To the Jewish mind, there is probably no more an important event as YOM KIPPUR or the “Day of Atonement”.
However, there is a gap between the clearly stated Scriptural purpose of this event and how it is viewed today in modern Judaism.
Scripturally speaking, the purpose of YOM KIPPUR is twofold:
-to purify the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) and its grounds from the accumulated impurity brought into it by both the priests and common people alike.
-to purify the people, the priests, and the High Priest.
Hence, the ultimate goal was to keep a ritually pure sanctuary.
It should be pretty clear at this point in our study that it is impossible that the Lord’s infinite Holiness could co-exist with earthly impurity.
It just CANNOT be.
If God’s earthly dwelling place were to become defiled, the Lord’s presence simply could not dwell there.
This is NOT an assumption nor a theory.
This is a clearly stated Biblical premise.
So let me say it again.
The Biblically stated purpose of YOM KIPPUR was to purify the Tabernacle and later the Temple.
However, after the destruction of the Temple, this originally Scriptural viewpoint gave way to the new idea that the purpose of YOM KIPPUR was mainly to judge and atone for the sins of the people of Israel.
In Israel’s history, the temple has been destroyed twice.
The first time it happened was when the Israelites were exiled to Babylon.
The second time it happened was when they were dispersed into the Roman Empire.
Both of these times, the people of Israel found themselves in the difficult situation of not having a means to be purified from their UNCLEANNESS nor a way to become HOLY through blood sacrifices.
Hence, given this difficult conundrum they found themselves in, their human imagination took over and they began to devise ways to observe YOM KIPPER minus a temple.
What resulted was a whole basketful of tradition.
Now how exactly would the Tabernacle become so defiled with impurity that it reached the point where it needed to be cleansed, especially when so much painstaking care was taken to ensure that UNCLEANNESS was kept far away from the HOLY tabernacle and its grounds?
Well, there were many ways UNCLEANNESS could inadvertently enter in.
Unclean food could accidentally find its way into the courtyard.
If someone died inside the Tabernacle grounds, that would instantly result in UNCLEANNESS.
If someone touched a dead body right before entering the Tabernacle grounds, UNCLEANNESS would result.
If one of the Levite priests erred when performing his duties, UNCLEANNESS could result.
There were countless ways UNCLEANNESS could rear its ugly head and we’re given extensive details in Leviticus chapters 11-15.
The truth is, for every Israelite, to some degree or another, UNCLEANNESS was unavoidable.
And this is the reality for every non-believer in the world today.
One of the reasons why it is important to study these rituals and rules in Leviticus even after Yeshua transformed them is to help us to better understand how serious UNCLEANNESS is and how utterly helpless we are to ward off its deadly effects minus God stepping in to save us.
In the natural world, UNCLEANNESS is everywhere.
Just look around you.
We’ve already just studied how UNCLEANNESS can result through no personal fault of our own.
When a woman gives birth for example, she enters into an UNCLEAN state.
Or if one accidentally comes into contact with UNCLEAN people or objects, BOOM, UNCLEANNESS results.
Minus the God of Israel stepping in to save us, it is practically impossible to avoid UNCLEANNESS and its resulting impurity.