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The Day of Atonement portrays an essential step in God's plan of salvation, which must occur before humanity can experience true peace on earth.
Have you ever looked at the evil, the suffering, the problems of today's world and wanted to see it come to an end? Have you wanted to do something, wave a magic wand, do something on your own, some action that you would take to see it all go away? Certainly, you have, I have, and we've all done what we can, and should do what we can to alleviate suffering and evil and problems in this world. But there's one thing that God's Word tells us that we should do as Christians looking for the hope in the coming of a better age and a better world, and it is embedded in the Holy Days that the Bible describes and calls the Day of Atonement.
We've been talking about the Holy Days of God and we're in that season of the year. Leviticus, chapter 23, talks about all of the festivals God gave, not just to Israel but to all mankind, and for a Christian today wanting to understand the plan of God and the purpose of God, these Holy Days are critical. The Day of Atonement, one of the glorious Holy Days, takes us to an understanding of how God is going to remove evil from this world.
The Day of Atonement is described in Leviticus 23, beginning in verse 26, "On the 10th day of the month, the Day of Atonement is to be observed" (Leviticus 23:26-28). It is a day, actually, of fasting. As you go through this, there's no work to be done. It's a day of affliction, which is a biblical term meaning to fast. And what happens, a Christian keeping the Day of Atonement goes without food and water for a 24-hour period. I know that's difficult. I know that that can be a challenging thought for any of us, but it is part of what God's teaching is for us in order to draw close to Him and to discipline our lives for spiritual reasons and purposes. Fasting on the Day of Atonement meets God's teaching and instruction on how it is to be kept, but it is the "why" behind that that is extremely important.
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest in the temple of God entered in with special sacrifices for the sins of the people, for his own sins, and then there was a very special ceremony where others' sins were placed upon another animal, a goat, and a live goat was let off into the wilderness. These are described in Leviticus, chapter 16. It's a very elaborate ritual. Now, we don't do any of those today because we don't have a priesthood, we don't have a temple, but most importantly because Jesus Christ fulfilled all of those symbols, and yet, we still keep the Day of Atonement.
The critic might say there is no need to keep the Day of Atonement. I've heard that. I don't agree with it, and I can show you many biblical reasons for that, but let me point you to the reason why we do keep the Day of Atonement. It's in the Book of Hebrews, chapter 9, where in this book we have a wonderful description of the role of Jesus Christ as our high priest. And beginning in verse 24, it says this regarding the role of Christ, "Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands which are copies of the true, but into Heaven itself to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24).
The old covenant, the Old Testament, a high priest entered into the holy of holies of a physical temple. When Christ entered into Heaven with his own blood as an atoning sacrifice, that fulfilled for once and for all the one sacrifice to forgive sin and to reconcile man to God. Again, the critic would say there's no need for us, then, to keep this biblical festival, but that critic would be wrong. There is a need because as Christ stands today as our high priest, atoning and his blood made available for any and all who claim that sacrifice, we look around our world today and we still see suffering, we still see evil, we still see people suffering the results of broken laws, a world that is not at one with God.
When we keep the Day of Atonement, when you keep the Day of Atonement, when you fast, when you keep it as God teaches us to keep it today as a Christian, with this understanding of Jesus Christ firmly in the middle of that Day of Atonement, it points us to the time when Christ will return and Christ will remove the one influence that has caused the suffering of mankind, Satan, the Devil. It is because Satan, the Devil, is still alive and well on this planet Earth, instigating evil and suffering, that we look forward to the Day of Atonement and we observe it with the understanding that we have of Jesus Christ as our high priest and our soon-coming king, who when he does return, will bind that evil, Satan, and remove his influence from mankind, and the world will then begin the process of becoming at one with God.
That's why we keep the Day of Atonement. That's why you should understand it and keep it with those symbols and with that deep truth.