The Day of Atonement, Part I
There is a heresy which has been brought into the church in a large way in recent years. It is one based on a mistaken belief that the three fall feasts of the Lord – Yom Teruah, or the Day of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, and Sukkoth, or the Feast of Tabernacles, are yet to be fulfilled by Christ Jesus.
The logic is that the four Spring feasts – Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Weeks (along with the Sabbath) – were fulfilled in His first Advent, and the second three will only be fulfilled in His second Advent.
The reason this is a heresy is because it then means that the law is not fulfilled in Christ, something which is in direct opposition to the last utterance of Christ on the cross, the writings of Paul, and many statements made in the book of Hebrews. If the law is not fulfilled, then Christ’s work was not in fulfillment of the law, and He is not the Messiah spoken of in Scripture.
The feasts which are described in Leviticus 23, one of which is the Day of Atonement, are called “My feasts” by the Lord. They are not the Feasts of Israel, except in that they were observed by Israel to the Lord. They are the Lord’s feasts, and none other. In order to justify that these feasts are not yet fulfilled, scholars who hold this position will then equivocate on the naming of the feasts, saying they still apply to Israel of the future; they are Feasts of Israel.
When talking about them at first, they will say, “These are the feasts of the Lord.” But when they arrive at the fall feasts, they suddenly equivocate on the terminology and call them, “Feasts of Israel.” This is a sleight of hand which is 1) not authorized terminology from Scripture, and 2) makes Israel, not the Lord, the focus of the feasts.
Our study of Leviticus 16 will show, clearly and precisely, that this feast is perfectly and wholly fulfilled by Christ Jesus. The Day of Atonement is a feast of the Lord. And so that brings us to proper terminology concerning application of a fulfilled feast.
A distinction must be made between a fulfilled feast and a continued application of that feast. A person is born one time, but the application of that birth never ceases. Each day of our life, and each birthday celebration, is a continued application of our original birth. Such is true with our second birth in Christ. We are only reborn once, but the application of that birth continues on.
And so it is true with the work of Jesus. He died one time for sinners of all time. When Israel returns to the Lord, their true Day of Atonement will be in Christ, just as it was for each individual since His atoning sacrifice. This is a Feast of the Lord, not a feast of Israel. Israel as a nation, like each Jew and Gentile atoned for during the church age, is merely a recipient of the work of the Lord. We cannot equivocate on the meaning of words and sentences and have sound theology.
To substantiate this, it must be noted that Leviticus 16:1 forms a new Parashah of the Law according to the divisions of readings by the Jews in synagogue. This Parashah extends through Leviticus 18. Its corresponding passage from the Prophets is Amos 9:7-15.
James then cites that passage in Acts 15. This shows that this passage in Leviticus displays in type and figure, Jesus Christ and His work. It is He who is our High Priest, who alone entered the Holy of Holies, and who has reconciled the Gentiles to God by His own blood. That same effectual work, which was accomplished by Him, will be realized in national Israel in the future. However, the day itself is fulfilled. To state that this is a feast of Israel looking forward to Israel’s atonement of the future is to say that the law has not yet been fulfilled by Christ. It has. Israel is just late in catching up to that fact. Understanding this, our text verse for today is James’ words to the church in Acts 15 –
Text Verse: “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name,
Says the Lord who does all these things.’ Acts 15:16, 17
James notes that the Gentiles were first visited by God, meaning in Christ, in order to take out of them a people for His name. This is the Gentile-led church age. It is the time in which we now live, and it is based on the completed atoning work of Jesus Christ for us, not on some future event which must take place.
Only after this, will national Israel then be brought into this same saving grace, after the church age. The atonement provided by Jesus Christ is a one-time-for-all-time event. If this is not the case, then there is no church age; there is no rapture at the end of the church age; and there is no millennial reign of Christ. Either Christ died for our atonement or we are not a body; we will not be admitted into heaven; and Israel will never be accepted by Christ again. It is either finished or we – meaning all people at all times – have absolutely no hope at all.
Having said this, it will become perfectly evident, completely clear, and without argument that this is so when we have finished the verses of this chapter. When the typology presented is shown to be reflected accurately and completely in Christ’s work which is recorded in the New Testament, anyone who sees it will also agree that this is so.
How unfortunate it is that people run ahead, presenting commentaries which state these things are yet to be fulfilled. Christ is the end of the law for all who believe. In order to be the end of it, He must be the fulfillment of it, and He is. Praise God, He is! It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. A Body You Have Prepared For Me (verses 1-6)
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;
These words are considerably different than the introductory words of most major sections. Instead of saying, “Now the Lord spoke to Moses saying,” which is then followed up with the words He says, this introduction gives a full explanation of when the words are spoken. They take us back to the events of Chapter 10 when Aaron’s two oldest sons died before the Lord.
They then explain exactly what that means with the words, b’qarebatam liphne Yehovah va’yamutu – “when they approached the face of Yehovah and died.” Exactly what this means will be defined for us in verse 2.
Numerous scholars state that because this introduction is tied back to the events of Chapter 10, it was originally placed there but then later it was moved to where it is now. This is entirely wrong, and it defies logic that the Lord would speak out His words, have them placed in one spot, and then decide to have them moved later. The word of God is fixed and unchanging. Therefore there is a reason why they are placed where they are. It is true that the words themselves may have been spoken before the instructions of the intervening chapters, but the issue of where they would then be placed was carefully and methodically made by the Lord, and it has never changed since.
What needs to be considered first is why have we gone through all of the subsequent passages in detail first before coming back to the statement tying it to the death of Aaron’s sons. Immediately after their death came the failure of Aaron and his remaining sons to properly handle the sin offering of the people.
This was followed up with the dietary laws of Israel. After this, was a passage on the requirements for purification after childbirth. Next came the lengthy laws concerning leprosy and bodily discharges. All of these dealt in some way with purification and sacrifices of some sort for any infractions which occurred, or for the evidence of impurity.
What becomes manifest immediately is that there would be instances where the people failed to meet the requirements which had been set out before them. For the priests, it was perfectly seen that the ordination process itself had not perfected them.
If the priests of the law were tainted with sin, as was fully evident, then their mediation would be tainted as well. Thus, there would be the need for grace. By the law is the knowledge of sin, but the law can never take away sin. And thus, an atonement, or covering, of the sins of the people was still needed.
The Day of Atonement is this day. It is a day of grace upon a tainted and undeserving people. They had agreed to the covenant, but in their imperfection, the laws of the covenant demonstrated to them that they were unable to meet the very demands it contained.
Because of this, the Day of Atonement instructions are a necessary follow-up to the laws of purification and sacrifice of the preceding 15 chapters. It is given us as an all-encompassing annual addition to them to provide atonement, expiation, and reconciliation which was obviously needed based on the fallen state of the priests and people. The scholars at Cambridge rightly state concerning this most holy day –
“Annually there gathered over the camp, and over the sanctuary as situated in the midst of the camp, a mass of defilement, arising in part from sins whose guilt had not been removed by the punishment of the offenders, and in part from uncleannesses which had not been cleansed by sacrifices and the prescribed ceremonial rites. Annually this defilement had to be atoned for or covered away from the sight of God.” Cambridge
As I said in the introduction, the Day of Atonement is also a Feast of the Lord. Not mentioned in this chapter, but which is detailed in Leviticus 23, is that it is mandated to be held on the 10th day of the 7th month of the year, which is in the fall time. It preceded the Feast of Sukkoth or Tabernacles which began on the 15th day of the 7th month. Sukkoth makes its own picture, that of God dwelling with man; residing with them in a Tabernacle. This was not possible unless the people were first atoned for. And so this solemn feast was held annually to prepare them for the time of that joyous pilgrim feast of Sukkoth.
The words here tie directly back to those of verse 1. The verse noted that Aaron’s two sons had died when they offered profane fire before the Lord. Now Aaron is being warned against making the same error as his sons. This hints to us, just as the warning against drinking wine when going into the tent of meeting, that this is one of the errors of the sons.
They went where they were not authorized, with fire which was profane, in a condition which was inappropriate, and they died because of it. The warning to Aaron is given to ensure that none of these offenses will occur again. I need to remind you that in type and picture, Aaron prefigures Christ as the true High Priest, Jesus. The term, ha’qodesh, or “the Holy” here is referring to the Most Holy place. This is seen with the next words…
2 (con’t) inside the veil,
mi’beyit la’paroketh – “within the veil.” The veil is that which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. It was adorned with cherubim warning any and all that access was denied. Just as cherubim were placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden where man once dwelt with the Lord in order to prohibit entrance there, so these were sewn into the veil to warn against entering into the presence of the Lord.
The word paroketh, or veil, comes from the word perek which means “cruelty” or “rigor.” That then comes from an unused root meaning to “break apart” or “fracture.” There is a fracture between God and man which is seen in this veil. Access through this veil into the presence of the Lord is not authorized for any, even Israel’s high priest, except as will be specified by the Lord.
Before we go on, however, there is one noted exception – Moses. He was allowed unrestricted access in order to receive the law of the Lord directly from the Lord. This does not change with the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, as can be inferred from Numbers 7 –
“Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.” Numbers 7:89
As Aaron is typical of Christ, so we saw in the Exodus sermons that the Veil is also a type of Christ. It pictures His body as is explicitly stated in the book of Hebrews –
2 (con’t) before the mercy seat
el pene ha’kaporet – “before the face of the mercy seat.” The kaporeth or Mercy Seat, is identical in meaning to kopher, which means “a cover” but in this case it indicates “a satisfaction.” This comes from the word kaphar, which in this situation means “to appease” or “to satisfy.” John Lange describes its purpose –
“…the mercy-seat (kapporeth), as a symbol of God’s gracious willingness to accept expiation as such a fulfilment of His general will as covers and removes the demands imposed by the law, or the special will, on account of guilt.” John Lange
As an interesting note, the word for veil, and the word for mercy seat are paroketh and kaporeth. They are spelled with the same letters, but the letter kaph, meaning “to open” or “allow,” moves from the being the third letter to being the first letter. In Hebrew, it is represented by an open palm. There is the veil which divides man from the presence of God, and then there is the mercy seat which reconciles man to God as He opens His hand and allows His mercy to be extended.
This Mercy Seat is the place where sins of the people are to be dealt with during the these rituals. An important point to state now, and to remember later concerning this kaporeth is that the Greek translation of the Old Testament translates this word as hilastérion. As we saw in the Exodus sermons, the Mercy Seat, pictures Christ, the place of propitiation for our sins. Paul explicitly states this in Romans 3 –
“…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Romans 3:25
There Paul uses the same word, hilastérion, which the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses for this Mercy Seat. He states that Christ is our Mercy Seat.
2 (con’t) which is on the ark,
asher al ha’aron – “which (is) on the ark.” As we saw in Exodus 25, every single detail of the ark points to Christ. It pictures His body, His divine/human nature, the presentation of Him in the gospels, and throughout both testaments of the Bible, etc. In all ways, and in every minute detail, it pictures Christ who is the embodiment of the law which was carefully placed inside the ark and then covered with the mercy seat.
2 (con’t) lest he die;
The warning here is given to Aaron directly. Though a type of Christ, He is not Christ. In his sinful humanity, he could not enter the presence of the Lord without carefully following the set rituals which prefigure the very work of Christ.
2 (con’t) for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.
There are two views as to what these words mean. The first is that the Lord would appear in the cloud of incense which is noted in verse 13. The second is that the Lord would appear in the cloud above the mercy seat just as He appeared in the cloud elsewhere several times already, such as above the tent of meeting, or on Mount Sinai. It is hard to be dogmatic either way, but the verse from Numbers that I cited earlier concerning Moses hearing the voice of the Lord from above the mercy seat says nothing about a cloud. One way or another, Aaron was required to obscure the scene with his own cloud of incense.
Some of the sacrifices, offerings, garments, and washings that will be mentioned here will actually be detailed later. The reason why they are mentioned now is because of the words, “Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place.” He had just been told he could not come at anytime he wished. Now he is being instructed on what he needed to do in order to come in when required.
3 (con’t) with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering,
The Hebrew here actually reads, with a bull, son of the herd, for a sin offering. Verse 14 shows that only the blood of the bull is brought in, thus it forms a synecdoche. The blood stands for the bull. As the life is in the blood, and as the blood has been drained and presented before the Lord, it is proof of death.
The bull is for his sin. This means that Aaron is a man who bears sin. Thus, the bull is typical of Christ to whom his sin, as the high priest, will be transferred. The sacrifice stands for the man. The ritual for this bull will be detailed in verses 11-14, and in 27 & 28. Verse 11 tells us that the sacrifice of the bull, however, is not only for Aaron, but for himself and his house.
The word par, or bull, comes from parar which carries the meaning of defeat, or make void. As the bull is the substitute, it is typical of Christ who defeated the devil, making void that which the devil had wrought, meaning sin in man. Aaron had sin, the sin is transferred to an innocent, and then it is disposed of. This is reflected in the words of 2 Corinthians –
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
3 (con’t) and of a ram as a burnt offering.
The ram sacrifice of the priestly burnt offering will be conducted at the same time with that of the burnt offering for the people noted in verse 5. This will occur in verse 24. The burnt offering, as we have seen from the minute detail for the burnt offering in Chapter 1, is as a life devoted wholly to God. These burnt offerings are typical of Christ whose life was lived perfectly before God, fulfilling God’s will, meaning the law, on our behalf –
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’”
8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:5-10
The high priest has four articles of clothing that he is to wear. These are not the regular garments of the priesthood. Rather, they are special, plain white garments, for this most holy day. He was to not be elevated above the others by wearing his usually gold-adorned garments, but was to wear simple priestly garments as if in a state of humiliation.
The first is a ketonet bad qodesh, or “garment linen holy.” This would be a plain white garment, just like any other priest who, as we have seen, picture the saints who are clothed in fine linen, clean and white. It is reflective then of a sinless state – humble, holy, and pure. It then notes u-miknese bad yihyu al besarow, or “and undergarments linen he shall have next to his flesh.”
The miknas, or undergarments are only noted five times, and always in regards to the priests. The final time will be in the book of Ezekiel. It comes from a word which gives the sense of “hiding.” They are specifically noted as for the covering of his basar, or “flesh.” The nakedness was covered in order to reflect purity and holiness instead of indecency. This word, miknas, comes from kanas, indicating to gather or collect.
Next it says, u-b’avnet bad yakh–gor, or “and the sash linen shall be girded.” This sash is completely plain, unlike the sash of the regular priests which was woven with fine linen, blue, purple, and scarlet (Exodus 39:29). Instead, he is girded in pure white.
And finally it says, u-b’mitsnephet bad yitsnoph, or “and in turban linen shall he be attired.” The turban would also be different than the hats of the regular priests, although it would be pure white as theirs was, it is a distinctive turban reserved for the high priest. We see this in the word translated as “attired,” a word new to Scripture. It is also the word which “turban” is derived from. It is the word tsanaph. It is to be seen only here, and twice in Isaiah 22:18. It means to wrap or wind up, thus “attired.” In essence, the words say something like, “in the wrappings of linen he shall be wrapped.”
4 (con’t) These are holy garments.
This statement is given to show that what was just described is what has been decided upon specifically for the Day of Atonement rituals. They have been preselected, they have been prepared for this purpose, and they reflect what the Lord has determined is appropriate.They are termed holy. Thus they are set apart specifically for the high priest to perform his duties. They are pure white picturing purity. They are without spot, indicating innocence and separate from sin. They are ordinary rather than exalted indicating humility. And there are four pieces; four being the number of creation. Each of these reflects Christ in His humanity.
These garments, each and all, are typical of the coming Christ. The holy tunic reflects the human, sinless garment of Christ’s righteousness. The linen trousers signify that Christ hid his divine nature, coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, and yet was without sin. The pure white sash is realized in Isaiah’s words about Christ –
And finally, the wrapped turban signifies that Christ is literally wrapped in righteousness. It being a part of His very being. In these simple, unadorned white garments, we see Christ’s first advent. He set aside His heavenly garments, came to earth in the likeness of a man (Philippians 2:7). He came in a body specifically prepared for Him to conduct His priestly duties (Hebrews 10:5). He was found without spot, indicating His sinless nature (1 Peter 1:19), and His appearance was otherwise ordinary, indicating humility (Philippians 2:8).
4 (con’t) Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on.
Only now, after detailing what the high priest would be adorned in, do the actual instructions for his Day of Atonement duties begin. He is to first wash his flesh in water, and only then put on his garments. Scholars who understand that what we are looking at in this passage points to Christ, have various ideas about what the water signifies.
One view is that it speaks of his baptism which started His earthly ministry. Another is “…his being cleared, acquitted, and justified from all sin, upon his resurrection from the dead after he had made atonement for it, and before his entrance into heaven” (John Gill). But neither of these fits the typology. Rather, this is what John wrote about in his first epistle –
“This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.” 1 John 5:6
Jesus came by water and by blood. It is the water of the womb, having not received a sin nature from His Father as all other humans have, He is washed in the water of the womb of life as the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. He also came by blood, demonstrating His humanity. As the life is in the blood, it therefore makes an apt description of the proof that He was and is fully human.
Therefore, the evidence of his birth into the stream of humanity is treated in the conception and natal period signified by the washing in the water. His physical life and human characteristics are evidenced by His blood. And, His deity is evidenced by the work of the Holy Spirit as proclaimed in the gospel accounts. He is thus the perfect, pure, innocent, and yet humble Human who came to perform the Father’s will in order to be our one, true, and final atoning Sacrifice.
The Pulpit Commentary defines the high priest’s movements during the coming rites, beginning with the bathing. This is an appropriate time to list them as those duties are only now beginning in earnest in the account. As I read them, think of the Person and work of Christ, and how what He did fulfills these ancient types –
1. He bathed.
2. He dressed himself in his white holy garments.
3. He offered or presented at the door of the tabernacle a bullock for a sin offering for himself and his house.
4. He presented at the same place two goats for a sin offering for the congregation.
5. He cast lots on the two goats, one of which was to be sacrificed, the other to be let go into the wilderness.
6. He sacrificed the bullock.
7. He passed from the court through the holy place into the holy of holies with a censer and incense, and filled the space beyond the vail with a cloud of smoke from the incense.
8. He returned to the court, and, taking some of the blood of the bullock, passed again within the vail, and there sprinkled the blood once on the front of the mercy-seat and seven times before it.
9. He came out again into the court, and killed the goat on which the lot for sacrifice had fallen.
10. For the third time he entered the holy of holies, and went through the same process with the goat’s blood as with the bullock’s blood.
11. He purified the other part of the tabernacle, as he had purified the holy of holies, by sprinkling with the atoning blood, as before, and placing some of it on the horns of the altar of incense (Exodus 30:10).
12. He returned to the court, and placed the blood of the bullock and goat upon the horns of the altar of burnt sacrifice, and sprinkled it seven times.
13. He offered to God the remaining goat, laying his hands upon it, confessing and laying the sins of the people upon its head.
14. He consigned the goat to a man, whose business it was to conduct it to the border of the wilderness, and there release it.
15. He bathed and changed his linen vestments for his commonly worn high priest’s dress.
16. He sacrificed, one after the other, the two rams as burnt offerings for himself and for the people.
17. He burnt the fat of the sin offerings upon the altar.
As you can see, the first two things he did was to bathe and then to dress in the holy garments. After that, it goes from that picture of Christ coming in His humanity, directly to the sacrificial aspect of His work. His entire life is summed up in the acceptable sacrifices which were presented before the Lord. This then is the Day of Atonement. It is the culmination of the life of Jesus Christ. It was then made into a parable for Israel to see and hopefully understand. Their eyes beheld the most incredible scene which has ever been viewed by the eyes of man, and they failed to recognize it.
Instead of the ordinary sin offering for the sin of the people, a bull, which was seen in Leviticus 4, the sin offering on the Day of Atonement is now changed to two shaggy he-goats to meet the atoning and expiatory requirements of this most holy day. These goats and the ram were, as it specifically says, to be “from the congregation of Israel.”
The specificity here demands that we pay attention. A heavenly scene will be worked out in an earthly setting. The sayir izzim or hairy goat is chosen because, as we have seen numerous times, hair in the Bible denotes awareness, especially an awareness of sin. The word sayir means hairy. The word izzim means goat, coming from the word azaz, or prevail.
The first time this word, sayir, or “hairy” was used was when speaking of Esau who is called a hairy man. He pictured fallen Adam who became aware of sin through his disobedience of the Lord’s command. Paul says in Romans 8:3 that “Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin.” In doing this, “he condemned sin in the flesh.” He prevailed over it. This is the purpose of designating hairy goats. They picture Christ who came in the likeness of sinful flesh, but who prevailed over it. The reason for there being two of them is yet to be revealed.
5 (con’t) and one ram as a burnt offering.
In this, the burnt offering is elevated to the same status as for that of the high priest. It is an ayil, or ram. The word indicates “strength.” As it is the same animal for the high priest as for the congregation, it carries the same connotation. Christ is the strength of God over the power of sin. After the sacrifice for sin, the burnt offering is as a life dedicated wholly to God.
In type, the ram symbolizes Christ as a life having been lived wholly to God. The ram also then pictures a life to be lived wholly to God in Christ. In both, it is Christ and His work which is pictured.
A burnt offering, a bull is presented at the altar
It has value and it could be used for other things
But in presenting this bull, I shall not falter
For in giving it to the Lord, my heart rejoices and sings
For to Him it is a sweet smelling aroma, pleasant and nice
And my heart delights in offering such as this
It is a perfect bull, and thus an acceptable sacrifice
It is as if sending to heaven an aromatic kiss
Bless the Lord who has accepted my offering
Bless the Lord who has received me because of it
He has accepted from my hand this proffering
To Him through the bull my soul I do submit
II. The Sin Offering (verses 6-10)
This actually says, v’ hiqriv aharon eth par ha’khatat, “and Aaron shall bring near bull the sin offering.” It is not actually offered yet. This will not take place until verse 11. As I noted earlier, the bull receives the sin of the high priest. As Christ is a High Priest without sin, then the bull pictures Him. It is He who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Aaron and his house needed atonement just as did all of Israel. Only One without sin could remove it.
As the administrators of the Law of Moses, and as they were sin-filled people, they could not atone for their own sin. Thus Christ had to be brought near to be their atoning sacrifice in order for them to be accepted into the New Covenant. Thus in Him is a changing of the priesthood. The old is annulled and the new is instituted. This is seen in the memorable words of Hebrews 7 –
“For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. 13 For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.” Hebrews 7:12, 13
Unlike the goats of the sin offering, it doesn’t say where the bull comes from. It simply says that it is a sin offering for himself. Regardless of Jewish tradition, the Bible leaves this detail out. Likewise, Christ said this to the people of Israel –
“Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.” John 8:14
Christ came from God, and He was returning to God. But He had a date of destiny with the cross of Calvary first. The concept of the bull and the cross finds its source in the first sentence of the Bible. Each Hebrew letter has its own meaning, and makes its own picture. The seven words which open the Bible are b’reshit bara elohim eth ha’shemayim v’eth ha’eretz. The middle word, eth, is not a word we translate in English, but it is formed from the letters aleph and tav. The picture of the aleph is a bull, and it signifies strength, power, and leader. The picture of the tav is actually a cross, and it signifies a mark, signal, and monument. The high priest’s atoning sacrifice is seen in this word, a bull and a cross; power reflected in this sign.
The thought of this verse is perfectly reflected in the words of Hebrews 7. Aaron had to sacrifice for himself, but that sacrifice was ultimately only looking forward to Christ –
“For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.” Hebrews 7:26-28
Two goats which came from the congregation of Israel are brought forward next and presented before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting, meaning at the altar of burnt sacrifice. The word for “present” is different than the words used in both verses 6 & 9. Here the word amad, or stand is used. It literally says, “and have them stand before the Lord.”
What this means then is that the two goats would be facing to the west, towards the Tent of Meeting where the Lord’s presence was. Whatever difference there was between the animals, even if nobody else could tell, it could be discerned by the Lord.
The two goats were, according to Jewish tradition, to be of the same size, color, and value, and as nearly alike in every way as possible. Despite being tradition, it is correct that they are identical as can be inferred from the next words…
v’nathan aharon al shene ha’se-irim goralot – “and shall give Aaron on the two goats lots.” The two goats, identical in nature, character, and looks, have lots cast over them. What must be said right here is that there is no mistake in the lots. The Bible says elsewhere –
This is important because of what these two goats picture. There is no possible mistake in the selection process…
8 (con’t) one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.
goral ekhad la’Yehovah v’goral ekhad la’Azazel – “lot one for Yehovah and lot one for Azazel.” There are a multitude of commentaries on what these words mean. The first half is plain and simple to understand. One lot is la’Yehovah, or “for Yehovah.” It is an animal which will be made as an offering to the Lord on behalf of the sin of the people. It is the second half of the clause which is a bit more than complicated as one sorts through opinions. It says, la’Azazel, or literally “for Azazel.” The question is, “What is Azazel?”
It is a word used only four times in Scripture, and all four are found in this chapter. Further, all four are formed with the prefix la, or “for.” As one goat is for Yehovah, it implies that the other goat is also for a personal being, “for Azazel,” just as the Lord is a personal being.
As this is a divine scene which is played out in human history, and which points to the work of Christ, this is correct. There is a personal being to whom the sin is transferred, but it cannot be Christ as Christ is the Lord, Yehovah. But the goat itself is a picture of Christ who bears the sin which is “for Azazel.” This goat will have the sins of the people confessed over it, and that goat was be sent into an uninhabited land, bearing all the iniquities of the people, carrying those sins to Azazel. There is only one acceptable meaning of Azazel. It is a being placed in direct opposition to the Lord in this verse, and thus it is Satan. The goat pictures Christ, but the goat is bearing sins for Azazel. It is the goat of complete removal. This will be explained further later.
The goat which is for the Lord is to be offered as a sin offering. This is confirmed throughout the rest of Scripture where Christ is noted as our sin-offering. He bore our sin upon Himself, and the sin was purged from us through Him. That is obvious and without controversy. This goat shall die for the sins of the people.
This final verse of the day says that the goat which is for Azazel is to be, ya’omad khai liphne Yehovah, or “stood alive before the Lord.” He is not presented to the Lord, he is stood alive before Him. It then next says l’kaphar alav, “to make atonement for it.” The Hebrew here is very obscure, but what it is saying is that it has been placed before the Lord in order that it might be “fitted for the sacred purposes it was destined to fulfill” (John Lange).
Finally, it then says l’salah otow la’Azazel ha’midbarah, “to send it for Azazel [into] the wilderness.” The Hebrew wording makes no sense if Azazel is translated as scapegoat in this verse. It would then literally say “to send the goat for the scapegoat into the wilderness.” For this reason, the translators amend the wording to say “as the scapegoat.” But this would then not match what it says in verse 8. It is the same term used four times, and all have the same meaning, “for Azazel.”
Though not popular as a meaning for Azazel among many, the pictures which are being developed demand that though this goat pictures Christ, He is carrying away the sins of man, la’Azazel, or “for Azazel,” meaning Satan. This will become evident in the verses ahead as the pictures are explained. For now, simply tuck the information away, and when the chapter is done, you can make your final determination if you feel this is correct or not.
One thing to consider is that Christ has fulfilled each and every picture thus far in this chapter. In Scripture, He is called our sin-Offering, our Propitiation, our Mercy Seat, our guilt Offering, and so on. But he is never called our Azazel, nor is He called our scapegoat. That has to be inserted into our thoughts, and it does not fit the pictures which are being developed. He is our sin-Bearer.
Until we get through with this chapter, let us just keep looking for Christ and His fulfillment of what is happening. In the end, the Bible is revealing to us a picture of the redemption of man, and how that comes about. If you have never called on Jesus as Savior, you are not redeemed. Your life still belongs to the devil, and your sins have not been carried away. They remain with you still.
Only Christ can atone for them by being your sin-Offering & your sin-Bearer. I would appeal to you today to call out to Him, and allow Him to cleanse you from all unrighteousness through the work He accomplished so long ago. The time is short, and His return is near. Don’t wait and be left behind, but call on Christ, be reconciled to God, and be assured that there is a marvelous heavenly home prepared for you if you do so.
Closing Verse: “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Hebrews 10:1-3
Next Week: Leviticus 16:11-22 It is sure, a firm pronouncement, you will say whoo hoo! (Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement, Part II) (28th Leviticus Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement
Now the Lord spoke to Moses
After the death of Aaron’s two sons
When they offered profane fire before the Lord and died
Yes Nadab and Abihu were these ones
And the Lord said to Moses:
“Tell Aaron your brother not to come, by and by
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 above the mercy seat in the cloud
Therefore he shall only enter when I say he is allowed
“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
Such shall be the suitable proffering
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, attired he shall be
These are holy garments he is to don
Therefore he shall wash his body in water
And put them on
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, as to you I tell
“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering
Which is for himself, only he
And make atonement for himself and for his house
Thus is such as it it shall be
He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord
At the door of the tabernacle of meeting, according to this word
Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: take note!
One lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat
And Aaron shall bring the goat
On which the Lord’s lot fell
And offer it as a sin offering
As to you I do now tell
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
So these instructions I now to you submit
Lord God, You have sent Jesus to atone for sin
We thank You for doing what we could not do
Through Him new life can begin
And so, O God, we call out through Him to You
Hear our cry for mercy, upon sinners such as us
Know that we trust in Your word, and Your power to save
We are freed from sin’s bondage through Jesus
It was for us that His precious life You gave
Hallelujah! To You, O God our voices we raise
Hallelujah! To You, O God, we give all of our praise
Hallelujah and Amen…