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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 of the month until the following evening you are to observe your Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26-32

Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah – The Day of Trumpets) is held on the first day of the seventh month. Ten days later, on Tishri 10, the Day of Atonement is observed. Some Jews observe a ceremony on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah called Tashlich, which means “you will cast.” It comes from a saying of the prophet Micah: “… and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depth of the sea.” Those observing this tradition go to a river, pray, empty their pockets of lint and bread crumbs. As they throw these into a river, they believe that the water will carry their sins away.

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are commonly known as the Ten Days of Awe. During the Ten Days of Penitence (in Hebrew, Asseret Yemey Tshuva, which, literally translated, means ten days of return), prayers of penitence are included in the daily synagogue services.

Yom Kippur is the most holy, most solemn day for the Jewish people. It is the last day of the High Holy Days which began on Rosh Hashanah. Many Jewish people spend the entire day in the synagogue, praying and fasting in the hope that their sins will be forgiven and that they will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life for the coming year. The synagogue service begins with Kol Nidre which means “all vows.” This special prayer in Aramaic asks forgiveness for promises made to God which have been broken by accident. Kol Nidre was used by Spanish Marranos, Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition, yet who secretly maintained their original faith.

During the afternoon service, the Book of Jonah is read. At the close of the evening service, the shofar is blown for one long blast, the first and only time on Yom Kippur.

Not only is the Book of Jonah a picture of God’s grace and salvation being offered to the Gentiles, but it also foreshadows the miraculous sign that identified Israel’s true Messiah:

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:38-40

The most solemn and holy day for the Jewish people is the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), when the entire Book of Jonah is read. Jesus, the Lamb of God, proved He was the one true acceptable atonement offering when He rose from the dead on the third day.  

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, traditional Judaism has substituted the study of the Torah, repentance (tshuva), prayer (tfilah), charity (tzedakah) and good deeds (mitzvoth) for the blood sacrifices that are required to cover sins. Instead of substitutionary sacrifice (a type of grace); modern Judaism is a religion of works. Some Chasidic Jews (ultra-orthodox) as well as some Orthodox Jews practice Kappa rot, the practice of swinging a fowl over their head seven times and asking that the fowl be considered as an atonement offering for sins.

The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. 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.” Leviticus 16:1-4

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod,did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 5-8Jesus our Messiah is not only the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for our sins, but is also our High Priest. Aaron, the brother of Moses, had to remove his ornate priestly garments and put on plain white linen garments before he could enter the Most Holy Place. Bathing and then putting on clean white linen was symbolic of being purified from sin and then being clothed with righteousness. Only after purification, could Aaron come before the mercy seat to first offer up an atonement offering for himself and then for his people Israel.

Just as the earthly high priest removed his ornate priestly garb on the Day of Atonement, Jesus removed His garments of glory and took on the nature of a man in order to provide atonement for sinful mankind.

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. 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.  Leviticus 16:5-10

“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

The Hebrew word for scapegoat is azazel. Azazel was seen as a type of Satan. The sins of the people and thus the punishment of the people were laid upon azazel, the scapegoat. He would bear the sins of the people and the punishment of the people would be upon him. Azazel being sent into the wilderness is understood to be a picture of Satan being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20).

This ceremony found in Leviticus is discussed at length in the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud is a collection of ancient rabbinic writings consisting of the Mishnah (the text) and the Gemara (the commentary), constituting the basis of religious authority in Orthodox Judaism. The Second Order of this version of the Talmud is called Moed meaning Appointed Times or Feasts. Volume VI of Moed is “The Book of Yoma” which is dedicated to Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement). The books of the Talmud are divided into sections known as tractates. Tractate 39a of the Babylonian Talmud records some enlightening events concerning the timing of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and traditions associated with the Day of Atonement.

 Leviticus 16:8 instructs that the first lot is for the LORD (YHWH), while the second lot is drawn for the scapegoat (azazel). The high priest (Cohen HaGadol) took the two lots (stones were used), one marked YHWH and the other marked Azazel, and placed one upon the head of each animal, sealing their fate. It was considered a good omen if the lot marked for the LORD was drawn by the priest in the right hand, but for 40 years prior to the destruction of the temple (Beit HaMikdash) in 70 AD, this lot was drawn by the priest on the left hand.

This and other unusual events associated with Yom Kippur reads in the Talmud as follows:

 “During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the LORD’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western most light shine; and the doors of the Hekel [Temple] would open by themselves.”

For forty years in a row, beginning in 30 AD (the time of the ministry of Jesus), the High Priest picked up the lot for the LORD in his left hand – a bad omen. The odds against this happening are astronomical (2 to the 39th power). In other words, the chances of this occurring are over 500 billion to one!

Another dramatic indication that something had gone wrong with the Temple sacrificial system between 30 AD and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD concerns the tradition of tying a crimson cloth onto the scapegoat. A strip of this red cloth worn by the scapegoat was torn off and tied to the Temple door. Each year the red strip of cloth on the Temple door turned white as an indication that the Yom Kippur sacrifices were acceptable to the LORD. This annual event happened until 30 AD when the cloth then remained crimson each year until the time of the Temple’s destruction.

 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”    Isaiah 1:18

Here is yet another statistically astronomical indication that the blood of bulls and goats was no longer acceptable to make atonement for the sins of Israel. The scarlet strip remained red for forty years symbolizing that Israel’s sins remained unforgiven.

During this period of history it is also recorded that the Temple doors would open by themselves and that the lights of the Temple Lampstand were blowing out. 

 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.  Hebrews 7:27

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12

Messiah Jesus was sacrificed once for all. The perfect sacrificial Lamb of God is also our eternal High Priest forever and the mediator of a new and better covenant.