Atonement by Joe La Bianca
Before Jesus came, God gave all sorts of instructions to the Israelites forecasting the Messiah. The Day of Atonement was a foreshadowing of Jesus and His cross. There was a room called the Most Holy Place in the Temple. This is where God met with the high-priest. God said that the high-priest could not come to the Most Holy Place whenever he wanted because he would die. He could only go in after much preparation. God appeared there, and His holy presence would have killed the priest without the very minute details that were to be followed. The priest would have died, not because God is mean, but because God is too awesome to look upon. He wasn’t able to look upon God, so incense was used to hide the Lord in the smoke. We need to be made ready to meet God. This is done by believing in the Lamb of God. We are too sinful, in and of ourselves, to see God. But Jesus enables us through the new nature that is freely given to us through faith in Christ.
The Most Holy Place had a veil that separated it from the rest of the Temple. At the moment Jesus died, the Bible says that the veil of the Temple was torn in half, from top to bottom. From top to bottom means that God tore the veil. The tearing of the veil means that now, if we believe in the Lamb of God, who is Jesus, we can come into God’s presence whenever we want to, unlike the old high-priest. The Most Holy Place is holy no longer. Holy means separated, so when the veil was torn, the room became a common place.
Before Christ, the high-priest had to perform all sorts of ceremonies and sacrifices before he went into this Most Holy Place. The very fact that these sacrifices had to be redone, over and over again, showed that the sacrificial system never took away sins. The people still had a consciousness of their sins. Jesus, who sacrificed Himself one time, takes away the sins of the believer so that he no longer feels the need for right standing with God. He doesn’t have to do anything further to be right with God. Jesus’ cross takes care of that problem forever, from 2000 years ago. The believer never thirsts for God, for the Living Water wells up within him unto eternal life.
The old time Jewish high-priest was told by God, through Moses, to get two male goats from the community of the Jews. These two goats were to be so identical that they were viewed as the same sacrifice. God was showing them something so deep, He needed two goats to try to get a wonderful truth about Jesus across. They cast lots to see which goat would be for the Lord, and which would be for Azazel. The Lord’s goat would be sacrificed, and Azazel’s would have the sins of all Israel laid on it, and then the goat would be removed to a land not inhabited. “Azazel” means “the one totally set aside”. To be set aside is the same as being holy. All the sins of the people would be laid on the one who was altogether holy. So you had two twin goats that were so identical they were viewed as the same sacrifice. One died and the other carried sins away. Sounds like a good way to describe what Jesus did on the cross.
Aaron brought the first goat as a sacrifice for sin. But the goat taken from the community of Israel was the scapegoat, or so it was called. Jesus came from the community of Israel, and He is our scapegoat. This scapegoat was used for making atonement. It was cast out of Israel as it figuratively carried their sins away. Jesus was taken outside the city as the sin-bearer too. The Old Covenant sacrifices did not take away sins; they were only examples of how the true Lamb of God would obliterate our sins one day. They were a temporary covering for sin. I repeat that the very fact the sacrifices had to go on and on showed that the worshippers were not free from the consciousness of sin. Jesus, however, made one final sacrifice to put away sin forever.
Aaron needed to sacrifice a bull to cover his own sins, but Jesus, being holy and without sin, did not need to sacrifice for Himself. Aaron was to take two handfuls of finely ground incense and take them behind the curtain into the Most Holy where God dwelt. The incense stood for prayer. Jesus, our High-Priest, ever lives to pray for us. Aaron put the incense in the fire before the Lord and the smoke rose up, like prayer rises up. The smoke also concealed the presence of God so that Aaron would not die. But today, in Christ, we approach the throne of grace with all boldness. You see, we must be prepared to meet God. In ourselves we cannot be with God, but through Jesus we can. We need Jesus the Lamb to hide behind. Aaron was to sprinkle some of the bull’s blood on the atonement cover. He was to sprinkle it seven times. Seven is the number of perfection. Under this cover that the blood was sprinkled on was the Law of Moses. So Aaron was separated from the law by the blood. The perfect blood, sprinkled seven times, covered the mercy seat and temporarily coved his sin. The blood of Jesus, sprinkled on the Atonement cover in Heaven, removes our sin so there is no longer a need for sacrifice. We are seeing the Law through the blood of forgiveness. We have broken God’s commandments, but the blood covers our iniquities by grace.
The goat sacrifice was for all the people, because they had uncleanness and rebellion in them. Before we can be saved by Jesus, we must admit that we are sinners. This is hard for some because they see others who have done much evil, way more than themselves. But we are said to fall short of the glory of God, not of our axe murdering neighbor. I am sure you can admit that you are somewhat less than God. Since God is perfect, He perfects those who come to Him through the actions of Jesus. Also, Jesus internalized the law. He said that if we were angry with our brother without cause, we have committed murder in God’s eyes. So it is impossible to be good enough for Heaven, or to erase the sins we’ve already done. Jesus is the eraser of sins
Aaron was to put the blood on the four horns of the altar. These horns stand for all the nations of the world. A horn means a nation in the bible, e.g. the beast with ten horns. God’s salvation was not only for Israel, but for all the nations and families of the earth. The seed of promise is Jesus, for He is the only descendant of Abraham that the Gentiles trust in. The horns were on the north, south, east and west of the altar. The salvation of this foreshadowed Jesus already went out to the four corners of the earth. Jesus has already been shown, beyond all doubt, to be the Messiah that was promised the Israel. What are you waiting for? Believe in Him and be cleansed from all your sins.
Now it’s time for the live goat, Aaron. Bring it, lay both hands on it, and transfer the sin to it. All the wickedness and rebellion goes on the head of the goat. All our wickedness and rebellion went on the head of Jesus. That’s why He cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”? Jesus was really forsaken by God so that we could be accepted. Jesus really bore our sins in His body on the tree, and when that happened, the eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son was broken for the first and last time. Jesus really was forsaken, He really felt forsaken. As far as He knew, while He was in that dreadful state, He was forsaken forever. Now do you see the love of Christ? Now will you just believe in Him? Jesus did all this for you and the only thing He wants is for you to believe in Him.
You may ask, “Why all this death”? This is because the wages of sin is death. We get paid death for our sin. Jesus took that payment for us. Death is separation. We must be separated from our sin by death, so Jesus died the separation. This is the only way to put distance between us and the thing that God cannot fellowship with. Positionally, when we believe in Jesus and His cross, we are separated from all sin and in a state of fellowship with God.
All the sins were to be put on the Goat and a fit man was to take this goat away, to a solitary place. This is a beautiful parable of what Jesus really accomplished for us. The Lord was taken away by fit soldiers where He carried our sins to a lonely place, where all forsook Him. If you think I am forcing this, just read Isaiah 53 where he says that Jesus bore our sins. Isaiah said that He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. Also, He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our sins. Also, the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all. No, I am not forcing things. Jesus carried on Himself all our sins to a solitary cross where all forsook Him.
Remember when Pilate brought Jesus and Barabbas before the congregation? It’s just like when Aaron brought the two goats before the congregation. Jesus was the Lord’s sacrifice, and Barabbas was set free. Jesus is the Son of God, and the name Barabbas means son of the highest Father. Again, like the identical goats on the Day of Atonement. Is this a coincidence? No. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
The priest would tie a red ribbon around the horn of the scapegoat. This stood for the sins of the people. Tradition has it that this red ribbon would turn white on the Day of Atonement, showing that God cleansed their sin. Jewish tradition also says that this miracle stopped forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. That would bring us to the time of Christ. God would no longer honor the Day of Atonement after Jesus, its reality, was sacrificed.
Now, what will you do? Will you believe in Jesus? He is the reason for all these things. There is no more Temple. There is no more priesthood. There are no more high-priests sacrificing after the ordinances of Moses. There is no place to go besides Jesus. Go to Him by trusting in what He has done. Go, and rest in the once- and- for- all sacrifice of Christ, which brings everlasting forgiveness with no need for one further sacrifice.
Atonement by Joe La Bianca