Good morning. Let’s go. Let me let me unlock my laptop for y’all real quick. Let’s go. So my name is Josh Franco, like you heard earlier, and one of my guys said it, but I lead the campus ministry. I’m grateful to be able to do that. It’s awesome doing that. If this is your first time with this and you’ve caught us towards the end, this isn’t the end. But towards the end of a series we’re calling the feast.
So we’ve been taking a look at the different feasts within the Bible, looking at the symbolism and being able to see the things that we can take away and learn from them at this point. So, so far we’ve taken time to look at the feast of Passover, the feast of the first fruits, the feast of trumpets, and last week, the Feast of Tabernacles. Today, we’re going to be talking through the Feast of the Day of Atonement, a.k.a. Yom Kippur.
You’ve probably seen that on your calendars, but this is what we’re going to be talking about today. And so when when we’re talking through this, I’m going to be saying, are we going to be reading Atonement a bunch of times like that? Word is going to come up a lot. So I want to give you a working definition of what it means. It means to cover over someone’s debt. Say that with me to cover over someone’s debt.
Hey, so you get it. So I also want to let you guys know that this is a feast that’s from a time that’s not ours and also a place that we don’t live in. And because of that, I want to be up front with you and let you know that some of the details are a bit gory and it’s kind of intense. But as with anything in the Bible, we just don’t get to decide the mind of God or how he would want to go about handling things.
If we did, then we would be God, and that would be terrible. This morning, I’m trying to communicate a truth of God that I’ve studied. But the more I’ve studied, I’ve come to realize that I just- the mind of God is just crazy. It’s it’s amazing, but I’m not there. And so there’s a plenty of things that I don’t understand. But I’m going to do my best to communicate things with you so we can understand better.
So with that being said, you can go ahead and turn to Leviticus, Chapter 16, if you don’t have your Bibles no worries, its going to be right here on the screen. So starting in verse 11, this is not verse 11. Hey, verse 11. Be nice. There we go. All right. Aaron shall bring the bull for his own sin, offering to make atonement for himself and his household. And he is to slaughter the bull for his own sin offering. He is to take a sensor full of burning coals from the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain.
He used to put the incense on the fire before the Lord, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the tablets of the Covenant law so that he will not die. He is to take some of the bulls blood with his finger and sprinkle it on the front of the Atonement cover. Then he shall sprinkle some of it with his fingers seven times before the Atonement cover. He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bulls blood.
He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the most holy place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the tent of meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. No one is to be in the tent of meeting from the time of Aaron from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the most holy place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel, then he shall come out to the altar, out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it.
He shall take some of the bulls blood and some of the goat’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar. He shall sprinkle some of the blood with his own fingers seven times to cleanse and to consecrate it from the uncleanness of the Israelites. When Aaron has finished his finished making atonement for the most holy place, the tent of live in the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites, all their sins, and put them on the goat’s head.
He shall send the go away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself, all their sins to a remote place and the man shall release it in the wilderness. Then, Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the most holy place. And he is to leave them there. He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments.
Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for him, for himself in the burnt offering, for the people to make atonement for himself, for the people. He shall also bring the fat of the sin offering on the altar. He shall also burn sorry. The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. Afterward, he may come into the camp, the bull and the goat for the sin offerings whose blood was brought into the most holy place to make atonement must be taken outside the camp.
Their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. Afterward, he may come into the camp. The passage then goes on to explain that this is supposed to happen every year, it’s supposed to be a lasting ordinance. This is so that they would be covered or atoned for. And I told you that it’s a little bit intense, it’s a little gory. But the reason that these actions were needed was because of an issue.
And that’s an issue I believe most of us are familiar with. The issue is sin. The issue is that the Israelites, much like the Israelites, much like us today, committed acts that both spiritually and physically polluted God’s creation, we see the consequences of this pollution after sin is introduced to the world in Genesis Chapter three, and it’s continued to spread even to today. And you see it in different areas. You see, as you look at the world, you can see the greed, the effects of the want and the love of more money and more power. We see it in our country.
We can see it in the broken marriages, the killing of the innocent and the rise of violent acts. And you see it within yourselves. You see it in the anxiety that you may feel, the fear of things that you have, the pride that you have when people bring things up or your selfishness. The original plan for our being created was to spend time with God, to work with God on his good creation. But we can see that humanity is kind of folded on that.
We did quite the opposite. We went from being with God and collaborating with him on good things to then being separated from him and doing things that actually caused damage to his good creation. And the story of the Israelites show that sin it causes fractured relationships it then led to power struggle and then it led to more violence, which led to them being separated from God, and it led to even more destruction of his good world, physically and spiritually.
These actions, these sins, they have this contagious defiling aspect about them. It’s not just the person who commits the sin that’s going to be affected by it. It’s going to be the community. Here in leviticus, the tabernacle that Josh spoke about last week, the tabernacle has just been completed. This is where God is making his dwelling on the earth at this time, and it’s in the center of the Israelite community. So Israel’s sin is not just contaminating themselves.
It’s not just on a single level or just the community. It’s also defiling the place, the sacred place that God has decided to make his dwelling with them. The problem with sin isn’t simply that it’s a breaking of some rules that God has given. The issue is it’s humans introducing rebellion, introducing hurt and introducing death into God’s good creation with their own actions. If you know a little bit about the Bible than you probably know, that sin separates us from God.
That’s in Isaiah fifty nine. It puts us in a spiritual debt and that debt is only to be paid by the punishment of death. This is why this is what Israel and ourselves, by nature, we deserve this to be separated from God because of our actions and to be put to death for it. But with the love God has for Israel and for us, he doesn’t want any of those things to come to pass. He doesn’t want us to be separated from him.
He wants us to be very close. He doesn’t want us in debt to him. He wants us to be in relationship with him. He doesn’t want us to experience his wrath and die. He wants us to experience his love and live. And this is where the Feast of the Day of Atonement comes into place. On the day of atonement, through the sacrifice of animals that God gave the Israelites, it was the way for them to be covered and atoned for instead of them suffering that way.
The punishment that should have been paid for those animals I’m sorry, the punishment that should have been paid to those people because of their pollution and their evil actions was taken on by two live goats. So the first goat was slaughtered. You read that, and that was slaughtered in front of everybody. So they’re all sitting there watching a goat have his throat slit and then they watch it squirm and die. They watch the blood spill. And then finally, the life has left that animal. As the Israelites watch this and imagine you watching is just uncomfortable.
But as they watch, they understood that, wow, like, I deserve that. That’s supposed to be happening to me. But this symbol of sacrifice reminded them of even more. The Israelites also saw that the blood of an animal was a symbol of the animal’s life. That’s in Leviticus seventeen verse eleven. Since the blood represented life, it being flicked around the temple would act like a cleansing agent to cleanse the temple of death. The death that’s caused by humans actions, death by nature result like it’s supposed to result in it’s the result of sin. The pollution that we spoke about earlier. The result of this cleansing would mean that now God’s presence is going to stay in the camp. There’s not going to be this separation, but something had to die to be to be able to allow that to happen, so that’s what would happen to the first goat. The Bible also gives us some insight into what happens to the second. It would have the priest have its hands put on to it and then confess the sins of all of Israel.
And so you imagine I mean, if you if we were to sit down and think through confessing the sin of just the people in this room out loud for everybody, that’s that’s extensive. Hands on a goat confessing all of these things, all these ways that they’ve caused caused damage to God’s creation and to each other and to themselves. After that, it would be released into the wilderness. So in the mishna, that’s a teaching of the rabbis from the Old Testament that adds a little bit more details to this.
It gives us some more about what happens to this second goat. A crimson thread would be tied to it and then later on it would be pushed off a cliff. So they would be able to watch this go, hey, we confessed our sins over. It runs away. And that’s like, OK, wow, God is great. Like, sin is gone like that. That’s we’re freed from this. But because of the sin being on it, it’s still had to suffer.
It still had to die. It still had to be dealt with. So it was a nice sign for them, but it’s still that reality. And so if you wanted to read more about that, you can check it out in Yoma six, verse six, that’s in the mishna. But as David Lang says in his commentary on this passage, clearly the scapegoat didn’t get off any easier than its counterpart who was offered as a sin offering. Then again, that shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.
After all, the one who escapes punishment by means of a scapegoat is not the scapegoat himself, but the one whose wrongdoing gets blamed on the scapegoat. To say it differently, the scapegoat didn’t escape anything, but because of Israel, but because of it Israel didn’t have to face the consequences they deserved. These sacrifices of atonement were instruments that God used to deal with Israel’s sin. He used these to provide the only way that the Israelites can maintain a relationship with him when they sin.
These yearly sacrifices weren’t offered by Israel hoping to please a merciless or an irritated deity, it was the complete opposite. We just read in Leviticus that God himself provides the sacrifice necessary to cover them. That’s mercy. The whole sacrifice situation is just it’s a symbolic expression of God’s justice, his mercy and his grace. It’s a reminder of how serious sin is on an individual level, but also along with the community. It’s the opportunity, the opportunity to take part in these sacrifices alone showed the Israelite community how much God wanted a relationship with them so they can become a kingdom of priests, that they would go on and shine his light and show off his good nature.
This feast, this sacrifice, this day was a crucial reminder of three things. It’s about it’s valuable thing for us to remember as well today. To remember how serious and destructive sin is. They deserved to die because of their actions. That’s something that we should remember as well and how loving and merciful God is. The question now is how how does this apply to us? We aren’t sacrificing any animals that I know of. We aren’t watching goats bleed out at the neck.
We aren’t getting together in the middle of our neighborhoods, putting our hands on a goat and confessing our sin over it. We’re not tying a crimson string to it and letting it go. So what do we do? What is the plan of God for us? Isaiah, 53 let’s us know that long ago he put into motion a plan that would get us away from all of this animal sacrifice. That we can be atoned and not have to do this year after year to be able to receive that same atonement.
We see that the blood of these animals brought about the atonement of the people of Israel. For us, it wasn’t some great goat that was sacrificing and gave us an opportunity to be covered. But it was Jesus, a man, a perfect man, one fully human and fully God. Look at how the author of Hebrew illustrates the parallels between what we read moments ago in Leviticus and how Jesus came to be the ultimate atoning sacrifice. So Hebrews Chapter nine, we’re going to start off in verse 11.
But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of of the blood of goats and calves, but he entered the most holy place once for all by his own blood, thus attaining thus obtaining eternal redemption, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of the heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
How much more, then, the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse, cleansed our our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God. For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant that those are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. We’re going to skip down to verse 23.
It was necessary then for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these, for Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands. That was only a copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again the way the high priest enters the most holy place every year with the blood that is not his own.
Otherwise, Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages, to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once and after that face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many, and he will appear a second time not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Now, this this is the beautiful part, it’s it’s the beauty of an opportunity to recognize what’s been done for us, the lengths that God has gone to to be able to be with us, to truly have us with him, to truly have his back to doing good work with him, the opportunity to have our sin debts covered, to turn away from sin, to be purified individually and as a community from the pollution of sin, to have God’s presence with us be maintained.
But along with remembering the beauty of what God’s done, there needs to be a time to examine the ugly truth as well. The truth is, everyone sitting on this in this room myself, everybody watching online, we are all wretched humans. Just because we live after the ultimate atoning sacrifice that’s taken place doesn’t mean we’re any better than these Israelites that we’re reading about. There’s nothing glorious about us, but glory be to the son Jesus who loved us this this way.
And as the traditional hymn says, love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. This demands a response. The early church recognized this exact thing that I’m speaking about, there should be a response with love so great like this, they came to understand that the connection between what Jesus did on whenever he died on the cross and the earlier times where they would celebrate the day of atonement, they came to see that those are Jesus is now that main atoning sacrifice, the perfect one.
Instead of having to continue to do this, let’s go ahead and read in Acts 2. We’re going to read from thirty six to forty one. So therefore, let all Israel be assured of this. God has made this Jesus whom you’ve crucified both Lord and Messiah. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter. They were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, brothers, what shall we do? Peter here recognizes Jesus, who he is and what he’s done.
He’s the goat who was slaughtered. He’s the one that carried our burdens, the burdens of our sin until he met his own demise. The people listening here have been convinced of the same. And now they’re asking, what is the proper response to all of this? Verse 38. Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord will call. With many other words, he warned them, and he pleaded with them to save yourself from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted this message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to the number that day. It’s clear here in these passages that the knowledge of how Christ loves us, it needs to be responded to, we should respond by repenting by the change of our mind and moving away from acts of sin, the acts of pollution to turn away from letting our minds be ruled by our selfish desires.
Another response would be being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins to be washed clean of that pollution, the same way that that blood of the goat would cleanse the tabernacle. That way we would receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. We would have God’s presence be maintained with us by him dwelling not just in our camp, but within us. Take a look at first, John one. This is another one of Jesus’s guys just being able to recognize in his past, there’s been this tradition of the atonement sacrifice and they see that after a life of Jesus and seeing him die this is the perfect one. So verse five, this is the message we have heard from him and declare to you, God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not within us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purifies from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not within us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you would not sin, but if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for our sins, but also the sin of the whole world. The day of Atonement does this for us. It sets tension between the grace of God and our own sinfulness. The Cross of Christ was to give us an opportunity for freedom while we’re still tempted to live lives, slaves to sin. We have to examine ourselves closely and see that we’re all sinful to truly value this, we can’t be the people thinking, well, at least I don’t sin as extreme as that guy or that woman being separated by God from God, period is extreme.
It causes destruction to his good creation. All of our sin is extreme. A little white lies extreme. Sit down and meditate on the fact that that we are just sinful. It’s it’s help us it helps us to genuinely appreciate what God has done and what he’s been able to get us to see here, meditate on the fact that Jesus came to be the human we can never be, so that we could become the humans we can never become by our own power.
How we approach our own sinfulness will say a lot about what we believe of the sacrifice of Christ. And this is hard, certainly, but the sacrifice of Jesus is enough. We can be very, very pragmatic about the desires to fix things on our own. What’s the next action that I can do to fix my life? And I think we should try things to be able to move in that direction. I think there needs to be actions. But Ephesians chapter two verses eight to nine, let us know that we’re saved by grace alone.
There’s nothing that you can go out and do that’s going to be able to end up putting you in a position where you can say, hey, look at me like I saved myself. Look at me. I brought about the salvation of me. I brought about the salvation of my family. Like, there’s nothing you can do if Christ didn’t do something first. The point of the day of Atonement is like the same thing that the cross is.
We couldn’t do anything to save ourselves, so he did. And maybe you want practicals, maybe you want like a five step list. I want a five step list, but I don’t I don’t have any of that for you. I think rather than trying to set ourselves free by just thinking through our actions, maybe we should instead just think about the benefit of spending time learning that Christianity is not self-help. It’s an understanding of what happened. And then there’s a response to the one for the one who died for us.
But I think taking time to sit in that first helps you actually be genuine in your action rather than being clean, ceremonially clean on the outside. Typically, we try to end our sermons with something encouraging to make you feel excited as you head into your week. Today, I just want us to be I want to lead you guys into some time to reflect before communion. His blood spilled to cleanse you. He became the scapegoat, the one who carried your sin and shame.
Was sent into the wilderness for it suffered consequences for sin that he never committed. Take a moment to actually reflect on your sin. Take a moment to actually reflect on the grace that God has shown something that I do before taking communion is I’ll open it and I’ll take the little piece of bread and I’ll try to break it into small pieces. It’s pretty easy, but when I do it, I start to think about like God could literally do this to me, simply just crack, like just and I sit there and I think about, but he hasn’t. And then I and then I look at how much of that grape juice is there and what kind of cut wood I have to suffer to be able to bleed this much. And I’m like, he he bled way more than this. But this is for me to remember. I don’t know if that’ll help you remember, maybe you can try that today, but as we close here, I just want you guys please take some time to remember it’s not only our actions.
There needs to be a solid time to remember what God has done for us and to know without those actions, our actions mean nothing. Let’s go to God and pray. Father, thank you so much for being the first to love us, for giving us examples of what to do and examples of how you love this. God, I. I think about picturing a goat sacrifice in front of me and how uncomfortable I would feel. But that uncomfort is way better than experiencing death myself, and I know I deserve that.
God, I pray that as I think about how uncomfortable I would feel watching a goat die, I wonder how uncomfortable I would have felt watching Christ die as a human beaten, battered, hung on a cross. For me. For my actions, for my lies, for my lust, for my anger, for my responses to things, for me disobeying you and rebelling against God, I pray that we can take time individually to think about that. God, we deserve to have our throats hung on across all those different, terrible ways to die.
We deserve every bit of it. But you didn’t want that for us. God, thank you for wanting more for us. Thank you for giving us an opportunity. I pray that we can soak in that that we don’t try to focus on what can I do next right away? Let’s let a soak in the fact that you’ve done so much. And I pray that after we’ve soaked in that God, that we will be inspired by your love to just love you back.
But because of your actions for us. God, we love you. Thank you so, so much. It’s in your son’s precious name we pray amen.