I’ve been getting a double dose of Leviticus lately, both in my yearly Bible read as well as in my OT class this semester. Yes…some of it is tough sledding, but then you have those moments when you break free and see the sun, and connections start being made.
My professor was lecturing on the Day of Atonement yesterday, we had to read Leviticus 16 as part of our class reading, and today it was on the list for my daily Bible read.
The Day of Atonement (Aka. “Yom Kippur”) is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is described in Leviticus 16 in great detail. This is the one day of the year when the High Priest (and only the High Priest), after ceremonially cleansing himself and atoning for his own sins and others, enters the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle and among other animal sacrifices, there are 2 goats. One is killed and offered as a sin sacrifice, the other is the scapegoat – he gets to live, but has a very important job. The High Priest lays his hands on the head of the live goat, sprinkles the blood of the sacrificed goat on it as well, confesses the sins of the people and sends it away into the wilderness. This goat bears the sins of the people. (Hence the “scapegoat” term as someone who takes the blame)
So…for Christians – who now understand that Jesus came as the Messiah there are incredible parallels and fulfillment in Jesus. The sacrificial system of the OT is a foreshadowing of what will be ultimately and perfectly fulfilled in Jesus. Stand by for some BBW’s:
- Substitutionary Atonement – yes, I know…big words, but important words. Jesus perfectly, completely, and permanently atones for our sins in our place. This doesn’t have to be done year after year, he did it once. (Heb 10:1-4) Not only that, but he doesn’t have to atone for his own sins first like the human High Priests because, um…well…he doesn’t have any.
- Propitiation: the sacrificed goat is the wrath-bearing sacrifice. The blood that was shed satisfies the just wrath God has for sin. However, this needed to be done yearly, that is until Jesus. He perfectly, completely, and permanently satisfied the wrath of God. (Heb 10:11-14)
- Expiation: the live goat is the removal of sin. Jesus perfectly, completely, and permanently removes sin – sends it away. Scripture tells us as far as the East is from the West (that’s really far).
All of this is obtained by us through faith in Jesus as God in the flesh, doing all of these things on our behalf. We receive them by faith and then live them out, always growing, by his grace. He secured it for us perfectly, completely, and permanently as only he could, being God and man.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
(Hebrews 9:11-12 ESV)