According to the Jewish calendar, we have just passed the Day Of Atonement 2 days ago . It is the highlight of the fall feast. It is the most important day of the fall feast.

In Part 1 we had given an overview of the fall feast. We had talked about the feast of the trumpets. It was the day where the priest blew the trumpet as an announcement to gather the children of Israel  and to tell them to come up to Jerusalem for the feast.  

According to the law of Moses, the day of atonement is the only day where man can come before the presence of God. Interestingly, when Israel gather for the feast of unleavened bread, Pentecost and Tabernacles. The bible describes them as “appearing before the Lord” (Deut 16:16) . In English “appearing before” and “entering into" are different. In the Old Testament the people of God cannot come into the presence of God. They could only appear before him.

On the day of Atonement, only the high priest can enter into the presence of God. He does so once a year and it is on that day he confess the sin and iniquities of Israel and make atonement for these sin.  Atonement is different from forgiveness. This will be discuss in details later. 

Difficulty Of Drawing Close To God Under Mosaic Law

Under the Mosaic Covenant, it is difficult for men enter the presence of God. The rules concerning the day of the atonement was drawn out by God on the first day when his presence entered into the tabernacle.  The day when God first erect his tabernacle and dwell among man, death reigned on the first day when the son of Aaron perform their duties a priest.

That was the day  2 of the Lord’s priest were killed for dishonouring God. Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron failed in their work as priest and offered profane fire before God. Lev 10 tells us that they burnt incense on their censor using fire not from the altar. This is in direct disobedience to od and God killed them burning them to death before all Israel.

After this incident, God forbade Aaron to enter the Holies of Holies as when he likes. The presence of God is hidden from man by a veil, and this is done for the safety of men. This separation is seen all over the Torah.

When God descended on Mount Sinai to speak to the children of Israel, the people must purify themselves,  even after that God had to create a boundary between himself and hte children of Israel. Even with the boundary, when God descended onto Mount Sinai and spoke to them, they were so terrified that they refuse to hear the words of the Lord.

When they sent Moses to speak to God on their behalf, Moses have to veil his face so that the glory of God have to be hidden from the children of Israel.

These boundaries are drawn by God for the safety of men. In those days serving God in the tabernacle could result to death. So the priest must wear bells (Ex 28:33-35) so that they can be heard while serving in the temple. The priest need to be tied to a rope just in case if he were to be struck dead by God. The people will be able to pull him out with a rope.

Significance Of The Day Of Atonement

The Day of Atonement is very important to the Israelites, for that is the day the temple is purified as it was set up in the midst of unclean people. (Lev 16:116). This is interesting for from here we can see that under the Mosaic Law, the tabernacle of God is in the midst of uncleanness.

Whenever a man offers a sin sacrifice before the Lord. They were in fact desecrating the tabernacle. There is a difference between how sin offering is done on the daily basis verses how it is done on the day of atonement.

The sin offering on the day of atonement is done to purify the temple, for the blood was brought into the veil and sprinkled onto the mercy seat. While typical sin offering requires the blood to be sprinkled before the veil.

The typical sin offering is offered when an individual committed unintentional sin against God. While the sin offering of the day of atonement is offered willingly for the sake of purifying the holy place and the altar.  

The blood from the sin sacrifice is used to sanctify the temple/tabernacle. It was not meant to ask for forgiveness from the Lord. It was also meant to cover the sin that were committed. These sins were carried away by a live goat. 

What Happens On the Feast?

The diagram below illustrate the procedures of the feast of atonement.

There are a few things we will notice.

1. The sin offering in the day of atonement is different from regular offering

2. The sin was carried away by the goat into wilderness, not forgiven

3. The Priest can only enter the presence of God this time. He is not allowed to enter the Holies of Holies at any time of the year

4. The priest and his helpers were made unclean because of the sin of Israel. They must cleanse themselves before entering the camp

The Principle Of Separation In Mosaic Law

Under the Mosaic law, God is dwelling among men. But his presence is confined onto the tabernacle. There is a separation between God and men. Man cannot draw close to God. They can only enter Gods presence once a year. This is so that they would not offend God with their uncleanness and be judged.

Under the Mosaic Law, the children of Israel is separated from the other Hebrews, such as Moabites, Edomite, Ammonites & Ishmaelite. Among the 12 tribes of Israel, the tribes of Levi is separated by God to serve him as priest. Among the Levites, only those who are without blemish can serve God as priest in the Holy Place. Only the descendants of Aaron can enter the Holies of Holies once a year.

Under the Mosaic Law there are separation between Clean and unclean, separation between Aaron, Levites, Israel, from the rest of the world. Separation is the principles found all over the Mosaic Law.

In part 2 we have discussed that God had will that eventually all these separation will be taken down when Messiah comes. Now let us look at how Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law through his death

Christ Fulfilment Of The Requirements Of Mosaic Law

At the death of Christ, when Jesus said “It is finished” there was a great earthquake. Matthew 27:51-54 records of a few things that happen. Firstly, the veil that separate between the Holies of Holies and the Holy Place as torn into two. Secondly, the vision of the ancient saints resurrecting started. All the people who died under the Mosaic covenant came back alive.

These two visions tells us two things.

Firstly. With the sacrifice of Christ. There is no longer a separation between man and God. All man can come before God and ask for forgiveness. The blood of Christ that is sprinkled onto the mercy seat is forever present. Man can now enter the Holies of Holies to ask for forgiveness without ending up like Nadab and Abihu who were judged by God on the spot.

Secondly, those who died under the Mosaic Covenant died in their sins. Their sins are not forgiven at the point of their death. That is why they died a sinful man without receiving salvation from God.  The day of atonement merely atoned (covered) their sins.  The blood of the bulls and ram can never take away sin. Their sin sacrifice are merely reminder of the sins they committed so often.

Their sins were only forgiven when Christ completes the sacrifice on the cross. Therefore when Christ died they were redeemed and they appeared before people. These saints forms the first fruits and were the first human beings saved through the sacrifice of Christ.

Prophecies Of The Covenant Of The Messiah

If we truly understand the fact that the feast of the Old Testament were merely prophecies of the new covenant that Christ will sign with men. We will appreciate the words of the Prophets better

Jeremiah 31:31-34 : God promised that he will sign a new covenant with Israel and Judah. It is a different covenant from the one made with their fathers in Sinai which is the Mosaic Covenant. In that New Covenant God will forgive them of sin. They will all know God and keep the law of God in their hearts.

In that new covenant God will no longer write on tablets of stone, he will write the law in their hearts.

The Lord had also spoken through Ezekiel that in those days he will give them all a new heart, and put his spirit into them. Eze 36:26-27, Eze 11:9.

God also prophesied that he will sign a covenant Israel, in that Covenant he will set his sanctuary among them. His tabernacle will be among them. (Eze 37:26-28) He will dwell in their midst and at that point of time, the nations will also know God. Fro Gods sanctuary will be in the midst  of nations as well.

We have examined many of the old testament prophecies regarding salvation of the gentiles in Part 2. So I would not repeat them here.

The Start Of The New Covenant

The Covenant of Christ was signed by Christ at the point of his death on the cross. When he died on the cross, his death fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant and brought redemption to all the people who died under the old covenant.

The Prophecy Of God cleansing the sin of Israel is now seen in Baptism where the sins of men are forgiven (Acts 2:38) . Whoever who are baptised are no longer separated from God. They were all children of God (Gal 3:26-29)

The prophecy of God dwelling among his people and in the nations is now seen when the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of men. It happened during the day of Pentecost and it happens to us today as well (Joel 2:28-29)

Today those who receive the Holy Spirit have the commandments and law of God written in their hearts. The Holy spirit will teach us the word of Christ write them in our hearts (Jn 16:7-15)

Under the new covenant, there is no longer a need for man to fear coming into the holies of holies. For at the point of baptism, the blood of Christ is sprinkled into our hearts. Our bodies became the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God resides in our heart. Our hearts is now the mercy seat. We have all entered into the Holies of Holies together with Christ.

That is why the Author of Hebrew tells us Heb 4:14-16

What Will Our Response Be?

The covenant of Christ is a better covenant than the covenant of Moses. The Mosaic Covenant cannot forgive sins nor can it bring salvation to anyone. They are a shadow foretelling the coming sacrifice of the Messiah.

Jesus told us that the Mosaic covenant testify of him, and he had fulfilled the covenant with his blood. Even Moses the law given talks about this new covenant. For he once said in the Torah

”The Lord your God will raise
  up for you a Prophet like me
  from your midst, from your
  brethren. Him you shall hear,
  according to all you desired
  of the Lord your God in Horeb
  in the day of the assembly, saying,
  ‘Let me not hear again the voice
    of the Lord my God, nor let me 
    see this great fire anymore, lest
     I die.’”-Moses (Deut 18:15-16)

Moses was talking about the day where Israel was unable to stand before the presence of God when he descended onto mount Sinai. Throughout the entire old testament, they have never been able to keep the law of God nor were they able to come close to God. For their uncleanness prevents them to do so.

Even the Tabernacle erected by God in their midst were constantly made unclean for it was standing in the midst of unclean people.  As the result those circumcised under the Mosaic Covenant were always afraid to draw near to God. They need to send Moses to speak to God on their behalf. Even though there are good man like David, they find themselves always falling short of Gods standard.

As the result God agreed with their suggestions for he knew they were unable to stand before him due to uncleanness. So he set up separation to protect them from his righteous judgement. God did it because he understood the weakness of man.

The Warning Of Moses 

But God was not satisfied with the state of this. Therefore he spoke through Moses saying 

“And the Lord said to me: ‘What
  they have spoken is good. I will
  raise up for them a Prophet like
  you from among their brethren,
  and will put My words in His mouth,
  and He shall speak to them all that
  I command Him. And it shall be that
  whoever will not hear My words,
  which He speaks in My name, I will
  require it of him.” – Moses (Deut 18:17-19)

Moses warned us the severity of ignoring and despising the covenant of Christ. Let us not despise the new covenant and insist on keeping  old traditions that were only meant as a shadow of the real covenant of God. Let us stop doing things that had no effect at all to salvation.

Let us learn the Moral standard of the Mosaic law and keep them. For it is the standard of God for discerning right and wrong. But most importantly let us  accept the new covenant that was prophesied in the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets.

May we all understand this and may we choose the covenant of the Messiah.