This is one of the most amazing pieces of legislation that you find in the Old Testament, at least to those people who have been taught that an unlimited and unhindered accumulation of wealth is the ultimate good. In the Year of Jubilee, all land holdings in Israel reverted to the original owners. This was one of the earliest—and perhaps the first—processes and laws for land reform in the history of the world, and certainly one of the most unique. 

How do we apply this? As you compare Scripture with Scripture, and especially as you look to the New Testament for the light it throws on the Old Testament, you find not only that the New Testament gives us the right understanding of the Old Testament, but you also find that it applies it for you. And that is nowhere more apparent than in what took place here on the Day of Atonement, which is interpreted and applied in the book of Hebrews. This letter deals with all these Jewish types, and the whole point of Hebrews is that they are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

In one of Jesus’ parables, He contrasted a Pharisee with a tax collector, both of whom went to the temple to pray. Pharisees were highly regarded by the people. And when in his prayer he thanked the Lord he is not like other men, everyone hearing Jesus’ story would have agreed that the Pharisee was not like the others. The tax collector, however, was viewed by the people as a sinner. Yet, unlike the Pharisee, the tax collector prayed, “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said it was the tax collector who went home justified, and not the Pharisee.

The climax comes when John the Baptist pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus Christ is the culmination of the revelation, the one who embodies everything that all the sacrifices symbolized and the one to whom all the sacrifices pointed. 

What sets the Day of Atonement apart from the other holy days? The important difference to note here is that it was on this day that sacrifices were made for the entire nation. All the other sacrifices we’ve looked at (and we’ve looked at quite a few of them), were individual sacrifices: one worshiper making a sacrifice for his sin. Sometimes it was a burnt offering, sometimes a sin offering, sometimes a peace offering, but it was always for an individual’s sins or the sins of his family. The Day of Atonement is the only time in the year when sacrifices were offered for the sins of the entire nation.