FORGIVENESS OF SINS
The Day of Atonement belongs to the third set of God’s annual feasts, the Feast of Tabernacles, along with the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles itself. It is celebrated on the tenth day of seventh month and is the day when all the sins committed throughout the year are forgiven.
The Lord said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves … it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.”
Origin of the Day of Atonement
After forty days and nights on Mount Sinai, Moses came down holding the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments. However, he witnessed the Israelites committing idolatry by worshipping a golden calf. Moses was so outraged that he threw the Ten Commandments to the ground and shattered them. The Israelites came to realize their sins against God and regretted their actions (Exodus 32).
As the Israelites deeply repented, God took pity on them and gave them a second chance to keep His commands by giving Moses a second set of stone tablets with the Ten Commandments.
The Israelites prepared to receive Moses and the second set of Ten Commandments through the Feast of Trumpets, and met him on the Day of Atonement, which signaled God’s mercy and forgiveness of sins.
Meaning of the Day of Atonement
The ultimate meaning behind this feast is forgiveness of sins.
The law of the Old Testament required people to offer animal sacrifices to God to cleanse their sins. According to the Bible, there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. During the year, sacrifices were made over and over, and the sins of the people were transferred to the sanctuary. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place in the sanctuary (Hebrews 9:7) for a ceremony to transfer the sins that were accumulated on the sanctuary to the scapegoat, which was then sent into the desert (Leviticus 16)
In the New Testament, Christ came as the reality of the sanctuary.
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
As the reality of the temple, Christ temporarily carries our sins throughout the year. On the Day of Atonement, these sins are transferred to Satan, represented as the scapegoat in the Old Testament, who will then be destroyed.
Celebrating the Day of Atonement Today
Today, the World Mission Society Church of God celebrates the Day of Atonement. Members keep worship service and offer a prayer of repentance for ten days starting on the Feast of Trumpets and culminating on the Day of Atonement when all the sins are forgiven.