Leviticus 16 deals with the Day of Atonement. In the Jewish feast calendar there are seven major feasts—four in the spring, three in the fall. The fall feasts begin with the Rosh Hashanah, also called Feast of Trumpets. The Feast of Trumpets inaugurates the ten days of awe, which is ten days of Teshuvah or repentance, of soul searching. They begin the New Year getting right with G-d. You fast, deny yourself, you search your heart. As an individual we want to start the New Year right, as a community we want to cry out to the Most High for the sins we have committed as a people, as a nation. This leads up to Yom Kippur also known as the Day of Atonement, which is in Leviticus 16. Yom Kippur centers around the sacrifices, the Temple and the Cohen Godal or High Priest. We need a high priest, a person who speaks on behalf of the people. The High Priest must be someone above reproach, Holy by lifestyle, one who lives the commands of G-d.
Leviticus 16:3,4 teaches…3 “Here is how Aharon is to enter the Holy Place: with a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering. 4 He is to put on the holy linen tunic, have the linen shorts next to his bare flesh, have the linen sash wrapped around him, and be wearing the linen turban -they are the holy garments. He is to bathe his body in water and put them on.
I can only imagine the scene at the Temple. Scholars say that at the time of the second Temple that over 200,000 people could be gathered together on the Temple Mount. Take a moment to imagine the incredibly beautiful building, but even more so, what it was constructed of. It took 2.3 million stones to build it. Some of the stones were 10’x10’x80’ and weighed hundreds of tons! Archeologists still don’t know how they moved those stones into place. They carved the stones away from the Temple and then moved them into place. I have read that still today, we do not have the machinery that could move those stones into place.
Close your eyes and you can envision the awesome sight, hundreds of thousands of people merge onto the Temple Mount after ten days of crying, wailing and fasting to come before the presence of The Holy One hoping to have their sins removed. They are counting on one man, the Cohen Gadol to go into the presence of G-D to represent them. If He gets it wrong, he dies, if the offering is not accepted, theirs sins remain written in the books of heaven against them. Sobering isn’t it.
Finally it begins. I can imagine the sounds of the animals bleating and bellowing can be heard, but not a word is spoken in the courts of the Temple. You know something very special is about to happen here. It is only on this day the High Priest is dressed this way. He is wearing the garments that the Creator of the universe Himself gave instructions to be made and worn. The “Scapegoat” with the RED sash tied around it’s horns, representing the sins of all Israel. What a sight to see, what a feeling they must have had in their very inner spirit man, knowing that the G-d of Heaven was about to manifest His presence in the Holy of Holies. Then it begins, the high priest makes the offering of the bull for his own sins and that of his household. Then proceeds through the entire ritual laid out in Leviticus chapter 16.
Chapter 16 is a VERY interesting read. I encourage you to take the time to read it and if you are a believer in Yeshua as Messiah you will see the correlations to what messiah went through. Or, you can read it in Messianic Jews (Hebrews) found in the Brit Chadashah which by the way, is VERY Jewish.
The Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach Ben Elohim is our Cohen Gadol. Yeshua (Jesus) is our sacrifice whose blood is better than goats and bulls. The High Priest in the Old Covenant had to repeat the process on Yom Kippur generation after generation. He never got to “sit down” by that I mean make and end to the blood sacrifices as their was no sacrifice good enough to wash the sins away, abolishing them in perpetuity. Hebrews 9:11-15 and 12:1,2 tells us the rest of the story…… But when the Messiah appeared as Cohen Gadol of the good things that are happening already, then, through the greater and more perfect Tent which is not man-made (that is, it is not of this created world), 12 he entered the Holiest Place once and for all. And he entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of his own blood, thus setting people free forever. 13 For if sprinkling ceremonially unclean persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer restores their outward purity; 14 then how much more the blood of the Messiah, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself to G-d as a sacrifice without blemish, will purify our conscience from works that lead to death, so that we can serve the living G-d! 15 It is because of this death that he is mediator of a new covenant [or will]. Because a death has occurred which sets people free from the transgressions committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 12:1,2 So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment – that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement – and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, 2 looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua – who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of G-d.
If you haven’t placed your trust in Yeshua (Jesus), but are rushing around during the “Ten Days of Awe” trying to get in as many mitzvot (good deeds) as you can before the Day of Atonement, trying to get your name written down in the book of life, stop! Take a deep breathe, put your trust in the ONE perfect sacrifice, the Holy Lamb of G-d, Yeshua HaMashiach Ben Elohim.
Yeshua paid the price once and for all, for you and me. He was the “Scapegoat” with the RED crown of blood around His head, as the crown of thorns pierced into his skin. Gentiles then led him outside the city, to be crucified on the execution stake as the final blood sacrifice for our sins.
Isn’t it is time to place your trust in the ONE who is both sacrifice and High Priest?
Pray this simple prayer….Yeshua (Jesus), I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of G-d and my High Priest. Please apply the sacrifice of your blood that washes away sin forever, to the sins I have committed. I put my trust in you as Messiah. Amein!
If you prayed that prayer in sincerity, this is the “Day of Atonement” for you for eternity! Please let me know if you did so, by emailing me at the address below my name. The National Jewish Fellowship has some material for you to read that will help you in your new relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
Wishing you a Sweet and Happy New Year, full of the Shalom of Atonement through faith IN Yeshua.
וָעֶד לְעוֹלָם מַלְכוּתוֹ כְּבוֹד שֵׁם בָּרוּך
BARUKH SHEM KEVOD MALKHUTO LE-OLAM VA-ED
(“Blessed be His name, whose glorious kingdom is forever and ever”)
Rabbi Cliff Maynard
The Rock Of Israel Congregation
National Jewish Fellowship of the AG