In Leviticus 16 we read how God instructed the nation of Israel to observe the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was a day the nation of Israel fasted and rested while the high priest carried out specific sacrifices and rituals to atone for the sin of Israel before God. It was the only day of the year that anyone was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place – which is where God’s presence dwelled in the Ark of the Covenant. The high priest had to go through a long process which was instructed by God. It included the high priest bathing multiple times, wearing sacred garments, and sacrificing different animals to pay for the sins of him, his household, and the nation of Israel. There were 5 animals involved with the Day of Atonement, 4 would be killed as sacrifices, and the 5th animal was the scapegoat. The scapegoat was one of two goats that represented the sins of the Israelite Nation. One goat would be slaughtered as a sacrifice, and the other (the scapegoat) was sent off into the dessert. The high priest would lay his hands on the goat and confess all the sins of the nation of Israel. The goat would then be escorted from the Tabernacle, which was at the center of the Israelite camp, through the camp, and out into the wilderness. This represented the sins of the nation being removed. The punishment for sin is death, so the Day of Atonement involved a lot of death and sacrifices. They were only a temporary fix. This process needed to be repeated each year until…
Christ’s ultimate and perfect sacrifice on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He conquered sin and death. We no longer need to bring burnt offerings or observe the Day of Atonement, because Christ has paid the price for our sins. He has removed our sin so far from us, way further than a scapegoat could travel in the dessert outside the Israelite camp.
But Christ not only took the place of the sacrifices, He also took the place of the high priest. The high priest’s role was to intercede between the sinful nation of Israel and the perfect presence of the Most Holy God. The earthly high priests were sinful so they had to bathe and make sacrifices to be considered “clean” before they approached God. Jesus is perfect. He is risen from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. When satan, the great accuser, comes before God and begins pointing out all the sins and short coming of Christ’s followers, Christ steps in on our behalf. He proclaims that He has already paid the price for our sins and that He loves us!
Go into this weekend with joy knowing that your perfect High Priest, Christ Jesus, is interceding on your behalf!
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