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   There are a number of avenues we could take in looking at the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It is certainly a day of reflection. Many read the book of Jonah to get a perspective of redemptive grace. We could look at this day in the context of the other seven annual Holy Days. We could also consider this day as one on which we resolve to forsake pride and become humble.
  We can read Isaiah 58:1–12 and consider the different reasons for fasting, as the Day of Atonement is marked with the commandment to “afflict our beings.”
  We can even break down the English word Atonement to read At-one-ment. We might meditate on how this Day is purposed to bring us into a closer relationship with Yahweh, being one with Him, and with His Son (see John 17:21–23).
  We’ll consider some of these aspects in this article. But the question we really want to ask is, “What is the Day of Atonement?”
Among the hills of the Judean Wilderness, east of Jerusalem, is Mount Azazel – Azazel understood as meaning banishment or removal – near the Dead Sea. It’s one of the highest mountains in that area.
  According to Jewish tradition, it’s where the scapegoat was not only released (Lev. 16), but it is said they pushed it off the mountain to its death.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road
   It is important to understand that Atonement is the reconciliation of mankind to Yahweh. Today, we observe the Day of Atonement to Yahweh through the sacrificial blood of Yahshua Messiah, and not of animals. But in the grand picture, the Day of Atonement is much more the expression of the great love the Father has for His people – a love we have difficulty understanding. Even King David marveled,
  What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Psalm 8:4. (New American Standard Bible used throughout, unless otherwise noted.)
  This is especially true, in light of what’s written in Ecclesiastes 7:20:
  Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who [continually] does good and who never sins.
  From Adam and Eve to the present time, disobedience to Yahweh’s instructions – sin, by any other name – has been the problem.

A Chosen Fast
   For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim, Romans 3:23.
  For this reason, Yahshua was, and is, needed not only as a Passover Sacrificial Victim to remit sin, but also as a Covering for us on the Day of Atonement.
  And just as Passover has a very particular day (and time) on which it is observed – on the 14th day of the first Biblical month – so also is the Day of Atonement observed on a very specific day:
  On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of Atonement; it shall be a Holy Convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to Yahweh. … It is to be a Sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your Sabbath, Leviticus 23:27, 32.
  It is a Sabbath rest, but particularly marked as the one Day on which we afflict or humble our souls, that is our “being.” This is understood to be a physical fast of both food and water for a full Biblical day, from sunset on the 9th day to sunset on the 10th day. And we know from other Scriptures, the terms “humbling” or “afflicting” one’s self is fasting (abstaining from intake of food and fluids).
  But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer kept returning to my bosom, Psalm 35:13.
  Possibly, this was written by the Psalmist upon reflecting of his ministering to Saul upon the harp when the king had been afflicted with a troublesome, evil spirit or, in remembering his retirement in the cave of Adullam when Saul sought his life.
  Why have we fasted and You do not see? [Why] have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice? “Behold, on the day of your fast you find [your] desire, and drive hard all your workers,” Isaiah 58:3.
  It has been suggested this is talking about the Day of Atonement. Because it was the one day everyone was commanded to fast. A read of subsequent verses, however, defines “the fast which I choose” (verse 6–7) as having to do with the conduct of life throughout the entire year, and not just reserved for one particular day. It is noted, however, that this Day was a Sabbath (just like Atonement), inasmuch as Yahweh reproved the people for driving hard all their workers (verse 3) which was a transgression of the 4th Commandment that forbade servile work for son or daughter, male and female servant, ox or donkey, or any sojourner who dwelt in their home (Exod. 20:10; Deut. 5:14).

A Humbling Fast
   We find in the following, another mention of fasting for a purpose.
  Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our Elohim to seek from Him a safe journey for us, our little ones, and all our possessions, Ezra 8:21.
  Ezra, a priest and scribe, called for the people to humble their souls as an entreaty to Yahweh to grant them safety as they traveled to resettle Judea and rebuild the waste places of Jerusalem.
  The importance of keeping the Day of Atonement cannot be overstated, even when looking at other areas of fasting and the purpose for them. The Torah decreed that any person who will not “humble” himself on this Day or who performs work on this Day, that person Yahweh would be cut off and destroyed from among his people (Lev. 23:29–30).

Trumpet Blasts
   In another article, we had said the Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) heralds Yahshua’s return:
  For the Master Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of Elohim, and the dead in Messiah will rise first, 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (emphasis, ours; see also 1 Cor. 15:52).
  But the Day of Trumpets is not the only day of the blowing of a trumpet.
  On the Day of Atonement, in a Jubilee year, the trumpet is blown as a declaration of the year of release.
  You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven Sabbaths of years, [namely], forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family, Leviticus 25:8–10.
  The Jubilee year (the 50th year) begins and ends on the Day of Atonement. It’s an agricultural year, which is different than a prophetic or regular Biblical year. The Jubilee year is called the year of release. Could it be that Yahshua will come back during a Jubilee year?
Following Yahshua’s return from His 40-day fasting in the wilderness to Nazareth, Luke 4:17–21 records the Master on a Sabbath, standing in the synagogue there, reading a prophecy from Isaiah 61.
  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “THE SPIRIT OF YAHWEH IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE EVANGEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF YAHWEH.” And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
  The “favorable year of Yahweh” is likely a term for the year of Jubilee.
  Given that we don’t know with certainty, either the day or the hour of Yahshua’s return, it might be He would return on the Day of Trumpets and then confirm the Day of Atonement as the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom Rule. With that said, we will leave the timetable to the Father.

Levitical Details of Atonement
   He shall take the two goats and present them before Yahweh at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for Yahweh and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for Yahweh fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before Yahweh, to make atonement upon it (by it), to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat, Leviticus 16:7–10.
  The high priest selected two goats, and presented them before Yahweh – one for a sin offering for the people, and one as a scapegoat to be sent away alone. Controversy arises concerning what each goat represents.
  Some infer that each represents Yahshua, one slain for a sin offering and the other, the scapegoat H.5799 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Azazel (az-aw-zale’) goat of departure as an atonement, rendered from the Hebrew kaphar (kaw-far’) H.3722 to cover, fig. to expiate, cancel.
  Others assign Satan to the scapegoat Azazel, which, as we said earlier, was, according to Jewish tradition, not only released but pushed off the mount to its death.
  Scripturally, there is evidence for both sides of the argument, though the stronger seems to favor Yahshua as the sin offering, and Satan as banished which, in the end, actually happens.
  Yahshua, we believe is clearly related in the first blood offering.
  He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before Yahweh and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it, Leviticus 16:16–19 (emphasis ours).
  Application of blood, “for all their sins … for all the assembly” – For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement, Leviticus 17:11.

Our High Priest
   Elohim demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Messiah died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath [of Elohim] through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to Elohim through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in Elohim through our Master Yahshua Messiah, through whom we have now received the reconciliation, Romans 5:8–11.
“Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). We each have an individual covering, Messiah Yahshua, an atonement for our sins through His blood.
  The high priest made atonement once, every year on a particular day, for all of Israel, and we observe the Day, appreciating its significance for what It was, is, and shall be.
  During the millennial rule, the Day of Atonement – like Passover, occurring once a year – will serve as a covering for the sins of all the physical people.
  In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by Elohim as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, Hebrews 5:7–10.
  “Designated by Elohim as a High Priest,” Yahshua intervenes on our behalf – “at the right hand of Elohim … who always lives to make intercession” (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25) – came to serve and not be served (Matt. 20:28).

   In conclusion, what is Atonement really all about? It’s being covered to have a right relationship with Yahweh, Yahshua, and especially the brethren.
   Through example, we should have the right atti-tude and spirit toward family, neighbors, friends, co-workers, maybe even helping snatch some of them from the fire (Jude 1:23).
   For us, the process of salvation occurred through our repentance from dead works, faith toward Elohim, through water immersion (Heb. 6:1–2) and accepting Yahshua’s sacrificial blood as a covering for us. (Read our mini-study, Why Be Baptized Into the Name of Yahshua?)
Yahweh and Yahshua are still working with us, encouraging us, moving us, empowering us to endure to the end. For we are destined to become a kingdom of priests to His Elohim and Father (Rev. 1:6), in serving mankind in the millennial rule.
   If it will be our office then, that is, serving mankind, what should we be doing now? The answer to that question will lead us to understand what love is. It’s also the key to understanding why Yahweh has a set apart Day, such as Atonement, in place.
  Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Yahshua, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a Great Priest over the house of Elohim, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near, Hebrews 10:19–25.

-Elder David Brett

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