Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement
by Daniel Yahav
“ On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall torment your souls…” (Lev 23:27). The word 'torment' is used three times in this context. It has to do with great suffering, deep repentance and remorse for sins committed.
The Holy of Holies was accessible only on one day of the year, by only one person - the high priest - and only after obeying very particular instructions. This priestly duty was taken very seriously, because our God is a Holy and a consuming fire. Aaron's sons did not fear the Lord and offered strange fire which He had not commanded, therefore, they themselves were consumed with fire.
The fire here represents the Holy Spirit, and just as fire and incense go together, so also the Holy Spirit and prayer are connected. (See Revelation 5:8, Romans 8:26). Offering incense with a strange fire was like ministering unto the Lord with another spirit, not God's Spirit. We must worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, not allowing the flesh or even other spirits to enter into our worship, for our God is the same yesterday, today and forever. In the book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God for lying to the Holy Spirit. We would do well to take Him seriously.
The High Priest had to put incense on his fire pan first and allow the cloud to cover the mercy seat before he entered with the blood of the sacrifice, lest he die in God's presence (Lev 16:13). While the English translation reads that he had to sprinkle the blood on the east side of the mercy seat, the Hebrew original text says that he had to sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat eastward, and then also along the front of the mercy seat. “Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side, (eastward= direction east); also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times” (Lev 16:14). This sprinkling eastward and then in the front, would form the shape of a cross made of the blood of the sacrifice, thus revealing a picture of the plan of salvation, Yeshua's atonement for our sins, which has given us access to the Most Holy Place - the presence of Almighty God Himself.
Inside the Mercy Seat were the tablets of the Law, testifying against the people who had broken the commandments during the previous year. But when God looked down, He would see the blood between Himself and the high priest -representing the people- and He would forgive their sins and cover them, looking forward to the sacrifice of Yeshua, the true lamb of God. All of this took place unseen, while the people were waiting outside, repenting and tormenting themselves in the hope that God would indeed have mercy and forgive their sins. But we are blessed to know the assurance of His mercy every day - not just once a year. For when God looks into our hearts, if we truly repent, turn from our sinful ways and receive in faith the atonement of Yeshua's death on the cross, his blood washes away our sins, and the risen Lord Himself stands as the High Priest between us and the Almighty God. We then can have access to the Throne of Grace - or the Mercy Seat - each day.
The Prophetic Meaning of the day of Atonement:
The prophetic word of the Bible tells us that there is a time coming of great torment to Israel, through which God's people will repent, thus fulfilling the picture of this day of atonement. This time could be coming very soon. Jeremiah chapter 30 speaks of this time when Israel and Judah will come back to the Land and possess it. These are the days we are living in right now! It goes on to say “I have heard a sound of terror, of dread and there is no peace... Alas! For that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob's distress” (Jer 30:5-7). The prophet Zechariah also declared this word from the Lord: “And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (Zech 12:3). “For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle” (Zech 14:2). The UN is already against Israel and does not recognize Jerusalem as it's capital. The nations are gathering against her and there will come a time of terrible suffering and cleansing by fire in the midst of a great war. But God says: “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion” (Zech 1:14)
“ And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem (Zech 12:9) God will judge the nations by how they have treated His people and His land: “Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations and divided up My land” (Joel 3:2).
At this time will come the prophetic fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, when God will pour out a spirit of repentance upon His people and they will recognize Yeshua as their own Messiah, their own flesh and blood, and will weep and mourn that they once shouted "crucify him". They will torment their souls as it is written in Leviticus. "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him with bitter weeping over a first-born” (Zech 12:10) . Then the Holy Spirit will come down upon Israel to cleanse, forgive and renew; to remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh and to write His law on their hearts. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” ( Ezk 36:26-28). “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I shall write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer 31:33). At this point in time, when Israel's spiritual eyes will be opened to see their Messiah Yeshua, they will then call upon him and he will return, fulfilling what Yeshua said in Matthew 23:39 that Israel will not see him again till we call upon him and say: "Baruch Haba B'shem Adonai". His return will open the way for the fulfilling of the next feast, the feast of Tabernacles.