The Day of Atonement was an animal ceremony in which sacrifices were offered to atone for the sins of Israel. Marked by humiliation and fasting, it recognized the people’s inability to make atonement for their sins. This required God’s intervention and that of His representative-the high priest of the nation.

The high priest first made atonement for his own sins by offering an animal sacrifice (Numbers 29:8). Then he entered the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and sprinkled the blood of this animal on the ark of the covenant. He left and reentered this sacred room several times with other sacrifices to emphasize the people’s need for the forgiveness and reconciliation.

Another part of this ceremony was the release of a scapegoat. symbolically bearing the sins of the people, into the wilderness (read Leviticus 16:10 and Leviticus 16:21).

The Day of Atonement was observed on the tenth day of the seventh month.

LEVITICUS 16:34 – This shall be an everlasting stature [lasting ordinance, NIV] unto you [Israelites], to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.

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