Since the dawn of human history, Satan has been busy. He was there in the garden, persuading Eve to disobey God, and he works behind the scenes even now, selling sin as something good and acceptable and desirable. He is “the great dragon … who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).
But not forever.
Satan’s game has a time limit. As cunning and powerful as our adversary may be, God will always be smarter and stronger. In our previous Journey, we looked at how sometimes God takes advantage of Satan’s appetite for destruction to actually strengthen and refine His people. We also saw that the world at large is much more eager to listen to Satan’s lies than to God’s truth—and, at least for now, God allows it.
Yesterday we saw that God will continue to allow it until the world brings itself to the very brink of self-destruction. If the human race is so determined to embrace those lies, then God won’t stand in our way. He’ll let us take that path to its logical conclusion, only putting an end to the experiment just before everything falls completely apart.
The Feast of Trumpets pictures the moment God steps in. The Day of Atonement pictures the moment the dragon is silenced.
Satan wasn’t always Satan. The Bible tells us that once, long ago, he was known as “Heylel”—Hebrew for “Day Star” (Isaiah 14:12). We’re only given a few snapshots of Heylel (or, as most translations render the name in Latin, “Lucifer”), but it’s enough to paint a picture of his story. He began his existence as one of God’s high-ranking angels—“the anointed cherub who covers” (Ezekiel 28:14), “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (verse 12).
But that wasn’t enough for Lucifer. God laments, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” (verse 17). God’s anointed cherub wanted more than perfection—he wanted to be God. “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
In taking that stance, Lucifer became Satan. The Day Star became the Adversary. He set himself against God and against God’s plan—all because he believed his own God-given perfection entitled him to be the one in charge. Instead, God says, “You shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (verse 15).
Satan began his existence as an angel of God; a favored servant of the Most High. His own pride was his undoing. He wanted more. He convinced himself he deserved more, until his warped train of thought led him to launch an assault on the very throne of God. And although the assault failed (Jesus would later remark to His disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” [Luke 10:18]), Satan continues to invest his time and energy into doing everything within his power to derail the plan of God. He won’t ever stop trying either. Until the dragon is removed from the picture, true, lasting peace will be impossible.
On the Day of Atonement, God commands His people to “fast”—to go 24 hours without eating or drinking anything (Leviticus 23:27). It’s not an easy day, but it does serve to remind us of how weak we are without the physical nourishment God provides us. It also reminds us that “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In short, it’s a day that helps us cultivate humility—the antidote to the pride that turned an angel of God into the enemy of God’s people.
When Atonement was observed in the Old Testament, the high priest would take two goats. One goat would become a sin offering to “make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins” (Leviticus 16:16). The other he would take and “confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land” (Leviticus 16:21-22).
Today, we understand those two goats to represent Jesus Christ and Satan the devil—one goat whose blood would “make atonement” for the sins of Israel, and another goat who would “bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land.”
Compare that with what happens shortly after Christ’s return: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:1-3).
A thousand years. When Christ returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), Satan will be bound and humanity will be free of his wicked influence for a thousand years. No more cunning lies. No more crafty deceits. The dragon will be locked away while the human race spends an entire millennium getting to know the God they never truly understood.
And that is where the Feast of Tabernacles comes in.