The Day Of Atonement


"And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses" (Leviticus 16:34).

One of the greatest feasts of the Lord observed by the children of Israel while in the wilderness was that in which two goats were to be selected and offered to God by the high priest once each year to make an atonement for the sins of all the people. One of the goats would be slain as a sin-offering, depicting the lethal consequences of sin. The other, called the "scapegoat," would be sent away into the wilderness, symbolically showing that, once the atonement had been provided, then all their sins would have been carried away and forgotten.

The Lord Jesus, of course, fulfilled once and for all both aspects of this unique "feast" (this and the other six observances of special feast days described in Leviticus 23, were "feasts of the LORD," not feasts of Israel, offering sacrifices to God, not feasting themselves). The death of the first goat signified the redemptive work of Christ, as we have been redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ" (I Peter 1:19). The second goat depicted the cleansing work of Christ, "which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

The details of this unique feast are given in Leviticus 16, and it is still being nominally observed by the Jews today—in fact, on this very date. It is called Yom Kippur, meaning "day of atonement."

The tragedy, of course, is that there is no sacrifice being offered—no slain goat and no scapegoat—in the modern version, and certainly no acceptance of Christ as the "one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Hebrews 10:12). But "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22). HMM