Leviticus 23:26-29: "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 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 the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people."
Even as a child, I knew there was something very different about this Holy day. Unlike the other Feast days, there was no levity, no light conversation between family and friends, and everyone just seemed to quietly go about their business with serious expressions on their face. We kids were not allowed into the sanctuary until we were 13, but we weren't too anxious about it because at that age, we were then responsible to fast. This was the only Feast day and holy day that the Jews were called to fast...and that made us realize that this was a very somber and serious day.
It was known also as the "days of awe", and in Hebrew, it was Yom Kippur, meaning the "day of covering". Biblical history recorded that the High Priest took the blood of a sacrificed bull, (ram), and went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple and sprinkled it on the ark to cover the mercy seat. If God was pleased with the offering, He would manifest a consuming fire and lap up the blood of atonement, and the Priest would then come out, change his priestly garments, and finish the rest of the sacrifice before the people. The rest of the ritual included many prayers of repentence on behalf of the people there and the whole nation of Israel, and then 1 of 2 special goats was sacrificed, and its blood brought into the Holy of Holies. Some of that blood was also put on the head of the other goat, who was called the "scape goat", because the sins of the people were place on him. Then the priest would take the scapegoat into the wilderness, and start running into the woods, turning the goat loose,and never to return with the sins of the people. This Holy day is so serious to the Lord, that He instructed the people who would not afflict their soul, (which meant fasting), that they were to be "cut off". Repentence is a very serious matter to God!
Proverbs 23:13: "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." And today, contemporary Jews have a dilemma: They no longer have a Temple where we can offer the blood sacrifices for our sin. What do they do about atonement for their sins? The Temple is gone. There was no provisions made to replace the blood..except Calvary...but the Jews don't accept His blood or the new covenant. So, what's a Jew to do to be reconciled to God?
Leviticus 17:11 "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for your soul."
This tells us, very definitely, that it's the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. It's obvious that the sacrificial animals were types that pointed to the Messiah, who would one day fulfill their role by shedding his blood...which He did, just as He promised in that prophetic verse in Leviticus.
When did the God of Israel ever "give His blood upon an altar?" He's a Spirit (John 4:24)..an invisible Spirit! (I Timothy 1:17) But Isaiah said there would come a day when a child would be born; a son given, and HIS name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE (Messiah)-Isaiah 9:6; That was when "God was manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16), and they called Him Jesus, meaning Jehovah, our Salvation..God with us)." So God, resident in the man Jesus, was nailed to the altar, the cross...so then, God did shed His blood for the atonement of our sins, fulfilling all the types and shadows of the Tenach!
When we were separated from our God because of our iniquities, (as Isaiah said we would be), that pure and precious blood that flowed through the veins of Jesus, (the Father's blood), not only "covered" our sins, but blotted them out! Then, by obedience to His word, applying the waters of baptism, those sins are then washed away, never to be seen again, like the goat in the wilderness! Then, when God brings the Feast of Pentecost to our hearts, we will really experience what it means to have atonement...a time, truly, of AT-ONE-MENT with God!
Getting back to the dilemma: When I was in my teens, a student in Hebrew school, an preparing for my confirmation, I was then able to fast and take part of the Yom Kippur service. This meant spending hours repenting for any little thing I could interpret as unkind, evil, displeasing, etc...that there not be a hint of possibility there could be any sin found in my life. I would beat upon my chest to portry anguish, and then leave for a few hours, to return later and start the same process again. We talked in hush voices, and above all, dared not to smile so that God, and man would be impressed with our piousness. We were doing what we had been taught to do to respect God and His instructions, as limited as we were in our knowledge...we didn't realize we only had half a book! Even after all that time in the synagogue, when the shofar blew that long somber one note that bellowed through the sanctuary, we walked out without ever having any assurance that we had been forgiven! We just hoped we had been, and that we were starting the New Year with a clean slate, the old sins having been covered. But in reality, there was nothing to cover it with!
When I was a kid in NY, I watched some Chassidic Jews participating in a type of blood atonement service. The Rabbis had already made changes in the observance of the Biblical Yom Kippur, because there was no Temple anymore...and they substituted the sacrificial blood with good deeds, acts of kindness, endless readings and prayers. They developed new ways of replacing the blood, but the scripture still stands firm..."...it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul!" Changing what the Scripture taught to fit their need was already prophesied in Isaiah 29:13: "Wherefore the LORD said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips so honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by precepts of men". Because it is innate within a man's heart to worship, these Chassidics were having their own atonement service using a chicken, in a ceremony called Kapparah. They would take a chicken, and swing it over their head 3 times as they recited a Hebrew prayer of repentence. Immediately after the third swing, they would bring it down and slit its throat, spilling its blood on the ground and draining all of it. That was their way of substituting the blood of lambs and bulls and goats, and at the same time, rejecting the blood of Jesus. Then they would give the chicken to the poor or needy, appeasing their need to do a "mitzvah" (good deed). It was a way of working out their salvation; but Salvation cannot be the works of man..."Salvation is of the LORD"..it is done by faith...faith in the shed blood of Jesus, Ha'Messiah! Not chickens; not "Kapparah", but Calvary!!
After the service, we hugged and shook hands, and said to one another, "Happy New Year"...May your name be written down in the Book of Life," but nobody really had any assurance, not since the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. With it, was destroyed the genealogies, so we don't even know who the Priests would be today even if the 3rd Temple were to be built. Who would offer the sacrifice? Where is the sacred ark to put the blood on? God, who knows the end from the beginning, allowed Titus to destroy that Temple, because THAT sacrificial system was over and done with...there was no longer any need for it, for when Jesus died on Calvary, we were sanctified through the offering of His body and blood once..and for all, Jews and Gentiles alike. Jesus said it Himself from the cross..."it is finished", and now, we can have atonement with God through Jesus...no longer the blood of bulls and goats! We can KNOW we are forgiven when He seals us with the baptism of the Holy Ghost and gives us the evidence of speaking in tongues..no more "hoping"..no more guess work. We can know that our names are written down in the Lamb's Book of Life!
In 2006 (?), the Jewish New Year was celebrated in October. It was the beginning of the Jewish year 5767. I clipped an article from the paper just to show you what a departure contemporary Judaism is from its origin in the Tenach. The article described how contemporary Jews observe Yom Kippur by throwing crumbs of bread into a stream of water, to symbolize casting sins into water for regeneration and cleansing. Is that what Salvation is all about...tossing "pieces of bread into running water?" A poor substitute for a man that hung on a cross, brutalized and beaten, pouring out His life fluid to cover humanity's sin. He did it God's way...how can you compare a few crumbs of bread to the sacrificed life of He who was the Bread of Life?? Man's precepts, not God's word!
This "Day of Atonement" points to end time judgment, when we stand before the Lord. To those of us that have put our trust in the precious blood of Jesus to remit our sins, there will be no judgment. For those who have tried to work out their salvation in any other way, they will have to answer to God Almighty for rejecting all the love and mercy He offered at Calvary, and be prepared to be cast into outer darkness and gnashing of teeth.
Yom Kippur is the 6th Feast of Israel. The number 6 deals with the imperfections and carnality of man. 7 deals with that which is perfect and complete, but 6 never quite comes up to that standard..numerically speaking, a 6, (no matter what enth degree one takes it to), will always fall short of the perfection of 7. Man, in his most powerful state, will only be a 6, and always be less than perfect! This Day of Atonement speaks of the imperfection and sin nature in man that will come before the Lord to be judged. The only way he can be spared from judgment is to repent and make atonement. It is a day, yet to be fulfilled in prophecy, but spoken of in Zechariah. A time when the Jews, as a nation, will repent and mourn when they finally realize it was God they rejected, and not another falsely proclaimed Messiah. They had been visited by over 50 false Messiahs, and were skeptical to receive another. Had they just known the Old Testament, they would have recognized Him by how He fulfilled all scripture. He told them the prophets spoke of His coming, but their eyes were blinded by their lust and drive for power...they had no interest in the Spiritual proof. In Zechariah 12:10, the Lord says "and I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced"...how will they see the Lord, unless He appear in the body of Jesus? "and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day, there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem.." There will be no priest to make atonement for the nation of Israel as they had in the past, but there will come a day, yet in the future, when Israel will know God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself. Then they will repent and seek Him for atonement and bring the prophecy to pass.