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The Day of Atonement: Satan is Removed and the World Reconciled to God The Day of Atonement: Satan is Removed and the World Reconciled to God

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The Day of Atonement: Satan is Removed and the World Reconciled to God

Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Sun, Apr 24, 2011

WITHIN our study of the Holy Day plan, we have already seen how Jesus Christ has shed His blood for our sins at Passover while we remove from us our sins through the Days of Unleavened Bread. With this, we then see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—the very power which leads converted Christians through the remainder of their lives. Then will come the awesome turning point in the history of the world—when Jesus Christ returns with the blast of a trumpet. Now comes another pivotal point in history—when at that return, Jesus Christ will banish Satan for a thousand years—we call this the Millennium, the time when Jesus Christ rules on this earth for a thousand year. At that day, Satan will be cast out so that he cannot tempt man anymore and the world will then begin to be reconciled to God.

 Thus, we have this important day in which the symbolization of this important reconciliation is pictured and all of mankind will be brought to know the true God and His laws and commandments and His awesome ways of which are now being lived by those of the Church of God in this present age.

 If we are reconciled to God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, then why do we need a Holy Day which teaches us about reconciliation? If we are already reconciled to God, then just why is it so important that we use this day to fast as is commanded on this Day of Atonement each and every year? (Leviticus 23:27; Acts 27:9). What is this day’s true significance in God’s plan for the redemption of all of mankind?

 The Day of Atonement and Passover both are to teach to us about the forgiveness of sin and our reconciliation—becoming at one with God through Christ’s sacrifice. However, the Passover is that which concerns those who are of the firstborn (firstfruits) and thus is applying to the Christians whom God has actually called forth in this present age, while the Atonement is that which carries great universal implications.

 Further, the Day of Atonement is that Day which shows to us an essential additional step in God’s plan which is not found at Passover. This step has to take place before mankind can really experience real and lasting peace on earth! All people now suffer because of sin. But, sin doesn’t happen without a reason—there is always a cause for every effect! God has made it very clear to us in the symbolism which is used in connection with the Day of Atonement.


Satan Is the Author of Sin!

 At the Day of Atonement, we find not only the forgiving of sin; but further we find pictured the removal of sin’s cause—Satan and his very demons! Until God removes the original author and creator of sin, man will simply continue to fall into disobedience and suffering! Although our human nature has a part to play in our sins, Satan has a great deal of responsibility to play for influencing mankind to disobey God’s laws.

 Even though most people even doubt the very reality of Satan, the Bible has a great amount of evidence concerning this powerful, invisible being who can sway mankind. We read that Satan “deceives the whole world”—Revelation 12:9.

 Satan blinds people to the real understanding and true knowledge of God’s Word. The apostle Paul has said that “If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them”—2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Thus, Satan is actually the god of this age or in other words, the god of this present world—it is he who influences mankind and persuades mankind to do evil.

 Paul further teaches to us that Satan has influenced mankind to walk in the ways of disobedience. He notes that those who are called into the Church of God “once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience”—Ephesians 2:2. Paul has warned us that Satan can present himself as being righteous so he can actually lead people astray. “For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works”—2 Corinthians 11:14-15. Yes, Satan also has ministers who do work for him—these ministers thus are working through the religious organizations of today’s world and we can plainly see this as we look at how many accept, for example, pagan holidays such as Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and so forth.

 Jesus Christ has stated that Satan has introduced sin and rebellion into the world. We find that Jesus declared to those who were antagonistic in His teachings that “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it”—John 8:44.

 When we tie these scriptures together we then begin to see the power and the great influence that Satan really does have. Paul also warns for us to beware of the deceitful methods of the devil. “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”—2 Corinthians 11:3, NIV.

 True Christians who struggle to resist Satan and to stop their sins fight a real and true spiritual battle against Satan and his demons. Paul says that “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness”—Ephesians 6:12, NASB.

 Paul went on to say that Jesus will deliver us from the very influence of the devil (vs. 13-18). Of course, God is much more powerful than Satan is, but we also must do our part to always resist the devil and the pulls of the flesh (James 4:7). The day of Atonement is that day each year which looks forward to the time during which Satan will be removed and be unable to influence and persuade mankind to do evil (Revelation 20:1-3) and is that da in which true Christians await for as we keep this awesome Day of Atonement each year.


The Symbols of the Old Testament

 In Leviticus 16, we find God giving instructions to ancient Israel to keep the Day of Atonement along with other feast days. Although Christians no longer are to sacrifice animals, this chapter gives to us great understanding of the plan that God has laid out for mankind.

 Notice that the priest was to take and select two goats that were to be used for a sin offering for the people, and he was to present them before God (vs. 5, 7). Aaron, the high priest, was to take and cast lots to select one “for the LORD,” for which he was to offer as a sacrifice (vs. 8-9). This goat had represented the Messiah—Jesus Christ, who would eventually be killed to pay the death penalty of which was brought about by sin.

 The other goat would then serve a different purpose: “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness”—v.10. Notice further, that this goat was not to be killed. The high priest was to take it and 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”—vs. 21-22, NIV.

 The priest chose by lot the “scapegoat,” or Azazel, as the word is found in the Hebrew. Many scholars have identified the name of a demon that inhabits the wilderness (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 326). The Azazel goat represents Satan, who bears the responsibility for the sins of mankind (v.22) because of all the deception he has brought upon mankind.

 The high priest laid hands on this goat and confessed over it the wickedness, rebellion and the sins of the people. Why did he do this? As present ruler of the world, Satan is the one who actually is responsible for his perverse ways and misdeeds. He has also coerced mankind into sinning. “The sending of the sin-laden goat…signified the complete removal of the sins of the people and the handing them over, as it were, to the evil spirit to whom they belonged”—The One Volume Bible Commentary, 1975, p.95.

 In modern terms, when we talk of a scapegoat, it is usually someone who is unfairly held responsible for others mistakes. However, the modern English word cannot be applied properly to Satan; the devil is not a scape-goat, but rather, is in reality, the real blame for sin and he will be justly held reliable for his wrongs. He will be made accountable for his own actions by which he has led mankind into sin for around six thousand years.

 The symbolism of the live goat further parallels the fate of Satan and his demons, who will be removed when Jesus returns to rule the nations. The Book of Revelation reveals that “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished…”—Revelation 20:1-3.

 Thus, Satan and his demons, those who have for six thousand years have led man into every evil deed that is possible, will be held accountable and removed to a place of restraint so that they cannot come and tempt mankind again (v.4). Complete global reconciliation toward God cannot actually take place until the source of so much sin and suffering is out of the picture.


Today’s Modern Application of this Feast

 Now, let’s notice carefully the instructions on when and how we are to keep this festival today. We read that “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement”—further, God says that “It shall be a holy convocation [a required assembly] for you; you shall afflict [fast] your souls…”—Leviticus 23:27.

 So then, just how is it that we “afflict your soul” on this Day of Atonement? First, we have to know what the Hebrew word is. The Hebrew word reveals that we are to “be afflicted, be bowed down, be humbled, be meek” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words) and the word in Hebrew is anah. This same word is also used in connection with “fasting” in Psalm 35:13, Isaiah 58:3, 5 and Ezra 8:21. Fasting means literally to abstain from food and drink (Esther 4:16).

 But, just why is it that God tells us to actually fast during this Day of Atonement for 24 hours? Fasting is that which expresses our humble desire to draw close to God. The Day of Atonement therefore represents the coming time of reconciliation during which Satan will be cast out and the world having been devastated during all the horrific events that will lead up to this time, therefore, we find we are to come to be humbled just as all mankind at that day will become humbled and repentant which will at last then finally be reconciled to God!

 Few people even actually properly understand the real reasons for why we fast. Fasting is not to force God to do our will—but rather, it is so we can become humble. We never fast to force God to give us anything. God will grant to us His desires and His will based upon our forgiveness and our desires to serve Him. Fasting will help us to remember just how temporary our physical existence really is. Without food and water, we would soon perish. Fasting will help us to actually see just how much we need to rely upon God as our Giver and the Sustainer of life.

 We need to always fast on the Day of Atonement in order to have a repentant mind. Daniel served as an example while fasting. “Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, while fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession”—Daniel 9:3-4.

 The early Church had kept the day of Atonement. More than thirty years after Jesus’ death, Luke had referred to the time and seasons by mentioning the day, stating that “sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over”—Acts 27:9. Almost all biblical commentaries and dictionaries all agree that “the Fast” refers to the Day of Atonement.

 Yet, there is also another very critical lesson of which is important for us to learn from the Day of Atonement. We have already seen about the slain goat representing the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, taking our place for our sins, paying the penalty of the death of which come about as a result of sin. But, Jesus Christ did not remain dead—for rather, He came back to life. What does the Day of Atonement tell us in regards to his role after His resurrection?

 We find that Leviticus 16:15-19 also describes a very solemn assembly (required meeting) that was carried out once a year on the Day of Atonement. The high priest was to take the blood of the slain goat to the Most Holy Place—the holiest part of the tabernacle—and there, he was to take it to the mercy seat. The mercy seat was very symbolic of the throne of God. The high priest then acted out the function Christ performs for the Christians who are truly repentant. Having then ascended to the throne of God to present the blood of His own atoning sacrifice for us, Christ is interceding for us, on our behalf—just as He has done ever since His resurrection—as our High Priest, going to God on our behalf, making a literal atonement for our sins.

 Hebrews makes this clear. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to com, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this [physical] creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption”—Hebrews 9:11-12.

 Because of His sacrifice, we can enjoy now direct access to the true and awesome mercy seat—the throne of our merciful and loving God. This was demonstrated for us at the very same moment of Jesus’ death, when “the veil of the temple” covering the entrance to the Most High Place, “was torn in two from top to bottom”—Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38. This curtain was torn in a dramatic testimony to the very access that we now have to the throne of God—showing that now we no longer need a human acting on our behalf because now we can come to the throne of God.

 Many verses throughout Hebrews mentions for us about Christ’s role as the High Priest for us and Him being the intercessor and mediator. Because of His sacrifice for us, we are able to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”—Hebrews 4:16. The Day of Atonement therefore pictures for us the loving reconciliation of the fact that all people can have through Christ with God because of that atoning sacrifice. It further pictures for us this awesome truth that Satan, the author of sin, will finally be removed for a thousand years so that mankind can at last attain reconciliation with God on a very universal scale.

 The Day of Atonement therefore serves as a vital preparatory step in anticipation for the next awesome milestone in God’s great Holy Day plan, which is beautifully illustrated by the Feast of Tabernacles!

   Discussion: The Day of Atonement: Satan is Removed and the World Reconciled to God

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