The Day of Atonement

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT I. Under the law, God gave Israel numerous religious ceremonies which spoke of the sinfulness of sin, the need for atonement and the price of deliverance (death & bloodshed). A. However, these things never actually took away sins. HEB 10:1-4, 11. B. The tabernacle system of worship set forth only an outward purification of the flesh in time designed to be a pattern of the perfect inward purification in eternity wrought in Christ. HEB 8:4-5; 9:13-15, 22-23. C. The law sacrifices were only the form, not the substance of the remission of sins. HEB 9:8-9. D. Though a daily sacrifice was made for sin (EXO 29:38), God ordained an annual day of atonement for Israel. LEV 16:29-34. 1. Unlike the other sacrifices, this was to be done only by the high priest once each year in the holiest place of the tabernacle (where the ark and God's presence dwelt). HEB 9:6-7. 2. As the high priest alone made an atonement in the holy place, Christ BY HIMSELF purged our sins. HEB 1:3; ISA 63:3-5. 3. The Levitical high priest had to make this atonement once each year whereas our High Priest was offered ONCE. HEB 7:27; 10:10. II. On the day of atonement, Aaron was to be attired very specifically. LEV 16:4. A. The high priest had a special, distinguishing apparel that he was otherwise to wear before the Lord. EXO 28:1-39. B. But on this day, Aaron was to don the common linen garment of the subordinate priests. c/w EXO 28:40-43. 1. Thus the high priest condescended to identify with his fellows. 2. The church is a fellowship of priests. 1PE 2:5 c/w 1TI 3:15. 3. Like Aaron, our High Priest condescended to identify with His fellows for the purpose of atonement. PHIL 2:6-8; HEB 2:17. C. Some observations about the linen attire: 1. Linen was an integral fabric of the vail that then separated man from the presence of God. EXO 26:31-33. a. Thus, for this atonement Aaron must don the very material of separation. b. Our sinful flesh separated us from God. ROM 7:18; 8:8. c. But the Word was made flesh (JOH 1:14; 1TI 3:16), the very material which could not enter into His presence. ROM 8:3. d. Through the disturbing of the material of separation, we have access to God's presence. HEB 10:19-20. 2. Christ was humbled in attire much more than Aaron for atonement. The only linen Christ wore was a gravecloth. MAR 15:46. 3. Christ, though, had an infinitely superior apparel which made His High Priestly work acceptable: Vengeance, Salvation and Righteousness (with which He then graciously clothed His saints). ISA 59:17 c/w ISA 61:10; REV 19:8. D. In preparation for identifying with his fellow priests, Aaron had to wash his flesh in water. LEV 16:4. 1. So Christ was washed in water to fulfil all righteousness. MAT 3:13-15. 2. Christ's baptism in water to identify with us spoke of His eventual baptism in sufferings and in the heart of the earth to atone for our sins. MAT 20:22; 12:40. III. The offerings for the day of atonement were taken FROM the people. LEV 16:5. A. So Christ was taken from Israel. ROM 9:5. B. But, whereas the O.T. high priest took the sin offering FROM the church, our High Priest offered up Himself FOR the church. HEB 9:14, 25-26. C. Aaron was to burn incense when he entered within the vail to prevent judgment (LEV 16:12-13). But Christ needed no such thing, for His sacrifice was the perfect incense. EPH 5:2. 1. Note that there were burning coals before the Lord. LEV 16:12. 2. There are "burning coals" before the Lord in the Heavenly place. ISA 6:1-7; EZE 28:14. 3. The mighty angelic cabinet on high are described as having this appearance. EZE 1:13-14; PSA 104:4. 4. Christ's blood has brought us into the presence of the most High God and the mighty angels. HEB 12:22. 5. NOTE: It was NOT the "burning coals" that appeased God and worked atonement in Aaron's offering. It was the blood! Therefore let none be led to adore angels for salvation. COL 2:18. 6. The blood of the sin offering and a censer full of burning coals were to be taken into the holiest of all. a. Once within the vail, the high priest put incense upon the fire, causing a cloud of incense to cover the mercy seat. b. Incense speaks of prayer. PSA 141:2; REV 5:8. c. The incense cloud points to the intercession of Christ Who pleads on our behalf. JOH 17; ROM 8:34; HEB 7:25; 9:24. IV. The blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat EASTWARD. LEV 16:14. A. The door of the tabernacle faced east. NUM 3:38. B. Thus, when man approached God's throne he moved westward. C. When man moved eastward he was moving away from God with his back to God's throne. GEN 3:24 c/w EZE 8:16. D. Cain went east away from the presence of God. GEN 4:16. E. Thus, the blood of atonement covered the eastward path away from God. c/w ISA 53:6. F. The blood was sprinkled BEFORE the mercy seat SEVEN TIMES. 1. The blood was thus between the throne of God and the worshipper. 2. We approach God ONLY by Jesus' blood. HEB 10:19. 3. That the blood was sprinkled seven times signifies fullness, pointing to the complete redemption for all our sins by Christ's blood. HEB 10:12-18. V. Aaron was to sacrifice three creatures on this day of atonement. LEV 16:5. A. One ram was to be offered for his own sins (v.6). But Christ needed no such offering. HEB 7:27; 4:15. B. Aaron was not to enter within the vail without blood. He could not rightly enter the Holiest until after the bloody sacrifice was made. HEB 9:6-7. 1. Likewise with Christ, but He brought in His own blood! 2. The blood of Aaron's offerings could only effect a symbolic, outward atonement and temporal remission. But Christ's blood obtained eternal redemption for us. HEB 9:12; REV 5:4-5, 9. C. Aaron had to make two trips into the holiest. 1. First he slew the sin offering for himself without and took its blood inside. LEV 16:11-14. 2. Then he had to come back out and sacrifice the goat of the sin offering for the people and take its blood inside. vs.15-16. 3. This may typify a curious event that happened after Christ arose from the dead. JOH 20:17 c/w MAT 28:9-10. VI. Having completed the atonement, Aaron was to lay his hands on the scapegoat and confess Israel's sins, transferring them symbolically to it. LEV 16:20-22 c/w ISA 53:6, 12; 1PE 2:24. A. In the two goats we have tokens of judgment and remission. B. The one goat was (as it were) made sin, the other (as it were) was made sanctification and redemption! 2CO 5:21; 1CO 1:30; ROM 4:25. C. The losing of the scapegoat spoke of sins that were sought for and not found, for they had been carried away. JER 50:20 c/w 31:34; ISA 53:4, 12. 1. Christ was that “fit man” (LEV 16:21) able to take away our sins. HEB 7:25. 2. Christ took away our sins to a place where NO MAN can find them to lay them to our charge. JOH 1:29; ROM 8:33-34. 3. That the scapegoat was not released until AFTER the other sin offering had been slain shows that removal of sin is an EFFECT of Christ's death. HEB 9:26. 4. For God's Israel, the scapegoat was only used once for the task and there was no chance of it showing back up with its load. Praise God! HEB 9:28.
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