The Day of Atonement is the next Fall Feast to honor which begins this year at sundown on Tuesday, September 18th.
“Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation (dress rehearsal) for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do not work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. You shall do no manner of work it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath” (Lev. 23:27-32).
This “Appointed Day” is also known as “Yom Kippur,” which literally means “Day of Coverings.” This was the only day of the year in the Old Testament that the High Priest was able to go behind the veil in the Tabernacle and enter into the “Holy of holies” to pour the blood of a goat over the Mercy Seat to atone (cover) for the sins of the nation.
“Then he (High Priest) shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat” (Lev. 16:15).
The overall purpose of this Feast was a call for a corporate (national) day of repentance, fasting, and prayer so that the MERCY of God would accept their offerings (Read Is. 58; Joel 2). This is the ONLY fast God required each year.
“Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children who are nursing and babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room” (Joel 2:15,16).
As the children of Israel cried out for the mercy of God to cover their shortcomings for not upholding His commandments, the High Priest would take their offerings of sacrifice to atone for their sins so that the nation could rest in the presence of the Lord and continue to receive His increase in the land.
“For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year” (Ex. 34:24).
When the Day of Atonement ceases to be a “dress rehearsal” and goes “live,” it will be a day that judges the body of Christ and reveals the Lord’s “Firstfruits” remnant that are chosen to reign with Him in the Millennium to bring “rest” to the earth (Rev. 14:1-5). They will then be joined together with the “dead in Christ” remnant who have risen from the graves.
“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations”(Rev. 2:26).
The Day of Atonement is NOT the day of judgment for the sinners who don’t know Christ as so many of us have been led to believe. Keep in mind that all of these appointed Feasts are set dates to fulfill the purpose of the Covenant promises God made with those He chose to know Him. These “divine appointments” are not to judge those who don’t know the Lord and are ignorant of His Covenant promises. “The books” that judge both the believers and unbelievers are opened up at the end of the Millennium, at the second resurrection.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books” (Rev. 20:12).
In every book of the Bible, God shows a comparison between those who are in Covenant with Him, and those who aren’t. And within each generation of those IN Covenant with Him, there is a division in the family between those who humble themselves and obey, and those who don’t.
There are well known examples in the Bible in whom we see this distinction and division between “brothers” such as Cain/Abel and Jacob/Esau (Gen. 4 and 27). Let’s take a look at Cain and Abel’s story:
“And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it'” (Ge. 4:4-7).
As we can read in Gen. 4, God reached out to Cain to give him Fatherly advice. God was extending His hand of mercy to give instruction to Cain to save his soul and the life of Abel. It was Cain’s job to rule over his soul! Cain made the choice outside of God’s advice, which caused him to kill Abel, and put him and his family in a different land.
Likewise, Esau’s anger and bitterness toward Jacob caused him to leave a legacy of people who’s souls despised the children of Israel and wanted to kill them. God then hated the actions of Esau that mimicked the devil:
“As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated”(Rom. 9:13).
In the New Testament, Christ Himself shared that many may call on the Lord, but there is is a distinction made in the family of God:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness'” (Matt. 7:22,23)!
The Apostles were also used to rightly divide those Christians who were “abiding” in the Lord and those who weren’t:
“But Peter said, ‘ Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself” (Acts 5:3)?
The outcome of that story is intense. Ananias, a Christian, died after being confronted with truth. The Lord separated Ananias and Sapphira from those who were birthing the Church “in one accord” with the Lord.
Even the letters to the Churches in Rev. 2 and 3 divides the “family of God” into overcomers and those who chose NOT to abide in God’s word.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent…To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:19,21).
In Lev. 23:29, concerning the Day of Atonement, God declares that “anyone who is not afflicted in soul is CUT OFF from his people.” This does NOT mean cut off from God. God is love, and can NEVER stop loving His people. It also does NOT mean that believers who continue to live their lives “lawlessly” lose their salvation, for ALL have been saved by grace which is a gift. It DOES mean that they are cut off from the “REWARD!”
“He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded” (Prov. 13:13).
Jesus made a way for ALL debt to be paid for breaking the law. There isn’t anyone who doesn’t need that sacrifice of atonement. BUT, even in the New Testament, God divides the body of Christ with His Word of instruction that bears the fruit of rewards for following the Lord, or the consequences of living our life in rebellion to God’s instruction:
“When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” (Col. 3:4-8).
The above scripture tells believers what they need to crucify in their flesh, but the following scripture tells believers what qualities to adopt to become an overcomer:
“Therefore, as an elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:12-14).
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Col. 3:23-25).
There is NO way any of us can become “more holy” because Christ has made us so through His sacrifice and has given us a guarantee by sending us the Holy Spirit:
“who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Cor. 1:22).
However, our soul (mind, will and emotions) continue to go through a sanctification process to crucify our flesh so that Christ is the Head of our soul. We must judge our sins daily for the purpose of maintaining fellowship with Christ. As we see through the above examples, Cain, Esau, the Jewish leaders, and later some Christians, rebelled against the Lord, refused His correction, and were separated from His presence.
Through Christ’s atonement as High Priest, our willingness to go through the Lord’s sanctification process, and Christ’s leadership (High King) on the earth, we can all enjoy the REST of Jubilee and the goodness of creation WITHOUT SIN. However, one part of the family will arrive FIRST (144,000 remnant) at the “tabernacle of meeting” so they can help the rest of the family enter into HIS TABERNACLE OF REST.
“These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb’ (Rev. 14:4).
We can be assured we are prepared for the Day of Atonement through our willingness to be obedient to God, honoring His commandments, serving with a broken and contrite heart, examining our unbelief with a response of repentance, and quickly forgiving offenses and injustices. (Matt. 5:9-15; Col 12-17).
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to still up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as in the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the DAY approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries…..
“Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great REWARD. For you have need of endurance, so the after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:19-25,35).
The next blog I will share about the ceremony of the two goats as it relates to the Day of Atonement and their blueprint to the fulfilling of Christ’s first and second coming.