Finding the Face of Jesus in Yom Kippur
In this Session we will look at the Yom Kippur Sabbath found in Leviticus 16, and see the stunning reality of God’s holiness and how Jesus fulfilled this Scripture in His death and resurrection. It is fascinating to see the types and shadows found in the Law and how they all point to Jesus Christ as Messiah. These teach us about God’s storyline of redemption and communicate deep things about His nature and character. It is important to acknowledge our Jewish roots because they teach us and instruct us in God’s ways and demonstrate the intensions of His heart.
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement is found in Leviticus 16. The backdrop for God instituting Yom Kippur is found in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu offered “strange fire” or unauthorized worship before the Lord and were burned to death by the holiness of God. In response to this, God chose 1 day a year that a man may enter His presence, and that man must be veiled in the smoke of incense in order to live. Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th day of the 7th month. Seven is the Scriptural number of completion/perfection and 10 represents God’s Law in the 10 Commandments. Even the day and month point to Jesus being the completion of the Law in His sacrifice on the cross.
Yom Kippur is far from the celebration that Rosh Hashanah is. The intention of Yom Kippur is a Sabbath day of self-denial, fasting, resting/reflection and the covering of the sins of Israel for the year. Today Yom Kippur is not observed according to the Law because the Temple in Jerusalem is gone and there is no priesthood from the sons of Aaron who can stand as mediator between man and God. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells that there is only one mediator between man and God, the Man Jesus Christ.
The Modern observance of Yom Kippur has morphed into fasting, charity and reflection. There is no blood offering for sin along with the scapegoat being sent into the desert to cover the sins of Israel. The New Testament book that parallels Yom Kippur is the book of Hebrews, as it explains in detail the types and shadows of Jesus Christ as our High Priest and fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.
a) What we see in verse one is the reference to Nadab and Abihu and their deaths for not regarding God’s holiness. What is in view here is that there is a chasm between God and man that keeps man from communing with God and experiencing His presence.
b) In verse 2 we are told that even Aaron the High Priest cannot commune with God or experience His presence at will. The glory behind the veil to the Holy of Holies was off limits even to the hungry who longed for it. At this point the Godhead could not be experienced by people because of the shocking awe, purity and holiness of the Lord as represented by the glory cloud.
c) The glory of the New Covenant is that Jesus Christ tore the veil and made a way for all who desire to commune with the Father and experience God’s presence. d) Luke 23:45 – because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
e) Hebrews 10:19-22 – Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 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 God, 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.
f) It is the honor and grace of Christians to be invited behind the veil and experience the fullness of God’s presence without fear or condemnation.
a) The usual dress for the High Priest was ornate and highly decorated. See Exodus 39. The High Priest wore a gold, blue and purple ephod that was decorated with precious stones and seals in settings that represented the 12 Tribes of Israel. There was also a breastplate with set stones in gold that represented the tribes of Israel that was worn on top of the ephod.
b) On this day the High Priest wore only a simple linen head dress, ephod, and sash and was required to be ritually pure by washing. This is a picture of Jesus Christ laying aside His glory in heaven and being found in the flesh of a Man. See Philippians 2:5-11, John 1:1-5, and Matthew 17:1-3.
c) It is important to note that the only the High Priest, alone, made atonement to for the nation. There are no other priests involved in this ministry. See Leviticus 16:17. This is a fore shadow of the work of atonement that Jesus Christ worked for us and the nations of the earth when He suffered alone on the cross. See Psalm 22:1. Jesus was forsaken by man and suffered as the loving gaze of the Father turned away from Him as He transitioned from the One who knew no sin, to the One who became sin for us that we might be forgiven and accepted by the Father.
a) Aaron needed to atone for his own sin by sacrificing the bull. The word for Atonement in Hebrew is KAPHAR – to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch. We can see from this word that sin under the Old Covenant sacrificial system was only covered.
b) Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Contrast the Greek word for forgiveness – APHESIS – release from bondage or imprisonment, forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty – to KAPHAR – to cover, and we see that the blood of Jesus is a better blood than goats and bulls. See Hebrews 10:4
c) The 2 goats were used in the following ways. One goat was sent off into the wilderness (AZAZEL – to be removed or taken away) and the other was to be sacrificed for the sins of the whole nation. Luke 23:18 – With one voice they cried out, “Away with this Man!” The people shouting this in Aramaic at Jesus’ trial would have been shouting the same word, “AZAZEL!”
d)Leviticus 16:20-22 tells us that the High Priest laid his hands on the goat’s head and confessed the sins of the entire nation and the goat was driven into the desert. This prophetic symbolism of our sins being imputed to Jesus, and our sins separated from us by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfilled the type and shadow of the scapegoat.
e) The second goat was sacrificed as a sin offering for the Israelite Nation. John 11:49-53 – But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.” Jesus fulfilled the type and shadow of the Yom Kippur sin offering.
a) Aaron needed to be concealed in the smoke of incense. Incense in Scripture is a type and shadow of prayer or intercession. We see this in the Levitical Temple worship, as well as in Revelation 4:8 when the prayers of the saints are depicted as bowls being full of incense. Aaron was interceding with the Lord on behalf of Israelite veiled in the smoke because of his imperfect intercession before God.
b) Hebrews 7:23-28 – These verses teach us that Jesus fulfilled this type and shadow found in Leviticus 16.
c) Aaron dipped his finger in the blood and sprinkled the mercy seat/atonement cover seven times. Seven being the number of completeness/finality./perfection speak to the perfect blood of Jesus that completely removes sin from us. Hebrews 9 teaches us that Jesus presented a better blood in the Heavenly Temple when He presented Himself as the One who atones and forgives sins.
d) 1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
a) The 10th day of the 7th month (Tishrei – beginnings) calls our attention to the symbolism of 10 and 7. 10 represents the Law (Ten Commandments) and 7 being the number of perfection, completeness, and rest symbolizes the work of Jesus Christ as the One whose life fulfilled the Law and His death fulfilled the completeness of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
b) There were 6 Feasts of Israel. Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), and the Tabernacles. I would not call Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement a feast because this was a day of assembling, fasting, atonement, and resting.
c) This points to realities. 1 – That God is a happy God who loves joy, celebration, community, family and blessing. 2 – That there was only ONE DAY to atone for sin. This points to the future work of Jesus Christ who offered only ONE sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 9:28
d) Yom Kippur is the most sacred/holy Sabbath day in the Law. This prophesies the fulfillment of us resting in the finished work of Jesus Christ, that He accomplished by His death on the cross.