The Day of Atonement


And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26-32 ESV

Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Leviticus 16:11-14 ESV


In a story called “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” there is a magic cave where the thieves have hidden a great treasure. The cave is guarded by an enchanted door, and the only way to get into the cave is to say the magic words, “Open, Sesame!” If a person says these magic words, the door will open and the person can get in to find the treasure. If a person doesn’t know the magic words, he won’t be able to get into the cave.

Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets was another festival for God’s people, and this was was a very serious one. It was called the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur in Hebrew. There were some very strict rules for the people and for the high priest. The people weren’t supposed to do any work, and they also weren’t supposed to eat or drink anything; the Bible calls that being “afflicted.” The priest had to kill a bull for a sin offering, and then he could take some sacred incense and some blood from the bull and come into the most holy place in the tabernacle. This was the only day of the year the high priest could do this, but if he didn’t bring the blood and the incense, he would die. This was not because the blood and the incense were magic, like saying, “Open, Sesame.” This was because he, a sinner, was coming into the presence of the holy God. Only by having his sins forgiven would he be able to do this, and God gave him the rules to follow so that he wouldn’t be punished for his sins.

The blood of the bull couldn’t really take away anyone’s sins. Only Jesus, and what he did on the cross, can take away our sins and bring us into the presence of our holy God. God’s people were to look ahead in faith to the Savior God promised to send. Jesus laid down his life and shed his blood, and this sacrifice puts an end to all sacrifices, because it’s the only one that can really take away sins. Whoever believes in Jesus can come to God without fear, knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we have peace with God forever.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us Jesus, our Savior, so that our sins are forgiven and we can come to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.