Day of Atonement

Day of Atonement

As we approach Easter I have been researching how the Easter Story is shadowed in the Old Testament, and especially in the Day of Atonement. Lev. 16 and Lev. 23:26-32.

The O.T. points us forward to Christ and as Paul says in Co. 2:17, contains "shadows of things to come, the reality of which is found in Christ"

Held on the 10th day of the 7th month the Day of Atonement shadows the work of Christ as the High Priest acts out Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, the sacrifice that allows God to satisfy his justice, whilst showing mercy to his people.

On that day the High Priest appears early in the morning, dressed in those amazing garments, which it takes all of Ex. 28 to explain. The sun shone on the amazing sight, reflecting from the gold of the breastplate, rings and chains, on the precious stones, ruby, topaz, beryl and onyx and on the blue, purple and scarlet of the robes.

But on this day he has to remove all these garments which were for dignity and honour and bathe, not at the laver in the tabernacle, but in the honly place, and probably by immersion, as tradition says, and put on a simple white linen undergarment and a sacred linen tunic with a linen turban.

What a picture of what we read in Phil.2 of Christ laying aside his glory and being born (shadowed in the water washing) and taking on the garments of a servant.

But the High Priest was a sinner as were the other priests, and he has to offer a bull for his own sins and those of the priests. Then he can continue with the shadowing Christ's sacrifice.

Two goats are chosen and then lots are drawn as to which will typify which event. One is killed and the blood brought inside the veil, where only the High Priest is allowed to go on this one occasion each year. The blood is sprinkled before the mercy seat, which you will remember was the covering of the ark, with the cherabim overshadowing it. And thus the people's sin is covered for another year. This does not make the people holyh, because they know they will violate their promise never ever to sin again. It only covers past sin.

No-one sees Aaron doing this, so we now come to the second goat, the scapegoat. Is the sacrifice not complete? Isn't the blood placed before God. But we must note that this has been done in private. Aaron now places his hands on the scapegoat and confesses the people's sin, and it is led 12 miles into the desert and left there. So the people here see with their own eyes how their sin has been forgiven for another year.

How does this typify Christ. Well, Jesus took his own blood and entered the presence of God. Heb. 9:12 His sacrifice accomplishes the removal of sin. Thus we see the doctrine of penal substitution. (Christ bearing the penalty for our sin as our substitute. But the scapegoat remains. When our Lord cried "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me", where was he? On the cross. He is in the place of utter desertion, abandoned. Sin not only separates us from God, but leaves a guilty conscience, so we have this second picture for all to see of His separating us from our sin.

The Lord's entry into the presence of the father was private, but his death on the cross was the public spectacle which fulfilled the shadow given to us in the form of the scapegoat. Our sins are no more, they are completely covered. We are separated from them for ever.

If you read on you find that there was another sacrifice that of the Whole Burnt Offering, when the High Priest in full regalia offers this voluntary act of worship and devotion, commitment and surrender to God. This is our standing now.

Praise the Lord, when we stand before his judgement seat the Blood of the Atonement will cover us and though Satan may accuse we read in Rev. 12 "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." Full atonement can it be? Hallelujah what a Saviour!