After the fall, man was sent out of Eden, away from God’s presence. God posted cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen. 3:23). Cherubim were also embroidered into the veil barring the way to the Most Holy Place in the tent of meeting (Ex. 26:31). Christ (as the goat for azazel) was sent away in our place. As High Priest, Jesus bypassed the cherubim and went behind the heavenly veil by His own blood so that we could return to God’s presence (Heb. 6:19, 20).
The Day of Atonement brings a different perspective to the feasts. The preceding feasts looked at aspects of Christ’s work individually. But atonement was a work that began with Christ’s death and was completed in His resurrection ministry. The Day of Atonement allows us to see this continuity. It presents Christ’s death and resurrection ministry as a single “day,” one complete work that reversed what happened at the fall. It isn’t just that sins have been forgiven. Because of Christ it is as if the fall never happened. In fact, it is even better than that because we have the right to eat from the tree of life—the life in the Son (Rev. 2:7; 1 John 5:11). This never happened before the fall. As perfect as Eden was, it still wasn’t life in Christ.
The superiority of Christ to Eden is suggested by details in John’s description of the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem isn’t necessarily a picture of heaven or any place at all. Considering the foundations bear the apostles’ names and the gates have the names of the tribes of Israel, the New Jerusalem seems to be people of all ages who are one with God (Rev. 21:12, 14). The New Jerusalem is also called “the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9). Jesus hasn’t joined Himself to a place but He has joined Himself to a people. The bride of Christ is a lush garden inside (Gen. 2:8; SOS 4:12). She is so full of life it flows out of her like a river (Gen. 2:10; Rev. 22:1). Whereas Eden had many kinds of trees, including the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the New Jerusalem has only one tree, the tree of life, which unceasingly brings forth and bears fruit (Gen. 2:8, 9; John 15:16; Rev. 22:2). In her heart, the curse uttered after the fall is no more. In Eden there was evening and morning. But there is no evening for the bride. She shares an eternal Sabbath with her husband, the King-Priest who sat down after He made purification for sins (Heb. 1:3).
–Excerpted from my booklet, “Christ in the Feasts“