Saturday, November 18, 2023

2023.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 16

Read Leviticus 16

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Leviticus 16:1? When (cf. Leviticus 10:1–3)? Who had died? What had they done? Before Whom? With what prohibition does YHWH begin in Leviticus 16:2? How does He describe the place? What will happen if Aaron comes there at just any time?  Why? For what does YHWH begin giving directions in Leviticus 16:3? What two things must he bring with him into the holy place? For what purposes? What must he wear at first (Leviticus 16:4)? What must he do before he puts them on? From whom must he take what (Leviticus 16:5)? For what purposes? What is he to offer in Leviticus 16:6? To do what for whom? What is he to present in Leviticus 16:7? Before Whom? Where? What is he now to do in Leviticus 16:8? To whom do the lots belong? Whose goat does he do what to in Leviticus 16:9? Before Whom is he to present the other (Leviticus 16:10)? What is he to “make” upon it? And then do what to/with it? Now is he to bring, in Leviticus 16:11? For whom does he make atonement by it? What is he to do to it? Then what is he to take (Leviticus 16:12)? Full of what in the censer? From where? And what in his hands? And where is he to bring it? What is he then to do, before Whom (Leviticus 16:13)? So that what happens? Lest what happen? What is he to take in Leviticus 16:14? To do what with it? on which side? How many times is he to do this? What is he to do next (Leviticus 16:15)? Where is he to bring its blood? To do what? For what does this make atonement (Leviticus 16:16)? Because of whose uncleanness? And because of what else of theirs? What is cleansed this way? Among whom does it remain, that it would need this cleansing? Who must not be there (Leviticus 16:17)? Until he has made atonement for what three entities? To where is he to go in Leviticus 16:18? To do what for it? What blood is he to take? To put on what? Then what is he to do with the blood (Leviticus 16:19)? How many times? From what does this cleanse and consecrate it? For what three entities is he to complete making atonement (Leviticus 16:20)? Then what is he to bring? What is he to lay upon it (Leviticus 16:21)? What is he to confess? Where is he to send it (verse 21)? By whose hand? What does the goat take where (Leviticus 16:22)? Where is the high priest then to come (Leviticus 16:23)? What does he take off? What does he do in what kind of place (Leviticus 16:24)? What is he to put on? Where does he come? What two things is he to offer? To do what for whom? What else is he to offer (Leviticus 16:25)? Who returns in Leviticus 16:26? What is he to do? What may he do afterward? What is to be done with which two carcasses (Leviticus 16:27)? Where? What is the person who took did this to do (Leviticus 16:28)? What may he do afterward? How are they to think of these instructions (Leviticus 16:29)? On what day is this to take place? And what must Israel do on that day? And what mustn’t they do? Who all must do this? What does the priest do on this day (Leviticus 16:30)? To do what to them? From what? Before Whom? What does Leviticus 16:31 call this day? What are they to do on it? For how much of the life of the tabernacle and of the Aaronic priesthood are they to do this? Who is to do it (Leviticus 16:32)? In what garments? For what three places and what two groups does this make atonement (Leviticus 16:33)? For how much of the life of the nation of Israel is this to take place (Leviticus 16:34)? For what sins? How often? What does Aaron do? 

How can a holy tabernacle remain among a sinful people? Leviticus 16 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that by the blood of atonement, the holy things of Israel are cleansed from the people’s uncleanness, and the people themselves are atoned for and cleansed.

The immediate (and perpetual) need to cleanse the tabernacle.  Leviticus 16:1 reminds us what day this is—we are still on the day that Nadab and Abihu died! This becomes the day on which the holy things of Israel are re-cleansed and re-consecrated each year (cf. Leviticus 16:29). It became a day that Leviticus 16:31 calls “a sabbath of solemn rest” (or, more literally translated, “Sabbath of Sabbaths”). So, the sin of Nadab and Abihu, and the desecration of their dead bodies, was not a one-time occurrence. In fact, what the tabernacle needed to be cleansed and consecrated from was “the uncleanness of the children of Israel, their transgressions, and all their sins” (Leviticus 16:16Leviticus 16:21). Clearly this ritual, that had to applied year after year, could not accomplish the actual cleansing, but rather only display to them the cleansing that God Himself would provide and apply (cf. Hebrews 10:1–4). Jesus’s sacrifice alone could take away sin.

The need to cleanse even the holy things of Israel. The mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14) and the altar (Leviticus 16:18) needed to be cleansed by blood. Twice (Leviticus 16:20Leviticus 16:33), the holy place, tabernacle, and altar are grouped together as needing to be atoned for. Even the holy things of Israel had to be atoned for with blood. But these were mere copies of the reality that Christ would consecrate—not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with His own blood; and, not many times, year after year, but once for all (cf. Hebrews 9:11–15, Hebrews 9:23–28). 

The need to separate their sins from them, in order that they might ascend. As we have previously noted, the application of the blood and the burning of the animal were not due to the bearing of sin, but rather the identity with the worshiper who would then draw near to the Lord by ascension. This is seen when it comes to the sin offering of the people. Aaron’s own sin offering was a bull. The people’s was a goat, but in fact two goats were to be brought. In the pressing ceremony, one goat was identified with the people and their sins. This goat was not slaughtered or burnt but driven away. Thus, the Lord shows that He drives their sin far from them. The other goat, with which they are identified, is slaughtered and smokefied as a sin offering. Its blood, along with the blood of the high priest’s bull, is applied to the mercy seat and to the altar. The consecration of the mercy seat presents its own difficulty, with the priest needing to make a cloud with the holy incense, so that he does not inadvertently look upon the glory of the Lord and die (cf. Leviticus 16:13). Thus, the Lord identifies both mercy seat and altar with the priest and the people for use in their drawing near to Him by sacrifice. By bearing our sin for us at the cross, the Lord Jesus has not just removed our sin far from us; He has borne that sin under the very wrath of God so that the sin and its guilt are consumed from existence. He is for us all three: scapegoat, purification, and ascension.

By giving the laws of clean and unclean between the incident in chapter 10 and this chapter, the Lord has made clear to us that we and our sin are thoroughly unclean. Thus, though no time has actually passed from there to here, the Holy Spirit has prepared the reader to understand the greatness of what God does in the Day of Atonement. He takes that uncleanness, which appears to be irremediable, and eliminates it so that His holiness may dwell among His people. But the greatness of this cleansing is just a shadow of the cross, which gloriously outdoes it. It is in Christ that God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (cf. Psalm 103:12) and blots out our transgressions so that they are remembered no more (cf. Isaiah 43:25). Yes, dear Christian, through Jesus Christ and His atoning work, the holy God dwells with you in blessing and safety. Calvary was the great Day of Atonement.

What uncleanness endangers us? Why can’t our worship make up for this? What needs to be done in order for our worship itself to be cleansed and consecrated? Who alone, and what alone, can do this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have given Christ to atone for our sins, so that we may draw near to You without defiling Your worship or provoking You. By His blood, put away our sins and bring us near to Yourself, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH426 “How Vast the Benefits Divine”

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