SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON 12 - Lev. 16:3-10, 29-30 - SET FREE
INTRODUCTION: Last week, in Lev. 9:15-24; 10:1-3, we studied one of the most important historical events in OT history: we saw the consecration of Aaron as the first High priest of Israel in what was, in effect, the activation of the entire Levitical priesthood. Next, we saw Moses enter the Tabernacle for the last time and Aaron enter it for the first time in a solemn ceremony that signified a changing of the guard in responsibility for the Tabernacle. After that, the glory of God appeared as a blinding white light in the Tabernacle to demonstrate His approval of all that had been done. Then on a less happy note, we saw God strike two of Aarons sons dead when they failed to follow God's instructions in the Tabernacle. We looked at two points of personal application: (1) All human effort that glorifies God, is accomplished through God's plan, not man's. As NT Christians, when someone is saved after we share the gospel, we must give all the glory to God because we are simply following the instructions of a plan that God made before time began. (2) We must satisfy God's requirements for entering into and dwelling in His presence. As NT Christians, we can't approach God on our own terms and conditions but can only approach Him through the saving grace of Jesus Christ, who now mediates with God as our High Priest (Heb. 7:26-27). Do you see this OT-NT connection?
This week, in Lev. 16:3-10, 29-30, we will learn about the purpose and the significance of the Day of Atonement. This annual ceremony was celebrated on the 10th day of the seventh month. On that day, the High Priest entered the most holy place (or holy of holies) in the Tabernacle to make to make sacrifices for the entire nation of Israel. As we will learn, the sin offering in this chapter points us forward to the work of Christ on the cross (Heb. 9:7-14).
Read Lev. 16:3-6 - AARON SHALL ENTER THE HOLY PLACE
Note 1: Verse 1 recalls that Aaron's two sons died when they approached God in an improper way. (Lev. 10:1-3). In addition to establishing the Day of Atonement, notice that God also established guidelines to protect Aaron's priestly family from the disaster that befell his two sons.
Note 2: Some people have a hard time striking the Biblical balance between God's justice and God's love. God requires atonement because He is holy, yet He equally provides atonement because He loves us. Stop and ponder this statement for a moment (repeat it). Accepting the reality of God's holiness is required in order for us to correctly understand what it means to enter into and dwell in God's presence. As we will see in today's lesson, the passages leading up to the Day of Atonement ultimately foreshadow the work of Christ on the cross. It is at the cross where God's requirement for justice is fulfilled, with His love providing the atonement for sin. With the finished work of Christ, there is no more need for sacrifice-Christ made atonement once and for all.
3 Aaron shall enter the Holy Place with this: with a bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be wrapped about the waist with the linen sash and the linen turban wound around his forehead (these are holy garments). He shall bathe his body in water and put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. 6 Then Aaron shall offer the bull as the sin offering, which is for himself, so that he may make atonement for himself and for his household.
v. 3: "Aaron shall enter the Holy Place with this: with a bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering" - First, Aaron was to prepare the offering, "a bull as a sin offering (as required for a High Priest) and a ram as a burnt offering." These offerings were for himself and his household.
v. 4: "He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be wrapped about the waist with the linen sash and the linen turban wound around his forehead (these are holy garments). He shall bathe his body in water and put them on." - Next, Aaron was to prepare himself. He was not only to bathe his body but also put on the proper holy garments, which were to be used only when he was exercising this function of his priestly office. Then after the Day of Atonement, he would never again wear the garments he wore on this day.
v. 5: "Then Aaron shall offer the bull as the sin offering, which is for himself, so that he may make atonement for himself and for his household" - This is Aaron's final step of self-cleansing, offering a young bull as a sin offering-a mandatory action in which he confesses and atones for his own sins. All or these personal preparations were made to make certain that Aaron was cleansed and consecrated so that he would be prepared and worthy to act on behalf of the people.
Read Lev. 16:7-10 - THE SCAPEGOAT
7 He shall then take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8 Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.
v. 7: "He shall then take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting" - Aaron is now commanded to prepare two goats for the sin offering. The two goats had distinct purposes in this ritual offering: one was offered to the LORD to atone for the people's sin and the other would be sent to a desolate place.
v. 8: "Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat" - We should notice that, despite his exalted position, Aaron was to do all things by himself without any assistance. Here, God instructs Aaron to "cast lots" to determine which animal would be sacrificed on the altar and which animal would be the "scapegoat" (Heb. ăzāzêl, lit. a goat going away). This word is used only here in the Bible.
v. 9: "Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering" - The priest would first lay his hand on the head of the goat, signifying the transfer of the people's sin to the animal, then it would be slaughtered and placed on the altar as a burnt offering to be entirely consumed, symbolizing the substitutionary death of the sin of the people. Under the New Covenant, Jesus is our substitute and put to death our sin for all time.
v. 10: But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat" - The priest would then lay his hands on the head of live goat and confess over it all of the Israelites' sins and iniquities. Then the priest would send the goat away into the wilderness, and the scapegoat would carry all of their wickedness into the "desolate" land. You might even imagine the Israelites' relief and thankfulness while they watched the scapegoat disappear over the horizon to die alone. The animal symbolically carried their sin and guilt far away, never to return. Then they would turn back toward the camp, where God dwelled, and since they had atoned for their sin, they can now dwell with Him.
Observation: The act of atonement reported above is strikingly parallel to the atonement of Christ described in Heb. 9:7-14: Jesus not only sacrificed Himself in a horrific death, He also went outside the 'camp' to the desolate place in order to bear the burden and stain of sin on our behalf. And because Christ did this, believers can be confident that His death on the cross removed the penalty and guilt of our sin forever. Amen?
Read Lev. 16:29-30 - ON THIS DAY ATONEMENT SHALL BE MADE FOR YOU
29 "This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble yourselves and not do any work, whether the native, or the stranger who resides among you; 30 for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
v. 29a: "This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month" - God instituted the Day of Atonement to be held the same day every year as a "permanent statute" (i.e., an enacted law), for the express purpose of making atonement for the sins of the entire nation of Israel. (Note: this "nation" refers to a people rather than just a geographical territory. In Jesus' time, many Jews lived outside the borders of Palestine and even today the political borders of Israel are still in dispute) .
v. 29b: "you shall humble yourselves and not do any work, whether the native, or the stranger who resides among you" - The word used here for "humble" (Heb. anah [aw-naw']), literally means to be bowed down or afflicted. These words tell us that God was most concerned with the condition of their hearts. He wanted them to afflict themselves-to show the heartfelt humility and repentance of a person in need of forgiveness. It was also intended to identify with the sacrifices made for their sins. Jews have historically done this through fasting and prayer, which, in many cases are just empty outward expressions. The prophet Isaiah said it like this, "Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers" (Isa. 58:3b). Thus, God seeks more than just these outward expressions; He is most concerned about the condition of person's heart-expecting honest inward repentance followed by sincere obedience.
v. 30: "for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD" - More references to the term "atonement" are found in this chapter of Leviticus than any other place in all of Scripture. This day provided a ceremonial cleansing of the Israelite peoples' sins for one year, and it pictured the forgiveness of God to all who believed and repented. However, this cleansing was temporary. In the NT Book of Hebrews, the writer makes it clear that Jesus' crucifixion was the definitive Day of Atonement, "because God had provided something better for us" (Heb. 11:40a). Jesus' sacrificial death was the long-awaited, final fulfillment of the purification offering, by which He cleansed believers in Him from sin through the shedding of His own blood (Heb. 9:12, 14, and 24). Also, Jesus was the true and greater scapegoat because he carried our sins away, taking them outside the 'camp.' (Heb. 9:28).