Yom Kippur: Confidence before God under Messiah’s covering

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19–20 NASB)

Some teach that the Day of Atonement (יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים Yom haKippurim, “Day of Coverings”) is a day when the people of God plead their case that their good will outweigh their bad on Heaven’s scale. Rather, God’s word teaches that we can have sober, humble, repentant confidence in what God’s Mashiakh (Christ) has done to cover and remove ours mistakes, disobedience and treason.

One of the key themes of the Bible book of Leviticus is the Tabernacle as Heaven’s way to bring those “far off” from God’s presence near by the spilled life of the substitute, the sin offering. This also is the key theme of the book of Hebrews, but it takes the message further in showing Who always has been doing the real work of reconciliation, with and without an earthly Tabernacle or Temple.

Key lessons of Yom haKippurim

  1. The Creator of the heavens and Earth wants to dwell with us — to be “at one” with us again after the gulf of separation started widening with rebellion in Eden.
  2. The LORD started bridging the gulf with Abraham and others who would trust God enough to learn and live His ways, rather than the ways of the world without God.
  3. Israel’s Sanctuary and the work of the high priest on the Day of Atonement show how Heaven bridges the chasm. God commissioned the tabernacle to bridge the gap between Himself and mankind.
  4. You can be humbly confident (that is not an oxymoron) in Heaven’s covering of your sins, transgressions and iniquities and in removing them from Heaven’s memory because of the work of the greatest offering and high priest, Yeshua the Anointed One. Because of this, you become a “new creation” in God’s eyes.
  5. This day is an anniversary:
    1. Of Yeshua’s work of covering sins, transgressions and iniquities for all who trust that the LORD does it that way.
    2. Of Yeshua’s work in removing these stains from our lifestyle and Heaven’s record.

Overview of the Feasts of the LORD

  • Weekly: Shabbat (Sabbath)
  • Monthly: Rosh Chodesh (New Moon)
  • Spring
    • Lamb Selection Day (10th day of Israel’s first month, roughly late March or early April)
    • Pesakh (Passover; starting at the end of the 14th day of the first month, roughly 3 p.m.)
    • Matsot (Unleavened Bread; 15th day of the first month through the 21st day)
    • Bikkurim (Firstfruits)
    • Shavu’ot (Pentecost; 50th day from Bikkurim)
  • Fall
    • Yom Teruah (Day of Blowing [Trumpets], 1st day of the seventh month, roughly in September or October)
    • Yom Kippurim (Day of Coverings/Atonement; 10th day of the seventh month)
    • Sukkot (Tabernacles/Booths; 15th day of the seventh month to the 21st day)
    • Shmeni Atzeret (Convocation of the Eighth Day; 22nd day of the seventh month)
  • Every seven years: Shabbat for the land (Shemitah)
  • Every 50th year: Yobli (Jubilee)

The fall and spring feasts of the LORD are mirrors of each other. Look, for example, at the 10th day of the first month was the day to select the Passover lamb, and the 10th day of the seventh month is Yom Kippur. It’s not coincidence that they happen on the 10th day of those months. On lamb selection day, the lamb was chosen that would block the wrath of God (Destroyer) during the 10th plague before the Exodus from Mitsraim (Egypt). Yeshua likely entered Yershalayim (Jerusalem) on the 10th day of the first month, sealing his selection as the ultimate lamb of Pesakh, freeing us from bondage to sin.

This is but one example of how the fall feasts are not just for the future but also for today.

What is Yom haKippurim?

Original meaning of Yom Kippur refers to the annual ceremony for covering and removing sins, transgressions and iniquities from the congregation of Israel.

We learn how to enter the LORD’s presence on His terms.

  • Aharon’s sons offered “foreign fire” on the altar (Lev. 10:1–2; cp. Num 3:4; 26:61).
  • God told Aharon not come at just any time into the Most Holy Place — inside the veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, where the Ark of the Testimony is (Lev. 16:1).

“The LORD said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aharon that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.’” (Leviticus 16:2 NASB)

“And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so he did.” (Leviticus 16:34 NASB)

How the high priest goes through the veil into God’s presence (Leviticus 16):

  • Once a year.
  • No one else is in the Sanctuary with the High Priest.
  • He makes an offering for himself and his household: With a sin offering (bull) and a burnt offering (ram).
  • The High Priest puts on special linen clothing after bathing himself. Once his job is done, he leaves these clothes in the Holy Place afterward.
  • He also makes an offering for the congregation: Sin offering (two male goats) and a burnt offering (bull).
  • The High Priest shrouds the Ark with a cloud of incense as he sprinkles blood of his sin offering and the congregation’s.

Lessons from the goats

Offer for the congregation: Sin offering (two male goats)

The goat that draws the lot for azazel is NOT a representation of haSatan. Both of the goats are to be perfect and unblemished. They are selected by lot for these tasks.

Goat for YHWH
  • Killed. Its blood is sprinkled inside the veil the east and west sides mercy seat, a massive golden cover on the Ark of the Covenant (Testimony).
  • Blood of the sin offering goat was also used, along with the bull, to cover everything in the outer Tabernacle.
Goat for Azaz’el
  • Azaz’el means either “separation” or “El [power] of the wilderness.”
  • High priest lays hands on it, confessing iniquities, transgressions and sins of the congregation.
  • Taken outside the camp and released.
  • The one who led it away also has to wash.

What is covered by the sin offering?

  • חַטָּאת chatta’t (H2403b): sin (“missing the mark” or unintentional mistakes).
  • פֶּשַׁע pesha’ (H6588): transgression (willful disobedience).
  • עָווֹן ’awon (H5771): iniquity (rebellion against God).

While the High Priest is in the tabernacle, the people have a role to play as well. What the congregation is doing during this ceremony?

  • It is a שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן shabbat shabbaton (Strong’s H7676 + H7677): complete rest, special rest.
  • They are to “humble your souls”(Lev. 16:29; 23:27; Num. 29:7)
  • humble = עָנָה anah (H6031a): to be crouched, hunched up, wretched, suffering
  • A root verb with the same spelling (ענה), which is a homonym, also means to reply, answer.

What does it mean to “humble yourselves”?

In recent days, social media has lit up with this question.

  • “Afflicting the soul” has long been understood to mean fasting (cf. Ezra 8:21; Isa. 58:3, 5; Dan. 10:12).
  • While Jews in the first century A.D. already had customary annual and weekly fast days, there was one particular day known as “the Fast” — Yom haKippurim.
    • Apostle Paul referred to “the Fast” as being just before the winter storm season (Acts 27:9).

Other lessons from Kippurim

There are other lessons to consider today as well.

Important message

One of those is about the shofar. It has a mournful, howling sound. We have to ask ourselves why it’s important to hear that sound. Based on our study of shofars’ and trumpets’ being symbols for the voice of God and of God’s prophets and teachers, the command to blow a shofar on the Yom haKippurim (Lev. 25:9) suggests there is an important message to hear on that day.

Mastery over ‘the flesh’

The fast of Yom haKippurim is more than just denying “natural” urges, it’s about the natural urges God wants to purge out of His people (Isa. 58:5–7). Fasting helps one focus and reflect upon who is actually in charge of one’s life.

Turning back to God starts on the inside before it comes out. The fruits of the spirit work from the inside out. If it’s only on the outside for others to see or to deceive ourselves, nothing has really changed. All it would take is a little adversity or inconvenience for the unrestored person to pop back out.

Pesakh and Yom haKippurim

Another highpoint of Yom Kippur to consider is that Yeshua is the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” Prophet Yochanan described Yeshua in blended language of Pesach and Yom haKippurim (John 1:28–29).

  • “Lamb of God” = Pesakh (Passover) lamb.
    • The blood of the Pesakh blocked the wrath of God upon Mitsraim (Egypt) from harming those inside a home with the blood at the door.
  • Takes away the sins of the world” = Goat for Azazel, the scapegoat.
    • The goat was banished from the congregation with all the sins, transgressions and iniquities of the assembly.
    • Yeshua was crucified outside of the walls of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).

That is when “It was finished.” What was finished? The battle against the sins that spoke against us. The “certificate of ordinances that stood against us,” which were our sins were taken away. God will block our past and keep it from catching up with us. Yeshua doesn’t have to get on a cross every year to atone for us. It was done once and it’s a unique event in history.

Yeshua is the always-on-duty high priest (Heb. 4:14–10:18)

A big hint about reading the letter of Hebrews is that the entire book is about the High Priest and what it would mean to be without a Temple and the High Priest.

Hebrews 1–2: Yeshua is Heaven’s ultimate prophet and “ministering spirit”

“because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9 NASB)

“… since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14–15 NASB)

Of all the messengers God sent, Yeshua is the best messenger with the most complete message. Just as the testimony of the true prophets and spirit messengers was trustworthy, so too, the testimony of Yeshua, the Son of God.

The ancient martyrs had no fear of death. They didn’t care who destroyed the body because they had already entrusted their souls to God. One of the things about entering God’s rest is that we know where we belong.

Hebrews 3–4:13: Yeshua is Heaven’s ultimate deliverer of ultimate “rest”

“consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1 NASB)

Some read about the “Sabbath-rest” in Hebrews 4 and conclude that the teaching is that the remembrance of the seventh-day rest, the Sabbath, has been transferred to the Messiah, Yeshua. Yet the context of the passage and the quotations in it relating to a pivotal event in the Torah point to the fuller meaning of personal peace and real “rest” that God provides.

Massah and Meribah: Reflected upon in Psalm 95:7-11
  • History: Ex. 17:1–7
  • Meribah means “place of strife.”
  • Massah means “place of testing.”
  • The key part of the account is the question on the minds of the contentious, “Is God with us or not?” (Ex. 17:7).

What happens without a physical temple, a high priest, daily sacrifices, etc.? That question, “Is the Lord with us or not?” pops up over and over again. How will we respond to this question in our time?

God wanted them to simply stand by and watch him do His miraculous work. Instead of living in faith, they grumbled, complained and conspired to usurp their appointed leadership and return to Egypt. We don’t have to wonder if God is with us because He gave us Emanuel, God with us.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NAS95)

Hebrews 4:14–5:10: Yeshua the ultimate high priest

Yeshua is compared with Aharon and Melchizedek were. Even when there was no temple, there was still a priest dedicated to God. That was true for both Melchizedek and Messiah Yeshua.

Hebrews 7: Yeshua is Heaven’s High Priest, not connected to Aharon’s line

Just as Melchizedek in Abraham’s time had enduring attributes of high priest and king of righteousness and of peace, how much more did Yeshua as the Son of God and the Messiah carry on that enduring priest-king legacy.

The teaching is that Melchizedek is a pattern — “shadow” — of the coming Messiah, as hinted in the Messianic prophecy of Psa. 110:4, quoted in Heb. 7:17.

If Mechizedek was a king — ruler — of peace and righteousness, how much more was Yeshua?

A key to the understanding of Hebrews 7–10 is Heb. 7:11–12:

“Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aharon? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.” (Hebrews 7:11–13 NASB)

  • perfection = τελείωσις teleiōsis (G5050), to bring to a close, to finish, to end. A good definition is “the condition in which men are acceptable to God.”
Would the rebuilt temple with sacrifices restarted take away from the death and resurrection of Yeshua?

The lesson of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, with commentary from the prophets, is the sanctuary, temple and High Priest were not the source of the real work of restoration of mankind to God. Rather, it was the faith of the people in their work is what affected real repentance, real sanctification and real justification. It doesn’t mean the temple was meaningless by any means.

The sanctuary is a copy to show us on earth what the Lord is doing in Heaven, to teach us what Messiah does for us.

The goal of the Tabernacle and Temple was to bring people close to God (1Samuel 8). God established the priesthood through Aharon’s descendants to bring the offerings of the people to God continually to cover — atone for — sins, transgressions and iniquity, to express gratefulness to God and signify the reaching of a level of shalom with God.

The human priesthood was incomplete because it couldn’t fully bridge the gap between mankind and God.

Sacrifices and baptism do nothing if our hearts aren’t in the process.

And the Law was only intended to point out when people veer away from God’s ways, not to make mankind acceptable to God (Rom. 3:19–20).

Better than the Aharonic high priest, Yeshua doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for Himself. He has no sin to be covered. Rather, Yeshua covers sin, transgression and iniquity of the people of God (Heb. 7:26–28).

The ark of the covenant, and the temple that guarded it, had meaning because God gave them meaning. Our sins, transgressions and iniquities are messy, and we should be repulsed by them. Our hearts should be torn as we think of an innocent dying for our sins.

Hebrews 8: Despite another ‘abomination of desolation,’ Messiah keeps the high priest role going

The point is that Yeshua as the ultimate high priest of God not only dwells in the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) of original Tabernacle, the throne room of God, but sits at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:3–4). All of the Torah speaks about Yeshua.

In remembering Yom haKippurim, we see Yeshua as the High Priest, the goat that was slain and the goat that was cast away.

Hebrews 9–10: Yeshua the ultimate atonement, carrying away our past

These two chapters reassure us that the evidence against us is gone, thanks to the continual, superior priesthood and one-time offering of the Son of God.

If we forget that Yom haKippurim is all about the work of the High Priest and not of the congregant leaves one with the impossible, “terrifying” task of being his own sin sacrifice (Heb. 10:26–27).

If one struggles with sin, is that the “sinning willfully” for which there is no forgiveness? No. The “sinning willfully” of Heb. 10:26 is part of a warning against “forsaking our own assembling together” (Heb. 10:25), “trampl[ing] under foot the Son of God, and [regarding] as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” (Heb. 10:29) and “of shrinking back” from trust in God (Heb. 10:39, after quoting Hab. 2:3–4).

The point of the Hebrews letter is that if you reject Yeshua, there is no other offering God can accept for your sins. God eventually will wipe away all sorrow, fear, pain and death (Isa. 25:8; Rev. 21:3–5). God will remember our treason and remember it no more, because of Yeshua and Yeshua alone, when sin and death are thrown into the lake of fire.

Banner Image: When Yeshua died, the veil separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom. Thanks to Yeshua, the separation between God and man has been bridged by Yeshua Himself. Photo by www.LumoProject.com via FreeBibleimages.org. 

Summary: Tammy

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