20 January 2015

BSF 2014-2015: Leviticus 16, 23; Hebrews 9-10

This week’s lesson focuses on the Jewish celebration of the Day of Atonement. But it also points us to see Christ as our atoning sacrifice.

God gave the Israelites many annual festivals that the Israelites celebrated after they entered the Promised Land. These celebrations are described in Leviticus 23:

  • Passover – Celebrates the Israelites’ delivery from slavery in Egypt. Points to Jesus as our Passover Lamb.
  • Festival of Firstfruits – The Israelites dedicate their entire crop to God. Jesus is the firstfruit of all believers because He was the first to be raised in a resurrection body.
  • Festival of Harvest (also called Pentecost) – The Israelites present an offering of new grain to God. After Jesus rose from the dead, during this festival the Holy Spirit indwelt believers, and a harvest of new believers began.
  • Festival of Trumpets – This is a day of rest, and trumpets are blown to draw the people’s attention to God’s judgment of sin.
  • Day of Atonement (now called Yom Kippur) – The high priest makes sacrifices for his sins and the sins of the entire nation.
  • Festival of Tabernacles – The Israelites rejoice because their sins are cleansed. They live in tents for a short time to remember how God brought them through their journey in the wilderness.

Now, let’s focus on the Day of Atonement.

The Day of Atonement is a very solemn day for the Israelites. It is a day of rest and fasting. God instructs the people to participate in prayerful, self-examination all day.

This is the only day the high priest is permitted to enter the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle. First, the high priest makes a sacrifice for his own sins and for his family’s sins.

Then the high priest gathers two goats. One goat is sacrificed for the people’s sins, and its blood is sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Ark of the Testimony. The other goat is a scapegoat that represents the removal of the people’s sins. The scapegoat takes on the sins of the people and is sent out of the Israelites’ camp and dies in the desert.

Atonement is the act by which sinful man is reconciled to a holy God. On the Day of Atonement, atonement is made once a year for the sins of the Israelites. But when Jesus died, He died once for all peoples’ sins. Jesus was both the sacrificed goat and the scapegoat. He bore the full wrath of God on the cross as our substitute, acquitting us of guilt and reconciling us to God.

Your sins can be forgiven if you believe Jesus died for you and your sins. He made atonement for you. He wants you to be reconciled to Him. The work of salvation is complete. There’s nothing more you or God can do. The death of Christ was enough to reconcile us to God and to make atonement for all of our sins.

Things to Think About

  • Sin permeates everything. Sin is an outrage against God and is a source of untold harm to ourselves and to others.
  • Reading God’s Word makes us uncomfortable in our sin. But God’s Word also cleanses us and drives us to Him.
  • Which sins am I bringing into my home?
  • When we participate in sin, we force the Holy Spirit to participate alongside us.
  • Which sin is keeping you from coming to God?