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The Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16:21

And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.

Full bible text

Leviticus 16 verse 15 to 22
15 Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.
16 Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
17 No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel.
18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around.
19 And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.
20  And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat.
21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.
22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.

About this painting

The fall of man disrupted the relationship between God and man. Genesis 3. 
The righteousness of God requires that sin be punished by death. Yet God in His grace wants to dwell (‘to tabernacle’) with His people.
The people of Israel may live in a covenant relationship with Him. Read Exodus.
He makes it possible for sinful man to approach Him in the tent (tabernacle) where He is present. That is only possible in the way of the sacrificial service. Reconciliation may take place symbolically by sacrificing the life of an animal(s). The blood - in which life resides- of the animal is shed instead of the blood of man. However, these animal sacrifices are only a preview of the final atonement for sin wrought by Jesus’ sacrifice. ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’. John 1 verse 29. 

The sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible for God to dwell permanently in His people through the Holy Spirit. The body of a believer in Jesus Christ is ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit.’ 1 Corinthians 6 verse 19.

Part of the sacrificial service was the annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). An important moment of the day of atonement is depicted in the painting. The two goats mentioned together are a sin offering, and a type or exemplar of Jesus, upon Whom God
‘has laid the iniquity of us all’.
Isaiah 53 verse 6. 
The blood of the first goat; the evidence that sin has been punished, is sprinkled by the high priest before and on the mercy seat in the most sacred place of the tabernacle; the ‘Holy of Holies’. For God.
The second goat, laden with the sins of the Israelites, is led into the wilderness outside the camp to die there. 
Jesus also had to suffer and die outside the gate of Jerusalem, as an unclean one,
outside the camp’.
Hebrews 13 verse 12 and 13.
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God'.
2 Corinthians 5 verse 21.

As the high priest on the Day of Atonement wore only the holy linen undergarment, and not the splendid official garb that distinguished him from the priests, so Jesus laid down His heavenly glory, humbled Himself, took on human nature, to make the unique sacrifice of His life, as an atonement for our sins. 
And He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised’. 2 Corinthians 5 verse 15.

The people were to humble themselves before God on the Day of Atonement, thus participating in the confession of sins spoken by the high priest Aaron. 
Leviticus 23 verses 27 to 29. 
When the high priest, who represented the people, laid his hands on the head of the goat, the sin, the iniquity of all the people, was symbolically placed on the animal. Then it was led away before the eyes of the people. In this way, each Israelite was personally involved in the atonement.

The British puritan preacher Erskine once said in a sermon:
‘There is a crucified Christ available to all. Use Him faithfully'.

Isaiah 53 verse 11b: 
'By His knowledge shall the righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities'.

Hebrews 8 verse 28:
’So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eage
rly waiting for Him'.
1 John 1 verses 8 and 9: 
'If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness'.

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