The Day of Atonement only comes once a year. This is the time the Almighty has chosen to deal with the sins of His people.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your Elohim, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Sin causes a separation between Yahweh and the sinner, but Yahweh devised a way to restore the fellowship that was lost and make He and the sinner “at one” again. This is where we get our English word “atone” or to be “at one” with Yahweh.
Lev 16:14,15, 29, 30, 33, 34 use the phrase “to make an atonement” 03722. rpk kaphar kaw-far'; a primitive root; to cover (specifically with bitumen); figuratively, to expiate or condone, to placate or cancel:-- appease, make (an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge (away), put off, (make) reconcile(-liation).
I would like to concentrate on the aspects of mercy and forgiveness.
In Lev 16:15, it says the blood of the sin offering was to be sprinkled on the mercy seat. The mercy seat was the lid or cover for the ark of the covenant.
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. (Hebrews 9:3-5)
“Mercy seat” is from the Greek word “hilasterion” hil-as-tay'-ree-on (#2435). This same word was also used in Romans 3:25:
Whom Elohim hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of Elohim;
“Propitiation” is the Greek word “hilasterion.” Yeshua is being called by the same word as “mercy seat.” Not only does Yeshua fulfill the type of the sin offering and the High Priest, but he also fulfills the type of the mercy seat in that the sins of Israel were deposited on that seat or on Yeshua himself.
On the Day of Atonement each year, Yahweh chose to be merciful to His people Israel and forgave their sins through the atonement made by the shed blood of a specific goat. That blood was then sprinkled on the mercy seat to cleanse it of the sins it bore.
A greater atonement took place when Yahweh allowed His only begotten Son to take the place of that goat. Yeshua’s blood was shed to make an atonement, but instead of being sprinkled on the earthly mercy seat, his blood was taken into heaven itself to purify the heavenly sanctuary and mercy seat.
Yahweh could have just destroyed all those that sinned against Him or He could have just turned His back on them, choosing to retain His anger at them forever. Yet, He chose to be merciful to them and forgive them.
Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Yeshua is saying that we need to follow the example that Yahweh has set for us. We need to be merciful to those that are in need of mercy.
He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your Elohim? (Micah 6:8)
Yahweh requires us to love mercy. We don’t have a choice in the matter. It is His law that we love being merciful.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Mt 23:23)
Loving mercy is not just part of His law, it is one of the most important commandments he has given us.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Mt 5:7)
Come judgment day, it is those that were merciful to others throughout their life that will receive mercy from Yahweh.
With the merciful you will show yourself merciful, and with the upright man you will show yourself upright. (2 Sam 22:26)
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment. (James 2:13)
Yahweh wants us to be merciful just as He was to us. If we do that, He will be merciful to us come judgment day.
Put on therefore, as the elect of Elohim, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Messiah forgave you, so also do you. (Colossians 3:12,13)
Not only does Yahweh want us to be merciful, He wants us to forgive others just as Messiah forgave us.
And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Elohim for Messiah's sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
We are to follow the example of both Yahweh and His Messiah in forgiving others. It cost Yahweh the death of His only begotten Son to forgive us for sinning against Him. It only costs us our pride to forgive those who sin against us.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
Yeshua taught his disciples to forgive our debtors or those that trespass or sin against us. How can we refuse to forgive someone and later ask Yahweh to forgive us for some offense we committed?
Unforgiveness does not come cheap. There is a high price to pay. Esau was angry, hurt, and full of sorrow at what his brother did to him by tricking him into giving up his birthright. For years his anger and unforgiveness caused a separation between him and Jacob. It wasn’t until he chose to forgive Jacob that they were reunited in love for each other. Much heartache and emotional trauma could have been avoided if forgiveness came quickly.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Master, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Yeshua said unto him, I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his master commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all. Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me what you owe. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their master all that was done. Then his master, after that he had called him, said unto him, O you wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt, because you desired me: Should not you also have had compassion on your fellowservant, even as I had pity on you? And his master was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:21-35)
Forgiveness does not come easy for many people, especially when forgiveness is viewed emotionally. Yahweh did not forgive us because He loved us, but because of His Son’s sacrifice on our behalf. Yeshua paid the price of atonement making it possible for Yahweh to forgive us.
We should not forgive others because we love them, but because Yeshua died for us and forgave us. Because we love him, we will follow his example and forgive others.
It is real hard to love someone when they have sinned against you or wronged you in some way. However, we can’t wait until we feel enough love for them again to finally forgive them. Nor can we wait until they have earned our forgiveness. We simply follow Yeshua’s example by forgiving and the forgiven party simply accepts it.
And so, on this upcoming Day of Atonement, let’s search our hearts and make sure our consciences are clean by forgiving those in need of forgiveness as Yahweh and Yeshua have forgiven us.