Yom Kippur—A Journey Through Past History and on Into the Future
Yom haKippurim (literally, the Day of Atonements, plural) is not a one-time thing. The redeemed believer is covered by the blood of Yeshua at the time of their initial salvation, but needs additional covering every time they sin. We need this covering of blood on an individual and collective basis.
This pattern was set in Leviticus 16 when on the Day of Atonement, the high priest made atonement for his sins, those of his family, of the nation and even the Tabernacle of Moses itself due to defilement cause by men’s sins.
We’re all in this thing together. My sin affects you and vice versa. My sins are passed on down to successive generations, and unless I break the sin cycle through the means that YHVH has provided, this sin cycle will continue as it has from Adam to this day bringing corruption, ruination, division, strife and death to all men.
Atonement and At-One-Ment—It’s About Healing Broken Relationships
The English word atone means “to make amends or reparation of wrong or injury.” Atonement biblically means “to cover, purge, make an atonement (Heb. kaphar), make reconciliation, cover over with pitch.” As with many Hebrew words, kaphar means not only to cover over sin (by the blood of the Lamb), but it means “to reconcile and purge.” When we sin, we need the forgiveness of Yeshua and his blood to pay for or to cover over our sin debt. We also need to get purged of the inclination to sin in the first place. We also need to make amends with those we’ve injured in the process of sinning—to reconcile with them, to repair the damage, and to mend the breach in the relationship. When we sin, a breach occurs both on the vertical level (with Elohim) and on the horizontal level (with our neighbor). Each of us is a broken, damaged and hurt person, and we have a hard time mending the damage we’ve caused to others, which is a painful process, but one which yields rich results in healing wounded relationships including the wounds and brokenness of our own heart. We must humble ourselves to do this. Pride and self protection prevents most us from repenting and asking forgiveness of Elohim and of others. To come into the presence of YHVH, we must take the step. Yom Kippur pictures our taking this step.
Some Bible teachers have taken the word atonement and have made a word play out of it by turning it into at-one-ment. This play of words isn’t totally without merit, since the word atone comes from a Middle English word meaning “to make or become united or reconciled” or literally “to become at one with someone else.” There’s a lot of at-one-ment that needs to occur between people and their Heavenly Creator! The older I get, the more I realize this!
- First man sinned against Elohim in the garden, and relationship was broken on the vertical level (between Elohim and man).
- Next, Cain lifted up his hand up against brother and murdered him. Relationship was broken on the vertical level (between man and man).
- Then men rebelled against YHVH in the pre-flood world, and the global sin, rebellion, murder and mayhem have been going on ever since.
- There were conflicts between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau and between Joseph and his brothers.
- Down the road a bit historically, the children of Israel rebelled against YHVH at the golden calf incident and many other times as well while wander in the wilderness.
- Finally the nation of Israel was so wracked with sinfulness that the nation split in two and almost murdered each other to death in numerous feuds and conflicts.
- Broken relationships of all kinds are only restored slowly.
- In Acts 3:21, Peter relates the restoration of all things to the second coming of Yeshua. Many things need to be restored between men and YHVH, between individuals, between families, tribes and nations. This can only happen when men recognize that they’ve sinned against YHVH by breaking his commandments and because of pride, selfishness, egos and the like, which brought have pain and destruction on this planet. Only through faith in Yeshua and repentance of sin and his blood covering us and then all men coming into agreements with the need to follow YHVH’s standards of Torah-righteousness will there ever be reconciliation and atonement between men.
The Day of Atonement and the Tabernacle of Moses
The Tabernacle of Moses is about restoration, reconciliation, healing and at-one-ment. It’s about healing the breaches between men and ultimately man and Elohim.
With regard to the Tabernacle of Moses, before entering the tabernacle compound, the individual had to first come to the altar of the red heifer outside the tabernacle and get cleansed from the sting of death, which is sin by the death of Yeshua on the cross. This is pictured by Passover during the day portion of the month Nisan or Abib fourteen in the mid-afternoon when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. What was the significance of the red heifer sacrifice and why did it have to occur outside the tabernacle and latter the temple? The Torah identifies six levels or degrees of spiritual defilement with death being the greatest or most severe defilement. Sin defilement at any level renders fellowship with Elohim impossible (The Temple and Its Service, by Alfred Edersheim, pp. 278–279). Coming into the tabernacle and advancing through its stations to the innermost room in the sanctuary symbolically represents the saint entering into a deeper walk and fellowship with Elohim. Edersheim notes that since death is the greatest defilement, it, therefore, requires the greatest sacrifice. The Levitical sacrificial system conducted inside the temple was not able to permanently absolve men of their sin debt. Only something or someone outside that system could once and for all time pay the wages of men’s sin, which is death. The red heifer that was sacrificed outside the tabernacle and latter the temple pointed prophetically to Yeshua the Messiah who, by his atoning death on the cross, once and for all paid the price for mankind who was defiled by sin and spiritually dead in his sin the penalty of which is death (ibid. p. 281). The red heifer, the azazel goat and the dove let loose in the leprosy cleansing ritual all point to the ultimate atonement of Yeshua’s death on the cross occurring outside the temple and its Levitical sacrificial system. As the red heifer was sacrificed on the side of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Brook opposite the Eastern Gate of the temple, so, it is likely that this same place was the location of Yeshua’s crucifixion. (Notice the vantage point of the Roman centurion from the place of Yeshua’s crucifixion in Luke 23:45 and 47 and his ability to see the torn curtain in the temple from that spot.)
Now that the redeemed believer has been purified ritually from sin, he is now able to come into the tabernacle’s outer courtyard where he first encounters the altar of sacrifice representing the idea that he must keep walking forward spiritually with the cross continually in his full view. At the altar, he must eat Yeshua’s flesh (the Word of Elohim) and drink his blood (stay under the blood) for the rest of his life. He accepts Yeshua as Savior and Lord or Master of his life. This means that when he sins (goes against the Yeshua’s word or commandments) subsequent to initial salvation, he must return to the altar for cleansing forgiveness. Passover during the evening of Abib fifteen (during the Passover seder), which also occurs at the beginning of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a picture of this.
Next in his progression into the Tabernacle of Moses, the redeemed believer comes to the bronze laver symbolizing baptism for the remission of sins, receipt of the Holy Spirit and cleansing or washing in the water of the Word of Elohim. The last high holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolizes this step.
To this point, the redeemed believer has only been in the tabernacle’s outer courtyard, which pictures cleansing from sin, redemption and orienting one’s life around obedience to Yeshua. After this, the redeemed believer is ready to enter into the tabernacle sanctuary itself, which is a spiritual metaphor for entering into a more intimate relationship with Yeshua the Messiah now that one is totally committed to following the Lord.
Once inside the tabernacle, the first station one comes to is the golden menorah. There, the Torah is written in one’s heart and after having received the Holy Spirit at the bronze laver, one is now able to live out the Torah from a heart of love and faithfulness. Torah-obedience shows us to love Elohim and one’s fellow man. As one walks out the Torah under the power of Holy Spirit (i.e. Yeshua living his life in us) the believer will manifest the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit in his life. In so doing, he becomes a spiritual light to those around him. The manifestation of the love of Yeshua and the other fruits of the Spirit in his life attracts people to the gospel message and by the power of the Spirit, the people, like an agricultural harvest, are reaped and brought into the kingdom of Elohim. This is the regathering of the lost and scattered Israel that Yeshua said it was his and our mission to gather (Mat 15:24; 10:6 cp. Acts 1:7–8). The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost is a picture of this.
Next, now that many redeemed believers are beginning to be united in Yeshua by the Holy Spirit’s work, it is time for the redeemed believer to march forward into YHVH’s presence not just as a solo individual, but as a body of redeemed believers. This is regathered, reunited and redeemed Israel coming before the King of Heaven through Yeshua. The next furnishing in the tabernacle is the table of showbread, or, more accurately, the table of (YHVH’s) presence or face. This pictures all the twelve tribes of Israel coming together in YHVH’s presence in a pure, sin-free or spiritually unleavened or deleavened state. All the tribes of Israel are of equal status before YHVH — one tribe isn’t above the other. That’s why the loaves of unleavened bread are aligned in two stacks six each on the table. This is pictured by the Day of Trumpets when Yeshua will descend from heaven and regather his elect at the first resurrection to meet him in the air at his second coming.
Next we come to the altar of incense just in front of the veil separating the holy place from the holy of holies. There the tribes of Israel (redeemed Israel or the one new man, see Eph 2:11–19) prepare to enter into the kingdom of Elohim in the fuller sense of the concept through the blood of the Lamb of Elohim and through prayer, praise and worship. No one comes through the veil into the throne room of Elohim except through the blood of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim and through praise and worship! Redeemed Israel comes into YHVH’s presence as a united group comprised of many redeemed individuals, as a spiritual family, a nation comprised of twelve tribes all singing YHVH’s praises and worshipping him on bent knees with a humble heart. This is pictured by the Day of Atonement. This is the spiritual bride of the King preparing herself in robes of righteousness, a sin-free nation, getting ready for its marriage to Yeshua, the King of kings.
After this, one is ready to enter the veil into the most holy place of all where the ark of the covenant is located. This is a picture not only of King YHVH-Yeshua’s throne room, but of his bridal chamber as well where the King and his bride — redeemed Israel — are married and cohabit. From there they will rule over all Israel and the world during the kingdom of Elohim on earth for one thousand years, which is also known as the Millennium (Rev 20:4–6). The Feast of Tabernacles pictures this.
Finally, after the Feast of Tabernacles or the Millennium comes the Eighth Day holy day representing the New Jerusalem coming out of the New Heavens onto the New Earth (Rev 21 and 22). Above the ark of the covenant and the entire Tabernacle of Moses is the glory cloud picturing the very presence of YHVH Elohim. Not only is eight the number of new beginnings but also of eternity. The New Jerusalem is the spiritual habitation of the glorified saints who make up redeemed Israel who will live with YHVH-Yeshua forever in the heaven on earth called the New Jerusalem.
Passover and Atonement Contrasted
Passover is about the healing of and bringing redemption to the sin-sick individual and restoring him into a spiritual relationship with their Creator.
The Day of Atonement, on the other hand, is about healing the sin-sick nation comprised of many redeemed individuals and restoring it to a relationship with the Creator.
YHVH starts with individuals then moves out to the nation. He started with Abraham and created a nation from one man. He started with Yeshua, the Seed of Abraham, then the twelve disciples, and then the seventy, then the seventy nations of the world. He told his disciples to start in Jerusalem, then move to Judea and from there to go to the whole earth in regathering the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Act 1:7–8). Are we part of this process of healing that YHVH initiated through the death of Yeshua on the cross? Are we part of the solution or, because of our stubborn pride, part of the on-going problem?
The Gospel Proclaimed in Leviticus 23:27–32
When you were a young child you were no doubt curious about the world around you. There was so much to see and learn about. What was more exciting than exploring that world by going on trips to new places or even spending hours investigating and playing in a nearby a forest? Let’s become curious and teachable again like children we used to be and now explore Leviticus 23:27–32 where we find the command to observe the Day of Atonement (Heb. Yom Kippur) to see what surprising nuggets we can find here. In the simplicity of this text, we will discover outlined the entire gospel message of salvation prophetically foreshadowed some 1500 years before the birth and death of Yeshua the Messiah.
The text of Leviticus 23:27–32 is highlighted in bold with explanations following.
Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement [Heb. kippur]. (Lev 23:27)
Yom Kippur is about atoning, reconciliation and purging, which is the meaning of kippur. Purging who of what? We’ll soon find out.
It shall be a holy convocation for you…(Lev 23:27)
Yom Kippur is a commanded assembly or a sacred convocation for YHVH’s people. It was made holy not by men, but by the Creator of the universe. Men can’t make anything holy, for men aren’t holy. Only the Holy (Heb. Kadosh) One of Israel can do this. The Day of Atonement is also a divine appointment (Heb. moed, Lev 23:2) as determined by the YHVH Elohim. It is a time when the Creator demands to meet with his people. Humans who miss it defy the Creator’s commands.
…you shall afflict your souls…(Lev 23:27)
Afflict is the Hebrew word anah meaning “to oppress with the idea of humility or meekness in mind coupled with the idea of a suffering life rather than with one of worldly happiness and abundance” (The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 2, p. 682).
So what is this soul that we are commanded to afflict? Each human has a soul (1 Thess 5:23). You soul is who you are. It is what makes you unique. It is your personality, your emotional makeup, your mental abilities and your willpower. Your soul determines what you say, do and think. Yeshua called it the heart of man (Matt 12:35; 15:19). It is attached to and in charge of the human body. It tells the body what to do, saw and think. The soul is the source of sin in the human (Ezek 18:4).
Why does YHVH command his people to afflict their souls (i.e. to go one day without food and water) on Yom Kippur? The reason for this is that the soul must be put down, or sublimated and brought under the control of the Word and Spirit of Elohim if man is to have a spiritual relationship with the Creator, which can eventually result in man receiving eternal life and membership into his heavenly kingdom. Yeshua taught his disciples that “he who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for [Yeshua’s] sake will find it” (Matt 10:39), and that “whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for [Yeshua’s] sake will find it” (Matt 16:25). The sinful soul (the mind, will and emotions) of men is what prevents man from coming into a spiritual relationship with the Creator. That is why the proud, self-righteous, rebellious, lawless and willful soul of man must be afflicted and humbled, so that it can be brought under the control, power and influence of the Word and Spirit of Elohim, so that man can experience the abundant life in this world and the next (John 10:10). This is why the carnal soul of man has to be starved. By learning to control our physical appetites through fasting, we can learn how to control the passions of our carnal natures. This is what the baptism for the remission of sins ritual is all about. It’s about death to the old sinful man and coming alive to the spirit man through legal and spiritual identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua through the aid and influence of Elohim’s Set-Apart Spirit. In Romans 6:3–11 we read,
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into the Messiah Yeshua were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as the Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with the Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that the Messiah, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to Elohim. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to Elohim in the Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
…and offer an offering made by fire to YHVH. (Lev 23:27)
This is referring to the animal sacrifices that were made on Yom Kippur where animals were slaughtered and laid on the altar in the Tabernacle of Moses as an offering to Elohim. This ritual teaches us two things. The first is that the innocent animal that was sacrificed on the altar was a prophetic shadow or type of Yeshua’s death on the cross. His death atoned for or purged man of his past sins and redeemed man from the death penalty that came upon him because of that sin. We read in Leviticus 16 that on Yom Kippur the high priest sacrificed animals on the altar in the tabernacle as a sin offering for himself and the children of Israel. He then sprinkled its blood before the mercy seat in the holy of holies, which pictured the throne of Elohim in heaven. This in every way points to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross for man’s sins, and Elohim’s acceptance of that death in payment or exchange for the penalty for man’s sins, which is man’s death.
The next thing that this offering by fire alludes to is that the afflicting the soul is a picture of the saint dying to himself. He must be willing to lay his life on YHVH’s spiritual altar by “present[ing] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is your reasonable service” (Rom 12:1). What is it to be a living sacrifice for Elohim? It involves dying to oneself (i.e. one’s carnal and sinful passions) and not only accepting Yeshua as one’s Savior, but as the Lord or Master of one’s life as well. Many people want the Savior part, but not the Master part. It comes as a package. One can’t have the Savior without the Master. If Yeshua is truly one’s Savior, then he will also be one’s Master. This is because he bought and paid for each of us with his life, and he now has the legal right to tell us what to do. When you accepted him, this was a legal transaction. If you want salvation from the death penalty you brought on yourself by your sins, you must also accept heaven’s terms and conditions to free you from that death penalty. There is no other way. People lie to themselves if they think they can chart their own course of “spirituality” and make up their own rules to find a relationship with their Creator some other way. It doesn’t work that way! Every other way is a satanic counterfeit that leads to death and eternal separation from Elohim.
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Set-Apart Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify Elohim in your body and in your spirit, which are Elohim’s. (1 Cor 6:19–20)
[K]nowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of the Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet 1:18–19)
And you shall do no work on that same day…(Lev 23:28)
Yom Kippur is a Sabbath day of rest when no work is to be done. This phrase is found twice in this passage (in this verse and again in verse 31). This alludes to the fact that there are two kinds of work of which the Bible speaks. There is physical work that man does to support his life, and their are spiritual works of righteousness, which are based on obedience to the Torah-laws of Elohim.
First, on Yom Kippur YHVH commanded man to stop his routine physical work activities and to focus solely on his Creator by giving him full attention. If we want the benefits and blessings YHVH Elohim has to offer us, then we have to obey his rules. This means that jobs, school, sports, entertainment and all the other secular activities that we normally engage in must cease on YHVH’s sabbaths including Yom Kippur. Scripture enjoins man to put Elohim in first place in all areas of his life. Yeshua said, “But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt 6:33). This is a hard thing for carnal humans to do.
The second thing that resting on the Day of Atonement teaches us is that we’re not saved by our own works. We can never do enough good works to earn our salvation (Eph 2:8–9). If we want spiritual salvation, we must rest in Yeshua’s good works to save us from the evil works of our past sin. This is the righteousness of Yeshua being imputed to our spiritual bank account. Paul discusses this in Romans chapter four. This is the message, in part, of Hebrews chapter four. Yeshua and the apostolic writers teach us that there is a place for good works in the saint’s life, but it’s not for the purpose of earning their salvation. Good works are the good fruits in our lives as a result of our salvation and proof that we’re living our lives under the influence Spirit of Elohim. As such, the Bible teaches that our good works will determine our level of rewards in his heavenly kingdom (e.g. Matt 5:19; 16:27; Rom 2:6; 2 Cor 5:10; Eph 6:8; 1 Pet 1:17; Rev 2:23; 19:8; 20:12; 22:12). Our good works of righteousness are proof that we love Yeshua (John 14:15), that we know Elohim (1 John 2:3), that we love our fellow man (Rom 13:8–10), and that we have the love of Elohim in us (1 John 2:5).
…for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before YHVH your Elohim. (Lev 23:28)
As noted above, the word atonement is the Hebrew word kippur meaning “atoning, reconciliation and purging.” What does man need atoning and purging from? From sin. To whom does he need to be reconciled? To the One he has sinned against—YHVH Elohim. The atonement for man’s sin occurred when Yeshua died on the cross as the writer of Hebrews discusses in great details in chapters nine and ten of that book (note also Matt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:12; 10:19–22; 12:24; 1 Pet 1:2, 18–19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5).
For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. (Lev 23:29)
The spiritual lesson here in light of our discussion above is that those who don’t bring the carnal, sinful nature of their soul under control of the Word, Spirit and lordship of Yeshua will be cut off. To be cut off from the nation of ancient Israel was tantamount to receiving the death penalty. One could neither survive in the desert wilderness or outside of the protection of Israel among the hostile and murderous Canaanites. Similarly, there is no salvation outside of a relationship with Yeshua the Messiah and outside the nation or commonwealth of redeemed Israel (Eph 2:11–19), which is the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16), and the spiritual body of Yeshua (Eph 5:30) and is called the one new man (Eph 2:15), and is the spiritual olive tree of Israel into which all humans (both Jews and non-Jews) must be grafted (Rom 11:16–24). Those who are outside of the spiritual nation of redeemed Israel are without Elohim and without hope (Eph 2:12) and will perish in their sins.
And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. (Lev 23:30)
Those who refuse to humble themselves by afflicting their carnal soul man and accepting Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice will perish in their sins and will be cut off from Elohim and from the potential of being rewarded with the gift of eternal life. They will eventually receive divine judgment for their actions by being cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11–15).
You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Lev 23:31)
The Torah-law of Elohim emphasizes the fact that Yom Kippur is a rest day. No work is to be done on this day. Again, this teaches us that no man can be saved by his good works. All of man’s righteous works is as filthy rags before Elohim (Isa 64:6; Phil 3:9; Tit 3:5). We are only saved and justified by the merciful grace of Elohim alone (Tit 3:5–7), which then leads us to do the good works of obedience to YHVH’s commandments (Tit 3:8; John 14:15; Eph 2:10; 1 John 2:3–6).
It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate [Heb. shabat meaning “to rest, or (cease) working”] your sabbath [Heb. shabbat]. (Lev 23:32)
Yom Kippur is a day to completely cease from all work and to focus completely on Yeshua’s atoning work of the cross to save man from his sins and to reconcile him to YHVH Elohim, his Creator.
When carefully examined, the seven verses of this brief passage in Leviticus about Yom Kippur reveal some glorious spiritual nuggets. In prophetic shadow form, these verses teach the whole message of the gospel and what man must do in order to be saved from the death penalty imposed on him because of his sin. The results of this atonement or salvation results in the person being reconciled to his Creator, which, as we learn elsewhere in the Scriptures, leads to eternal life as a glorified child of Elohim and member of his eternal kingdom and family.
[W]hoever believes in [Yeshua the Messiah] should not perish but have eternal life. For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:15–16)
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of Elohim abides on him. (John 3:36)
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
Yeshua said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (John 11:25–26)
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)
[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that Elohim has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For “whoever calls on the name of YHVH shall be saved.” (Rom 10:9–11, 13)
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Yeshua the Messiah for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
Whoever believes that Yeshua is the the Messiah is born of Elohim, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and keep His commandments. (1 John 5:1–2)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of Elohim; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:24–29)
On Being a Living Sacrifice and Our Priestly Service
On Yom Kippur, we reflect on the depravity, uncleanness of man because of his sin.
On Yom Kippur, we reflect on Elohim’s judgment upon man because of his sin.
On Yom Kippur, we reflect on the righteousness and holiness of Elohim.
On Yom Kippur, we reflect on the enormous distance of gulf that exists between Elohim and man as a result of man’s sin and Elohim’s holiness.
On Yom Kippur, we reflect on the need for man to stop from time to time to recognize these things and each of our need to come back into right relationship with Elohim.
Yom Kippur is about restoring relationship between Elohim and man and between man and man. This is done through soul searching, confessing sin, repenting of sin, accepting Yeshua’s payment for our sin through faith in his death, burial and resurrection, and through a life of submitted to Yeshua our Lord or Master involving committed obedience to him and regular prayer and study of his word.
Yom Kippur is about man entering into a deeper intimate relationship with our Father in heaven through the blood of the Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim and the incense (a symbol of prayer) from the altar of incense as represented by the high priest going into the holy of holies with blood and incense each year on Yom Kippur.
It is true that we no longer sacrifice a physical lamb to atone for our sins and to restore a right relationship with Elohim. That was done once and for all when Yeshua died on the cross. Now we are blessed to be able to come into YHVH Elohim’s presence by virtue of what Yeshua the Lamb did on the cross once and for all for us. We do so by identifying with him through our faith in his sacrificial, burial and resurrection, and by becoming living sacrifices (Rom 12:1). The Tanakh (Old Testament) shows us that what YHVH wants more than the sacrifice of innocent animals is a right a pure heart of repentance and obedience.
As we now focus on the aspect of the Levitical high priest offering up incense morning and evening before the veil of the tabernacle (Exod 30:7–8), and on Yom Kippur actually offering up incense inside the holy of holies (the earthly representation of YHVH’s throne in heaven, Lev 16:11–14), let us consider the following:
The Bible reveals that our prayer to Elohim is like sweet smelling incense coming up before his throne in heaven (Rev. 5:8). Incense is connected to the morning and afternoon sacrifice that was offered in the Tabernacle of Moses (Exod 30:7–8; Heb. 13:15–16). The writer of Hebrews here echoes the words of Hosea (Hos 14:2).
- The righteous person will offering up the incense of his prayers and praise to YHVH morning and evening.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. (Ps 113:3)
- The prayers of the righteous are like sweet smelling incense to Elohim.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. (Rev 5:8)
- The saints now make sacrifices to Elohim with their lips through continual praise.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to Elohim continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices Elohim is well pleased. (Heb 13:15–16)
- The psalmist equates his act of worship and prayer as a parallel to sacrifice. Incense (a metaphorical and prophetic symbol for prayer, Rev. 5:8) is connected to morning and evening sacrifice, where the prayers of the Saints are likened to the incense which was mingled in with the morning and afternoon sacrifices.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. (Ps 141:2)
- Prayer is a sacrifice of our lips. Since there is no longer a temple or a Levitical priesthood, and since Yeshua’s death fulfilled the sacrificial system his role as our heavenly High Priest fulfills Levitical priesthood, it is no longer required for us to offer physical sacrifices. This is now down through prayer. The words of Hosea the prophet were directed to the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom who had no temple. These words also apply to us, since we have no physical temple either.
O Israel, return unto YHVH thy Elohim; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to YHVH: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (Hos. 14:2)
- The saints now offer incense before the YHVH’s throne through prayer and study of his Torah-Word. Torah prohibits offering sacrifice outside of where YHVH has placed his name. How do the nations offer up sacrifices in every place as Malachi says (Mal 1:11)? Through Torah study and prayer. Alfred Edersheim in his book The Temple and Its Service discusses this.
For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations,” says the YHVH of hosts. (Mal 1:11)
- YHVH greatly desires a higher form of sacrifice from us than literal physical sacrifices.
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hos 6:6)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom 12:1)
[Yeshua declared,] “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt 9:13)