Church of God, New World Ministries

The Day of Atonement

“…And the LORD spake…saying…also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of Atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls (fast)…Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your soul: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.”

The Day of Atonement pictures a wonderful and great event, to take place after the second coming of Christ, which the world has entirely lost sight of because it has failed to see the true significance of these annual Sabbaths holy unto the Lord. It has failed to keep them as a constant reminder of God’s master Plan of Salvation!

The symbolism is expressed in the account of events of the Day of Atonement, as carried out before the crucifixion, in the 16 th chapter of Leviticus.

Verse 5: “And he (Aaron, or the high priest) shall take of the Congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering”

Verse 6: The high priest offered a sin offering for himself and his house

Verses 7 and 8: “And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; the one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat (margin, Hebrew, AZAZEL).”

The key to the whole explanation lies in a correct understanding of the meaning of AZAZEL. This word does not occur elsewhere in the Old Testament. The Comprehensive Commentary has: ”the word ‘scapegoat’ signifies the goat which went away.” The One Volume Commentary says: “The word ‘scapegoat’ in the A.V. is not a translation. It is merely an interpretation of the supposed meaning by the translators."

The English word “scapegoat” signifies “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” But “scapegoat” is an English word, and is not a translation of the Hebrew word AZAZEL. The word “scapegoat,” and the meaning attached to this English word, is not a translation of the Hebrew word AZAZEL, and therefore it is not the word inspired originally. Continues the One Volume Commentary :“AZAZEL is understood to be the name of one of those malignant demons.”

These two goats were types. Notice, it was necessary to be decided by lot, which one was qualified to represent Christ, and which Azazel. A lot is a solemn appeal to God to decide a doubtful matter. It is a sacred religious ceremony. It includes a supernatural act of God.

Men were unable to decide which goat was qualified to represent Christ. This involved an appeal to God to decide! “One lot for the Eternal, and the other lot for AZAZEL.” Now one lot was for the Lord — this goat typified Christ—but the other lot was not for the Lord, did not typify Christ, but AZAZEL -- Satan.

The goat which God selected, through lot, to represent Christ, was slain — as Christ, its antitype was slain. The other goat selected by God to represent Azazel was not slain, but was driven, alive, into an uninhabited wilderness. It was not a resurrected goat, symbolizing the resurrected Christ, for it never died. The uninhabited wilderness, to which this goat was driven, cannot represent heaven, where Christ went. Heaven is neither uninhabited, nor a wilderness.

After God designated which goat represented Christ, and which represented Azazel, the high priest (verse 11) killed the bullock for a sin offering for himself, then took the burning coals of fire and the sweet incense into the Holy of Holies, also sprinkling the blood of the bullock before the mercy seat, typical of the throne of God, covering the tables of testimony (the law). This, the high priest was required to do in order to purify himself to officiate, and to represent Christ as high priest. In the antitype, this was not done, for Christ, our High Priest, had no need of this purification as the typical substitutionary priests did.

The Levitical high priest is ready to go out and officiate. Next, the goat which God selected by lot to represent Christ, as the sin offering of the people, was killed. Thus the sins of the people were borne by this goat, even as Christ, finally, once for all bore our sins on the stake. But Christ rose again form the dead, and ascended to the throne of God in heaven.

Who, or what, from this point on in the Levitical ceremony, typified the resurrected Christ, who went to heaven?

The risen Christ, now at the right hand of the throne of God in heaven (I Pet. 3:22) is called — what? Our High Priest! What was the earthly type of God’s Throne?

The earthly type of God’s throne was the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. After Christ died, He went to the heavenly mercy seat interceding for us, as our High Priest, “…entering into what is within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:19-20).

Who, or what, in the Levitical ceremony of the Day of Atonement, typified the risen Christ, our High Priest, who went within the veil to God’s throne in heaven? The one goat had been slain. It represented the slain Christ. It can no longer represent the risen Christ. The slain Christ was not our High Priest as the Levitical priesthood, with its high priest, did not end until Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven as a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. But the risen Christ was High Priest. Now, who took this part in the Levitical ceremonies, temporarily reenacted year by year, on this eternal Holy Day? It was the Levitical high priest, not the goat representing Azazel!

As soon as the slain goat was dead, who went within the veil, presenting the blood of this goat before the typical throne of God?

Lev. 16:15-16: “Then shall he (the high priest) kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and (now the high priest himself typifying the work of the risen Christ) bring his blood within the veil…and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat: and he shall make atonement for the holy place…”

And so it was the high priest taking the blood within the veil, to the mercy seat, which typified the risen Christ figuratively taking His blood, once for all, within the veil to the very throne of God in heaven, there to intercede for us as High Priest.

The slain goat represented the crucified Jesus. The high priest, by taking the blood of this slain goat into the veil to the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, a type of God’s throne, represented and did the work of the risen Christ, who ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on High, there interceding as our High Priest.

The high priest going within the veil, into the Holy of Holies, symbolized Christ’s return to heaven. The work he did while in the Holy of Holies symbolized Christ’s work these 2,000 years interceding for us, presenting His shed blood before the mercy seat in heaven. Now, returning, symbolizing Christ’s return to earth, what did he do?

“And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him (Fenton: shall carry upon itself ) all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. And Aaron shall…wash his flesh with water…and he that let go the goat for the scapegoat (Azazel) shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp” (Lev. 16:20-26).

Is there justice with God? Is not God a God of justice, as well as of compassion and mercy? Who is the real author of our sins? The Devil is the author of them, even as Christ is the author of our salvation. Jesus took our guilt — our blame — our sins — upon Himself as an innocent substitutionary sacrifice. He was an innocent victim. He loved us, and was willing to die for us. Our guilt — our sins, were borne by Him, and Him alone — and God forgives them when we repent and accept His sacrifice. And yet — is this full justice?

The real cause — the actual author of those sins was Satan the Devil. Is it justice for Christ to bear guilt that is not His, while the Devil goes off scot - free? Wouldn’t real justice be for God to place the original blame and guilt where it belongs?

Notice this carefully. Christ bore our guilt. For we have been guilty, even though the Devil was the original cause of it all. But justice certainly demands that God place right back on the head of the Devil his guilt — not our guilt, but his own guilt — for leading us into sin. We were guilty too —a nd our guilt Christ bore — yet all our sins belong right back on the Devil as his own guilt!

Here is another point to consider. The Azazel goat carries away the sins of all the people already forgiven. These sins already were fully paid for by Christ’s substitute sacrifice, symbolized by the killing of the innocent goat. Before, those same sins were finally laid on the live goat which had been previously paid for by the death of the slain goat.

The Devil is the real author of all sin. Can we be finally made at one with God, as long as this instigator of sin is with us? He must first be driven away. And there would not be justice with God unless his own guilt in our sins were place right back on his head? Is it justice for Christ to bear the Devil’s guilt, as well as our own guilt, for our sins? Christ has carried our sins, but must He continue to carry them? Should they not be removed entirely from us, and from the presence even of God?

Webster’s Dictionary says to “atone” means to “set at one, to join in one — to form by uniting”. We shall not be completely joined in one, and united with God, until all expiated sins are removed from the presence of God.

In Revelation 19, we have the prophecy of Christ’s second coming. At the beginning of the 20 th chapter, what does Christ do? Exactly what the 16 th chapter of Leviticus shows. The Devil is sent away — the symbol here used is the “bottomless pit”. The symbol of an uninhabited desolate wilderness (Rev. 18:2) — and he is sent there by a fit man — an angel from heaven. Now the devil is not killed. He does not die. He is still alive a thousand years later — after the millennium (Rev. 20:7).

We must observe this most special Holy Day year after year on the tenth day of the seventh month. Continued observance will ensure we do not forget. We must keep this Feast forever!

Additional Information

  Web Site Artwork Credits
© 2023 Church of God, New World Ministries
P.O. Box 770 New Tazewell, TN 37824       (423) 626-0553