Overland Monthly / OV103 - God's Chosen People (IX. The Great Day of Atonement)
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
OV103 IX—The Great Day of Atonement
BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle
THE JEWISH civil year precedes our calendar about three months. Regulated by lunar time it usually falls near October 1st. And yet they style their first civil month, their seventh month—their first month beginning their religious year at the Spring Equinox. In the Divine arrangement meted out for Israel, religion always stood first. These two beginnings of their year were prominently marked by their two chief religious ceremonies. We have already considered the Passover Memorial celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month: let us now consider the Atonement Day and its sacrifices celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month.
Its annual repetition celebrated the inauguration of Israel’s Law Covenant by Moses, its Mediator—between God and the people of Israel. But it was more than a commemoration—more than a mere reminder. The provisions of the Law Covenant were that any person of the seed of Abraham who would keep that Law perfectly would have the Divine favor and blessing to the utmost—including life eternal. But the Almighty, well knowing that it would be impossible for any imperfect being to fulfill the requirements of the Divine Law made provision that the nation might remain in Divine favor from year to year by repetitions yearly of the Atonement Day sacrifices. In the original institution of the Law Covenant, with its sacrifices, the whole nation of Israel in accepting that Covenant came under Divine favor as God’s people for a year—and no more. The Covenant would continue, but the justification of the people would not continue. The sacrifices by which the Law Covenant was instituted were the same that were repeated annually thereafter. At the close of the year the Covenant did not cease, but the people were all under special condemnation and Divine disapprobation as sinners until a new Atonement Day made satisfaction for the people’s sins and extended the Divine favor toward them for the new year—until the next Atonement Day. Thus the people of Israel had a trial, a year at a time, continued with them for centuries. But during the entire period of their favor with God, not a single Jew was found able to keep fully the Divine Law—not one was counted worthy of eternal life. Nor could Abraham or anybody else have attained more under the Law Covenant, because imperfect—for the Law is the measure of a perfect man’s ability. This manner of continuing sin-forgiveness with annual repentance and repetition of the sacrifices, and the procurement thus of fresh trials for each new year, lasted for sixteen centuries and more, until the miraculous birth of Jesus. His transfer from the heavenly glory produced the one man who could and who did keep the Law perfectly—"The man Christ Jesus who gave himself a ransom price.
OV104 for all, to be evidenced in due time"—when in the end of this age he shall apply the merit of his sacrifice on behalf of Adam and his entire race, and shall seal the New Covenant with Israel (#Jer 31:31-34.) for the blessing of every nation.
No Jot or Tittle of the Law Shall Fail.
It is the boast of Israel and of Christians that not one jot or tittle of the Divine Law given through Moses could fail. That is to say, each little particle of the Law must have its fulfillment. Moses himself was a type of the great Mediator or Atoner for sins, as he declares, saying, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from amongst your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (#Ac 3:22,23; #De 18:15.) As there is to be a greater Mediator for the New Law Covenant yet future, so there is to be a greater Day of Atonement than the one which Moses inaugurated. And that Day of Atonement will have "better sacrifices" than the one which Moses instituted as a type. But now notice that no type could pass away, fail, without reaching its antitype. Next notice that Israel’s Atonement Day has passed away! This means one of two things: (1) That the Law has failed; or, (2) That the antitypical Atonement Day has come without Israel knowing about it.
Ah, says our Jewish neighbor, Israel’s Atonement Day has not passed away—we observe it every year, just as our fathers did. For more than three thousand years we have kept it up! not one jot or tittle of our Law can pass without fulfillment.
But our Jewish friends are mistaken. However honest they may intend to be in making their claims, we can disprove them from their own Law. And the sooner they realize the true state of the case the sooner will they be ready to rectify the mistake—for surely there are honest and sincere Hebrews and many of them.
No Priest—No Sacrifice—No Atonement Day.
No Jew will dispute that the Scriptures declare that there is no remission of sin except by a blood atonement. (#Le 17:11.) No rabbi amongst God’s Chosen People will deny that the Day of Atonement sacrifices could be offered only by a priest.
And not one of them surely will deny that in the eight millions of their race to-day there is not one who could authenticate himself as a priest—as a son of Aaron.
There is not one of the race, therefore, who would attempt a reproduction of the Tabernacle or Temple, with its Court, its Holy and its Most Holy, and its Atonement Day sin-offerings. Even if they had the land of Palestine completely in his possession. And if a Tabernacle or Temple were restored on the sacred Mount Moriah, not one of Israel’s eight millions would venture to offer the Atonement Day sacrifices—knowing, according to the Law, that it would mean death for him to pass into the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy-Seat where the blood of atonement must be sprinkled "To make atonement for the sins of all the people." What means it, then, some one may ask, that the Jews all over the world observe most sacredly the tenth day of the seventh month of their year as the Day of Atonement! What means it that those who would even do business on the Seventh Day, in violation of the Law, will religiously abandon all business and all pleasure on his Day of Atonement? What means all this, if God’s Chosen People no longer have a Day of Atonement! Ah, well, if Christian people could really appreciate the situation their hearts and eyes would overflow with sympathy towards God’s Chosen People! They know that there is such a thing as sin. The Jewish masses still have some confidence in Abraham, in Moses, the Law and the Prophets. Whatever may be the motives of sin in their flesh, whatever may be their selfish propensities in common with other men, and perhaps cultivated to a greater intensity, nevertheless they know the meaning of reverence and veneration. The intelligent Jews realize the situation. Yet if they mention it at all, it is with bated breath, with fear, with the realization that this really explains why they have had no favor from the Almighty as a people for eighteen centuries. They try to forget the marks of divine disfavor
OV105 —the fulfillment of the prophetic declaration that they would be without priest and without ephod many days—many years.—#Ho 3:4. If at any time Christians should have the opportunity of speaking to God’s Chosen People respecting this great matter and the fact that his annual celebration of the Atonement Day for more than eighteen centuries has been a farce—the matter should be mentioned in full sympathy and solely with the desire to call attention to the fact that where the type ceased the antitype had begun. In other words (as their Talmud instructs them, as well as the Bible), everything that Israel possessed in the way of a Priesthood and Sacrifices and a Holy and Most Holy have higher and spiritual antitypical parallels or duplications. Not one jot or tittle of the Law failed. The priesthood did not cease—it merely passed from the typical Aaron to his great antitype, Messiah, of whom God said through the Prophet David, I have sworn with an oath, I will not repent, Thou (Messiah) art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (not after the order of Aaron.)—#Ps 110:4; #Ge 14:18. Until recently Christians have not been able (and only a few now) to give to God’s Chosen People any help along these lines. Rather they have hindered them. So-called Christian nations, devoid of the Spirit of Christ, have black-listed and tabooed and defrauded and persecuted the Jew in nearly every nation of Europe. They have called them Christ-killers and told them that God would everlastingly torment them, unless they ceased to be Jews and joined some Christian sect or party. Is it any wonder that the Jew classes the Christian as his enemy? Is it any wonder that he is suspicious, and prefers to believe that the unfulfilled promises and Oath of God must yet be fulfilled to his nation? It is no wonder. The true explanation of matters, however, is this: As not every one who is circumcised in the flesh and calls himself a Jew is really recognized of God as such, so likewise not every Christian who names the name of Jesus is accepted of the Father. On the contrary, the Scriptures assure us that the true Church of Christ is not any of the sects of Christendom; they tell us that the Church of the First Borns have their names written in heaven. Hence the Church rolls furnish no criterion whatever as respects saintship or relationship to God. The majority of Christendom is properly styled by some, "The Christian world." To them the word Christian is a misnomer. The Cause of Christ would be far better off without their adherence or support. They have helped to deceive both the Jews and the heathen as respects the true Christianity set forth by Jesus and his Apostles.
They are of the world, and have neither part nor lot with Christ. We are glad, however, that neither they, nor the Jews whom they denounce are destined to eternal torment, but, on the contrary, that for them God’s great provision is a full opportunity for eternal life as perfected human beings in a world-wide Eden. All of these blessed opportunities will be secured to mankind through the antitypical Day of Atonement and its higher priest and better sacrifices for sin.
Typical and Antitypical Sin Atonement.
The worldly-wise of to-day, Christians and Jews, are aligning themselves with the Higher Critics and Evolutionists, telling us that if there was an Adam and Eve, at least there has been no fall and that we should put our trust in Evolution. We should believe neither in the Atonement Day for sin nor in a coming Messiah and his glorious Empire of Righteousness, nor think it necessary to have such aid.
Indeed, they doubt if there is a God, or, perchance, acknowledging one, they deny his love for mankind or his interest in human welfare—except as blind laws of Evolution shall, through Trust, Syndicate and Labor Unions, decree the survival of.the fittest—the more able in crushing out the happiness and life of the less fit, instead of helping them. But the word of God stands sure. There is a great malevolent influence at work amongst mankind. Sin and Death are reigning.
Constitutional hereditary influences are increasing instead of diminishing. Statistics show us that despite all the acknowledged increased skill of humanity along the lines of medicine and surgery, nevertheless the death rate amongst infants is not diminishing. The
OV106 records of insane asylums show that insanity is rapidly increasing. Prison records and newspaper records show that crime and immorality are increasing. Every fact agrees with the declaration of Scripture that our race is under the dominion, under the rule of Sin and Death, and not under the reign of righteousness and Life-everlasting, its reward. We therefore should be deeply interested, Christians and Jews, in Sin-Atonement. If anything can be devised or done to release our race from present conditions of sorrow, pain and death—to joy and harmony with God and everlasting life, surely every member of the race is deeply, intensely interested therein. The Bible, that wonderful Book so sadly misunderstood and misrepresented, both by friends and foes, gives the only key of hope. It tells us of a great Day of Atonement in which, by Divine provision, better sacrifices for sins will make complete atonement for the original sin of Adam and grant complete relief from its death sentence—"Dying thou shalt die." Israel’s great Atonement Day and its sacrifices and the Covenant with which they were connected and the Priests and Levites who served, and the people who thereby were blessed, were all typical of this great arrangement which "God has purposed in himself from before the foundation of the world"—that all the families of the earth shall be blessed through the seed of Abraham—the Spiritual Seed, as the stars of heaven, the glorified Messiah and his Bride—and also through the earthly seed, natural Israel, who ultimately joined by all the nations, will become as the sand of the seashore for multitude. Let us look first at
The Type and the Antitype.
In the type first came the consecration of the priests—the bullock, representing the High Priest, was slain and subsequently the Lord’s goat, representing the under-priests, was also slain. Thus was indicated the great fact that the sacrifice of Christ and of his followers—their renunciation of the earthly nature—was necessary in order to their attainment of the kingly priesthood typified in Melchisedek, who was a "priest upon his throne." —#Le 9:23; #Ps 110:4.
Next in turn the Atonement Day sacrifices show the same bullock and the same goat; typical of The Christ, Head and Body, whose sacrificial death not only served for the consecration of the real priesthood, but also will be acceptable by Jehovah as the price of the world’s At-one-ment with God. These "better sacrifices," fully rewarded and more in the exaltation of the sacrificers to glory, honor and immortality in the Kingdom, are applicable for the sins of the whole world—"all the people." Thus did Israel’s bullock of the Day of Atonement and bullock of the priest’s consecration represent the consecration and death of Jesus the great Sin-bearer, who died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us back into harmony with God. His high exaltation by resurrection to the highest plane of spirit being has been a reward not only to his own sacrifice, but has qualified him to be the great King of kings and Lord of lords. Through him Jehovah God will fulfill all the gracious promises made to Abraham and reiterated to Isaac, Jacob and through the prophets—"In thy Seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed." As the Lord’s goat was taken from the people, so the Little Flock, the Royal Priesthood, the followers of Jesus gathered from every nation, Jew and Gentile, will constitute Messiah’s associates on the spirit plane. As the Lord’s goat in the type underwent all the experiences of the bullock, so of the footstep followers of Jesus it is declared that they must walk in his footsteps, must suffer with Christ, must be dead with him, must go with him "outside the camp," must with him bear the reproaches of those whose eyes of understanding are still blinded by the great Adversary and who therefore know them not, even as they knew him not. The sacrifice of the antitypical bullock was accomplished more than eighteen centuries ago. The sacrifice of the antitypical goat class has been in process from the Day of Pentecost until now. According to our understanding of the Scriptures, therefore, this Gospel Age has been the antitypical Day of Atonement in which "the better sacrifices" have been offered.—#Ro 12:1; #Heb 9:23. The privilege and opportunity of joining
OV107 in this sacrificial work is limited to a certain number who must have certain characteristics—character-likeness to the Great High Priest. We understand that this elect Church and saintly few is almost complete, and that the nominal Church systems have neither part nor lot in the matter, being unrecognized of the Lord, unauthorized. In all of them there have been saints and proportionately as these saintly ones were therein, the light of the world was in them, and proportionately as these were fewer there was grosser darkness. All the time, however, God recognized the few, and not others, as his Church, saying, "Fear not, Little Flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." (#Lu 12:32.) "Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a Covenant with me by sacrifice." "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."—#Ps 50:5; #Mal 3:17. As we have already seen, two different classes have been elected, the one during the Jewish Age of Favor, the other during this Gospel Age. And these are to co-labor during the reign of Messiah for 1,000 years for the blessing of Israel and all the families of the earth. The non-elect, instead of being doomed to an eternity of torture, are to have glorious privileges and opportunities for attaining eternal life and eternal harmony with God under the reign of the elect—the Kingdom of Heaven primarily spiritual, secondarily the earthly, its agency or channel.
The Atonement is Two-Fold.
The word At-one-ment refers to two parties out of harmony becoming reconciled.
Original sin brought humanity under the condemnation of the Divine sentence of death. The real Atonement Day sacrifices will fully accomplish the satisfaction of Divine Justice, but still more will remain to be done. And it is for this great work that Messiah’s Kingdom has been promised and will be inaugurated. Man will still needs to be reconciled to God. Not that man has any real grievance against his Creator, but because his fall brought him into a condition of "enmity against God" and righteousness. Instead of love, peace, joy and goodness which were originally part of his character when created in the image and likeness of his Maker, man now finds himself full of an opposite spirit—selfishness, envy, hatred, strife—works of the flesh and of the devil. Man now needs to be reconciled to God—to be brought back again to the place where he cannot only properly appreciate Divine Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, but to the place where he can live in full harmony with that high appreciation—live acceptably to God and therefore to be permitted to live forever and to enjoy his Creator’s blessings as fully as do the holy angels. The great work of the Day of Atonement, therefore, may in this sense of the word be considered as including the thousand years of Messiah’s reign, during which he will make atonement with the Lord for all the willing and obedient of Adam’s race, assisting, encouraging, uplifting, correcting, reproving, blessing every nation, people and kindred. Ultimately we are assured that all who decline this free gift of God’s love will be completely and everlastingly destroyed, annihilated in the Second Death, from which there will be no recovery. In the type the blessing of the world was represented as accomplished by the high priest on the Day of Atonement after he had made satisfaction to Justice. Then coming out of the Most Holy he laid aside the sacrificial garments and put on the robes of glory and beauty, which foreshadowed his great work as the Mediator of the New Covenant between God and the World. Proceeding to the altar of sacrifice, the high priest lifted up his hands and blessed the people, who lay prostrated before him in sackcloth and ashes.
No wonder that the people rose up and gave a shout of thanksgiving for the cancellation of their sins for a year, in the type. In the antitype they will rise up from the dust of ignorance and superstition and sin, and arise from the tomb, to praise God and by his grace to attain unto the glorious perfection he has designed for mankind in an earthly paradise, world-wide. Ah! there is a wonderful force and beauty in God’s Plan, and nothing illustrates it better than the Day of Atonement and its sacrifices and ultimate blessings as God gave these in a typical way to his Chosen People.