How Did Jesus Fulfill The Day of Atonement?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Why does the Day of Atonement point to Jesus Christ?  How did He fulfill this day by His work on the cross?

The Day of Atonement

This was the one day whereby all the nation of Israel was commanded to fast and was the only feast day of the Jews where there was no food to be eaten from the beginning of this High Day at sunset to sunset the following day.  It was a solemn feast day for them and one that symbolized the taking away of sin and placing the guilt on a goat and sending him off into the Wilderness.  Jesus conquered the very best of Satan’s temptation and He was 40 days and 40 nights in the Wilderness overcoming the strongest tempter of all time.  The Orthodox Jews call this the Jewish High Day of Atonement or Yom Kipper (Yom, “day” and Kipper, “to atone”) and today Christians see this fulfilled by Christ Who has made us “at one” with God through His own bodily sacrifice.  The Day of Atonement was a shadow of the coming work of Christ on Calvary; therefore this day is no longer needed because there remains no more sacrifice for sins (Heb 8:5).

This feast day was the only one where the entire animal is burned on the altar, except for the animal skin which the priest would keep.  This shows the complete and utter sacrifice of Jesus and the fire that consumed the animal shows that God’s judgment was placed upon Christ (as fire is symbolic of God’s judgment) on our behalf.  The animal skin was all that remained and the skin could be worn by the priest, but certainly not while on duty. This which reflects that we are clothed in His righteousness and when God the Father sees us, He actually sees Jesus’ own righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).  It is as Isaiah wrote “he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).   This is very much like Zachariah 3:4-5 where the angel of the Lord told Joshua (not Joshua from the Book of Joshua) the high priest “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments.”

"... it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment."

“… it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

Jesus Offering of Himself

This Day of Atonement was a Burnt Offering and was considered the most important of the Jewish High Days because of the significance of assigning the guilt on the scape goat and placing hands on the goats head and then sending him off into the Wilderness, thus sending away the sins of the people.  If the goat came back it was sometimes pushed off a cliff and killed showing that this guilt was permanently removed, just as Christ’s death has once and for all removed our sins from us.  Paul said that these days were a shadow of things to come and the One Who cast the shadow is now here in reality and the Light of the World that cast that shadow was Jesus Christ (Col 2:16-17).  Certainly the light is more important than the shadow because this Light was the source or cause for the shadow to be cast.  That Light of course was Jesus Himself Who is called the light of the world.  John wrote “about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:7-9).

The Scape Goat and Jesus’ Becoming Sin

Leviticus shows us the solemn ceremony that was involved in ascribing the sin guilt of the people onto the goats head in chapter 16:21-22 “And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.  The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.”

Here is what seems to match what Christ did on the cross.  Aaron, the high priest, laid both hands on the head of the goat, the seat of intellect, and then confessed over it all of their sins.  Today we confess our sins and our Intercessor, Jesus Christ the High Priest enters into the Holy of Holies like Aaron did.  He sprinkled the blood of a bull over the mercy seat just as Jesus entered the Holy of Holies with His own blood and we can confess our sins as they were placed on Christ and He intercedes for us.  We now have access to the Holy of Holies, where the Father resides in heaven and we can approach Him by the blood born sacrifice of Jesus (Heb 9:12).  That is why they were told “afflict yourselves” (Lev 16:31) because Jesus was more than afflicted for our redemption.  Afflict almost always means fasting.  Today, believers fast when they have sinned grievously, are praying for a great need, or just hunger to know God better.

Jesus the High Priest

Hebrews chapters eight and nine give a beautifully vivid portrait of the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ’s work.

Hebrews 8:6-7, 13 “it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.  In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away”

The first covenant was not so as much faultless as it was not able to take away sins; it could only cover them.  Jesus’ blood sacrifice made them obsolete and takes sins away.

Hebrews 9:12 “he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

As there used to be daily offerings of blood sacrifices and annual High Days where animals had to be killed, showing the high price of sin, they could not take the sins away because the blood of goats (even the scape goat) and calves (or bulls) had to be repeated over and over again but Jesus entered the holy place one time with His own blood and secured our “eternal redemption.”

Hebrews 9:24-26 “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

The temple, a copy of the heavenly, was not the same as the literal Holy of Holies in heaven so Jesus entered there Himself, bringing in His own blood in the “presence of God on our behalf” and it was done once and for all. Since He was the Perfect Sacrifice, this didn’t have to be done over and over. This “put away [our] sin by the sacrifice of himself.”


Hebrews 9:26 says that “he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” but then tells us that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27).  You have an appointment with death and you have no idea when that will be but “Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time” (Heb 9:28a) and if Christ’s blood sacrifice was not accepted by you then you will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:11-15) but if you have repented and trusted in Him, He will appear a second time but “not to deal with [your] sin but to save [you] who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb 9:28b).  What you have coming to you at His second coming is drastically different.  What will it be for you?

Something more to interest you: 7 Good Reasons Christians Should Fast

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jack H May 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Hello, Pastor Jack! I must say, this is an interesting article yet again! There is still one thing that I am confused about, though. If Jesus Christ hadn’t sacrificed himself yet in the ancient times, how were men & women of God saved? Was it through animal sacrifices? If so, which ones counted? Thanks, Jack H 😀


Jack Wellman May 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Thanks Jack…another great question my friend. Animal sacrifices only “covered” sins but never took them away. Roman’s 4:1-5 tells us that “What then shall we say was gained by[a] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” and in Rom 4:22-25 “That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

As for animal sacrifices, Hebrews 9:11-14 will help as the author or authors state “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come,then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Heb 10:1-4 “For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Does this help? I have no answers but the Bible always does and unlike me, it is always right!


DocReits May 31, 2014 at 1:28 am

Well said Pastor Jack!

You hit on such an important point in that God no longer “covers” our sins, as in OT times, but that He “takes them away”.

We no longer have to hide from God, peaking out from under the covering of the blood of animals. We can approach boldly into the presence of God, because our sins are gone for those who trust in Christ.

This is such a misunderstood point for many Christians and you have beautifully explained it. Thank you!



Jack Wellman May 31, 2014 at 9:53 am

Doc my brother…always the encourager, or should I call you Barnabas for that reason for that is what he does. I thank God for you Doc. This line you wrote “We no longer have to hide from God, peaking out from under the covering of the blood of animals” is brilliant. So well said sir.


Gene Aptaker June 2, 2014 at 10:12 am

Thanks for this well-done post, Jack. It’s good for believers to call to remembrance such foundational truths as these and remind ourselves of God’s awesome goodness toward us.

I also wanted to thank you for visiting and commenting on my new website. That really meant a great deal to me.


Jack Wellman June 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Thanks Gene…and I appreciate what you have done and look forward in some way in working with you brother for the Kingdom and Jesus’ glory sake.


Mr Anthony Cotton June 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

When someone preys they nearly all prey to the Blessed Virgin Mary,and next comes Jesus but God he is too mighty and in my experience when I was a catholic it was alway the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Mary was the soft one,and to be quite honest I was afraid to talk to God.
Not now I am afraid yes but the reality is he is the God that forgives you which I find very difficult still,but now I know that`s what Jesus died for.
I am always thinking of God when I face Him,and he asks what have you done with your life to please Him.
To me I have done nothing but moan and I am relying on his great forgiveness to get into heaven.
This is what scares me when that day comes.
I don`t think I would walk boldly to face Him I am a coward,and I am terrified when that day comes.


Jack Wellman June 7, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Anthony, I am just like you. I will fall on my face and none of us are as profitable of a servant that we can be. You may be physically limited from preaching the gospel in the streets and attending church regularly or since no Bible-centered ones are near you, and you may be financially unable to give offerings to churches or ministries due to your restrictions, but you can do this one thing and it is the most important of all I believe….pray, pray, and then pray some more. Pray for me that I might be able to be a bold witness for Christ, that my church will draw lost souls to Christ for His glory, that we might seek those who are lost and have a broken heart for the perishing. Prayer is not the least you can do my brother…it is the very most. That is something I would say that you can most give us. Make sense?


Henry June 28, 2014 at 5:54 am

Hi Jack…

Great Article…
Thank you for all the research you have done…

It’s a pity that most Christians don’t even acknowledge this historic event and ignore it totally.
Imagine if all the Christians all over the world honour and glorify Yeshua on this very sacred day.

It makes me think of the time when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem.
They failed to recognise the day…and the significance of what is happening.
Luk 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Luk 19:42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

But this will change. In future we shall honour Him… we shall once again keep the appointed times… even the Sabbath.

Isa 66:22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
Isa 66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.

Shalom my friend in Yeshua


Jack Wellman June 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

Thank you sir, once again for your contribution to this website and to this article. Amen to our great God and His only begotten Son Yeshua…and Shalom (may God’s peace be upon you my friend).


Henry June 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Thank you Jack… and thank you for all the hours that you devote on this ministry.

I shall visit regularly to learn from you.

May the peace of Yeshua be upon you.


Tony October 31, 2014 at 11:49 am

Hi, Jack –

I really appreciated this article –
One quick question: when you said “the animal skin was all that remained and the skin was worn by the priest which reflects that we are clothed in His righteousness and when God the Father sees us, He actually sees Jesus’ own righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). ” Where did you find this practice noted? Any information or direction or quote that I can use to back this up would be greatly appreciated.

I assume the priest would wear the skin “off-duty” during personal time rather than during any priestly duties.

Again I really appreciated the article and information. Any direction you can give would be appreciated.



Jack Wellman October 31, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Great question Tony and I believe you are righ that this was worn “off-duty” but I will try to retrace my source and I apologize sir, I should have cited that source. I believe it may have been my Biblical Encyclopedia of the Old Testament or A Survey of the Old Testament so I’ll try to pin it down sir. In the meantime, thank you for your kind words and your patience with me Tony.


Jack Wellman October 31, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Tony, I have looked and looked and my work desk is a disaster. I tried searching thru my archives and notations and just can’t find it. I read something like that in Lev 7:9 but that wasn’t it. I looked in my Old Testament files and found this under Israelite Garments: which were called ‘ezor, ḥagor I know that the earliest and most basic garment was the ‘ezor, or ḥagor,an apron around the hips or loins, that in primitive times was made from the skins of animals. It was a simple piece of cloth worn in various modifications, but always worn next to the skin. Priests wore an ‘ezor of linen known as a ‘ephodh. If worn for mourning, it was called a saḳ so your point that it might have been worn “off duty” is, I believe, very accurate. My apologies for not inserting the notations in this article. That was an oversight on my part and for that, I owe you and the readers an apology.


Tony October 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.
Don’t worry about it – just if you do run across the source I’d appreciate knowing what it is for my own personal study.

The concept again is very meaningful and very fitting to the whole picture of Christ and the importance of having (depending on, being clothed in) His righteousness not just initially but constantly.

I think there is a connection to Genesis 3(?) where the covering (of leaves) A&E made for themselves was not adequate and God made a covering of skin instead – which may have been the first blood sacrifice pointing to Christ.

Thank you again for the great information.



Jack Wellman November 1, 2014 at 8:28 am

Thank you sir for your patience with me. I think that Gen 3 is a good connection to that. Having more and more senior moments all the time my friend.


Paul Penn January 3, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Can you give me a reference source for the skins that the priest would wear?


Jack Wellman January 3, 2018 at 1:33 pm

Hello Mr. Penn. It is Lev 7:8. It is assumed the priest would never wear any animal skin during his priestly duties. There is nothing in the article that says the priest wore animal skins during his priestly duties but I have made it more specific. Thank you sir. Nice catch.


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