I suggested a couple of weeks ago that “Exodus is arguably the most Gospel laden book in the Old Testament.” No, I’m not retracting that. Israel’s salvation story that is a foretaste of the deliverance provided by Jesus through his death and resurrection, is detailed in the Passover deliverance from Egypt – told in Exodus. But Leviticus, next in line, shows an even more stark explanation of the need for a perfect sacrifice for sin.
Leviticus is the book of sacrifices – the burnt offering, the grain offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering.
As I read Leviticus, I note numerous repetitive phrases. The offerings are to be an aroma pleasing to the LORD. – 17 times. References to blood, as the blood of the sacrificed animal is to be sprinkled on the altar, are repeated dozens of times. The big issue is sin.
If anyone sins unintentionally…
If the priest sins
If the whole congregation… sins
When a leader sins
If anyone of the common people sins
If anyone sins… in failing to speak up for justice
The list goes on and on of situations where guilt is incurred that requires a blood sacrifice to atone for it, to bring the LORD’s forgiveness. Sacrifices are continually needed and must be done in exactly the correct way. Yet, it was never enough.
But the pinnacle of Leviticus is Yom Kippur, the annual Day of Atonement, the highest holy day in Israel’s year. Passover, in the spring, is a commemoration of the Exodus story, when everyone goes to Jerusalem, each bringing his own sacrifice to God. Yom Kippur, in the fall, is different. After the High Priest sacrifices a bull for his own sin, he takes two goats for the sins of the nation. The first goat is sacrificed and the blood of that goat is taken into the holiest place of the tabernacle, later the temple, and the blood of the goat is put on the horns of the Ark of the Covenant and sprinkled on the ark.
Why? 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. Leviticus 16:19
What about the second goat? It is not killed. He (the high priest) is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat 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. Leviticus 16:21,22
Do you see the Gospel in Leviticus?
Jesus took the role of both goats. He is the Passover lamb and the Day of Atonement goat in that He took our sin upon Himself, was sacrificed as the sin offering to atone for that sin, but then took our sin away … as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
As you read Leviticus over the next few weeks, be glad you don’t have to continually offer animal sacrifices for your sins, or even more that you don’t have to die personally for your sins. Thank God for the Day of Atonement that was Good Friday where Jesus suffered for our sin and sent it eternally far away/