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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Ascension Of Our High Priest

So many people know that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament feast of the Passover with the last supper and his death on the Cross, but he was also fulfilling in a very large part the Feast Day of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur was the day to atone for the sins that you committed against God. On this day Israelites would "afflict themselves", meaning fasting, doing penance and they were forbidden to work.

Before I continue, I want to note that this feast is particularly complicated. For example, the high priest had to wash his entire body 5 times and wash his hands and feet 10 times.
Seeing its complexity I will point out the only main parts.

The High Priest would take a bull, confess his sins and the sins of his family over it, sacrifice it and then catch its blood in a bowl.

The High Priest would also take two goats.
One would be for God and the other would be for Azazel (who was possibly a demon?) sort of mysterious.
The one that was for God would be sacrificed and its blood would be collected in a bowl.
The other Goat for Azazel would have a red thread tied to its horns (while a similar red thread would be kept back in Jerusalem, which would turn white if the sacrifice was accepted) and then the High Priest would lay hands on its head confessing the sins of all of Israel, this goat got to escape out of town (where we get the escape goat), but in practice it was handed over to a gentile who would lead it out of town and then thrown it over a cliff.

Back at the temple the blood that was collected was then taken up into the temple with great amounts of incense. The blood would then be sprinkled in the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people.

Christ fulfill this feast in his own day in several ways:

Just as the High Priest in the OT wore a seamless Linen garment, so also St. John tells us in
Chapter 19: 23 that Jesus was wearing a seamless garment at the cross.

Something else that is significant here is that Leviticus 21:10 says that the high priest may never tear his own garment.

And if you recall when Jesus is on trial before Caiphas the high priest and Jesus says that he is the Christ Caiphas tears his own garments and charges Jesus with Blasphemy.
But they were dividing Jesus' clothes while he was on the Cross, John 19:24 tells us that his garment was not torn, but they drew lots for it. This action is confirming the high priesthood of Jesus.

Remember also how the high priest in the OT had to take the blood into the Holy of Holiest and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat. When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem he made each part higher then the next. So the Temple had three parts, one for the people, but then you would walk up some stairs to the Holy place and from their you would walk up some more stairs into the Holy of Holies.

Well on the day of atonement remember the priest had to have to ascend these stairs with a great amount of incense, almost like he was riding on a cloud up into the Holy of Holies.
This points to the Ascension of our Lord, and where is he ascending to? To the real Holy of Holiest in heaven where he is interceding for us...

Hebrews 9:11-12 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, 12 he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

One more beautiful tidbit is what happened to the thread that was left in Jerusalem:
"The Talmud bears an amazing witness to the work of [Jesus] in altering the system of atonement. The background is that on [Day of Atonement], when the [high priest] sacrificed a goat (Leviticus 16), a piece of scarlet cloth was tied between its horns. If it later turned white, it meant that God had forgiven Israel’s sin in accordance with Isaiah 1:18, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow."
"Our Rabbis taught that throughout the forty years that [Simeon] the Righteous served,…the scarlet cloth would become white. From then on it would sometimes become white and sometimes not.... Throughout the last forty years before the Temple was destroyed... the scarlet cloth never turned white." (Yoma 39a-39b)" Jewish New Testament Commentary – By: David H. Stern (page 84) - I don't recommend this book, while sometimes it does have cool Jewish insights into the life of Christ, David Stern is a Protestant and misses much in his commentary.

I again point everyone to Brant Pitre's CD set on this topic. It will make so much come to life in your reading of Scripture.


Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

I am very pleased to have found your blog through a recommendation from John Martignoni.
Thank you for providing some excellent information. I look forward to reading through your old posts. I have added you to my reader.
I'm interested in the Catholic Commentary you link to in your sidebar. Would you mind just clarifying for me whether I would just be buying one of the three volumes?
If so, are the other two volumes available?
Thanks again.

David Ocampo said...


This is a very interesting blog. I also found your blog through John Martignoni's newsletter.

It's nice to see some intellectual commentary on Judeo-Christian theology.

Keep up the good work!

Daniel Egan said...

Thank you both for the compliments. Mrs. Clare, i am only finished with the New Testament and I hope to have the Old Testament finished by the summer, and articles/maps finished by the fall.

So only the New Testament is for sale thus far.

Thanks for reading.

Dan Egan

Causa Cristo-Jpcpomonasc said...

I Love To Read Good Catholic Theology.. Nothing more clear, I don't get why protestants don't see what we see... More plain can not be. I just got this book by the mail yesterday..Looks very interesting.. It's going to help me a lot in my weekly bible study-meetings with my protestant friends. God Bless Our Holy Church and To You Brother.

John said...
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