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.” (Lev. 23:27).
The Day of Atonement occurred just 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets. The term “atonement” refers to the act of making amends or reparation for sin or a mistake. In Christian terminology it refers to the reconciliation between God and man through the death of Jesus Christ. The Day of Atonement, for the Jews, was the most serious and solemn of all days. It was a day of meditation and humility as one considered his standing before God. “It is to be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.” (Lev. 16:31). This was the one day in which all of Israel’s sins were atoned for through blood sacrifice. It was the one day in which the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people of Israel. Serious consequences occurred to those who would not humble themselves before God. “If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.” (Lev. 23:29-30). It was a somber day indeed.
A day of atonement has occurred for everyone who places his or her trust in the person and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). It was Christ’s sacrifice which takes away our sins once and for all. “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” (Heb. 10:1) “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices which can never take away sins; but He(Christ), having offered sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. (Heb.10:11-13)
An ultimate day of atonement still remains for the unbelieving world. We are reminded throughout Scripture that there is a coming day of wrath upon the unbelieving world. “Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:9).
Through Christ’s fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets believers will be delivered from this coming day of wrath. Scripture tells us that there will be seven years of tribulation following the rapture of the Church. It is during this time that those still living will be given an opportunity to humble themselves before God or will forever be “cut off” from the presence of the Lord. It was the Church’s mission to take the gospel into the entire world. After the rapture of the Church and during the years of tribulation, the message of redemption will be handed off, once again, to the Jews. We are told in the book of Revelation that the Lord commissions 144 thousand Jews to be his special ambassadors during this time. The final offer of atonement through Christ will be made available to the earth’s survivors during this dreadful outpouring of the Lord’s wrath upon the earth.
Where are the Church and Old Testament Saints during this 7 year tribulation period? Some have speculated that the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” is taking place in heaven. (Rev. 19:9). The Groom has come to claim His Bride. It is a time of celebration and preparation for the Lord’s marvelous protective Kingdom on earth.
THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES OR BOOTHS
Five days after the Day of Atonement the Jews were to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, the fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord.” (Lev. 23:34)
This feast is often referred to as the feast of booths. A booth is basically a tent. This week long celebration commemorates the Lord’s protection for the Hebrews during their 40 years of wilderness wandering. Even to this day the Jews set up small shelters and “camp out” during the week of festivities. Each day was to be a day of remembrance. An “offering by fire” to the Lord was to be made on each of these days. These were to be days of rest. No work was to be performed during this time. The feast concluded on the eighth day with a holy assembly before the Lord.
How fitting it is that this feast commemorating the Lord’s protection should correlate with His protection during His millennial reign upon the earth. The prophets of old spoke often of this kingdom. Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah and other prophets made their message clear. The Lord spoke to Ezekiel saying, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet…” (Ezek. 43:7a). He was speaking of Jerusalem. This is to be taken literally and not figuratively. Christians often spiritualize this kingdom without considering the reality of an actual earthly kingdom with Christ reigning from Jerusalem. In addition to the many Old Testament references to this kingdom, the book of Revelation brings even more light to the reality of this kingdom on earth saying, “…but they (the Saints/believers in Christ) shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:6b) The book of Revelation has much to say about the tribulation period and the 1000 year reign of Christ. Picture, if you will, the day of Christ’s return. The “beast” (anti-Christ) along with the false prophet and the armies of the earth assemble together to “fight against Him (Christ) who sat upon the horse and His army (Saints).” (Rev. 19:19). In one fell swoop Christ defeats these defiant ones and establishes His kingdom. All believers who either died before His return or were raptured will reign with Christ. “And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.” (Skip to the end of verse 4) “And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:4a & 4c) Those who heeded Christ’s call and offer of salvation during the period of the tribulation and who survived will enter the kingdom as mortal men and women. They will continue to work, marry and have children. Satan is bound for the 1000 years but will be released for a short while at the end of Christ’s millennial reign. He will once again deceive the nations and try and take the throne of God but will be defeated. He will then be thrown into the lake of fire, never again to deceive or destroy. At that time we are told in the book of Revelation that a “new heaven and new earth” will be formed along with the “new Jerusalem”. Other than the descriptions provided in Revelation, I am not so sure that any of us can truly visualize what this will be like. What we know is this: Jesus Christ will continue to be our Shepherd, Protector, Guide, and Life. He is our Tabernacle. He is our Appointed Feasts unto the Lord.