Leviticus 16

Prepare To Meet The Lord

Moses met with the Lord while being protected by God and it altered his appearance forever. The people completed the Tabernacle (Exodus 40) and when God's glory descended, not even Moses was able to enter. As Leviticus begins, the Lord gives instructions concerning offerings and the priests. Moses followed the Lord's instructions and taught Aaron and his sons the rules for the offerings that the Lord had ordained. Aaron and his sons made offerings for themselves and the people. For the first time, Aaron entered the tent of meeting with Moses and when they returned to bless the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all of the people. Fire came out from God's presence and consumed the burnt offerings and the people shouted for joy and fell on the faces in worship. This experience was soon marred by the death of two of Aaron's sons who attempted to make unauthorized offerings. The sudden death of Nadab and Abihu provided another occasion for the Lord to give guidance. These instructions would answer any question about attending to priestly duties. 

The Day Of Atonement

Aaron was not to enter the most holy place whenever he chose because God's presence would put his life in danger. At a designated time, the priest would: choose a bull for a sin offering, offer a ram for a burnt offering, bathe, put on his priestly garments, wear a turban, secure two goats for a sin offering, and make atonement for himself and his house. The priest cannot mediate for the people if he is not clean and his sins atoned. The goats would then be set before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting where lots would be cast to see which goat would be a sin offering to the Lord. The other goat would be released into the wilderness to picture the sins of the nation going away. The priest would then take a censer filled with coals from the altar and two handfuls of incense. The high priest would enter the most holy place three times. First, he would enter carrying the censer and the burning incense which would cover the mercy seat so that the high priest would not die. Next, the high priest would take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and seven times on the ground in from of the ark. Finally, the goat of the sin offering was to be slaughtered for the people, and the high priest would carry its blood into the most holy place and sprinkle it over the mercy seat making atonement for all of the sins of the people. No one was to be in the tent of meeting with Aaron, the high priest while he was making atonement for himself, for his family, and for his people. Aaron would make atonement on the altar before the Lord and then lay both his hands on the head of the goat that was living, confess the sins of the people, and release it in a remote area of the wilderness from which it would never return. The goat was a picture of bearing the sin of the people away. Aaron returned to the tent of meeting, took off his linen garments, bathed, put on his usual priestly attire, and come out to offer burnt offerings for himself and the people while burning the fat of the sin offering on the altar. Those who assisted with the live goat and the disposal of the bull and goat were to cleanse themselves before returning to the camp. The Day of Atonement was a day of rest and fasting. The Day of Atonement was to continue throughout successive generations once a year for the removal of Israel's sins. Aaron did all that the Lord commanded.

Things To Consider:

  • What is atonement?
  • How are we to approach God today?
  • How are we made clean today?
  • How are we able to enter God's presence without dying?
  • How are sins atoned for through Jesus?
  • How is Jesus both goats?
  • How should we prepare to enter God's presence?
  • How does knowing that we are a kingdom of priests shed light on this passage?
  • Who is our substitute for sin?
  • Why is blood a part of atonement?
  • What has Jesus done to our sin?