Atonement is one of the greatest experiences yet to happen for God’s people—for both the Jewish world and the Body of Christ. In Judaism, the Day of Atonement is a solemn gathering and a time of humbling their hearts with prayer and fasting. Moses commanded, “For it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. … it is a permanent statute” (Leviticus 16:30-31)1. We will celebrate this event throughout all eternity, so we better understand it. To use the New Testament terminology, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
If we are just looking for forgiveness and a covering of sin, then technically we do not need the Day of Atonement because we already have that in the Feast of Passover. Christ our Passover Lamb was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). It is like the sin offering the Israelites celebrated in Egypt. Each household took a lamb, slit its throat, and used hyssop to paint its blood over the doorposts. When the death angel came, Israel was not touched. This is a true principle. We are protected from evil and wickedness by the blood of Christ. It covers our sin. But with the Day of Atonement, we are dealing with a different level of appropriation of our Lord’s sacrifice. When sin is completely removed, then death is gone because death is the sign of sin: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Christ is our atonement; He removes our sin so we can become one with God. You can simplify this idea of atonement by saying, “At-one-ment.”
Passover covers your sins, but when you come to the Day of Atonement something unique happens. The high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat in the holy of holies to make atonement for the holy place, himself, his household, and for all the assembly of Israel (Leviticus 16:16-17). Then Aaron laid his hands on a second live goat, called the Azazel goat, and confessed over it all the sin and transgression of the sons of Israel. By laying hands on the goat, he literally transferred all the iniquity of Israel onto its head and sent it out of the camp (Leviticus 16:22). Sin is a living force, and it must physically go somewhere. It never dies (Mark 9:43-44). It must be physically removed from you and put somewhere else. In Hebrew, the term Azazel means “to entirely remove.” Sin was removed from the camp, and everything was purified. We are in the moment when God says, “This happens!”
We are anticipating a Day of Atonement experience in which the sin nature is totally removed. You can continue to live under the blood of Christ in the blessings of Passover—or you can appropriate the fullness of the provision of Christ and see the sin nature completely removed. At some point, you will get mad enough and say, “I impart this sin nature onto the head of the Azazel goat!” And it will be gone. Our intercession for the world cries, “Lord, let the spirit of atonement saturate the globe. Let it flow like a river and cover all the earth. Let Your sanctification and atonement touch each one of us. And let this be the most tremendous time for Israel and the Jewish people that they have ever known. Meet the cry of their hearts because sanctification only comes from You.”
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).