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Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement October 5, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Atonement, Leviticus, Religion, Sermons.
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THE DAY OF ATONEMENT – FOUR MEN (Leviticus 16:1-34)

There are four men mentioned in this chapter. Through these four men, I would like to illustrate and explain the importance of the day of atonement as well as the importance of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. The word atonement literally means “to cover up”, specifically the covering up of sin, a way in which forgiveness of sins is made possible.

The first of the men that I want you to meet is named at the beginning of the chapter. His name is Aaron (verses 1-2). He was the high priest at the time. God gives him in Leviticus 16 the responsibility to go once a year before God and through an animal sacrifice make atonement possible. In a real way, the high priest makes atonement (verses 32-34). This atonement involves cleansing from sin (Compare with Hebrews 9:13-14). Jesus makes atonement for us as both high priest and sacrifice.

As high priest, Jesus is both…

…anointed… (verse 32), that is, He is the chosen one for this office. You see, Jesus is the Christ. Christ is not Jesus surname but rather His title: Jesus the Chosen One. Jesus, the High Priest chosen by God to accomplish the task of cleansing us from our sin.

…and consecrated (verse 32), that is, confirmed for the work for which He was chosen. The years in which Jesus walked on this earth showed that Jesus was truly the Christ. His pure manner of life, His miraculous work, His testimony of the truth of God, all of these things confirm that Jesus really is the Christ.

As the atoning sacrifice, Jesus makes it possible…

…for us to come to God… (compare verse 33a with verses 15-19). Before the sins of men could be atoned for, it was necessary for the priest, first, to make atonement for the place at which God met His people. In some sense, it seems that the sinfulness of man is so great, that it somehow pollutes the Holy of Holies. Perhaps this was a reference to the sin of Aaron’s two sons who God burned up with fire because they did not obey God’s Word. We need to understand how corrupting the influence of sin is in our lives.

Jesus, however, did much more than just purify a place as Aaron did. Jesus made it possible for us to come to God (Hebrews 9:8 with 10:19-20).

…and for God to deal justly with our sin (verses 33b-34). Now there were other sin offerings that were regularly offered, both national offerings and personal. It is also true that the Day of Atonement involved more than the forgiveness of specific sins in that it was also to cleanse the Tabernacle of God from any taint of sin. On the other hand, it was part of God’s provision at the time, dealing with the sins of the people. Hebrews 9:7 refers to them as the sins committed in ignorance. This had to be done every year.

However, when Jesus died, He went before God, not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood and He only had to do it once (Hebrews 9:12, 25-26 with Romans 3:24-26).

The man with the scapegoat (verses 20-22). This involves the imputation of sin (Compare with Isaiah 53:6, 11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Jesus accepted the charge of sin that actually belonged to us. Psalm 32:1-5 explains that blessedness is found, not just in having our sin forgiven but rather also imputed to another. When my sins are simply forgiven, then there is the possibility of those sins being brought up again but when my sins are imputed, they are longer my sins. They belong to another. Sometimes we talk about Christ being our substitute. What that means is this: Something happened to Christ and because it happened to Him, it need not happen to me.

Imputation involves confession. Remember, confession is more than the listing of sins. It is agreeing with someone else about a matter that you deeply believe to be so. The same word in the Old Testament used for thanksgiving is also used for confession. We see in this act of confession a glimpse into what faith in Christ really means. I come before God realizing that I am a sinner. I can do nothing about my sin problem. If nothing is done about it, I am a condemned man. I ask God in mercy to forgive me but God cannot just say it is done. Something must be done about my sin problem. God takes my sin problem which I have consciously brought to Him and transfers it to Jesus Christ. It is no longer my problem but rather that of Jesus Christ. It is imputed to Him. It is no longer mine to deal with.

The man who burns the sin offering (verses 27-28). This involves the sanctification of the sinner (Compare with Hebrews 13:11-14). Jesus makes us a holy people through His blood. More than cleansing, more than forgiveness, more than the bearing of our sin by Christ is involved in the atonement. A relationship is established and maintained through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

This burning of the bones was unique to the sin offering. Most other offerings like burnt offerings and peace or thanksgiving offerings were reserved to feed the priest. But they had no portion in the sin offering. That was for God alone. In the same way, that the sin offering made the carcass of the sacrificed animal holy and reserved to God, the shed blood of Jesus Christ makes those, who put their faith in Christ, holy, a peculiar people before God (1 Peter 2:4-10).

The man who afflicts himself (verses 29-30). This passage does not tell us exactly what is involved in afflicting one’s self but there are other passages that help us to understand what is meant. Isaiah 58:1-10 describes the day of affliction as a day of fasting accompanied by a forsaking of sin.

This involves repentance from sin (Compare with Luke 18:9-14). It is only as we humble ourselves before a merciful God that we can be forgiven. True, the high priest confessed the national sins of his people but there was also the opportunity for the Israelite to apply that forgiveness personally. That is the significance of afflicting one’s self. It is personal application, personal appropriation. Christ died for my sins and I need not die for them if I accept His sacrifice for me but I will not accept His sacrifice until I realize my own inability, my own sinfulness, my own need.

Conclusion: We have met four men. The tasks of the first three are accomplished by Jesus Christ. You can be the fourth man. The first three tasks result in forgiveness of sin. The fourth applies that forgiveness to himself. Leviticus 23:29 tells us that the one, who refuses to afflict his soul, that is humble himself on the Day of Atonement, is to be cut off, killed. Yes, Christ died for the church but if you do not personally trust Christ alone for salvation, one day you will also be cut off, to die eternally in the lake of fire. Will you not accept Christ today as your only hope of forgiveness of sins, as the one who bore you sins in His body to take them away, as the one who makes you holy through His blood?

Next Week: Exodus 13:3-10 – The Feast of Unleavened Bread: How Best to Declare the Glorious Works of God

 

 

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