Richard Agee

Leviticus 16:20-34: Day of Atonement foreshadows multiple roles for the Messiah

Richard AgeeLeviticus 16, describing Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonement), is a beautiful picture of God’s making us clean and the multifaceted role of the Messiah in that cleansing.

This chapter is one of the most important chapters in the book of Leviticus, so I’m taking my time to go through it so we can understand it. Let’s go back to the beginning of the chapter briefly. This is where the instructions for the Day of Atonement start.

“The LORD said to Moses:  “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.” (Lev. 16:2)

There is a process to how God purifies His people. Aaron goes “behind the veil” once a year, on the Day of Atonement, to bring the blood of sacrifices to cleanse the temple, the priest and the entire assembly of their sins. This is to be done ever year. 

We saw last time there were different animals sacrificed for different parts of the community. There is a pattern here. 

Atone is a really meaning-filled word. There are two types of atonement have to be made on the Day of Atonement: one for the priesthood, one for the people of Israel. 

Why was this all necessary? It is God’s job to clean the unclean so He can live with them. It’s by God’s word that we were unclean, it is by God’s word that we can be made clean. 

“He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.” (Lev. 16:16)

The High Priest doesn’t see God but he enters God’s presence. He doesn’t enter God’s presence empty-handed: the High Priest enters the most holy place bearing a censer of incense and the blood to sprinkle 7 times on the mercy seat and at the “feet” of the ark. 

The High Priest had to stay in the Tabernacle until the Atonement was done. 

“When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.” (Lev. 16:17)

In Hebrews 2, the author tells us that Messiah Yeshua went through that curtain. He made an atonement, a sin offering for the priesthood. He didn’t sin but He took upon Himself our sins. The first atonement took place when Yeshua died and He tore the Temple veil from top to bottom. God said He will start the atonement at His temple, where His mercy seat resides. 

The second atonement was after His resurrection when He ascended to heaven to present Himself. 

We aren’t supposed to know everything, but we are to know and understand God’s mercy, which is beyond measure. 

After the High Priest has made “atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel” he is still not done. There are a few more tasks that must be performed before his duties for Day of Atonement are over. 

“When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.” (Lev. 16:20)

This “live goat” is one of the two perfect goats that were brought and chosen by lot to either be sacrificed or to be sent away. The live goat is offered, then the priest deals with the other goat, the scapegoat, lays hands on it and has it sent away. 

After he sacrifices the goat and sends away the scapegoat, he has to bathe himself. After he bathes himself, he presents the whole burnt offering. 

The house of God has to be cleaned up first before the earth can be cleaned up. Why did God have to clean His house. Satan and his followers were not immediately cast out of heaven after they sinned and their presences polluted God’s holy place, but as God cast Satan and his minions from heaven, God will also cast evil off the earth. 

This burnt offering is a freewill offering, all of it is given to God. The High Priest, the Messiah, gave up everything to God. 

The person who sent the live goat into the wilderness also had to bathe after his job was done, to disassociate himself from the sins that were laid on the goat. 

The person who burns up the hide, offal and dung of the sin offering also has to bathe himself before he can return to the camp for the same reason: to disassociate himself from the sins that were laid on the goat. 

The person who burns the bull of the sin offering outside the camp, not outside the tabernacle. Once that offering is burned, the person who offers this is to bathe himself before returning as well. 

Normally the priests can keep the hides but on the Day of Atonement, the skins are burned up. Why?

All the sin is gone, the past is gone and there’s nothing left to remind us of those sins. 

This entire chapter is a picture of God making us clean. That is beautiful. 

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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