What happened on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur?

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Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people. Its central themes are atonement and repentance.

Once each year, on the day of atonement, a solemn day of judgment took place in Israel (Leviticus 23:27). All were to confess every sin. Those who refused were that very day cut off forever from the camp of Israel (Leviticus 23:29).

Two goats were selected: One, the Lord’s goat the other, the scapegoat, representing Satan (Leviticus 16:8). The Lord’s goat was slain and offered for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:9). But on this day the blood was taken into the most holy place and sprinkled upon and before the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14). Only on this special judgment day did the high priest enter the most holy place to meet God at the mercy seat.

The sprinkled blood (representing Jesus‘ sacrifice) was accepted by God, and the confessed sins of the people were transferred from the sanctuary to the high priest. He then transferred these confessed sins to the scapegoat, which was led into the wilderness to perish (Leviticus 16:16, 20-22). In this manner, the sanctuary was cleansed of the sins of the people, which had been transferred there by the blood sprinkled before the veil and had been accumulating for a year.

“It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Hebrews 9:23).

That day’s services pointed to the blotting out of sin by the real High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary. Through His shed blood applied to those written in the book of life, Christ would confirm the decisions of His people to serve Him eternally. Christ’s ministry, like that of Israel’s Yom Kippur, foreshadowed the final atonement to be made for planet Earth. From the yearly type of the ancient day of atonement, all of humanity is assured that our faithful High Priest, Jesus, still mediates in heaven for His people and stands ready to blot out the sins of all who will exercise faith in His shed blood. The final atonement leads to the final judgment, which settles the sin question in the life of every individual, culminating in either life or death.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team