Atonement, Day of
Yom hakkippurim, Hebrew: "the day of propitiation " or "expiations" (exilasmus), Greek Acts 27:9, "the fast," the great day of national humiliation, the only one enjoined in the law. For the mode of observance compare Leviticus 16:3-10, which sets forth the general ceremonial, Leviticus 16:11-34 details; Numbers 29:7-11, the special victims; Leviticus 23:26-32, how the people were to act. The day was the 10th of Tisri (the seventh month), from the evening of the 9th to that of the 10th, five days before the feast of tabernacles. For this latter feast implied rest in Israel's inheritance; and before rest can be realized atonement must precede. It was kept as a sabbath; but not, as other sabbaths, with joy, but with affliction of themselves, as the day on which the nation's collective sin was brought to remembrance. The mode of affliction was not prescribed, but all work was forbidden on pain of cutting off from the Lord's congregation.
For the one work of atonement by the high priest was to be the all absorbing thought; just as in the case of the work of the great Antitype (John 6:28-29). Only this once in the year was the high priest to enter the holiest. Having bathed, and dressed, not in his robes "for glory and beauty" (Exodus 28), but in the white linen garments symbolizing the holiness required for admission into God's presence (Hebrews 12:14), he brought a bullock fern sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, at his own cost, to otter for himself and his priestly family; and two goats for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, at the public cost, to offer for the people.
Then he presented the two goats before the Lord at the tabernacle door, and cast lots upon them, implying that Christ's sacrifice was "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28); on one was written "For Jehovah;" on the other "For Azazel." Next he slew the bullock as a sin offering for himself and his family. Taking a censer with burning coals from the brazen altar, and applying a handful of incense, he entered the holiest, where the mercy-seat became enveloped in the cloud of smoke from the incense. Then he took of the bullock's blood (going out probably for it, and coming in again) and sprinkled it with his finger upon the mercy-seat: not on the top, butt on its front, then seven times before the mercy-seat, upon the ground in front of it; "eastward" (Leviticus 16:14) means the side of the ark toward the veil.
The cloud of incense "covering the mercy-seat upon the testimony, lest he should die," typifies Christ's merits incensing our prayers, so as to make them a sweet smelling savor to God (Revelation 8:3-4). His meritorious obedience makes His atoning blood acceptable, so that the sinner dies not in the presence of Him who would otherwise be a "consuming fire." The goat "for Jehovah" was then slain, and its blood sprinkled as the bullock's. Going out from the holiest, the high priest purified, by sprinkling seven times with the bullock's and the gent's blood, the holy place and the golden altar; and then outside he poured the rest of the blood round the altar of burnt offering; the places defiled by the priest's and the nation's sins being thus made ceremonially and typically fit for the indwelling of God; compare as to the Antitype Hebrews 9:22-23.
During this no ordinary priest was allowed to be in or about the sanctuary (Leviticus 16:16-20; Exodus 30:10); teaching that Messiah has a priesthood exclusively His own, and that no work of layman or priest is to be added to His complete work of atonement (Hebrews 7:24; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:12-18). Then the high priest laid his hands upon the head of the goat "for Azazel," confessing over it all the sins of the people. Next a man chosen for the purpose led it into the wilderness, "a land not inhabited," and there let it loose. The two goats constitute one offering: the slain one typifying Jesus' vicarious bearing of our sin's penalty, death; the scape-goat the complete removal of our sin out of sight to where no witness will rise in judgment against us.
The life after death also points to our being dead with Christ to sin and its penalty and power, and becoming alive unto God by union with Him in His resurrection life (Romans 6:5-11). In Leviticus 16:10; Leviticus 16:26, instead of "the goat for the scape-goat," which is tautology, translate "the goat for complete sending away" (from the Arabic root 'azal, "to remove completely.") Compare Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19. Many think Azazel to be the devil, to whom, as the source of sin, "the entirely separate one," the scape-goat, with its lead of sin taken of from the congregation, was sent to the wilderness (the abode of evil spirits) to be given up to, as sin and the wicked shall be hereafter (Revelation 20:14-15; Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:20): entirely separated from God.
But both goats were presented before Jehovah" as consecrated to Him (Leviticus 16:7); and both alike in color, height, and value, form but two parts of one complex act of atonement; the one alone could not in the nature of things have expressed the whole truth. The one "for Jehovah," by its death, expresses Christ's life sacrificed instead of our forfeited lives; the "goat for complete sending away" expresses the blessed effect of that sacrifice, "as far as the E. is from the W. so far hath lie removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12); the slain goat expresses "Christ was delivered for our offenses," so that in believing union with Him we are dead to sin, and to the law as a condemning power, and to death; the living goat expresses "Christ rose again for our justification" (Romans 4:25), so that we live by union with His resurrection life, sin being utterly put away in proportion as that life works in us (John 14:19; Romans 6; Colossians 3). Death and life are marvelously united alike in Christ and His people.
Compare the similar two-fold type, the slain bird and the bird let loose after having been dipped in the blood of the killed bird (Leviticus 14:4-7). On the analogy between the high priest's entrance in his white garments once a year into the holiest, and the Antitype's entrance into heaven once for all, wherein He so infinitely exceeds the type, inasmuch as He "by that one offering hath forever perfected them that are sanctified," "having obtained, eternal redemption for us," so that "there is no more offering for sin" (which condemns the notion of the Lord's supper being a sacrifice), see Hebrew 9; 10. He needed not. like the type, to atone first for Himself. for He had no sin. The veil was rent at His death, throwing open the holiest heaven continually to all believers through faith in His sacrifice; whereas the veil continued as much after the typical high priest's atonement as before it to preclude access to priests and people alike.
As other offerings arched typically for the sins of the individual, the nation's sins as a whole congregation or church, were expiated on the great day of atonement. As the Passover was the nation's feast of joy, so the day of atonement was its day of penitent humiliation; and the atonement was its indispensable preparation for the joy that followed in the feast of tabernacles or ingathering of fruits. We can only "joy in God" when "through our Lord Jesus Christ we have received the atonement" (Romans 5:11). After the live goat was sent away, the high. priest returned into the holy place, bathed again, put on his usual official garments, and offered the two rams as burnt offerings, one for himself, the other for the people: the burnt offering after the atonement expressing whole dedication of themselves to Jehovah. He also burnt upon the altar the fat of the two sin offerings, while their flesh was being burned outside the camp.
The entire flesh of the burnt offering was burnt on the altar; but that of the sin offerings, which ordinarily was counted most holy and eaten (type of Christ our holy sin offering, Hebrews 9:14), could not in this case be eaten by the priest properly, as it had been offered for the priests as well as for the people, and was therefore taken and burnt outside (Leviticus 6:25-27). They who took away the flesh, and the man who had led away the living goat, had to bathe and to wash their clothes afterward. The additional burnt offerings (Numbers 29:7-11) were a young bullock, a ram, seven lambs, and a young goat. The successive steps in the whole were: the high priest atoned
(1) for himself and his family; then, being purified himself,
(2) for the sanctuary and all in it; then
(3) for the altar of burnt offering outside;
(4) for the whole people.
The Yoma in the Mishna informs us that the high priest on the day of atonement performed all the ordinary duties, as lighting the lamps, offering the daily sacrifices and the incense; then bathed and put on the white linen garments and proceeded with the atonement rites. He went four times into the holiest (which are all regarded as the one "once" entering, Hebrews 9:7):
(1) with the censer and incense;
(2) with the bullock's blood;
(3) with the goat's blood;
(4) after offering the evening sacrifice, to bring out the censer and plate which had held the incense; compare Leviticus 16:12; Leviticus 16:14-15.
The lots were at first of boxwood, latterly of gold, put into an urn, into which he put both his hands and took out a lot in each, while the two goats stood before him, one on the right, the other on the left; the lot in each hand belonged to the corresponding position: when the lot "for Azazel" was in the right, it was a good omen. He then tied a tongue shaped piece of scarlet cloth on the scape-goat. The Gemara says the red cloth ought to turn white as a token of God's acceptance or the atonement; which illustrates Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." No such change took place for 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem; a singular testimony from Jewish authority to Messiah, as His ministry was precisely 40 years before the destruction of the holy city; the type ceased when the Antitype came.
These dictionary topics are from Fausset Bible Dictionary, 1949. Public Domain.