Gary Smith's Day of Atonement sermon. We submit to God by humbling ourselves before Him, and as a result, He will lift us up.
[Gary Smith] This is a very special, special day to God and therefore God has asked us to meet here in order that He can review certain things with us in regard to this day. And it’s a unique day because it’s the only day of God’s festivals in which we don’t eat anything, we fast. So this day fasting is very much a part of it. It’s called in the Jewish community, Yom Kippur , which means the Day of Atonement, or Day of Propitiation, something to that effect. Kippur , really, to translate it into English is difficult. So they’ve chosen a word which we’ll talk about here at one or atonement in order to convey the idea that’s put forth in the sacrificial system. As we look at the first three chapters of Genesis, they tell us a great deal about the world.
Now, I never realized that and even early on in the Church, I didn’t realize that even though that point was made quite often. But there’s a great deal of information in those first three chapters. And the three chapters tell us a lot about why the world is the way it is, at this particular time. We’re told in those chapters that the heavens and the earth and all that dwell therein came about through the creative power of God. God created everything, everything that we can see, everything that we can’t see. He created all the vegetation, the animals, mankind. And as God completed the recreation at that point, He said, “It was all very good.” It was all very good. God tells us in these chapters that he had a higher purpose for mankind. And we can discern this from the fact that we were created in God’s image. No other creatures were created in God’s image. We were created in His image.
Also, we were given dominion over the earth. No other creature in the creation was given dominion. We can also discern that we are special in God’s sight because God gave us the Sabbath. And the Sabbath gives us a great deal of insight into our Creator and also the great plan that He’s working out here below. No animals, no other part of the creation keeps the Sabbath, but we human beings. So there was a significant benefit and blessing for mankind in keeping the Sabbath. And God told man that there were two paths by which he could live. It was another thing that God told him in these first chapter of Genesis. He told him of the tree of life. He said, “If you eat of this tree, the results are going to be exactly what I’ve told you, life. Life everlasting.” It was a path that honored God by keeping the commandments and loving one’s fellow man.
He also said, “There’s another tree here called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” and the second path it followed would lead to death. He said, “In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” Now you won’t die right away, but you will die. It was a path that didn’t honor God, nor did it express outgoing concern for fellow human beings. It was a totally self-interested path. So how did God know there were two paths? Is that the way God created it that there were two paths? Is that how God brought everything into being where there are two paths that you can follow? Well, God knew there were two paths because God created angels and mankind with free moral agency. So if there’s free moral agency, it means there’s a choice. So God wants you to make a particular choice but there are two choices, at least two choices.
So God knew the path represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He not only knew it because He had created man with the ability to make a choice but also from personal experience. So as God talked to Adam and Eve on that first Sabbath, do you think He told him anything about those two trees and the outcome that would ensue if they chose one tree or the other? Well, do you think He reviewed this experience with them and went over what would happen if they ate of that? As we go on and we get to Genesis 3, it introduces another being into the picture. And this being is the originator and promoter of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So he’s introduced there, and he’s still very much a part of the picture. So do we notice the serpent is introduced at the beginning of the Scriptures? God tells us right at the beginning of things that there is this being that is in opposition to you and his goal is your destruction.
So Adam and Eve were warned about the promoter of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. See, he was the originator and he is the promoter of that particular tree. So as I said, did God tell Adam and Eve about His experience? Might have shared with them some of that? Let’s go back to Ezekiel 28. Ezekiel 28. And as you think about what God tells us here in these chapters, you know, it was a long time between the book of Genesis and the book of Ezekiel. A long time took place between that time and God here in Ezekiel 28 gives us input about who this being is and details about him and his origin. Let’s go to Ezekiel 28:12 Ezekiel 28:12Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
American King James Version×. “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord God:”’” And it’s interesting that God chose Tyre, Tyre which was a trading city.
The other mention of Satan in Isaiah, which we will get to, it’s in the context of Babylon. But this is the king of Tyre, not the prince of Tyre who was mentioned earlier. And so he is basically the power behind the prince of Tyre. Verse 12, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “You were the seal of perfection… You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”’” You know, if somebody tells you you’re perfect and beautiful and that you’re wise, that’s quite a compliment. God was quite complimentary. He says, “You were in Eden, the garden of God.” And this particular being was in Eden in God’s garden. As we’ve briefly touched upon in thinking about Genesis 3. It says, “Every precious stone was your covering…” and He goes and talks about the various stones with which he was covered, the bright and beautiful and glistening and glowing stones. “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.”
Verse 14, “You were the anointed cherub who covers;” So what is an anointed cherub who covers? It’s portrayed for us with the Ark of the Covenant. He was it appears one of the cherubs that covered God’s throne. That was his assignment at one time. “You were the anointed cherub… I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” So this being that’s described here was created. He was on the mountain of God. He walked back and forth among the fiery stones. The other angelic beings that were also there. Verse 16, it says, “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned.” This being, this angelic being made the choice to sin. “Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.” So “you’re no longer in heaven, but you’re bound to the earth.”
And that’s where Satan has remained, although he does have audience with God from time to time as the Scriptures show. But the thing is he sinned. And his sin began with a thought. And, you know, those of you who are familiar with Star Wars are probably familiar with the force. There’s a disturbance in the force. Well, from God’s perspective, I’m sure that when that first thought of Satan that he was unhappy, went through Satan’s mind God was aware. God was aware that something negative had been introduced into the creation. And God knowing that Satan had to make a choice and the angels were going to have to make a choice, he allowed it to go forward because He knew it was going to bring challenge to the angels. They were going to have to make a choice whether to follow Him or not. And that thought that began with Satan increased and increased and eventually it led to a rebellion against God. A seeking to overthrow Him. This is also described in Isaiah 14. Isaiah 14.
Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version×, here it says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! You have fallen from heaven… How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” You know, this was a being who did not uplift and up-build. He did not do things to the honor and glory of God. In fact, he became an opponent. And his influence, he weakens the nations. He weakens you and me and he weakens the nations, and he seeks our downfall. Verse 13, “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;’” So this being, Satan, was given the responsibility of overseeing the earth. But he became dissatisfied with that particular position and he sought to overthrow God, to remove God from His throne. “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, above all the angels of God.”
“And I also will sit on the mount of the congregation on the farther side of the north.” God’s throne is in the north. Satan saw to overthrow Him. “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” “I will remove God and I will rule the universe. And I will rule it better than He ruled it, without all of the limitations that He put on it.” So he sought to overthrow God. In verse 15, “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit.” You know, in Revelation it calls it the “Abyss” and he is placed in the lowest point in that abyss. As a result of his rebellion at this point, he’s still here. He’s still active. And he is a being who seeks our destruction. So God probably told Adam and Eve about Satan and told them about the rebellion and told them that he was a dangerous being.
Chapter 3 of Genesis tells us that God warned them and told them about what was coming. But, you know, Adam and Eve really didn’t heed God. And if you go forward beyond the thousand-year period, do the people at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, do they heed God at that time? They don’t. They’ve not learned anything from Adam and Eve and they’re going to be taken in as well. Both Adam and Eve and the people that live at the end of the Millennium are going to live in the Garden of Eden, the most wonderful place you could ever live. Adam and Eve lived in it and they sinned. And the people at the end of the Millennial Kingdom are going to live in the Garden of Eden and yet they’re going to succumb to Satan’s influence. And it clearly illustrates the great power of influence that Satan has. He’s far beyond us in his knowledge, in his understanding, in his ability to get to us. And he has gotten to all of us, every last one of us.
In Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
American King James Version×, it tells us “the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field” and he is. He is very cunning and very skilled in what he does. So Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And that’s what the world eats of, that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It’s the world and the way of life promoted by Satan. It’s the world and the way of life promoted by Satan. And it is a combination of good and the evil. And, you know, I was thinking about what could I talk, what’s good, what’s an illustration of that which is good in this world? Well, I came across a… you know, I was looking at some information about a particular movie that’s coming out called The Good Lie . And The Good Lie is about the lost boys of Sudan. About these boys that lived in Sudan and there they were under attack from the government of Sudan and their henchmen trying to destroy them to drive them out.
And these boys had no place to go, but to pick up and walk to get away from the danger. And they walked 400 miles to a state south of them and they arrived there. And there was a time I believe it was Ethiopia, they were living there, and things were okay. And then the ruler of that country was toppled and it all began again. So they had to walk to another place, to Kenya, to where they would be safe. And these individuals, it’s interesting they went through a lot and they had many challenges. But these people that were good people noted the problems and the challenges that they faced. And these good people helped them. They helped them in many different ways to get on their feet to resolve the challenges that they faced. They stepped in and they help them and people are good that way. And aren’t we glad that that’s the case? And good comes in many forms, you know, being able to get together with our families, helping others. But enjoying the good and pursuing the good doesn’t necessarily involve God.
There are lots of people that help other people out and God’s not in the picture. Whether there’s going to be good or good is going to be done is not a certain outcome. Can we all depend on good? I don’t think so. We live in a world where things can change rather quickly. The tree that Adam and Eve ate of was not only… not only part of it was good, but part of it was evil. And evil is something that’s dark. It’s foreboding. It’s wicked. It’s malevolent. It’s sinful. It’s gruesome and brutal. And it’s very much a part of our world. And we see it every day. It manifests itself in small ways, you know, just a little stealing. You know, “I’m not taking anything big, they’ll never miss it.” Or a white lie. I’m telling them a lie for their own good.” A little breaking of the Sabbath, “Hey, it was a good garage sale. I just had to stop.” And there’s also the monstrous.
You know, we have kidnapping and murder. We have beheadings. We have genocide. We have perversion. These are monstrous evils that are part of our world. And most people living on the earth haven’t a clue concerning why our world is a mixture of good and evil. They don’t even realize there’s a symbolic tree you’re eating of and you’re having the results of it in your life. It’s, for the most part, an unconscious choice. It’s just the way it is. It’s the way we’ve always done it. And for many of us who came into the Church, we didn’t know anything about any tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We didn’t know anything about the tree of life. You know, we really we would have to assess ourselves as being blind at that point and only God opening our mind helped us to see it. For most people, as long as evil doesn’t impact them, most people are perfectly happy.
Well, for the most part, happy. But as we saw in our brief examination of Ecclesiastes 1, living the good life is not satisfying in the long run. Eventually, you come to the conclusion, “Is this all there is?” There must be something more. However, Satan wants us to be satisfied with the good life. He doesn’t want us to look beyond this world and the world under the sun. But at some point in life, sin and evil make an impact. All of us face it to one extent or another. And for most people, they are perplexed by the impact of evil. They ask, “How could God allow such a thing? Where’s God in all this? Why doesn’t God stop it?” And they find no answers and it’s very easy for them to turn from God. Most importantly, they cannot see a resolution to the problem of evil. How do you stop it? How do you stop evil? You know, the individuals who were flying the airplanes that crashed into the buildings on 9/11, they all died.
So did evil stop? No, other people just filled in the gap and they’re going right on with their evil purposes. So we can see so far that God is the creator of all things, including the pinnacle of creation, mankind. And God is the promoter of the life of life, the tree of life. Also in the picture is the adversary, Satan, the promoter of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And Satan promotes that way because the outcome of that path is death. And that’s what Satan wants is your death in my death and the death of all living things. Anything that reflects God and His great purpose and the beauty and all of the great things about God, he wants them annihilated and he wants to establish a completely dark world where there will be no vestige of God. But the good news is that there is a resolution to the problem of sin and death and evil. A resolution now for us as God’s people, those whom God has called out, and there is ultimately a resolution for all people.
So I’ve entitled my sermon, “Atonement: Resolution for Sin and Death.” Let’s go over now to Leviticus 23. You know, as you go through the Scriptures and think about them and you seek to analyze them, one of the things where you can gain insight into the Scripture is to take the Scriptures, the passage that you’re looking at and just try to look at what each verse, what does it say and think about what it says. And many times as you go through and look at it that way, it does give you insight into what God is trying to get across to us. But it’s more of an organized approach to it. And it’s not that you’re going to find anything. Maybe there will be something that jumps out at you. But it’s a way to organize your thoughts and to put God’s Word into a form that sticks with you. As we look at Leviticus 23:26 Leviticus 23:26And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
American King James Version×, it says that God told Moses to do certain things.
And it says “Also on the tenth day of this month shall the Day of Atonement.” So this is the tenth day of the seventh month and this is the Day of Atonement. So that is the basic reason we’re here is a specific time designated by God. It is the second of the fall Holy Days and the fifth of the fall festivals and it’s interesting that it follows the Feast of Trumpets. And the Feast of Trumpets takes place then Atonement. And there are certain things that take place according to that order as far as the working out of God’s plan. And the day it points to something involving atonement. As I said Atonement in the Hebrew is Kippurim . And as I said, atonement is an English word used to describe an outcome. Because I don’t think we can really put into English exactly what is taking place with the sacrifices. It’s maybe something we don’t have pinned down in our English. We can take other words and describe it.
In earlier English, Atonement, to be at one. It meant to be at one. And Atonement means the process of becoming at one. In this case, it’s the process of becoming at one with God. So something obviously keeps us from being at one with God. And the question is, how can we achieve that at one ment? And this day reveals that. Put simply, the processes that unfold in the sacrificial system bring man into at one with God. And we have to remember that the sacrificial system merely points to the reality achieved through the work of Jesus Christ as our Savior and High Priest. So what took place in the sacrificial system is ultimately played out in the life of Christ and the plan of God being worked out. So how is Atonement achieved?
Well, as I said, the word that is tied in with the Day of Atonement is Yom Kippur . And there’s a word that’s very similar to it called kopher , and it means “ransom.” It’s a similar word and means “ransom.” And it’s a word that helps us to better understand what is meant by the use of these Hebrew words. And that word kopher means “to atone by offering a substitute… By offering a substitute.” And the great majority of the usages concerned the priestly ritual of the sacrificial blood, thus making an atonement for the worshiper. In the case of the Day of Atonement, sacrifice was made. And on this day, only the high priests could go into the Holy of Holies, and he went before God’s throne, symbolize there by the Ark of the Covenant. And there was a little part that was the lid to the Ark of the Covenant and there he sprinkled the blood. He sprinkled the blood. And this particular word and this was the making of an atonement for the worshiper. The verb is always used in connection with the removal of sin or defilement. And it seems clear that this word illustrates the idea of reconciliation in the Old Testament.
The life of the sacrificial animal specifically symbolized by its blood was required in exchange for the life of the worshiper. So if you look at it, as we know from Passover, we because of sin deserve to die and the death penalty hangs over our head. But Christ was the substitute. He was the one who died in our stead. And the same thing is pictured here in the Day of Atonement. So the innocent animal was sacrificed for the guilty, a substitute. You also had a situation where in some sacrifices you put your hands on the animal’s head and you confessed your sins on that animal. And that takes place on this day as well. So then you have what’s called the mercy seat in English. It’s kapporeth in the Hebrew and this noun is used 27 times and always refers to the golden cover of the Ark of the Covenant in the inner shrine of the temple or the tabernacle.
So it’s that the lid to the Ark of the Covenant, that golden lid. It was from above the mercy seat God promised to meet with men. And the word is derived from the root to atone. To atone. And as you look at Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
American King James Version×, it’s a scripture that ties in with this quite well. It’s in Greek in the word there is propitiation in the Greek. And in the complete Jewish Bible, Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
American King James Version×reads, “God put Yeshua forward as the kapparah ,” as the propitiation, as the atoning sacrifice “for sin through His faithfulness in respect to His bloody sacrificial death.” So Christ died in our stead and that’s part of what took place on the Day of Atonement and the blood was sprinkled on that the lid of the mercy seat and that was only done once a year.
So let’s go to verse 27. It says, “This day shall be a holy convocation for you.” It is a meeting, a time to get together as God’s people and it is a time when God is present.” We don’t make it holy. God does. It is a time of a holy convocation. And it says, “you shall afflict your souls,” and that’s what we’re doing by fasting. We are afflicting our souls. And also on this day, “an offering was made” So we are afflicting our souls. We are humbling ourselves. We are oppressing ourselves through fasting because there’s certain things we learned through that process. So we might ask at this point, “Why fast?” Well, we’ll get to that a little bit later. Verse 28, it says, “You shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.” So it’s a day not only do we fast, but we don’t work on that day.
And we don’t even work in the sense of preparing food. We don’t even prepare the food that we might need for the day. So we do without and we started doing without last night at sunset and it carries on over till sunset. So it’s a day of humility and fasting devoted to God. And we’re not occupied with work, any work at all. So we don’t work today. Verse 29, “For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.” Now that’s a pretty radical statement. “Any person who is not afflicted in soul” that means if you don’t fast, that’s not talking about those who for medical reasons don’t fast or unable to fast. So if you can fast and you choose not to fast, that’s a choice. That is a choice. “Any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.” So in ancient Israel, if you made that choice, you would be removed from the nation of Israel.
You would no longer be a part of it. You would be expelled. So it was a very serious matter. And God tells you it’s a serious matter. And, you know, we don’t do that today. You know, the ultimate outcome, the ultimate symbolism there is that if you won’t fast, you will not be in God’s Kingdom. You might ask, “Why will those unwilling to afflict their souls be cut off?” Because basically, they’re unwilling to humble themselves before God. They’re not willing to put God before anything else. You know, so God wants us to put Him first. And fasting is one of those situations that we involve ourselves in because it helps us to draw close to God. And by not fasting, we’re basically telling God that we prefer to live according to the flesh as opposed to the Spirit. And not fasting and working is a clear reflection of what’s important in our lives. And basically, we’re unwilling to submit to God.
Verse 30 says, “And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.” So, again, God puts great emphasis on this. “You shall do man no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” So it’s something that’s to be ongoing because it has great meaning and great purpose to us. “It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening…” So we began last night at sunset, “…from evening to evening, [from sunset to sunset] you shall celebrate your sabbath.” So we celebrate the Sabbath of Atonement. And this gives us indication of when Sabbath begins. The other weekly Sabbath and other annual Sabbaths begin and end.
Now interestingly, the Day of Atonement is the only one of God’s Holy Days that is discussed in detail in one particular chapter. No other Holy Days have a chapter devoted to them. In Leviticus 16 is a chapter that speaks of the Day of Atonement. And we’re not going to read through the chapter, we’re just going to look at a few high points here. The central figure in that chapter is the high priest. The high priest is the one who’s fundamental to the ceremony, every step of it. And the High Priest is the Son of God, our High Priest, Jesus Christ, who sits at God’s right hand. And let’s go to chapter 16 and look at verse 7. Leviticus 16, look at verse 7. Verse 7 says, “He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.”
So two goats were chosen. They were presented before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. “And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats,: one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.” So he’s talking about the fact that they’re going to cast lots on these two goats, and they’re going to sort out which one is God’s goat, and which one is the Azazel goat. Calls it the “scapegoat,” but that’s not really an accurate translation of what it is. He’s the Azazel goat. “And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.” So they’re going to offer it as a sin offering. The Lord’s goat is to be slain. Verse 10, “But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat” or the Azazel goat, “shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat” the Azazel goat, “into the wilderness.”
So, as I said, the Lord’s goat is slain. And you might say, “Well, why do we do this again? Didn’t we do this at Passover?” Now, this has a great deal to do with the people that have no clue about the Passover and what that represents. But it’s also a reminder to all of us of the sacrifice that has been made on our behalf. And, you know, the slaying of the goat, the shedding of blood is the only way that sin can be paid for. It’s the only way it is remitted, canceled out, forgiven, wiped away, dissolved, and that is by death. As it says in Hebrews 9:22 Hebrews 9:22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
American King James Version×, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” So if we want to be forgiven, the blood of Christ must be applied.
So both goats were part of the resolution of sin and death. And why do we have two goats? I know that as you understand what’s being played out here, you have one goat that is the Lord is very clearly representing him, and the other goat is the Azazel goat. And the indication is we have two beings involved here. God’s… God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and another being that we’ve already talked about to a degree and that is Satan. So the other goat that was with the lot fell upon did not die and yet it is crucial to the atonement that’s being made. There’s something that is accomplished through this goat that’s important to you and me and everyone. As you look through the commentaries, almost every one of them says that as Azazel is an evil demon or even a chief of demons. He’s a demonic figure.
And this doesn’t mean that the commentators will try to come up with some other answer. I mean, back in the Worldwide Church of God, they said both goats represent Jesus Christ. Now, that’s so completely wrong. But I remember the place where that was actually published. That’s not accurate at all. The commentators almost invariably refer to the Jews by saying that the Jews believed that this indeed is Satan that is being referred to here and the one who is the chief of a kingdom of demons. So we have Jesus Christ who makes the sacrifice and we have this other goat that is a representative of Satan. The Azazel , as we can understand from other portions of the Bible, is not involved in people sins, and that he makes people sin.
You know, we can never say “the devil made me do it” because he doesn’t. He works through spirit influence and deception and people choose to sin. And all you have to do is look at Adam and Eve, they are representative of us and what did they choose to do, they chose to sin. And if any one of us was in their spot, we would choose to do the same thing. It’s indicative of his power and his influence. And, as I said, at the end of the millennial Kingdom, when people have seen God’s way in action and have been warned when Satan is released, they come up and surround the city of God. How? Obviously, Satan is good at what he does. And so if he’s a powerful influence in the life of Adam and Eve and the people at the end of the Millennium, he can be a powerful influence in our lives. He’s our adversary. And we have to recognize that.
As we look at Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×, it gives us an indication of how powerfully he is and effective he is. Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×, this scripture, you know, as you come into the Church and you begin to look at the Scripture and to understand the significance of it. It says in verse 9, “So the great dragon was cast out… the great dragon was cast out, the serpent of old,” what serpent are we talking about here? What old serpent are we talking about? Are we talking about the serpent that was in the Garden of Eden? See, if you weren’t familiar with the book of Genesis, then you wouldn’t make that correlation, “called the Devil” and what is the Devil? And he’s called the Devil. He is the slanderer. He is the slanderer, “the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” So he’s a being who has deceived the whole world.
And we were deceived at one time to one extent or another. I know I was deceived and really, it was startling to realize that how clueless I was. Completely clueless, I didn’t know what was going on, why it was going on, I was just like everybody else living my life and had no clue. And just to this particular scripture was like a revelation. “Really, we were all deceived?” Yes, we were all deceived. It says in verse, it goes on here and says, “…he was cast to the earth and his angels were cast out with him.” So Satan sought to topple God, and it appears that he will try again. But he’s deceived us, he’s influenced us, and we have sinned, and the sin is ours. And the death penalty that has to be paid is our death penalties, what we’ve earned. The Azazel goat has the sins of Israel pronounced upon him by the high priest.
The high priest took the goat after the sacrifices had been made and he laid his hands on the goat, and he confessed the sins of Israel over that goat. And does that have an application to all of us? This was done for Israel. The sins of Israel were placed on the head of the goat. Consider this, that in Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
American King James Version×, we are referred to as, “the Israel of God.” And we are referred to as “the Israel of God.” Our sins are also cast upon both Christ and upon Satan, as we see here in Leviticus 16. Then the goat is lead off into a desolate place. It’s interesting to do a little research on a desolate place because in the Hebrew it means, “a place not connected by road to any other place.” So it’s the wilderness and it’s desolate there. In other words, the goat was not to find its way back. They were to take it out there and to leave it. Now I’ve seen people say that this goat that was taken out into the wilderness was killed. But is that what actually plays out in type? That’s not what plays out. So you may read that and commentaries, but I don’t believe that goat was killed, it was taken out far enough and let loose. In five different places in the Scriptures, they identify desolate places as being the habitations of demons. And just so we get the sense of it, if we go back to Matthew 12, let’s look at verse 43.
Matthew 12:43 Matthew 12:43When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none.
American King James Version×, speaking of a demon, an unclean spirit, it says, “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man,” so if that demon is cast out, “he goes through dry places, seeking rest,” he goes to places seeking rest, “and finds none.” And if you’ve not replaced that space that that demon occupied with those things that are good and right and true, then that demon is going to make his way back into your life. Dry places, desolate places, are regarded by the scriptures as images or metaphor as of desolation and death. And that corresponds to the nature of demons. By both the goats, we are delivered from all sins and transgressions. But the one on whom the Lord’s sacred lot fell, was sacrificed and by the shedding of its blood, our sins were wiped out, signifying forgiveness. And then the animal was burned. Why was it burned? What did that symbolized? It was burned and it signified a complete blotting out, dissolving and turning it into ashes, something that would blow away and would never be seen again. That’s how far away God puts sin, “as far as the east is from the west,” a complete destruction of that sin. That’s why that sacrifice was burned. It is by this death that separation from God is bridged, the sin is removed, and a living relationship can be established.
So it’s absolutely necessary for blood to be shed in order that reconciliation between all of us and God can take place, and that’s the case for all mankind. It’s a little bit different metaphor, but it fits with the symbolism involved in the Azazel and then leading him off to a desolate place. The absolute and total deliverance from sin and its author Satan is then symbolized by the leading away of the goat, laden with the sins of mankind, and it cannot return. They go back on the author of sin. The goat is a sin offering only in the sense that it is laden with the sins of the people to carry them into the deserted place and it’s no way of payment for sin. That’s not alluded to at all here. Another factor to consider is that Christ died for those who repent. And sin then is forgiven through His shed blood. But you think about Azazel, he has no interest in repenting. He will not repent, his sins are not covered, he doesn’t want them covered. His sins are not forgiven because he’s unrepentant. So when the sins of Israel are put on his head, he’s receiving just recompense. He’s sinned, he’s instigated sin, and promoted sin through his deceptions and failure to repent. So God’s justice is perfect. He’s not going to allow Satan and his demons to escape responsibility. They will have to be called into account for their sin. So the final thing we want to discuss here is, why fast? Why do we fast? So we just have to gut it out for 24 hours, or is there some greater purpose? Why does God have us fast?
Let’s look at a few scriptures that talk about fasting. Let’s go to Deuteronomy 8. Physically, most of us would never choose to fast. I never did. I never knew that fasting was an option, never knew that fasting was something I should do. It hadn’t even entered… again. I had no clue. My whole life up until the time I came into the Church, I ate three squares a day. And if I missed a meal, it was by mistake, because I made sure that I stayed fit, all right? And most people are that way, they have no clue about fasting. I didn’t. And if you tell somebody that you’re going to fast and they’ll say, “Well, you’re going to drink something, aren’t you? You know, that’s probably a juice fast.” “No, no, it’s a complete fast, no water, no food, nothing for 24 hours.” “Oh, man, I’d see a doctor about that.” But anyway, you know, people get a little freaked out about that, because it’s not a normal part of life. And on some, you know, some sectors of society, people fast for various reasons, for health reasons, and other reasons like that. But for a large segment of the population, fasting is not something they really are well aware of. But God has us fast not only on this day, but He suggest we do it on other days because of the important spiritual benefits.
Let’s look at Deuteronomy 8:2 Deuteronomy 8:2And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or no.
American King James Version×, it says, “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” Think about that testing. Remember God said, if you won’t fast, then there’s a penalty. Do you think that you’re passing the test or failing the test if you refuse to fast? God also says, “Don’t work on this day.” Are you passing the test or failing the test, if you work on this day? It’s a test, God wants to see what’s in your heart. “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna…” So we’re being fed with manna today, that which is spiritual, the food from heaven.
You all feel well filled, don’t you? But anyway, maybe hopefully we do spiritually. But He’s “fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” That’s where life is. That’s where real lasting life is. And we need to draw close to God because it’s the only way that we’re going to get through the challenges that come our way in this life. And Satan is dedicated to our destruction. And so God allows us to fast because He wants us to humble ourselves before Him. It’s a test for us, will we do it? Will we do it? Let’s go to Psalm 35. Psalm 35. And this is an example of fasting and involves David. Psalms 35:13 Psalms 35:13But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into my own bosom.
American King James Version×, it says, “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.” So he’s… David, there was a person who was sick. And David fasted for the person and besought God, that God would be merciful to this person. And when I was looking at this verse, I thought, well, what is, my prayer would return to my own heart mean? What does that mean?
Well, I looked in other translations and the Amplified Bible mentions that David prayed with head bowed on his breast. So he was with his head down, humble before God with his chin on his chest there as he prayed to God. So he fasted in order to, you know, for somebody else asking God to mercifully intervene for that person. But Mr. Beamer has already mentioned this, but we’re going to look at it again in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah 58, why does God ask us to fast? There’s an outcome of fasting that God wants to achieve, and it’s only achieved by fasting, it’s not achieved in any other way. There’s no other way that what’s described here can be achieved.
Isaiah 58:6 Isaiah 58:6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?
American King James Version×, and He’s talked about fasting and the improper approach to fasting. And then in verse 6, He speaks about the proper approach to fasting. And He says, “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:” this is the outcome of fasting that you want. The outcome is “To lose the bonds of wickedness,” wickedness is a problem for human beings. And we ask that with God’s help we can be loosed from it. And fasting helps to loose the bonds of wickedness. Fasting helps “to undo the heavy burdens,” the burdens of sin that we carry. Fasting is “to let the oppressed go free,” it’s how we really become free. And it says then, “that you break every yoke?” Those are all benefits of true fasting and drawing close to God. Those are outcomes that are byproducts of humbling ourselves before God.
As He says, “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,” to quit living a life that’s totally self-centered, but to begin to be outgoing in your concern or “that you bring to your house the poor, who are cast out;” to soften our hearts, and to help those in need. “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Why is that? Because you’ve humbled yourself before the great God and drawn close to Him, and He has drawn close to you.
And you know, you don’t ever have to fast. Throughout the year, the Bible never tells you, you have to do it. But it’s wise to do it because you’re going to avail yourself of this outcome. I mean, it’s the way we want to be. You know, when you call on God, do you want Him to say, “Here I am?” Or do you want Him to say, “I can’t hear you, because we’re so far apart.” Let’s go to 1 Peter 5. And look at reality here. This is not just figurative speaking, it is speaking about the reality that we face as human beings. 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
American King James Version×, Peter here is speaking to Christians and he says, “Be sober. Be sober, be vigilant;” keep your eyes open. Keep your eyes open, “because your adversary the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He’s walking around, seeking whom he may devour. In real, you know, as you look at, and you can see Satan’s attitude toward us if you look at the first part of the book of Job.
You know, the book of Job describes Satan coming before God, and God says, “Have you noticed My servant Job?” And he said, “Yes, I’ve noticed Your servant Job. And I’ve noticed that things are really going well for him. And You know what, if You took those things from him, he would curse You to Your face.” So how much confidence does Satan have in us and our fulfilling our calling? None. He’s got a rather cynical view. So God says, “Well, you can go ahead and take everything he owns and, and do great damage to him but you can’t touch him.” And he did. But Job didn’t curse Him to his face. So I’m sure Satan was surprised. And then he came back before God and God says, “Well, you notice My servant Job?” And Job said… And Satan says, “Yes, I have, and You know what, You protect him and put a hedge around him and if You stopped that, and allowed me to make him suffer, he would curse You to his face.”
Now Job was a very unhappy man, through the next trial he went through. But he was a better man for what he went through, God knew his heart. And Satan is our adversary and he walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and he would love to eat you, he would love to eat me. And he’s always looking for people who are spiritually weak to pick them off. Looking for those people who are stragglers, those people who are spiritually sick, looking for those people whose attitudes really are all that good, and he’s looking for an inroad into their life. And he’s not going to make you sin, but you know what, he’s going to know the button to push, okay?
If I inject this thought into their heads, I know it will be tempting to them. He’s our adversary and we are told in verse 9, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” You know, the people of God all over the world, are having to deal with this adversary. We need to resist him, steadfast in the faith, we have certain beliefs, certain understandings, if we’re familiar with him as we take on that adversary and we apply those principles and think on those things, then we can resist him. Let’s go to James 4 because it gives us more insight into this problem.
James 4:6 James 4:6But he gives more grace. Why he said, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
American King James Version×. So in verse 6, it says, “But He gives more grace.” God extends more grace. “Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud,’” God’s not going to help the proud. Pride is a barrier to God and our relationship with Him “but gives grace to the humble.” God extends His grace to the humble and we all need His grace, we all need His mercy. And you know, God extends His grace to us, and it’s illustrated here on this day, by the Lord’s goat that was sacrificed. He covers our sins. But more than that, God knows that we’re living in a world that is Satan’s world, Satan is our adversary, and he knows we are flesh and blood, and we have no ability to overcome Satan. We’re not smart enough, we aren’t strong enough. Satan is a spirit being, a powerful spirit being. And we cannot overcome him by flesh and blood alone.
So he tells us here that God gives grace to the humble and we need it. And that’s why we need to walk humbly before our God. It says in verse 7, “Therefore,submit to God.” But how do we submit to God? We submit to God by humbling ourselves before Him. We submit to God by humbling ourselves before Him and fasting and drawing close to God. And by the very… and see, we don’t just take Satan on, in a full frontal assault, because we will never win that. We take Satan on and we resist Satan by reading God’s Word, applying God’s Word, by fasting and drawing close to God, that’s how we “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” And why will he flee from you? Because Satan can’t stand being around God. And as your mind is focused on godly things, and your approach is godly, and you are strong in the Lord, then Satan can’t stand that and he will flee. He will flee from you. As it says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He will lift you up.” Again, a most wonderful outcome of fasting and drawing close to God, He will lift you up.
As we notice again, the outcome of humbling ourselves before God and fasting is described in Isaiah. In verse 6 as we saw earlier, “Is this not the fast that I’ve chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?” Are these the outcomes we enjoy, as God’s people? Aren’t they the outcomes we enjoy, because we have been forgiven of our sins and the blood of the goat has been applied to us, and through our drawing close to our High Priest, Jesus Christ, we can overcome the wicked one? But what about the world? The world doesn’t enjoy what we enjoy, but they will, but not yet. When will the bonds of wickedness be broken for the world? When will they be relieved of the heavy burdens of sin? When will those oppressed by sin be set free? When will every yoke be broken? That day will come.
Let’s go to Revelation 20, in conclusion, Revelation 20. You know, as you think about Revelation 20, the people of Israel who kept the Day of Atonement, are unaware of what this exactly represented. They most assuredly didn’t know anything about Revelation 20, beginning in verse 1, because it wasn’t even written then. The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers, all of those books were written around before 1400 B.C. And John didn’t write until 100 A.D.
So you have 1,500 years, they never knew what it meant. They will. And even people living today with the Bible on their shelf, gathering dust, they don’t know what this is all about. Revelation 20:1 Revelation 20:1And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
American King James Version×, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.” Remember Satan, was put into the depths of the pit. He had “a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;” what a great day that will be, “and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.”
So for 1,000 years, he will be bound. And when Satan is bound, then man will be unbound. The problem of sin and death will be resolved for them, and as they come under the blood of the lamb, and Satan being no longer able to deceive the world, what a wonderful world they have ahead of them. And we can enjoy that world today because of our calling. So rejoice in the fact that we understand the meaning of the Day of Atonement, and most importantly, that we can be at one with our God.