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Sermon#11781                                                                                                                    Miscellaneous Sermons


            Title:               The Day of Atonement

            Text:                Leviticus 16:17

            Subject:         The Typical Significance Of The Day Of Atonement In Old Testament Worship.


            Date:              Sunday Morning – February 5, 1995

            Tape:              Q-96




            If you are keeping up with the daily reading schedule that I prepared for you, you know that tomorrow’s reading begins in Leviticus 16. In this chapter God gives Moses specific instructions for the work of Aaron and all succeeding high priests of the Aaronic order, detailing all that was to be done on The Day of Atonement. That will be our subject this morning.




            The most important and most instructive of all the typical ceremonies of the Old Testament was The Day Of Atonement, which pictured, foreshadowed, and typified the sin-atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our great High Priest, our substitutionary Sacrifice for sin, our Scapegoat, our Altar, and our Mercy-Seat, through whom alone sinners have access to and find acceptance with the Holy Lord God.


            In order for the holy Lord God to deal with sinful men in mercy, grace, and peace, without compromising his character and violating his justice, there had to be a day of atonement. A holy, just, and true God could never allow fallen, sinful man to live before him, unless a suitable atonement is made for man’s sin. Justice must be vindicated. Sin must be punished. Else, God and man can never come together in peace. Therefore, God ordained that a day of atonement be observed in Israel once a year, as a picture and pledge of the great day of atonement to be accomplished at Calvary by the slaying of the Lamb of God for the redemption of God’s elect.


            I want you to see that the Lord God gave Moses meticulous, detailed instructions about how the Day of Atonement was to be observed in this 16th chapter of Leviticus.


  1. The Day of Atonement was ordained and initiated by God himself – No human invention (Job 33:24).
  2. The Day of Atonement was set for a specific time each year (v. 29) - “The seventh month, on the tenth day of the month.” God’s great Day of Atonement was set, fixed, appointed, and determined by God himself – “Mine hour.” “When the fullness of time was come.” “Father, the hour is come.” Nothing left to chance!
  3. There was only one Day of Atonement each year. Christ was to make only one offering for sin. “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:26, 28).
  4. The sacrifices offered on the Day of Atonement were only typical. They could never put away sin. Hebrews 10:1-4.
  5. All these typical, ceremonial sacrifices were fulfilled by Christ and have ceased because Christ fulfilled them. Hebrews 10:11-14, 18 – “No more offering for sin.”




            As we take a brief survey at this chapter and try to picture the events of this, the greatest of all days on the Jewish calendar during the Old Testament time, I want to draw your attention to five specific things about that great day.


  1. The high priest
  2. The slain victim
  3. The lost scapegoat
  4. The people’s response
  5. The act of faith.


I. The great high priest (v. 3).


            The atonement was made by a specifically appointed man, Aaron, the great high priest of Israel.


            A. He was a chosen man.


Š      Psalm 89:19

Š      Isaiah 42:1


B. He was robed in garments of humility (v. 4).


            On this great day Aaron laid aside his gorgeous, glorious garments and put on the garments of humility.


Š      2 Corinthians 8:9

Š      Philippians 2:5-8


NOTE: No Bells And Pomegranates!


            C. He was a ceremonially holy man (vv. 3, 4, 6, 11, 12).


            Though Aaron was a sinner like us, he had to be a ceremonially holy man to act as God’s high priest, picturing the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to approach God as the high priest of his people, Aaron had to have in type, and Christ had to have in reality, these four things…


  1. Personal cleanness – Aaron bathed his flesh in water. Christ had no sin.
  2. Holy garments – Linen garments, garments woven by the hands of a man. Christ’s righteous obedience to God as our Representative (John 17:4).
  3. Divine approval – The incense smoke. Christ is a sweet-smelling savor to God – Meritorious!

NOTE: This incense also portrays Christ’s intercession for us (Rom. 8:34). We are accepted because of God’s approval of our Substitute!

  1. Blood atonement – Aaron could not come into the Holy of Holies without blood. Christ could not obtain eternal redemption for us without his own blood (Heb. 9:12).


D. In all his work on the Day of Atonement Aaron acted alone (v. 17).


            No one else was present. No one was allowed into the holy of holies but Aaron. Aaron was alone with God to make atonement for the people. The whole nation was entrusted to one representative man. The whole nation rested upon the shoulders of one man. If that man succeeds, the nation shall live. If he fails, the nation must die!


Š      Psalm 69:20

Š      Isaiah 63:3-5


In all things, Aaron, the high priest, typified our great, sin-atoning High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.


II. The slain victim.


            Read verses 5, 7-10. We will consider the meaning of the scapegoat in a few minutes. Right now I want you to get a picture of the goat that was slain as a victim for a sin-offering to God. This goat also represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Christ is both our High Priest and our Sacrificial Lamb - The victim, not of man’s will, but of God’s justice!


            A. It was an innocent victim.


            B. It was taken from among the people.


                        Divine justice must be avenged upon and compensation must be made by man, for man sinned.


            C. It was chosen and ordained by God (vv. 7-9).


Š      Prov. 16:33

Š      Acts 2:23

Š      Acts 4:26-28

Š      Acts 13:29


D. It was slain by Divine order as a sacrifice for sin (v. 15).


Š      Zechariah 13:7


Thus Christ our Substitute, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for us…


  1. A Sacrifice of infinite merit.
  2. A Sacrifice for a particular people – “The Israel of God.”
  3. A Sacrifice that actually made atonement and put away sin.


Š      Galatians 3:13

Š      Hebrews 10:10-14


E. The blood of this slain goat was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat seven times (vv. 14-15)


Š      A covering

Š      A propitiation

Š      A reconciliation


Having died in our place, the Lord Jesus Christ entered immediately into heaven itself and offered to God the merits of his own precious blood, obtaining eternal redemption for us!


  1. His sacrifice was perfect and complete.
  2. His sacrifice was final and accepted.
  3. His sacrifice made a way of access for sinners to come to God.


Š      Hebrews. 10:19-22


Illustration: The Rent Veil (Matt. 27:50-51).


  1. His sacrifice is of infinite, perpetual merit.


Š      Romans 8:32-35

Š      2 Corinthians 5:18-21

Š      1 John 2:1-2


The slain victim also represents our Savior, the Lamb of God, sacrificed for us. Next, look at…


III. The Lost Scapegoat (vv. 20-22).


            The scapegoat is a picture of the complete removal of our sins by Christ. The first goat, the Lord’s goat, the slain victim gave us a picture of the atonement. The second goat, the scapegoat gives us a picture of the result of the atonement.


            A. The imputation of our sins to Christ (v. 21).


            B. The removal of our sins by Christ (v. 22).


  1. The guilt is gone (Heb. 10:14).
  2. The punishment is gone (Rom. 8:1).
  3. The memory is gone (Jer. 50:20).


Š      Psalm 32:1-2

Š      Romans 4:8


I have to hurry and bring this message to its conclusion, so next take notice of…


IV. The People’s Response.


            At the close of the day, when the work of atonement was finished, Aaron took off his linen garments and put on his glorious, gorgeous garments again. Then, on the basis of atonement made, he lifted up his hands and blessed the people.


Š      Numbers 6:24-26


When the people saw what God did for them, they had a threefold response.


            A. They repented – “Ye shall afflict your souls” (v. 29).


Š      Psalm 51:1-5


B. They rested – “Ye shall do no work at all” (v. 29).


Illustration: The Sabbath (Heb. 4:9-10).


            C. They rejoiced (Lev. 25:9). Jubilee proclaims…


Š      Liberty!

Š      The cleansing of all debt!

Š      Restoration!


V. The Act of Faith.


            I call upon each of you to join me in the act of faith symbolized on the Day of Atonement – Lay your hands upon Christ the Scapegoat’s head, confess your sins. Now, watch them go away!


Illustration: Charlotte Elliot – “Just As I Am”






Don Fortner








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