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Leviticus 16 Study - "The Day of Atonement" ...

The Day of Atonement

16 Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died; 2 and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.

3 [a]“Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. 4 He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore, he shall wash his body in water, and put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.

6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell and offer it as 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 atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

11 “And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. 12 Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. 13 And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. 14 He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so, he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate[b] it from the [c]uncleanness of the children of Israel.

20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, 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. 22 The goat [d]shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an [e]uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make [f]atonement for himself and for the people. 25 The fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 26 And he who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal. 28 Then he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

29 This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall [g]afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who [h]dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make [i]atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 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; 33 then he shall make [j]atonement for [k]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. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lord commanded Moses.


Notes Leviticus 16 Study


16:1: The Day of Atonement was inaugurated as the text says, after the deaths of the priest Nadab and Abihu (chapter 10). after the sin of these two sons of Aaron, the people had great need to see God's provision for forgiveness displayed before them.


16:2: this description seems to be the reason and Nadab and Abihu died …


16:3: Here begins the description of the annual Day of Atonement, the single most important day in the calendar of ancient Israel. Virtually every detail this day is the type of the work of Christ his Atonement for our sins. It is rewarding to give careful attention to the specific details of this day …


16:4: Aaron was to thoroughly wash himself in water. Here was not only a type of baptism in general, but also of the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the Jordan river. Jesus said to John the Baptist, “permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). The true High Priest was preparing to go into the holy of holies for the sins of the whole world. He only is without sin, so it was not for His own sins that He was baptized, but for the uncleanness of the people for whom He would suffer …


16:5: Five animals were offered on this day, a bull for a sin offering for himself, a ram for a burnt offering, two male goats a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. Each animal offer provided types of the work of Christ …


16:6: An offering must be made for the priest and his household before he could carry out his duties of the day. So too, the clergy of the Church should never assume they do not need cleansing, for they too and their household’s sin as do others. The role of the clergy is unique, but they are still sinners in need of a sacrifice. It is only the people who confess themselves to be chief of sinners and every Divine Liturgy the clergy do as well …


16:8: Both goats together are one sent offering. Aaron cast lots over the two goats. The one on which the lot fell was for the Lord, and it was to be slain. The other would be the scapegoat, to be let go into the wilderness. It takes both goats to make clear as one picture what was happening. Theodoret writes regarding these two goats, “I will however mention the sacrifice in which two goats were offered, the one being slain, and the other let go. In these two goats there is an anticipative image of the two natures of the Savior; in the one let go, of the impassible Godhead, and in the one slain, of the passible manhood.”


16:16: Blood from the young bull was sprinkled seven times on the east side of the mercy seat the symbol of completion. This was to cleanse the holy of holies to make atonement for the holy of holies itself, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel. Similarly, Christ sprinkled His own blood in the heavenly holy of holies so we might enter there and worship (Hebrews 9:23-24) …


16:21: The high priest laid his hands on the head of the live goat. In doing so, he laid the sins and transgressions of the sons of Israel on the head of that goat. The goat, an innocent victim, bore on itself all the inequities of the people. The goat, taken by a designated person, was this wasn't sent off into the wilderness. The picture is clear. As the goat goes into the wilderness, so does the sins and transgressions of the people never to be seen again. This reminds us of the Psalmist words “As far as the east is from the West so He removes our transgressions from us” – (Psalm 102:12). This marvelous reality is part of the foundation of what the Orthodox priests say and the Sacrament of Confession: “And now, having no further care for the sins you have confessed, go in peace.”

16:27: The bull of the sin offering and the goat, the blood of which was taken into the holy of holies, both were taken outside the camp and burned. Another type of Christ: “For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore, Jesus also that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing his reproach Hebrews 13:11-13) …


16:33: The atonement granted this day to the people of Israel could picture only a limited way as is true of all types what Christ would do and his suffering and death. This old covenant offering could not make the conscience of the worshiper perfect – (Hebrews 9:8-9) though it did cleanse from all sin. But our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, entered the heavenly holy holies, where He sprinkled His sacrificial blood to deal fully with our sins. Today is the Day of Atonement. Today is the eight day - the day after which there are no more days. In the old covenant, the high priest went into the holy holies once every year, and necessarily came back out immediately. Not so of Christ. He went into the heavenly holy of holies with His own blood to atone for our sins, and thus to reconcile us with God …


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