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The Day of Atonement
ŇAlso on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.Ó (Leviticus 23:27)
The most important and most instructive of all the typical ceremonies of the Old Testament was the day of atonement. The day of atonement pictured, foreshadowed, and typified the sin-atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our great high Priest, our substitutionary sacrifice for sin, our scapegoat, our altar, and our mercy-seat, through whom alone sinners have access to and find acceptance with the holy Lord God.
Mercy and Truth
In order for the holy Lord God to deal with sinful men and women in mercy, grace, and peace, without compromising his character and violating his justice, there had to be a day of atonement. A holy, just, and true God could never allow fallen, sinful man to live before him, unless a suitable atonement is made for manŐs sin. Justice must be vindicated. Sin must be punished. Else God and man can never come together in peace. Therefore, God ordained that a day of atonement be observed in Israel once a year, as a picture and pledge of the great day of atonement to be accomplished at Calvary by the slaying of the Lamb of God for the redemption of his elect.
The Lord God gave Moses meticulous, detailed instructions about how the day of atonement was to be observed in the 16th chapter of Leviticus.
1. The day of atonement was ordained and initiated by God himself. This was no human invention (Leviticus 23:27-28; 25:9). The same is true of our RedeemerŐs death at Calvary (Job 33:24).
2. The day of atonement was set for a specific time each year (Leviticus 16:29) — ŇThe seventh month, on the tenth day of the month.Ó GodŐs great day of atonement was set, fixed, appointed, and determined by God himself. Nothing was left to chance! ŇWhen the fulness of time was comeÓ GodŐs dear Son was sacrificed for us.
3. There was only one day of atonement each year. Why? Because Christ was to make only one offering for sin. — ŇNow once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, — Christ was once offered to bear the sins of manyÓ (Hebrews 9:26, 28).
4. The sacrifices offered on the day of atonement were only typical. They could never put away sin (Hebrews 10:1-4).
5. All these typical, ceremonial sacrifices were fulfilled by Christ and have ceased because Christ fulfilled them (Hebrews 10:11-14, 18).
6. All that was done on the day of atonement was done for a specific, chosen people and resulted in GodŐs blessing upon those people (Leviticus 16:17, 24, 30). So, too, all that the Lord Jesus Christ did at Calvary was done for a specific, chosen people and results in all the blessings of GodŐs grace and salvation flowing to his redeemed at GodŐs own appointed time of love.