"Behold, now is the Time of Acceptance; now is the Day of Salvation". (2 Cor. 6:2)
THE day of atonement, its numerous sacrifices, and the various rites enjoined, all deserve our most careful attention; not only from the supreme importance attached to them under the Mosaic Law, but from their frequent mention in the New Testament, and from their typical bearing on the events of our own time, or those which will shortly come to pass.
By the Jews, it is called emphatically THE DAY. It is the day of condemning, avenging, and coverings of Sin, yom hak-kiphpurim -- a Day of Coverings: on it the sins of the whole Jewish nation are covered over; on it the High Priest performed all the functions of ordinary priests; and on this day only he entered the Holy of Holies, or the most holy chamber or division, of the temple beyond the Veil. This day was considered as a Sabbath, or rest, a festival, and the strictest of fasts; and it concentrated in itself the solemnities proper to each of these, and it had a longer period of preparation preceding it than any other holy day required.
The High Priest performed all those services appointed for the Tabernacle - the daily, the sabbatical, and the festival services, as well as those peculiar to this day, and he finished by reading to the people.
Tisri was the first month of the Civil Year, and the seventh of the Ecclesiastical Year, and the 10th of Tisri was the Day of Coverings, termed in the English Version, "the Day of Atonement". (Lev. 23:27, 28; 25:29) From the first to the seventh are called days of conversion ; because in them they turned to Yahweh in preparation for the 10th. The 8th and 9th were styled terrible days . On these they clothed themselves with sackcloth, and began to afflict their souls. At sunset on the 9th Tisri the fast began. No food was allowed, except in cases of extreme necessity, and even then the quantity was limited to what a date shell could hold. Seven days before the fast, the High Priest took up his abode in the temple, purifying himself, and practising those various sacrifices, and other offices on the 10th. On the 9th, he fed sparingly, concluding before sunset; during the night he was attended by the younger priests, who read to him, and prevented his sleeping, lest his dreams should be unholy. Others watched for the approach of day, and at the first streak of dawn, they roused the High Priest to the arduous duties of the day. There were fifteen victims which he must slay, divide, wash, and offer in sacrifice, as far as possible with his own hands. He must wash his whole body five times; wash his hands and feet ten times; and change his garments six times during the day; and the fast must be as strictly observed by him as by the rest of the people. He went into the Holy of Holies four times during the day;
1. With the incense;
2. With the blood of the bullock;
3. With the blood of the goat;
4. At the conclusion of the sacrifices to bring out the Incense.
When the Day of Coverings dawned, the High Priest put off his ordinary garments, immersed his whole body, and five times washed his hands and feet; he then put on the holy garments , and addressed himself to the service of the day.
He first slew the daily sacrifice, a lamb, burnt its members, offered the morning incense, trimmed the lamps, and went through the ordinary morning service. He then offered the bullock, and seven lambs, appointed for extraordinary significant days, and again washed his hands and feet. He then put off the golden garments, bathed himself, and put on the linen garments appropriate to the day (Lev. 16:4); and now began the service peculiar to it.
He first went to his own bullock (ver. 6), which was between the temple and the altar, and putting both hands upon his head, confessed his sins. Leaving the bullock in the hands of a keeper, he went to cast lots for the two goats in the north-east quarter of the Court below the altar. The lots were inscribed, the one "For Yahweh"; (Lev. 16:8) the other, "For Scapegoat". (Lev. 16:8) After drawing them, he tied a scarlet fillet on the horns of the Scapegoat, when it was taken to the east gate of the temple, which looked towards the Mount of Olives, whence it was to be sent into the wilderness in due time, the victim-goat remaining where it was.
He returned to his bullock, and confessing again over him his own sins, and those of the sons of Aaron and of the holy people, he slew the bullock and gave the blood to a priest, who stirred it up to prevent coagulation.
He now took the censer, filled it with burning coals from the Brazen Altar; then took a handful of incense from a vessel which was brought to him, and threw it into another dish. He took the censer of coals in his right hand, the dish of incense in his left, and entering the first time into the Holy of Holies through the Veil placed the burning censer in front of the Ark of the Covenant, poured the incense into his hand, scattered it on the coals, waited till the place was filled with smoke, and then came out backwards, his face being towards the Ark.
On reaching the Court of the Priests, he took the blood of the bullock, which had been kept stirred, and sprinkled it upon the Mercy Seat, eastward; and before it seven times. Coming out again from the Most Holy, he left the remaining blood in the Holy Place . He now went out, and slew the victim-goat, and going with his blood into the Holy of Holies a third time, sprinkled it also before the Mercy Seat. Coming out, he set it down in the Holy Place , and sprinkled the blood of the bullock before the Veil , then the blood of the goat also. He then mingled both bloods in one vessel, and sprinkled the Golden Altar, and vessels of the sanctuary; and going out, poured the remaining blood under the Brazen Altar.
These things transacted, he next sent away the Scapegoat, having laid his hands on his head, and confessed the sins of the people. While the Scapegoat was being conveyed away, the High Priest went on with the service of the day. He divided the bullock and goat he had slain, and whose blood he had taken within the Veil: he burnt their fat and inwards upon the Brazen Altar, but sent their carcasses to be burnt without the camp or city. By this time the Scapegoat had reached the wilderness, which event, they say, was known by the whitening of the scarlet fillet on the door-post.
The High Priest then read certain sections of the Law, recited eight prayers, washed his hands and his feet, put off the linen garment , bathed, put on his golden garments , and washed his hands and feet. He then offered a ram for himself, another for the people, and seven lambs as extra oblations for this day. At length he offered the daily evening sacrifice, washed his hands and feet, put off the golden garments , bathed, put on the linen garments, washed his hands and his feet, and going a fourth time into the Holy of Holies, brought out the censer and the dish, which he had left there at the beginning of the service of the day. Washing his hands and feet, he put off the linen garments, bathed, put on the golden garments, washed his hands and feet, offered the evening incense, and trimmed the lamps. Then finally washing his hands and feet, he put off the golden garments, resumed his ordinary dress, and went home, followed by the people, and congratulated by his friends.
In solving the enigma of this Mosaic Day of Coverings, it should be remembered, that Christ's person, Christ's office, Christ's sacrifice and one time of offering it, the Eternal Spirit in Flesh, or Christ alone could fill -- to show forth any one of these, several types combined; and as each type requires its own time, there must be for each one of Christ's offices several times in the types. The Christ, in his single person, embodies the paschal lamb and its blood of sprinkling; the victims of the Day of Coverings and their blood of sprinkling; the bodies burnt without the camp; and the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies. All the types concenter in the Eternal Spirit Incarnate -- the Christ; and therefore in applying them to him , we are under the necessity of giving our whole attention to the meaning of the emblem, not to its circumstances. We must stop, in our application of the types to Christ, at that point where they foreshow his person or offices, and not apply to the Great Antitype the various times, places and circumstances which are only meant to give necessary locality to the several types. But when the finished work of the Christ comes to be applied to the faithful, or to successive generations; or when we endeavour to trace out the course of his future manifestations, the time and order observed in the type become important features in our inquiry, and an attention to this distinction removes some difficulty in the case.
The Day of Coverings was a day of sacrifice in a pre-eminent degree -- a day of death, of burning, and of blood -- "A day of blood, and fire, and cloud of smoke". (Joel 2:30; Acts 2:19) It was a day also of confession of sin, tribulation, and pardon; so that it became "a time of acceptance, and a day of salvation". This was the character of the Mosaic Pattern; of a single day in every year of the Times of the Ages; and it foreshadowed a day of like character -- a "Now", which, Paul says, is the time of acceptance and the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).
This Antitypical Day of Coverings has already continued for many centuries. Its preparation began with the entrance of the Eternal Spirit into its personal Temple (John 2:2 1) when he descended on Jesus in the form of a dove; the slaying of the bullock and the goat, the burning of their carcasses without the camp; and the carrying of the burning censer into the Holy of Holies, have been fulfilled in the death and resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, who, like the Scapegoat, is absent from the camp of Israel. The handful of incense, the prayers of the little flock, still smokes before the Ark. The censer remains there; yea, and must remain there till the day is terminated, and its service complete. While it is smoking before the Ark, blood flows and the fire burns. Sin has been condemned in the flesh; and the household or sanctuary of the Eternal Spirit reconciled; but all its members have not yet been brought in. When these are complete, "the Hour of judgment", (Rev. 14:7) the last hour of the day of atonement, will have come. The law will then be proclaimed from Zion by the High Priest in his golden garments. The jubilee trumpet will sound, and Israel shall return. In this terrible crisis, Babylon falls, the harvest is reaped, the vintage gathered, the wine-press trodden, and the times of the Gentiles fulfilled. Their kingdoms become the kingdoms of Yahweh; Israel is pardoned; the nations blessed in Abraham and his Seed; the Day of Atonement consummated; and the Feast of Tabernacles, the feast of the 15th of Tisri, inaugurated to the joy of all the earth.