LEVITICUS 16:1 – 18:30 and MATTHEW 27:32–66
The Feast of atonement is covered in this chapter. Its significance must not be lost on us. It was the 6th of the 7 primary Feasts that Israel celebrated in any given year. It was a solemn feast due to the Lord dealing with the sins of the priests, people and nation. This chapter opens with the reference to the two son of Aaron who were slain when offering up strange fire (Lev 10). The Lord speaks through Moses to Aaron to warn that he not make the same mistake (vs 2). There was instruction given that particular apparel or garments had to be put on before ministering before the Lord in the Holy of Holies. He also had to wash his flesh with water.
You will notice that the priest was required to give a greater offering than the people. A bullock was to be offered for the priest and two goats for the people (vs 6-7). The priest had to first make atonement for himself and his family before he could do so for the people. The next procedure was to draw lots as to which goat would become the scapegoat and which would be slain before the altar (vs 8-10). What does this mean?
Perhaps one explanation is that when Christ died on the Cross, Sin was addressed, once and for all. The goat that was slain was presented as a sin offering (vs 9). This would be figurative of Christ taking all sin and addressing it at the Cross. Still, we see that sin is still very much an issue in the lives of believers. This would be the sin that was confessed over the scapegoat that was placed into the wilderness. This signifies that sin is still alive. How can this be seeing that Christ became sin and died upon the Cross? I feel it denotes the nature of sin that still works within in our lives today. Another clue is to understand that Jesus was baptised at the time of the Feast of Atonement. The Lord was led into the wilderness where he encountered the devil for 40 days and 40 nights (Math 4:1). Jesus learned how to overcome the devil in the wilderness primarily due to knowing and responding with the Word of God. There is a nature of sin that must be eradicated from our lives. As stated previously, this is how we become righteous, becoming more like the Lord Himself. It is to the extent that we can walk in the light as he is in the light (1 John 2:7). This truth can be further illustrated by looking at verses 16-17.
Lev 16:15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
This is the time when the priest would enter into the holy of holies once a year to make atonement for himself and the people. The blood of the goat for the sin offering was sprinkled around the mercy seat. The Passover was a picture of the Lamb that was slain for our sins. It is a once for all sacrifice. Yet, we see the blood from a goat for the sin offering was offered for the sins of the people during this feast signifying a fresh appropriation of the blood. It was to deal with the nature of sin. What does this mean for us? As born again believers we are constantly challenged with struggles and issues in our lives. As we walk along the path the Lord has chosen for us we will have opportunities to choose to die to the flesh and allow the resurrection power of Christ to be realized (Gal 2:20, Phil 3:10). It is to the extent we embrace Truth and the Law of God in our lives, allowing sin to become alive (see Lev 13 commentary) that will determine the work of atonement that is achieved. It is not a pleasant feast but ultimately proves to be liberating. This is how we come to know the Truth and allowing the Truth to set us free (Joh 8:32). It is a feast (spiritually) that is ignored today in many church circles. If we do not discuss sin, holiness and righteousness in our churches we then are circumventing the message of the atonement. We will again revisit the Feast of Atonement in Lev 23 but let’s look at a few critical verses.
Lev 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Lev 23:28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
Lev 23:29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
Refusing to afflict our souls or allowing the Lord to have access into our heart will result in being “cut off” from the fullness of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. One may not lose their salvation but a heart that has not been circumcised by way of the atonement will fall short of God’s best. Such a person is also vulnerable to the spirit of antichrist seeing that many will turn aside from God. In recent years we have seen God dealing with sin in the church. The last great feast is that of tabernacles and it will be this feast that will usher in a mighty harvest. May we appropriate the message of the Atonement in preparing for the harvesting Feast of Tabernacles.
The priests were again engaged in the matters concerning the people. We see here that Aaron’s sons are also involved in this ministry. This is after the atonement was performed. There is much in this chapter concerning the eating or partaking of blood (vs 10-16). It has been said that there was much pagan ritual involving deities where portions of blood were poured out and partaken of. The so called benefits would be for the purpose of seeing into the future or to become more closely aligned with a particular deity. It must be remembered that the atonement had just taken place and the blood that was applied upon the mercy seat represented the life of Christ. We also know that the blood of slain martyr’s like Abel can speak. There is life in the blood and there is power in the blood of the Lamb. There were other religions which utilized blood for other purposes resulting in the Lord’s stern warning against the partaking of it.
In verse 1-5 the Lord gives a strong exhortation as to how Israel was to behave in their future journey. God reminded them that they were not to be like the Egyptians (the world) from where they came and to not be like the Canaanites; the place where the Lord was leading them. In other words, they were to be a peculiar people (1 Pet 2:9).
In verses 4-5 the Lord gives the priestly charge in that they were to keep his judgements and ordinances while walking in His ways. You find these three attributes of a priest threaded throughout the whole of Psalm 119. Psalm 119 was more than likely written by a priest; a man who went by the name of Ezra. He lived by these standards and had a viable and powerful ministry as a result. In fact, Ezra very much resembles the type of priest who needs to come forth in these last days. He knew God, His standards and His Laws and was able to live by them, do them and teach them to others (Ezra 7:10). The first five verses of Leviticus 18 are an interlude in the midst of all the priestly instruction and protocols. We all need the reminder to not live like the world with all of its entrapments. God’s priests need to be set apart and distinct.
The balance of chapter 18 has to deal with many of the abominable practices of the Egyptian and heathen nations in the area of sexuality. We saw in chapter 15 the offerings made for sins of immorality from an improper thought life and practices. Chapter 15 dealt extensively with how to cleanse clothes, vessels and individuals who were unclean in this area. Chapter 18 goes into some details as to what some of the practices were among the heathen and how they were not to be participants of it in any way.
The incestuous alliances saw marriages that were sanctioned between brothers and sisters and even parents to children. The ramifications of Lot’s incestual relations with his daughters are still being felt today (Gen 19:31-38). These matters had to be addressed because Israel was exposed to this environment during their captivity and many of these same abominations would have to be addressed as they entered Canaan. What was God’s intention for Israel in all of this? What is God’s intention for the church of the last days? Why does it matter that all of these sins are being addressed in the offerings? We know that God is calling the church to be the head; to be the example and not the tail. Too often we see the church reacting and responding to the leading of the world. This results in a church that is weakened with little ability in being able to make a difference. God has called the church to be the vanguard, the standard-bearer of Truth. I like the way Ezekiel puts it!
Eze 5:5 Thus saith the Lord GOD; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her
God placed His people in the midst of nations to be an example to others. Here is the question! Did the nations learn the ways of God; the priestly attributes of God through Israel? The following verse reveals the answer:
Eze 5:6 And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.
What a sad commentary in seeing that God’s people actually became worse than the nations they were supposed to be an example too. As a church and a people are we giving a good portrayal of God and His ways to our world? In progressing through chapter 18 we see the growing perversion of their sexual practices. Is it any wonder that many of the churches are making allowances for gay marriage? Why is this happening? It is an indictment on the priesthood or the lack thereof. It is also an indictment on the compromising element seen in many church circles today. One small yielding to compromise can potentially open an enormous window for evil. A close examination of the Book of Leviticus (including Exodus) makes clear that God is very particular concerning the subject of holiness. Once a door is cracked it can potentially lead down a road resulting in the abominations we see in chapter 18 and 19 of Leviticus.
Matthew 27 – Read day 42 commentary