Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations
"Thus he shall make atonement because of their transgressions, all their sins"

Scripture: Leviticus 16:2-28

2 and the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. 3 But thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and shall have the linen breeches on his body, be girded with the linen girdle, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water, and then put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.

6 "And Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats, and set them before the LORD at the door of the tent of meeting; 8 and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Aza'zel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD, and offer it as a sin offering; 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Aza'zel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Aza'zel. 11 "Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small; and he shall bring it within the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat which is upon the testimony, lest he die; 14 and he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

15 "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; 16 thus he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. 17 There shall be no man in the tent of meeting when he enters to make atonement in the holy place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel.

18 Then he shall go out to the altar which is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar round about. 19 And he shall sprinkle some of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.

20 "And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; 21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.

23 "Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting, and shall put off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there; 24 and he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn upon the altar.

26 And he who lets the goat go to Aza'zel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be carried forth outside the camp; their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned with fire. 28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

Meditation: Moses gave instruction to Aaron, the high priest, for the observance of the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year, when a sacrificial scapegoat was to be given as a sin offering for the people. On that day the high priest alone could enter the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place. The Hebrew word for atonement can be literally translated to pay a ransom (for one's life). Through the death of the animal and the subsequent rituals the people were to be ransomed from the death that their sin and uncleanness merit. Deliberate reparation and public confession of serious sin were necessary prerequisites to sacrificial atonement (see Numbers 15:27-30).

Origen in his homily on Leviticus shows how Christ fulfills the day of atonement. "God taught the people of the old covenant how to celebrate the ritual offered to him in atonement for the sins of men. But you have come to Christ, the true high priest. Through his blood he has made God turn to you in mercy and has reconciled you with the Father. You must not think simply of ordinary blood but you must learn to recognize instead the blood of the Word. Listen to him as he tells you: This is my blood, which will be shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension fulfill the day of atonement (Hebrews 9:11-14,24). Christ's death was a sacrifice which atoned for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2). Unlike the sacrifices in Leviticus the crucifixion was unlimited in its scope and required no repetition. "He has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).

Through Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension we have been made a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9). The Lord Jesus has given us his Holy Spirit and has written the law of God on our hearts so that we may live as sons and daughters of God. Does the word of Christ rule in your heart and are you eager to do all that he has commanded?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you have the words of everlasting life. By your death on a cross you have set me free from the power of sin and death. Let your word rule in my heart and cleanse my mind of all that is unclean and contrary to your will."


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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager