Many Christians know that Jesus fulfilled the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, in the tabernacle in heaven when He presented His own blood as our High Priest. But Christians don’t realize the Day of Atonement is also key to their future glorification, Judgement day, and the Year of Jubilee.
In 2022, Yom Kippur is from sundown, October 4th, to sundown on the 5th.
There will be three fulfillments of the Day of Atonement. They represent our justification, our glorification, and the world’s judgement.
1. Justification: YHWH justified us (declared us righteous) because of our faith in the atoning blood of Jesus, offered as a sacrifice in the temple in heaven.
He did not enter by the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption.Hebrews 9:12
2. Glorification: Thousands of Christian disciples will ‘appropriate’ their atonement and use it to enter God’s presence in heaven. They’ll see the glory of God, and then God’s glory will emanate from them in fulfillment of Isaiah 60-62, which begins by saying,
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”Isaiah 60:1
3. Jubilee and Judgement Day: On a future Day of Atonement a trumpet will announce the Year of Jubilee, when all debts are forgiven and all inheritances get restored (Leviticus 25:9.) Also, many believe Jesus will return to earth with the armies of heaven to judge the nations on a Day of Atonement.
What is the Day of Atonement?
The Biblical Day of Atonement (Yom haKippurim) was an annual purification and reconciliation ceremony, making Israel’s temple and people ceremonially clean before YHWH.
It’s traditionally a day of fasting and ‘afflicting one’s soul.’ It’s the most holy day on the Hebrew calendar.
Dr. Michael Heiser views the Day of Atonement as an annual ‘reset button’ for Israel’s moral decontamination and reconciliation with YHWH. After this annual reset, the temple and the Israelites were ceremonially clean, so that God could dwell among them for another year.
Israel’s Sins Were Covered, but not Forgiven
The English phrase ‘Day of Atonement’ is from the Hebrew words Yom ha Kippurim, which literally translate into English as the ‘day of coverings.’
Ever since YHWH covered Adam and Eve’s nakedness with an animal skin, YHWH has been covering our sins.
‘Coverings’ is from the Hebrew word kaphar. It means to cover over, pacify, or appease God. So, the Day of Atonement each year was when Israel’s sins could be ‘covered over,’ enabling Israel to enter into YHWH’s holy presence.
Biblical Day of Atonement Symbols
Leviticus chapter 16 is the main chapter that details the requirements for the Day of Atonement. Here are the high points:
The Day of Atonement is to be a ‘holy convocation.’ It’s when the High Priest (who represents all Israel) met with YHWH in the holiest place on earth. God provided a precise process for the High Priest to follow. Otherwise, he would see God’s face and die. God told Moses,
You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.Exodus 33:20
Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place… Lev 16:2-3Leviticus 16:2-3
- It is a day ‘to afflict your soul.’ Traditionally, from sundown on the 9th day of the 7th month until sundown on the 10th day, everyone who follows YHWH fasts on the Day of Atonement. They fast from all food and enjoyable activities. Some also fast from drinking water.
- The High Priest alone entered God’s presence on behalf of Israel.
- Cleansing: bodily washing, white linen garments. The High Priest removed his beautiful garments, ritually bathed in water, and dressed in white linen ‘holy garments.’ (Lev 16:4)
- The golden censer with burning coals and sweet incense produced a cloud in the Holy of Holies. This cloud protected the High Priest from being killed, preventing him from gazing directly at God’s face.
he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die.Leviticus 16:12-13
The High Priest was responsible to perform all the sacrifices below in one day, but it’s not possible for one person to do them alone. Jewish tradition says up to 500 priests assisted him on Yom Kippur. Sacrifices included:
- A bull for the High Priest and his household
- A ram for the High Priest’s purification
- Two goats:
- One goat sacrificed to cleanse the sanctuary
- One scapegoat sent alive ‘into the wilderness of Azazel,’ never to return. (Leviticus 16:10 ESV)
- The wilderness is Azazel’s domain. According to 1 Enoch 8:1, 10:4-8, and 13:1 Azazel is the leader of the ‘sons of God’ who sinned with human women in Genesis 6:1-4
- The wilderness symbolically represents the territory of ‘outer darkness’ and violence that’s outside of God’s kingdom territory
- Another ram as a burnt offering for the nation’s sins
So, when the Day of Atonement was over, the temple itself, the priests, and the people would all be ceremonially clean, making it possible for YHWH to dwell in their midst and for the priests to perform their temple duties.
Heiser says Israel got ceremonially ‘decontaminated’ on the Day of Atonement each year.
Hebrews 10:4 says it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, the Day of Atonement provided a way to ‘cover-over’ Israel’s sins and cast them out of His memory, as symbolized by the scapegoat sent into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
In summary, the Day of Atonement is primarily about ceremonially purifying both sacred space (i.e., the temple) and sinful people, so that YHWH could dwell among them, and they could to enter into His presence.
- Sacrificial blood wasn’t applied to people, it was only applied to temple items, such as the mercy seat and the altar.
- The sins of Aaron, his house, and the nation were covered-over, and the nation’s sins were removed (out of God’s kingdom) by sending the scapegoat into the wilderness (Azazel’s domain.)
Three fulfillments of the Biblical Day of Atonement
There will be three fulfillments of the Day of Atonement. One is already completed; two are yet future.
Jesus (Our High Priest) Historically Fulfilled It
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made by hands and is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by the blood of goats and calves, but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus securing eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that their bodies are clean, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, purify our consciences from dead works, so that we may serve the living God!Hebrews 9:11-14
The Day of Atonement ritual symbolized how God planned to use the blood of Christ to purify our consciences from dead works, so that we may serve the living God.
What are dead works?
- Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith in God (Heb 6:1)
- Dead (lifeless) works are anything we do to earn salvation, which comes by grace alone, through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
- By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified, for the law merely brings the awareness of sin. (Romans 3:20)
Jesus did this once. It will last forever.
Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation 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 appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment, so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.Hebrews 9:25-28
He Has Made Us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father
To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood, who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and power forever and ever! Amen.Revelation 1:5-6
We have not yet begun to perform our priestly role, but we will after we’re glorified.
The Day of Atonement’s Future Fulfillments
Christians believe Jesus historically fulfilled the Day of Atonement in the first century.
- As our High Priest, He presented His own blood in the heavenly temple, forever securing our redemption if we remain faithful.
- About 40 years after Calvary the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple and scattered the Jews ‘to the four winds’ until 1948.
In his book The Feasts of Israel, Kevin J Conner contrasts (what he calls) the Judicial fulfillment of the Day of Atonement versus the future Experiential Appropriation of the Atonement by God’s ekklesia (aka, the church.) I’ll explain this in detail below.
As far as God is concerned all was finished at Calvary. God saw a “finished work” (John 17:4, 19:30). This is spoken of as judicial truth. But as far as the believer is concerned individually, and the church corporately, we have yet to enter into that finished work. This is spoken of as experiential truth…What Christ has done for us historically will be fulfilled in us experientially.The Feasts of Israel, Kevin J Conner, pg 60
Jesus historically fulfilled the Day of Atonement by entering the heavenly temple and offering the required sacrifices using His own blood.
As Jesus died, YHWH tore the curtain of the earthly temple in half, from top to bottom. This showed that the way into the Holy of Holies was opened (and visible) to every priest who ministered in the temple. The veil no longer separates God’s presence from all those who minister in the temple.
Christ entered “within the veil” and made it possible for the believer to do so too, because He is the forerunner. (Hebrews 10:19-22, Matthew 27:51-52, Hebrews 6:18-20)The Feasts of Israel, Kevin J Conner, pg 57
Disciples are justified, made (Judicially) perfect through the sacrifice of Jesus’ body
For the law is only a shadow of the good things to come, not the realities themselves. It can never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would not the offerings have ceased? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt the guilt of their sins. Instead, those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sin offerings You took no delight. Then I said, ‘Here I am, it is written about Me in the scroll: I have come to do Your will, O God.’ ”
In the passage above He says, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not desire, nor did You delight in them” (although they are offered according to the law). Then He adds, “Here I am, I have come to do Your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been sanctified through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands to minister and to offer again and again the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time, He waits for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet, because by a single offering He has made perfect for all time those who are being sanctified.Hebrews 10:1-14
Why do I say ‘judicially’ perfect? Because we may be perfect in God’s sight because of the blood of Jesus, but we have yet to spiritually appropriate (i.e., grasp, take, grab hold of) our perfection so as to enter into God’s presence in heaven.
What (in this context) does the word ‘perfect’ mean? It’s the Greek word teleioo, and it means to reach the end-stage goal of a process, to reach ‘full-strength capacity effectiveness.’
Perfected – Unto the Full Measure of the Stature of Christ
The resurrected Messiah gave His ekklesia (His body of believers) the five-fold ministry to bring us into full perfection.
And it was He (Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry and to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.Eph 4:11-13
Our Sins Aren’t Just Covered-Over — They’re Forgiven and Forgotten
Regarding the New Covenant the writer of Hebrews continues, saying:
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First He says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds.” Then He adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, an offering for sin is no longer needed.Hebrews 10:15-18
He puts our ‘sins and lawless acts’ on the scapegoat and sends it into the wilderness, never to be seen or remembered again.
In contrast to the atonement in the Old Covenant, under the New Covenant our sins aren’t simply covered-over for a year. Instead, they’ve been forgiven and forgotten as if they never happened. The word translated ‘forgiven’ in the quote above is the Greek word aphesis.
As you can see, aphesis means: our sins have been ‘sent away’ forever like the scapegoat, never to be seen again. We’re released from our debts, and God pardoned us as if we never sinned.
The Day of Atonement’s Experiential Appropriation
So, judicially, we’re perfect and holy in God’s sight because of Jesus’ finished work.
But, the Body of Christ has not yet experientially entered into our spiritual promised land–the realm of the divine council. For 1900 years the church has been satisfied to wander in the wilderness, but the time is soon coming when we’ll follow Joshua (Jesus) across the Jordan into the land. There, we’ll displace the principalities and powers, dislodging them from their thrones and forcing them down to earth. (Revelation 12:9-11)
Enter Into God’s Presence in the Heavenly Temple
One of the main goals of Calvary is for the redeemed to use their judicial status to ascend into YHWH’s glorious presence in the heavenly Holy of Holies. The glory Adam had will then be (more than) restored to mankind–thanks to YHWH’s infinite love and grace.
Under the Old Covenant, only the High Priest could enter the earthly temple’s Holy of Holies, and only on the annual Day of Atonement. But now, under the New Covenant, we can all enter into the heavenly temple’s Holy of Holies, with no time restrictions.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way opened for us through the curtain of His body, and since we have a great (high) priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.Hebrews 10:19-22
Day of Atonement symbols fulfilled
In the passage above, notice the underlined references to the Day of Atonement ritual. For example,
- We can enter the Most Holy Place in the heavenly temple’s Holy of Holies, where God’s presence and glory resides ‘between the cherubim’
- Instead of the blood of bulls and goats we have Jesus’ blood
- Jesus’ body is the curtain, or veil, in the temple that separated God’s presence and glory in the Holy of Holies from the priests in the Holy Place.
- When Jesus died this 6-inch-thick curtain was torn in half, from top to bottom. (Mt 27:51, Mk 15:38, Lk 23:45)
- Our hearts are ceremonially sprinkled and cleansed with His blood, just as the High Priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat and altar to purify them
- Our bodies are washed just as the High Priest ritually bathed before donning white linen ‘holy garments.’ This white linen represents the righteousness of disciples.
- Speaking of Tribulation saints in heaven, “Then one of the elders addressed me: “These in white robes,” he asked, “who are they, and where have they come from?” “Sir,” I answered, “you know.” So he replied, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:13-14
- Speaking of the Bride of the Lamb, “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8
A Kingdom of Priests
From the very beginning of the nation of Israel, since before God gave them the 10 Commandments, God’s plan is still for His people to be “a kingdom of priests.”
Now if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you will be My treasured possession out of all the nations—for the whole earth is Mine. And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’Exodus 19:5-6
By the end of this age God will achieve this plan.
And they sang a new song: “Worthy are You to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and by Your blood You purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”Revelation 5:9-10
The Day of Atonement’s Final Fulfillment
Announce the coming Year of Jubilee
According to Leviticus the Year of Jubilee is announced by a loud trumpet blast on the Day of Atonement.
You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.Leviticus 25:8-12
Many people believe the Jubilee Year starts on the Day of Atonement, but that’s an incorrect assumption. Dr. Nehemiah Gordon clears up the confusion in the quote below. Referring to Leviticus 25:9 (highlighted in bold above) Dr. Gordon writes,
This verse is saying that a shofar should be used to announce the arrival of the Jubilee year, the 50th year in the Sabbatical system. It does not say that the Jubilee begins on the Day of Atonement, only that the impending arrival of the Jubilee year is announced on the Day of Atonement. The shofar is to be passed throughout the land on Yom Kippur of the 49th year, six months before the beginning of the coming Jubilee year. This interpretation is supported by the immediate context in Leviticus 25. Verse 8 says to count forty nine years, verse 9 says to pass the shofar throughout the land, and verse 10 says to proclaim the 50th year as the Jubilee. This shows that the shofar announcing the coming Jubilee in verse 9 is passed through the land before the Jubilee is actually proclaimed in verse 10.Nehemiahs Wall 9-18-22
Ten days before the final Day of Atonement, on Yom Teruah (the 1st day of the 7th month) Jesus will catch-away His faithful disciples in what’s commonly called ‘the rapture.’ (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) These are the people whose names are already written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Then, all those who remain on earth will have ’10 days of awe’ to repent and reconcile themselves to God and men. If they’re wise, people will repent of their sins and receive God’s free gift of life, through faith in Jesus’ blood. If so, God will add their name to the Lamb’s Book of Life. Even so, these 10 days will be during the greatest time of tribulation ever to occur on the earth. (Matthew 24:21)
Then, on the Day of Atonement (the 10th day of the 7th month) Jesus will return with the armies of heaven. His feet will split the Mount of Olives in half (Zechariah 14:4) and He will defeat the armies of the Antichrist with the sword of the Word of God (Revelation 19:15.) The remnant of the Jewish nation will ‘look upon Him whom they pierced, and weep for Him as an only child.” (Zechariah 12:10)
According to Jewish tradition, the Day of Atonement is ‘Judgement Day’ when every living person’s fate will be decided.
Judgement will be either positive or negative. When Jesus returns He will distribute rewards to some and punishment to others, as in the parables of the Talents, and the Sheep and Goats. (Matthew 25)
Many Christians know that Jesus fulfilled the Day of Atonement in the tabernacle in heaven when He presented His own blood as our High Priest.
But Christians don’t realize it’s also key to their future glorification, Judgement day, and the Year of Jubilee.