The Day of Atonement

The Day of Atonement

Home Church Service 9/11/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord. “You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. “As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. “You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. “It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”                                          (Leviticus 23:26-32 NASB)

Last week we began a short series on the Fall Feasts – the last three of the seven Holy Days of God. The Feast of Trumpets began this month of Tishrei – the month of the Fall Feasts and the seventh month on the Jewish calendar. The Feast of Trumpets marks the Jewish New Year but most importantly it is a call to repentance and forgiveness. This feast is also to be a reminder to both Israel and to God. For Israel it is a reminder of the covenant and the need of forgiveness; while it is a reminder to God of His covenant promises.

Today we look at the second of three feasts in the month of Tishrei – The Day of Atonement. This is a day that all of Israel takes part in, each person seeking forgiveness from friends, family and neighbors for past wrongs. The Day of Atonement is a day of repentance, cleansing and remembering, it is a future event which we, Christ followers, eagerly await and anticipate at the conclusion of the current age.

The Day of Atonement has been established by God as a holy convocation to humble the soul and present an offering by fire to the Lord. The one who is not humble will be cut off from the people while the one who works will be destroyed from among the people. This is to be a sabbath day of complete rest to humble the soul.

The Day of Atonement is set apart to God as a day of rest, in humility, as a sacrifice to God. We face the consequences for not humbling ourselves or working on this set apart day. It is to be a day of total rest in humility before the One whose image we bear.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “As a Christ follower, what is the purpose of The Day of Atonement?”

The Day of Atonement is one of seven holy days established by God to reveal His plan of salvation to all generations.

1). The Day of Atonement is a holy day to humble the soul before the Lord our God.

This is to be a holy day of complete rest with an offering by fire for atonement.

Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, is considered to be the most solemn day of the year on the Jewish calendar. Even those Jews who do not attend synagogue on any other occasion still attend Rosh Hashanah and especially Yom Kippur services. Even though these Jews do not believe in God – or sin for that matter – they still spend Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement – praying to a God they do not believe in for forgiveness of sin they do not believe they have. Sound familiar?

The Focus on The Day of Atonement is twofold – repentance and forgiveness. Animals were sacrificed throughout the year – this allowed repentant Israelites to receive forgiveness of sin. But, on Yom Kippur, something different happened, it was not the usual sacrifice for individual sin. No, on this day the sins of the entire nation of Israel were forgiven in a single sacrifice – the scapegoat! We first read about this day and the rituals in Leviticus 16. The first thing that strikes us is the fact that the sacrifice and these rituals must be performed by the high priest.

The high priest was to bathe and put on fresh linen garments specifically made for this day. He then offered a bull as a sacrifice for himself and his own sins. Next the high priest took incense and entered into the Holy of Holies, the inner most room of the Temple. The high priest alone was allowed to enter into this room and then, only once a year. The incense are used to create a “smoke screen” to obscure the view of the mercy seat which covers the Ark of the Covenant. This prevented the high priest from looking upon God who was too holy to be seen. The blood of the bull was then sprinkled on the mercy seat and in front of the ark to atone for the high priest and the entire priesthood.

Two goats were also chosen – these by casting lots. The first goat is given to the Lord in sacrifice. The second goat, however, became the scape goat. This goat had one purpose – to be driven into the wilderness carrying the sins of the nation of Israel on its back. Just as the first goat was killed as a representative of the nation, so too would the second goat carry the sins as a representative of the nation. The high priest would lay both hands on the head of the goat and confess aloud the sins of the nation, transferring them to the goat. The words of the high priest became like a written contract, releasing Israel from its guilt.

Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement – required action from both the high priest and the people. The high priest was to make sacrifices for himself, the entire priesthood and the nation of Israel as a whole. The people were to humble their souls – practice denying self and refrain from work. Thus, all Israelites, the entire nation, had to do their part during this collective Feast – The Day of Atonement. Each person throughout the nation would seek to make amends with friends, family and neighbors to enter The Day of Atonement in a spirit of reconciliation and atonement for past wrongs.

It is clear from the biblical text that God wanted two goats chosen on Yom Kippur. One goat as a sacrifice to Himself and one goat as the vehicle for which the sins of the nation were to be carried away. Why? So that the people would be clean before God. During Yom Kippur it is clear what God wants – He wants His people to be clean – cleansed from their sins – and He wants them to be near Him. From this we can learn that sin is not welcome in the presence of God – but sinners are, we can also learn that impurity cannot dwell with God – but the impure can.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How do you create a “smoke screen” so you cannot see God or be seen by God?

How often do you use or find excuses as your scape goat for sin? Or to bend the commandments of God?

How do you practice humbling your soul – practice denying self?

Reflection only: Do you sense God calling to you to repentance that you might receive forgiveness?

The Day of Atonement is one of seven holy days established by God to reveal His plan of salvation to all generations.

2). The Day of Atonement is a set apart time to be at one with the Lord our God.

This is to be a time of peace and rest to be at one with the Lord God.

There is only one way a person can be at peace and find themselves at one with God today – the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Yom Kippur is The Day of Atonement, the root word comes from the Hebrew kapher, meaning to cover. In Hebrew, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant was called the kapporeth – the covering. Yom Kippur is the day of covering. The sacrificial blood on the altar of our repentant hearts covers our sins and averts God’s righteous wrath and judgment. Likewise, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. So, for the Christ follower today, Jesus covers and carries away our sin.

Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, has a biblical and a holy calendar to marks seasons and certain appointed times by which we are to meet with Him. These are biblically appointed times God the Father has given to be a great blessing to His children. As we are given knowledge of these appointed times, we gain understanding and further illumination into His plan of eternal salvation through His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. All of these feasts, from beginning to end, are a kind of “road map” for our spiritual journey in Christ Jesus.

This is the time for the Feasts of the seventh month, Tishrei, on the biblical calendar. The Day of Atonement is the Feast in which we “behold the Lamb of God” and uphold the blood that has covered and taken away our sins. This is the covering of our repentant hearts for eternal salvation. As these days speed closer to the conclusion of this age, the Holy Spirit is sounding an alarm – a call to repentance and holiness found only in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is sounding the alarm of judgment on all unrepentant sin and sinners – those who continue to live a lifestyle of sin, making themselves enemies of God Almighty. Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying?

We are in the midst of the ten days of awe, a time that calls for sober minds and hearts humbled with reverent fear of the Holy One – thus preparing the hearts of His people for true repentance; prepared to receive the graciously given sacrificial Lamb and to receive the shed blood that covers the altar of our repentant hearts. Jesus came as the “once for all” sacrifice (Hebrews 10:10). He alone has taken our sins upon Himself; He was crucified on Calvary, the Place of the Skull, so that sin would no longer keep us separated from Him and His soon coming eternal kingdom. This is God’s provision for those who behold the Lamb of God and uphold His shed blood – blood that covers and takes away our sin.

There is one other aspect of this day we must be aware of, and it is directly tied to the return of Christ. In Leviticus 16 we learn that the high priest is to choose two goats – one to be sacrificed to God and the other to become the scape goat. The scape goat was to be driven into the wilderness, carrying on its back, symbolically, the sins of the nation of Israel. Here is where it gets interesting for us, Christ followers today. The Hebrew word used for scape goat is Azazel – a term that is often used for adversary – more commonly known as Satan or the devil. Azazel was to be driven far away where he could no longer deceive God’s people.

In Revelation 20 we read of the capture and sealing of Satan the devil. An angel comes down from heaven with the keys to the abyss and a great chain. Satan is bound and locked into the abyss until the thousand years are completed – here he cannot deceive the nations, the people – until he is released for a short time at the end of the thousand years. Here we have a complete picture of The Day of Atonement for the Christ follower. Jesus is the first goat sacrificed to God – covering the hearts of the repentant. The second goat is, of course, Satan, the one driven away to deceive God’s people no more. This is the future event we long for when Christ returns as the King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the day our sins are removed forever, and we find peace to be at one with God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Have you experienced Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away your sin?

Do you have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying?

How have you experienced the blood of Christ covering and taking away your sin?

How do you sense peace and being “at one” with God?

The Day of Atonement is one of seven holy days established by God to reveal His plan of salvation to all generations.

We have already examined The Feast of Trumpets – a call to celebrate a New Year but also a call to repentance. It is a reminder to both Israel and God of the covenant and responsibilities to each other.

Today we have looked at The Day of Atonement – a day to repent, to be cleansed and to remember the Lamb and uphold the blood that covers our sin. A day that in the future will be the day the enemy is bound and will no longer deceive God’s people.

How do we move forward as Christ followers? There are several steps we can make and continue to make throughout our spiritual journey. First, repent of your sin. It does not matter how small or insignificant you think it might be – repent. The idea here is not to be self-condemning but rather acknowledging your limitations as a human being. If we ignore sin, we allow the enemy a foothold into our lives. This foothold only serves to allow him access to all areas of our lives. We resist the devil when we repent and turn from temptation meant to cause us to commit sin.

Second, present yourself clean before God. We just discussed the first step in presenting yourself cleansed before God – repentance. We add to repentance humbling our soul – the practice of denying self. Denying self is not the same as self-denial. For most people self-denial involves taking away something you really enjoy as a form of punishment. Say, taking away pizza as a means to lose weight. Or not allowing yourself to enjoy the company of family or friends as a punishment for staying out too late the last time you met them. Denying self has to do with self-discipline and controlling your will – the desires and cravings of the flesh. It might be practicing the self-discipline when it comes to how much pizza you eat or how late you stay out at night with friends and family. The point is you control the will of the flesh not the other way around, it is not to simply inflict punishment.

Remember – sin is not welcome in the presence of God – but sinners are, likewise impurity cannot dwell with God – but the impure can. We present ourselves clean before God by being found in Christ Jesus. Thus, we repent and humble our souls and stand in the righteousness of Christ that we can draw close to God, and He will draw close to us.

Thirdly, remember the Lamb and to uphold the blood. Jesus Christ came as “the Lamb of God” to remove your sins, to carry them away that we might have access to God the Father, no longer separated from Him and His blessings. Upholding the blood makes it easier for us to repent. Satan always accuses you of not being good enough because of your sin – and he is right! But we have the blood of the Lamb covering our sin – so agree with our enemy and then quickly uphold the blood shed to cover that sin!! Just as the devil accuses us before God night and day, so too does Jesus stand before God acting as the covering for your sin. Uphold the blood that covers your sin!

Finally, check your “road map.” Years of church tradition do not just simply go away. It takes time to break old habits and instill new habits. Take time to read through the passages that relate to the seven feasts – the Holy Days of God – to be reminded that these appointed times have been given to the children of God that they might be a great blessing. These days are meant to be a reminder of where you are in your spiritual journey. Some celebrate the victories that have already been won – enjoy them! Stand in the victory of Christ. Others are still future events. Enjoy these reminders of your glorious future in Christ. Take time to check your road map. Make certain you are where you are supposed to be.

Remember – this feast is only partially fulfilled – Jesus has covered your sin, allowing you to have access to God the Father. In the future Azazel, Satan, the devil will be bound, removed, no longer to deceive God’s people.

We do all things to the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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