The Day of Atonement

This was to take place once a year on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 16:29 23:27 Heb. 9:7).

The Act and What Takes Place

Performed by

Stated Purpose

Scriptural Reference

Its Actual Meaning

1.The gathering of items needed by the high priest for the Day of Atonement, which include a bull and a ram, the holy garments (the holy linen tunic, the linen undergarments, the linen sash, linen turban).

Aaron (the high priest)

The bull is for a sin offering and the ram is for a burnt offering.

Lev. 16:3–4a

The sacrifices will cleanse Aaron (or the high priest) and the clothing sets him apart to God's work.

2.The cleansing of the high priest.


None specifically stated

Lev. 16:4b

This again speaks of the cleansing of the high priest, as Jesus Christ had to be clean from sin in order to offer Himself on our behalf..

3.Aaron takes from the congregation two male goats and a ram.


The goats are for a sin offering and the ram is for a burnt offering

Lev. 16:5

These will speak symbolically of the sanctification of Israel and, by wider application, the sanctification of all mankind. From an historical perspective, Aaron represents Israel, whose sins were symbolically atoned for with the many sacrifices described in the book of Leviticus.

4.Aaron approaches with the bull of the herd. He apparently does not sacrifice the bull yet.


This is to make a covering (or atonement) for himself.

Lev. 16:6

Aaron must be ceremonially clean in order to enter into the holy of holies and offer a sacrifice on behalf of the entire congregation. Our Lord had to be without spot and without blemish in order to go to the cross on our behalf.

5.Aaron presents the two goats before Yahweh at the doorway to the tent of meeting and casts lots.


Lots are cast to determine which goat dies and which becomes the scapegoat.

Lev. 16:7–8

The goat which is sacrificed represents our Lord Jesus Christ dying for our sins on the cross; the goat which is to be let go in the wilderness carries the sins of Israel far from Israel as God removes our sins far from us.

6.The goat upon which the lot of the Lord fell is presented to Yahweh as a sin offering; it is not yet slaughtered.


This goat is a sin offering for Israel.

Lev. 16:9

As noted above, the goat that is a sin offering represents our Lord dying on our behalf on the cross.

7.The scapegoat is presented before the Lord alive.


This goat will make a covering (or, atonement) on behalf of Israel.

Lev. 16:10

This goat represents both our Lord's resurrection and the removal of our sins.

8.The bull is slaughtered.


The offering of the bull makes atonement for Aaron and his household.

Lev. 16:11

The one who represents our Lord must be ceremonially cleans as our Lord is sinless.

9.Aaron will take a firepan full of coals and incense and bring it inside the veil. The cloud of the incense is to fill the holy of holies, covering even the mercy seat.


The cloud of incense will cover the mercy seat so that Aaron is not killed under the principle the sin unto death.

Lev. 16:12–13

Aaron is in the presence of God when in the holy of holies. When in the presence of God, we must be covered or protected or shielded from God's perfection, which demands the ultimate penalty for our rebellion against Him. Our being in Christ allows us to be in the presence of God.

10.The blood from the bull is sprinkled on the mercy seat seven times on the east side and on the ground.


Not specifically stated.

Lev. 16:14

This blood represents the blood from our Lord's hand which dripped from the cross onto the ground. Seven times is the number of divine completion; the cross completed all that was necessary for our salvation.

11.The goat is slaughtered and its blood is taken into the holy of holies and sprinkled seven times on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.


This is done as a sin offering for the people.

Lev. 16:15

This is again our Lord on the cross dying for our sins, the blood representing the actual blood from His hands and also representing His spiritual death—the judgement of our sins—on our behalf.

12.Aaron will emerge from the holy of holies take some of the blood from the bull and from the goat and put it on the protrusions of the brazen altar.


To make atonement for the altar, to cleanse it and to set it apart; and to cleanse the sons of Israel for their impurities.

Lev. 16:18–19

The altar is an earthly copy of what is in heaven; it must be covered or atoned for, in order to be used to represent our Lord's death on our behalf. Our Lord is in the Holy of Holies right now.

13.Aaron approaches Yahweh with the live goat, lays both of his hands upon the head of the live goat.


The sins, transgressions and iniquities of Israel are born by the goat.

Lev. 16:20–22

The goat is our Lord removing our transgressions far from us.

14.The goat is taken away and released into the desert.

A prepared man

The goat bears the iniquities of Israel.

Lev. 16:22

The prepared man is our Lord; who releases the goat into the desert, which also represents our Lord carrying our sins far from us.

15.Aaron returns to the tabernacle and removes his garments and leaves them in the tabernacle.


No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:23

This means more than the ritual is pretty much over. Our Lord, when brought down from the cross, had his human body wrapped and when he was resurrected, he left these wrappings behind in the grave.

16.Aaron will bathe himself in the holy place.


No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:24a

Aaron is still just a man and this cleansing allows him to continue in this ritual. Our Lord, although He took upon Himself our sins, was raised sinless from death.

17.Aaron would put on his clothes and come out of the tabernacle.


No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:24b

This is the resurrection of our Lord in His new body.

18.Aaron would offer the two burnt offerings.


These offerings would atone for himself and for the people.

Lev. 16:24c

The burnt offerings represent a sweet savor to God the Father, Who accepted the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. This act represents the acceptance of God the Father.

19.The fat of the sin offerings (the bull and the goat) are burned upon the altar.


No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:25

Again, that which is burned represents a sweet savor to God the Father, Who accepts the substitutionary work of HIs Son on our behalf. This is our Lord's ascension into heaven.

20.The man who released the scapegoat in the desert will bathe himself and return to the camp.

The prepared man

No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:26

Once our sins have been removed from us, our Lord returns to us (the second advent).

21.What remains of the sin offerings (the hides and flesh and refuse of the goat and bull) are burned in a fire outside the camp, presumably in the area where unclean things are disposed of.

Not stated

No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:27

That which remains corrupted by sin is taken outside the camp and burned, just as the unbelievers who fail to appropriate the provision of God, spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

22.The one who burns the remains of the two sin offerings washes his clothes and bathes his flesh and then returns to the camp.

Not stated

No stated purpose.

Lev. 16:28

Once our Lord judges all of mankind and throws them along with the devil and his angels into the Lake of Fire, He returns to the earth to rule, making a new heavens and a new earth (this is the cleansed clothing and flesh.

23. Finally, and most importantly (from the human standpoint), the people will approach God on this day in humility (grace-orientation) and they will do not work.

The Israelites

The ritual is the cleanse them from all their sins before the Lord.

Lev. 16:30–31

We can do nothing to obtain salvation; we can only believe in Him who provided it for us.