The Real Christmas Story


Leviticus 16 outlines the work of Redemption in the Day of Atonement.

John wrote in Revelation chapter thirteen and verse 8 that the Lamb of God “was slain from the foundation of the world.”

Before God had created the world, before He set the stars in place, before He breathed the breathe of life into the nostrils of man, God knew that Mankind would fall, He knew that mankind would sin and rebel against Him — and knowing this, God planned and set in motion, the means for mankind’s redemption — long before man was created God had already provided a remedy. A redemption He would bring about through the death and atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Logos, Jesus Christ—God manifest in the flesh. Truly God had “provided Himself a sacrifice!”

And that wondrous plan would dramatically unfold throughout the span of human history, and at the set time, at the correct moment in human history, God Himself came and dwelt with man, in the fullness of time, to make atonement for and to redeem fallen man.

This Day of Atonement is described in detail in the 16th chapter of Leviticus. In this chapter, God the Master Painter takes out the canvas, the paint, and the brush of His Word. And, as He skillfully blends the colors, with a prominence of red, He makes His masterpiece of atonement typology and the words of Leviticus come to life on the canvas.

The Israelites slowly gathered, quiet and reverent and a little afraid, as they approached the Tabernacle – the meeting place between God and man. This day was the great Day of Atonement, this was the time that God Himself had appointed, this was the day when Aaron their High Priest, would be their Mediator. When Aaron their High Priest would stand between God and the people. On this day, (7th month -10th day) atonement would be made for their sins. This Atonement would provide the only way for the people to be AT ONE with God.

Moses’ brother, Aaron, was the high priest, the mediator, chosen to stand between God and the nation of Israel. Aaron was allowed to go into the Most Holy place, only once a year, on this special Day of Atonement.

The Most Holy Place was located behind the thick veil in the tabernacle and it was in this room that the Ark of the Covenant waited. On top of the Ark of the Covenant was the Atonement cover – the Mercy Seat, made of pure gold, with cherubim on top with their wings folded down and their heads bowing towards the center of the cover. And above that Mercy Seat, when God came down, was the shekinah — the presence of God.

Only Aaron the High Priest could enter there, and only once a year and then “not without blood.” Aaron would have slowly walked through the Holy place — passed the table of shewbread, passed the golden lamb stand, and finally passed the golden altar of incense and then with head bowed low he would have pressed pass the thick veil, and He would then be in the Most Holy Place, the Holy of Holies, and above the Ark of the Covenant would be the very glory of God.

God is a Holy God, and man, even if he were the High Priest, could not just walk into the presence of God. There were certain things that the High Priest was required to do before he was allowed access to the Most Holy Place, if he came in without meeting the standard set by God, he would be met with the same fate as Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons)–death.

Aaron must bathe himself and put on sacred garments. The High Priest had to be spotless in dress. And because Aaron was not without sin, he first had to make atonement for his own sins and for the sin of his household by sacrificing a bullock. Only when Aaron, the high Priest had made himself ready, could he take the blood of the sacrificed animal into the presence of God, to make atonement for the people.

Every year the High Priest bore the heavy burden of being the mediator between God and His people and every year he would offer the same sacrifices. And every year the responsibility was entirely his, he must do to it alone. No one was allowed to be with him or help him as he carried out this vital atoning task.

It is then that as the light of God’s Word shines on the Old Testament High Priests, we will see that they and their actions are a portrait of Jesus Christ, who is our Mediator, The ONE Who stands between God, and all people. In Jesus Christ the Glory, splendor and power of the High Priest comes to fulfillment to make AT ONE MENT for His people.

Aaron bore the heavy burden of responsibility all alone. However, that was only a picture of the much more intense travail which lay on upon the shoulders of the Great High Priest—Jesus Christ. In the garden this burden reach its cruel, crushing climax. Beatings, mocking, insults, pain, nails and a cruel cross of wood is what lay before Him. As he stood up from His place of prayer he watched as His disciples scattered in terror. No one could help Him or be with him as He performed His High Priestly duty.

Jesus is our High Priest and He is far better than any other – here are eight factors of the vastness of His “better” attributes:
1. Aaron was spotless in dress — Jesus Christ was spotless in character, without blemish.
2. Aaron entered the earthly tabernacle — Jesus Christ entered the heavenly tabernacle.
3. Aaron entered behind the veil — Jesus Christ ripped opened the veil.
4. Aaron offered for his own sins — Jesus Christ, being without sin, offered only for our sin.
5. Aaron entered once a year — Jesus Christ entered once for all.
6. Aaron offered for the whole nation — Jesus Christ offered for the whole world.
7. Aaron offered many sacrifices — Jesus Christ offered one sacrifice–Himself.
8. Aaron offered blood of animals — Jesus Christ offered His own “precious” blood.

Jesus Christ brings to life and adds color and beauty to the Old Testament shadow of The Great High Priest.

The Atonement for the people involved two goats. Aaron brought the two goats to the entrance of the tent of meeting where the fate of each goat was determined. One goat was to be sacrificed and the other goat was to be the scapegoat and was set free bearing the blood of the sacrificed goat.

Israel’s sin demanded an offering, it required the payment of a price — an atonement. The sacrificial knife came down upon the innocent animal, its blood pouring out into a bowl. It wasn’t enough, however, for the animal simply to be sacrificed, it wasn’t enough merely for its blood to flow. For the blood to accomplish its purpose of atonement, it had to be applied to the living goat.

The 1st Goat symbolized the payment of the price, the 2nd goat symbolized to the people the results of the atonement. Aaron placed His hand on the head of 2nd goat, the scapegoat, and confessed the wickedness, the sin and rebellion of the people. Then the goat was sent away, out into the desert, carrying with Him the sins of the people. God had sent away the sins of the people.

For over 1400 years the endless sacrifices of lambs, rams and goats were but a mere rehearsal for the true atonement. And now, as they led Jesus out of the garden now was the moment when the True Lamb of God would be led, tied and bound as a lamb to the slaughter. With vindictive, cruel hatred they beat, mocked, and whipped The Lamb of God after which they led Jesus’ tired and battered body up the road to Golgotha, carrying a heavy wooden crossbeam, a cross — alone.

Jesus Christ shed His blood, paid our penalty and suffered our death. And Jesus rose from the dead, and He carried his blood atonement to the true Mercy Seat, making atonement possible for our sin and our lives to all those that obey Acts 2:38.

The simple fact that the atonement sacrifice was made did not guarantee that an individual Israelite would benefit. They were not to come to the Day of Atonement half-heartedly. But they were to deny themselves and come humbly before the Lord, recognizing and acknowledging their sin and need for atonement.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection made Atonement, His sacrifice made forgiveness of sin and eternal life a great possibility for fallen man. Jesus through His death conquered sin, BUT that doesn’t automatically save anyone. We, like the Israelites have to come humbly, we have to deny ourselves and be obedient to God’s word. The Word teaches that to be forgiven of our sins, to have the Atoning blood of Jesus applied to our lives we MUST Repent and be baptized in Jesus’ Name for the remission of sin and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38). Jesus’ atoning blood will only save those who have humbly obeyed his Word. Only through obedience to Acts 2:38 can one be “At One” with God.

— jlg —

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