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Yom Kippur 2018
“So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place,
because of the uncleanness of the children of
Israel, and because of their transgressions, for
all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabern-
acle of meeting which remains among them in
the midst of their uncleanness.”
“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost
those who come to God through Him, since He
always lives to make intercession for them. For
such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and
has become higher than the heavens…”
Yom Kippur is the Great Day of Atonement. It is an awesome day in which nothing moves, cities and their commerce come to a complete standstill in Israel and even the roads, just the day before congested and given to gridlock, are empty. It’s as if all of creation is holding its breath since this is the Day when sinners, living under the wrath of God, can be freed from it. It requires introspection, fasting and prayer and the courage to acknowledge one’s sins and cast one’s self upon the grace of God. Only God’s unmerited favor can save us from His anger and a lost eternity.
In days of old the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies on this day and there before the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant he would present the blood of the Lord’s Goat. Around his one foot a rope was tied in case He was struck down dead and thus he could be pulled out by it. On the fringe of his High Priestly Garments were little bells, which, when the power and glory of God came down upon the High Priest, would tinkle together as a sign that God had accepted the atoning sacrifice made on behalf of His people (Exodus 28:31-36). It was a sound of joy and the whole nation would listen intently for it. If heard they knew that their sins were again overlooked (Romans 3:23-25)(Acts 17:30) and not attributed to them. They were free from the wrath of God! According to Jewish legend a ribbon dipped in the blood of the atoning goat was attached to the outer structure of the Temple for all to see and so when the atoning sacrifice had been approved and accepted by God it turned white as snow. This is a reminder of what the Prophet Isaiah had stated in chapter one and verse eighteen of his oracle:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord,
though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white
as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be
The Scapegoat was at the same time brought before the High Priest who confessed the sins of the nation over it and then sent it away into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:20-22). This goat was called the Azazel, which also means “The one who opposes.” So, the Scapegoat not only carried the sins of the people away into the wilderness of forgetfulness but it also symbolized release from the Devil and his demons. What an amazing picture of God’s perfect deliverance in Christ Jesus.
The Day of Yom Kippur reminds us of the gravity of sin, the great price that Jesus paid to release us from its grip and the joy of being reconciled to God. The Scapegoat also symbolizes our complete deliverance from inbred sin and from the Devil. This is exactly what Jesus came to do (Acts 10:38). This is a Day that reminds us of God’s mercy and love and just how undeserving of these we are. It teaches us to fear God and live righteously before Him since Jesus, taking our place on the cross, spilt His blood to save us from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10). A great price was paid for our redemption and we should never forget it (1 Peter 1:18-19). This is precisely why we take the sacrament of Communion regularly. We surely must remember what Jesus did for us on the cross and thus Yom Kippur is an awesome reminder of the reverence we should hold in our hearts for God’s great redemptive act in Christ.