The Day of Atonement

A photo of a nail with blood.

Photo by Koshyk

This is a re-post from 2012.

Leviticus 23:26-32 26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

Many people look at the above scripture and say that is for the Jewish people, and another group believes the Old Testament was done away with. What do you think?

If you are of either of those beliefs, I would ask you to prayerfully read the following scriptures and reconsider your stance.

Galatians 3:5-9 & 26-29 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[c] 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”[d] 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

It is not my place to judge, condemn, or argue spiritual issues and doctrines with anyone. However, I do think there are some amazing lessons, and deep spiritual insights that can be gained by the celebration and keeping of the Old Testament Holy Days. If you see any merit in what I share, that’s great, if you think I’m brain broke, that’s okay too. I just ask you to consider.

Until Jesus Christ laid down His life as a sacrifice for mankind to make Atonement for our sins, we were cut off from God. Every year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would have to go through a very elaborate and bloody ritual which was a representation of our true High Priest, and His sacrifice to come. Let’s take a look at what was done every year until Christ’s sacrifice.

Leviticus 16:2-22 2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.

3 “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. 4 He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.

6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

11 “And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. 12 Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. 13 And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. 14 He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

Although Jesus was not sacrificed on the Day of Atonement, this day represents and commemorates Christ’s sacrifice which reconciles us to God through His atoning or covering of our sins.

Romans 5:6-11 6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

The Day of Atonement is a fast day in which no food or water is consumed from sundown to sundown. It is a time of repentance, and to reflect on the great sacrifice of our High Priest, Jesus Christ. When you go 24 hours without food or drink you realize just how temporary and weak our bodies are. It is a time of solemn reflection on our short comings and areas we need to improve on. But most of all, it is a time to be humbly grateful for Christ’s sacrifice.

I have been keeping the Day of Atonement for around 30 years now, and began its observance this evening at sunset. Every year I gain a deeper understanding of the significance of this day, and I become more grateful and dependent on our Savior because of it.

There are those who would argue the keeping of these days is not necessary anymore. As I said, it is not my place to judge or debate, only to share. I would not consider this a salvation issue, but a learning and relationship deepening opportunity. I believe if keep this day, you will be spiritually impacted by it.

If you should decide to try keeping the Day of Atonement, let me say this. If you have any health issues, talk to your doctor before doing so. You should take any medications that you’re on with a little water. This day is not an exercise in the letter of the law, but is a day of rich symbolism and meaning that can draw you closer to God.

Again, considering the scriptures in Galatians we read above let me leave you with the following scripture.

Leviticus 16:29-31 29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.