Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 16-18
* This is the first of two devotionals for today’s scripture reading.
The opening verse of Leviticus 16 remind us of a tragedy that occurred in Leviticus 10 when Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, “offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” and were slain for their sin (Leviticus 16:1).
The high priest (16:2), representing Israel before the LORD, was only to enter the “holy place within the veil before the mercy seat” once a year on “the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month” (16:29).
This Day of Atonement, known as “Yom Kippur” or the “Sabbath of Sabbaths”, is the most holy day on the Jewish calendar. This was the day the high priest offered sacrifices for his sins, his household, and for the sins of the nation.
Several spiritual truths are found in Leviticus 16. The first is a reminder the high priest and his household were sinners themselves and in need of blood atonement (16:3-14). The high priest dared not take lightly the “holy place” beyond the veil where the Mercy Seat representing the throne of God was located. Before he ministered as a representative of the nation, the high priest was instructed to offer sacrifices for himself and his household.
After ceremonially washing and girding himself in the holy garments of the high priest (16:4), Aaron chose two goats and a ram he would later offer for the sins of the nation (16:5). The first sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was a young bull the high priest offered as a sin offering for himself and his household (16:6, 11-14).
Two goats were chosen for the Day of Atonement; one would be sacrificed for the sins of the nation and the other serve as a scapegoat (16:5). After casting lots to determine the goat the LORD would have sacrificed as a sin offeringfor the nation (16:7-10), its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat (16:15) and a young bull was next sacrificed on the altar before all the congregation (16:18-19).
The “live goat” that was spared was the scapegoat (16:5, 20-21). With the congregation looking on, the high priest placed his hands on the head of the scapegoat and confessed the sins of the nation. Symbolically bearing the sins of the nation, the scapegoat was then led out of the encampment and set free in the wilderness (16:22). The blood and remains of the goat, ram, and bull that was sacrificed were then removed from the camp and burned in the wilderness (16:27).
Guidelines for sacrifices continues in Leviticus 17. The prohibition of slaying animals for sacrifice any other place than the tabernacle suggests the possibility the people might have been tempted to offer blood sacrifices to false gods (17:3-7) and the punishment for idolatry was excommunication (17:4, 9).
The LORD had chosen blood as the means of expiation (i.e. atonement) for man’s sin. The LORD warned Adam his sin would be punishable by death and so it follows the shedding of blood is a representation of death.
Modern science has proved what the LORD revealed to Israel thousands of years ago… “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (17:11a). I marvel at what our blood reveals about us. Our very life and being is in our blood. Our genetic profile, ancestry and health are all contained in our blood!
Why do we not offer sacrifices for our sins today?
We no longer follow the pattern of blood sacrifices for sins because Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was the sum of all sacrifices ever offered (Hebrews 9:24-28 ). The author of Hebrews writes,
Hebrews 9:27-28 – “27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Will you believe and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, the substitutionary sacrifice for your sin?
1 John 5:13 – 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith