THE PASSOVER - ATONEMENT REFLECTION
Everyone understands that a mirror image is a reflection of something. We usually think of one object and its reflected image. What is of interest in this research project is how the Passover reflects Atonement and Atonement reflects Passover, with each containing important images of the other, and with both together completing a circle.
Ancient Israel was instructed to choose a suitable lamb for Passover on the tenth day of the first month. Is it mere coincidence that the Day of Atonement is on the tenth day of the seventh month? The first month is a month signaling beginning, and the seventh a signal of completion, both months reflecting one another in these two monumental divine events.
Our modern Passover carries a symbolic washing away of recent sins through the foot washing ceremony, while the Day of Atonement pictures washing away all sins. This washing is begun on Passover with the Foot washing ceremony of the modern Church and reflected in its final form on Atonement where, in ancient Israel, all sins of all the people were symbolically placed on the head of a goat that was led out of the camp far away and left there, not to return, thus a complete cleansing. But there is more as we now look to the New Testament, and a little understood principal set forth by our Savior Himself.
The Day of Atonement is a day of fasting and prayer. Isaiah 58 is our primary source for instruction as to how to please God in the manner in which we fast. Jesus refers to Isaiah when in Matthew 6 He instructs His disciples not to fast as a hypocrite whose only wish is to be seen to suffer by other people. Jesus then instructs His followers to wash their face and anoint their head when entering a fast so that they are seen by God and not men. Some scholars believe that anointing our head only means to comb our hair. This is ludicrous as God could care less if we comb our hair, since he looks on the attitude, not the outward appearance.
Washing our face seems to imply a symbolic washing away of sin, while anointing ones head with oil implies a setting apart from normal activities to seek Spiritual food through use of the Holy Spirit. Amazingly this also reflects Passover and pictures completion of what was begun on Passover. Our feet that are our connection to the earth are washed on Passover. Washing our face on Atonement is washing the part of our body that is connected to God through intellect and the human spirit, thus a symbolic washing of our human spirit clean of sin. This completes a circle being washed from head to toe.
Passover is a symbol of our walk from the flesh but while still flesh, and is why the seven days of Unleavened Bread immediately follow. Atonement is a symbol of our ultimate change to Spirit, or truly being At One with God: “At-one-ment.” Passover itself pictures temporary reconciliation while Atonement symbolizes total and final reconciliation, the last step for all mankind in order to escape eternal death.
Blood on the doorposts at Passover, literally or symbolically, is what qualifies one to be “Passed over.” In ancient Israel it was the blood carried into the Holy of Holies on Atonement that also brought an enhanced type of Passover. On Passover itself, the participants directly engaged in the application of the blood and the flesh of a sacrifice, or in our modern version, the wine and the bread as symbols. Yet, on Atonement, only the High Priest entered beyond the Temple veil with blood, but not any flesh, since all the flesh of the sacrifice was either completely burnt on the altar or sent outside the camp and consumed by fire, not used at all by others. No one ate it. Paul muses about this in Hebrews 13, concluding that Jesus, who was the final and true Passover lamb, also suffered without the camp that he might sanctify us with His own blood. It is the blood, and not the flesh that symbolically sanctifies, on both Passover and on the Day of Atonement.
Curiously, the words sanctify and Atonement are both based on the very same Hebrew word and are even interchangeable as to overall meaning and intent, but the word Passover itself simply means exemption. Israelites were granted a temporary exemption at the original Passover, yet most died on the way to the promise. With the temporary exemption, then we also proceed on our journey toward the promise of being totally reconciled or Atoned for, just as ancient Israel began their walk toward their Promise after the Passover.
Christ became our ultimate Passover lamb, suffering once for all the sins of all mankind forever. The ultimate Day of Atonement will be the final application of that sacrifice to cancel all mankind’s debt of all sins. What is begun on Passover is perfectly reflected in the Day of Atonement, and when complete, will result in the fullness of the New Covenant Promise.