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Ask the Rabbi - What is the Meaning of Yom Kippur?

Why is Yom Kippur so important if Messiah has already come and made the sacrifice for us?

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. It is the Shabbat of Shabbats. It was commanded to be kept forever (or until the end of the age depending on individual interpretation). It is about redemption and forgiveness.

Many non-Messianic believers think Yom Kippur has been nullified (done away with) by Messiah's sacrifice. This is not the case. Yom Kippur and the associated time of repentance (Elul and the Days of Awe) are still vibrant and meaningful events in the life of believers. As we wrote about last week (see newsletter Sept 15, 2007) repentance is still required for one to be in union with G-d. This repentance is not a one time act when a person accepts the ruler ship of G-d and His Messiah; but is continual and ongoing. 1st John chapter 3 makes this perfectly clear. Continued sin without repentance leads to death and separation from G-d.

Similarly Yom Kippur is still a totally valid Mo'ed (appointed time). Yom Kippur has many aspects which point to the sovereignty of G-d and the criticality of redemption from sin and Ha' Satan (the adversary). We will address this more fully in the Yom Kippur Synagogue teaching (if you cannot attend service, please visit www.cyber-synagogue.com after Sunday Sept 23rd to hear the teaching). Thus in Yom Kippur we see three aspects of Messiahs Ministry:

* To be the sacrificial goat to make peace with G-d (reconciliation, removing sin from between us and G-d).
* To be the scapegoat for Azazel (or Azazzel), on which the sins of the people have been placed. The scapegoat was lead outside the city to be shoved over a cliff so the sins of the people could not return.
* To be the High Priest (like King David, Messiah performs both Kingly and Priestly functions) to take the offering into the Most Holy Place to present to G-d.

As the sacrifice to G-d, most people can readily identify with this, as it is similar to Messiah being the Passover Lamb. Similarly, Messiah acting as both High Priest and King is a concept easy to grasp as it was seen in King David. It is the scapegoat for Azazel which we want to focus on for the moment.

The scapegoat is said to be for Azazel:

Lev 16:8-10 Then Aharon is to cast lots for the two goats, one lot for ADONAI and the other for 'Az'azel. Aharon is to present the goat whose lot fell to ADONAI and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat whose lot fell to 'Az'azel is to be presented alive to ADONAI to be used for making atonement over it by sending it away into the desert for 'Az'azel.

Our Traditional Rabbi's usually see this word (Azazel) as being "God strengthens", or according to the Talmud (Yoma 67b) the name of a cliff over which the goat was driven in the atonement ritual for Yom Kippur. This understanding was cited by Rashi, who took "azazel" to mean "rough ground" or "cliff,". This understanding was accepted by many Rabbis who wished to avoid contamination of the Torah by belief in demons.

There is, however, another possible meaning which seems to be supported by the context of the verses above. Azazel may not be a cliff, or a reference to G-d, but a reference to a Demon (or Satan). The book of Enoch (referred to in scripture but not included in the Hebrew or Christian canon) calls Azazel a Chief fallen angel:

1 Enoch 2:8, where God says, "On the day of the great judgement he {Azazel} shall be cast into the fire. [---] The whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin."

If Azazel were to actually be a Chief Demon, or even a Ha-Satan figure, the meaning of the scapegoat would have even greater meaning than normally attributed to it bearing our sin (and by type, Messiah bearing our sin). If Azazel is a Chief Demon than the scapegoat would have actually been a blood price redemption to cancel Ha'Satan's claim on man. This theme is exactly the setting seen in the book (and movie) Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis who wrote it as part of the Narnia series. In the book, the Messiah figure Aslan, must be turned over to the Witch (Ha'Satan figure) to be killed as a Blood price to redeemed the fallen boy (figure of fallen man).

In Summary

In Yom Kippur we clearly see 3 types of Messiahs role and sacrifice: High Priest, Sin / Peace offering, and scapegoat. In the scapegoat we can witness the blood redemption for each of us. As that redemption, Messiah bought us back, as a kinsman redeemer, from Ha'Satan. Ha'Satan who had legal claim to us because of our willful sin and rebellion from G-d.

Yes - Yom Kippur still has full meaning for believers in Messiah, as our High Priest took His own Blood as a Peace Offering to G-d and redeemed us by His sacrifice from the adversary.

"L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Rabbi Gavri'el

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