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]. (v. 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). Your 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 each person; it is the soul that sins (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, sinful soul of man has to be starved. By learning to control our physical appetites through fasting, we can learn better how to control the sinful 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 one’s personal spirit or inner 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 (Gal 2:20; 1 Cor 5:17). 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 symbol pointing to 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 comes 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 afflicting the soul is a picture of the saint dying to carnal, sinful nature. Each of us 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 of Yeshua, but not the Master part. It comes as a package; you can’t have one without the other. If Yeshua is not your Master, then he is not your Savior either. 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)Continue reading