Summary: The Day of Atonement was fulfilled by Jesus at his first coming when He atoned for our sins through His shed blood and it will be fulfilled further at His second coming when Israel recognizes Him as Messiah.
Note: This message was presented by Pastors Pat Damiani and Dana Yentzer
This morning we’ll continue with our examination of the three fall Jewish feasts that began last week with our look at the Feast of Trumpets. Once again, Pastor Dana is going to describe the historical background of the feast and how it is celebrated today and I’ll be addressing how Jesus will fulfill the feast at His second coming and the implications for us as followers of the Messiah, Jesus.
Let’s take a brief moment to review and put the Day of Atonement in its proper context.
There are a total of seven feasts that God gave to His people to observe. The feasts are broken down into three main seasons. The Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits coincide with the barley harvest and were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming.
The Feast of Weeks coincided with the completion of the wheat harvest and, as was fulfilled by Jesus by the giving of the Holy Spirit which inaugurated the church age in which we now live. And, as we saw last week, that church age represents an interlude in God’s direct dealings with Israel – a period also known as the “time of the Gentiles.” God is using this time to make Israel jealous in preparation for the time when she will repent and recognize Jesus as the Messiah and be restored.
The final three feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles - occur in the Fall, and they will be fulfilled in full by Jesus at His second coming.
Last week, we looked at the Feast of Trumpets, which will be literally fulfilled by Jesus when He returns to this earth accompanied by a loud trumpet blast. This morning we’ll move on to the second of the fall feasts – the Day of Atonement.
As with all the feasts, we find the primary instructions for the observance of the feast in Leviticus 23:
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
Leviticus 23:26-32 (ESV)
Before we proceed any further this morning, we need to take a moment to define the word “atonement”. It is one of those religious terms that we use frequently, but perhaps without completely understanding its meaning. In Hebrew, the Day of Atonement is known as Yom Kippur, and the Hebrew word ‘kippur” which is usually translated into English as “atonement” comes from a Hebrew word which means “to cover”. There are two crucial aspects to the concept of atonement:
• It is the provision of a “covering” or “satisfaction” for sin
• It provides reconciliation between two parties that have been estranged
In fact, these two aspects have their genesis, their beginning, in- well actually- the Book of Genesis!
Back in chapter 3, in the account of Adam & Eve’s sin in the Garden, they discovered they had sinned against God; they then tried to hide from God, and further more cover their shame with fig leaves which was not adequate to cover their sin. God graciously provided the proper “covering” by taking the skins of an innocent, sacrificed animal. (v 3:21) By God’s “covering,” Adam & Eve’s sin was atoned for, and their fellowship with God was reconciled.
As a sidebar, so, too, with Moses while he was a prince in Egypt- when he killed an Egyptian task-master, Moses tried to “cover” the act by hiding the dead body in the sand, yet it was not sufficient to hide Moses’ crime. This is a reminder that all of our sins, whether against God or man, are never hidden.
Here is how we have arrived at the word “atonement when William Tyndale was working on his English translation of the Bible in the early 1500’s, he couldn’t find an English word that adequately conveyed both those ideas, so he coined a new word – literally “at-one-ment” – a word that describes how we are made to be at one with God through this process. In a broad sense, atonement actually describes the overarching theme of Scripture – the reconciliation of God and man through Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus both covers, or satisfies, our sins and he reconciles us to God.