Summary: To show how Israel must be prepared before the realisation of Christ's kingdom.

Message No 7

The Feasts of Israel

The Day of Atonement

Aim: To show the prophetic significance of the Feast of Trumpets

Text: Leviticus 23:26-32

Introduction: We come now to the sixth and penultimate feast day of Israel, Yom Kippur: the Day of Atonement.

Historically, the Day of Atonement is the most solemn day on the Hebrew calendar, on this day Israel either lived or died. This is the day the whole nation fasts before God for 24 hours.

Prophetically, with the unfolding of the Day of Atonement all accounts between God and men will be settled. It is the last day of this age before the Day of the Lord opens up.

Now, what can we learn from this great feast day of the Lord’s? Well you will recall the Feast of Trumpets precedes this feast and historically Trumpets marked every occasion in which

• The people of Israel gathered and acted as a nation

• They gathered in Jerusalem in or near the Temple

• They renewed their covenant relationship with God

• They began sacrificing anew and celebrating the feasts.

Prophetically it pointed to that time when, just prior to the beginning of Great Tribulation the Jews are regathered to Israel, and with the temple in tact, they make a covenant with antichrist and renew their covenantal obligations under God including the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and the observing of the feasts in the land.

You may also remember how that following the Feast of Trumpets, which occurred on the first day of Tishri, the seventh month on the Jewish calendar, there then followed ten days of affliction, “Yamim Nora’im”, which leads up to the Day of Atonement, this sixth feast.

Now as we read in Leviticus 23 we see that the Day of Atonement is the only feast day that begins at sunset. (See Lev 23:32). The Day begins with darkness. Actually in Judaism every day begins with darkness, for a Jewish day begins as the sun falls below the horizon creating darkness, and this concept of a day’s beginning is drawn from the creation story where we read “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Coming back to our feast then, it is fitting that it begins with darkness, because this is a very solemn time in the Jewish calendar, it is a day which brings little joy or happiness as the people consider their sins before God.

What is it about? Well, first of all,

I. It Speaks of Completion

A. Look again at that 32nd verse of chapter 23 and notice that this is a day in which the Jewish people are to “afflict their souls”.

1. By way of highlighting this affliction, the people enter into a total fast – for 25 hours they eat and drink nothing.

2. How come? Because they are totally focused upon the nation’s sin.

B. Notice, according to verse 32, this day is a “Sabbath of rest”

1. In the Hebrew language this is a very intensive term, it literally reads “Shabat, shabbathon”, Sabbath, Sabbath.

2, And this term is to describe a Sabbath is used in only two books of our Bible, exodus and Leviticus, and it is applied to three significant events:

a. The weekly Sabbath – Exodus 31:15-17

(i) Notice in this context the Sabbath serves as a signpost for Judaism, it brings a message from God to Israel.

(ii) The signpost serves to remind Israel of a coming day when she shall cease from her labours and enjoy the blessings of God’s covenant.

(iii) BTW that’s why it is wrong to refer to Sunday as the Sabbath day. Sunday is a day for the church. The Sabbath is for the Jew. Sunday is the first day of the week, the Sabbath is the seventh. We are not under any obligation of law bar the assembling of ourselves together, whilst the Jew has very specific obligations to keep on the Sabbath day.

b. The Day of Atonement, as we have just seen, and

c. The Year of Jubilee, that is the seventh year land Sabbath – Leviticus 25:4

C. For the Jewish people the Sabbath conveys some very earnest overtones.

1. The word “shabat” is rooted in a term that means, “to sever, end or complete”.

2. So the seventh day, the Sabbath, completes or ends the week, as everyone lays down their tools and ceases work

3. The seventh year completes the production cycle of the land, and allows the soil a period of rest before sowing begins afresh.

4. So if the seventh day Sabbath signals the completion of the weekly cycle, and the seventh year Sabbath, the jubilee year, signals the completion of the land’s productivity cycle, then it stands to reason that the day of atonement, a Sabbath of rest, a shabat, shabbathon, must also signify the completion or end of a thing.

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