by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Hebrews 9:24-28 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another– He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Yom Kippur, which literally means Day of Coverings, can be a day of deep reflection on what the Lord has done for us. As Yeshua (Jesus) died on the cross 2000 years ago, the Gospel describes how the veil in the Temple was torn in two. This profound spiritual event reveals that the Lord gave all whose sins are covered by His blood access to the Holy of Holies, as He had become our High Priest in addition to being, Himself, the perfect sacrifice for sin.
Although the Temple was not finally destroyed until 70 AD, Orthodox Judiasm recounts in the Talmud that, beginning in 30 AD, God no longer accepted the animal sacrifices commanded in the Torah for the Day of Atonement, [Tract Yoma 39b]. Throughout the ages, while the Temple stood, the High Priest would cast lots for the two goats which were to be offered as sacrifices on Yom Kippur. One lot was for the goat to be sacrificed on the altar, for YHVH — and the other, called "Azazel", the goat cast out into the wilderness for the removal of sins [Leviticus 16:7-10].
Traditionally, as the Priest cast the lot, finding it in his right hand was a good omen, indicating that God had accepted the sacrifice. However, if the High Priest drew it in his left hand, this indicated the Lord's displeasure and even rejection of the sacrifice. For the 40 years after the sacrifice of Yeshua, the Talmud records that the lot was taken in the left hand of the High Priest. The same result for 40 years, a lot cast into the left hand, carries a statistical probability of 1 in 1,099,511,627,776 — or one in a trillion chance! There were also other significant miraculous signs described in this tract, that something of major significance had taken place related to the most critical sacrifice in the Temple order. It is clear to both Jews and Messianic believers that God was saying something important to the Jewish people in 30AD; something important enough to be recorded in the Talmud and something which demanded an explanation.
We believe that the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, 40 years after the sacrifice of Yeshua, followed a period of testimony and testing for the Jewish people concerning the fact that the sacrificial system had been consummated by Yeshua's death on the cross. 40 is a typical number of testing throughout the Bible. While animal sacrifices continued to be offered in the Temple while it stood, and many believing Jews continued to participate in them, it was clear that something new and definitive had opened the way for all people to enter the Holiest place and to know the Lord intimately and personally. Without intending to, the Talmud offers historical support for the significance and reality of the events in 30 AD which consummated the sacrificial system given in the Torah; i.e. the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth, who died for the sins of the whole world.