The Day of Atonement is one of seven feasts that YHWH states are his feasts (Leviticus 23:2), not “Jewish feasts” or manmade traditions. It occurs on the 10th day of the seventh biblical month (the biblical year begins 14 days before Passover – see Leviticus 23). With the new moon appearing this past Friday night, you can count 10 days to commemorate the Day of Atonement on its original biblical day.
As a Christian, I was taught that only Jesus’ blood could atone for my sins. I never bothered much about the feasts with my reasoning that Christ had made atonement for sin, once for all. But did he? Was that ever necessary or provided for in Scripture? Lets take a look at just a few gold nuggets regarding atonement from the Hebrew Scripture:
Jeremiah 36:2-3 Take for yourself a roll of a book and write upon it all the words that I have spoken to you concerning Israel, concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, since the day that I spoke to you from the days of Josiah until this day. Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the evil that I plan to do to them, in order that they should repent, each man of his evil way, and I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.
Proverbs 16:6 By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of YHWH one keeps away from evil.
Isaiah 55:7 The wicked shall give up his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts, and he shall return to YHWH, Who shall have mercy upon him, and to the Almighty, for He will freely pardon.
Psalm 32:5 I would inform You of my sin, and I did not conceal my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to YHWH,” and You forgave the iniquity of my sin forever.
2 Chronicles 2:14 – And if My people, upon whom My name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My presence and repent of their evil ways, I shall hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.
Ezekial 18 skillfully sums up YHWH’s aspect of atonement. Beginning in verse 20, he clearly states that every person’s sin shall be upon himself – if the wicked repents, keeps YHWH’s instructions and shows justice and uprightness, he will be forgiven. If an upright person turns to wickedness, he dies for his own sins. Verse 23 states: “Do I desire the death of the wicked? says YHWH Almighty. Is it not rather in his repenting of his ways that he may live?”
The forgiveness and mercy of the Almighty is firmly woven throughout the Hebrew Scriptures if we make a break with sin and sincerely turn back to him and his ways. There is no free ticket where we believe in someone’s blood and no longer have to take responsibility for our own actions. YHWH calls us to get to know him through his simple instructions. “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) His desire is to have a one-on-one relationship with us as we seek out His ways and turn away from sin and man-made traditions.
“Accustom yourself now to be with Him and you will be complete; with them good will come to you. Now learn Torah from His mouth, and lay His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you shall be built up; you shall distance injustice from your tents.” (Job 22: 21-23)