Today’s Reading: Leviticus 15:1-16:28 (additional reading Psalm 40:11-17 and Proverbs 10:13-14)
Key Verse: “ But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat.” Leviticus 16:10
In today’s reading we learn that God established one day in the year to be set aside for Israel to observe and to represent two important facts:
- the sinfulness of men
- and God’s provision for a cover-up for men.
That day is what we know today as Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. The Hebrew word Kippur or Kâpar literally means to cover-over or to cover-up. Yom Kippur points to the greatest cover-up in history. Before we can consider the means of the cover-up we must realize the necessity for a cover-up of monumental proportions.
Remember, Romans 6:23 teaches “For the wages of sin is death.” Spiritually speaking, when the Bible speaks of death as a punishment for our sins it is referring to a total and permanent separation from God. Gracefully, God allows a substitute to carry the punishment of our sin. [Lev 16:20-22, Hebrews 9).
Yom Kippur is designated as a national day of judgment in Israel. Historically, only on this day, the holiest day, could the High Priest enter the section of the temple known as the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was the place of God’s presence and the place where the High Priest would plead before the Lord on behalf of the people. Five times the High Priest would purify himself in the ritual bath; five times would he change his priestly clothes. He would first sacrifice a young bull and sprinkle the blood on the judgment seat of the Lord for his own sins. Then he would select one of two goats and sacrifice the goat, sprinkling its blood on the judgment seat for the sins of the people. Then he would lay his hand on the other goat and symbolically transfer the sins of the people to the goat. A red sash was tied around its horns, and it was sent away into the wilderness, representing the sins of the people being sent away.
At first glance, it’s could be easy to conclude that Yom Kippur is a day of wrath and a day of judgement. Yom Kippur definitely deals with the idea that God will not let your sins go unpunished, but the central idea of the event is that God has allowed a way for those sins to be forgiven. That’s why the central theme of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is not judgment, but “forgiveness.”
Yom Kippur announces with the loud blast of the shofar that God has provided a way to cover your sins. The shofar was to be blown for ten days prior to Yom Kippur. These days were known as the “Days of Awe”. Ten days of self-examination, ten days of repentance.
The central theme of Yom Kippur is forgiveness. The further significance of this day is that Jesus, as our substitute, provided a way for each of us to receive that forgiveness (Hebrews 9). The real significance of Yom Kippur is that God is giving us one more chance to repent, one more chance to change our heart, one more opportunity to make things right.
- How can you self-examine and repent?
- What other passages of Scripture refer to Jesus as a Lamb?
- What does it mean not only that your sins are forgiven but also carried away?
Father, Thank You for forgiving us of our many sins and removing them from us. Help us to regularly examine our lives and to repent of those things which displease you. In Jesus’ name, Amen