Church of God, New World Ministries

What Does The Day Of Atonement Mean?

For nearly 6,000 years Satan the Devil has invisibly swayed all nations, (Rev. 12:9) “He has deceived all nations on this earth.” Satan has guided human governments, influenced man’s civilization, possessed leaders and inspired world wars.

He has had his part in causing the misery, hate, suffering and violent deaths that have plagued mankind since creation.

When Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule over their lives and instead accepted Satan’s rule, he as occupied the position of this world’s ruler. II Cor. 4:4 tells us that Satan “is the god of this world.” But God’s Holy Days tell us that his days are numbered.

There is no great fight going on between God and Satan, that question who is going to rule was settled by Jesus Christ when he overcame Satan and qualified to replace him as world ruler. It is amazing that today’s so-called ministers don’t realize the importance of Matt. 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.

If Jesus Christ had not defeated Satan, not one word of the Gospel message of the coming Kingdom of God would have been preached. It is only when Jesus Christ reigns supreme that this world will have peace for one thousand years.

The Day of Atonement reveals what is going to happen to Satan, it tells us what the fate of Satan is in God’s Master Plan.

God’s Holy Days constantly remind us how, step by step, God is working out His Master Plan. The first three of these are Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost. These three pictures the harvest of the firstfruits of human beings and our preparation and training and final reaping of those called now.

The last four pictures the plan God has for completing salvation for the rest of the world.

The Day of Atonement pictures Jesus Christ disposing of Satan from his present position as world ruler and removing him to a place completely away from mankind. Satan and his demons will be replaced by Jesus Christ and those of us who have surrendered to God and been willing to obey Him and His ways. True Christians are being trained to replace the fallen angels.

Right now (the saints or true Christians) don’t have the power, the ability or capacity to, nor are we great enough to measure up to the standard necessary to bring peace and happiness to the nations. That will take the power of God Almighty, the life of God, the mind and nature of God, and this is possible only through conversion.

Through conversion every single individual, great or small, can have God’s own power and nature added to him or her by receiving the Holy Spirit.

The Day of Atonement is perhaps the most unusual Holy Day. On this day, God commands us to fast. Fasting means to go without food and water for 24 hours, fasting is to humble us and help us see ourselves as we are (weak humans) and to see God as He is.

Fasting on this day reveals to us just how much we still love ourselves and how difficult it is to give up some of self. This day is a test to see which we will put first, will it be for the cry of food, or our sincere desire to obey God.

Lev. 23:27 “On the 10th day of this 7th month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you: and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And you shall do no work in the same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.”

The Day of Atonement is to be held in the 7th month which typifies the 7th 1000-year of man’s history. And God’s people are commanded to assemble on this day (Numbers 29:7).

On this day no work is permitted, but on the other holy days “no servile work.” Exodus 12:16 tells what servile work means. “Save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”

Why is the Day of Atonement to be kept so strictly Lev. 23:28, “And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. What does the word atonement mean?

Webster’s Dictionary says: “To join in one, to form by uniting.” This day symbolizes God and man being set at one, literally. God and the created human race can never be fully at one, in full agreement, until Satan is banished and the whole world has repented.

Was the Day of Atonement to be done away with at the death of Jesus Christ? Does this day apply only to the Jews?

Lev. 16:29 “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the 7th month, on the 10th day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger (Gentile) that sojourned among you.

Most professing Christians don’t even know that this Holy Day exists. Or if they do, they think upon the death of Jesus Christ, it is no longer to be kept.

Again the last part of Lev. 23:13, “It shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” The word statute means it’s a law. But was it a law just for the Israelites?

Gal. 3:29, “If ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” Romans 2:28, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh.”

Now read Romans 11:17 “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree.” If we belong to God, then we are spiritual Israelites.

Now the ritualistic laws of the Old Testament on the Day of Atonement were given to the ancient House of Israel to remind them of the need for the payment of their sins. These various sacrifices pointed ahead to the sacrifice of the One who would come later as the Savior of all mankind.

So those laws were fulfilled by the events leading to and including Christ’s own sacrificial death. So we don’t sacrifice animals today, not only that, there is no priesthood to perform these physical duties.

So let’s take a brief look at the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament.

After making the covenant agreement with Israel, God told the nation to build a Tabernacle, which is a physical type of God’s habitation in heaven (Ex. 25 27, 30; Heb. 9:23-24) The Tabernacle consisted of an enclosed courtyard, containing an altar for animal sacrifices and a tent. The tent was divided into two sections by a veil. The section behind the veil was called the Most Holy Place or Holiest of All. The other section was the holy place (Ex. 26:33).

The Most Holy Place represented God’s throne, also located here was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments and other items. The lid of the Ark was called the mercy seat; this was where God manifested Himself (Ex. 25:22).

The job of the high priest was given to Aaron; his sons served as priests. On the Day of Atonement, special animal sacrifices and ceremonies were conducted; these are explained in the 16th chapter of Lev.

This was the only day Aaron was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place. Before going into the Most Holy Place he had to bathe and dress himself in his priestly garments (Lev. 16:4). Once this was completed he took a censer, a vessel that held burning coals from the altar, and entered the Most Holy Place.

He then took incense, an aromatic compound, and placed it on the burning coals. Next he sprinkled blood from the bullock on the mercy seat, which represented God’s throne (vs. 11-14). What did all this picture or point too?

First Aaron had to make atonement for himself as a sinning human before God. Washing himself pictured having his conscience changed to accept God’s standard of righteousness (Heb. 10:22). The incense pictured prayers ascending to God (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8). His linen coat symbolized living a righteous life (Rev. 19:8). The blood represented the way sins are forgiven (Heb. 9:13-14; Rom. 3:25).

Aaron, the high priest, was a type of Jesus Christ who is now our High Priest. By living a sinless life, Jesus Christ qualified to offer Himself as a sin sacrifice for all humanity through His death.

The veil in the temple (the temple had replaced the tabernacle) it was torn from top to bottom, that means we now have direct contact with God the Father through prayer. The people who lived before Jesus Christ didn’t have contact with the Father; their access was limited to the Word of God, the God of the Old Testament, who became Jesus Christ.

Here is something that modern professing Christianity doesn’t understand. The death of Christ has not completed the job of making atonement for the sins of humanity, Why? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer: II Cor. 4:3-4 “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Because of Satan’s influence on mankind, they have rejected Christ’s Gospel, which includes the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and living a righteous life. This Day of Atonement explains to us how the job of atonement will be completed, how mankind will be made at one with God.

The answer is revealed through the symbolism of the live goat. This live goat was brought before Aaron who is a type of Jesus Christ.

Aaron laid hands on this live goat, confessing upon it the people’s sins, then it was led by another individual into the wilderness where it was released (Lev. 16:20-22). This symbolism will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ comes to this earth this time to rule. He will order Satan bound and taken to a place of restraint for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

The world will then become free of Satan’s influence and responsive to God’s way of life; men’s sins will be laid to Satan’s charge. Humanity as a whole will accept Jesus’ sacrifice and live according to God’s way; finally there will be universal joy, peace and happiness. Read Jer. 31:12-14.

The Day of Atonement is a solemn, serious occasion; it is a tremendously positive and encouraging day. Also this day, can and should bring all of us much closer to God, by obeying His command to observe this day. The Day of Atonement, like all other of God’s Holy Days, is a time of great rejoicing.

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