The ancient practice of Israel regarding the Day of Atonement (Yom haKippurim) is rooted in the depths of the Torah.
Leviticus 16:29-31 – “This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before Yahweh. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.”
Yom Kippur differs from Passover (Pesach) in that Pesach represents God redeeming his first born people from out of slavery, while Yom Kippur was meant to cleanse and purify sin from the nation. The redemption accomplished at Pesach set the people free from their forced obligation to unwillingly serve the harsh taskmasters of Egypt. God “paid the price” as it were so their indebtedness to slavery was removed and those who sought to drag them back to slavery were wiped out in the Red Sea. But at Yom Kippur, any collective sin that may have been unaccounted for throughout the year was removed from them through the symbolic act of a representative goat that was sacrificed and of a second live goat bearing their sin into the wilderness. As these acts were concluded, the people were to consider themselves cleansed and pure for service to God once again.
Both of these holidays on the biblical calendar balance each other out. One must be delivered from oppression in order to act freely. Yet, with that freedom comes the ability to act rebelliously, wherein a secondary cleansing process is provided to remove that potential sin from the community. In this way, there is no excuse before God as to why an individual might act in defiance to God’s word. He has provided the redemption price from unwilling servitude to sin (represented by Egypt/Pharaoh) and he has also provided the means of ongoing cleansing from inadvertent rebellious acts (due to freedom) through the dual goats at Yom Kippur. Both of these days represent the symbolic work of Messiah Yeshua for the nation of Israel and any who would also place their faith in him. Yeshua became the symbolic ransom of Pesach and also the ongoing cleansing of sin symbolized in the goat ceremony at Yom Kippur.
- Mark 10:45 – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
- 1 Timothy 2:5-6 – For there is one God, [and] one mediator also between God and men, [the] man Messiah Yeshua, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [given] at the proper time.
- Hebrews 9:24-26 – For Messiah did not enter a sanctuary made with hands (only a model of the true one) but into heaven itself, so that he might now appear in the presence of God for us. He did not do this to offer himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another. Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself.
- Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
On the day of atonement, one goat was sacrificed, while another had the sins of the nation pronounced upon it and was sent alive out into the wilderness to remove sin from the community. This duality was fulfilled in the imagery provided by not only the death of Messiah as the King of Israel, but also his resurrection to the right hand of the Father as the first-born son of God.
To the common believer in ancient Israel, it required trust in God to know that they were not only ransomed from involuntary solitude at Pesach, but also that their sins were removed from them at Yom Kippur. The work of God among his people has always been by faith.
Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Messiah’s sacrificial obedience to the Father not only fulfilled these foreshadowing biblical types, but also demonstrated a life that was yielded 100% by faith to the purpose of God and his kingdom coming to this earth. Our faith in observing these days represents our commitment to God and our faith in him. Setting these days aside to reflect on the marvelous provision of God for his people is representative of our love for him.
Of course, there are no longer any actual animal sacrifices that can be (or should be performed). However, what remains is the potential for our own sacrificial obedience to his word. Observing biblical sabbaths revealed in God’s word is an act of faith, just as it was for the ancient Israelites. It should not be a matter of obligation or duty, but a desire from the heart to recount his faithfulness in these past events and to memorialize these events for our families and future generations within the ever-growing kingdom of God.
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