Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Atonement Ceremony

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The Atonement Ceremony

MP3 Audio (14.04 MB)


The Atonement Ceremony

MP3 Audio (14.04 MB)

The atonement ceremony is performed primarily by the high priest of Israel. The high priest is told to present himself before God on the 10th day of the seventh month. On this day and only this day of the year, he will walk into the place where the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat of God are set up in the tabernacle.

Sermon Notes

The Atonement Ceremony

The atonement ceremony is performed primarily by the High Priest of Israel.  The High Priest is told to present himself before God on the 10th day of the seventh month. On this day… and only this day of the year… he will walk into the place where the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat of God are set up in the tabernacle.

Describe the tabernacle (provide diagram)

The High Priest is not to enter the most holy place any time he likes… only at the time God has appointed. Also, when the High Priest enters he has to prepare himself according to God’s specific instructions… or else he will be struck down and die.

The High Priests Prepares To Enter God’s Presence

First the High Priest washes himself then puts on a simple white tunic, linen pants, and a linen head covering. Normally the High Priest wears a much more elaborate, colorful, and decorative uniform. But on this day he presents himself as a humble servant before God. The clothes not only fit the more solemn feel of the day but they looked forward to Christ the greater and permanent High Priest who would give up His glorious status, taking, upon himself the form of a servant born in the flesh, who humbled himself even to the point of experiencing death

The High Priest also brings with him 4 animals. One to cover his own sins before entering the presence of God and three others to  deal with the sins of the nation as a whole… the people. He brings:

  • 1 bull as a sin offering – to purify and cleanse himself for the sake of his own personal sins and cover them through blood before entering the most holy place
  • 1 ram as a burnt offering – to seek God’s favor and appease his righteous anger toward their sins (this offering takes place at the very end of the ceremony)
  • 2 goats – to bring before God for His decision on how they should be used. God’s answer is decided by costing lots… a modern equivalent would be drawing straws.
    • One goat would be designated for a sin offering to purify, cleanse and cover the sins of the entire nation that were committed in ignorance
    • The other  goat would be designated as the Azazel. Through him God would provided atonement and send the goat away into the wilderness.

Before The Judgment Seat of God

The High Priest first kills the bull (this would take place in the large common area near the altar). He then drains some of its blood into a bowl and takes it with him into the most holy place.

Before going behind the veil he takes a small bucket of hot coals from the altar before the veil. He brings the container of coals behind the veil throws a handful of fine incense upon which make a cloud of smoke in the most holy place. This conceals the mercy seat and protects him from death.

He then sprinkles blood on the lid that sits on top of the ark of the covenant (the mercy seat of God)… then He sprinkles blood before the mercy seat. He does this seven times as a sin/purification offering for himself.

Next He does the same with the first goat. Killing it and taking its blood behind the veil where he sprinkles it on the lid of ark of the covenant (the mercy seat) seven times. This is done as a sin offering for the all the sins of the nation which were committed in ignorance (see Leviticus 4:13 Leviticus 4:13And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance, and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;
American King James Version×
, 27 describing the sin offering)

Finally, the high priest comes out into the court area to sprinkle blood from both the bull and the goat on the altar. The bull’s blood for himself and the goat’s for the people.

All these items of the tabernacle are cleansed. They are contaminated simply because they are in the same place as all the people. The people were to confess their sins and offer sacrifice all year  long… but over the course of the year multiple sins were committed that were overlooked, unnoticed, perhaps not properly understood etc. These sins of ignorance also had to be covered over with the blood of sacrifice.

The Second Goat

After the sprinkling of the blood that covers over sins committed in ignorance of the priest and of the people something rather unique happens. Sin is addressed in a very different manner from what we just walked through and what we see elsewhere in the books of the law.

The priest brings forth the second goat. He lays his hands upon the goat’s head. Then he admits to God all the many ways Israel had rebelled against God, disobeyed Him and sinned against Him in ignorance. These sins are now considered to be transferred from the people of Israel on to the goat.

He then turns the goat over to a man “fit for the task” who takes the goat to the desert wasteland and set it loose. In this way the goat carries the sins of people away from the camp.

Final Clean-up Duties

The Priest now returns to the tent of meeting, undresses, bathes and puts on his normal attire. He offers the ram as a burnt offering for himself and the people. This type of offering… a burnt offering… is not an offering for sin… the purpose of the burnt offering is to divert the righteous wrath of God (seeking mercy) and to seek his favor (so that blessing could be received).

The man who took the goat out into the wilderness comes back. Before entering the camp he washes his clothes and his body.

The remains of the bull and first goat are taken outside the camp and burned.  The man who took the carcasses out also change can bathe before re-entering the camp.

… and that’s the ceremony of the Day of Atonement.

Spiritual and Prophetic Significance of The Two Goats

Both goats were sin bearers. The first goat is a prophetic picture of Christ taking upon himself the whole world’s responsibility for their sins committed in ignorance. The second goat depicts Satan taking his responsibility for the sins of the world upon himself.

1 John 2:1-2 1 John 2:1-2 [1] My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: [2] And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
American King James Version×
Christ’s sacrificial death took place at Passover 31 A.D. Since then its power to make atonement for sin has been available to individuals who are called and accept it. It will be made available to the whole world at a point prophesied for the future. That future event is pictured by the Day of Atonement… after He has returned as king of kings… and before (or in preparation for) His 1,000 year rule on earth. A forgiveness for sins committed because they were deceived.

The deceiver is Satan. Deception must be banished from the earth for the 1,000 year period of Christ’s administration of the Kingdom of God on earth. Satan is responsible for the deception that leads to sin and will bear the guilt for that deception… and the punishment for that deception.

Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 [1] And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. [2] And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, [3] And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
American King James Version×
the man fit for the task = the angel à Kippur is a covering

The Spiritual and Prophetic Significance of the Veil

The veil in the tabernacle was a visible reminder of the separation between humanity and God. The separation was caused by their disobedience that began in the garden of Eden. They were deceived into disobedience by Satan’s lie. God had to cast them out. He also set two angels with flaming swords to guard the way back in. These are the two angels embroidered onto the veil that separated the most holy place.

Mark 15:37-38 Mark 15:37-38 [37] And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. [38] And the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom.
American King James Version×
When Christ died at Passover 31 A.D. the veil hanging in the temple was torn itself in two… now a way to approach God and no longer remain separate from Him was available through Christ… for those who are called and accept it. But for many the veil remains…

2 Corinthians 3:14 2 Corinthians 3:14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil not taken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
American King James Version×
– veil of separation remains except for those in Christ

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 [3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
– this is why their sins are to be considered sins committed in ignorance (yours are not)

Ephesians 4:18 Ephesians 4:18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
American King James Version×

When Christ returns and Satan is bound there will be no more deception… there will be no more veil. People will know and be able to understand God’s word… they will have access to the holy spirit not the spirit that is now at work in the children of disobedience… plus, they will see God through Christ’s appearing in all His glory.

God’s Spirit will be the spirit at work so that the 1,000 year rule of Christ will  be a demonstration of God’s way at work… a witness to all the people who live through it and experience it… and a witness to those who rise to life in the second resurrection.

Isaiah 25:7 Isaiah 25:7And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.
American King James Version×

Ezekiel 36:24-36 Ezekiel 36:24-36 [24] For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. [25] Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. [26] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. [27] And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them. [28] And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. [29] I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine on you. [30] And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that you shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. [31] Then shall you remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. [32] Not for your sakes do I this, said the Lord GOD, be it known to you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. [33] Thus said the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be built. [34] And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. [35] And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. [36] Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it.
American King James Version×