“And Jehovah spoke unto Moses, saying, Howbeit on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you, and you shall afflict your souls; and you shall offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. And you shall do no manner of work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before Jehovah your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day; he shall be cut off from his people. And whatsoever soul it be that does any manner of work in that same day, that soul will I destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall you keep your sabbath” (Leviticus 23:26-32).
In the typology of the Holy Scriptures, the Day of Atonement is the most important day of all, just as it was the most solemn day in the sacred calendar of the Jews. Of course, the antitype of all the sacrifices is Christ and the Day of Atonement is fulfilled in the day of Calvary. The sacrificial offerings having been made, cleansing and expiation is available to those who enter in to the covenant that God offers. And, just as the High Priest entered within the veil “not without blood”, so too our Great High Priest Jesus Christ, “entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us (Hebrews 9:24). And if sinners can be sanctified by the ceremonial cleansing that is in the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14).
While the expiation contained in the Day of Atonement was an event that took place annually, on this tenth day of the seventh month, Tishri, the sanctification to which it points prophetically was accomplished “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). And while the Day of Atonement, in type, and all the sacrifices under the Old Covenant, were “a remembrance made of sins year by year” (Hebrews 10:3), in the antitype of Christ the Lamb of God sin is dealt with completely, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). Underlining this is the fact that in the Hebrew, at Leviticus 23:27, the Day of Atonement is Yom Kippurim meaning day of atonements (plural) and was a national day of reconciliation and thus points to a future event in which Israel “will look upon Him Whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10) and “in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1).
There are three Hebrew words used to describe the terrible malady of sin that had to be dealt with on yom kippurim:
- The Hebrew pesha is translated as transgression and in the Septuagint is translated as anomia, “lawlessness”. It literally means “rebellion” and signifies breaking away from God, expressed in a defiance of His will and authority as revealed in His Law and His Word and as demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ.
- The Hebrew word chataah is translated as “sin” which describes an erring from the mark, a violation of the revealed standards, a deviation from the path of well-pleasingness to God.
- The Hebrew word avon is translated as “iniquity” and describes the inward perversion of our nature; the depravity of our human condition manifesting itself in wickedness.
These three words are found in the great scriptures dealing with the foundation doctrines of sin and atonement and they are the three attributes of that deadly moral plague whose roots are in the heart of every human being.
There are also three Hebrew words to describe God’s method in forgiving sin.
- The Hebrew word nasa which means literally “borne away” and is generally translated as “forgiven” in the KJV.
- The Hebrew word kasha meaning “to cover” or “hide” signifying that the sin becomes invisible to God, being as though it had never taken place.
- The Hebrew word lo-chashav meaning “not imputed” or “not reckoned” and thus canceling the account because it has already been paid.
Psalm 32 is one of the great penitential Psalms and they had special significance on the Day of Atonement.
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones wasted away Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: My moisture was changed as with the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, And mine iniquity did I not hide: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto Jehovah; And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Under this model:-
- i) Confess our transgression (Heb. Pesha) forgives (Heb. nasa “bears away”)
(See 1 John 1:8-9)
Confession is not with the mouth only but inward, manifesting itself in an altered moral state. To confess and continue in the same sin is to treat with contempt the blood of Christ; For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26). (Willfully Greek ~Ekousi,wj meaning voluntarily, of one’s own accord, in one’s own authority)
- ii) Do not hide sin (Hebrew chataah) covers (Hebrew kasha “hides”).
Thou art my hiding-place” (Psalm 32:7 & 119:14). Adam and Eve tried to hide or cover their own sin in the Garden (Genesis 3:7-8) (See also Job 31:33; “If like Adam I have covered my transgressions, By hiding mine iniquity in my bosom”). But see also Proverbs 28:13, “He that covers his transgressions shall not prosper but he who confesses and forsakes them shall obtain mercy”.
iii) Acknowledge sin (Hebrew chataah) imputes not (Hebrew lo-chashav lit. not imputed or reckoned, the account has been paid).
To acknowledge is to make known (Hebrew yada) as in Jeremiah:
-“acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against
Jehovah thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under
every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith Jehovah”
These three aspects of God’s forgiveness are all related to the Day of Atonement as set out in Leviticus 16, which also prophetically foreshadows and prefigures the work of Christ in which the Day of Atonement was fulfilled.
On that day, the High Priest entered the temple, having changed from his priestly garments of beauty and glory and donned a simple linen robe, garments of humility. He firstly offered a young bullock for His own sins and for those of his family. His prayer went thus; “O Jehovah, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed, I have sinned, I and my house. Oh then Jehovah, I entreat Thee, let there be atonement for the iniquities, the transgressions and the sins which I have committed, transgressed and sinned before Thee, I and my house even as it is written in the Law of Moses; “for on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you, from all your sins shall you be clean before Jehovah” (Leviticus 16:30).
In this ceremonial, the High Priest dealt with his own sins and those of the members of his household and could therefore turn to seek God for the expiation of the sins of the people. This involved taking two kids of goats, one on the left hand of the High Priest and one on the right. Two small tablets of gold were cast into an urn, on one of which was engraved la-Yehovah (for Jehovah) and on the other la-azazel (for Azazel) meaning scapegoat. The urn was shaken and the High Priest thrust both hands into the urn, taking a tablet in each hand, placing the tablet in his right hand on the head of the goat to his right and the one in his left hand upon the head of the goat to his left. Thus, the lot was fixed.
The High Priest then killed the bullock and took its blood into the Most Holy Place where it was sprinkled once upwards and seven times downwards so that it fell upon the mercy seat. He then emerged and killed the goat that was the sin offering for the people, that one to which the lot had fallen la-Yehovah and sprinkled it in the same manner as that of the bullock. Thus was “atonement” made; this was kasha or covering, making the sins invisible to God, so that it may be hidden from the eyes of Him who is “of purer eyes than to behold evil” so that death and judgement may be avoided.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood, which with the life that is in it, covers (or “makes atonement” Leviticus 17:11).
After atonement was made with the blood of the goat on which the lot had fallen “for Jehovah” the High Priest came again to the goat on which the lot fell “for Azazel”. Placing his hands on the goat’s head the High Priest made confession of all the iniquities of the children of Israel, all their transgressions and all their sins, putting them all upon the head of the goat; “and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a solitary land: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:22). The goat “bears away” the sins of the people; this is the Hebrew word nasa.
As the scapegoat was led away to be released into the wilderness, the High Priest would recite Psalm 32; How blessed is the man whose transgression (Hebrew “pasha”) is borne away (Hebrew “nasa”) whose sin (Hebrew “chataah”) is covered (Hebrew “kasha”) to who Jehovah imputes not (Hebrew “lo-chasav”) iniquity (Hebrew “avon”). Thus the sins of the guilty people were atoned for by the innocent blood of the kids of goats.
All of these types are fulfilled in the anti-type Christ Jesus; “in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7). We see this spoken of in the great Messianic chapter of Isaiah 53 when we read of the coming one that “He poured out his soul unto death, and was reckoned with the transgressors: yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
Like the goat on which the lot fell for Jehovah, Jesus was led to the slaughter and cut off by a violent death from the land of the living so that, by His innocent and precious blood, He might provide a covering for the sins of His people. But also, like the scapegoat who was released into the wilderness, He bore the sin of many as Isaiah says, quoting Leviticus 16, for, just as the High Priest put upon the head of that goat the iniquities of the children of Israel and all their transgressions and all their sins (Leviticus 16:21) so too Jehovah has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Prophetically speaking, those who are of the household of Christ have been included in the High Priestly sacrifice of the young bullock. To this day, Israel nationally, has not availed itself of this sacrifice. The High Priest is still behind the veil as far as Israel is concerned; they are still relying upon the type refusing to believe that Christ Jesus has fulfilled their scriptures and undertaken all that was promised. But their time of unbelief is coming to an end and the day of their reconciliation to the One Who Is looms upon the prophetic horizon.