THE DAY OF ATONEMENT | Bible Study | Leviticus 16


This is Spoken Gospel. We’re dedicated to seeing
Jesus in all of scripture. In each episode, we see
what’s happening in a Biblical text and how it sheds light
on Jesus and his gospel. Let’s jump in. In most English literature, the
climax of a story comes near the end. But in Hebrew literature, which
is what the Old Testament is, the main point often
comes in the middle. The middle point of Leviticus
is the Day of Atonement. And since Leviticus is the
middle book of the Torah, this chapter is the
middle of the middle. The Day of Atonement
is so important because that is the day a human got to go into
God’s presence in the Holy of Holies. This is the center of the tabernacle,
behind the innermost veil, where God’s actual presence was. There are two main
sacrifices made on this day. The first is a bull for the priest’s sins
and the cleansing of the tabernacle. Its blood is brought into the
Holy of Holies behind the veil and put on the mercy seat,
which is like God’s kingly footstool. The second sacrifice
involves two goats. One goat is a sin
offering for all the people. Its blood is also brought
into the Holy of Holies to cleanse it on behalf
of all the people’s sins. The second goat was brought in
front of the tent where the high priest would lay his hands on it and
confess the sins of all the people. The goat was then taken outside the city and
released into the wilderness, never to return. The picture is a powerful
one for the people of Israel. Their sin has literally
been taken away from them. As Christians, we have an
even better Day of Atonement because Jesus is
our new high priest. What the High Priest had to do every
year, Jesus was able to do once for all. Now, we only need one Day of Atonement:
The day Jesus died on the cross. The Day of Atonement brought one
priest behind that curtain once a year. But after Jesus died on the cross, the
curtain in the temple was torn in two. Jesus’ sacrifice gives eternal
access to all who believe. Israel had to be
constantly reminded of their never-ending problem of
sin by this and other rituals. But because Jesus has offered
the last and final sacrifice, we can be sure that our sin
has been dealt with permanently. That is why we no longer
have to practice any sacrifices. It is finished! So why is this in the middle of
Leviticus and in the middle of the Torah? Because one of the Bible’s main points
is God’s desire to live with his people. And the Day of Atonement shows
us how he makes this possible. It also tells us that, in Jesus, the cross
now sits at the middle of everything we do. I pray that the Holy Spirit
would show you the God who makes a way to dwell
with us and forgive us. And that he does this
finally and fully through Jesus dying for us on the cross –
our once-for-all Day of Atonement.

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