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Atoning for the Day of Atonement

This post is part of a paper written by a theology student at Southern Adventist University. Understanding the controversial nature of this topic within Adventism and reviewing the actions at Glacier View, I felt it was proper to publish this under my name since I am not seeking denominational employment and feel able to defend this view without the threat of disciplinary action.
The ceremonial law, found in the Pentateuch, which centers around the sanctuary and its sacrificial services were shadows of the coming Messiah. Even the festivals and Sabbaths pointed forward to the substance which is Christ (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7). The annual festivals commanded by God all prefigured some event relating to the Messiah. Also, something worthy of mention is that each of the festivals which have been fulfilled met their fulfillment on the actual day of celebration. That is to say, Christ was sacrificed as our paschal lamb on the day of Passover. Christ presented Himself before the Father on the day of Firstfruits. These parallels hold true to each of the holidays. Type met anti-type on the very same day, and it was all fulfilled in that day.
The Spring Festivals
Paul is explicit in saying that Christ is our paschal lamb, that is the lamb sacrificed on the day of Passover(1 Corinthians 5:7). When the festival was instituted in Exodus the lamb played a significant role in serving as a covering for the people of God (Exodus 12:13). The blood of the lamb would be present on the doorposts of the home, and that was the sign to the angel of destruction to pass over that home. In the same way, Christ’s blood cleanses us from all sin and reconciles us to God (1 John 1:7; Ephesians 2:13).
Early Firstfruits
In Hebrew the festival is referred to as Sfirat HaOmer. As the command in Leviticus explains, the priest was to present the firstfruits of the harvest before God in the sanctuary. This presentation was to take place on the day after the Sabbath, following the Passover (Leviticus 23:10, 11). The firstfruits were not offered to the Lord in a sacrificial sense but they were merely waved, or presented, to God. The firstfruits were a promise of a greater harvest to come.
Christ was raised on Sfirat HaOmer, the day after the Sabbath following Passover (Matthew 28:1). He made it clear to Mary that He had not yet ascended to, or presented Himself before, the Father. (John 20:17) The implication of John 20:17 being that Jesus would indeed ascend to the Father on that day and present Himself as a firstfruit.
Paul does not miss the analogy. He explains that Christ’s resurrection was indeed a firstfruit of resurrection and is therefore a guarantee of a greater resurrection sometime in the future (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Latter Firstfruits
Fifty days after the presenting of the early firstfruits was to be another festival (Leviticus 23:15-21). This holiday is significant for two reasons. On an agricultural level, the presentation of even more of the firstfruits speaks of a growing promise that there will be a great harvest in the fall. The historical aspect is equally intriguing. This day marks the date of the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai. So with this duality in mind we can expect to find a dual sense of fulfillment.
On the very day of the latter firstfruits, known in Greek as Pentecost, the early Apostles received two things. They first, and most obviously, received the Holy Spirit. The giving of the Spirit has unambiguous connections to the giving of the Law. Paul says quite clearly that, “If you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law”(Galatians 5:18). Spirit and law are often juxtaposed in the New Testament (Galatians 3:2; Romans 7:6, 8:2). Also, with the conversion of 3,000 people in one day there was indeed a promise given from God of a bountiful future harvest (Acts 2:41)!
The Fall Festivals
It is fascinating to notice that the Spring festivals all anticipated a work that would be done during the first coming of the Messiah. Christ by His death, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit has already fulfilled all of the Spring holidays. The Fall festivals however are yet to be fulfilled. They all foreshadow things which will be done in and around the time of the second advent.
Feast of Trumpets
Known traditionally as Rosh Hashanah, this holiday marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year, despite the fact that it takes place in seventh month of the civil year. The notable feature of the Feast of Trumpets is the resounding of the shofar, the trumpet-horn.
The blasting of the trumpet, in the Jewish reckoning, connotes various things. According to Saadia Gaon, a Jewish rabbi, philosopher, and exegete of the tenth century, the blasting of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah represented, among other things: acknowledging God as King, remembering the coming day of final judgment, foreshadowing the proclamation of the freedom of God’s people, and a foreshadowing of the inauguration of God’s reign of righteousness throughout the world (
The sounding of the trumpet is a call to God’s people to gather together. Yet, what is fascinating is that traditional Jewish liturgy says that God has “commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar” ( Thus, we see an implicit correlation with hearing the shofar and responding to it. Even biblically, the sounding of the trumpet was a call to gather together (Nehemiah 4:20).
The prophetic fulfillment is obvious. The second coming of Jesus is the substance of which the Feast of Trumpets is a shadow. No other event described in the New Testament shows this interrelation between trumpet sounds and gathering. “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:30, 31).
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
Philip Sigal, an influential Jewish author, says, “The sounding of the shofar is related to the Messianic theme, and in one tradition, Rosh Hashana is said to be the time of the ultimate redemption…[The prayers] in many ways allude to God’s enthronement, for the kingship of Heaven materializes with the advent of Messiah, who presides over the last judgment” (
Jewish tradition sets aside the entire month preceding Rosh Hashanah as a time of repentance. That month is called Elul, which in Aramaic means “search.” How fitting, since Elul is a 30 day period of searching your heart and repenting. Therefore, eschatologically, we are living in the typical month of Elul, a time when we ought to be preparing our hearts for the sounding of the Lord’s trumpet.
Only those who are repentant will truly hear and respond to the trumpet call of God. This is why the dead in Christ rise at the trump of God, because those who are asleep in Christ who had repentant hearts will be obedient to the call of the shofar and will be gathered together.
A traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting is, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year” ( The concept being that on the day of Rosh Hashanah God would decide whose names would be written in the book of life. So the Jews greet each other on Rosh Hashanah with the expectant hope that God will put their names in the book of life.
John the Revelator makes a total of seven references to this Book of Life and each time it is clear that entrance into Heaven is contingent upon having your name written in it (Revelation 13:8, 17:8, 20:12, 20:15, 21:27, 22:19). Thus, New Testament prophecy is instep with ancient Jewish tradition which teaches that those who were repentant during Elul, and those who responded to the trumpet call are those written in the Book.
We understand, prophetically, that the second coming of Jesus will be followed by a time where thrones will be set up and judgment decided upon. This time period lasts 1,000 years. Anti-typically, the Feast of Trumpets is followed by a 10 day period in which the Book of Life is reviewed by God to decide who judgment will be enacted upon. Some Jewish traditions hold that during this interim-period those who had not repented before the Feast of Trumpets will have opportunity to be added to the Book of Life. This is not unanimous and is not supported by the biblical description of the millennium. Instead, the millennium is a time of affirmation. It will be affirmed whether or not those who gathered together at the trumpet sound will remain faithful.
The ten days after Rosh Hashanah are known as the Days of Awe. They are not times of celebration; they remain solemn times of judgment because the judgment itself is yet to be executed.
The Day of Atonement
Judgment is executed on the Day of Atonement. God’s judgment decision which was made at Rosh Hashanah will be vindicated at this time. The ceremonies surrounding the Day of Atonement are described in detail in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. The first work to be done is the cleansing in the Most Holy Place (Leviticus 16:16). An important distinction must be made at this point. No part of the sanctuary is cleansed during the Day of Atonement. The atonement is not on behalf of the sanctuary, but on behalf of God’s people. The passage reads, “In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites.” However, in a stricter translation of the original language, the atonement is made upon the Sanctuary. A different preposition is used later in the text when it says, “having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel.” Despite the fact that both prepositions are translated as atonement for it is more accurate to translate the first as atonement upon (Hebrew: לע: al) and the second to be rendered atonement on behalf of (Hebrew: דעב: be-ad) As the passage goes back to talking about the atonement of a sanctuary item it again changes prepositions and says upon rather than for or on behalf of (Leviticus 16:18).
Notice also the sequence of events described in Leviticus 16. First atonement is enacted in the Most Holy Place, (literally the Holy Place, but presumably the inner sanctuary is meant because the priest sprinkles blood directly before the Ark of the Covenant) then atonement is enacted upon the Tent of Meeting as a whole, then finally the priest moves to the outer court and atonement is enacted upon the altar (Leviticus 16:20).
Following all of this, the sins of all of the repentant are placed on the head of the scapegoat. It, along with the unrepentant of Israel (Leviticus 23:29, 30) are sent out of the camp, left to die in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:21, 22) All of this occurs in one literal day.
All of these things are representative of what takes place after the millennium. After anti-typical Days of Awe in which the decision of God is put under scrutiny, judgment actually takes place. First, judgment is pronounced in the Most Holy Place which is the throne room of God Himself. Then the Tent of Meeting, which is heaven itself, (Hebrews 9:24) has the judgment declared to them. Finally, Christ the High Priest goes to the outer court which represents Earth and pronounces judgment there. (The outer court is by necessity the Earth because it is where the sacrifice took place.)
After the resurrection of the wicked the sins of the redeemed will be placed on the head of Satan and he along with all of the unrepentant will be cut off from the camp and left to die (Revelation 20:10). The second death is different than the first death because it is absent from the presence of God. That is why Christ’s death was a sufficient propitiation because He died a second death, one cut off from God. (Matthew 27:46) Likewise, those who perish in the flames outside the city will be destroyed by virtue of the fact that they are cut off from the One who is Life.
Revelation is very clear in explaining that what happens there is the actual Judgment. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). This passage in Revelation 20, which deals with post-millennial judgment, could not be more steeped in Day of Atonement language.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Five days after the Day of Atonement Israel was commanded to dwell in booths (Leviticus 23:34). This was to commemorate the time in which Israel dwelt in booths in their journey towards Canaan (Leviticus 23:43). This is not to be a time of mourning or fasting, but one of the most festive celebrations. This is a significant point that should not be missed. The wanderings in the desert were not festive times, so why is the Feast of Tabernacles known as “the time of our gladness?” ( Because the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, did not only point back towards the journey from Egypt to Canaan. The Jews recognized that the holiday was also meant to point forward to a time where we live in the Messianic kingdom. Note the significance of the final prayer of Sukkot: “May it be Your will, Lord, our God and God of our ancestors, that just as I have stood up and dwelled in this sukkah (booth) so may I merit next year to dwell in the sukkah of the hide of the Leviathan. Next year in Jerusalem!” The Talmud teaches that when the messiah comes, the righteous will come to Jerusalem and the Leviathan (a giant sea creature created on the fifth day) will be slain. Its skin will be used to make the walls of a giant sukkah, and the righteous will dine on the flesh of the Leviathan in that sukkah (
The destruction of the Leviathan has incredible connotations. Comparing Isaiah 27:1 and Revelation 12 we realize immediately that Leviathan is an ancient Hebrew concept of Satan. It is not to suggest that we interpret this Jewish prayer literally, but rather we accept the significance of the fact that the Jews recognized that the destruction of Satan would immediately precede the fulfillment of Sukkot. Just as Revelation 21 explains that after Satan is destroyed then it can finally be said, “Behold! The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people!” (Revelation 21:3)
Why October 22, 1844 did not fulfill the Day of Atonement
1.) October 22 was not the literal Day of Atonement in 1844.
2.) Every other festival was fulfilled in a single day. Since the Day of Atonement will not be fully completed until Satan, the scapegoat, is sent out from the camp, that means the Day of Atonement will last over 1100 years!
3.) Daniel 8:14 is not dealing with the Day of Atonement for a couple of reasons. Primarily, because the Day of Atonement is not about cleansing the sanctuary.
4.) Secondly, because the “making righteous” of the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14 is not a ceremonial impurity but a restoration after the desecration caused by the little horn.
5.) If Christ is currently ministering in the Most Holy Place and declaring judgment then probation has already closed. The work done throughout the Day of Atonement is not a probationary one.
6.) The sequence of festivals is put out of order. The Feast of Trumpets, which clearly represents the second advent, cannot come after the Day of Atonement is finished.
7.) The cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8 is often paralleled with the judgment scene in Daniel 7. However, Revelation 20 is nearly quoting directly from Daniel 7, and Revelation 20 is dealing with the post-millennial judgment.
8.) Ellen White, herself, in Patriarchs and Prophets p358 says, “Thus in the ministration of the tabernacle, and of the temple that afterward took its place, the people were taught each day the great truths relative to Christ’s death and ministration, and once each year their minds were carried forward to the closing events of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, the final purification of the universe from sin and sinners.

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