IMPORTANT HAPPENINGS ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENTBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
There are a number of events that occurred on the Day of Atonement that are very interesting from both a historical and prophetic point of view. Moreover, these events show the importance that God places on this day.
SIMON THE RIGHTEOUS
In the third century B.C., there was a high priest named Simon. This man was considered to be a very honorable person and he continued in the office of High Priest for 40 years. During his 40 years as High Priest, there were two distinct occurrences, while he officiated on the Day of Atonement, that seem to have been prophetic of subsequent events that occurred after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Lot for the Lord
Each of the 40 years that Simon drew the lots to determine which of the goats would be slain and which would be set free, the white lot for the slain goat would appear in his right hand. The symbolism of the white lot appearing in Simon's right hand is clear. The slain goat was symbolic of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Moreover, after Christ was raised as the first of the sons of the Father's new creation, he would sit down in his throne at the Father's his right hand of authority.
The Old Man
Each of the 40 years that Simon entered the Holy of Holies, an old man dressed in white would join him upon entering and leaving. However, on the 40th year Simon said that the old man appeared as usual, but was dressed in black instead of white. And as usual, the old man joined him as he entered the Holy of Holies, but this time, the old man did not leave with him.
Simon took this as a sign that he would die, and he told others about it. After the Festival of Shelters/Ingathering that year, Simon became ill and died 7 days later.
The following are four significant symbolic meanings that can be found in the events that transpired during Simon's service as high priest on the Day of Atonement:
1. The number 40 is symbolic of a time of testing, probation, and punishment.
2. The number 7 is symbolic of spiritual perfection and the division of time.
3. The color white indicates righteousness.
4. The color black indicates spiritual darkness and it is a harbinger of bad things to come upon the enemies of God.
THE CASTING OF LOTS
The Babylonian Talmud lists four major signs that foretold the destruction of the temple after the advent of Jesus Christ. The first sign concerned the choosing of the two goats on the Day of Atonement:
"And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat" (Lev.16:8 KJV).
There is much debate over exactly what kind of objects the lots were. However, the information found in the Babylonian Talmud and the Mishnah indicates that the lots were two stonesone white and one black. The white stone had the words "For the Lord" written on it, and the black stone had the words "For Azazal" (i.e., the goat that is sent away or banished) written on it.
These two stones were placed into a container and it was shaken; then, without looking into the container, the high priest would put his right hand into the container and draw out one of the lots.
The Babylonian Talmud shows that, for two hundred years before 30 A.D., the first stone to appear in the right hand of the high priest randomly fluctuated each year between the white and black stone. One would expect this type of randomness, because God selected the more perfect goat to be slain for the sins of the people. But, beginning with the Day of Atonement in 30 A.D. (the year of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), the black stone appeared in the right hand of the high priest for the next 39 years.
The chances of the black stone (For Azazal) appearing 40 consecutive times in the right hand of the high priest is over a trillion to one according to Pascal's table of numerical odds.
The continual appearance of the black stone in the right hand of the high priest was surely a sign of God's displeasure with Israel and a warning for them to repent.
The fulfillment of the prophetic black stone came after forty years of continuous warning when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in 70 A. D. by the Roman Empire.
THE SCARLET THREAD
On the Day of Atonement, a scarlet wool thread was placed on the door of the sanctuary. It was said that this thread turned white when the live goat was set free. But, beginning the Day of Atonement in 30 A.D., this thread never turned white again. See Yoma 39b, Babylonian Talmud and pages 166, 170 Mishnah, by Danby.
Clearly, the failure of the scarlet thread to turn white was another sign of God's disapproval of Israel's worship of him and their impending punishment if they did not repent.
AN END AND A BEGINNING
Every seventh Festival of Atonement signaled the Year of Release and the Land Rest. At the end of the forty ninth year of this seven year cycle, the Year of Jubilee was also announced.
These periods of time had great physical and spiritual benefits and they had great prophetic meaning attached to them. Their announcement on the Day of Atonement ended physical and economic bondage in the nation of Israel and began a period of physical and economic freedom.
The Year Of Release
Every seventh year, debts were commanded to be forgiven and all indentured and purchased servants were to be released. This meant that everyone who was indebted to another person could have a fresh start the next year.
Deuteronomy 15:1-2; 12 Paraphrased
"At the end of every seven years you shall make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lends ought unto his neighbor shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord's release. . . And if your brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years; then the seventh year you shall let him go free from you."
Notice that the period of indebtedness or servitude ended at the completion of the seventh yearan end to bondage and a new beginning.
The Land Rest
Every seventh year, the land was to rest from intensive agricultural production. This land rest was to be a time of renewal of the land as well as a time of rest for those who farmed the land.
"But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest to the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard. That which grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, neither gather the grapes of your vineyard undressed: for it is a year of rest to the land" (Lev.25:4-5 KJV).
With the land rest came the prospect of a greater harvesta new beginning.
The announcement of the Year of Jubilee, which came with the forty-ninth Festival of Atonement was a special blessing to the entire nation of Israel .
The Jubilee Year ensured that economic equilibrium could be maintained in the nation. All indebtedness was to be released, indentured or purchased servants were to be released from their debt and/or servitude, and all lands were to be returned to their rightful owners, which allowed the economy to be brought back into balance:
"And you shall number seven Sabbaths of years to you, seven times seven years; and the space of seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty and nine years. Then shall you cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet to sound throughout your land" (Lev.25:8-9 Para.).
Every seventh year, the Day of Atonement signaled the end of physical and economic bondage and the beginning of a new sabbatical cycle of years. Every forty-ninth year of this sabbatical cycle of years, God declared the next year a year of jubilee. The fiftieth year was a sacred year that was set apart as a year of physical and spiritual freedom and renewal:
"And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man his possession, and you shall return every man to his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of your vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field" (Lev.25:10-12 Para.).
A Prophetic Meaning
All of these periods of time that were announced on the Day of Atonement prophetically foretold the time of humanity's release from physical and spiritual bondage through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These three periods also pictured the beginning of blessings for those who would hear the announcement of their salvation and obey the voice of God to enter into his rest by allowing him to purge away their sin and make them holy through the blood of Christ.