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Day of Atonement

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Key Verse: Revelation 20:1-2
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

Question: What does the key verse mean to you?


For nearly 6,000 years Satan has invisibly swayed the nations. He has influenced civilizations, governments, and leaders. He has inspired world wars and helped cause the misery, hate, suffering, and violence that have plagued mankind throughout history.

Satan has been this world's ruler ever since God gave him that office when he was known as the Bringer of Light in Hebrew or Lucifer in Latin. But Satan's days in that office are numbered.

God is not in competition with Satan. The question of who will rule this earth has already been decided.

Jesus Christ has qualified to replace Satan. When He returns to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords He will take over the supreme government over this world and depose Satan the devil! This world will then have peace at last.

God's Holy Days were given to remind us how, step by step, God is working out His Master Plan.

The first three festivals -- Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost -- picture God's first spiritual harvest, the firstfruits and their forgiveness, calling, preparation, and training before Christ's return.

The last four festivals show the plan God has for making salvation available for all who have not yet been called. The Feast of Trumpets pictures Christ's intervention in human affairs to stop the suicide of the human race in nuclear war. Christ will be swift and firm in punishing those who are destroying the earth.

The fifth annual Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, pictures the fifth step in God's Master Plan--deposing Satan from his position as world ruler, and his removal to a place completely away from mankind. Satan will be "bound" for 1,000 years, no longer able to deceive the nations or influence mankind to sin (Revelation 20:1-3).

The Day of Atonement is perhaps the most unusual Holy Day, for it is the one day on which God has commanded His people to fast--to abstain from food and drink from sunset to sunset.

Jesus Christ, the future ruler of earth, qualified to rule by being completely submissive to the government of God and perfectly humble. One of His last acts with His disciples included establishing the New Testament Passover ordinance of foot washing to picture humility. His suffering and death to pay the penalty of human sin was an act of extreme humility, of complete submission to His Father's will, of perfect love for us. True Christians in like manner must become humble to rule with Christ. No ruler in God's Kingdom can be arrogant or selfish (Mark 10:42-45).

Fasting on the Day of Atonement is a vivid reminder of the state of mind necessary for salvation--of humility, godly sorrow, earnestly seeking God and His way.

Today, the world is filled with pomp and pride and does not realize it is cut off from God because of sin (Isaiah 59:2)--sin that has been inspired by Satan. Only those few whom God is calling are now reconciled to God. The vast majority must wait. After Satan's imprisonment on a coming Day of Atonement, all humanity will be reconciled with God and made humble and at one with Him, as pictured by the Day of At-one-ment.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest took two young goats from the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 16:7-9). The two goats, in physical appearance, were similar. But they were to portray two vastly different symbolic roles.

The goat chosen by lot for the LORD represented Christ, verses 8-9. Jesus Christ atoned for our sins when He took the penalty of our sins upon Himself by sacrificing His sinless life for us. When we repent of our sins, our past debt ceases to exist. The sins of the people were symbolically atoned for by the sacrificed goat (Leviticus 16:15).

An unusual feature of the Day of Atonement rituals was the goat led alive into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:20-22). The high priest cast lots upon the two goats. One was to be for the Lord for a sin-offering. The other was for Azazel, this goat represents Satan. In this Levitical ritual, all of man's Satan-inspired sins were symbolically put back on Satan's head, where they belong!

When Jesus Christ returns, Satan's part of the blame for mankind's sins will be placed on him, and he will then be removed from the presence of man. Justice will be done. Satan, the instigator of sin, is guilty of inspiring our sins, and his guilt cannot be atoned for. His sins are placed on his own account, and then he and his sins are sent away-- completely removed from the presence of God and God's redeemed children!

Satan's power over mankind is through deception and sin. Through Christ's redeeming sacrifice, we have been bought back, purchased, ransomed from the spiritual kidnapper. Satan has lost his claim to ownership, and he will be prevented from exercising that influence for 1,000 years. No longer will he be an adversary or an accuser of the brethren. Mankind as a whole cannot be fully atoned--"at one" with God-- until this is done.



  1. What will be done to Satan after the Second Coming of Christ?
    (Revelation 20:1-2) Where will he be cast? (Verse 3)

    COMMENT: The "bottomless pit" or abyss was pictured by the desert wilderness where the azazel goat was banished. Satan and his demons will be chained by an angel of God (who was symbolized by the man mentioned in Leviticus 16:21). He will be completely prevented from further leading mankind into sin. No longer will Satan be able to broadcast his evil attitudes.

  2. How are we to observe the Day of Atonement?
    (Leviticus 16:29-31)

  3. How should one "afflict" his body on this day?
    (Ezra 8:21)

  4. How serious is the Day of Atonement?
    (Leviticus 23:27-32)

  5. Did the New Testament Church keep the Day of Atonement?
    (Acts 27:9)

  6. The fact that an atonement is needed shows that man is not yet "at one" with God. Why not?
    (Psalm 66:18)

    COMMENT: All of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). We have become separated from God. Our need for atonement--with God is emphasized by the word atonement appearing 49 times in the book of Leviticus. However, God and mankind cannot be fully at one, in full agreement, until Satan is restrained.

  7. The Day of Atonement pictures Satan's defeat worldwide. How does James say we can defeat Satan in our individual lives?
    (James 4:6-10)

For a more in depth study of this annual Holy Day see Lesson 5 of the Holy Day Series.

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