Signs from YEHOVAH God
After the Messiah's Death
In Leviticus 16 we read --
"He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the the goat on which the LORD's lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness" (Leviticus 16:7-10).
YEHOVAH God required one goat as a sin offering that was killed with its blood being placed on the altar. It was called "Ladonai," for it was a sacrifice to YEHOVAH God Himself to symbolically cover the sins of the nation. The other goat was called "Azazel," which means the one sent away. After praying over this goat, the High Priest would send it into the wilderness as it symbolically was to carry away the sins of Israel. Hence the English name is often translated "scapegoat" as it escaped the judgment. Both of these goats were identical and represented the Messiah.
Since there was an important distinction in the roles of these two goats, the priests followed a special ceremony of casting lots to identify the specific sacrifice. This was done, according to the Mishna, by the priests marking two different stones to be placed in an urn. One was white, marked "Ladonai" to indicate the slain sacrifice. The other stone that was black, marked "Azazel" to identify the scapegoat. Whichever stone was cast into the right hand of the priest would be the fate of the goat at his right side.
Another unusual custom developed in which the High Priest would wear a crimson-colored thread or attach it to one of the goats. Invariably, the thread would turn white on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The rabbis connected this with the promise of the prophets: "Though your sins are red like crimson, they will be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18).
For hundreds of years these customs were meticulously followed every Day of Atonement with the same expected results. Namely, the lots came up randomly with varied answers; one year would find a white stone in the right hand while the next year it might be reversed. More predictably, the crimson-colored thread turned white every time.
It all seemed to indicate that all was well between YEHOVAH God and His people every Day of Atonement -- that is, until something so startling, so amazing happened that it's recoded in the Talmud:
"During the last 40 years before the destruction of the Temple, the lot 'For the LORD' didn't come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white; nor did the western-most light shine; and the doors of the Temple would open by themselves until Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakakai rebuked them by saying: 'Temple, Temple, why wilt thou be the alarmer thyself? I know about thee that thou wilt be destroyed, for Ben Ido has already prophesied concerning thee (Zechariah 11:1): Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars'" (Tractate Yoma 39b).
From the rabbis' own accounts, this ancient and very unpredictable ceremony suddenly became very consistent. In fact, for some 40 years (from 31 A.D. to 70 A.D. -- the Hebrews counted inclusively) two significant events occurred every Day of Atonement until the destruction of the Second Temple. The white stone marked "Ladonai" never came up in the right hand of the High Priest and the crimson thread never turned white again.
These manifestations were not mere chance events but were meant to be supernatural signs from YEHOVAH God Himself.
Something happened during this time period that YEHOVAH wanted all Israel to take note of and that "something" had to do with the symbolic sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement. No longer would the Lots or the Thread be important because "coincidently" something else amazing happened in Jerusalem in the year 31 A.D.
"... all have sinned and come short of earning God's praise. By God's grace, without earning it, all are granted the status of being considered righteous before him, through the act redeeming us from our enslavement to sin that was accomplished by the Messiah Yeshua. God put Yeshua forward as the kapparah [atonement] for sin through his faithfulness in respect to his bloody sacrificial death. This vindicated God's righteousness; because, in his forbearance, he had passed over, [with neither punishment nor remission,] the sins people had committed in the past" (Romans 3:23-25, Jewish New Testament).
Like the public sign of the Lots and Crimson Thread, the Messiah died publicly for the sins of Israel and all peoples who would call on his name. The Messiah was the fulfillment of what the Day of Atonement always symbolized. The Messiah was chosen by YEHOVAH God to complete the picture. YEHOVAH God gave the people of First-Century Israel two important signs of the Day of Atonement -- perhaps we need to give heed to these two signs in our generation.
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.