He Sat Down!

Leviticus 16:1-34

Aaron, the high priest, is charged with the awesome responsibility of going into the presence of God on the behalf of all the people. After washing his body and putting on the holy garments, Aaron is ready to begin. He first sacrifices a bull. Knowing that he himself is sinful, the high priest has to first do something to get clean before God. He takes a bull and applies the blood to the altar for his own transgressions–only then can he offer a sacrifice for others.

The high point of the day is when the two goats are brought to him. One of them is sacrificed; the other is brought to him alive. One takes the punishment, the other is taken away. When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites–all their sins–and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (See Leviticus 16:20-22)

The high priest would take his hands and lay them on the goat. This is the absolute pinnacle of ten days of mourning, fasting, and weeping over their sins. Then in one symbolic act, their sins are taken care of for another year. Perhaps an audible catalogue of their sins is pronounced and the live goat is seen as the bearer of all these transgressions.

This goat, appropriately called the “scapegoat,” is led outside the camp by a “fit man.” The Hebrew word for this scapegoat is “ozzazel.” This word carries with the idea of being “banished” or “taken away.” So the scapegoat is “ozzazelled.” It is removed from their sight. All of their collective sins were placed on the head of this goat and then disappears into the desert, outside the camp.

The scene several hundred years later: The high priest and the teachers of the law demand that Jesus be killed. They have placed “guilt” upon His head. Jesus is beaten, a crown of thorns is placed on His head. A ring of crimson blood circles his head. Pilate, mocking the Jews, presents Jesus, and says, “Here is your king.”

What is the next thing the crowd says? “Crucify Him,” Correct? No, they first cry out; “take Him away”. So Jesus is taken outside the camp, by Gentiles, with the crowd shouting “ozzazel.” We wonder if the ones that knew theTorah, the ones that had seen the ozzazel goat taken outside the city year after year, did they see the striking symbolism? Did they get it? This was the ultimate, final Atonement Day!

There was no chair included in the furniture of the tabernacle or of the temple because one thing the high priest was never allowed to do was to sit down because his work was never done. Once the Day of Atonement was over there was always the need of next year. The people continually were in need of an ongoing sacrifice because it was an imperfect sacrifice. So a pattern developed – The Feast of Trumpets, followed by ten days of mourning for sin, followed by the Day of Atonement–year after year. No doubt there was a longing for a “once and for all” sacrifice. No wonder Paul declares in Hebrews that the O.T. sacrifices and high priestly duties were only a shadow of good things that were coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. So the priest was never allowed to sit down.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. BUT when this priest, Jesus Christ, had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he SAT DOWN at the right hand of God.

He sat down. It is finished! Atonement has been made. Jesus, the Lamb of God, took all our sins on Himself and became the final sacrifice. He sat down! Seven hundred years before Jesus Christ was born, Isaiah wrote about this sacrifice: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Peter writes: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace the Praetorium, and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe. Then they led him out to crucify him.

What a sight for the O.T. Israelites to see the scapegoat disappear over the horizon–knowing that the bearer of their sins would disappear into the wilderness. BUT how much more is the beauty of Calvary! Isa. 9:6!

To the Israelites the remark; “The goat is gone for another year!” Was a wondrous thing to hear BUT to hear that Jesus Christ has accomplished the work of the High Priest once and for all time is wondrous indeed! THIS is WHY we are DELIGHTED to preach ACTS 2:38 as the only salvational message to a lost and dying world in need of a FINAL and COMPLETE High Priest!


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