Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the symbolism of the jewish day of atonement

3/6/05

 

 

The book of Hebrews is fascinating in its revelation of the symbolism contained within the structure of the Jewish religious system as instituted under the Old Covenant. Chapters 3 and 4 introduce us to Christ as the great high priest who builds the new house of God, one greater than the Jewish temple. Chapter 5-7 proclaim Christ as having entered the “Holy of Holies” with the perfect sacrificial offering, having been ordained by God as priest after the order of Melchisedek, one greater than Abraham and his descendants in the Levitical priesthood. Chapter 8 elaborates in stating that Jesus, the new high priest, is in God’s presence in the heavens, awaiting the fulfillment of the better covenant in which God will forgive and forget. Chapter 9 draws a beautiful picture of the Old Testament high priest entering into the Holy of Holies of the Jewish tabernacle to present the annual sacrifice to God. Correspondingly, Christ is said to have entered the true holy place, not made with hands, from which he is destined to return to proclaim salvation based on God’s acceptance of his perfect, once for all sacrifice.

 

In noting the prescribed process of the Old Testament Day of Atonement, we see that atonement was not complete until after the high priest returned from the holy place, having presented the blood to God. If the high priest did not return, the atoning would not happen. All steps had to be completed as God required.

 

Appropriately Jesus is said in Hebrews to have entered the heavenly holy place with his sacrifice to present it before God. Following the symbolism of the Day of Atonement, Jesus must return from his trip into the holy place before salvation can be declared.

 

If mankind still awaits the return of the great high priest from heaven, then logically our salvation is not complete. God for some reason is not willing yet to demonstrate that Christ’s sacrifice is acceptable. This is the direct implication of a still future return of Christ.

 

Some seem to be comfortable with an indefinitely postponed salvation. Others are logically perplexed about the significance of God’s delay in fulfilling all things. The Book of Hebrews holds the answer to their perplexity. Chapter 10 and verses 36 and 37 state emphatically that the return of Christ was to happen shortly in the 1st century AD. God did not postpone a thing. All happened according to the plan and in complete fulfillment of the symbolism inherent in the ritualism of the Day of Atonement. The Law and all its ordinances were teaching tools to lead to Christ (Gal 3:24). The Book of Hebrews with its analysis of the Day of Atonement is perhaps the greatest illustration of this fact.

 

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