The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”).

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of Tishrei (September or October). According to Jewish tradition, God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict. During the Days of Awe, adherents to Judaism try to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. The evening and day of Yom Kippur are set aside for public and private petitions and confessions of guilt. At the end of Yom Kippur, one considers themselves absolved by God.

  • And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
    (Leviticus 23:26-32 ESV)

There are five afflictions associated with observance of Yom Kippur. The Seder Moed states that the following abstentions (deliberate self-denials) meet the requirements for Yom Kippur.

  1. Eating or drinking.
  2. Wearing leather shoes.
  3. Bathing.
  4. Anointing oneself with oil
  5. Marital relations

On this day the high priest (Kohen Gadol) makes sacrifice for his own sin and the sins of the people. He reconsecrates the entire tent of meeting and its surrounds for the worship and service of God. This is the only day of the year that the high priest is allowed to enter the Most Holy Place and sprinkle blood for the atonement of sin. The ceremony is described in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus.

  • The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died, and the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the LORD at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD and use it as a sin offering, but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel. Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel. And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Moses did as the LORD commanded him.
    (Leviticus 16:1-34 ESV)

God’s repeated instruction to the people is that they are to deny themselves. They must abstain from food and other pleasures, to fast in sorrow for their sins. This is not a time for joyful celebration, but for deep repentance and solemn sacrifice.

The following summary of the Temple service is based on the traditional Jewish religious account described in rabbinical writings, appearing in contemporary traditional Jewish prayer books for Yom Kippur, and studied as part of a traditional Jewish Yom Kippur worship service.

While the Temple in Jerusalem was standing (from Biblical times through 70 C.E.), the Kohen Gadol was mandated by the Torah to perform a complex set of special services and sacrifices for Yom Kippur to attain Divine atonement, the word “kippur” meaning “atone” in Hebrew. These services were considered to be the most important parts of Yom Kippur because through them the Kohen Gadol made atonement for all Jews and the world. During the service, the Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies in the center of the Temple, the only time of the year that anyone went inside. Doing so required special purification and preparation, including five immersions in a mikvah (ritual bath), and four changes of clothing.

Seven days prior to Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol was sequestered in the Palhedrin Chamber in the Temple, where he reviewed (studied) the service with the sages familiar with the Temple, and was sprinkled with spring water containing ashes of the Red Heifer as purification. The Talmud (Tractate Yoma) also reports that he practiced the incense offering ritual in the Avitnas Chamber.

On the day of Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadol had to follow a precise order of services, sacrifices, and purifications:

  1. The Kohen Gadol first performed the regular daily (tamid) offering — usually performed by ordinary priests — in special golden garments, after immersing in a mikvah and washing his hands and feet.
  2. The Kohen Gadol immersed in a special mikvah in the Temple courtyard and changed into special linen garments, and washed his hands and feet twice, once after removing the golden garments and once before putting on the linen garments.
  3. The Kohen Gadol leaned (performed Semikha) and made a confession over the bull on behalf of himself and his household, pronouncing the Tetragrammaton. The people prostrated themselves when they heard this. He then slaughtered the bull as a chatat (sin-offering) and received its blood in a bowl.
  4. At the Eastern Gate, the Kohen Gadol drew lots from a lottery box over two goats. One was selected “for the Lord,” and one “for Azazel.” The Kohen Gadol tied a red band around the horns of the goat “for Azazel.”
  5. The Kohen Gadol ascended the mizbeach (altar) and took a shovel full of embers with a special shovel. He was brought incense. He filled his hands and placed it in a vessel. (The Talmud considered this the most physically difficult part of the service, as the Kohen Gadol had to keep the shovelful of glowing coals balanced and prevent its contents from dropping, using his armpit or teeth, while filling his hands with the incense).
  6. Holding the shovel and the vessel, he entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies. In the days of the First Temple, he placed the shovel between the poles of the Ark of the Covenant. In the days of the Second Temple, he put the shovel where the Ark would have been. He waited until the chamber filled with smoke and left.
  7. The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the bull’s blood and entered the Most Holy Place again. He sprinkled the bull’s blood with his finger eight times, before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Holy of Holies, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  8. The Kohen Gadol went to the eastern end of the Israelite courtyard near the Nikanor Gate, laid his hands (semikha) on the goat “for the Lord,” and pronounced confession on behalf of the Kohanim (priests). The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. He then slaughtered the goat, and received its blood in another bowl.
  9. The Kohen Gadol took the bowl with the goat’s blood and entered the Kadosh Hakadashim, the Temple’s Holy of Holies again. He sprinkled the goat’s blood with his finger eight times the same way he had sprinkled the bull’s blood. The blood was sprinkled before the Ark in the days of the First Temple, where it would have been in the days of the Second Temple. The Kohen Gadol then left the Kadosh Hakadashim, putting the bowl on a stand in front of the Parochet (curtain separating the Holy from the Holy of Holies).
  10. Standing in the Hekhal (Holy), on the other side of the Parochet from the Holy of Holies, the Kohen Gadol took the bull’s blood from the stand and sprinkled it with his finger eight times in the direction of the Parochet. He then took the bowl with the goat’s blood and sprinkled it eight times in the same manner, putting it back on the stand.
  11. The Kohen Gadol removed the goat’s blood from the stand and mixed it with the bull’s blood. Starting at the northeast corner, he then smeared the mixture of blood on each of the four corners of the Golden (Incense) altar in the Haichal. He then sprinkled the blood eight times on the altar.
  12. The Kohen Gadol left the Haichal and walked to the east side of the Azarah (Israelite courtyard). Near the Nikanor Gate, he leaned his hands (Semikha) on the goat “for Azazel” and confessed the sins of the entire people of Israel. The people prostrated themselves when he pronounced the Tetragrammaton. While he made a general confession, individuals in the crowd at the Temple would confess privately. The Kohen Gadol then sent the goat off “to the wilderness.” In practice, to prevent its return to human habitation, the goat was led to a cliff outside Jerusalem and pushed off its edge.
  13. While the goat “for Azazel” was being led to the cliff, the Kohen Gadol removed the insides of the bull, and intertwined the bodies of the bull and goat. Other people took the bodies to the Beit HaDeshen (place of the ashes). They were burned there after it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had reached the wilderness.
  14. After it was confirmed that the goat “for Azazel” had been pushed off the cliff, the Kohen Gadol passed through the Nikanor Gate into the Ezrat Nashim (Women’s Courtyard) and read sections of the Torah describing Yom Kippur and its sacrifices.
  15. The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah in the Temple courtyard, and changed into a second set of special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet both before removing the linen garments and after putting on the golden ones.
  16. The Kohen Gadol offered two rams as an olah offering, slaughtering them on the north side of the mizbeach (outer altar), receiving their blood in a bowl, carrying the bowl to the outer altar, and dashing the blood on the northeast and southwest corners of the Outer Altar. He dismembered the rams and burned the parts entirely on the outer altar. He then offered the accompanying mincha (grain) offerings and nesachim (wine-libations).
  17. The Kohen Gadol then offered the Musaf offering.
  18. The Kohen Gadol placed the insides of the bull and goat on the outer altar and burned them entirely.
  19. The Kohen Gadol removed his golden garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed to a new set of linen garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  20. The Kohen Gadol returned to the Holy of Holies and removed the bowl of incense and the shovel.
  21. The Kohen Gadol removed his linen garments, immersed in the mikvah, and changed into a third set of golden garments, again washing his hands and feet twice.
  22. The Kohen Gadol completed the afternoon portion of the regular (tamid) daily offering in the special golden garments. He washed his hands and feet a tenth time.

The Kohen Gadol wore five sets of garments (three golden and two white linen), immersed in the mikvah five times, and washed his hands and feet ten times. Sacrifices included two (daily) lambs, one bull, two goats, and two rams, with accompanying mincha (grain) offerings, wine libations, and three incense offerings (the regular two daily and an additional one for Yom Kippur). The Kohen Gadol entered the Holy of Holies three times. The Tetragrammaton was pronounced three times, once for each confession.

Most Christians disregard the feasts and celebrations of the Tanakh (Old Testament). They do this because they have been mislead to believe that these Holy Days are irrelevant or insignificant in some way. Paul the Apostle wrote that these feasts and celebrations were a shadow (type/antitype) of the things to come through Jesus Christ.

  • Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
    (Colossians 2:16-17 ESV)

The Day of Atonement has deep theological significance in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah). Chapters 8 to 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews argue that it pointed forward to the work of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) as our High Priest.

  • These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
    (Hebrews 9:6-15 ESV)

Mary Fairchild wrote, “The Tabernacle and the Temple gave a clear picture of how sin separates us from the holiness of God. In Bible times, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies by passing through the heavy veil that hung from ceiling to floor, creating a barrier between the people and the presence of God. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter and offer a blood sacrifice to cover the sins of the people. However, at the very moment when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:51 says, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.””

Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 ESV). Many Christians are not aware of the significance of this passage. During the time of the Second Temple, a strip of wool would be dipped into the blood of the sin offering which had been sacrificed. This wool was cut into two pieces, one was kept in Jerusalem at the Second Temple, and the other was tied to the horns of the goat for Azazel. When the strip of wool that was in Jerusalem turned white, the High Priest knew that the sacrifice was accepted by God for the atonement (covering) of the sins of the people.

Chapters 8 to 10 of the Epistle to the Hebrews also clearly explains how Jesus Christ became our High Priest and entered heaven (the Holy of Holies), once and for all, not by the blood of sacrificial animals, but by his own precious blood on the cross at Calvary. Christ (Messiah) Himself was the atoning sacrifice for our sins; thus, he obtained for us eternal redemption, All believers accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the final atonement for sin.

The Day of Atonement is significant for Christians. It pictures Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and that Satan has a role and will be sent away (and bound for the millennium). While many Christians somewhat understand this, because they do not keep this and the other Holy Days, they often do not have a proper view of God’s entire plan of salvation, such as the role of Satan and Christ.

This Day of Atonement provides a type/antitype not only what has happened (with Christ) but some of what will happen with Satan (while the holy days that follow show other events that will happen later). This is information that Christians living in these latter days should value.

I recommend Passion for Truth Ministries‘ video by Jim Staley, God’s Prophetic Calendar: Yom Kippur for additional studies on the Day of Atonement.

Temptations Wings

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical Gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. Some scholars maintain that he was influenced by the Essenes, who were semi-ascetic, expected an apocalypse, and practiced rituals corresponding strongly with baptism, although there is no direct evidence to substantiate this. John is regarded as a prophet in Christianity.

Most biblical scholars agree that John baptized Yeshua at “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” by wading into the water with Yeshua from the eastern bank. John the Baptist is also mentioned by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, in Aramaic Matthew, in the Pseudo-Clementine literature, and in the Qur’an. Accounts of John in the New Testament appear compatible with the account in Josephus. There are no other historical accounts of John the Baptist from around the period of his lifetime.

John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself, and, in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah), Yeshua is the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Yeshua, since John announces Jesus’ coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah. Some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John. Some scholars have further speculated that Jesus was himself a disciple of John for some period of time, but this view is disputed.

  • Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
    (Matthew 3:13-17 ESV)

After His immersion in the Jordan, Yeshua left the water and went out into the Judean wilderness west of Jericho; it was a dry and waterless place. There He fasted forty days. From those heights, He could clearly see the Jordan River and the plains of Moab where Moses had delivered the words of the Book of Deuteronomy to all Israel.

  • Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
    (Matthew 4:1-2 ESV)

Yeshua’s forty-day fast is a reflection of Moses’ forty-day fast on Mount Sinai. Messiah Yeshua, the ultimate redeemer, comes in the pattern of Moses, the first redeemer. More than that, the forty-day fast and confrontation with the adversary may be an allusion to the forty days of repentance that precede the Day of Atonement.

The Jewish tradition of forty days of repentance beginning on the first day of the sixth month, the month of Elul, are observed in remembrance of Moses’ second sojourn on Mount Sinai. After the sin of the golden calf, Moses returned to Sinai and was “…there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water” (Exodus 34:28). Meanwhile, Israel was camped below the mountain in a state of mournful repentance.

  • So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
    (Exodus 34:28 ESV)

The annual forty days of repentance before the Day of Atonement relive this story from the Torah. It is customary for the extra-pious in Judaism to periodically fast and recite prayers of repentance throughout these forty days in preparation for the Day of Atonement.

It seems unlikely that we can date this particular custom to the days of  Yeshua with any confidence, nor can we assume that the story of the temptation actually happened during the forty days before the Day of Atonement. Nevertheless, the imagery of the temptation story and the forty days of repentance share several features.

In Jewish tradition, these forty days are regarded as the allotted time to examine one’s life, identify one’s shortcoming and to make repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement. It seems significant, then, that the story of Yeshua’s forty days begins with John the Baprist’s call for repentance and the Messiah’s immersion in the Jordan River. After Yeshua emerged from the water, the Gospel of Mark tells us, “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12 ESV).

The traditional forty days of repentance conclude on the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting. Moreover, the Day of Atonement is regarded as a day for dealing with the adversary and his accusations. The liturgies for the Day of Atonement are filled with references to a legal showdown between God and the devil. In the Temple ritual for the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat for Azazel (the name of a fallen angel in some early apocalyptic sources) is led out into the wilderness and shoved over a cliff–an annual ritual celebrating the defeat of evil.

While Yeshua fasted in the Judean wilderness, He was probably between Jerusalem and Jericho, the very place that tradition says the Azazel scapegoat was thrown down. The imagery of the forty days of repentance–which culminate in a Day of Atonement-style, wilderness, fast-day showdown with a fallen angel–seem to be connected to the story of the temptations. At any rate, while fasting in the Judean wilderness, Yeshua encountered the prince of darkness himself.

The temptations Yeshua faced in the wilderness are not the sort of temptations you and I face on a daily basis. We find ourselves tempted by (and giving in to) much more mundane temptations. Even if we were starving to death, we would never be tempted to turn stones into bread because that is beyond our ability to do so. Instead of the common foils of human beings, the temptations of Yeshua are of a peculiar, messianic nature. They are the types of things only an anointed messiah might be tempted to do. They are shortcuts to messianic recognition and power.

In his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul the Apostle wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). This passage of Scripture is an absolute truth. I can assure you that any sin I have committed in my lifetime I willingly choose to commit that sin. “The devil made me do it” isn’t a viable excuse.

  • And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
    (Matthew 4:3 ESV)

Yeshua responded to Satan’s temptation with a direct quote from the Torah. He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV).

  • And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV)

Yeshua had some notion of where His destiny would lead Him. He foresaw the cross looming on the horizon. He saw His coming mortal death. The tempter urged Him to reveal His messianic identity by defying a mortal death through leaping off the highest point of the Temple, thereby demanding God’s divine intervention and proving to everyone that He was the Son of God.

  • Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
    (Matthew 4:5-6 ESV)

Such an amazing leap would have been witnessed by most of Jerusalem and provided for Yeshua a shortcut to messianic fame. More poignantly, it would have defied human mortality. In essence, it is the temptation to avoid death. In response, Yeshua said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, Yeshua quoted the Torah in response to Satan’s temptation.

  • “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16 ESV)

Ironically, nearly forty years after Yeshua stood on the Temple parapet with the adversary, His younger brother, Yaakov HaTzadik (James the Righteous), was thrown down from that same height for refusing to deny Yeshua’s messianic identity. Miraculously, he was  unharmed during the fall, but was stoned to death by the  the scribes and Pharisees.

  • Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
    (Matthew 4:8-9 ESV)

The third messianic temptation of Yeshua was to take a shortcut to world domination. In addition to miraculous provisions of bread and miraculous salvation, the messianic job description includes dominion and power over all the kingdoms of the world. Note that the devil had possession of these to offer Him. If the Adversary was not in possession of the kingdoms of the world, he could not have legitimately offered them to Yeshua, and it would not have been an actual temptation.

The third test was the most difficult of the three. It was an amazing opportunity. It had the potential of bypassing the cross, the destruction of Jerusalem, 2000 years of exile, the untold suffering of the Jewish people, the Holocaust and all that we endure to this day.

Yeshua could have brought the whole redemption to a quick and final completion, sparing all Israel and millions of human souls, had He only been willing to oblige the enemy that one time for that one moment.

And, once again, the Messiah withstood the test. He responded with another quotation from the Torah. Yeshua was not willing to take any shortcuts to redemption. All kingdoms will be His, but it will happen according to the Father’s will and within the limits of Torah.

  • Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”
    (Matthew 4:10 ESV)
  • It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.
    (Deuteronomy 6:13 ESV)

Subsequent to His resurrection and exaltation, the Master has been given the title of authority over the nations, kingdoms and peoples of the world. He told His disciples, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

This statement provides Yeshua’s final answer to the adversary’s third temptation. By virtue of His exaltation through His death and resurrection, He has wrested the authority over all kingdoms out of the devil’s hands. When the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed in its fullness on earth, Messiah’s authority over all nations and kingdoms will be made manifest

  • Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
    (Matthew 4:11 ESV)

Yeshua did not resort to shouting matches or charismatic-style spiritual warfare. Instead, He met each of the adversary’s temptations squarely with an appeal to Torah. Fortunately, He had never heard of the theology that claims that the Torah is done away with. If He had, what weapons would He have employed against the enemy?

The same is true for us. Without the absolutes of God’s Torah, we all stand vulnerable to the subjective and shifting suggestions of the tempter. Only when we affirm the eternal validity of Torah are we able to call evil wrong and good right.

  • Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    (James 4:7 ESV)