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Basic Bible: Obedience on the Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16:11-19

On the day of atonement, Aaron, as high priest, was required to offer a bullock as a sin offering, which offering was for himself and for his house. The manner in which this sin offering was made is different from the manner of the offering which Aaron made when he assumed the office of high priest (see Ex. 29). It is also different from bullock sin offerings which were offered up on other occasions.

On other occasions, all of the blood of the bullock is poured out beside the bottom of the altar. On the day of atonement, Aaron does not pour out the blood before the altar. He takes the blood into the holy place (the tent-like structure that houses the table of shewbread, the lampstand, and the golden altar where incense was burned. Beyond the dividing veil is the holy of holies and the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat).

The bullock that served as the sin offering was brought into the tabernacle where Aaron and his sons placed their hands upon its head and then killed it and collected its blood. On every occasion with the exception of the day of atonement, the blood of the bullock was sprinkled upon the horns (the outer projections at the corners) of the brazen altar. On the day of atonement, the high priest took the blood into the holy place and, after proper preparation, entered the holy of holies and sprinkled the blood upon and in front of the mercy seat.

The high priest could not simply enter the holy of holies. The holy of holies was God’s dwelling place. Anyone who looked upon God’s holiness would die. Aaron was to prepare incense which would be burned before the Lord (see Ex. 30:34-36). The high priest was to take this incense and a censer filled with burning coals from the golden altar and then enter into the holy of holies. Immediately upon passing through the veil, he put the incense upon the fire. The holy of holies was filled with a cloud which covered the mercy seat. Shielded by the cloud, Aaron was to dip his finger in the bullock’s blood and sprinkle the blood with his finger. He was to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat and in the area between the veil and the mercy seat seven times. The blood of the bullock was of the animal that Aaron and his sons had placed their hands upon and killed. The blood was shed for Aaron and his sons. The cloud prevented Aaron from seeing God’s righteousness, allowing the high priest to live. The covering of blood made it impossible for God to see Aaron’s unrighteousness. When God saw the seven sprinklings, He saw the blood which He would shed upon the cross. Aaron was spared, not by the blood of the bullock, but, by the blood of the Lamb that the Father would supply.

After making atonement for himself, Aaron returned to the full view of the people at the door of the tabernacle where he had previously presented two goats before the Lord — one for a scape goat and one for a sin offering for the people. The two goats, one for sin offering and one for scape goat, were chosen by lot. Aaron then killed (see v. 15) the goat of the sin offering and returned with its blood into the holy place where he had placed incense upon the fire. Again, shielded by the covering cloud of burning incense, Aaron sprinkled the blood seven times on and before the mercy seat in the holy of holies.

God’s Provision:

When Aaron had sprinkled the bullock’s blood for himself and his house, he killed the goat of the children of Israel which was for the Lord. This sacrifice was for the people. Acting as an intercessory, Aaron sprinkled the blood of the goat before the mercy seat and upon the mercy seat seven times. When Aaron entered the holy of holies to sprinkle the blood, both that of the bullock and that of the goat, no person except Aaron was to be present within the walls of the tabernacle.

The picture which God has placed before us is that of the high priest and him alone coming before Him. The bullock sacrifice is for the sins of the high priest (and his family) and for the unknown sins of the people which have become known (Lev. 4:13-23), while the goat sacrifice is for known sin of the people. We note that the blood is sprinkled upon both the mercy seat and eastward before the mercy seat. The blood that covered unknown sins (the blood of the bullock) and the blood that covered known sins (the blood of the goat) covered the high priest’s approach the Lord God. The coverage of sin and coverage of one’s approach to God is complete — signified by the seven sprinklings.

The blood of bullocks and the blood of goats was sufficient for Aaron to go alone before the Lord one time and one time only each year.

So much better is the blood of the Lamb which serves as our eternal covering.

New Testament believers know the Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest who gave His blood such that we may boldly approach the Lord God Almighty. His righteous blood is covers our every failure.

Let us declare the covenant which is in His blood. Let us love one another and go and teach and baptize as He has commanded.

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