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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Atonement, Day of

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This was one of the most solemn days in the whole year, being, in common with the Sabbath, the only occasion on which the people were commanded to cease from work entirely. On the day of atonement they were also to afflict their souls, and that by a statute for ever. Leviticus 16:29-31 . The time of the year in which the day fell — the tenth day of the seventh month — is very significant, especially when viewed in connection with the other feasts. See FEASTS.

The rites prescribed for the Day of Atonement are given in Leviticus 16 ; Leviticus 23:26-32 ; Numbers 29:7-11 . In the first we have a detailed account of the peculiar work appointed for the high priest on that day; in the second, we learn what had been shortly expressed in chap. 16, how the people should comport themselves on that day; and in the third we are told of certain sacrifices which were to be offered up besides those spoken of in Leviticus 16 . In this passage we learn that the Day of Atonement was a gracious provision in order that the relationship of the people with the holy God who dwelt among them might be maintained.

The points to be noticed are:

1. The entrance into the holy place. Aaron, on account of the failure of his sons in the priestly office, could not enter there at all times, but, as the representative of the people, once a year on the Day of Atonement, and he must enter alone. Even then he went in not for communion, but for the cleansing of the defilements of a people among whom God dwelt. He must put on the holy linen garments, and must enter with a cloud of incense and with blood, lest he die. For the contrast to this for the Christian, see Hebrews 9:7-12 .

2. Aaron must offer sacrifices for himself and his house: a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aaron and his sons represent the saints who now form the church as a company of priests, and were thus, in the type, distinct from the people (Israel) as an earthly company who formed the camp.

3. For the congregation two goats were taken for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. On the two goats the lot was cast, and the one on whom the lot fell was for Jehovah, and was offered as a sin offering. This, as with the bullock for Aaron and his house, was the atonement offering Godward. The other, after being presented before the Lord, was brought forth: on him Aaron laid both his hands and confessed 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," Leviticus 16:21 , which was then sent away into the wilderness, a land of forgetfulness. In the two goats we have the two sides of atonement, namely, that which meets the character and holiness of God, and that which meets the need of the sinner as to the removal of his sins.* See the preceding article.

* Note there is no scapegoat for the priestly family: they belong to the inside, where God is glorified. The earthly saints will have 'the forgiveness of sins' in the new covenant at the end of days. In connection with them prominence is given to the scapegoat aspect — sins remembered no more.

4. Atonement was made for the holy place, for the tabernacle, and for the altar, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel.

The day of Atonement being once a year — once every year, by a perpetual statute — stands in strong contrast to the one perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, by which the believer is perfected in perpetuity. See Hebrews 10:1-18 .

The reiterated injunction to afflict their souls in connection with this great day has an important propheticalbearing as to the Lord's earthly people Israel. If the blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month suggests that testimony from the Lord which shall arouse the nation from their long spiritual slumber, the Day of Atonement points to the moral effect produced in them when they shall look upon Him whom they havepierced, and mournfor Him. They will also at this time learn and confess that He was wounded for theirtransgressions.Cf. Zechariah 12:10-14 ; Isaiah 53 ; Psalm 51 .


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Atonement, Day of '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/a/atonement-day-of.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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