The Day of Atonement and the Death of Jesus

Sunday Sermon

Leviticus 16


The Day of Atonement in the Old Covenant can help us understand what the death of Jesus means in the New Covenant.


“Atonement” comes from two English words (at + one) and means to be reconciled to God by covering sin. … How can we do this? God gave the Israelites instructions on how to be atoned. They were to build a tent where the priest would go to be near to God. It had a Holy Place and a Most Holy Place. 


The only person who could enter the Most Holy Place was the high priest, and he could enter only one day a year. He first sacrificed a bull for his own sins (Leviticus 16:1-2, 6, 12-14). Two goats were selected. The first goat was killed as a sacrifice for the people’s sins (Leviticus 16:7-8, 15). The second goat was called a scapegoat. It was sent away into the desert (Leviticus 16:20-22, 26-28). … God gave instructions for how to worship Him and expects them to be followed. When the high priest would go into the Most Holy Place, he had to follow a set of instructions to atone for his sins and the sins of his family. The punishment for sin is death. As sinners, we all deserve death, but God gave the Israelites a way to transfer that punishment to animals. This illustrates how serious sin is. It is no joking matter and not something to be proud of. 


Jesus fulfilled every aspect of the Day of Atonement: Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 9:11). Jesus is our sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12-15) Jesus is our scapegoat. … We no longer need bulls or goats to take our punishment because Jesus has taken the punishment for us already. 


How should we respond? (Hebrews 10:19-27) … Draw near to God. Since Jesus was our perfect sacrifice, our sins have been atoned for and we are reconciled to God. We have the opportunity to draw close to God.

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