Lev 16: Outline of events on the Day of Atonement: The day
would seem to begin as usual with the offering of the morning sacrifice, the
burnt offering of a one-year-old lamb (Exo 29:38-42; Num 28:3-6). After these
duties were performed, the High Priest would commence the ceremonies of the Day
of Atonement, as prescribed in Lev 16:
Aaron was to take off his normal priestly garments, wash, and then put on
the special garments which were prescribed for the sacrifices which took him
into the holy of holies (v 4; cf Exo 28; 39).
Aaron secured the necessary
sacrificial animals: a bull for his own sin offering and two male goats for the
people's sin offering; two rams, one for Aaron's and the other for the people's
burnt offering (vv 3,5).
Aaron slaughtered the bull for his own sin offering
Before entering into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the
bull, Aaron had to create a "cloud" of incense in the Holy of Holies, covering
the mercy seat, to "veil" the glory of God so that he could enter in (vv 12,13).
In the case of Aaron, he was to offer only the prescribed incense so as to
create an obscuring veil of smoke, thus dimming the glory of God's presence and
sparing his life.
Aaron then took some of the blood of the bull and
sprinkled it on the mercy seat seven times (v 14).
Lots were then cast for
the two goats, to determine which would be slaughtered and which would be driven
away (vv 7,8).
The goat for slaughter, the goat of the people's sin
offering, was sacrificed, and its blood was taken into the Holy of Holies and
applied to the mercy seat, as the bull's blood had been (v 15).
was then made for the holy place (v 16), seemingly by the sprinkling of the
blood of both the bull and the goat. The atonement of the holy place is done
alone, without anyone present to help, or to watch (v 17).
Next, outside the
tent, Aaron was to make atonement for the altar of burnt offering, using, it
would seem, the blood of both the bull and the goat (vv 18,19).
second goat, the one which was kept alive, had the sins of the nation
symbolically laid on its head, and was driven from the camp to a desolate place,
from which it must never return (vv 20-22).
Aaron then came out of the tent
of meeting, removed his linen garments, washed, and put on his normal priestly
garments (vv 23,24).
The burnt offerings of rams, one for Aaron and his
family and the other for the people, was now offered (v 24).
sacrifices of the bull and the goat were completed. The fat of the sin offering
was burned on the altar (v 25), and the remains of the bull and the goat were
taken outside the camp, where they were burned (v 27).
Those who had been
rendered unclean by handling the animals on which the sins of Aaron or the
people were laid were to wash themselves and then return to camp (vv
Historical basis for Day of Atonement: Commemoration of Adam's
rejection from Garden.
Man sins, is thrust out (into wilderness) = scapegoat;
An offering made
for sin (Gen 3:21) = sacrificial goat;
Cherubim guard way to tree of life
(Gen 3:24) = cherubim on curtains, and surrounding altar of Most Holy;
Priest Adam is thrust out of Eden = Temple; then the High Priest returns into
Gen 4: Abel offers a proper (blood) sacrifice, but Cain offers of
his crops -- Day of Atonement is in 7th month; thus crops would be ripe (BS
TELL YOUR BROTHER AARON NOT TO COME WHENEVER HE CHOOSES
INTO THE MOST HOLY PLACE...: "It can be assumed by the phrase 'at all times'
[KJV] that up until the time of Nadab and Abihu's sin of offering strange fire,
the high priest would have had access continually to the Most Holy Place. In
place of this continual access, the Day of Atonement was instituted where the
priests only had access one day per year to the Holiest of Holies.
"It appears from Lev 9; 10... that this consuming fire came on
the VERY FIRST DAY of Nadab and Abihu's ministration before the Lord... Their
very first day on the job, so to speak, found them terminated in the most
literal and tragic way thus barring this priestly order from continual Most Holy
"It is highly symbolic that the Aaronic priesthood was not
originally barred from continual access to the Most Holy. It was on account of
sin that this way was thwarted. For a system whose primary objective was to
demonstrate the sinfulness and inevitability of sin, there could not be a more
fitting start. The flesh and its results are clearly and dramatically
demonstrated... The writer to the Hebrews makes several points which are even
more poignant with this bit of additional information: (1) The priesthood of
Christ was not limited by sin. 'For we have not an high priest which cannot be
touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like
as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need' [Heb
4:15,16]. Jesus, in living a sinless life, reopened the way that had been closed
by sin. The barrier erected by man's sin in the Garden to their God was
confirmed in the fleshly priesthood of Aaron, but opened by the blood of Jesus
Christ. Aaron's sons died because of sin thus barring access to God while Jesus
died without sin thus opening the way to God.
"While the sin of Nadab and Abihu closed off access to the
Most Holy Place except once a year on the Day of Atonement, Jesus entered once
and stayed forever. 'For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with
hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear
in the presence of God for us' (Heb 9:24). We need not wait to approach unto God
as did the men of Israel, but can access God through our High Priest whenever we
pray in his name" (KT).
BECAUSE I APPEAR IN THE CLOUD: God dwelt in the cloud,
as He did in Christ: Col 2:9.
SCAPEGOAT: Heb "azazel". "The meaning of the Heb term
(which occurs four times in the OT, all of them in this chapter: vv 8,10,10,26)
is much debated. There are three major views: (1) Some derive the term from a
combination of the Heb words 'goat' and 'go away' meaning 'the goat that
departs' or 'scapegoat'. This meaning suits the ritual practice of sending the
so-called scapegoat away into the wilderness (vv 10, 21,22, 26). Similarly, some
derive the term from an Arabic word meaning 'remove' (BDB 736). (2) Some see the
term as a description of the wilderness area to which the goat was dispatched.
(3) The most common view among scholars today [which is plainly false, but
interesting nonetheless as an indication of how false ideas develop and
proliferate: GB] is that it is the proper name of a particular demon (perhaps
even the Devil himself) associated with the wilderness desert regions. Levine
has proposed that it may mean 'mighty goat'. He suggests that a possible
connection with the 'goat-demons' of the desert in Lev 17:7 (cf Isa 13:21, etc),
should not be ignored in the derivation of Azazel, although the term ultimately
became the name of 'the demonic ruler of the wilderness'... Perhaps a play on
words between the proper name and the term for 'goat' has occurred so that the
etymology has become obscure" (NET notes).
Vv 11,12: "As God instituted the ceremony associated with the
Day of Atonement based on this tragic event, it would be impossible every year
as Aaron performed it not to recall the awful scene of that first day. Imagine a
holy festival consecrated as a result of your children's death. Much of the
ceremony itself would be a painful reminder of the death of his two sons as well
as the sin which brought it about on that fateful day.
"As the Law required... Aaron would have to take into his hand
a censer exactly like (or possibly the same one!) as his two sons had in their
hands when they were struck dead by God for offering 'strange fire'. Aaron would
probably have little difficulty summoning up the humility required to first
offer a sin offering for himself as required on that day knowing that he was
about to carry fire before the Lord. He definitely would not enter in casually.
There is a tremendous lesson for us in this.
"As he laid his hands upon the bull, would he recall the
Golden Calf that he had so foolishly produced in the wilderness of Sinai? Would
he recall his failings as a father -- to produce two sons who more than likely
were drunk of this first day of their priesthood (Lev 10:9)? As they lead the
scapegoat out of the camp, would he be reminded of the bodies of his sons who
were carried outside of the camp (Lev 10:5)?
"How would God react to this event? Here was a man appearing
before him grieving for the loss of his sons as a result of sin. Surely God
would want to tell Aaron, 'You know, Aaron, I have killed your sons because of
their sin. But one day in the distant future your sons are going to kill my son.
The big difference is going to be that he won't deserve to die.'
"So we have two fathers grieving over sin, the loss of their
sons as the blood flowed freely and plentifully.
"The only incident more dramatic than this scene was when the
shadow became reality several thousand years later on a hill outside of
Jerusalem called Golgotha" (KT).
TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR HIMSELF: High Priest first offers
for self, then for sins of people: v 15. "This is why he has to offer sacrifices
for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people" (Heb 5:3). "He did not
enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy
Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb
The censer would be suspended on his wrist.
SO THAT HE WILL NOT DIE: The cloud formed by the
incense protects the High Priest from God's holy presence. Acceptable
preparation and prayer are our only protection when we venture into God's
presence. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions" (Isa
NO ONE...: The High Priest (repr Christ) is the only
IN THE CARE OF A MAN APPOINTED FOR THE TASK: Cp Simon
from Cyrene, with the cross (Luk 23:26).
SABBATH OF REST: Lit, "sabbath of sabbaths", or great
AND ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE COMMUNITY: The congregation
awaited the High Priest's reappearance from the Most Holy: Heb 9:28; Col