Once per year, on the Day of Atonement, actually plural, Yom HaKippurim, the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) performed his most holy function: making atonement for the sin of an entire people. It was on this day that he was most recognizable as HaCohen HaMashiach, the “Anointed Priest”-a type of the coming Messiah-because of his role of reconciling man and God.
However, the Cohen Gadol was fully human and prone to sin like any other man. Hence, he had to make atonement for himself before he could make atonement for the children of Israel. The very detailed yearly procedure on the tenth day of the seventh month is summarized in Leviticus 16:32-34: “And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.”
The sons of Aaron also burned fragrant incense before the LORD on a daily basis. While the cohen burned the incense in the Holy Place, the worshipers in the outer court offered up prayers to God. The incense, also a crucial part of the Yom Kippur ritual, symbolized the intercession of the priests on behalf of the Israelites. The Scriptures tell us that the smell of the incense was pleasing to the LORD.
May the lost sheep of the House of Israel come to know their Messiah and true Cohen HaGadol. B’shem Yeshua!