In that day, I will restore David’s fallen sukkah. I will repair it’s broken walls and restore it’s ruins. I will rebuild it as in the days of old.

– Amos 9:11

Riders of the Lost Ark – A Yom Kippur story – Part One

This is the first of a two-part newsletter about Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.


The Scriptures tell us that the God of Jacob rides upon the highest heavens; He rides on the clouds of heaven and through the desert; He rides on the cherubim:


  • There is no one like the God of Yeshurun, who rides the heavens to your help, and the clouds in His majesty (Deuteronomy 33:26)


  • Sing to God, sing praises to His name! Exalt Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is YHVH, and be jubilant before Him . . .  to Him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times. Behold, He speaks with His voice, a mighty voice (Psalm 68:4, 33)


  • He rode on a cherub and flew. And He sped on the wings of the wind (Psalm 18:10; see Psalm 99:1)


  • YHVH of armies, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim – You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made heaven and earth (Isaiah 37:6; 2 Kings 19:15)


In Moses’ Tent of Meeting and Solomon’s Temple, YHVH’s manifest presence hovered or rode above the two cherubim (Psalm 80:1), those golden representations of angels (see Genesis 3:24) who stand before God’s presence at all times:


  • Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of YHVH filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of YHVH filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-35)


  • Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of YHVH filled the House. And the priests could not enter the House of YHVH because the glory of YHVH filled YHVH’s House. All the sons of Israel, seeing the fire come down and the glory of YHVH upon the House, bowed down on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave praise to YHVH  (2 Chronicles 7:1-3; 5:11-14)


  • Yet You are holy – You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3)


In the Holy of Holies, the God of Jacob would actually appear to Aaron (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16) and later to the High Priest (both descended through Levi), manifesting His glory above the gold-covered sacred chest known in Hebrew as the kapōret or place of atonement (translated into Greek as hilastērioni.e., to appease or make favorable; and into Latin as propriatoriumi.e., a place of reconciling or atoning).


  • Then you shall put the kapōret on top of the Ark. And in the Ark, you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you. And from above the kapōret, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about every commandment that I will give you for the sons of Israel (Exodus 25:21-22)


  • Now when Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him from above the kapōret that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim. So He spoke to him (Numbers 7:89)



What’s an atonement?


The Holy Convocation which is commonly called ‘the Day of Atonement’ is actually plural in the Hebrew of Leviticus 23:27 – Yom Hakippurim (Day of Atonements). The Hebrew root has commonly been connected to an Arabic cognate meaning ‘to cover’ or ‘to conceal.’ But a study of how the root ‘kaphar/kapar’ is used in the Hebrew Scriptures (150 times!) reveals that the biblical meaning is more accurately ‘ransom.’ A secondary meaning is ‘a bribe’ or something that will purchase favor in a challenging situation, In Leviticus the root kaphar is used 49 times with the concept of ransom-atonement. Here are some examples through the Hebrew Bible:


  • Then he commanded also the second and the third, and all those who followed the flocks, saying, “In this way you shall speak to Esau when you find him; and you shall say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob also is behind us.’” For he said, “I will appease [kaphar] him with the gift that goes ahead of me. Then afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” So the gift passed on ahead of him, while he himself spent that night in the camp (Genesis 32:19-21)


  • If a ransom [kopher]  is demanded of him, then he shall give for the redemption of his life whatever is demanded of him (Exodus 21:30)


  • “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to count them, then each one of them shall give a ransom [kopher] for himself to YHVH, when you count them, so that there will be no plague among them when you count them” (Exodus 30:12)


  • Moreover, you shall not accept a ransom [kopher] for the life of a murderer who is condemned to death, but he must be put to death. And you shall not accept a ransom [kopher] for one who has fled to his city of refuge, so that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest (Numbers 35:31-32)


  • Here I am; testify against me before YHVH and His anointed! Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I exploited? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe [kopher] to close my eyes with it? I will return it to you” (1 Samuel 12:3)


  • The fury of a king is like messengers of death, but a wise person will appease [root is kaphar] it (Proverbs 16:4)


  • “For I am YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I have given Egypt as your ransom (kopher), Cush and Seba in exchange for you” (Isaiah 43:3)



The exchange of life principle


Dr. Louis Goldberg (former Professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute) – a dear friend now with the Lord – loved to stress that the heart of the sacrificial system in the Mosaic Covenant was something he called ‘the exchange-of-life principle.’ When the High Priest would lay his hands on the live sacrificial animal, the sins of the guilty sacrificer would (as it were) go into the innocent animal, and the life of the innocent animal would be accredited to the one who was laying his hands on the sheep or goat – thus granting him atonement:


  • And he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, so that it may be accepted for him to make atonement [root is kaphar] on his behalf (Leviticus 1:4)


  • Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the wrongdoings of the sons of Israel and all their unlawful acts regarding all their sins. And he shall place them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands ready (Leviticus 16:21)


  • He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, where Messiah Yeshua is described as our Atonement)



Blood, body and soul


God’s perspective is that blood is what ties body and soul together. It symbolizes life. Indeed, without it there is no life:


  • “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls. For it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement . . .  For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore, I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off’” (Leviticus 17:11, 14)


Blood has one purpose in the Scriptures. It is to be used to honor God who has given us the gift of life. Blood is not to be eaten, but to be used to atone for human sins. To eat blood is a serious spiritual offense, for YHVH says that the blood and the fat of the sacrifice – the most significant part which represents precious life – belong only to the God of Jacob, and to no other deity or creation (see also Exodus 13:2; Leviticus 17; 27:9, 26). To take what God claims as His alone and to eat it for ones’ self, this is to rob and plunder the Lord Himself.


  • “And you are not to eat any blood, either of bird or animal, in any of your dwellings. Any person who eats any blood, that person shall also be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 7:26-27)


The Apostle Paul adds a New Covenant perspective here:


  • No, but I say that things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. And I do not want you to become partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? . . .  Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 10:20-22, 27)


These concepts form the background for Yom Ha-kippurim, the Day of Atonements.


Our next newsletter will:


  • help unpack the actual events of this Holy Day in both Tabernacle and Temple


  • examine the meaning and relevance of the term ‘to be cut off’ which is associated with the Day of Atonements


  • consider the rabbinic teachings which today tend to shape and dominate most Jewish people’s understanding of this Day


  • will reflect on the future prophetic parallels connecting Yom Kippur and the Jewish people’s destiny



How should we then pray? 


  • Pray for Jewish people to receive visitations and revelation about Messiah Yeshua our Atonement during this season


  • Pray for Messianic Jews and Gentiles to receive deepened understanding about the biblical and Messianic significance of this Holy Convocation


  • Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army throughout the earth


Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

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