Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
New Understanding About YOM KIPPUR!
What is the real meaning of the Day of Atonement -- or Yom Kippur? Should Christian Israelites also celebrate this awesome Day of YEHOVAH's Holy Day Calendar? What does it have to do with Judgment -- whose judgment? What is the strange "Azazel" goat which is sent into the wilderness? What does all this have to do with the soon coming of the Messiah and YEHOVAH God Himself to judge this world? Here, for the first time, is NEW UNDERSTANDING about the Day of Atonement!
by HOIM Staff
We read in the book of Leviticus, concerning the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur:
"The LORD said to Moses, 'The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a LASTING ORDINANCE for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath" (Leviticus 23:26-32, NIV).
The Day of Atonement -- or "Yom Kippur" in the Hebrew -- is the fifth Holy Day of the year according to YEHOVAH's Holy Day Calendar. But what does this day represent? Why does YEHOVAH God command its observance as an everlasting ordinance? What does it have to do with salvation and the Plan of YEHOVAH God?
YEHOVAH's Holy Day Calendar begins with Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the spring of the year, during the time of the beginning of the spring harvest. Passover represents not only the escape of ancient Israel out of Egypt during the time of Moses, but the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah as the true "Passover Lamb" of the people of Israel, who gave his precious life for all the sins of Israel (I Corinthians 5:7). The Days of Unleavened Bread picture YEHOVAH's Israelite people coming out of sin, eating the "hardtack" and flat bread that has no "leaven." Leaven pictures "sin" -- or corrupting influences -- during this season (I Corinthians 5:6-8).
Beginning the day after the first annual holy day of Unleavened Bread, or Passover, we are commanded to "count the omer" -- that is, to number off the days following the seven Sabbaths complete, until the "Fiftieth Day" -- which is Pentecost, or "Shavuot" -- the "Feast of Weeks" (Leviticus 23:15-16). This period of time, during which the Israelites came out of Egypt and enduring the "wilderness" journey to Mount Sinai, pictures our coming out of sin, and the trials and experiences of the Christian life -- a life to be spent in overcoming, enduring the "wilderness" of this evil world, and being brought to "perfection" so that we can be in YEHOVAH's Kingdom at the return of the Messiah and YEHOVAH God Himself.
Then, seven weeks and fifty days after the First Day of Unleavened Bread, comes the annual festival of Pentecost, "Weeks," or "Firstfruits" in the summer. This Holy Day is the day when Moses came down off Mount Sinai and delivered the Ten Commandments to Israel, thus confirming the covenant which YEHOVAH God began to make with them when He drew them out of slavery in Egypt. At Sinai YEHOVAH "married" Israel, and entered into a holy relationship with them as His people, and with Him as their true God. But even further, Pentecost is the very Day on which YEHOVAH God sent the holy spirit to the New Testament Church, imbuing His people Israel with internal spiritual power and resources thereby (Acts 2:1), and pictures the time when the Messiah will appear and confirm the "New Covenant" with his bride, the Church. Thus in antitype, Pentecost portrays the coming of the Bridegroom (the Messiah) for the Bride (the Church), and should be observed as a special day of commitment and covenant renewal every year.
As we see, the spring holy days therefore picture the plan of YEHOVAH God -- from conversion to the Kingdom! But what about the Fall holy days?
The High Holy Days
In the fall of the year, the High Holy Days begin. The first day of the seventh month is called "Rosh Hashanah," which means, literally, "the Head of the year." It is the first day of the first month of the Civil Calendar. It is also called the Festival of Trumpets, or "Blowing of Trumpets" (Leviticus 23:23). The shofar, or ram's horn, was blown to commemorate and inaugurate the day.
The Feast of Trumpets has a special relationship to the coming "Day of the LORD" in Bible prophecy. The "Day of the LORD," mentioned in many prophecies in the Old Testament, is the time when YEHOVAH God the Father will begin to intervene in world affairs, and to bring warnings and plagues upon the earth, because of the sins of mankind.
During the "Day of the Lord" -- a "day" equals a "year" in fulfillment, so this "Day of the LORD" will most likely last about one literal year -- YEHOVAH God Himself will begin to "judge" the nations of Israel and send plagues upon the earth. These plagues will be introduced by seven trumpets which will be blown by angels, introducing seven plagues which will be poured out on the world (see Revelation 8-9). Notice -- there are many trumpets blown -- each one being a "call to repentance," as it were -- and a warning that YEHOVAH God is sending another plague upon the earth! There are six trumpet plagues announced.
Each of the Hebrew months was officially introduced by the blowing of trumpets -- notice!
"...at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpet over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings..." (Numbers 10:10).
Since the festival year in which all the Mosaic festivals were found was SEVEN MONTHS LONG, the last month -- Tishri -- was the last month for a trumpet introduction. This is one of the reasons that the day was called "the Day of Trumpets." The last trump in the seven months' series was always sounded on this New Moon day. This made it the final trumpets' day -- notice Leviticus 23:24:
"Say to the people of Israel, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial PROCLAIMED WITH A BLAST OF TRUMPETS..."
Each of these New Moon trumpet blasts equates with the trumpet plagues of Revelation, as follows --
1) Nisan 1 -- first trumpet plague
2) Iyyar 1 -- second trumpet plague
3) Sivan 1 -- third trumpet plague
4) Tammuz 1 -- fourth trumpet plague
5) Ab 1 -- fifth trumpet plague
6) Elul 1 -- sixth trumpet plague
7) Tishri 1 -- Feast of Trumpets, seventh trumpet plague
The Feast of Trumpets, therefore, pictures YEHOVAH's seventh and final trumpet plague and the enthronement of YEHOVAH God prior to His return to this earth. Notice how Revelation 11:15 pictures YEHOVAH's enthronement --
"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD [YEHOVAH] and of His Christ, and He [YEHOVAH] shall reign for ever and ever'."
Writes Ernest L. Martin:
"This was the EXACT DAY that many of the ancient kings and rulers of Judah reckoned as their inauguration day of rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra. The Day of Trumpets was acknowledged as the time for counting the years of their kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was THE BLOWING OF TRUMPETS. For Solomon: "Blow ye the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon" (I Kings 1:34). For Jehu: "And blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king" (II Kings 9:13). At the enthronement of Jehoash: "The people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets" (II Kings 11:11)" (The Star that Astonshed the World, ASK Publications (Portland, OR, 1991) p. 198).
The Day of Trumpets was the time for the start of the seventh month (Tishri) and the time for the "last trump" for introducing festival months. In the language of the New Testament, this clearly shows the time of the coronation of YEHOVAH God -- and it happens at the seventh (or last) trump in the Book of Revelation -- the Day of Trumpets.
The main theme of the Day of Trumpets is KINGSHIP! The blowing of trumpets was the sign that kings could then begin to rule -- see I Kings 1:34. Jewish authorities have long conceded this royal association with the Day of Trumpets. The Jewish historian Theodor H. Gaster states: "The Sovereignty of God is a dominant theme of the occasion [and] it is one of the cardinal features of New Year's Day" (Festivals of the Jewish Year, p. 115).
The main thrust of the synagogue services for the Day of Trumpets in early Judaism was the fact that YEHOVAH God rules over all and that He is the KING of kings. On this day it was common to quote Zechariah 14:16 -- "Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD [YEHOVAH] of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths." Many scholars believe that in ancient Israel YEHOVAH was crowned annually at the "New Year feast of YEHOVAH." Clearly, the major theme of the Day of Trumpets is that of enthronement and the commencement of YEHOVAH God's reign on this earth.
The angelic "trumpets" blown on the "Day of the LORD" are the spine-tingling fulfillment of the "trumpets" which were blown on the seven New-Moon days leading up to, and including, Rosh Hashanah -- the Hebrew "new year" -- also called "Yom Teruah" -- the Day of Blowing," meaning the blowing of the shofar. These trumpet plagues are warnings from YEHOVAH God to REPENT and prepare for the return of YEHOVAH God and the commencement of His reign following His enthronement on the day of the last trumpet -- the Day of Trumpets!
These trumpets lead up to and picture the enthronement of YEHOVAH God Himself! Thus the "Feast of Trumpets" pictures the commencement of YEHOVAH's reign, to be followed by the return of YEHOVAH God to judge the nations of Israel, and His people!
The themes of the Feast of Trumpets are evident in the seven trumpets of Revelation which serve to announce YEHOVAH's final judgment like the blowing of the shofar during the feast in Old Testament times. The blowing of the seven trumpets in Revelation corresponds to the blowing of trumpets at the seven New Moon festivals (Nisan-Tishri) in the Old Testament. Each new moon trumpet blowing was understood by the Israelites as a day of judgment in miniature -- which warned people to prepare for the final judgment ushered in by the Feast of Trumpets. Correspondingly, the blowing of the first six trumpets in Revelation warns people to prepare for the final judgment inaugurated by the blowing of the seventh trumpet. This final judgment will be presided over by Yeshua the Messiah who will act on behalf of his Father when YEHOVAH returns at the last trump.
The sound of the seventh or last trumpet will herald the descent of YEHOVAH God from heaven to gather the faithful of Israel and judge the living and the dead:
"For the LORD [YEHOVAH] Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD [YEHOVAH] in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord [Messiah]" (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
"And he [the Messiah] commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he [the Messiah] is the one ordained by God to be the JUDGE OF THE LIVING AND THE DEAD [OF ISRAEL]" (Acts 10:42).
As the Jewish people have been taught for millennia, and they have it right, this day pictures the return of YEHOVAH God and "the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our LORD and of his Christ, and He [YEHOVAH God] shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). The Feast of Trumpets begins the "Days of Repentance" or "Awe," leading up to the "Day of Atonement" -- or "Yom Kippur." These days are days of self-examination, and introspection for YEHOVAH's people Israel -- days of reviewing our acts, works, deeds, thoughts, and words, of the past year -- and preparing ourselves, through repentance and confession of our sins, to meet YEHOVAH God Himself when He returns on a future first High Holy Day of the Feast of Tabernacles!
The Jewish View of Yom Kippur
Writes Arthur Hertzberg in Judaism:
"One day a year Jews attempt to serve God as if they were angels, not mortals. Angels neither eat nor drink; their sole daily task is to praise God. So on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) the Jew neither eats nor drinks anything at all, observing the strictest of fasts, spending every waking hour in prayer and introspection. On that day, the conclusion of the Ten Days of Repentance, the fate of each human being for the year to come is finally decided" (p. 194).
Says The Jewish Book of Why concerning the Day of Atonement:
"The penitential period in the Jewish calendar actually starts at the beginning of Elul (one month before Rosh Hashanah). However, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have special significance because in Jewish tradition, as the liturgy of the High Holidays states, during this period God passes judgment over every individual, but RESERVES FINAL JUDGMENT UNTIL YOM KIPPUR.
"The Ten Days of Penitence are regarded as man's LAST CHANCE, through his actions, to influence God to reconsider an unfavorable decision (Rosh Hashanah 16b). For this reason, the holiday greeting which until Yom Kippur was leshana tova tikatevu, 'May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for good,' is changed, as Yom Kippur approaches, to g'mar chatima tova, 'May you be sealed in the Book of Life for good"' (p. 238).
Rabbi Irving Greenberg in The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays, points out how the theme of judgment permeates the entire period from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. He writes:
"On Rosh Hashanah the trials opens, the Judge [the Messiah] enters and takes his bench. The evidence is reviewed. Individual Jews hasten forward to plead their cases. The liturgy attempts to capture this mood. On Rosh Hashanah, God as Creator and Ruler is the central focus of the prayer. The divine qualities of awesomeness and judgment stand out in the human mind. By the time of Yom Kippur the primary liturgical focus shifts to the TRIAL ITSELF and to God's mercy, which more than anything else sustains people in the process of the judgment" (The Jewish Way, p.191-192).
Greenberg goes on, in a later passage, saying:
"Yom Kippur is liberation day: It brings FREEDOM from the crushing isolation of guilt.... This is the day of atonement, which means RESTORATION to the wholeness of community and roots. It means a NEW RECONCILIATION and a new unification of impulses and values, of individual and community, and of God and the human.
"Yom Kippur is a day of dazzling paradoxes. Israel stands before God, united as a community of sinners, publicly admitting the universal evil in all yet expecting and experiencing forgiveness and the purging of guilt through confession and mutual acceptance" (p. 207).
These Jewish insights into the meaning and significance of the Day of Atonement are valuable and assist us in ascertaining a deeper and more profound understanding of the Day. However, when we put the New Testament record together with the Old Testament, we come to see even clearer and more radiantly the full meaning and significance of this vital Holy Day.
The Real Meaning of the Day of Atonement
At the conclusion of the "Days of Repentance" or "Awe," following the Feast of Trumpets, which depicts the final WARNING BLAST that YEHOVAH God sends to warn the nations of Israel to repent and confess their sins, and to change their ways, comes the "Day of Atonement." Notice, now, what happens on this day!
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets -- which symbolizes YEHOVAH's final call to the nations of Israel to repent of their sins -- and the trumpet plague of the Day of the LORD, picturing YEHOVAH God's enthronement and the beginning judgments of the Israelite nations -- comes the Day of Atonement -- the Day of final Judgment!
Before the Feast of Tabernacles -- that great festival of harvesting and thanksgiving -- could take place Israel, as a nation, had to be reconciled to YEHOVAH God, because only a people AT PEACE WITH YEHOVAH could rejoice before Him in the blessing with which He had crowned the year. On the Day of Atonement the slate was wiped clean and the Israelites could begin their lives anew.
It was on this day that the high priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies, dressed in white clothing that symbolized the perfect purity which was sought by the atonement of that day. In the Book of Zechariah the removal of Joshua's "filthy garments" and the clothing of him with a "change of raiment" is epitomized by the verse that says "See, I have removed your iniquity from you" (Zechariah 3:4). Yeshua the Messiah, in his redemptive work on behalf of Israel, was typified by Israel's high priest and by the animals used in connection with the ceremony. In his letter to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul shows that Yeshua the Messiah is the great antitypical High Priest -- notice!
"And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, JUST AS AARON WAS. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, 'Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee'; as he also says in another place, 'Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek.' In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a HIGH PRIEST after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5: 4-10).
The apostle also reveals that the high priest's entry into the Holy of Holies one day a year (Day of Atonement) with the blood of sacrificial animals foreshadowed the entrance of Yeshua the Messiah into heaven itself with his own blood, therefore making atonement for those Israelites exercising faith in his sacrifice. Writes Paul --
"...but into the second [Holy of Holies] only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people....For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf....And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin BUT TO SAVE THOSE [ISRAELITES] WHO ARE EAGERLY WAITING FOR HIM" (Hebrews 9:7-8; 24, 27).
The entry of the Messiah into the heavenly sanctuary is pictured by the prophet Daniel, notice!
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days [YEHOVAH God], and they brought him [the Messiah] near before Him [YEHOVAH God]. Then to him [the Messiah] was given dominion and glory and a kingdom [Israel], that all peoples, nations, and languages [of that kingdom] should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [Israel] the one which shall not be destroyed" (Daniel 7:13-14).
We can see from Paul's writings that the Day of Atonement is a generator of hope and confidence because it reassures those of us of Israel that the Messiah has opened up for us a free and direct access to YEHOVAH God when he entered into the presence of YEHOVAH God. "In the Levitical Day of Atonement," explains Samuele Bacchiocchi, "only once a year the High Priest had access to the presence of God manifested in the Most Holy Place above the ark of the covenant. Now ALL [ISRAELITE] CHRISTIANS have direct access to God because of Christ's entry into God's presence" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, Biblical Perspectives (Berrien Springs, MI, 1996) pp. 197-198).
Paul, in the Book of Hebrews, assures those of us of Israel who follow the Messiah that on the strength of TWO immutable, ironclad and unchangeable propositions -- YEHOVAH's promise in Hebrews 6:15 and His oath in Hebrews 6:17 -- we are guaranteed free approach to YEHOVAH God through Yeshua the Messiah. Paul calls this assurance "a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul" (Hebrews 6:19). This anchor is "a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:19-20).
"What all this means is that for believers, the Day of Atonement embodies not only the hope of the future cleansing and restoration to be accomplished at the Second Advent, but also the assurance of the present free access to God because Christ has gone into the very presence of God as our forerunner. 'Consequently, he is able for all time to save those [of Israel] who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them'" (Hebrews 7:25) (ibid., p. 198).
The theme of judgment figures prominently on the Day of Atonement. The Book of Hebrews indicates that the Messiah's work of judgment and cleansing will occur shortly after his future appearance on this earth. The following verses make this apparent: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those [Israelites] who eagerly wait for him he will appear a second time, apart from sin, for SALVATION" (9:27-28).
In this passage Paul associates the death of Israelites -- which is followed by the final judgment (see Hebrews 10:26-27) -- with the Messiah's atoning death which is followed by his second appearance. In this association the judgment is placed concurrently with (or shortly after) his second appearance -- why? Because, at his coming, the Messiah will execute judgment typified by the cleansing of the Day of Atonement. It is a judgment that brings salvation to true Israelite believers and punishment to unbelievers. This is explained by Hebrews 9:28 which says the Messiah "will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." "The reason Christ does not deal with sin at his Second Coming," explains Bacchiocchi, "is because he comes, like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement, not to atone for sin BUT TO EXECUTE THE FINAL JUDGMENT, which is to save believers and punish unbelievers" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 184).
When the High Priest returns from the Holy of Holies at the end of the Day of Atonement, the verdict becomes apparent. Those of the Israelites who had repented of and confessed their sins, offering the sacrifices specified by YEHOVAH God, saw their sins completely removed and figuratively placed on the Azazel goat which was led away to perish in the wilderness. Those of the Israelites who had not repented of their wrong-doings and refused to repent and humble themselves before YEHOVAH were "cut off" from YEHOVAH's people and executed.
So it will be when the Messiah pronounces judgment at the end of the antitypical Day of Atonement. Those Israelites "who eagerly wait for him" (Hebrews 9:28) will be saved, but those who "sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth" (Hebrews 10:26) will experience "a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27).
In view of the prospect of the above judgment, Paul admonishes true Christian Israelites to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering...exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:23, 25). "The Day" that Paul mentions here as approaching is the antitypical Day of Atonement because this was its common designation among the Judahites -- a designation which would have been most familiar to the Judahites that the Book of Hebrews was directed to. Both the Mishnah and the Talmud refer to the Day of Atonement as Yoma, which means "The Day."
The Day of Atonement is the most abstemious, painful, afflictive day of the whole year. It is the day the Jewish people recite the prayer (at the evening or beginning of the Day of Atonement) of the "Kol Nidre" -- a moving prayer in which the people together recite a long litany of sins of every kind, and beg YEHOVAH God for forgiveness. The entire service is one of confessing sins, singing hymns of repentance and contrition, and seeking YEHOVAH God to "wipe the slate clean" for the coming year. It is an impressive, solemn, and can be a very emotional and moving spiritual experience.
The Day of Atonement is a day of fasting, affliction of the flesh, doing without food and water. We should spend much time meditating on our lives, confessing our sins, and repenting and looking to the sacrifice of the Messiah as atonement for us, that we might be truly reconciled to YEHOVAH God.
But the Day of Atonement does not just picture our personal and individual repentance, remorse, and contrition, and confessing of sin. It pictures the Day the sins of ALL THE NATIONS OF ISRAEL are going to be "put away," and "covered over," wiped away, and "atoned for," by the Messiah!
"Rightly observed," writes Rabbi S. Lehrman, "Yom Kippur can to this day be the regenerator of our lives, making us at-one with our Creator and bringing us nearer to the ideal from which we have departed. Life demands continual effort and self-sacrifice, for these things ennoble and purify. It is an effort that the day exacts. Understood and observed in this spirit, it will help us to acquire 'a new heart and a new spirit,' helping us to usher in the age when wickedness will be removed from the earth, like smoke before the gusts of health-giving winds" (The Jewish Festivals, London: 1956, pp. 198-199).
"The Day of Atonement," states Samuele Bacchiocchi, "holds the hope of regeneration and restoration not only for Jews but especially for Christians who believe that Christ is the antitypical High Priest who 'has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, but into heaven itself' to make expiation for our sins in the present and to save us at his Second Advent (Hebrews 9:23-28)" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 160).
The rituals of the Day of Atonement picture Judgment very clearly. Not only will all of Israel be judged on this day after the Messiah's return, but even Satan and his demon hordes also will be judged. Notice the amazing picture as it is portrayed in the 16th chapter of the book of Leviticus.
The Day of Atonement Rituals
What is the full symbolism of the Day of Atonement? To understand it in full, we must study the Day as it was observed anciently, while the Tabernacle of YEHOVAH God still stood. The Scriptural account giving the regulations for the nation of Israel during this day, and the Aaronic priesthood, is found in Leviticus 16. Notice!
"The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord [when they offered "strange fire" which YEHOVAH God had not commanded]. The LORD said to Moses: 'Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
"'This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
"Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the TWO GOATS and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats -- one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat ["Azazel" goat]. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and SACRIFICE it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by SENDING IT INTO THE DESERT as a scapegoat [Azazel] " (Leviticus 16:1-10).
The First Goat
The second "sin offering" on the Day of Atonement consisted of a male goat, chosen by lot from TWO IDENTICAL animals. The High Priest was to "kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil [of the Holy of Holies], do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat" (Leviticus 16:15).
The daily transference of the atoned sins of Israel into the Holy of Holies resulted in the defilement of the Holy of Holies. The Day of Atonement was the annual day of CLEANSING of the sanctuary (Holy of Holies) from the sins of Israel that accumulated throughout the year. With this is mind it is important to realize that ALL the sacrifices for sins offered throughout the year were intended to atone for the individual -- NOT for the Holy of Holies! There is absolutely no mention of daily sacrifices offered to atone for the sanctuary. The atonement of the daily sacrifices is always for the individual, as indicated by the following verse found throughout the Book of Leviticus: "The priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven" (Leviticus 4:31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13; 12:6-8).
Now, by contrast, the sacrifice and blood ritual of the first male goat offered on the Day of Atonement served to CLEANSE the sanctuary or Holy of Holies. The cleansing was accomplished by the High Priest sprinkling the blood seven times, first upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies and upon the altar of burnt offering in the court (Leviticus 16:16-19). This ritual cleansed the sanctuary with respect to the uncleanness of the Israelites that had been transferred to the sanctuary throughout the year during the daily services. Albert Treiyer points out that "in the daily sacrificial rituals, the sins and impurities of individuals were atoned for and transferred to the sanctuary. The Day of Atonement now focuses upon the cleansing of that sanctuary." Summing it up we can say that the daily rituals transferred sins TO the sanctuary, while the yearly ritual of the Day of Atonement removed the accumulated sins AWAY from the sanctuary.
The Day of Atonement plays a vital role in the consummation of redemption because it typifies the final cleansing and complete disposition of sin to be accomplished by YEHOVAH God at His return.
"It is curious," ponders Leon Morris, "that there is no mention either of laying on of hands or confession of sins over the goat for sin-offering" ("Day of Atonement and the work of Christ," Reformed Theological Review 14 (1955) p. 14). Alberto R. Treiyer reasons that this was because "the LORD's goat did not serve as a transfer victim to bring sin into the sanctuary [Holy of Holies], but as a CLEANSING AGENT to remove sins from the sanctuary" (The Day of Atonement and the Heavenly Judgment, (Siloam Springs, AR, 1992), p. 190, note 9).
Notes Samuele Bacchiocchi --
"While the sacrifice of the LORD's goat served to remove from the sanctuary the sins accumulated during the year, there is no reason to doubt that the people were forgiven and cleansed also of those sins repented of on that day. This is implied by the offering of regular and additional sacrifices on the Day of Atonement and also by the command that all, including the stranger, were to "afflict" themselves on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29). There would have been no point to expect all to humble themselves and repent on the Day of Atonement, if no forgiveness was granted on that day" (God's Festivals in Scripture and History, Part 2, p. 143).
The purpose of the sacrifice and blood ritual of the LORD'S goat is clearly stated in Leviticus 16:16 -- notice!
"And he shall make atonement for the holy place [Holy of Holies], because of the uncleanesses of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins."
The blood ritual performed inside the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:17), and on the altar in the court (Leviticus 16:18-19; Exodus 30:10) had the express purpose of cleansing the uncleanness of the Israelites by removing their sins away from the sanctuary in a complete and permanent way.
The purification rites which cleansed the Holy of Holies and resulted in a cleansed Israelite people (Leviticus 16:30, 33) symbolically vindicated YEHOVAH God who in His infinite mercy had "assumed accountability for the sins of His penitent people." "In a real sense," comments Alberto Treiyer, "the sacrifice of the LORD's goat on the Day of Atonement was in favor of the sanctuary and was an act of vindication for it. In this manner, the Day of Atonement was an affirmation of innocence so far as the sanctuary itself was concerned, because the sanctuary was in reality a representation of the throne and government of God. The One who took on the responsibility of all the sins that were deposited therein by sacrifice was the God who lived in it, and now He was being vindicated" ("The Day of Atonement as Related to the Contamination and Purification of the Sanctuary," in The Seventy Weeks, Leviticus, and the Nature of Prophecy, ed. Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD, 1988), p. 245).
As solemn as the services of the Day of Atonement were, the Old Testament worshippers would chiefly think with awe of the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies and the immediate presence of YEHOVAH God, finally coming out alive and securing for them, by the blood of the goat, the continuance of the Old Testament privileges of sacrifices and of access to YEHOVAH God through them.
The goat that was sacrificed represents Yeshua the Messiah, who offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. As Paul wrote, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us [that is, our sin offering], so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:21).
The apostle Peter wrote of the Messiah's offering for our sins: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (I Peter 2:23-25).
The apostle Paul writes about the services of the Day of Atonement, saying:
"It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year [on Atonement] with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared ONCE FOR ALL at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those [of Israel] who are waiting for him" (Hebrews 9:23-28).
The offering of the goat "for the LORD" on the Day of Atonement, then, was a figure of the sacrifice of the Messiah for the sins of the people of Israel! The goat that was sacrificed for a sin offering of the people represented the Messiah, who shed his blood for us.
The Sin Offering
"He [Aaron] shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel" (Leviticus 16:15-17).
The blood of this goat, representing the Messiah, not only atoned for the sins of the Israelite people, and their spiritual uncleanness and rebellion, but also cleansed all those physical things that came in contact with them -- the physical Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting, and the Holy Place itself! To use an analogy, it is as if sin is like "radiation." Whatever it touches also becomes "irradiated." If a man working in a nuclear facility comes in contact with radiating nuclear rods, and then goes outside, he would very likely be contaminated by radiation -- too much of a dose could even be lethal! A Geiger counter could detect the radiation emitting from his own body or clothing. He would have to be stripped, cleansed, bathed, and the clothing burned or properly disposed of, depending on its level of contamination.
Even so, since the Israelite man sins, everything he comes in contact with is contaminated by his sin, rebellion, evil thoughts and deeds. Therefore, EVERYTHING -- even the most holy things of the Sanctuary and Temple -- had to be "purified" and "cleansed" by the blood of the goat, symbolizing the blood of the Messiah. Sin contaminates like "radiation" -- but the blood of the Messiah can purify and cleanse ALL sin and spiritual contamination!
YEHOVAH God continued in His instructions to Moses: "Then he [Aaron, or the high priest descended from him] shall come out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times [the number of "perfection" or "completion"] to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites" (Leviticus 16:18-19).
Writes Edersheim concerning this ritual --
"The he [the high priest] killed the goat set apart for Jehovah, and, entering the Most Holy Place a third time, sprinkled as before, once upwards and seven times downwards, and again deposited the bowl with the blood of the goat on a second golden stand before the veil...
"By these expiatory sprinklings the high priest had CLEANSED the sanctuary in all its parts from the defilement of the priesthood and the worshippers. The Most Holy Place, the veil, the Holy Place, the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt-offering were now clean alike, so far as the priesthood and as the people were concerned; and in their relationship to the sanctuary both priests and worshippers were atoned for.
"So far as the law could give it, there was now again FREE ACCESS for all; or, to put it otherwise, the continuance of typical sacrificial communion with God was once more restored and secured. Had it not been for these services, it would have become impossible for priests and people to offer sacrifices, and so to obtain the forgiveness of sins, or to have fellowship with God. But the consciences were not yet free from a sense of personal guilt and sin. That remained to be done through the 'scape-goat'" (The Temple, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., (Grand Rapids, MI, 1987) pp. 315-316).
What, then, does this second goat -- or the "scape-goat" -- represent? Notice!
The "Azazel" Goat
"When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the LIVE GOAT. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites -- all their sins -- and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a SOLITARY PLACE; and the man shall release it in the desert" (Leviticus 16:20-22).
What does this "live goat" represent? We have already seen that the sacrificed goat represented the Messiah himself. But this goat was NOT "sacrificed." Yet the "sins" of the people were confessed over it, and put on its head. That is, it was made to be RESPONSIBLE for the people's sins -- it was to carry the BLAME! What person, or individual, does this goat represent, who is made to bear responsibility for the sins of the people?
The KEY to answering this question is found in Leviticus 16:5, which says: "And he [Aaron] shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two male goats for A [singular] sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering." In other words, the TWO goats made up a single offering -- not two different offerings!
Another factor is mentioned by Alfred Edersheim in his book on the Temple --
"The two goats, however, must be altogether alike in look, size, and VALUE; indeed, so earnestly was it sought to carry out the idea that these two formed parts of one and the SAME sacrifice, that it was arranged they should, if possible, even be purchased at the same time" (The Temple, p. 312).
An example of this can be found in the purification of lepers -- see Leviticus 14. According to the Mishnah, two birds offered for the leper were to be PRECISELY the same color, size and value, and, if possible, bought on the same day -- to mark the fact that the two formed integral parts of ONE AND THE SAME SERVICE. Edersheim makes the observation that "the rites [for lepers] are, in fact, twofold -- the first [analogous to the goat sacrificed on the Day of Atonement], to restore him [the leper] to fellowship with the congregation; the other [analogous to the scape goat] to introduce him [the leper] anew to communion with God. In both respects he [the leper] had been dead, and was alive again; and the new life, so consecrated, was ONE HIGHER than the old could ever have been"! (ibid., p. 358).
This agrees amazingly with the rites of the Day of Atonement if we accept the fact that BOTH GOATS REPRESENT THE MESSIAH!
The identifications of the two goats with the Messiah can be traced back to early Christianity. In his dissertation on The Symbolism of the Azazel Goat, Ralph Levy takes a look at the interpretation of Azazel in both ancient Jewish and early Christian literature. He found that in many early Christian writings the two goats BOTH REPRESENT YESHUA THE MESSIAH! We find a clear example of this in the General Epistle of Barnabas written, according to some experts, before the Epistle of Jude and the writings of John. Some of the early Church Fathers believed that this epistle was written for the benefit of the Ebionites "who were tenacious of rites and ceremonies." Notice what Barnabas says:
"Take, says he, two goats, fair and alike, and offer them, and let the high priest take one of them for a burnt offering. And what must be done with the other? Let it say he be accursed. CONSIDER HOW EXACTLY THIS APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A TYPE OF JESUS. And let all the congregation spit upon it, and prick it; and put the scarlet wool about its head, and thus let it be carried forth into the wilderness. And this being done, he that was appointed to convey the goat, led it into the wilderness, and took away the scarlet wool, and put it upon a thorn bush..."
Continues Barnabas --
"And to what end was this ceremony? Consider; one was offered upon the altar, the other was accursed. And why was that which was accursed crowned? Because they shall see Christ in that day having a scarlet garment about his body; and shall say: Is not this he whom we crucified; having despised him, pierced him, mocked him?....
"But what then signifies this. That the wool was to be put into the midst of the thorns? THIS IS ALSO A FIGURE OF JESUS, sent out to the church. For he who would take away the scarlet wool must undergo many difficulties, because that thorn was very sharp, and with difficulty get it: So they, says Christ, that will see me, and come to my kingdom, must through many afflictions and troubles attain unto me" (6:6-9; 10-11; 14-15).
The origin of the two goats themselves may very well be found in the famous episode when Jacob is persuaded by his mother to dress up like his brother. Rebecca instructs him, in Genesis 27:9, to "go now to the herd and bring me two good goats..." The Mishnah expands on this, saying:
"How do we know that it was in the merit of Jacob [that we take the two goats]? These are the goats that his mother referred to "Go now to the herd and bring me two good goats..." Why are they called "good"?
"Rabbi Brechia said in the name of Rabbi Chelbo: 'They are good for you and good for your children. They are good for you when you enter, and take the blessings from your father, and they are good for your children, when they soil themselves in sin all year round. Then they will bring these two goats, and offer them and be cleansed'" (Pesikta Rabbati 47).
Jacob's entrance into his father's presence may be paralleled with the once-yearly entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies. Jacob prepared for this appearance with THE TWO GOATS, as his descendants would in the future.
The most important point concerning the scapegoat is found in Leviticus 16:10, which says -- "But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make ATONEMENT upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness." If we choose to believe that "azazel" represents Satan -- as many in the churches do -- this raises the question of whether or not Satan can make an atonement for YEHOVAH's people! Nowhere in the Bible is there a reference to Satan having any part in the atonement process. Instead, we read in Romans 5:11, "And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation [atonement]."
Also, in Hebrews 1:3 --
"Who being the brightness of His [YEHOVAH's] glory and the express image of His [YEHOVAH's] person, and upholding all things by the word of His [YEHOVAH's] power, when he [the Messiah] had BY HIMSELF PURGED OUR SINS, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty [YEHOVAH God] on high..."
Notice, now, Hebrews 9:25-26:
"Further, he [the Messiah] did not enter heaven to offer himself over and over again, like the high priest who enters the Holiest Place year after year with blood that is not his own; for then he [the Messiah] would have had to suffer death many times -- from the foundation of the universe on. But as it is [in reality] he has appeared once at the end of the ages in order to do away with sin through the sacrifice of himself" (Jewish New Testament).
The Bible clearly states that the Messiah made the atonement for us BY HIMSELF! In spite of this, it is suggested by many that the first goat represented the atoning work of Yeshua while the second goat represented Satan. It is argued that, since Satan was "the original cause" of all sin, "justice demands that God place right back on the head of the devil his guilt -- not our guilt, but his own guilt -- for leading us into sin" (Pagan Holidays or God's Holy Days -- Which? Herbert W. Armstrong, Worldwide Church of God, 1974, p. 46).
Armstrong goes on to say that the "driving away of the second live goat shows the final atonement, by placing the sins on their author where they belong, and the complete removal of the sins and their author from the presence of God and His people -- and thus the complete deliverance of the people from the power of Satan" (page 47).
If this scenario is true -- where in the Bible is the fulfillment of Leviticus 16:21, where the High Priest lays his hands on the azazel goat? The antitypical High Priest (Yeshua the Messiah) is -- according to Armstrong's interpretation -- to lay hands on Satan's head and confess the sins of Israel upon him. Where in the Bible is this even remotely mentioned? It could be said that the angel of Revelation 20:1 represents the "fit man" that sends the goat (Satan, in this interpretation) into the wilderness (represented by the "bottomless pit"), but without the fulfillment of the actual laying on of hands -- or any other references to Satan making an atonement for us -- it becomes nothing but total assumption, a mere unprovable theory.
Some even go so far as to suggest that the angel is in fact the Messiah, portrayed in revelation 19:11-14 as coming down from heaven to earth to smite the nations. However, the trouble with this scenario is that Revelation 19:11-14 DOES NOT portray the return of the Messiah but the RETURN OF YEHOVAH GOD! For more information on this read our article The Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah! Even if this passage did indeed portray the return of the Messiah, the personage in Revelation 20:1 is NOT THE SAME and comes down from heaven -- at a later date -- to bind Satan. This ANGEL is the ONLY ONE who lays hands on Satan -- NOT TO CONFESS SINS ON HIS HEAD -- but to cast him into the bottomless pit!!
On the other hand, the Bible paints a beautiful picture of the fulfillment of Yeshua the Messiah as the goat that was sent away bearing the sins of Israel. Notice Leviticus 16:22 -- "The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he [the "fit man"] shall release the goat in the wilderness." Now consider the following passages:
ISAIAH 53:6 -- "And the LORD [YEHOVAH God] has laid on him [the Messiah] the iniquity of us all." The sins of Israel were laid on the Messiah. They were placed on him, and him ALONE.
ISAIAH 53:11 -- "For he [the "righteous Servant" -- the Messiah] shall bear their iniquities."
ISAIAH 53:12 -- "And he [the Messiah] bore the sin of many..." Yeshua the Messiah is the ONE who bore our sins. He carried them away upon his own head -- which is what the Hebrew "cabal" (bare) means.
ISAIAH 53:4 -- "Surely he [the Messiah] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;" The Messiah is the sin-bearer -- NOT Satan!
HEBREWS 9:28 -- "So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many."
I PETER 2:24 -- "...who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree..." There is NO OTHER sin-bearer!
JOHN 1:29 -- "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
I JOHN 3:5 -- "And you know that he [the Messiah] was manifested to take away our sins, and in him there is no sin.
Yeshua the Messiah is the goat that carried away the sins of Israel. He took them upon himself and "was made to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21). He therefore fulfills the antitypical "azazel" goat. There is no need for Satan to bear anyone's sins -- he has his own sins to bear and they will prove to be unbearable!
Now the act of laying on of hands (Leviticus 16:21; also Leviticus 1:4; 3:2; 4:4, 15, 29 33) symbolizes the TRANSFERENCE OF SINS from the guilty party (the children of Israel) to the INNOCENT party -- the azazel goat. The INNOCENT then becomes the sin-bearer. Undeniably, Yeshua the Messiah fulfills the type -- see Isaiah 53:4, 6, 11, and 12. Satan, however, CANNOT fulfill the type because he is not innocent! It simply will not satisfy YEHOVAH God's justice to transfer the sins of the guilty to another guilty party. Since lots were used to decide which goat was "for YEHOVAH," it meant that BOTH GOATS had to be unblemished and identical. The antitype of an unblemished goat was the sinlessness of Yeshua the Messiah. Can it be said that Satan is sinless and was to be represented by an unblemished goat? NEVER!!
The azazel goat was to bear the iniquities of the children of Israel into a land "not inhabited." We have just read passages from the Bible that undeniably teach that the Messiah is the ONLY sin-bearer. Therefore, he can be the ONLY person that fulfills the type of "azazel." With that in mind, HOW does the Messiah fulfill being sent to a land not inhabited and let go into the wilderness?
The Hebrew word for "not inhabited" is gezerah -- meaning "a desert (as separated)." It comes from the root word gazar, meaning "to cut down or off." The Messiah was certainly cut off and separated from not only the land of the living, but also from his Father YEHOVAH God. When Yeshua cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) it was because at that moment he was separated from YEHOVAH -- having taken upon himself the sins of all Israel. Sin always causes a separation from YEHOVAH, as Isaiah wrote: "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His [YEHOVAH's] face from you, so that He [YEHOVAH] will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2). The Messiah's disciples also separated themselves from him by forsaking him and denying him.
Yeshua was even separated because he "suffered outside the gate" and "outside the camp" (Hebrews 13:11-13). Notice what Alfred Edersheim says about the "azazel" goat ritual --
"Then a strange scene would be witnessed. The priests led the sin-burdened goat out through 'Solomon's Porch,' and, as tradition has it, through the eastern gate, which opened upon the Mount of Olives. Here an arched bridge spanned the intervening valley, and over it they brought the goat to the Mount of Olives, where one, specially appointed for the purpose, took him in charge. Tradition enjoins that he should be a stranger, a non-Israelite, as if to make still more striking the type of him [the Messiah] who was delivered over by Israel unto the Gentiles [to be crucified]!
"Scripture tells us no more of the destiny of the goat that bore upon him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, than that they 'shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness'" (The Temple, p. 318).
Ernest Martin, in his book Secrets of Golgotha, elaborates on this theme by saying,
"Let us look at the sin offerings associated with the Day of Atonement. Since it was necessary for those sin offerings on that most holy day to be taken eastwards from the Temple, out the eastern gate, over the two-tiered arched bridge crossing the Valley of the Kidron, and then up to the summit of the Mount of Olives to be burnt to ashes, SO JESUS WAS ALSO TAKEN from the same Temple, out the eastern gate (Heb. 13:10-13), also over the two-tiered bridge, and up to the summit of Olivet just south of the Miphkad Altar and there crucified (and stoned to death). The SIMILARITY must have struck early Christians as highly significant. Even the ashes of all the animals sacrificed and burnt to ashes in the Temple had to be taken out the same eastern gate, over the two-tiered bridge, and up to the summit of Olivet to be poured out at the base of the Miphkad Altar."
Continues Martin --
"This means that Christ Jesus, with the events that happened to him on the day of his trial and crucifixion, FOLLOWED THE SAME PATH of all the animal sacrifices (or their ashes) in the ritualistic ceremonies of the Temple. With an understanding of these geographical and ritualistic indications associated with the passion of Christ, we are provided with even more symbolic and theological teaching that Jesus Christ did in fact FULFILL THE ROLE OF THE SIN-BEARER, and that he was the prophesied one to offer a pure and complete sacrifice to God for all people [of Israel] in the world" (ASK Publications (Alhambra, CA, 1988) pages 246-247).
Yeshua the Messiah was the sin-bearer -- NOT Satan the Devil! Yeshua was sent into the wilderness of total separation as he bore our sins away.
Now, what about the "fit man" that escorted the goat to the edge of the wilderness? If the angel of Revelation 20:1 is not the fulfillment -- then who is? Clearly, the "fit man" that the priests handed the azazel goat over to was fulfilled by the officer in charge of the Temple police or guard, that carried out the crucifixion of the Messiah. While I consider this fulfillment of the "fit man" to be the correct one, these is another possible antitype.
The word "fit" comes from the Hebrew "timely, opportune, at hand." Some translations render it, "a timely man," "a man of opportunity," or "an appointed man." The Bible reveals there was a man who was "at hand" at the right time, "appointed" by YEHOVAH God to lead the Messiah to his "wilderness" separation. That man could, in all likelihood, have been Judas. Acts 1:16 states that Judas "became a guide to those who arrested Jesus." It also says, in Matthew 26:24, "The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Yeshua was "going" to the wilderness bearing our sins upon him. Judas could have been the man appointed to lead and guide Yeshua on that journey into the wilderness of total separation.
Although the Messiah has fulfilled BOTH typical goats, there remains one major aspect of the Day of Atonement that remains unfulfilled. The antitypical JUBILEE TRUMPET marking the beginning of the Jubilee year (which was typically blown on the Day of Atonement when it came due) has yet to be blown. When Yeshua returns his verdicts towards the end of the Day of Atonement, the JUBILEE TRUMPET will sound to set the Israelite captives free from death and the Day of Atonement will see its total fulfillment.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is this: The Bible unequivocally declares Yeshua the Messiah to be the ONLY sin-bearer who not only died for the remission of sins, but also the only one to actually take those sins away. When we realize that YEHOVAH's goat and the azazel goat are ONE atonement offering -- rather than two separate offerings separated by thousands of years -- we can understand and appreciate the symbolic fulfillment more readily. Yeshua is the perfect fulfillment of the typical atonement sacrifice. As YEHOVAH's goat his blood CLEANSED the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:23) and the Israel of YEHOVAH (Leviticus 16:17). As "azazel" he bore the sins of Israel and took them away forever!
The "live goat," who has the sins of the people of Israel put on his head, and who is then led into the desert, to a solitary place AWAY from all people, also represents Yeshua the Messiah!
According to Alfred Edersheim,
"the sins of the people were confessed NOT ON THE GOAT WHICH WAS KILLED, but on that which was 'let go in the wilderness,' and that it was this goat -- NOT the other -- which "bore upon him all the iniquities" of the people. So far as the CONSCIENCE was concerned, this goat was the real and the only sin-offering 'for all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,' for upon it the high-priest laid the sins of the people, after he had by the blood of the bullock and of the other goat 'made an end of reconciling the Holy Place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar.'"
Continues Edersheim --
"The blood sprinkled had effected this; but it had done NO MORE, and it could do no more, for it "could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the CONSCIENCE. The symbolical representation of this perfecting was by the LIVE GOAT, which, laden with the confessed sins of the people, carried them away into 'the wilderness' to 'a land not inhabited.' The only meaning of which this seems really capable, is that though confessed guilt was removed from the people to the head of the goat, as the symbolical substitute, yet the goat was not killed, only sent far away, into 'a land not inhabited,' so, under the Old Covenant, sin was not really blotted out, only put away from the people, and put aside till Christ came, not only to take upon himself the burden of transgression, but to blot it out and to purge it away" (The Temple, pp. 320-321).
The blood of both the bullock and the first goat -- which the High Priest carried once a year into the Holy of Holies -- was offered only for himself (including the priesthood) and for the errors (more correctly, ignorances) of the people of Israel.
"But this live scape-goat," explains Edersheim, "'let go' in the wilderness, over which, in the exhaustive language of Lev. xvi.21, the high-priest had confessed and on which he had laid 'all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins,' MEANT SOMETHING QUITE DIFFERENT. It meant the inherent 'weakness and unprofitableness of the commandment;' it meant, that 'the law made nothing perfect, but was the bringing in of a better hope;' that in the covenant mercy of God guilt and sin were indeed removed from the people, that they were 'covered up,' and in that sense atoned for, or rather that they were both 'covered up' and removed, but that they were not really taken away and destroyed till Christ came; that they were only taken into a land not inhabited, till he [the Messiah] should blot it out by his own blood; that the provision which the Old Testament made was only preparatory and temporary, until the 'time of the reformation;' and that hence real and true forgiveness of sins, and with it the spirit of adoption, could only be finally obtained after the death and resurrection of 'the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world'" (The Temple, pp. 321-322).
The live (azazel) goat that was let go every year was a remover of sins which were never really removed in the sense of being blotted out -- only deposited, as it were, and reserved until the Messiah died for our sins on the tree.
Philo, a leading Jewish historian and writer of the first century, who was a friend of the apostle Peter, wrote of the Azazel goat, "The one goat is given to 'the fugitive creature,' and the lot which it received is named in the prophesy 'sent away,' because it is persecuted, expelled, and driven far away by wisdom" (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, "Feasts and Fasts," p. 862). What a perfect picture of the Messiah!
The Final Gehenna Fire
This Gehenna fire is going to be the final fate of ALL the incorrigible wicked of Israel -- not only Satan and his demons, but all the wicked among the nations of Israel as well who do not repent of their sins and have them covered by the blood of the Messiah! (Revelation 20:11-15).
Matthew's gospel records, "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal [aion or "age-lasting"] fire prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
Those Israelites whose sins are covered by the blood of the Messiah will inherit eternal life, by the grace and mercy of YEHOVAH God, through the Messiah our mediator. But those who refuse the love of YEHOVAH God, who refuse to obey YEHOVAH and keep His commandments, who refuse to repent of their sins, an awesome day of Judgment lies in store for them.
The Day of Atonement pictures YEHOVAH's forgiveness for all those Israelites who come to Him. It pictures the sacrifice of the Messiah for the sins of those of us of Israel, and the coming day of Judgment and Salvation of YEHOVAH's Israelite people. As Paul wrote, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles [Israelites in dispersion] has come in. And so ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion, he will turn godlessness away from Jacob [Israel]. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their [Israel's] sins" (Romans 11:15-27).
But those who of Israel refuse to repent of their sins, and to come to the Messiah for mercy and pardon, those who harden their hearts in iniquity and lawlessness, will suffer eternal condemnation -- death in the lake of fire. John writes, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). John went on, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the SECOND DEATH" (Revelation 21:8).
There is one fate awaiting all the incorrigible wicked of Israel. The prophet Malachi declared:
"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant, and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will SET THEM ON FIRE, says the LORD Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ASHES under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty" (Malachi 4:1-3).
The Day of Judgment
The whole lesson of the Day of Atonement is twofold: First, judgment is coming to Israel. As the apostle Peter wrote, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?' So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good" (I Peter 4:17-19).
This great day of judgment will begin shortly after the future appearance of the Messiah! As John wrote in Revelation: "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Revelation 14:14-16).
All Israel will be judged, according to their works. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
But in that coming judgment, there is forgiveness and mercy and grace through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord and Savior, who died for those of us of Israel on the tree, who gave his life as a ransom for us! "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (Romans 5:1-2).
Paul goes on, "Since we [Israelites] have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:9-11).
What about you? Where do you stand? The Day of Atonement represents forgiveness and pardon for some of Israel -- and wrath and eternal judgment for others! Do you stand with the righteous of Israel? Or with the wicked? Are your sins covered by the blood of Yeshua, the Messiah and Redeemer? Or are you still covered with the scars and sins of rebellion and wickedness?
Have you had your own personal "Day of Atonement" yet? Have you made peace with YEHOVAH God? Have you accepted, and confessed, Yeshua the Messiah as your own personal Saviour, Redeemer, Messiah, and coming King and Lord and Master over Israel, and given your life over to him completely, as his servant, to use as he sees fit?
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