READ: Leviticus 16:11-19
Day of Atonement Pt. 2
This Day of Atonement was at the epitomy of the Hebrew calendar; the whole religious regulations seem to revolve around the actions of this day (even when the writer of the book of Hebrews looks back on the sacrifices this Day of Atonement is at the forefront of his mind). In this particular reading we begin to see the process that the High Priest must follow in conducting this ultimate ritual of dealing with the nation’s sins.
First, the High Priest must prepare himself to stand before God; he must make a sacrifice on his own behalf. So a sin offering of a bull is made by the priest for himself. Then the priest brings a sin offering for the people – to cleanse the temple (from the inside to the outside – vs. 20) and to cleanse the nation. As we will see in tomorrow’s reading, the final step is to lay all these sins and wrongs upon the head of the ‘scape goat’ and send it and its burden into the wilderness. This is the central (possibly considered as a culminating) ceremony whereby everyone and everything is cleansed from the unholiness and sins of the year. Here the High priest and his family are atoned for and atonement is made for the temple – except for specific instances (e.g. Lev 4:3 and the original dedication in chp 8-9), this is the only occassion when atonement is made for these holy items and people.
There is only one man that could stand between everything that represented the people and their method of holiness (being the temple sacrificial system) and God. The High Priest was the only person that could play this role of mediator. While this whole process was being conducted, no one was even allowed into the temple precinct, only one man could play this role.
Under both testaments there is but one mediator that could stand between humanity and God – in the Old Testament it was seen as the High Priest; in the New Testament we are told that there is still only one mediator between us and God. There is still only one Way! I Timothy 2:5-6 gives us a great verse to either conclude or inspire our thoughts for today.
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…”