The Day of Atonement is observed for one day (evening till evening) and it is the most solemn day in the Biblical calendar.
The Theme and activities on the Day of Atonement:
Unlike the other feasts, this one is not a joyful one, but rather a time of solemn assemblies.
Lev 23:27 “On the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be a set-apart gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה.”
Lev 16:29 “And this shall be for you a law forever: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you afflict your beings, and do no work, the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. “For on that day he makes atonement for you, to cleanse you, to be clean from all your sins before יהוה.”
A Day of Atonement:
Man’s sin separated him from YHWH. Yet it was very important to YHWH to restore the relationship. That is why He made provision for atonement and instituted the Day of Atonement, or at-one-ment with Him! It is important to note that repentance must precede atonement!
A Called Assembly:
YHWH wanted this day to be set apart from all the other days, even all the other Sabbaths, so that the nation may focus on YHWH alone, gathering in His presence and giving Him their undivided attention.
To Cleanse You:
The sacrificial system was designed to cover sin, until the temple was destroyed, so we do not bring sacrifices anymore. But this is what atonement does. It “hides” or “covers” sin from the wrath of YHWH, hence the name of the day. Yom Hakippurim, the day of covering or concealing. In short, Yom Kippur. The meaning of Kippur is to cover, purge, make atonement, and make reconciliation.
Lev 16:31 “It is a sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves by fasting with penitence and humiliation; it is a statute forever.”
It is the Sabbath of all Sabbaths and YHWH is very clear on the instruction of NO work.
Lev 23:30 “And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people.”
Although some translations completely left this out, and I can only wonder why, others have correctly translated the Hebrew phrase “לענות את נפשך” which is literally translated as “to cause yourself to suffer”, but actually implies fasting.
The phrase comes from the root ayin-nun-heh (ענה) which, in its most basic forms, ana and ina, means “to suffer” and “to cause suffering”, respectively. It is directly related to the word ani (עני) — poor, downtrodden, afflicted.
“Do not cause suffering (תענון) to any widow or orphan. If you cause them suffering in any way (ענה תענה), and if they cry out in their pain to me, I will hear their cry. And my temper will flare and I will kill you by the sword and your wives will become widows and your children will become orphans.” [Exodus 22:22-24]
On Yom HaKippurim, we are commanded to cause suffering not to others, but to ourselves:
“And on the tenth [day] of the [seventh] month is Yom HaKippurim. It shall be a holy assemblage for you, and you shall cause yourselves suffering (ועניתם את נפשותיכם) and bring burnt offerings to YHWH. … And any person who does not make himself suffer (לא תעונה) on this particular day will be cut off from his people.” [Leviticus 23:27,29]
So what exactly does the Torah mean by commanding us to cause ourselves suffering on Yom HaKippurim?
The answer to this question comes from a contextual analysis of the phrase “you shall cause yourselves suffering”. Contextual analysis, along with linguistic and historical/archaeological analysis, is one of the basic forms of analysis used in order to understand the Tanach (old testament).
It involves searching for other verses which contain the same or similar phrases as the one that we wish to understand. From the way in which these phrases are used in the other verses, we can come to a better understanding of what the original phrase means.
Luckily, in this case, there are a number of verses which help us:
“Why did we fast and you did not see, make ourselves suffer (עִנִּינוּ נַפְשֵׁנוּ) and you did not notice? [Because] on the day of your fast did you not do business and drive your workers hard?” [Isaiah 58:3]
“But when they [my enemies] fell sick, I donned sackcloth, I made myself suffer with fasting (עִנֵּיתִי בַצֹּום נַפְשִׁי), and I took my prayer deep into my bosom.” [Psalms 35:13]
“And I called for a fast there, upon the Ahava River, to make ourselves suffer (לְהִתְעַנֹּות) before our Elohim (God), to request of Him the right way [to Jerusalem] for us, our children and all our possessions.” [Ezra 8:21]
In all of the above verses, causing oneself to suffer is linked with fasting. This implies that the expression “causing oneself to suffer” is actually a figure of speech in ancient Hebrew meaning “to fast”.
The Great Trumpet (shofar) is blown:
There are three primary trumpets in Scripture:
—The First Shofar which is associated with and blown on Pesach (Shavuot)
—The Last Shofar which is blown and associated with the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
—The Great Shofar is associated with and blown on the Day of Atonement (Yom HaKippurim)
The order of service:
The order of service is nicely explained for us in Leviticus 16. This is the shadow of what Yeshua came to do as High Priest.
Lev 16:2 “And יהוה (YHWH) said to Mosheh, “Speak to Aharon your brother not to come in at all times to the Set-apart Place inside the veil, before the lid of atonement which is on the ark, lest he die, because I appear in the cloud above the lid of atonement.”
Only the high priest could go into the Most Set-Apart (holy) Place once a year as YHWH had warned that no man would see His face and live (Ex 33:20). So, because the high priest was instructed to come into the presence of YHWH in the Set Apart (holy) Place, this day is also called, “Face to Face”. The high priest would see the presence of YHWH as a brilliant cloud hovering over the Atonement Lid.
Lev 16:3 “With this Aharon should come into the Set-apart Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering.”
Lev 16:4 “He should put on the set-apart linen long shirt, with linen trousers on his flesh, and gird himself with a linen girdle, and be dressed with the linen turban – they are set-apart garments. And he shall bathe his body in water, and shall put them on.”
He was supposed to wash his entire body and not just His hands as required on other occasions. This is opposed to Yeshua, Who is Set Apart, blameless and pure.
Lev 16:5 “And from the congregation of the children of Yisra’ĕl he takes two male goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.”
Lev 16:6 “And Aharon shall bring the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house.”
Lev 16:7 “And he shall take the two goats and let them stand before יהוה at the door of the Tent of Meeting.”
Lev 16:8 “And Aharon shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for יהוה and the other lot for Azazel.”
These two goats were viewed as one offering. The slaughtered goat showed that YHWH’s wrath was appeased, while the live goat that was sent away into the wilderness illustrated that the sins have been removed.
The two goats foreshadowed the sacrifice of Yeshua. When He died on the stake, He paid the price for our sins as did the goat that was slaughtered. He also removed our sins contrary to the blood of animals which only covered the sin (Heb 10:3)
As Yoḥanan (John) the immerser (baptiser) declared in John 1:29 ” “See, the Lamb of YHWH who takes away the sin of the world!”
Lev 16:9 “And Aharon shall bring the goat on which the lot for יהוה (YHWH) fell, and shall prepare it as a sin offering.”
Lev 16:10 “But the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell is caused to stand alive before יהוה, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness to Azazel.”
Lev 16:11 “And Aharon shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall slaughter the bull as the sin offering which is for himself,
Lev 16:12 and shall take a fire holder filled with burning coals of fire from the altar before יהוה, with his hands filled with sweet incense beaten fine, and shall bring it inside the veil.
Lev 16:13 “And he shall put the incense on the fire before יהוה, and the cloud of incense shall cover the lid of atonement which is on the Witness, lest he die.
Lev 16:14 “And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the lid of atonement on the east side, also in front of the lid of atonement he sprinkles some of the blood with his finger seven times.
Lev 16:15 “And he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and shall bring its blood inside the veil, and shall do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the lid of atonement and in front of the lid of atonement.
Lev 16:16 “And he shall make atonement for the Set-apart Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Yisra’ĕl, and because of their transgressions in all their sins. And so he does for the Tent of Meeting which is dwelling with them in the midst of their uncleanness.
Lev 16:17 “And no man should be in the Tent of Meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Set-apart Place, until he comes out. And he shall make atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the assembly of Yisra’ĕl.
Lev 16:18 “And he shall go out to the altar that is before יהוה, and make atonement for it. And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around.
Lev 16:19 “And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and set it apart from the uncleanness of the children of Yisra’ĕl.
Lev 16:20 “And when he has finished atoning for the Set-apart Place, and the Tent of Meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat.
Lev 16:21 “Then Aharon shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and shall confess over it all the crookednesses of the children of Yisra’ĕl, and all their transgressions in all their sins, and shall put them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a fit man.
Lev 16:22 “And the goat shall bear on itself all their crookednesses, to a land cut off. Thus he shall send the goat away into the wilderness.
The root of the Hebrew word Azazel, which is translated into “scapegoat” in some translations, contains the idea of removal (departure).
The goat that was led away into the desert symbolises the entire removal of the defilement of sin from the tabernacle. By removing the defilement of sin from the Most Set Apart Place, the Tabernacle and the Altar, the process of cleansing was completed.
As believers we can rest securely in the promise that our sins, once confessed and forgiven, are removed from us. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us (Ps 103:12). The unbelieving, disobeying and unrepentant however do not enjoy the privilege. They will be judge. Rather than receiving Messiah’s atonement they are recipients of YHWH’s (God) judgment. (Rev 20:11-15)
The Sacrifices, the Law (Torah) and Grace:
An excerpt from the book THE FALL FEASTS OF YISRA’EL:
“Although the laws of Leviticus were given to instruct the people in holiness, the principle of grace flows deeply through the book.
In YHWH’s grace, He provided the sacrificial system, a way for Yisra’El to be once again reconciled to YHWH in covenant fellowship.
The sacrificial system and especially the Day of Atonement are an expression of YHWH’s compassion and grace. Too often the Torah (Mosaic law) is viewed as a harsh taskmaster, even when the New Testament affirms that the Law is Good (Rom 7:12)
The Law of Moses (Torah) is a series of instructions given to help Yisra’El (meaning, to overcome with El) live set apart (holy) lives. And wihtin the core of the Mosaic Law is sacrifice, evidence that YHWH knew Yisra’El would sometimes unintentionally break the law. The sacrificial system declares YHWH’s grace and His willingness to forgive the sins of His people.
Thus He set aside an entire day to make atonement for their souls, one gracious day each year when every individual could find forgiveness for past sins and be restored to fellowship with His Creator.
The Tanakh (Old Testament) system of animal sacrifices has not usually been portrayed as an expression of YHWH’s grace, mercy and loving kindness.
The aspostle John wrote, “for the Torah was given through Mosheh – the favour and the truth came through יהושע (Yeshua) Messiah.” (John 1:17)
Some have interpreted this passage that favour (grace) was non-existent in the Tanakh. Yet, this verse merely teaches that the favour and truth expressed in the Tanakh were fully realized when YHWH, Who is all Grace and all Truth, sent His Son as Messiah.
Yeshua Messiah is YHWH’s living example of the favour and truth foreshadowed in the Tanakh. YHWH’s grace is demonstrated many times in the Hebrew Scriptures.”
Fulfilment of Yeshua as High Priest:
Yeshua came as Prophet and, with His blood sacrifice of the stake, He became for us the High Priest. He did not go behind the veil, but He rent the veil completely when His body was broken. Now we do not have to wait for the one time in a year ordained for Atonement, Yom Kippur, but we have an invitation to approach the throne of favour (grace) with confidence, any time.
Yeshua has become for us a High Priest forever in the oder of Malkitseḏeq. (See Heb 6:20)
Heb 4:14,15 “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, יהושע (Yeshua) the Son of YHWH, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was tried in all respects as we are, apart from sin.”
Heb 7:21 “For they indeed became priests without an oath, but He became Priest with an oath by Him who said to Him, “יהוה has sworn and shall not regret, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Malkitseḏeq.’”
Now there have been many of those priests since death prevented them from continuing in office, but because Yeshua lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who came to YHWH through Him, because He always lives to make intercession for us. Such a High Priest meets or need – One Who is Set apart from sinners, blameless, pure and exalted above the heavens.
Unlike the other high priests in the Tanakh, He does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people. Yeshua sacrificed for our sins once for all when He offered Himself. For the Law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the oath which came after the Law, appointed the Son, Who has been made perfect forever.
Heb 8:1b,2 “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Greatness in the heavens, and who serves in the set-apart place and of the true Tent, which יהוה set up, and not man.”
Heb 9:24-25 “For Messiah has not entered into a Set-apart Place made by hand – figures of the true – but into the heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of Elohim on our behalf, not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters into the Set-apart Place year by year with blood not his own.”
Then Messiah would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Heb 10:12-14 But He, having offered one slaughter offering for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of Elohim, waiting from that time onward until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being set apart.”
Heb 10:19-22 So, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Set-apart Place by the blood of יהושע (Yeshua), by a new and living way which He instituted for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the House of YHWH, let us draw near with a true heart in completeness of belief, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed with clean water.”
How can we celebrate the Day of Atonement?
Now that we have received atonement because we believe, repent and obey, does it not behove us to fast and pray with the unsaved Israelites, and pray for them, thanking YHWH for all the treasures we received through the Jews?
–The Scriptures copied in excellence and handed down unadulterated through the ages
–The promises of patriarchs
–And ultimately the Messiah, Yeshua
…to name a few things.
This is also a good opportunity to pray for the Shalom of Jerusalem (Ps 122:6)
Lastly… we do not repent once and then never again. We should repent daily. So, even though we have received atonement through our Messiah, it may also be a good day to repent from any sin in our lives and draw closer to our Creator, YHWH, once again.
Blessings and Shalom