Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. The holiest day of the year. What is atonement?
Dictionary.com defines atonement as: A satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.
Making amends. A substitute to pay for a wrong.
When it comes to our lives, we recognize our own sins against God and against one another.
The Bible says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV). Our sin separates us from God, unable to dwell in His presence.
In ancient Israel, a veil separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The Holy of Holies was where the presence of God dwelt and only the High Priest could enter in.
During Yom Kippur, this priest went to intercede on behalf of the sins of the people for the nation of Israel. Before he could intercede for the people, he had to atone for his own sins first.
This ritual commanded by God included wearing a simple white linen, as opposed to the more ornate dress worn throughout the year. This was not only a symbol of purity, but a sign of humility to come before the presence of God. It also reminds us of the promise that our sins shall be made as white as snow (Is. 1:18). Two goats without defect were chosen as a sin offering: one as a “scape goat,” to be cast out into the wilderness and the other to be slaughtered as a sacrifice. The priest would cover the Ark with the blood of the sacrifice inside the Holy of Holies, symbolizing that atonement had been made; the goat was a substitute for the penalty of sin. All of this was a perfect picture of the things that were to come.
Though significant and necessary, this ritual had to be done every year on Yom Kippur, to remind the people of their sin and their need for God. But in itself, this sacrifice could never take away sins. The true sacrifice came in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Just as the priest sacrificed a goat for the atonement of God’s people, the Messiah Yeshua became our eternal sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins of the world. He became our High Priest, entering the Holy of Holies, tearing down the veil that separated us from His presence.
“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Messiah had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…”
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: ‘I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,’
then he adds,
‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
- Hebrews 10: 11-12, 16-18
Today, as we approach this Day of Atonement, let us draw near to God, “in full assurance of faith,” (Heb. 10:22) holding fast to him in confidence. In light of this, His atoning, eternal sacrifice, let us not take lightly the call of God, as believers, as His children. We must “hold fast this confession of our faith,” (Heb 10:23) walking in the ways He has called us.