Summary of passage: After Aaron’s two sons died when they approached the Lord unannounced (Leviticus 10), the Lord warns Moses to tell Aaron to not approach the Most Holy Place when he chooses, because He dwells there. The Lord tells Moses exactly how Aaron is to approach Him: cleansed and with sacrifices and proper atonement.
3) The Ark holds the laws and commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The atonement cover is the cover of the ark where the Lord dwells here on earth. The Most Holy Place is an area in the tabernacle where only the High Priest (right now Aaron) may enter and where the Ark is placed where the Lord dwells.
4a) Well, I would think killing Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 would be a very clear statement. But here in Leviticus 16, the Lord lays out specifically how to approach Him and says specifically “not to come whenever he (Aaron) chooses” verse 2. The whole passage lays out the proper way to approach the Lord.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Well, it should be an example to follow in that when we approach the Lord it should be reverently and with the proper attitude. It shouldn’t just be “on a whim” or “when we feel like it” or someone dares us to or you’re drunk. It should be as God’s humble servant. In my life, I should have the proper fear of the Lord when I speak to Him. That is all He asks of us.
It should also humble you, knowing that because of Jesus, we can approach God without all of this elaborate ceremony. Romans 5:1-2 assures us that through faith in Jesus, we have access to God so not just one guy, but all of us. It increases my gratitude, my reverence, my total reliance on God.
5a) One goat was to be sacrificed to pay the penalty of man for his sins by dying as a sin offering and through its blood. The other goat that went into the desert symbolically carried all the sins of the Israelites into the desert. The word “scapegoat” (escape goat) comes from here and today is used to mean anyone who takes the blame for something someone else or other people did.
This is a picture of Jesus: one paid the penalty for our sins; the other took our sins away. Awesome!
b) Blood is required to make atonement with the Lord and receive His forgiveness. The blood of the bull was required so Aaron himself could be cleansed and Aaron’s household BEFORE he could make atonement for the Israelites. He himself had to be cleansed first.
c) Aaron is to bring the bull and slaughter it to make atonement for his own sin and for his household. Then he is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. There he is to put the incense on the fire before the Lord and the smoke will conceal the atonement cover so that he will not die. Then he is to sprinkle some of the bull’s blood on the front of the atonement cover.
d) Personal Question. My answer: Again “this” is vague to me and we’re talking about atoning for sin here, not praying, and we’re talking about Aaron so far in this passage, not others. This passage describes how Aaron is to approach the Lord so he won’t die in His presence and how he must be cleansed first before he can cleanse the people. I would assume we should come with a clean heart to Jesus before we pray for others? That would be what this passage implies; yet, with Jesus we can pray any time we like. Basically, I will pray for others. That’s what I get out of this.
Conclusions: I think I was in a foul mood when I did this lesson. Didn’t like 5c at all and in general I don’t like these kinds of questions where we have to type up the Bible word-for-word and still not for sure how we get praying for others out of atoning for sin here.
I do get a renewed appreciation for how simple life and God is with Jesus. We don’t have to go through elaborate ceremonies to be with Him. We have Him (the Holy Spirit) and that is all we need.
End Notes: The Day of Atonement was the only day the high priest was allowed to call God by “Yahweh”, His True Name. He was the only one and this was the only time. He was to pass on the pronunciation of God’s name with his last dying breath to the next High Priest.
In the Old Testament, sin was merely covered over with the sacrificial blood; it was never taken away. In the New Testament, sin is taken away by Jesus. So the idea behind the blood being sprinkled on the atonement cover was so when God looked down from above, He’d see the blood instead of the sin, hence making atonement with Him.
The goat is comparable to Jesus.