The Day of Atonement & Jubilee
The Day of Atonement was a day of fasting and repentance held once each year on the tenth day of the seventh month (Lev. 23:27). This was nine days after the Feast of Trumpets:
27 On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. 28 Neither shall you do any work on this same day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God.
This was a day of humbling one's soul. This was a Hebrew idiom that meant "fasting." This day is mentioned a number of times in the Scriptures, including Isaiah's commentary on the Day of Atonement in Isaiah 58. The prophet tells us that the true underlying purpose for the Day of Atonement is not to be so much a day of fasting from food, but a day of setting people free and feeding the hungry. In other words, it is the Jubilee, to set the captives free.
The ceremonial ritual of the two goats that the priests did each year on the Day of Atonement is recorded in Leviticus 16. However, because we will deal with this more fully in Chapter 10, regarding "The Two Works of Christ," we will defer that part of the study until later. Meanwhile, we will focus upon the Jubilee portion of this day and how the Jubilee trumpet came to be blown on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year.
Every 49 years the Day of Atonement was to be replaced by the blowing of the trumpet of the Jubilee. Instead of mourning and fasting, it was to be a day of rejoicing and jubilation. So we read in Leviticus 25:8-13,
8 You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. 9 You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. 10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.
13 On this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his own property.
This is the basic law of the Day of Atonement and of the Jubilee. Time was divided into seven-year "weeks." Every seventh year was a sabbath land rest, where no one was to sow or reap the fields. All the people had a year off to pursue more important matters. All debts were released during that year, because there was no income with which to make payments on debt. Yet the sabbath year did not release the debts permanently, for they had to continue making debt payments in the eighth year and beyond.
The Jubilee year was different. It came at the end of seven sabbath years, at the end of 49 years. The sabbath year ended in the autumn on the Feast of Trumpets, and then ten days into the 50th year the Jubilee trumpet was to be blown. This signaled a permanent release of all unpaid debts. All who had lost their land through debt could return and reclaim their inheritance.
Before we show the prophetic meaning of this day, however, we must first understand its history and that which it commemorates.
The Fiftieth Jubilee from Adam
God freed Israel from Egypt just prior to the 50th Jubilee from Adam. God's purpose was to give Israel opportunity to return to their inheritance in the land of Canaan on the Jubilee. If the twelve spies had given a good report in Numbers 13, and if the priest had blown the trumpet of the Jubilee, they would have actually fulfilled that Jubilee festival that day, and they could have returned to their property, the land God gave Abraham. Israel would have entered Canaan five days later on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. We believe the Canaanites may have been converted to God (rather than conquered by war) in one week. Theoretically, Israel would then have fulfilled Tabernacles by the 8th day and fully established the kingdom of God upon the earth.
This was certainly the will of God, for He had told them to enter Canaan; however, it was not God's overall plan at that time, for such events could never take place apart from the Cross. That is why the real fulfillment of the feasts had to wait for a later time. Even so, the patterns were laid under Moses and are very instructive to us today.
The first question we must settle in this section is that of timing and purpose. How do we know the twelve spies gave their evil report on the 50th Jubilee from Adam? And why was it important that they return to their inheritance in Canaan on a Jubilee? For a complete study on the chronology from Adam to Moses, see chapter two of our book, Secrets of Time. For now, we will only offer a brief summary.
Genesis 5 and 11 give us the basic chronology from Adam to Abraham and were designed to establish God's Jubilee calendar in man's history. The flood came 1656 years from Adam. Abram was born nearly three centuries later in the year 1948 (from Adam). Abram was 100 in 2048 when Isaac was born. And, as we will soon show in more detail, the Scriptures show that it was 400 years from the birth of Isaac to the exodus from Egypt in the year 2448. A year and a half later, in the autumn, the twelve spies gave their evil report. This was the beginning of the year 2450, because the years up to that time began in the autumn.
Jubilees are not specifically mentioned until Moses, of course, but in the divine law the Jubilee trumpet was to be blown ten days into the 50th year on the Day of Atonement. Israel was given opportunity to declare the Jubilee and enter the land at the divinely appointed time, the Jubilee of Jubilees. They did not do so, of course, which delayed the fulfillment of Tabernacles to a later time (which God had already planned in advance). Hence, they had to keep it yearly as a Day of Atonement, a day of repentance for refusing to enter the inheritance and establish the kingdom of God.
This is not meant to be a complete proof, but a summary of what we have put forth more extensively in the book, Secrets of Time. Even so, we feel it important to explain in some detail our assertion that it was 400 years from the birth of Isaac to the exodus from Egypt, since most people have been told that Israel spent their entire 400 years in Egypt.
Israel's Inheritance in Canaan
In Genesis 15, we read that God gave Abram the land of Canaan as his inheritance. He led Abram out of the land of the Chaldeans (Babylonia) and brought him to Canaan, where he lived as a "stranger and sojourner" (Gen. 23:4). In other words, Abram did not own any land in which he lived, with the exception of the burial cave that he was able to purchase when his wife Sarah died.
Though Abram never inherited the promise, he believed God's promise to him and appropriated it by faith for his descendants. God's promise was legalized by a covenant in Genesis 15:7-21,
7 And He said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it." 8 And he said, "O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?" 9 So He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.
13 And God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."
17 And it came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates."
We are told in verse 13 that God intended for Abram's descendants to be "strangers in a land that is not theirs" for 400 years, before releasing them from bondage to receive their inheritance. Dr. Bullinger's notes on this verse tell us in The Companion Bible, "The 400 years date from Isaac's birth (Acts 7:6)." Abram's seed in the biblical sense began with Isaac, for God said in Gen. 21:12, "in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Isaac was born as a stranger in Canaan--a land that was not his. Like his father, Isaac did not inherit the land of Canaan, though he lived to be 180 years of age (Gen. 35:28).
Abram's first son (through his other wife, Hagar) was named Ishmael. Ishmael was 14 years older than Isaac. When he learned that he was not to be the promised seed who would be the inheritor of the promises of God, he did what anyone that age would do. Out of jealousy and "sibling rivalry," he treated Isaac quite badly. Genesis 21:9 only records that Sarah found Ishmael "mocking" (KJV) Isaac. That is, he was laughing at him. But Paul says in Galatians 4:29 that it was much more serious than what appears on the surface. Speaking of Ishmael, who was "born according to the flesh," he says,
29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
In the ancient text of The Book of Jasher, first published in English in 1840, we read further details of what actually transpired between Ishmael and Isaac. Jasher is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and again in 2 Samuel 1:18. The book of Jasher was lost for many years, but in 1613 a very old copy was found in a rabbi's office in Venice, Italy. Ultimately, it was translated into English in 1840 and is available today. Its antiquity is apparent, not only by the purity of the Hebrew language (attested by its translators and others), but also by the copyist errors that inevitably creep into ancient manuscripts over the centuries. In Jasher 21:11-15 we read,
11 And Ishmael the son of Abraham was grown up in those days; he was fourteen years old when Sarah bare Isaac to Abraham. 12 And God was with Ishmael the son of Abraham, and he grew up, and he learned to use the bow and became an archer. 13 And when Isaac was five years old he was sitting with Ishmael at the door of the tent. 14 And Ishmael came to Isaac and seated himself opposite to him, and he took the bow and drew it and put the arrow in it, and intended to slay Isaac. 15 And Sarah saw the act which Ishmael desired to do to her son Isaac, and it grieved her exceedingly on account of her son, and she sent for Abraham, and said to him, Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for her son shall not be heir with my son, for thus did he seek to do unto him this day.
Perhaps the Apostle Paul knew this history. Paul says this historical account is also an allegory, for it was prophetic of his own day. The Jewish leaders of his day were "born according to the flesh" and were persecuting the Christians who were "born according to the Spirit." Paul knew this very well, because he himself had been a chief persecutor in his early days.
So when Genesis 15:13 says that Abraham's seed would be "enslaved and oppressed four hundred years," it is apparent that this oppression and persecution actually began with Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the Egyptian. It began the moment Isaac was born. It merely had two stages of oppression--the first with Ishmael, the half-Egyptian, and the second stage many years later, when Israel sojourned in Egypt.
Isaac and his wife Rebekah had twin sons named Jacob and Esau. These sons were born to them when Isaac was 60 years old (Gen. 25:26). These were the first 60 years of the 400 years prophesied, where Abram's seed would be "strangers in a land that is not theirs." It is important to understand this, because most people assume that the 400 years did not begin until they actually moved to Egypt. Yet their sojourn in Egypt was merely a secondary phase of bondage and sojourning as strangers. In this, the ancient historians are in agreement.
Jacob was 130 years old when he and his sons moved from Canaan to Egypt (Gen. 47:9). So by the time they arrived in Egypt, 190 years had already passed where Abram's descendants were strangers in a land not theirs. This left only 210 years for their actual sojourn in Egypt. Josephus, the first-century historian, differs with the Apostle Paul by just five years. Josephus says they were in Egypt for 215 years and left Egypt 430 years after Abraham came to Canaan (Antiquities of the Jews, II, 15, ii),
"They left Egypt in the month Xanthicus [also known as Abib and Nisan], on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt."
The Apostle Paul, on the other hand, dates the 430 years from the Covenant with Abram to the Covenant with Moses (Gal. 3:17). God covenanted with Abram when he was 70 years old, and five years later he arrived in Canaan at the age of 75 (Gen. 12:4). By the time Isaac was born, Abram was 100 years old, and thirty years had already passed since the covenant was established. Four hundred years later, then, Israel left Egypt in the Exodus. This was 430 years from the Abrahamic Covenant.
We can forgive Josephus' five-year error, for he at least understood that Israel was not in Egypt itself for the full 400 years. He says 215 years, but in fact, it was only 210. The details of this are clearly set forth in the ancient book of Jasher and do much to clarify the biblical account. Regardless of the slight differences between Josephus and Paul, it is apparent that Israel was not in Egypt for the entire 400-year period.
Jasher says specifically that Israel's sojourn in Egypt was precisely 210 years. Jasher 81:3 and 4 says,
3 And the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in the land of Egypt in hard labor, was two hundred and ten years. 4 And at the end of two hundred and ten years, the Lord brought forth the children of Israel from Egypt with a strong hand.
Jasher is a very interesting and helpful history book that fills in many details not covered in the biblical record, but this is not to say that it should be considered scripture. It is simply a helpful history book that was written thousands of years ago, and for our purposes here it testifies that Israel was in Egypt for 210 years. This is important in that it establishes the year 2448 as the Exodus and the year 2450 (50th Jubilee) as the time Israel was told to enter the land of Canaan.
The Ten Spies' Evil Report
Israel had been in the wilderness for a full year before their tabernacle was built. It was erected, in fact, on the first day of the first month the second year from the exodus (Exodus 40:2). The tabernacle was dedicated in the next twelve days, with the prince of each tribe offering sacrifices and other offerings in turn each day. It was fully dedicated by the 14th of the month, when the people were to kill the Passover lambs.
About five weeks later, on the twentieth day of the second month, God began to lead Israel toward the Promised Land (Num. 10:11). It was normally an eleven-day journey (Deut. 1:2), but the people made a number of stops along the way that summer, which made the trip longer than it would normally have taken.
Their first stop was at Taberah, where God judged them for their bad attitude (Num. 11:1-3). Later they complained about having only manna to eat. Since they wanted flesh to eat, God gave them quail to eat for an entire month (Num. 11:20) until it made them sick. That place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, "graves of lust." It is apparent that Israel spent at least a full month at Taberah, which would account for the entire third month.
From there Israel went to Hazeroth, about the beginning of the fourth month. While there, Miriam, Moses' sister, complained to God about the "Ethiopian" wife he had married. This should be translated Cushite, rather than Ethiopian. There were two lands of Cush. The later one, of course, is the land now called Ethiopia, but historians tell us that the original land of Cush was in Arabia. In Dr. Bullinger's notes on Num. 12:1 in The Companion Bible, he says, "Arabia was in the land of Cush; or Zipporah (Ex. 2:21) may have been of Cushite nationality, though territorially a Midianite." The land of Midian was part of Cush in those days. Moses had married Zipporah, the daughter of the priest of Midian. Hence, she was called a Cushite. She was not an Israelite, because her ancestry was from Abraham through his third wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:1, 2).
Anyway, the judgment upon Miriam took another week of their time (Num. 12:14). So this could not have ended before the middle of the fourth month. More probably, it was well into the fifth month, taking into account travel time as well as the normal time it would take such a multitude of people to do their day-to-day business.
From Hazeroth, the people finally came to the wilderness of Paran (Num. 12:16), not far from Canaan. It was, by now, probably the end of the fifth month. Only then did God call for twelve representatives of the tribes to spy out the land of Canaan. They would be sent out about the first day of the sixth month and were gone for forty days. This brings us to the tenth day of the seventh month, which is the Day of Atonement, or the Jubilee. By now it was the end of summer, for the spies brought back samples of the fruits of the ground. We read in Num. 13:20, "Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes."
There were, of course, three main feasts in Israel, and each had its own firstfruits offerings. Barley was offered after Passover, wheat at Pentecost, and the new wine was poured out as a drink offering before the Lord for the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. For this reason, God says that the Feast of Tabernacles was to be held "after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat."
The Day of Atonement was much like a preparation day for the Feast of Tabernacles. It was the day to begin bringing the firstfruits of the grapes in order to pour out the drink offerings during the seven days of Tabernacles. The spies, then, brought the first ripe grapes to God on the tenth day of the seventh month and gave their report to the people. They should have given a good report, full of faith and joy at the prospect of inheriting such a good productive land. This should have been their Jubilee. The twelve spies, however, could not agree. Ten of them gave an evil report, saying, in Numbers 13:32,
32 The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size [giants].
The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, contradicted them, saying in Numbers 14:9,
9 . . . they shall be our prey [literally, "they are food for us"]. Their protection has been removed from them.
The breakfast of champions-giants.
Caleb and Joshua were outvoted, and the people believed the evil report of the other ten spies. So the great Jubilee of Jubilees was not declared, and from that time forward, God told them to remember it each year as the Day of Atonement--a day of mourning, fasting, and repentance for refusing God's Jubilee. This original precedent shows that the Day of Atonement is a day of decision, a final examination or test that determines who is an overcomer and who is not. It is the Day of Atonement that distinguishes and separates the overcomers from the rest of the believers. Ultimately, it determines who is eligible to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Power of Forgiveness
The Jubilee is all about forgiveness. The law itself speaks of the cancellation and forgiveness of DEBTS on this day, but in the Bible, all sin is reckoned as a debt. If a man stole a thousand dollars, the thief normally owed his victim two thousand dollars (Exodus 22:4). His sin was reckoned as a debt, according to biblical justice. And so the New Testament writers speak of debts as the equivalent of sin. For example, in the Lord's Prayer, we read in Matthew 6:12, "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." In Luke 11:4, it reads, "And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us."
The Jubilee is not only about forgiveness of monetary debts, but also of sins. Those who sin against their neighbors are considered debtors to their victims in the eyes of God and His law. All victims of injustice are creditors and have certain rights before the law of God. If they cry unto God for justice, God will hear. Exodus 22:22 and 23 says of widows and orphans,
22 You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry.
In God's law, only the victims have the right to forgive sin. The judge has no such right. If a thief is convicted of stealing a thousand dollars from you, the judge has no right to forgive it. He must impose precisely what the law specifies. Only you-the victim-have the right to forgive the sin, if you so desire.
God has made all men victims of injustice in some manner. All have experienced the injustice of sin. Most men become angry and often quite bitter over these injustices. But those who know the heart of God and the character of Jesus Christ may learn how to deal with these injustices in a somewhat unusual manner. They understand that God is sovereign, and that nothing happens to them, except that God has the knowledge and the power to work it out for their good (Romans 8:28). Those who truly believe this are the ones who do not become angry when they are personally subjected to injustice. They have learned to forgive those who wrong them and to rejoice when men persecute them.
These are the overcomers, people who have been called into a higher realm of revelation, knowledge, and understanding of God. Some have mistakenly thought that when bad things happen to them, it is because God is angry with them or is judging them for something they did wrong. God does bring discipline to us, of course, but often these things happen in order that we might become the creditors of the world and heirs of all things. The world has persecuted the overcomers in order that they might be the prime inheritors of all nations.
More than that, the overcomers are people who have experienced the Jubilee. That is, they have learned to release men from bondage and the prison house of sin (debt). They have learned not to hold grudges against their persecutors, but to rejoice that God has found them worthy to undergo these trials of faith. These are overcomers. The primary qualification of an overcomer--one who aspires to attain to the Feast of Tabernacles--is to be a forgiver. One cannot come to Tabernacles without first going through the Jubilee. That is the order of the feast days, and this process cannot be circumvented.
The overcomers are men and women that God intends to put into positions of rulership in His Kingdom. They are able to rule without bias and with equality of justice to all, because they have basically the same heart of forgiveness and love as Jesus did. More than that, the overcomers have a heart to declare the Jubilee in the earth, which will set the nations free in the coming Age of Tabernacles. As creditors, they and they alone retain the lawful right to forgive the debt owed to them--and actually have the heart to do so. They have come to understand that the injustices they have experienced give them the right to declare the Jubilee--and this resonates in their heart.
The power of forgiveness will always transcend the power of the grudge. The power of love will always transcend the power of sin. Good and evil are not of equal power. God and Satan are not two equal gods in the universe. There is no balance of power in the heavens, no eternal coexistence of sin and righteousness. The end of the Bible portrays the end of history in this way in Revelation 5:13 and 14,
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14 And the four beasts said, Amen.
This is the Jubilee, and these are the Jubilee people. They are forgivers.