Day of Atonement
(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung 10/5/2022
Who is it that takes away the sin of the whole world? John the Baptist announced who it is that bears away sin – but this world in which we live still does not know. They do not realize their need for Jesus. The beloved apostle, John answers this question right of the bat in chapter 1 of his Gospel account.
John 1:29 The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, who bears away the sin of the world.
Your version of the Bible may read “takes away the sin of the world.” “Bears away the sin,” is more correct than ‘takes away’ the sin because it retains the original meaning given in Hebrew in Isaiah’s prophecy. Bearing away sin is associated with the Day of Atonement, as well as Passover.
John the Baptist recognized that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 53. It is Jesus who bears away the sin of the world – no one else. Here, Isaiah is prophesying of Jesus, the coming Messiah:
Isaiah 53:11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant [speaking of Jesus] justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:12 … He has poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He [Jesus the Messiah] bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
That is the verse that John the Baptist was quoting when He saw Jesus coming to him to be baptized. In both verses of Isaiah we saw that it was Jesus who bares the sin of many—those who believe and repent. Brethren, this is what the Day of Atonement pictures.
2Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God [the Father] was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
This great gift of reconciliation is given to us so freely that God even removes the blame from us – “not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
2Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2Corinthians 5:21 For He [God the Father] has made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
God declares us to be righteous! What a precious gift! Reconciliation is not instantaneous – it takes a lot of work on our part. Reconciliation is an ongoing process, and its objective is that we become “the righteousness of God”—that we become like God—that we become righteous, as God is righteous, as Jesus Christ is righteous. Our Father allows Jesus to entirely bear away the sin of the world.
In learning what God has revealed to us, His Church, concerning His Plan – we have found that the Plan of God is revealed to us by the Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23). We find out what God is doing and when He is doing it. Down through history, so much of the Church did not know of God’s Plan as revealed by His Holy Days. The Feasts of the Lord teach us about God’s Plan. Today we are looking at The Day of Atonement in the Plan of God.
The Theme is Death to Life
The Day of Atonement is the most solemn of the seven Feasts of the Lord. The historical fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will not take place until after Jesus Christ has returned to this earth – as shown by the Feast of Trumpets – and prior to the beginning of the Millennium.
Atonement, applied to the entire world is something Jesus will accomplish in order to be able to establish His Father’s Kingdom on this earth. Atonement of the world is necessary so that God’s Spirit can be poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28). The Millennium is the time when the world will be led by God’s Holy Spirit, just as the Church of God brethren are today! (Romans 8:14). The fulfillment of Atonement will be a greater spectacle than Pentecost was – and of a glory and magnitude we cannot imagine. What an incredible Day that will be when mankind will have obtained Godly reconciliation. What is the Day of Atonement all about?
First of all, it is an annual Holy Day, a Feast of the LORD. Atonement pictures the fact that our Savior, Jesus Christ was dead, and now He is Alive Again.
There is no annual Feast Day that pictures the Death, Life and Resurrected Salvational work of Jesus Christ better than the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement is about how every one of us was as good as dead because of our sins. We were totally cut off from God the Father because of our sins! Atonement shows how we were cleansed of our sins and restored to a right relationship with our Father.
Ephesians 5:26 That He [Jesus Christ] might sanctify and cleanse [the Church] with the washing of water by the word.
The Day of Atonement pictures the world receiving this same salvational cleansing that, we the Church, received at Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. Jeremiah prophesies about this salvational cleansing:
Jeremiah 33:8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
Paul wrote that it was by the grace of God that the Church brethren have been saved:
1Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them [the Church brethren] also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. [Jesus Christ is Alive Again.]
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, God has made us alive together with Christ.
We in God’s Church received our cleansing and forgiveness at our baptism. But, what about the rest of mankind in this miserable sinful world? When will their salvation and reconciliation to God the Father arise?
The answer is the world has not permanently lost out on salvation because we read in John 3:16-17 that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomsoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life for God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.
That salvation for the world will be made possible on a soon coming Day of Atonement. Atonement is a spiritual Feast Day, a Sabbath of rest without work – a day of fasting without food or water. The Day of Atonement pictures the complete cleansing from sin, and the reconciliation of all mankind to God the Father through the work of Jesus Christ. Atonement looks to the day of universal reconciliation of all who will repent and believe in our Savior.
We are all familiar with the two goats of Leviticus 16. On Atonement God wished to have a sin offering that would be sacrificed unto death and yet live again—to represent both the sacrificed, and the resurrected Jesus Christ—the two characteristics of Atonement.
A single goat was needed to picture the reconciliation process whereby Jesus died and rose again. However, in Old Testament Israel it was not possible to perform this ritual because once the goat was killed—it was then impossible for the single dead goat to live again. Therefore, two goats were required for the ritual sin offering. One goat was slain, the other released alive into the wilderness where Israel would wander for forty years. (Leviticus 16:10)
Understanding the symbolism of Leviticus 16 helps us understand Christ’s two-fold role in God’s reconciliation process—that of both death and life.
Certainly, we know that the first goat of Leviticus 16—the one that was sacrificed and died, was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death paid for our sins. He is reconciling us by making us one with God the Father and Himself. But what about the second goat? In today’s sermon we see what the Holy Scriptures tell us about the second goat that lives.
Leviticus 16:10 But the goat [this is the second goat], on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat [departing goat], shall be presented alive [note that, and underline alive] before the LORD, to make an atonement with Him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. The azazel goat was turned loose in the same wilderness where Israel trod for 40 years.
“Scapegoat” is a terrible translation. The Hebrew for scapegoat is azazel, from aiz, a goat, and azal, to depart. In Leviticus 16:10, the word scapegoat should be translated “departing goat.” The second goat on which the lot fell was the departing goat, and he was released alive. That is important!
Jesus is the azazel goat. Through the laying on of hands our sins were figuratively transferred to the goat—to bear them (John 1:29). Jesus became sin in our stead (2Corinthians 5:21).
Leviticus 16:21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.
Isn’t it interesting that after Jesus death, He, too, had to “go away,” “depart” this earth so that He could send the Holy Spirit? Jesus told His disciples in John 16:7, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send the Comforter unto you.
Leviticus 16:22 And the [second] goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited:
The Day of Atonement is to the entire world what Passover is to faithful converted Christians—reconciliation to our Father. God in His perfect love will reconcile the entire world unto Himself (2Corinthians 5:19). That is what the Day of Atonement is all about.
The Day of Atonement pictures two things Jesus does for us: He paid the price of sin for us; and He removes the guilt of sin from us. In the Old Testament, there were two goats that comprised the one sin offering (Leviticus 16:5). The first goat, representing Jesus, had to die for cleansing of sin; the second goat had to remain alive for bearing the sins away and removing those sins from God’s presence.
God the Father declares us legally innocent of all charges. We are completely innocent and exonerated before the High Court of heaven. That is how clean Passover leaves a Christian, and, that is how clean the Day of Atonement will render mankind. Please notice the primary role that God the Father has in the Atonement process:
2Corinthians 5:19 God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.
When Jesus was dead in His grave, God the Father working through His mighty power which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, to Life Again, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. Read about that in Ephesians 1:17-20, among two-dozen other Scriptures. That is a picture of the second goat—being alive and departing.
Atonement pictures the complete cleansing of sin – making possible the reconciliation of all mankind to God. Its complete fulfillment, yet in the future, will be a very great day! The fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will make an intimate and thorough relationship with God possible for mankind.
Where Passover concerns the redemption of the firstborn Church brethren whom God has called in every age, the Day of Atonement prophesies the reconciliation of all repentant humanity to God. At Passover, one little lamb sufficed for the offering.
Revelation 13:8 …the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
But at Atonement the sin offering required two mature goats. Why, what is the difference? How does it all work together? Atonement has to do with mankind being reconciled to God the Father. The Church brethren first-called—then the people of the world. Paul writing to Roman Christians expounding on how Jesus Christ first died – but then He is Alive Again: Paul, writing of Jesus:
Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again [to secure] our justification.
Getting right with God takes both the death and life of Jesus.
Romans 5:8 God commended His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified [made right in God’s sight – imputing the righteousness of Christ to us] by His blood, we shall be saved [alive] from wrath through Him.
Romans 5:10 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.
Brethren, mark that verse in your Bible, because Paul clearly says that Atonement takes BOTH – death and life—and it is salvational! That is why there are TWO goats—one had to die—and one had to live.
Romans 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
In Leviticus 16 the two goats begin by being indistinguishable, but at the end of the ceremony – one is dead and the other is alive. On Atonement God wished to have a sin offering that would be sacrificed and yet live, to represent both the sacrificed Jesus Christ, and the resurrected Jesus Christ—the two characteristics of Atonement. The two goats comprise a single sin offering—two goats for a [single] sin offering (Leviticus 16:5).
God satisfied the single-sin-offering by requiring two identical goats be used to represent each of two characteristics of Atonement. One goat was sacrificed unto death – as Jesus Christ was – and the live goat bore the iniquities of mankind away as Jesus Christ also does. Again, only Jesus bears our sins (John 1:29).
It is Jesus who shows up in court as our Advocate (1John 2:1). Over and over, Paul demonstrates the death and life aspects of Atonement.
Romans 8:10 If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of Him [God the Father] that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you.
Peter also spoke of death to life, not only Paul:
1Peter 2:24 Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins [we buried the old man of sin], should live unto righteousness:
On the Day of Atonement, the two goats of Leviticus 16 picture how the blood of Jesus Christ covers and cleanses the sins of all repentant mankind. The record against mankind will be completely removed—even the remembrance of those sins will be completely forgotten by God.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am He that blots out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts purified from a guilty conscience…
As the Plan of God is unfolding, the realization of the Day of Atonement shows how God the Father will make reconciliation to Himself possible for all the sinful world. It is a most grand step in the Plan of God. God in His perfect love will reconcile the entire world unto Himself. That is what the Day of Atonement is all about:
Christ’s death on the cross washed us of our sins, paid our death penalty, and reconciled us to the Father, but His death did not pay for our salvation. The Bible is very clear; we shall be saved by the life of Jesus Christ.
The Leviticus 16 Atonement ceremony shows the dichotomy or contrast between the two parts of Christ’s ONE sin-offering that are opposed and entirely different—death and life (Leviticus 16:5). Being resurrected to life eternal, Jesus continues His work of sanctification in us—bringing us to perfection—a lifelong course of action making us a holy people (Hebrews 6:1).
Jesus working in us guides, motivates and accomplishes that spiritual growth within each of us. That process requires a resurrected, living and active Savior – living in us.
Before the world began, God, in His infinite power and wisdom, came up with a Plan where by His Son would have to do both—die and live again—a seemingly impossible task!
Justification means being made right in God’s sight. Jesus died for our justification and reconciliation, and yet He has to be a living Savior in order to complete His work in us. Jesus is the author of everlasting righteousness, by which he justifies His people; that is, acquits and absolves them, pronounces them righteous, and frees them from condemnation and death.
In Leviticus 16:5, God gave ancient Israel an Atonement ritual with a single sin offering consisting of two goats—depicting this very progression in His Plan. “[Aaron] shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two shaggy and rough goats for a [single] sin offering.”
One goat will be a slain sacrifice, while the other will be let loose to depart alive—God Himself would decide which goat was which. A lot of people miss the important point that one goat is left alive! He is left alive; he is turned loose alive; he departs alive—God Himself decides that he lives!
The Day of Atonement is about cleansing and removal of sin because of the uncleanness of the people, and God’s choice in how that is accomplished is supreme. The casting of lots revealed God’s will between these two separate but equal goats.
Leviticus 16:8 Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD[‘s service, satisfaction, or appeasement], and the other lot for the azazel [departing goat].
This first goat that was “for the LORD” was also “for the people” (verse 15).
Leviticus 16:15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail…
The casting of lots established God’s will. It was imperative that God choose the roles instead of the priest, even though the two animals were ostensibly equal as far as the priest was concerned.
Leviticus 16:9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him [a slain sacrifice] for a sin offering.
The first goat was only one part of a compound sin offering, and its purpose was cleansing. Jesus fulfilled it, just as He fulfilled numerous other sacrificial roles.
The goat for the LORD had a specific role, and the other goat had a second role. Ultimately, Christ fulfilled the role of both goats, but neither one, by itself, represented the totality of His sacrifice. The first goat was chosen by God to be a representation of Jesus dying for our sins. The second goat was chosen by God to be a representation of the resurrected Jesus Christ – alive evermore.
Jesus is the dead goat – and then, Jesus is also the live goat – together the two goats comprise a single sin offering.
In Isaiah’s Messianic Prophecy, this slain goat is shown to be cut off out of the land of the living—depicting the crucified Christ—for the transgression of my people was He stricken, and He made His grave with the wicked (Isaiah 53:8-9).
When God chose which of the two goats was to die, He was also indicating which goat was to represent the resurrected living Jesus Christ.
The first goat—the slain goat was chosen by God to be a representation of Jesus dying for our sins, while the azazel goat of departure would be turned loose alive.
God’s work of Atonement was not yet complete – it required the death of Jesus – and it requires a living Savior to complete the task. Only Jesus Christ is said to bear our sin and iniquity. The writer of Hebrews said it so clearly:
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered [in sacrifice] to bear the sins of many. [Jesus Christ was raised from death to life for our salvation.]
Everyone in the Millennium will have access to reconciliation – whereby God will hear their prayers. Paul says it clearly here. Paul goes to such great lengths to drive the point home. Perhaps if Paul doubles up his emphasis – it will finally come across to us. When Paul wrote his letters, he did not have bold and italics to stress a point – so notice how he emphasized the point:
Romans 6:10 In that [Christ] died, He died once unto sin: but in that He lives, He lives [continuously] unto God.
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Our sins and iniquities are too much for us to bear – they are a burden too heavy – they bring death:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Over and over we find Paul explaining the nature of Leviticus’ 16 two goats. Paul is telling us that our debt for sin has been paid – but there is much more to the concept of Atonement. The saving of mankind is necessary because everyone has sinned and come short of the glory of God and is deserving of death (Romans 3:23, 6:23).
Jesus Christ Himself makes it possible to overturn a sinner’s guilty verdict and subsequent death penalty and grant him salvation unto Life. Everlasting life comes with the second goat. We saw that our Savior died, but the important thing is that He Lives forever more! He had to die for mankind or the Plan of God—bringing many sons and daughters to eternal glory—could not come to fruition.
Man had sinned and the price of sin is the death of mankind. Jesus died to pay that price in our stead. Interestingly enough, a great deal of the world understands that concept. God became a man with a nature like man’s sinful nature, to condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
The world raves about the resurrection of Jesus to life—not knowing when it took place or the significance of it:
1Thessalonians 4:14 …We believe that Jesus died and rose again.
Even when Jesus has paid the death sentence penalty for our sins, we remain tarnished with the guilt of our crime, and the stigma of our being sinners still stains our conscience and our reputations with God. Christ’s death paid only the debt called for by God’s law (Romans 6:23). Christ died for us.
God the Father still knows what sinners we have been – and why would He want to have anything to do with us? He knows good and well that we are actually guilty of sinning against Him. At that point, why would He give us the gift of eternal life? Jesus announced Himself to the apostle John:
Revelation 1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.
What is the fulfillment of those two goats in Leviticus 16? The blood of the first Atonement goat pointed directly to Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
Redemption means that we are no longer in bondage to sin, having obtained, uihothesia, children of God status (Galatians 4:5). There is more to the process of salvation than just having our sins covered and paid for by Jesus Christ’s death. That is because sin against God, not only destroys our relationship with Him, but it leaves us with a residual consciousness of guilt. How can we ever have a clean conscience? God sees to it that even our conscience is cleansed. How great is that?
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Reconciliation or peace with God comes once a person has come under Christ’s blood. Christ’s blood provides a cleansing so complete that we now can “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). That is reconciliation with God the Father.
Jesus’ blood appeases the Father, so we can “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” (Hebrews 4:16, 10:22)
Like the first goat, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice opened the way into the Holy of Holies—the veil was rent in-two (Mark 15:38).
Hebrews 10:19-20 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.
His sinless blood has given us access to and satisfied the Most High God.
Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Like the second goat, Jesus also bore our sins.
Romans 5:21 As sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8:6 To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. [Sin brings death (Romans 6:23)].
It takes a living Savior.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
“Walk in newness of life” has two meanings. Yes, we are to live our lives as the sinless Christ lived His life. But, it also means that just as Christ lives, we will live also. Our death penalty has been taken away, and we have salvation through Christ’s life and resurrection.
Romans 6:5 If we have been buried together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection [to life]:
Is Paul belaboring the point? I think not!
Romans 6:8 If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him:
Paul is making a vital point. We have seen clearly in Leviticus 16:5 where Paul finds his inspiration for Christ’s two-fold, life/death combination, which is necessary for our reconciliation with God to take place. In Leviticus 16 the two goats begin by being indistinguishable, but by the end of the ceremony – one is dead and the other is alive. The two goats comprise one offering—two goats for a [single] sin offering (Leviticus 16:5).
God satisfied the single-sin-offering by requiring two identical goats be used to represent each of two characteristics of Atonement.
One goat’s life was sacrificed so its blood could be used to cleanse. The second goat was left alive and set free, representing the living resurrected Jesus seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven.
1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
One goat was sacrificed unto death – as Jesus Christ was – and the live goat bore away the iniquities of mankind as Jesus Christ does.
Only Jesus bears our sins (John 1:29). Only Jesus is able to bear our iniquity:
Jesus Died and He Lives Again.
End: Alive Again