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THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

Leviticus 16 "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. 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."

The high priest entered into the holiest of holies just once a year in the month of October. Common priests went in and out of the tabernacle every day but only the high priest was allowed to enter into the holiest of holies because this was where God dwelled! The priest was not to dress in his splendid robes that were made specially for his office as high priest. He was to dress in the same plain, linen garments that all the priests wore while tending the tabernacle because he was to appear humbly before the Lord to make atonement for his own sins. There is no distinction of persons with God. Every person, from the highest to the lowest, has sin in their lives and appears on the same level when they come before God.

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Leviticus 16 "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."

Jewish writers say that the high priest had to leave his own home and live inside the temple area for 7 days before the Day of Atonement. He had to do the work of all the priests for the Atonement offering as the other priests were not allowed to enter the temple. The bullock and the goats were for sin offerings and the ram was for burnt offerings. Lots were cast to see which of the goats was to be slain and which was to be set free. The goat that was to be set free was call the scapegoat or, in the Hebrew, Azazel. Some commentators say Azazel is a mountain near Sinai, where this goat was sent. But the first part of the word means goat and the last part means to depart, which makes a lot more sense than the name of a mountain! We use the word scapegoat loosely today to mean one who is falsely blamed for something someone else did.

    The dictionary has this definition:
  • "1. One that is made to bear the blame of others.
  • 2. Bible. A live goat over whose head Aaron confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on the Day of Atonement. The goat, symbolically bearing their sins, was then sent into the wilderness."
The high priest then had to take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar, go into the holy of holies and put the incense upon the fire so that the cloud of the incense covered the mercy seat. This was necessary for without the cloud resting over the mercy seat, he would die. History says the priest had to enter into the holy of holies side-ways so he did not look at the mercy seat until the cloud of incense covered it, then he had to go out backward so he did not turn his back on it.

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Leviticus 16:20 "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: 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."

After killing the animals for the sin offering, the high priest had to enter into the holy of holies again to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the altar. He then put both his hands on the head of the scapegoat, confessed all the sins of the children of Israel, thus placing these sins on the head of the goat, and then sent him away into the wilderness. In this goat is a true figure of Jesus Christ, who bears the sins of the people! In Him was no sin until he took upon Himself the sins of the people. He was our sacrificial Lamb and He was our Scapegoat! He bore all our iniquities when he was crucified!

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Leviticus 16 "29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses."

The Day of Atonement was on the tenth day of the seventh month, which would correspond to our October 3rd. Everyone who did any work on this day risked penalty of death! It was to be a day of sorrow and a day of mourning. It was a day for reconciliation between God and man. The people were to face this day soberly and solemnly and I'm sure the high priest faced it fearfully for if he did one thing wrong, he also risked death!

Kind of makes you rethink the way we enter into the presence of God, doesn't it?

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