07-20-08 Leviticus--16--Day of Atonement
The sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement were the single most important sacrifices of the Jewish worship. We need to subdivide it into small pieces to see the depth of God’s revelation of His truth in it. To fully communicate His truth God required two goats, not one; one goat reveals what Jesus did to secure our eternal deliverance from sin; the other goat reveals the results of what Jesus did on our behalf.
Leviticus 16:1-22 (KJV)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died;
2 And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Reference: Nadab and Abihu; Leviticus 10th chapter. God doesn’t allow us to choose the time and way we worship Him. He dictates the terms of worship.
3 Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
Since Aaron was himself a sinner, he must first offer a sacrifice for himself before he can offer the annual sacrifice of atonement. If he is to accurately depict the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s one and only priest for all time and for all of His people, Aaron must appear without the stain of sin to officiate this work.
5 And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
7 And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
8 And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
9 And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering.
10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.
The first goat is to be sacrificed as a sin offering for the people; the second goat is to be “let go” “to make an atonement with him.” The Hebrew word translated “atonement” refers to reconciliation; its essential meaning defines a covering. In this ritual God reveals the manner in which He shall provide a “covering” over His people for their sins.
11 And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
16 And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
In the various routine sacrifices offered for sin Leviticus stipulates that those sacrifices were made only for sins of ignorance—no offering was provided for willful sins. The offering on the Day of Atonement includes no such stipulation. Praise God, it included all the sins of the people of Israel.
Only on the Day of Atonement did the priest enter into the holiest compartment of the tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat were housed. Throughout the year all the other sacrifices were made in other parts of the tabernacle.
17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.
In the other sacrifices a litany of priests assisted in the sacrifice. In this offering only the high priest was permitted in the tabernacle. This is a clear revelation of the truth that in our real atonement at the hands of Jesus He alone must perform the work. Our atonement is not the result of a cooperative effort between God and us; it was all accomplished by Him alone.
18 And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
19 And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
20 And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat:
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
By laying his hands on the head of the living goat Aaron clearly makes two points. First, he identifies himself and the people he represents with the goat. He, the people of Israel, and the goat become functionally one. Secondly and specifically stated in the passage, Aaron “confesses all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins” over the goat, “putting them upon the head of the goat. Thus when the “fit man” lead the goat away from the camp of the people into the wilderness, he symbolically was taking the sins of the people away from them into the wilderness. As the goat could never return to the camp, so God reveals that once He removes our sins from us in Christ, He will not ever allow them to return.
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
Isaiah 53:8 (KJV)
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Emphasis: In precise harmony with the symbolic offering on the Day of Atonement, Jesus, our sin offering and our scapegoat, was “stricken” for the sins of “my people,” not for all human beings.
Acts 20:28 (KJV)
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Our charge as preachers is to feed the people whom Jesus purchased with His own blood.
Hebrews 9:24-26 (KJV)
24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with bl7ood of others;
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Contrast: High priests offered two goats annually. Jesus offered Himself once for all time. They administered the sacrifices in a temporal and symbolic sanctuary; He in heaven itself.
Parallel: They offered their sacrifices for the people of Israel, not for all humanity; He offered Himself “for us,” for the sins of His people.
The priest entered into the holiest compartment of the tabernacle only on the Day of Atonement; Jesus took His life/sacrifice into heaven itself and offered Himself to the Father for our sins.
1 Peter 1:18-21 (KJV)
18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
This week’s GG referred to two theological terms that appear in Scripture but have over time been redefined so as to mean something quite different from the meaning that appears in Scripture. This work of the high priest, and its counterpart in the reality of what Jesus did as our High Priest, our sin offering, and our scapegoat, offers another example of bad terminology.
“Limited Atonement” is often used to refer to the truth revealed in this work of the priest and in the various passages to which I have referred. It may well be the single most hated doctrine of the Bible.
This term is poorly chosen for it fails to distinguish any real theological issue between the two major schools of thought. Both Arminians and those who believe in the doctrines of grace hold to differing concepts of “limited atonement.” Arminians deny that Jesus’ death alone is sufficient to save anyone from their sins apart from some human contribution.
Nero and Paul
Regardless of the theology, one camp believes that Jesus’ death is limited by its ability to wholly cover all sins for anyone; the other camp believes that Jesus death was sufficient for all the sins of all the elect, but it was not intended by God for the sins of all humanity.
Perhaps a more communicative term would be particular redemption, also a well used historical term that at one time was used by British Christians to refer to this doctrine. Jesus died for a particular people, not equally and alike for all humanity. His death for those people fully redeemed them, purchased them from the legal debt of sin and gave them inheritance privileges as members of the family of God.
The work of the Day of Atonement clearly affirms particular redemption. The priest made the offering for all the people of Israel, but not—ever—for Egyptians, Babylonians, or other people outside the nation of Israel. Part of the “uniform” the high priest wore on the Day of Atonement was a breastplate in which was imbedded twelve precious stones. On each stone was written one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. These were the “particular” people the priest represented when he made his sacrifices. It was for these people that God directed the Day of Atonement sacrifices to be offered to Him.