clean before God. This national cleansing of land and nation, however, did not happen at Christ's first coming. Though the means of that true cleansing was created through His sacrifice, it has not yet been applied. God's cleansing of the land and people of Israel is still future.

The beginning of this vision (verses 1-2) contains another significant factor. Note that God rebukes Satan before He cleanses the nation. There is a possible connection here with Satan's binding (Revelation 20:1-3): In other instances of God rebuking a party, it typically goes beyond divine words and involves divine action (see Psalm 9:5; 68:30; Isaiah 17:1-3). God's rebuke may find its fulfillment in Satan's binding, and Israel's cleansing follows it.

The critical point is that atonementexpiation, satisfaction of the legal debt—can come only through Christ's removal of guilt, not through anything that happens to Satan. The nation is cleansed by God removing the iniquity, not through rebuking the accuser. In this vision, if Satan were only rebuked—and in parallel, if Satan were just bound—the nation would remain in its defiled state, still separated from God, unatoned.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)


 

Acts 27:9

Luke, writing this over 30 years after Christ's death, makes it very clear that the early church observed this holy day.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Holy Days: Atonement


 

Romans 5:10

Reconciliation with God is not the end of a process, nor does it stand alone. We are reconciled so that we can be saved, and we will be saved because Christ is alive.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Reconciliation and the Day of Atonement


 

Hebrews 8:11-12

The theme of the Day of Atonement is reconciliation, becoming at one with God through the forgiveness of sin. It starts the salvation process off. Each year, on the Day of Atonement, Israel's sins were symbolically transferred to the Tabernacle by having the first goat's blood sprinkled on it. The blood symbolically contained their sins. The blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, transferring their sins, then, to God's throne, where they were forgiven. That is the picture behind this.

So the author says that the Tabernacle, all of its furniture, and all of its ceremonies and rituals used to accomplish atonement (at-one-ment) with God were types. These symbols stood in their place with good purpose, but only until they were replaced with a more effective reality. Christ went into the Holy of Holies with His own blood.

Now we need to put this into a bigger context, the whole book of Hebrews. The overall theme of Hebrews can be described by such words as better, superior, greater. Chapter 1 begins by telling us that Christ is greater than angels. Chapter 2 shows us that the goal given to us in the gospel of the Kingdom of God is so far superior to anything man has ever been offered before that there is no comparison.

In chapter 3, Christ is far greater than Moses. Beginning in chapter 4 and on into chapter 6, the comparison is made with Aaron, and again, Christ is greater. In chapter 7, we find a comparison with the Melchizedek priesthood and the Levitical priesthood. The Melchizedek priesthood is greater, superior, better than Aaron's.

In chapter 8, the covenant is introduced. The New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant. The theme continues right on into chapters 9 and 10, because they are concerned with the superiority of the sacrifice of Christ to the things of the Old Testament - the Tabernacle, its furniture, and all of its ceremonial systems. But they were only imposed for a time, until something better was provided by God. It is clear, then, that God's intent with the sacrificial system was that it would only be imposed temporarily.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 18)


 

James 3:16

This verse shows why the Day of Atonement is needed. It is a day that pictures at-one-ment, the state of being at one. It is needed because men are horribly divided from one another. Some are trying to pull the nations of the earth together as one, but their attempt will fail because it does not originate from God and is not being conducted in a godly manner. It is not being orchestrated by God or His Son, Jesus Christ, and is, instead, being done in a carnal way, which will produce the exact same fruits that all of the other past efforts at unification have produced—division, destruction, and death! In this, we are witnessing a major, worldwide attempt to bring the earth together under one, anti-God system, even as was attempted in Genesis 11.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility


 

Revelation 20:1-3

The releasing of the azazel into the wilderness (Leviticus 20:21-22) is commonly—but incongruously—linked with the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3). This linkage is problematic because the account in Revelation makes no mention of sins—whether mankind's or Satan's—being placed on Satan's head. Instead, the express purpose for his binding is “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (verse 3). He is bound to cut off his influence, not to provide any sort of expiation.

In addition, since the book of Revelation is generally dated around AD 90-100, John's vision did not occur until the very end of the apostolic generation. Earlier, Jude had written to exhort the beleaguered first-century church “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3; emphasis ours throughout). “The faith” is a specific faith, indicating a well-defined body of beliefs. However, when Jude wrote his epistle, Satan's binding had not yet been foretold. It was not revealed to John until after “the faith” had already been delivered to the saints.

Similarly, Paul writes to Timothy that the “Holy Scriptures”—which, at that point, would have consisted of what is generally called the Old Testament—“are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). Even without the book of Revelation, the first generation of Christians had all they needed to understand God's plan.

The matter of how sin is atoned for is at the very core of being “wise for salvation,” and Paul's words indicate that “wisdom” was already available from 1) what had been written before, and 2) God-given faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, the apostolic generation understood salvation—including the Day of Atonement and how sins are expiated—without the revelation that Satan will be bound. The former is not dependent on the latter.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Three)


 

 




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