Sermon # 54 Leviticus Sermons
Title: The Feast of Atonement
Text: Leviticus 23:26-32
Subject: The Feast of Atonement or Expiation
Date: Sunday Morning—January 26, 2003
Tape # X-43a
Reading: Leviticus 16:1-34
For our Scripture reading we read Leviticus 16 and the instructions given in that great chapter about the day of atonement in Old Testament worship. Everything relating to that great day was typical, portraying the sin-atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. The picture of atonement given in that chapter involved many, many things; but there are six principle things that I want to remind you of, while you are turning to our text in Leviticus 23.
1. Aaron, God’s High Priest, was the only one who could make atonement for the sins of the people.—None but Christ, our great High Priest of whom Aaron was but a type could make atonement for us.
2. Atonement was made for Israel (God’s chosen people) alone.—Christ died for and redeemed God’s elect alone.—Particular Redemption!
3. The sins of the people were ceremonially imputed to two goats: the Lord’s goat and the scapegoat.
4. The Lord’s goat was slain and his blood was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat in the holy of holies (Heb. 9:12).
5. The scapegoat was carried away by a fit man (Christ) and forever lost.—Our sins were forever put away by the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. All for whom atonement was made were blessed of God.—All for whom Christ died and made atonement are blessed of God with all the blessings of grace and salvation.—Effectual Redemption.
Now, let’s look at the instructions given about this great day in Leviticus 23. Verses 26-32 describe The Feast of Atonement.
(Leviticus 23:26-32) "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27 Also 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. 28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."
Now listen carefully.—It is a very great mistake to think that when we have instructions given about a matter in one portion of Holy Scripture given in another that one is merely a repetition of the other. That is not the case at all. When instructions are given about something more than once, there is a reason. The passage before us here in Leviticus is a very clear example of what I am saying.
Leviticus 16 describes the day of atonement for the purpose of showing in type how the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption by the sacrifice of himself at Calvary. Leviticus 23 sets before us the feast of atonement (the feast of expiation) as one of Israel’s annual holy convocations. Notice that this feast follows the feasts of passover, unleavened bread, firstfruits, Pentecost, and trumpets. Those are all feasts that portray our experience of grace and salvation by Christ. The redemption of our souls was accomplished for us altogether outside our experience, long before we were born, when the Son of God died in our room and stead upon the cursed tree. That accomplished redemption is what Leviticus 16 portrays. Leviticus 23:26-32 portrays the believer’s experience of grace in receiving the atonement by faith in Christ. The ceremony, the holy assembly for worship, described in Leviticus 23:26-32 is not talking about what Christ did, but about what goes on in our souls when the Holy Spirit shows us and gives us a saving interest in what Christ did for us.
(Romans 5:6-11) "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
(2 Timothy 1:9-10) "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:"
When God the Holy Spirit comes to chosen, redeemed sinners in the saving operations of his grace, when he sprinkles the heart with the blood of Christ, when he gives us faith in Christ, he convinces us of Christ’s glorious, effectual redemption accomplished for us.
(John 16:8-11) "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
Proposition: The feast of atonement was Israel’s annual day of repentance, portraying God’s gift of repentance wrought in our souls by his almighty grace.
I have read countless sermons and articles on repentance. I have read a good many books on the subject. But I have never read anything that explains what repentance is like Leviticus 23:26-32. If one picture is worth a thousand words, here is a picture that is worth ten thousand words!
The feast of atonement was intended to show us the character of true repentance. It was, in fact, a call to the whole congregation to repent and be reconciled to God.
I am not one to place great importance upon numbers used in the Bible because the Scriptures do not give us explicit, clear reason for doing so. However, I am certain that the numbers (numerals) used in the Word of God have significance far beyond what I have yet seen. A few examples will suffice to show you what I mean.
· 1 seems clearly to represent unity (Eph. 4:4-6; John 10:30).
· 2 division (Gen 1:6-8).
· 3 God, The Trinity, Resurrection.
· 4 Creation (Rev. 7:1 Four Corners, Four Winds).
· 5 Grace (Five Burnt Offerings)
· 6 Man (6th Day, Rev. 13:8)
· 7 Completeness, Perfection (7th Day, Seven Spirits, Churches)
· 8 The New Birth, New Beginning, New Creation
· 9 Fruitfulness (Fruit of the Spirit 9 and Gifts of the Spirit 9 and 9 Beatitudes)
· 10 Bounty, Wealth, Riches, Fulness
This feast of atonement began on the 10th day of the 7th month and was consummated with a sabbath observance on the 9th day of the month. The number seven represents completion and perfection (complete in Christ!). The number nine represents fruitfulness (the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit). And the number ten represents all the bounty, wealth and riches of grace that are ours in Christ. The Hebrew word for ten is also the word used for riches (Pulpit Commentary, vol. 2. pg. 361).
As I said, I do not know just how much weight should, or should not be placed upon these numbers. But I do know this—When God gives a sinner faith in Christ, he gives us all the fulness, completion and perfection of his grace, all the fulness of his Spirit, and all the treasure of heaven. It is written, “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s!”
Now, let’s look at our text. I want you to see six things that are involved in repentance, six characteristics of true faith, as they are portrayed in the feast of atonement.
I. Verse 27—“It shall be an holy convocation unto you.”—The feast of atonement was a holy convocation, an assembly of divine worship; and the very first characteristic of repentance toward God and faith in Christ is worship.
Saved sinners worship God. We call upon the name of the Lord. We worship toward his holy hill of Zion, gather on Zion’s hill with the general assembly and church of the firstborn.
(Philippians 3:3) "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
II. Verse 27—“Ye shall afflict your souls.”—This feast of atonement was a time of soul affliction; and as soon as a sinner has Christ revealed in him, he is broken, contrite, and afflicted in his soul.
(Job 42:5-6) "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
(Isaiah 6:5) "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
(Isaiah 66:1-2) "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."
(Zechariah 12:10-11) "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. 11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon."
(Zechariah 13:1) "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
(Matthew 5:3-4) "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted."
III. Verse 27—“Ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”—The feast of atonement involved burnt offerings of consecration to God; and true repentance and faith, arising from the revelation and knowledge of Christ, compels every saved sinner to consecrate himself to God.
(Romans 11:33-36) "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen."
(Romans 12:1-2) "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
IV.Verse 28—“It is a day of atonement (atonements, expiations) to make and atonement for you before the Lord your God.”—When the Lord God gives you faith in Christ, it shall be for you the day of atonements, expiations, full, free, everlasting forgiveness of all sin.
(Isaiah 43:25) "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
(1 John 1:9) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Look at the text again.
(Leviticus 23:28-32) "And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath."
V. Verses 28-32—During the feast of atonements the children of Israel were to cease from all work of any kind and keep a sabbath of rest unto the Lord; and true repentance and faith involves a total cessation of works, of any kind, for acceptance with God a keeping of sabbath rest before him, a Continual affliction of our souls.
· For Justification
· For Sanctification
· For Assurance
· For Heavenly Reward
Now, look at verse 32 again and watch this.
VI.Verse 32—“Ye shall celebrate your sabbath!”—This affliction of soul during the feast of atonement was a time of celebration; and true repentance and faith in Christ brings us into the blessed celebration of grace.
I know the word “celebrate” has the connotation of keeping a ceremony. But the life God gives us in Christ is a life of celebration. Faith celebrates!
· The Character of God—His Attributes!
· The Salvation He Bestows!
· The Peace He Gives!
· The Pardon of Sin!
· The Hope of Eternal Life—Heavenly Glory!
Oh, may God be pleased this day to bring you into this blessed celebration of grace.
· Worship Him.
· Afflict your souls.
· Consecrate yourself to God.
· May this be for you a day of expiations, atonements, forgiveness!
· Come to Christ and rest.
· Celebrate the grace of God!—Join the celebration!