Leviticus
Introduction 1-2 Reason for the Day of Atonement 3-4 How Aaron Must Enter the Sanctuary 5-11 The Offerings That Aaron Must Bring 12-13 The Incense 14 The Blood of the Bull 15-19 The Goat for the LORD 20-22 The Live, Send Away Goat 23-26 Other Garments, Bathe, Offering 27-28 Burnt with Fire Outside the Camp 29-31 Statute for the Day of Atonement 32 High Priestly Follow-Up 33-34 Atonement Once a Year
Introduction

This chapter is the heart of the book. It is its foundation. Here the question is answered how a holy God can live among an unholy people and have fellowship with them.

The offerings in the first chapters of this book are almost always made by individual Israelites, either voluntarily – burnt offering and grain offering –, or compulsorily – sin offering and guilt offering. There is no question of a special day. The sacrifices on the Day of Atonement must be made annually on a prescribed day and are for the whole people. The emphasis is on the sin offering and the blood. In picture the cross is presented in the most fundamental way in this chapter as the place where the Lord Jesus died as the sin offering, thereby laying the foundation for the community between God and His people.

The Passover represents the foundation of salvation, the liberation from Egypt. The Day of Atonement covers more. This makes it possible for a redeemed people to have fellowship with God and to approach Him in the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is a picture of the heaven of heavens where the throne of God stands and where we may approach boldly as priests. “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:1919Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,). The letter to the Hebrews is in fact one great comment on Leviticus 16. This is especially evident in the differences between Leviticus and the letter to the Hebrews:

1. The veil is still closed here; in the letter to the Hebrews the entrance is free.
2. Aaron is a sinful high priest, while the Lord Jesus is perfect.
3. In Leviticus we see a repetition of sacrifices and thus a recurring remembrance of sins (Heb 10:1-31For the Law, since it has [only] a shadow of the good things to come [and] not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?3But in those [sacrifices] there is a reminder of sins year by year.); in the letter to the Hebrews it is about an offering that has been made once and for all: “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb 10:1414For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.).
The repetition proves that it is nothing more than a symbol; the strength lies in pointing to the offering of the Lord Jesus.
4. In Leviticus the priest stands; in the letter to the Hebrews there He has sat down (Heb 10:11-1211Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,).


Reason for the Day of Atonement

1Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died. 2The 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.

The starting point of this chapter is the death of two of the most privileged people on earth. If it is impossible for them to enter the presence of God without dying, then the total loss of man is established. How then can a man approach God? God reveals this in picture in this chapter. It answers the question: How can the holy God dwell among such men? God indicates the way.

The high priest lays the foundation for this by the offering he makes every year. On that one day he may enter the holy place. But not without blood, that he must offer for himself and for the people (Heb 9:77but into the second, only the high priest [enters] once a year, not without [taking] blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.). The blood comes from different offerings. Every offering speaks of the Lord Jesus.


How Aaron Must Enter the Sanctuary

3Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his body in water and put them on.

When entering the holy place Aaron does not wear his official clothing for glory and for beauty with which he represents the people before God. He wears simple white linen clothes. This speaks of the personal purity and practical righteousness of the Lord Jesus. He is the only One who was able to complete the work on the cross for the benefit of others. On the cross He did not look after the interests of the people in view of their weaknesses, but made Himself one with their sins. He made their sins His, as He prophetically speaks of “My iniquities” (Psa 40:1212For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
).


The Offerings That Aaron Must Bring

5He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. 6Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. 7He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. 10But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. 11“Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.

There are two sin offerings: one for Aaron and his house, the other for the people. There is a difference in animals: a bull and a goat. There is also a difference in number: one bull for himself and his house and two goats for the people. Aaron and his house represent the Lord Jesus and God’s heavenly people, the church (Heb 3:1,61Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;6but Christ [was faithful] as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.). The people are God’s earthly people Israel. A bull is a greater offering. The church has a greater insight into and appreciation for the work of the Lord Jesus than Israel.

Two goats are needed to represent the truth of the atonement. The first goat is for the LORD, the second for the people. First, God’s holy demands must be met, then the needs of the people. Both goats also present two aspects of atonement. The goat for the LORD represents the work of the Lord Jesus by which all the holy demands of God are fulfilled. In this way the offer of the reconciliation based on the work of the Lord Jesus can be made to all men. The work is so great and perfect that all men can be saved (1Tim 2:3-63This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.5For there is one God, [and] one mediator also between God and men, [the] man Christ Jesus,6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [given] at the proper time.; Acts 17:3030Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent,; 2Cor 5:19-2119namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.21He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.).

The other goat, that is sent away, proposes the substantiation. On this goat are confessed the sins of all who belong to the people of God (verse 2121Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send [it] away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who [stands] in readiness.). In this we see that the Lord Jesus has borne the sins, not of all men, but only of those who accept God’s offer of reconciliation, that is, those who repent. The Lord Jesus gave His life “as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:2828just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”). Here is not “for all”, but “for many”. The word ‘for’ here has the meaning of ‘instead of’, while the word ‘for’ in 1 Timothy 2 means ‘extending to’, in the sense of an offer (1Tim 2:66who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [given] at the proper time.).


The Incense

12He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring [it] inside the veil. 13He shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on [the ark of] the testimony, otherwise he will die.

The high priest enters the sanctuary with his hands full of incense. For Aaron as a sinful person it is, that he may not die. The cloud of incense fills the sanctuary and envelops him. The Lord Jesus Himself does not need any incense to enter the sanctuary. He entered by virtue of all His glories, His attributes, all of which are like a pleasant fragrance to God. Incense does not speak so much of what He has done, but of what and Who He is.


The Blood of the Bull

14Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle [it] with his finger on the mercy seat on the east [side]; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

The blood of the bull is sprinkled on and in front of the mercy seat. The blood on the mercy seat is for God. He sees the blood as a covering, a fulfilment of His holy demands written on the tables of the law that lie in the ark under the mercy seat. One sprinkling is enough for Him. He knows perfectly the value of the blood.

The blood in front of the mercy seat is for us, priests. We may approach God on the basis thereof to serve Him as priests. For the priest, the blood is sprinkled seven times. That is to give us absolute certainty that we can be there because of the value of that blood.


The Goat for the LORD

15“Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16He 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. 17When 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. 18Then he shall go out to the altar that 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 on all sides. 19With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.

The goat which is for the LORD (verse 88Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat.) is slaughtered for the sake of the people. Its blood, as well as the blood from the bull, is sprinkled on and before the mercy seat in the sanctuary. This is for the atonement of the sanctuary because of the sins of the Israelites, that God may continue to dwell among them.

God’s honor is restored through the work of the Lord Jesus. He has returned to God what He has not stolen, namely God’s glory (Psa 69:44Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head;
Those who would destroy me are powerful, being wrongfully my enemies;
What I did not steal, I then have to restore.
). The dishonor we have done to God has been taken away by the Lord Jesus by glorifying Him, obeying Him in everything, and completing His work perfectly. Therefore first the goat is slaughtered which is for the LORD. God must have the first place, only then will our need come.

The foundation of reconciliation with God was established by the Lord Jesus. God has demanded all His righteous demands as the holy and righteous God from the Lord Jesus. He made Him sin (2Cor 5:2121He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.; Rom 8:33For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God [did]: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and [as an offering] for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,). The Lord Jesus has perfectly fulfilled all God’s demands and desires. God is perfectly satisfied with regard to sin. On that basis God can now offer the reconciliation to every human being (2Cor 5:2020Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.). Every human being can be reconciled to God (Tit 2:1111For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,; 1Tim 2:66who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [given] at the proper time.). In sending Christ to earth, God has stretched out His reconciling hand to the world (2Cor 5:1919namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.).

The Lord Jesus is now in heaven. No man is present when he “through his own blood” enters the heavenly sanctuary as the basis of an eternal salvation which he has acquired (Heb 9:11-1211But when Christ appeared [as] a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.). He is “designated by God as High Priest” (Heb 5:10a10being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.). Because we may enter the sanctuary (Heb 10:1919Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,; Eph 2:1818for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.), we may know what Israel does not know yet, because the veil is still closed for them.

Blood is applied to the sanctuary, to the objects which are therein, and to the tent of meeting and the altar. In Hebrews 9 it says that the tabernacle is a copy of heaven (Heb 9:23-2423Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a [mere] copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;). On the basis of the blood, once all things – not: all people! – will be reconciled to God (Col 1:2020and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, [I say,] whether things on earth or things in heaven.).


The Live, Send Away Goat

20“When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. 21Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send [it] away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who [stands] in readiness. 22The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

Aaron makes himself one with the live goat – laying on hands is making one with. Then he confesses all the sins, which are “all the iniquities”, the evil deeds of the Israelites. The sins are put on the goat, as it were. Then the goat is released into the wilderness.

It refers to the Lord Jesus, Who has taken upon Himself the sins of all who believe in Him (1Pet 2:2424and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.). He has confessed every sin of every believer before God as His own sin, and He has borne the judgment over those sins. God says: “I will remember their sins no more” (Heb 8:1212“For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.”). The believer may know and say: “You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isa 38:17b17“Lo, for [my own] welfare I had great bitterness;
It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
). He has thrown them “into the depths of the sea” (Mic 7:19b19He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.
). He has put them away “as far as the east is from the west” (Psa 103:1212As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
), that is, infinitely far away. They are borne “to a solitary land”. Where sin is, there is no dwelling place for God, neither for people who are reconciled with God.


Other Garments, Bathe, Offering

23“Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there. 24He shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar. 26The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp.

After having sprinkled his blood his special work is done and he puts on his normal clothes again. Then he brings the ram for a burnt offering for himself and for the people. With the burnt offering he also brings the fat of the sin offering on the altar. This also speaks of the work of the Lord Jesus. The atonement cannot be separated from the perfect glorification of God, which is contained in the same work.

Everyone who has been in contact with sin must cleanse himself. The water bath of the Word works the cleansing.


Burnt with Fire Outside the Camp

27But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. 28Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.

From the sin offerings the blood is brought into the sanctuary and the bodies are brought outside the camp. This is also the place of the Christian (Heb 13:11-1311For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest [as an offering] for sin, are burned outside the camp.12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.13So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.), following the Lord Jesus. The camp stands for the organized religion in Christianity, where man is respected and takes the position of mediator between God and man. As a result, the Lord Jesus is not given the first and only place. The Christian is with Christ in the sanctuary in heaven; on earth he is with Him in a place of reproach.


Statute for the Day of Atonement

29“[This] shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; 30for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute.

Thinking of the reconciliation brings humility. After all, it is our sins that have made the work of the Lord Jesus necessary. We have dishonored God through our sins.

No work may be done on that day. The work of the Lord Jesus excludes any human activity. For everyone for whom this work has been completed, the result is: peace.


High Priestly Follow-Up

32So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments,

This verse shows that the ordination in Israel is imperfect. There is succession of the priesthood, while the Lord Jesus is High Priest permanently (Heb 7:23-2423The [former] priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.).


Atonement Once a Year

33and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.” And just as the LORD had commanded Moses, [so] he did.

These verses are a summary of this chapter. Although this law can only be fulfilled in the seventh month, we already read here that it is done “as the LORD had commanded Moses”. Here is looked ahead to the realization.


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