Leviticus 16:1-2. And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died; and the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
The way into the heavenly places was not yet made manifest; the inner shrine, called the holy of holies, was specially guarded from human access. No one could have said in those days, “Let us come boldly unto the throne of grace,” for only the high priest could approach the mercy seat at all, and he must go within the vail strictly in accordance with the instructions given to Moses by the Lord. Nadab and Abihu appear to have entered into the presence of God wrongfully. They had probably been drinking, for there was a command afterwards given that no priest should drink wine or strong drink when he went into the house of the Lord. God in his righteous anger slew these young men at once, and now, lest any others should intrude into the secret place of communion, a law was given to tell when and how man might approach his God.
Leviticus 16:3. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.
There is no access to God except by sacrifice; there never was, and there never can be, any way to God for sinful man except by sacrifice.
Leviticus 16:4. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
Our great High Priest offered himself without spot to God, and he is himself without sin; but the Jewish high priest must make himself typically pure by putting on the snow white garments of holy service, and before doing so he must wash himself with water, that he might come before God acceptably. None might approach the Holy God with impurities upon them.
Leviticus 16:5-6. And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house.
These priests were sinful, and therefore they must first themselves be purged from guilt before they could come nigh to God; but the true High Priest of God, our Lord Jesus, needed to offer no sacrifice for himself, for he was pure and without blemish or stain of sin.
Leviticus 16:7. And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
These two goats were not for himself, but for the people. You must regard them as if they were but one offering, for it needed both of them to set forth the divine plan by which sin is put away; one was to die, and the other was typically to bear away the sin of the people.
Leviticus 16:8. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.
One goat was to show how sin is put away in reference to God by sacrifice, and the other goat was to show how it is put away in reference to us, God’s people, by being carried into oblivion.
Leviticus 16:9-14. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself: and he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: and he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.
This was his first entrance within the vail, with holy incense to denote the acceptance which Christ has with God, though he is always well-beloved, and dear, and precious to his Father. This incense sent up a cloud that veiled the glory of the Shekinah which shone between the two wings of the cherubim, and so the high priest was better able to bear the wondrous brilliance by which God revealed his presence. When Aaron had thus filled the place with the sweetly perfumed smoke, he took the blood of the bullock of the sin offering, and carefully sprinkled it seven times on the mercy seat, and on the ground around the mercy seat. What a mercy it is for you and me that the spot where we meet with God is a place where the blood of the great sacrifice has been sprinkled, ay, and that the ground of our meeting with God, the place on which the mercy seat rests, has also the blood mark upon it!
Leviticus 16:15. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
Twice, you see, is the holy place thus besprinkled, first with the blood of the bullock, and then with that of the goat.
Leviticus 16:16. And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness.
If God is to dwell in the midst of sinful men, it can only be through the blood of the atonement. Twice seven times were the holy place and the tabernacle to be sprinkled with blood, as though to indicate a double perfectness of efficacy of the preparation for God’s dwelling among sinful men.
Leviticus 16:17-19 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
Even this altar, to which we bring our prayers and our thankofferings, has sin upon it. There is some defilement even in the saltwater of our penitent tears; there is some unbelief even in our most acceptable faith; there is some want of holiness about our holiest things. We are unclean by nature, and by practice, too, what could we do without the sprinkling of the blood? See how the Lord insisted upon it in the case of his ancient people, yet there are some in these modern times who deride it. God forgive their blasphemy!
Leviticus 16:20-21. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat: and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
Notice the “all” in this twenty-first verse: “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.” This was the second part of the atonement showing, not sacrifice, but the effect of sacrifice, and explaining what becomes of sin after the sacrifice has been accepted, and the blood has been presented within the vail.
Leviticus 16:22-25. And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there: and he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people, and make an atonement for himself, and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar.
Only the fat of it, the best of it, was burnt upon the altar, for sin offerings were not acceptable to God. They were regarded as being filled with impurity by reason of the sin which they brought to mind; for this reason the bullock and the goat of the sin offering had to be burnt without the camp: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate,” as our sin offering. Yet, inasmuch as the fat was accepted upon the altar, so is Christ, even as our sin offering, acceptable before God.
Leviticus 16:26-27. And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp. And the bullock for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung.
All must be burnt; and the last is mentioned because it more strikingly sets forth the impurity of the sin connected with the sin offering. All must be burnt right up; there must not be a particle of the sin offering left unconsumed.
Leviticus 16:28. And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp.
Everything that has to do with God’s service must be clean and purified by fire, and purified by water. An atonement cannot be made by that which is itself defiled; it must be without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing before it can put sin away; this is the virtue of Christ’s atonement, for he was altogether without sin of any kind.
Leviticus 16:29-31 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
This shows what sacredness the Lord attached to the great day of atonement, and gives us more than a hint of the preciousness of our Lord’s atoning work for us. Now let us turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, and see how the apostle spiritualizes the services of the Mosaic dispensation.
This exposition consisted of readings from Leviticus 16:1-31; And Hebrews 9:1-22.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Leviticus 16". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany