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February 9 Today’s Reading — Leviticus 24-25
The Day of Atonement
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.
In order for the holy Lord God to deal with sinful men 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 man’s 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 God’s 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. It was not a human invention in time, but a Divine ordinance reflecting God’s eternal purpose of grace to redeem and save His elect (Job 33:24).
2. The Day of Atonement was set for a specific time each year (16:29; 23:27). — “The seventh month, on the tenth day of the month.” God’s great Day of Atonement was set, fixed, appointed, and determined by God himself. — “When the fullness of the time was come God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). — “In due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:8).
3. There was only one Day of Atonement each year, because our Lord Jesus Christ was to make only one offering for sin. — “Now 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 many” (Hebrews 9:26, 28).
4. The sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement were only typical. They could never put away sin and could never remove the curse of the law (Hebrews 10:1-4); but our blessed Christ has both put away all the sins of His chosen and removed the curse of the law from us (Galatians 3:13-14) by the sacrifice of Himself as our Substitute.
5. All the typical, ceremonial sacrifices were fulfilled by Christ and have ceased because Christ fulfilled them (Hebrews 10:11-14, 18). God requires no sacrifice but Christ. God will accept no sacrifice but Christ. And all who offer something for the forgiveness with Christ trample the blood of Christ under their feet and deny the merit of His atoning sacrifice altogether.
6. All was done for a specific, chosen people and resulted in God’s ceremonial blessing upon those people. So too, all that Christ did as the God-man Mediator He did for His elect alone; and that which He did for us effectually fetches all the blessings of the Triune God upon His chosen (Galatians 3:14).