Out of the days commanded as remembrances and prophetic rehearsals by God Almighty, “The Day of Atonement” is considered to be one of the most important. This is the day which is celebrated as a remembrance of the impending judgement, when all of us, from the least to the greatest in this world, will have to appear before the Throne of the King. It is a day in which we draw near with a repentant heart. Let us study this day further and understand the significance of this feast written down in Lev 23.
This study has been broken into 4 sections for your viewing ease. If you already know about any particular section, please feel free to skip through to the section that you are interested in.
1. Introduction to the Feasts/Appointed Times of God
God’s appointed times (also known as feasts) which are written in Lev 23 consist of 7 separate events which are “remembrances of God’s grace in time past” as well as “prophetic shadows of things to come”. Even though these feasts have been branded “Jewish feasts”, it is very clear that these were called “My feasts” and “LORD‘s feasts” by our Heavenly Father (Lev 23:2,4,37).
Contrary to popular belief, Yeshua(the real name of Jesus), His Disciples and even the highly misunderstood Apostle Paul, did not teach or abolish God’s Law. Just as God’s Commandments will stand till Heaven and Earth exists, The “Feasts” or “Appointed Times” of God (which are part of God’s Law), is, and will be in effect in the time to come. Out of the 7 events asked to be remembered, God has fulfilled 3 of these prophetic events in the time of the first coming of Messiah.
I highly recommend that you read the separate studies on Passover, First Fruits, Pentecost & Trumpets (if you have not studied this subject before) from which, Passover, Firstfruits & Pentecost have been already fulfilled in its time and season at the time of the 1st appearance of Messiah Yeshua.
Let us review these Appointed times, their significance and their fulfillment –
1. The Sabbath – Every 7th Day (Lev 23:3) – Remembrance of God as Supreme Creator and the one who will provide us with rest in His Millennial Kingdom
2. Passover & the week of Unleavened bread – 14th of the 1st Month is Passover / 15th to 21st is the week of U.B. ; The 15th and the 21st are Special Sabbaths (Lev 23:5-7) – The deliverance from Egypt through the Blood of a Lamb & the Deliverance from Sin/Death through the Blood of Yeshua who is named Lamb of God (Yeshua died on the day of Passover)
3. First Fruits – The day after the 7th day Sabbath, which is right after Passover (Lev 23:10,11) – The lifting up of the First fruit of all Crops to God & the ressurection of the First fruit of all who will rise again – Yeshua – who was the First to have risen from death (Yeshua rose on the day of First Fruits)
4. Feast of Weeks also known as Pentecost – The 50th day counted from First Fruits (Lev 23:15,16) – The day of Thanksgiving for God’s provision for the Harvest and remembrance of giving of the Commandments at Mt.Sinai, as well as The day of remembrance of the giving of the Holy Spirit & the start of the Heavenly harvest of souls collected unto God. – (The Holy Spirit fell on the Disciples on the day of Pentecost)
From the 3rd Month (when Pentecost is celebrated) until the 7th Month (when the last 3 feasts are celebrated) there is a period of silence, much like the time we are living in – awaiting His 2nd coming ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
5. Feast of Trumpets – 1st day of the 7th Month (Lev 23:24,25) – The day Yeshua will return as the Bridegroom & King to reclaim the Earth and establish His Kingdom for a thousand years
6. Feast of Atonement – 10th day of the 7th Month (Lev 23:27-30)
7. Feast of Tabernacles – 15th to 22nd day of the 7th Month ; 15th & 22 are Special Sabbaths (Lev 23:34-36)
2. The “Appointed time” / “Feast” of Atonement
Lev 23:27-32 Also on the tenth day of this seventh 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 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. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
(Also read Lev 16:29-31 and Num 29:7)
As we see in the above verse, we are to celebrate the day of Atonement on the 10 the day of the 7th Month. Our Heavenly Father also gives us strict directions on how we should celebrate this day. Let’s take a closer look at these details.
A) It is a Sabbath and a Holy Convocation/Assembly
This Feast day is supposed to be a Sabbath where no Monetary work should be done, while it is also called a Holy convocation, meaning assembly, where God’s people should gather together.
B) Afflicting our Souls
What does “you shall afflict you souls” mean? Afflicting the soul of oneself is an expression that means “to fast”. We can see this expression in many places in the Scriptures.
Psa 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I afflicted* my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. (*KJV translates “H6031 – ענה – aw-naw’ – Afflict” as “humbled”)
Isa 58:3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
Isa 58:5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
Isa 58:10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
The “Soul” is connected to “Appetite”/”food”
Pro 23:2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite(H5315 – נפשׁ – nephesh – Soul)
Ecc 6:7 All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite(H5315 – נפשׁ – nephesh – Soul) is not filled.
In both the above instances, the Hebrew word “Nephesh” which means “soul” is translated in the English versions as “Appetite”. This connection can be seen further in the following verses (Psa107:5,9, Pro 27:7, Isa 29:8, 32:6, 58:10). The word Soul does not mean only “Appetite”. But the “Appetite” of the human is a main part of his Soul.
Prayer and Repentance are connected to Fasting
Coming before God Almighty, with repentant hearts has always been connected with fasting, as it is an affliction to ones Soul. (Neh 1:4, 9:1 Dan 9:3, Judg 20:26, Joel 2:12, 1Sam 7:6, 2Ch 20:3, Jon 3:5-8, Jam 4:8,9)
What is an acceptable fast to God Almighty?
One accompanied by charity – Isaiah chapter 58 – This chapter highlights an acceptable fast day in the eyes of our Creator. He says that the fast has to be coupled with righteous action, and that fasting and prayer done while neglecting the poor and hungry will not be accepted.
One accompanied by true repentance – Joel 2:12-14 – It is also seen in the Scriptures, that a fast with true repentance will surely be heard by God.
3. The Atonement Sacrifice
Amongst all the sacrifices and offerings mentioned in the Scriptures, special mention has also been given to the Atonement Sacrifice. Leviticus chapter 16 details these instructions. In it, God mentions that Aaron (and his sons after him) who was named as the priest, would come before Him into the Holy of Holies, with an offering for himself and his family. After this, he should bring 2 goats and cast lots on them to decide on which one was to be sacrificed as a offering and which one was to be led into the wilderness. This goat was called the scapegoat (Azazel), and aaron was to place his hands on this goat confessing all the iniquities of the people Israel and then this goat was led into the wilderness. Not only did God say that this is a statute forever, He also said that “the fast” and “the Sabbath rest” was applicable to all aliens living among the children of Israel.
If we are enforcing the remembrance of this day, why don’t we do the sacrifices and the rituals that are written along with it? There are a few reasons.
1) Only the Aaronic priesthood can do any sacrifices on the earthly temple (Num 16 & 18).
2) Sacrifices can only be done in the tabernacle/temple in Jerusalem (Deut 12:10-13).
3) Yeshua (real name of Jesus) has become a sin offering for us (Heb 9:12,26)
4. The Significance of “The Day of Atonement” to us, as believers in Christ
This Prophetic Feast signifies the day when Our Father in Heaven will atone/make amends/make payment for the sin of His people through the Blood of Messiah. He will act as the Sacrifice that was done on the Day of Atonement for all Israel(Rom 5:11). And the “Scapegoat” which was led into the wilderness with all of the Sins of the people spoken over it, would be “satan” who will be finally bound for a season and then thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev 20:1-3,7-10).
We should celebrate this day with repentance and fasting, remembering the sacrifice that has already been done and the future day when this payment will be made forever.
The Day of Atonement which is also mentioned as “the fast” in Acts 27:9 by Luke, was not done away by Yeshua or His disciples just as He said “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”. In His first coming, Christ fulfilled the Passover, Firstfruits and Pentecost. In His second coming, He will fulfill the Day of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles. In obedience to God’s Commandment, it is only right that we repent of all our sins and fast, showing our Father that we come to Him in all honesty and humbleness. There is nothing that we do, which can cover up our sins. It is only His grace that saves us. Let us remember his Love & Mercy as we proceed to remember His Prophetic Appointment given to us long ago, which we eagerly wait to see fulfilled.