THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

THE DESIGNATED TIME AND DETAILS A “sacred assembly” (NIV) was to be held on the 10th day of the 7th month – Tishri (Hebrew) Sept/Oct (Modern Equivalent) and was called “Yom Kippur” (Biblical name = “Yom Hakkippurim” NIV Study Bible). It was to be a day of rest (Sabbath), fasting and sacrifices, and any member of the community who fails to honour this Sabbath is to be cut-off from the community of people. Atonement is to be made for all the people by the high priest and it is to be a lasting ordinance wherever the Jews live.
THE ORDER OF EVENTS A burnt offering of one young bull; one ram and seven year-old male lambs was to be presented to the Lord, and 3/10 of an Ephah (or 3 Omers) of a Grain offering of fine flour and oil is presented with the bull: 2/10 Ephah (or 2 Omers) presented with the ram: 1/10 Ephah (or 1 Omer) presented with each of the seven lambs.They were to include one male goat as a Sin offering and another as a scapegoat . (1 omer = 4 liters 1 ephah = 40 liters)
THE ORDINANCE The priest was not permitted to enter the Most Holy Place whenever he chose to since access to the Most Holy Place (behind the curtain in the Tent of Meeting) is available to the high priest only, and only on one annual occasion – the Day of Atonement: any attempt to gain entrance on any other occasion (and without blood of a sacrificial animal) would result in the death of the offender . No other person is to be in the Tent of Meeting during this ordinance .
PREPARATION: The high priest must bathe himself with water and put on the sacred linen priestly garments, then take a young bull for a Sin offering; and a Ram for a Burnt offering, both as an offering for himself and his household. For the community of people he is to take two male goats for a Sin offering; a ram for a Burnt offering; select one goat (for the Lord) and one as a scapegoat by casting lots.
PROCEDURE: Slaughter the bull for his Sin offering: take a censer full of burning coals from the Altar, and two handfuls of incense; together with some of the bull’s blood, behind the Curtain. Behind the Curtain he is to put the incense on the fire so that the smoke will conceal the Atonement Cover (the Lid of the Ark of the Covenant) – so that he will not die – then sprinkle with his finger some of the bull’s blood on the front of the Atonement Cover and then seven times before the Atonement Cover. Slaughter the (Lord’s) goat for a Sin offering for the people: then take some of its blood behind the Curtain and do with it the same as he did with the bull’s blood. He is to make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the sin of the people. He is to make atonement for the Tent of Meeting in the same way. He is to make atonement for the Altar, also sprinkle some of the bull’s and the goat’s blood on the Horns of the Altar. He is to bring forward the live goat (scapegoat): lay hands on it and confess the sins of the people; send the goat into the desert with a man appointed for this task. He must then re-enter the Tent of Meeting and remove his linen garments and leave them there; bathe himself with water (in a holy place) and put on his regular garments, then return to the Altar and sacrifice the Burnt offerings (rams) for himself and the people and burn the fat of the Sin offering. The bull and the goat for the Sin offering (whose blood was taken into the Most Holy Place) must be taken outside the camp of the people and their remains must be burnt, and the man who took the scapegoat and released it into the desert, must wash his clothes and bathe himself before returning to the camp; likewise the man who burnt the remains of the Sin offering.
IT’S SIGNIFICANCE: It was an annual ordinance officiated only by the high priest. It consisted of a Sin offering and a Burnt offering that were for the entire community. Once-a-year God’s wrath and anger in respect to the sin of the Israelite community was appeased by the ordinance of the Atonement.
In respect to the sin of all people (Jew and Gentile), God has now “presented His Son as a sacrifice of atonement” . And so God’s wrath and anger has been appeased by the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus the Christ. As the high priest alone officiated in this ordinance, Jesus Christ our High Priest officiated alone in His sacrificial death. He suffered alone in His humiliation, His mock trial and shameful crucifixion. He was forsaken by His heavenly Father because he identified with our sin; He was forsaken by friends’ family and disciples because they were afraid to be identified with Him . As the high priest identified himself with the sins of the people, laying his hands on the head of the sacrificial animal; so Christ identified with our sins and bore them and the penalty on the cross at Calvary where: “He died alone for you and me”.
The ordinance involved a Sin offering and a Burnt offering. The Sin offering was offered for the sin of the community of the people for “known” and “unknown” sin; that is, for sin committed wilfully and for sin committed unawares or accidentally. Christ also died as our sin-offering; for the sin of the people at that time, and for those who were yet to be born in the future. Our sinful nature is inherited and we have no control over that fact, therefore we commit sinful acts consciously and unconsciously, and Christ’s atoning death was sufficient for all the sins of all the people then, now and in the future. The Sin offering on this occasion was shared by two goats, one slaughtered and burnt outside the camp, the other released into the desert. Christ’s sacrifice was twofold in this respect: He gave Himself completely (all His life to the last drop of His blood) as He suffered and died outside the camp (city) and finished the work of justification. On the other hand, He took our sins “away” (like the scapegoat) and “hid” them from the view of God; they have been covered by His shed blood:
“A debtor to mercy alone, Of covenant mercy I sing,
Nor fear, with God’s righteousness on, My person and off’ rings to bring.
The terrors of law and of God With me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood Hide all my transgressions from view”.
The Burnt offering typified Christ in His death, in that Christ gave His all in His life and His death: nothing was withheld in His life as He fully expended Himself to the well being of the people as He ministered to them in their spiritual and temporal needs; finally He “humbled himself and became obedient to death . And so Jesus Christ, like the bull in the ordinance, gave himself fully to the task of our redemption and was put to death outside the camp of Israel. The ordinance of the Atonement was for the entire community of Israel; Christ likewise suffered for the sins of the entire community of Israel and more; He also bore the sins of the entire “world community”, Jew and Gentile alike .
“Christ has for sin atonement made- What a wonderful Savior!
We are redeemed, the price is paid-What a wonderful Savior!
I praise Him for the cleansing blood- What a wonderful Savior!
That reconciled my soul to God-What a wonderful Savior!”
Jesus Christ fulfilled every aspect of the” Atoning Sacrifice” and is worthy of all praise. He was exalted to the right hand of God His Father because of His faithfulness and as proof that His offering has been accepted , and will be exalted by all people on a coming day. He is our faithful High Priest and this is highlighted throughout the epistle to the Hebrews . In Hebrews 7:11 through 10:18 the Lord Jesus Christ is compared to the Levitical priesthood and shown to be far superior and thus worthy to be our eternal High Priest. The worship in the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) is described and shown to be inadequate in respect that it was unable to bring about a full and lasting atonement, and in the closing verses of this section, the sacrifice of Christ is shown to be adequate and completely satisfactory to a Holy God. Consequently, we have a full and perfect atonement that will never have to be repeated; there needs to be no further atonement for sin.
“No blood, no altar now, The sacrifice is o’er! ,No flame, no smoke ascends on high,
The Lamb is slain no more, But richer blood has flow’d from nobler veins,
To purge the soul from guilt, and cleanse the reddest stains.”
(Horatius Bonar 1808-1889)

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