Messiah in the Feasts: Yom Kippur

Posted: October 4, 2011 in Christian Living
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Yom Kippur is October 7–8, 2011. In Romans 2:23 we read that God has provided Yeshua Ha’Meshiach (Jesus the Messiah) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.Yeshua’s death surpasses and replaces the atonement ritual of the Jewish Temple. Hebrews 9:11-12 explains the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement as a pattern of the atoning work of the Messiah. Yeshua is our high priest, and his shed blood is much better than the blood of bulls and goats that were only symbols of his coming redemption. As the high priest of the Old Testament entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of his sacrificial victim, so Yeshua entered heaven itself to appear before the Father on behalf of His people.

The Old Testament tabernacle was designed, in part, to teach Israel that sin hindered access to the presence of God. Only the high priest, and he only once a year, could enter the Holy of Holies, and then not without taking blood offered to atone for sins (Hebrews 9:7). Hebrews notes that the Levitical offerings affected only the purification of the flesh. They ceremonially cleansed the sinner, but they could not bring about inward cleansing, the prerequisite for fellowship with God. Just as the high priest had to be sinless to enter the Holy of Holies and live, so Yeshua had to be sinless to live after He entered the grave.

“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:11-14)

The high priest had to offer sin offerings each year for his own sins and the sins of the people. This annual repetition of the sacrifices served as a reminder that perfect atonement had not yet been provided. Yeshua, however, through His own blood, provided eternal redemption for His people.  The Old Testament offerings served as a pattern and a prophecy of Yeshua HaMashiah, who, through His better sacrifice, completely cleanses us from dead works.

Our High Priest: The Lamb of God

God always determined what an acceptable offering was and what was not. He finally provided His Son, the Lamb of God, as the sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 1:19; 3:16). The moment Yeshua died, the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom followed by an earthquake. (Matt. 27:50-51)

I remember years ago watching the movie, The Jazz Singer. In one of the scenes the character played by Neil Diamond was caught by his father with a gentile woman. His father then turned, ripped his shirt, and walked away and began singing a song in Hebrew. The woman asked Neil Diamond what his father was singing and he answered, “A funeral dirge.”  “Who died?” She asked.   Neil Diamond answered, “I did.” Scripture tells us that the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. If the veil was torn by a man it would have been torn from the bottom to the top because the top was too high for any man to reach. When Yeshua died it was as if God was saying, “My son has died!” And ripped the veil!

This event is important because it shows the grief that God felt over the death of his son in order to establish him as being the new High Priest and Lamb of God. No longer must there be an annual sacrifice for sin on our behalf; instead, he has made payment for us once and for all. Through this new and living way Yeshua has entered heaven itself, the true Holy of Holies, where he ever lives to make intercession for His people. The believer no longer needs to stand far off, as the Israelites of old did, but now through Messiah we can approach the very Throne of Grace inside the Holy of Holies! Yes, it is now possible for each of us to have direct access to God through the blood of Yeshua HaMashiah!

The Two Goats

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the only solemn festivals. Note that there are seven days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These relate to the seven years of trouble prophesied throughout the scriptures. Most Christians know this period as the “tribulation” but to most Jews it is the birth pains of the Messiah. Even as Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the birth pains, Yom Kippur is the conclusion. It is on this day that many believe that the Messiah will literally return to earth where he will enter the Holy city once again.

The Yom Kippur Ceremony

After purifying the holy place and the altar of burnt offering with the mingled blood of the bull, the High Priest went to the eastern side of the court in front of the Temple. Facing him were two identical goats. Nearby was a lottery box especially designed for this ceremony. In the box were two tablets (lots). One bore the name “For God,” the other “For Azazel”. The high priest withdrew the tablets, putting one tablet in front of each goat. The goat labeled “for God” was sacrificed. The priest laid his hands upon the goat’s head labeled “for Azazel” symbolically laying the sins of the people on it, and had it led away from the people. This goat, commonly called the scapegoat, was then driven into the desert.

With the bull standing between the porch and the altar, its body facing the south towards the altar and face turned west in the direction of the Holy of Holies the High Priest approached and laid both hands on the bull’s head. Then the priest confessed his sins and those of his house. In the preceding confession of the High Priest the actual name of God was used. At the time of Yeshua only the High Priest was allowed to mention this name out loud and only during this ceremony of Yom Kippur. This day was the only day during the year that the High Priest or anyone else ministered using His name. This leads us to another prophecy of the Messiah returning on Yom Kippur. When the priests and the people standing in the courtyard knew that the name of the Lord was pronounced they bowed, prostrated themselves, gave thanks, fell to their faces and said, “Blessed is the Name of the honor of His kingdom forever and ever.”

When Yeshua debated with the Pharisees about Abraham Yeshua said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:53-58) When Yeshua said, “I am” it’s possible that he was speaking God’s name (See Exodus 3:14) and that was the reason they wanted to kill him.

After uttering the unmentionable name of God in the first confession over the bull the High Priest returned to where two identical goats stood. Contrary to the popular belief that both of these goats represent the Messiah, (One goat to die and the other goat to live having carried off the sins of those that have repented) it seems that one goat is given to God but the other goat represents Satan. The Hebrew language links the term “Azazel” to a demon. The prophet Isaiah in his prophecies concerning the destruction of Babylon indicates that the wilderness itself was considered as the habitation of demons.

“It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their folds there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there: and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.”  (Isaiah 13.20-22) It is no wonder that Yeshua was tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

After the lots for the two goats were chosen the High Priest then returned to his bull. He laid both his hands on it again and made a confession on behalf of all the priests. He repeated exactly as he had said the first time, except this time he said, “I and my house, the seed of Aaron, Thy holy people” in the confession instead of “I and my house.” He killed the bull and quickly received its blood in a vessel. He handed the vessel of blood to another priest to stir so that the blood would not congeal before the time to sprinkle it.

It’s interesting to note that Yeshua was brought before Pilate and stood before the people just as He was about to be led to his death, bearing the iniquities of the people. Two goats were required for one sacrifice (Lev 16:17, 21-22). Both sacrifices were fulfilled in the death of Yeshua and the release of Barabbas. How can this be portrayed in a sacrifice? By using two animals; one killed (Yeshua) and the other set free. (Barabbas)

I had mentioned that Azazel stood for a demon. It is this ceremony of the expulsion and death of the goats that speaks most of Yeshua’s coming. In the century before Yeshua came, The Book of Enoch, which is even quoted in the Epistle of Jude, Azazel is mentioned in relationship to the coming of the Messiah.

“Then I looked and turned to another face of the earth and saw there a valley, deep and burning with fire. And they were bringing kings and potentates and were throwing them into this deep valley. And my eyes saw there their chains while they were making them into fetters of immense weight. And I asked the angel of peace, who was going with me, saying, “For whom are these imprisonment chains being prepared? And he said unto me, “These are being prepared for the armies of Azazel, in order that they may take them and cast them into the abyss of complete condemnation, and as the Lord of the Spirits has commanded it, they shall cover their jaws with rocky stones. Then Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel themselves shall seize them on that great day of judgment and cast them into the furnace (of fire) that is burning that day, so that the Lord of the Spirits may take vengeance on them on account of their oppressive deeds which (they performed) as messengers of Satan, leading astray those who dwell upon the earth.”  (I Enoch 54.1-6)

In these passages Azazel is seen as the False Messiah and his armies or cohorts. The scriptures state that the day the Messiah returns, the False Messiah will be defeated and cast into the Lake of Fire even as the goat was cast to his destruction in the wilderness. God had given this ceremony to illustrate this and to prepare people for the events of the Messiah’s coming. As this day arrives and these events take place, the entire world which has rejoiced in Messiah will break forth in dancing and song. Just as the people of Jerusalem waited for the news of the destruction of the goat, Azazel, so will people in the future at Messiah’s coming, await the news of the destruction of the False Messiah. Azazel is the epitome of evil and sin. With his destruction, all of Jerusalem will again rejoice even as described by the prophet Jeremiah in his prophecy of the second coming.

Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord. ” (Jeremiah 31.13-14)

The Second Coming or Judgment?

The entire ten days from the first day of the Feast of Trumpets through the Day of Atonement are known as Days of Repentance or Days of Awe. To some these days are a picture of the Rapture (Feast of Trumpets), the Tribulation (days in between), and the second coming (Day of Atonement). Another theory claims these are a picture of the Second Coming, (Feast of Trumpets) and the Judgment (Day of Atonement) Our Messiah made two promises before He returned to our Father. He would send the Comforter (Pentecost) and He would come again. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”  (John 14:3)

The Bible clearly states that Yeshua will return immediately after the great tribulation. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. (Mark 13:24-26)

The Day of Judgment

The apostle Peter wrote about this awesome Day of Judgment. He declared, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:10-13)

There are also other passages that describe the Day of Judgment:

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matt. 25:31-34)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

“In the coming judgment, there is forgiveness and mercy and grace to those who have already received Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Who gave His life as a ransom for us! Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)

Yom Kippur is alive with pictures and messages of the coming of the Messiah! Its message of repentance and purity before God is repeated over and over in Biblical studies. Be encouraged to examine this great appointed time of God and learn its importance. An ancient greeting verbalized between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is extended to you:  “May you be sealed until the Day of Redemption.”

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