"Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed." -1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)
Atonement - What does it mean to us today?
In the Old Testament, these feasts of the Lord were to be proclaimed “in their seasons.” This tells us there is a specific “time and order” to these observances! (Lev. 23:4)
Understanding and keeping the Holy Days and Feasts of our God helps us in several ways. First, it keeps us focused on our Savior through keeping the Holy Days and Feasts that are memorials. Secondly, it allows us to see the picture he has painted for us of his coming Kingdom and reign here on earth.
The Day of Atonement is the most unusual Holy Day as far as what God expects us to do. It is a day God expects us to “fast” – to abstain from food and water.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about the Day of Atonement.
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a Day of Atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall beunto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (Leviticus 23:27-32)
Why should we fast? What purpose does afflicting ourselves have?
Fasting for spiritual reasons serves the purpose of drawing us closer to God. It is a vivid reminder of the state of mind necessary for salvation – of humility, godly sorrow, earnestly seeking after God and His way.
What does the word Atonement mean?
Let’s first look at Strong’s definition.
Strongs: 3722 (Kaphar) (sounds: Kaw-far)
To placate or cancel
To appease, make (an) atonement
Cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful
Pacify, pardon, to pitch, purge (away)
put off, (make) reconcile
Strongs: 3725 (Kippur) (sounds: Kip-poor)
From 3722 expiation (only in plural) Atonement
Atone: to make amends; expiate
Expiate: to give satisfaction for.
Atonement: the reconciliation of God and man through the death of Jesus Christ: reparation for an offense: satisfaction.
Reparation: the act of making amends for a wrong.
This day actually symbolizes God and man being reconciled to one another; being set at one: literally the Day of At-one-ment!
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:8-11)
Biblically, when man sinned, he needed to make atonement for his sin. In the Old Testament, this atonement was made by a sacrifice. This law was a shadow of things to come. Jesus came to pay the ultimate sacrifice for us all. No longer are we required to make a sacrifice for our sins, for the sacrifice has already been paid. It is through the remission of our sins and true repentance that we are reconciled to God.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:1-18)
Just as most things in the Bible have duality, so too does this Holy Day. We have seen how the death of Jesus Christ has paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to be reconciled to God. But God and mankind cannot be fully at one – in full agreement – until Satan is restrained.
The second part of this Holy Day has yet to come.
What about Satan? What happens to him after Christ returns? The Day of Atonement reveals the answer. It pictures Christ deposing Satan the Devil from his present position as world ruler and Satan’s removal to a place completely away from mankind.
He will be bound for 1,000 years, no longer able to deceive the nations and influence man to sin.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1-4)
He will come here to earth with his saints and they will show the world how to live in peace with one another.
After Satan’s imprisonment, the rest of humanity will be reconciled – made “At One” – with God.
As we afflict ourselves on this day, let us lift our eyes to the heavens and give glory and honor to our great God who has given himself for our sins and has washed us clean with his blood.
Glory be to our God.
References: The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.