Awesome New Truth about
What is the real meaning of the Day of Atonement -- or
Yom Kippur? Should Christians also celebrate this
awesome Day of God's Holy Day Calendar? What does
it have to do with Judgment -- whose judgment? What is
the strange "Azazel" goat which is sent into the wilderness?
What does all this have to do with the soon coming of the
Messiah and the judgment of this world? Here, for the
first time, is NEW TRUTH about the Day of Atonement!
William F. Dankenbring
We read in the book of Leviticus, concerning the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur: "The Lord said to Moses, 'The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the Lord by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a LASTING ORDINANCE for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath" (Leviticus -32, NIV).
The Day of Atonement -- or "Yom Kippur" in the Hebrew -- is the fifth Holy Day of the year according to God's Holy Day Calendar. But what does this day represent? Why does God command its observance as an everlasting ordinance? What does it have to do with salvation and the Plan of God?
God's Holy Day Calendar begins with Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread in the spring of the year, during the time of the beginning of the spring harvest. Passover represents not only the escape of ancient Israel out of Egypt during the time of Moses, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the true "Passover Lamb" of the entire world, who gave His precious life for all our sins (I Cor.5:7). The Days of Unleavened Bread picture our coming out of sin, eating the "hardtack" and flat bread that has no "leaven." Leaven pictures "sin" -- or corrupting influences -- during this season (I Cor.5:6-8).
Beginning the day after the first annual holy day of Unleavened Bread, or Passover, we are commanded to "count the omer" -- that is, to number off the days, until the "Fiftieth Day" -- which is Pentecost, or "Shavuot" -- the "Feast of Weeks" (Lev.23:15-16). This period of time, during which the Israelites came out of Egypt and enduring the "wilderness" journey to Mount Sinai, pictures our coming out of sin, and the trials and experiences of the Christian life -- a life to be spent in overcoming, enduring the "wilderness" of this evil world, and being brought to "perfection" so that we can be in God's Kingdom at the return of Christ.
Fifty days after the First Day of Unleavened Bread comes the
annual festival of Pentecost, "Weeks," or
"Firstfruits." This Holy Day is
the day when God delivered the Ten Commandments to
As we see, the spring holy days therefore picture the plan of God -- from conversion to the Kingdom! But what about the Fall holy days?
The High Holy Days
In the fall of the year, the High Holy Days begin. The first day of the seventh month is called "Rosh Hashanah," which means, literally, "the Head of the year." It is the first day of the first month of the Civil Calendar. It is also called the Festival of Trumpets, or "Blowing of Trumpets" (Lev.23:23-25). The shofar, or ram's horn, was blown to commemorate and inaugurate the day.
The Feast of Trumpets has a special relation to the coming "Day of the Lord" in Bible prophecy. The "Day of the Lord," mentioned in many prophecies in the Old Testament, is the time when God will begin to intervene in world affairs, and to bring warnings and plagues upon the earth, because of the sins of mankind.
During the "Day of the Lord" -- a "day" equals a "year" in fulfillment, so this "Day of the Lord" will most likely last about one literal year -- God Himself will begin to "judge" the
nations and send plagues upon the earth. These plagues will be introduced by seven trumpets which will be blown by angels, introducing seven plagues which will be poured out on the world (see Rev.8-9). Notice -- there are many trumpets blown -- each one being a "call to repentance," as it were -- and a warning that God is sending another plague upon the earth! There are six trumpet plagues announced. These are pictured by the "TRUMPETS" -- PLURAL -- which are blown on the Feast of Trumpets!
The Feast of Trumpets, therefore, pictures God's final WARNING to this evil world to repent -- or suffer the consequences! It does not picture the "RETURN of Christ" as many have been taught for decades -- rather, it pictures the LAST WARNING which God will give this world, and its inhabitants, calling them to REPENTANCE!
The angelic "trumpets" blown on the "Day of the Lord" are the spine-tingling fulfillment of the "trumpets" which are blown on Rosh Hashanah -- the Jewish "new year" -- also called "Yom Teruah" -- the Day of Blowing," meaning the blowing of the shofar. These trumpets are warnings from God to REPENT -- for His final Judgment Day is at hand!
These trumpets do NOT picture the return of Christ! At His return only ONE GREAT TRUMPET will be blown -- not multiple successive trumpets! Thus the "Feast of Trumpets" pictures the prelude -- the call to repentance -- the time of preparation -- for the final return of the Messiah to judge the nations, and His people!
As the Jewish people have been taught for millennia, and they have it right, this day pictures God's call to His people to REPENTANCE -- and begins the "Days of Awe," leading up to the "Day of Atonement" -- or "Yom Kippur." These days are days of self-examination, and introspection -- days of reviewing our acts, works, deeds, thoughts, and words, of the past year -- and preparing ourselves, through repentance and confession of our sins, to meet God and to be judged by Him!
The Jewish View of Yom Kippur
Writes Arthur Hertzberg in Judaism:
"One day a year Jews attempt to serve God as if they were angels, not mortals.
Angels neither eat nor drink; their sole daily task is to praise God. So on Yom
Kippur (the Day of Atonement) the Jew neither eats nor drinks anything at all,
observing the strictest of fasts, spending every waking hour in prayer and intro-
spection. On that day, the conclusion of the Ten Days of Repentance, the fate
of each human being for the year to come is finally decided" (p.194).
Says The Jewish Book of Why concerning the Day of Atonement:
"The penitential period in the Jewish calendar actually starts at the beginning
of Elul (one month before Rosh Hashanah). However, the ten days between Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur have special significance because in Jewish tradition,
as the liturgy of the High Holidays states, during this period God passes judgment
over every individual, but RESERVES FINAL JUDGMENT UNTIL YOM KIPPUR.
"The Ten Days of Penitence are regarded as man's LAST CHANCE, through his
actions, to influence God to reconsider an unfavorable decision (Rosh Hashanah
16b). For this reason, the holiday greeting which until Yom Kippur was leshana
tova tikatevu, 'May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for good,' is changed, as
Yom Kippur approaches, to g'mar chatima tova, 'May you be sealed in the Book
of Life for good'" (p. 238).
Rabbi Irving Greenberg in The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays, points out how the theme of judgment permeates the entire period from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. He writes:
"On Rosh Hashanah the trials opens, the Judge enters and takes his bench. The
evidence is reviewed. Individual Jews hasten forward to plead their cases. The
liturgy attempts to capture this mood. On Rosh Hashanah, God as Creator and Ruler
is the central focus of the prayer. The divine qualities of awesomeness and judgment
stand out in the human mind. By the time of Yom Kippur the primary liturgical focus
shifts to the TRIAL ITSELF and to God's mercy, which more than anything else sustains
people in the process of the judgment" (The Jewish Way, p.191-192).
Greenberg goes on, in a later passage, saying:
"Yom Kippur is liberation day: It brings FREEDOM from the crushing isolation of
guilt. . . . This is the day of atonement, which means RESTORATION to the wholeness
of community and roots. It means a NEW RECONCILIATION and a new unification of
impulses and values, of individual and community, and of God and the human.
"Yom Kippur is a day of dazzling paradoxes. Israel stands before God, united as a
community of sinners, publicly admitting the universal evil in all yet expecting and
experiencing forgiveness and the purging of guilt through confession and mutual
These Jewish insights into the meaning and significance of the Day of Atonement are valuable and assist us in ascertaining a deeper and more profound understanding of the Day. However, when we put the New Testament record together with the Old Testament, we come to see even clearer and more radiantly the full meaning and significance of this vital Holy Day.
The Real Meaning of the Day of Atonement
At the conclusion of the "Days of Awe," following the Feast of Trumpets, which depicts the WARNING BLASTS that God sends to warn the nations to repent and confess their sins, and to change their ways, comes the "Day of Atonement." Notice, now, what happens on this day!
When the final trumpet blows, when the SEVENTH and "last" trumpet sounds, the Messiah Himself -- Jesus Christ -- will return to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth (Rev.11:15-18). On what day is THIS particular trumpet blown?
Notice a remarkable prophecy in the 25th chapter of Leviticus. We read: "And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the TRUMPET OF THE JUBILEE TO SOUND on the TENTH DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH, in the DAY OF ATONEMENT shall ye MAKE THE TRUMPET SOUND THROUGHOUT ALL YOUR LAND. And ye shall HALLOW the fiftieth year, and PROCLAIM LIBERTY throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Lev.25:8-10).
The "Jubilee year" pictures the time of "restitution" of all things (Lev.25:10-17). This "restitution" will occur at the return of the Messiah! The apostle Peter proclaimed, at the beginning of the New Testament Church, to the Jewish nation gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the TIMES OF REFRESHING shall come from the presence of the Lord: and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the TIMES OF RESTITUTION OF ALL THINGS, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:19-20).
Now notice when the Jubilee year officially begins -- it is not on Rosh Hashanah, or the Feast of Trumpets, as the normal new year begins in the fall. Rather, it is on the tenth day of the seventh month -- or on YOM KIPPUR -- THE DAY OF ATONEMENT!
Notice also -- on that day a very special TRUMPET BLAST IS MADE THROUGHOUT THE LAND -- ONE TRUMPET BLAST -- THE TRUMPET SOUNDING THE JUBILEE YEAR OF RELEASE, FREEDOM, AND LIBERTY! (Lev.25:9-10).
This trumpet is the final culminating blast which sounds the return of Christ to JUDGE the nations. That judgment is pictured by none other than the DAY OF JUDGMENT -- the DAY OF ATONEMENT -- the day of YOM KIPPUR!
The day of judgment is NOT the "Feast of Trumpets" at all! The day of "Judgment" is YOM KIPPUR -- which literally means "day of cleansing." In other words, the Hebrew word "yom" means "day," and "kippur" is the Hebrew word kaphar which means, "to cover," or "to expiate or condone," "to placate or cancel," "make an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge away, make reconciliation" (see Strong's Concordance, #3722).
This great trumpet of the Jubilee year, blown on Yom Kippur only, is the same as the SEVENTH -- or final -- trumpet of the book of Revelation, which introduces the Messiah and His divine Judgment of the nations! Notice this carefully!
"And the SEVENTH ANGEL SOUNDED; and there were great voices in
heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of
our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever . . . And the
nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they
should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the
prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, small and great;
and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (Rev.11:15-18).
When the seventh angel sounds, Christ will return to JUDGE the world, and to raise the righteous dead! This event is pictured by the Day of Atonement! The trumpet blast blown on this great day -- is the Jubilee Trumpet! This great trumpet -- the final or LAST trumpet -- is mentioned in other passages that relate directly to the second coming of the Messiah.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of the archangel, and with the TRUMPET OF GOD: and the dead in Christ
shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up
together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we
ever be with the Lord" (I Thess.4:16-17).
Notice! This verse does not say we are going to follow Him back to heaven, when we meet Him in the air, in some sort of "rapture" -- rather, it simply says that when He returns, there will be a loud NOISE -- the voice of the archangel -- and a SHOUT -- and also the loud TRUMPET BLAST! This will not be some quiet, off-in-a-corner, secret, clandestine, silent affair which the world doesn't even notice! There will be FIREWORKS!
The apostle Paul writes:
"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET:
for the TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and WE SHALL BE CHANGED . . ." (I Cor.15:52).
Jesus Christ Himself described His second coming in these graphic words:
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then
shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall SEE the Son of
man coming IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN WITH POWER AND
GREAT GLORY. And he shall send his angels with the GREAT SOUND
OF A TRUMPET, and they shall gather together his elect from the four
winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt.24:30-31).
These "elect" who are gathered to meet Him are all the TRUE, genuine, truly-converted CHRISTIANS on the earth! No other people are qualified to be called "the elect." The term "elect" in the New Testament always refers to true, genuine Christians -- and to nobody else! (see Matt.24:24; Luke 18:7; Rom.8:33; Col.3:12; Titus 1:1; I Pet.1:2; II John 1, 13).
Clearly, all these Scriptures are speaking of the SAME EVENT -- the TIME OF CHRIST'S RETURN -- and the TIME OF JUDGMENT which occurs at that very day, and not several days "later" in God's Plan!
The idea that Christ will return "part way" into the heavens, and the saints will meet Him and then return with Him to heaven for 3 1/2 or 7 years, depending on the teaching of many different ministers today, is absolutely FRAUDULENT, and nothing but a childish FABLE! Christ warns us to BEWARE of all false teachers and preachers (Matt.24:4-5, 11-12, 23-27).
Rather than return to heaven, the Messiah is coming straight down to earth, when He returns! When He came down to Mount Sinai, in the days of Moses -- which was a TYPE of His second coming -- He didn't stop half way, and return to heaven, and then come back 3 1/2 or 7 years later. And when He ascended to heaven, in the sight of all the disciples, in 30 A.D., He didn't stop half way, come back, and then ascend again! Notice:
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken
up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked
steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them
in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing
up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven,
SHALL SO COME IN LIKE MANNER AS YE HAVE SEEN HIM GO
INTO HEAVEN" (see Acts 1:9-11).
How did Jesus ascend into heaven? He did so visibly, in the clouds! He ascended straight into heaven! Did He stop half-way, turn around, and come back to earth? No! Did He take His disciples up to heaven for 3 1/2 years, or 7 years? No, He did not!
How will He return? The very same way He left! That is what the angels told the disciples! When He ascended to heaven, He was not "raptured," nor were the saints -- and there will be no "secret rapture" of the saints 3 1/2 or 7 years before His final coming to earth, either!
Does the Bible clearly tell us how and where the Messiah is going to return, the very day that He returns? Yes it does! Notice! He will return in the very same manner in which He left the earth, and He will return to the very same place that He ascended from -- the Mount of Olives! Notice the plain answer in the words of the prophet Zechariah!
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided
in the midst of thee. For I will gather ALL NATIONS against
Jerusalem to battle . . . Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against
those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. AND HIS FEET
SHALL STAND IN THAT DAY ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, which
is before Jerusalem . . ." (Zech.14:1-4).
The "Day of Atonement," therefore, pictures the RETURN OF THE MESSIAH -- WHO IS PROVED TO BE JESUS CHRIST -- TO SIT IN JUDGMENT OF THE EARTH AND ITS INHABITANTS!
Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets -- which symbolizes God's call to the nations of the world to repent of their sins -- and the trumpet plagues of the Day of the Lord, picturing God's beginning judgments of the nations -- comes the Day of Atonement -- the Day of final Judgment!
The Jubilee trumpet sounds on this very day. It is the most abstemious, painful, afflictive day of the whole year. It is the day the Jewish people recite the prayer (at the evening or beginning of the Day of Atonement) of the "Kol Nidre" -- a moving prayer in which the people together recite a long litany of sins of every kind, and beg God for forgiveness. The entire service is one of confessing sins, singing hymns of repentance and contrition, and seeking God to "wipe the slate clean" for the coming year. It is an impressive, solemn, and can be a very emotional and moving spiritual experience.
The Day of Atonement is a day of fasting, affliction of the flesh, doing without food and water. We should spend much time meditating on our lives, confessing our sins, and repenting and looking to the sacrifice of Christ as atonement for us, that we might be truly reconciled to God.
But the Day of Atonement does not just picture our personal and individual repentance, remorse, and contrition, and confessing of sin. It pictures the Day the sins of the ENTIRE NATION -- and, by extension, THE ENTIRE WORLD -- are going to be "put away," and "covered over," wiped away, and "atoned for," at the coming of Messiah! It pictures the time the Messiah will RETURN to JUDGE the entire world, beginning with His servants, the prophets and the saints of God! Notice!
"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels
with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before
him shall be gathered ALL NATIONS: and he shall separate them one
` from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats . . ." (Matt-
hew 25:31-32, see also verses 33-46).
The rituals of the Day of Atonement picture this Judgment very clearly. Not only will mankind be judged on this day of the Messiah's return, but even Satan and his demon hordes also will be judged. Notice the amazing picture as it is portrayed in the 16th chapter of the book of Leviticus.
The Day of Atonement Rituals
What is the full symbolism of the Day of Atonement? To understand it in full, we must study the Day as it was observed anciently, while the Tabernacle of God still stood. The Scriptural account giving the regulations for the nation of Israel during this day, and the Aaronic priesthood, is found in Leviticus 16. Notice!
"The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord [when they offered "strange fire" which God had not commanded]. The Lord said to Moses: 'Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
"'This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on. From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering.
"Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. Then he is to take the TWO GOATS and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats -- one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat ["Azazel" goat]. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and SACRIFICE it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by SENDING IT INTO THE DESERT as a scapegoat [Azazel]" (Lev.16:1-10).
The First Goat
The first of these two goats represents Jesus Christ, who offered Himself as a divine sacrifice for our sins. As Paul wrote, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us [that is, our sin offering], so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Cor.5:21).
The apostle Peter wrote of Christ's offering for our sins: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (I Pet.2:23-25).
The apostle Paul writes about the services of the Day of Atonement, saying: "It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year [on Atonement] with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared ONCE FOR ALL at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him" (Heb.9:23-28).
The offering of the goat "for the LORD" on the Day of Atonement, then, was a figure of the sacrifice of Christ for our sins! The goat that was sacrificed for a sin offering of the people represented Christ, who shed His blood for us.
The Sin Offering
"He [Aaron] shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel" (Lev.16:15-17).
The blood of this goat, representing Christ, not only atoned for the sins of the people, and their spiritual uncleanness and rebellion, but also cleansed all those physical things that came in contact with human beings -- the physical Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting, and the Holy Place itself! To use an analogy, it is as if sin is like "radiation." Whatever it touches also becomes "irradiated." If a man working in a nuclear facility comes in contact with radiating nuclear rods, and then goes outside, he would very likely be contaminated by radiation -- too much of a dose could even be lethal! A Geiger counter could detect the radiation emitting from his own body or clothing. He would have to be stripped, cleansed, bathed, and the clothed burned or properly disposed of, depending on its level of contamination.
Even so, since man sins, everything he comes in contact with is contaminated by his sin, rebellion, evil thoughts and deeds. Therefore, EVERYTHING -- even the most holy things of the Sanctuary and Temple -- had to be "purified" and "cleansed" by the blood of the goat, symbolizing the blood of Christ. Sin contaminates like "radiation" -- but the blood of Christ can purify and cleanse ALL sin and spiritual contamination!
God continued in His instructions to Moses: "Then he [Aaron, or the high priest descended from him] shall come out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it. He shall take some of the bull's blood and some of the goat's blood and put it on the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times [the number of "perfection" or "completion"] to cleanse it and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites" (Lev.16:18-19).
But there was another goat involved in the Day of Atonement ritual. What does it represent? Notice!
The "Azazel" Goat
"When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the LIVE GOAT. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites -- all their sins -- and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a SOLITARY PLACE; and the man shall release it in the desert" (Lev.16:20-22).
What does this "live goat" represent? We have already seen that the sacrificed goat represented Christ Himself. But this goat was NOT "sacrificed." Yet the "sins" of the people were confessed over it, and put on its head. That is, it was made to be RESPONSIBLE for the people's sins -- it was to carry the BLAME! What person, or individual, does this goat represent, who is made to bear responsibility for the sins of the people -- sins that are NOT atoned for, or washed away and cleansed by the blood of Christ?
Who is the original "Author" of sin, anyway? Who was the first liar, murderer, and lawless individual, who has deceived the whole world and led it into SIN?
Satan the devil, of course!
Jesus Christ said to the Pharisees of His time, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to
carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a LIAR and the father of lies" (John 8:42-44).
The apostle John wrote, "We know that we are children of God, and that the WHOLE WORLD is under the control of the evil one" (I John 5:19). Satan the devil is "in charge" of this present evil world. He told Christ he would even give Him rulership over the whole world if He would fall down and worship the devil (Matt.4:8-10). He could offer this power and rulership, because at this time it is still his to give.
The apostle Paul wrote of the devil, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (II Cor.4:4). He wrote to the Ephesians, telling them, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the RULER of the kingdom of the air, the SPIRIT who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Eph.2:1-2). That deceptive, powerful evil spirit is Satan the devil!
The apostle John makes it perfectly plain. He wrote, in the book of Revelation, "And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down -- that ancient serpent called the DEVIL, or SATAN, who LEADS THE WHOLE WORLD ASTRAY. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him" (Rev.12:7-9).
Satan the devil is the arch rebel who is directly responsible for the world's sins -- for leading mankind into rebellion against the laws of God. He uses his power to delude, to deceive, to entice and entrap, to seduce and to tempt men into sin and evil. He appeals to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride and arrogance of human nature. He is behind all the evil in the world. Ever since Adam and Eve in the garden, he has been seducing mankind and leading them astray, blinding them to the Truth of God!
The "live goat," who has the sins of the people put on his head, and who is then led into the desert, to a solitary place AWAY from all people, represents Satan the devil!
Notice! Philo, a leading Jewish historian and writer of the first century, who was a friend of the apostle Peter, wrote of the Azazel goat, "The one goat is given to 'the fugitive creature,' and the lot which it received is named in the prophesy 'sent away,' because it is persecuted, expelled, and driven far away by wisdom" (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, "Feasts and Fasts," p.862).
Hastings Dictionary of the Bible continues:
"Willis, 'Azazel, the name of a personal being, in opposition
to Jehovah, the personal name of God.' Schulz, 'Some powerful
being to whom the animal is assigned, and to whom it is sent
with the now forgiven guilt of the reconciled people . . . This
being must be conceived of as strange and unholy. . . . An
Aramaic name for an unclean and ungodlike power, which has
its abode in the wilderness, in the accursed land outside the sacred
bounds of the camp.' Watson in Camb. Comp. of the Bible,
'Azazel, the completely separate one, the EVIL SPIRIT regarded
as dwelling in the desert'" (ibid.).
Who could this wicked spirit being be but Satan the devil, the chief of all demons? Satan is the chief "personal being in OPPOSITION to God." His very name, Satan, means "Adversary."
In an article under "Azazel," the Hastings Dictionary of the Bible explains even more about what is known and believed about this wicked and unclean being. We read:
"AZAZEL -- The name of the spirit (Lev.16:8,10,26) supposed
to have its abode in the wilderness, to whom, on the Day of
Atonement, the goat laden with the sins of the people was sent
(vs.20-22). Azazel is not mentioned elsewhere in OT; but the
name occurs in the Book of Enoch (2nd cent. B.C.) as that of
the LEADER OF THE EVIL ANGELS who (Gen.6:2,4) formed
unions with the daughters of men, and (as the legend is developed
in the Book of Enoch) taught them various arts, and whose off-
spring, the giants, filled the earth with unrighteousness and blood.
On account of the wickedness wrought by Azazel upon earth,
the four archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael (9:1, Gr.)
are represented as impeaching him before the Almighty, who
thereupon (ch.10) bids Raphael bind him hand and foot, and secure
him , under 'rough and jagged rocks,' at a place in the desert called
'Dudael,' until on 'the great day of judgment' he is cast into the fire. . ."
("Azazel," Hastings Dict. of the Bible, p.207).
Who is the "leader of the evil angels"? Scripture tells us it is Satan the devil, the one who deceived Eve in the garden of Eden. In Revelation 12 we read of Satan: "Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth" (Rev.12:3-4). This dragon is the Devil (verse 9). The stars he swept out of the sky are the fallen angels who followed him into rebellion. These are the angels who left their first estate, given to them by God, and rebelled.
The apostle Jude writes of their rebellion: "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home -- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day" (Jude 6).
Peter also wrote of these rebellious angels, "For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment" (II Pet.2:4).
Jesus Christ specifically spoke of "the devil and his angels" who will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire -- Gehenna fire -- and destroyed (Matt.25:41). The devil, or Beelzebub, was considered to be the "prince of the demons" by the Jews, and Jesus did not contradict them in this belief or correct them concerning it (Matt.12:24). He accepted it as a fact.
This wicked being, the leader of the evil angels, who is also responsible for the sins of mankind, is none other than Satan the devil, the arch enemy of mankind, the great, crafty deceiver! It is Satan himself who is the "Azazel" or one who is to be "completely removed," far away from any human habitation -- who is to be "cast out" and who will dwell in a "solitary place." How will God accomplish this? Notice the clear typology:
In the time of the Second Temple, the Azazel goat was actually led away to perish in the desert. Says Hastings Dictionary of the Bible: "But whatever the precise attributes with which Azazel was invested at the time when the ritual of Lv.16 was framed, there can be little doubt that the ceremonial was intended as a symbolical declaration that the land and people are now PURGED FROM GUILT, their sins being handed over to the EVIL SPIRIT to whom they are held to belong, and whose home is in the desolate wilderness, remote from human habitations (v.22, 'into a land cut off')."
Says Hastings, "Azazel must have been such a spirit, sufficiently distinguished from the rest, in popular imagination, to receive a special name, and no doubt invested with attributes which, though unknown to us, were perfectly familiar to those for whom the ceremonial of Lev.16 was first designed."
The name "Azazel" in Hebrew is uncertain in meaning, but Azala in Arabic means "remove, place far apart." This is exactly what God is going to do with Satan the devil, shortly after Christ returns in His glory! Thus it is significant that the "Day of Atonement" carries this enactment of the "live goat" or Azazel goat representing Satan the devil, being bound in a wilderness area, "removed" from mankind, "far apart" from civilization.
On the Day of Judgment, pictured by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jesus Christ returns to JUDGE and RULE the earth, Satan the devil -- also known as "Azazel" -- will be put in a "holding cell" so to speak, until his final "Judgment." That is, he will be put in "solitary confinement" -- in a "wilderness" region! Notice!
John writes in Revelation: "And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, WHO IS THE DEVIL, or SATAN, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time" (Rev.20:1-3).
Satan will be put in a "solitary place," "far removed" from mankind for one thousand years. After this, he will be released for a short time. "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth -- Gog and Magog -- to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They [Satan the devil and his demons] will be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev.20:7-10). This will be Satan's fate on the final day of his judgment! He will be thrown into a furious fiery lake and burned up until he is consumed in the flames, and perishes (see also Heb.2:14; Ezek.28:14-18). This Scripture does not mean Satan will literally be tormented for unending time, for all eternity -- for his suffering will only last so long as "day and night" exist. And there will be "no night" in the New Jerusalem. "There will be no more night" (Rev.22:5). Thus this punishment is only for as long as needed until the punishment is complete, and Satan is finally utterly destroyed. If you have not read it, be sure to write for our article "Satan's Fate: Will He Be Punished Forever?"
The Final Gehenna Fire
This Gehenna fire is going to be the final fate of ALL the incorrigible wicked -- not only Satan and his demons, but all the wicked among mankind as well who do not repent of their sins and have them covered by the blood of Christ! (Rev.20:11-15).
Matthew's gospel records, "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal [aion or "age-lasting"] fire PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS . . " (Matt.25:41).
Those whose sins are covered by the blood of Christ will inherit eternal life, by the grace and mercy of God, through Christ our mediator. But those who refuse the love of God, who refuse to obey God and keep His commandments, who refuse to repent of their sins, an awesome day of Judgment lies in store for them.
The Day of Atonement pictures God's forgiveness for all who come to Him. It pictures the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, and the coming day of Judgment and Salvation of God's people. As Paul wrote, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion, he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" (Rom.11:25-27).
But those who refuse to repent of their sins, and to come to Christ for mercy and pardon, those who harden their hearts in iniquity and lawlessness, will suffer eternal condemnation -- death in the lake of fire. John writes, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev.20:15). John went on, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the SECOND DEATH" (Rev.21:8).
There is one fate awaiting all the incorrigible wicked. The prophet Malachi declared:
"Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All
the arrogant, and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day
that is coming will SET THEM ON FIRE, says the Lord
Almighty. Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But
for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will
rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap
like calves released from the stall. Then you will trample down
the wicked; they will be ASHES under the soles of your feet
on the day when I do these things, says the Lord Almighty"
The Anointed Cherub
Satan himself was not always a "rebel." There was a point in history where he chose to sin against God and go his own way. But originally, God created him to be a beautiful guardian angel -- one of the very cherubim surrounding the throne of God! God says of him, "You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were CREATED they were prepared. You were appointed as a GUARDIAN CHERUB, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
"You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till WICKEDNESS WAS FOUND IN YOU. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you SINNED. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I EXPELLED you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became PROUD on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. " Because of the Devil's rebellion, God says, He will punish him severely. The prophecy goes on, foretelling Satan's fate:
"So I THREW YOU TO THE EARTH," God says. "I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a FIRE come out from you, and it CONSUMED YOU, and I reduced you to ASHES on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be [exist] NO MORE" (Ezek.28:12-19).
Even as men can convert matter to energy, or energy to matter (through Einstein's famous formula E = MC squared), even so God can convert a spirit being such as Satan to material substance or matter, or flesh, and then consume it in a fiery holocaust. There is nothing which God can create which He cannot also destroy. Human experience tells us that it is far easier to tear down something made than it is to construct or build something. It is easier to destroy a house than to build it. Even so, it will be far easier for God to destroy Satan, than it was to create Lucifer the cherub in the first place!
The prophet Isaiah writes of this same arch-enemy of mankind, and his original rebellion against God, and his dismal fate that is coming. The prophet declared,
"How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star,
son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations! You said in your
heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above
the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of
assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make
myself like the Most High.'
"But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of
the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your
fate . . ." (Isaiah 14:12-16).
The King James Version says that Satan's name originally was "Lucifer," or "light-bringer." However, when he rebelled, his light turned to gross and gloomy darkness. And his fate is to suffer the darkness of eternal blackness and night. The darkness of Death!
The Day of Judgment
The whole lesson of the Day of Atonement is twofold: First, judgment is coming. As the apostle Peter wrote, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?' So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good" (I Pet.4:17-19).
This great day of judgment will begin at the second coming of Christ! As John wrote in Revelation: "And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped" (Rev.14:14-16).
All will be judged, according to their works. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, "For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil" (Eccl.12:14).
But in that coming judgment, there is forgiveness and mercy and grace through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, who died for us on the cross, who gave His life as a ransom for us! "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand" (Rom.5:1-2).
Paul goes on, "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Rom.5:9-11).
What about you? Where do you stand? The Day of Atonement represents forgiveness and pardon for some -- and wrath and eternal judgment for others! Do you stand with the righteous? Or with the wicked? Are your sins covered by the blood of Christ, the Messiah and Redeemer? Or are you still covered with the scars and sins of rebellion and wickedness?
Have you had your own personal "Day of Atonement" yet? Have you made peace with God? Have you accepted, and confessed, Jesus Christ as your own personal Saviour, Redeemer, Messiah, and Coming King and Lord and Master, and given your life over to Him completely, as His servant, to use as He sees fit?