Continuing from the previous article of this series. Venom Removal Series Leviticus 5 is all about the central theme of Redemption. It is focused on Leviticus 16 and the importance of the day of atonement.
The Center of Torah
Leviticus 16 is about Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The first verse of this chapter marks the time of this annual event. It says that when the sons of Aaron died (as a result of divine retribution – see Lev 10), God spoke to Moses (concerning the law of Yom Kippur). This means Leviticus 16 should have actually been placed after Leviticus 10 (being serially the next incident after the death of the sons of Aaron). But in our bibles, Leviticus 11 to 15 gets mysteriously sandwiched between 10 and 16!
Did Moses change the order with chapters 11-15? Or some later scribes (Like Ezra)? We have no clue about it. All that we can understand is that the compiler of these scrolls of Leviticus has intentionally placed Leviticus 16 in the middle, by inserting 5 chapters (11 to 15) between 10 and 16. Now, do you remember the image of the composition of Leviticus which we discussed in the first article of this Leviticus series? See it below once again and observe how the Day of Atonement is in the middle of the Leviticus instruction set.
Further, the “Day of Atonement” is not only at the center of Leviticus, but Leviticus itself is the middle book of Torah. It is the third book in the five books of Moses. Whenever God places something in the middle we can be sure that God wants to re-emphasize it. For eg, the vision of John in Patmos, where he saw Jesus standing in the middle of the candlestick (Rev 1:13), and also the tree of life placed in the middle of the paradise of God in (Rev 2:7, 22:2), and Lamb standing in midst of heavenly throne room (Rev 5:6). Therefore “Yom Kippur” in the middle of the Torah suggests the importance of the day in the entire Torah.
Chapter 16(Yom Kippur) in detail
Leviticus 16 can be divided into three parts. The first part deals with the time marker as to when the day is to be observed. Next part deals with instruction for high priests and third part deals with instructions for all Israelites.
- Timing of Yom Kippur observation (16:1-2, 29)
- Aaron’s (High Priest) duty on Yom Kippur (16:3-28)
- People’s duty on Yom Kippur (16:30-31)
The first and second verse of Leviticus 16 indicates the reason why Aaron’s sons died. God said to Aaron that a high priest should come inside the veil only once a year (Lev 16:1-2). Aaron’s sons who died in Leviticus 10, seem to have defied this divine protocol. God, therefore, emphasized to Aaron that you should not appear before the Mercy Seat within the veil at all times (16:2). Then to the time when he could appear once a year within the veil is revealed in verse 29. He should appear on the 10th day of the seventh month Tisri (Lev 16:29).
The procedure for offerings made by Aaron the High Priest on Yom Kippur is mentioned from verses 3 to 28. Aaron was supposed to make two sacrifices on that day (16:3-28). The two offerings that Aaron, the high priest was expected to make comprised of a bull and a ram as a burnt offering for his own sins and two goats as sin offering along with a ram for sins of people of Israel (Lev 16:5-6). There were two goats, to be brought and Aaron would lay his hands on the head of one goat and confess the sins of people and this goat would be driven outside, while the other would be sacrificed to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Verse 31 mentions what the people were expected to do on Yom Kippur. People were supposed to afflict their souls (see Lev 16:31 and Isaiah 58:3) and do no servile work (16:31). The High Priest would offer sacrifice on their behalf and they should do nothing (take rest by doing no work). That is the role they were supposed to play – which is – DO NOTHING, NO WORK.
The New Testament Parallel
New Testament explanation to Day of Atonement is mentioned in Hebrews 10. Although we cannot directly read the phrase “Day of Atonement” in Hebrews 10, we can understand that he means the same from the details he mentions. For eg, he says that this sacrifice (made on the Day of Atonement) came every year (Heb 10:1, 3).
Then the phrases “blood of bulls and goats” in verse 4 and phrase ‘Burnt Offering’ and ‘Sin Offering’ in verse 6, all refer to Day of Atonement as in the picture above (Heb 10:4, 6). To conclude, the ultimate sacrifice to which this law pointed (see Hebrews 10:1), he mentions that Jesus offered himself as ONE SACRIFICE instead of the two made on YOM KIPPUR, in order to make us perfect and complete once for all.
For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.Heb 10:14
Jesus did not offer two separate offerings, (one for the priest and one for the people), but by ONE offering, he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb 10:14).
As our High Priest Jesus finished offering his own body as a spotless lamb, we the people of God are not required to do anything to assist or help God, whereby we may say we played our role in helping God save us. We are required to do no servile work. The role that we are supposed to play is – do nothing, no work, but only to repent (afflict our souls) and believe the work done by the High priest for our atonement. Therefore Paul says,
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.Rom 4:5
Then the symbolic significance of the two goats, one that was offered, and the scapegoat which was driven to wilderness is not hidden from you. Jesus like the scapegoat took away our sins, and like the other goat that was offered became sacrifice for us.
|Aspect||Yom Kippur||New Testament|
|Timing||Annually on the 10th of the 7th month||Once at end of age (Heb 9:25-26)|
|Aaron's Role||Two offerings (Burnt Offering for Aaron and Sin-offering for People)||By one offering he perfected forever (Heb 10:14)|
|People's Role||Do ‘No work’ at all (v29)||• Repent (afflict soul - fast) • Trust without works –(Rom 4:5)|
|Lord's Goat||Was offered for atonement||Jesus became the atonement of our sins|
|Scape Goat||Sent to wilderness||He took our sins far away from us|
The Hebrew word for ‘Atonement‘ means covering or coating (see Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary H3722). On the day of Yom Kippur, Jesus became the sacrifice on our behalf and he offered himself as our high priest. All we need to do is to repent and trust the work he has done for us once and forever.
End of “Venom Removal Series Leviticus 5“