Gods Holy Day Plan
The Promise of hope for all mankind
Atonement: Removal of Sin’s Cause and Reconciliation
The modern application of this festival
Now notice specific instructions on when and how we are to keep this festival. “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement,” God says. “It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls . . .” (Leviticus:23:27).
How do you “afflict your soul” on this day? Afflict comes from the Hebrew anah, which means “to be afflicted, be bowed down, be humbled, be meek” ( Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, “To Be Humbled, Afflicted”). The same word is used in connection with fasting in Psalm:35:13, Isaiah:58:3, 5 and Ezra:8:21. Fasting means abstaining from food and drink (Esther:4:16).
So why does God tell us to fast during this specific 24 hours? Fasting expresses our humble desire to draw closer to God. The Day of Atonement represents a coming time of reconciliation during which, with Satan banished and the world having been devastated by the horrific events leading up to this time, a humbled and repentant humanity will at last be reconciled to God.
Few understand the proper reasons for fasting. Fasting is not to bend God to our will. We don’t fast to receive anything from God except His abundant mercy and forgiveness for our human weaknesses. Fasting helps us remember how temporary our physical existence is. Without food and water, we would soon perish. Fasting helps us realize just how much we need God as the giver and sustainer of life.
We should always fast on the Day of Atonement in a repentant frame of mind. Notice the prophet Daniel’s exemplary attitude while fasting: “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession” (Daniel:9:3-4).
The early Church observed the Day of Atonement. More than 30 years after Christ’s death, Luke still referred to the time and seasons by mentioning this day, stating that “sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over” (Acts:27:9). Almost all Bible commentaries and dictionaries acknowledge that “the Fast” refers to the Day of Atonement.
Yet another important lesson comes to us through the Day of Atonement. We have already seen that the slain goat represented the sacrifice in our place of Yahushua Mashiach, who took on Himself the death penalty we have earned by sinning. But Yahushua Mashiach did not stay dead; He came back to life. What does the Day of Atonement teach us about Christ’s role after His resurrection?
Leviticus:16:15-19 describes a solemn ceremony that was carried out only once each year, on the Day of Atonement. The high priest was to take the blood of the slain goat into the Most Holy Place—the holiest part of the tabernacle—and to the mercy seat. The mercy seat was symbolic of the very throne of Almighty God. The high priest acted out the function Christ performs for repentant Christians. Having ascended to the very throne of God to present the blood of His sacrifice, Christ intercedes for us—as He has since His resurrection— as our High Priest.
The book of Hebrews makes this symbolism clear. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this [physical] creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews:9:11-12).
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we enjoy direct access to the true mercy seat —the throne of our merciful, loving God. This was dramatically and miraculously demonstrated at the moment of Christ’s death, when “the veil of the temple,” covering the entrance to the Most Holy Place, “was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew:27:51; Mark:15:38). This massive curtain was torn asunder in a dramatic testimony to the access we now have to God’s throne.
Many verses in Hebrews mention Christ’s role as our High Priest and intercessor. Because of His sacrifice for us, we can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews:4:16). The Day of Atonement thus pictures the loving reconciliation all people can have with God through Christ’s sacrifice. It also shows the remarkable truth that Satan, the author of sin, will eventually be removed so that humanity can at last attain reconciliation with God on a universal basis.
The Day of Atonement serves as a vital preparatory step in anticipation of the next milestone in God’s glorious Holy Day plan, beautifully depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles.
Atonement begins at eve…today..with a fast.