Lesson 7: Atonement: Satan Bound, Humanity Freed!
The biblical Day of Atonement, also called Yom Kippur, has many lessons for Christians. Few understand its connection to an important end-time prophecy about Satan, the great deceiver. Where does the meaning of the Day of Atonement fit in God's plan of salvation?
Satan the devil has meddled in human affairs from the very beginning. Here is the story of the first temptation from Genesis 3 in the New Living Translation:
"Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God
had made. 'Really?' he asked the woman. 'Did God really say you must
not eat any of the fruit of the garden?'
"'Of course we may eat it,' the woman told him. 'It's only the fruit
from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to
eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.'
"'You won't die!' the serpent hissed. 'God knows that your eyes will
be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything,
both good and evil.'
"The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious,
and it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit. She also
gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it too. At that
moment, their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their
"The Lord God called to Adam, 'Where are you?'
"He replied, 'I heard you, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.'
"'Who told you that you were naked?' the Lord God asked. 'Have you
eaten the fruit I commanded you not to eat?'
"'Yes,' Adam admitted, 'but it was the woman you gave me who brought
me the fruit, and I ate it.'
"Then the Lord God asked the woman, 'How could you do such a thing?'
"'The serpent tricked me,' she replied. 'That's why I ate it'" (Genesis
Satan has been perfecting his temptations, and humans have been practicing
their excuses ever since.
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What Does the Bible Say About Atonement?
What is the fifth festival God commanded us to celebrate?
Leviticus 23:27, 32
"Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement.
It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls,
and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord...
"It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict
your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to
evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."
What does "afflict your souls" mean?
But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled
myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart.
Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble
ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and
our little ones and all our possessions.
The word afflict in Leviticus 23:27 comes from the Hebrew word anah, which
means "to be afflicted, be bowed down, be humbled, be meek" (Vine's
Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, "To
Be Humbled, Afflicted"). The same word is translated humbled and humble in
the verses above, both of which connect it with fasting. Fasting means
to go without food and drink (Esther 4:16).
Did the New Testament Church also observe the fast of Atonement?
Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because
the Fast was already over, Paul advised them...
Biblical scholars recognize that this "Fast" was the Day of Atonement
in the autumn, after which sailing in the Mediterranean Sea was considered
dangerous. Obviously, Luke, a gentile, would not have been inspired to
write about the Day of Atonement if the Church of God was no longer observing
this Holy Day.
Why does God want us to fast? What attitude should we have?
"Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of
wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free,
and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the
hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from
your own flesh?"
"Now, therefore," says the Lord, "Turn to Me with all your heart, with
fasting, with weeping, and with mourning." So rend your heart,
and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious
and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications,
with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God,
and made confession...
These examples are talking about fasts in addition to the Day of Atonement,
but they demonstrate the attitude that God is looking for. As we saw in
Psalm 35:13 and Ezra 8:21, fasting can humble us. When we fast in the
right attitude, we see how small and weak we are, how much we need God.
This helps us to submit to Him, to repent and seek to reconcile with Him
and become more like Him.
What is "atonement" and why do we need it?
Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies
come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low. Help us,
O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us,
and provide atonement for our sins, for Your name's sake!
Atonement is necessary because of our sins—the breaking of God's laws
that condemns each of us to eternal death (Romans 6:23). Atonement, or
removing of sins, is made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who
paid our death penalty for us (Romans 5:6-10). His sacrifice is evidence
of God's mercy and makes it possible for us to be saved. It removes the
barrier of sin that has separated us from God, reconciling us (Isaiah
59:2; Ephesians 2:13).
The festival of Passover also reminds us of our need for forgiveness
and reconciliation with God. While Passover focuses on our personal reconciliation,
Atonement seems to have a larger focus of reconciling all humanity to
God. Let's consider the additional meaning the Day of Atonement adds to
God's plan of salvation.
What Does the Day of Atonement Mean in God's Plan of Salvation?
We saw in the previous lesson that the prophetic meaning of the Feast
of Trumpets includes the return of Jesus Christ to become King of Kings
(Revelation 11:15; 19:16).
What is the next major prophetic event in the book of Revelation?
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless
pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that
serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand
years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and
set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till
the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be
released for a little while.
How does the Bible describe Satan's influence on humanity?
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil
and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and
his angels were cast out with him.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest
the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of
God, should shine on them.
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness,
so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against
spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
From the time of Adam and Eve, this powerful spirit being and his henchmen
have blinded and deceived humanity into following his wrong attitudes
and actions. He has led each human being to choose to break God's good
and beneficial laws. He has made the way of sin look enticing, while in
reality it is an abomination to God. Satan drove the wedge of sin between
humans and our Creator, and so his influence must be removed to make reconciliation
and atonement complete.
How did the sacrificial rituals on the Day of Atonement foreshadow
the end-time binding of Satan?
Leviticus 16:7-10, 20-22
"He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at
the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for
the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat
And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord's lot fell, and offer
it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat
shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it,
and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness...
"And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the
tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat.
Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess
over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their
transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head
of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand
of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities
to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness."
The book of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus Christ's sacrifice renders
the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament no longer necessary (Hebrews
9:12; 10:4, 11-14). But that does not diminish the fact that they foreshadowed
things to come.
The goat that was sacrificed, like all the other burnt offerings required
of ancient Israel, represented Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us. But what
of the goat that was left alive? The word scapegoat has taken
on a meaning in English that the Hebrew word Azazel did not have.
In fact, many scholars see Azazel as being derived from the name
of an evil spirit. Whether or not you accept this, comparing Revelation
20:1-3 with Leviticus 16 gives clear indication that the rituals of the
banishment of the Azazel goat on the Day of Atonement reflect
the binding of Satan after Christ's return.
Though we all bear complete individual responsibility for our own choices
and sin, Satan is the ultimate source of the evil thoughts and temptations.
Thus placing the blame for instigating sin on its ultimate source is justified.
Like the live goat, Satan is sent away but not killed.
Can you imagine a world without the evil influence, wrong attitudes and
enticements of Satan? How would family life be different? How would the
relationships between ethnic groups and nations change? What about those
who find it hard to resist the temptations to do illegal and immoral things
today? Without the outside influences, will they be able to make the changes
they really want?
Having Satan locked away will make an incredible difference for individuals
and for society in general, loosing the bonds of wickedness and giving
newfound freedom and clear vision to all those who have been blinded and
shackled by sin. This vital step in God's plan of salvation will set the
stage for the next step, pictured by the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.
Even now in this world under Satan's control, we can resist the devil
and seek God's help to defeat his devices. Read "How
Can We Resist the Devil?" and write down three specific things you
can do today to overcome Satan's influences. Then follow up and do them.
Remember that God is much stronger than Satan, and He is very willing
to provide the help we need.
Next Lesson: Feast of Tabernacles: Picturing the Millennium
Questions about this lesson? Feedback about
of Sin's Cause and Reconciliation to God
God's Plan to
End Evil and Suffering
of Satan Pictured on the Day of Atonement
should Christians celebrate the Day of Atonement (also known as Yom
The Azazel Goat and Atonement
How Can We
Resist the Devil?
Fasting: A Spiritual