From “Feast of Tabernacles,” Chapter 7- The Day of Atonement, continued
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?
Briefly, this is what happened on the great Day of Atonement. The high priest, clothed upon with the holy garments, was designated to make the atonement for himself, as well as for the people. Besides the offerings for himself, two goats were chosen for the atonement of the people. Lots were cast upon the goats, the one being set apart for sacrifice, and the other as the scapegoat. “Scapegoat” signifies “the goat that went away.” The first goat was slain, and the blood brought within the veil in the Holy of Holies, and sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat. Then Aaron as high priest laid his hands upon the head of the scapegoat, confessed over it all the iniquities of Israel, and sent it away into the wilderness.
In type the whole ordinance speaks of the Atonement which Christ effected on the Cross. In the fulfillment of a type, of course, we may expect to see a contrast as well as a parallel. In contrast, we are reminded that Christ was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” and therefore needed not “to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s” (Heb. 7:26, 27). Nor did He offer Himself often, as the high priest offered sacrifices year after year; for the sacrifice of Christ is eternally efficacious, and He offered Himself once-for-all.
But as there was a great contrast between the imperfect sacrifice of Israel, and the perfect Atonement of the Cross–so also is there a beautiful parallel. Here we can see what took place potentially at the Cross when Christ made an eternal Atonement for the Church. It cannot be without significance that the Passover occurred in the first month, Pentecost in the third, and the Atonement in the seventh. It is simply because the Church of Christ as a Body has never been experimentally cleansed from her sins. We may close our eyes to the age-long sin and corruption of God’s people if we wish–but the fact remains, the Church did not go on from early apostolic power and blessing to really appropriate Divine life and holiness as a Body. Thank God, however, that He knew all about it, and planned a great Day of Atonement for the seventh month–this Sabbath of the Church, when she shall be purified and made white and made to cease from her own works. “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you…” (Lev. 16:30, 31).
And so the one goat was slain, and the blood sprinkled upon the mercy seat: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul, and “without the shedding of blood is no remission.” Nor was that all: for upon the head of the scapegoat all the sins of Israel were laid (in type), and it was sent away into the wilderness. Thank God for the Day of Atonement, when God’s people shall be made free, and free indeed, from all their sins. GHW
It is striking the eternal plan of God to make Jesus both the sacrifice of blood and the scapegoat to carry away our sins.
I recently read a sermon from 2009 by Dr. Timothy Keller titled “The Power of the Gospel” from Romans 1:1-7 and 14-17. In this sermon Dr. Keller tells us the need to grasp the form of the Gospel, the content of the Gospel, and the power of the Gospel.
The form of the Gospel is not good advice, not a good idea, it is not about what you can do. No. It’s about what God has done in Christ. It is good news!
The content of the Gospel is a breakthrough, a transformation in us, when we realize that we are not only forgiven, but clothed with the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. God not only pardons us, but puts His own righteousness on us. Jesus was treated as our sins deserve. He was given the treatment our record deserves. In place of that punishment we escape, we are given the righteousness we do not deserve.
The power of the Gospel is not saying the Gospel brings the power of God, or that it results in the power of God. No. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Dr. Keller adds that we know we are at the point of breakthrough when we begin to feel its offensiveness. That is when we chafe under the the simplicity of the message and that the need for the Gospel is universal. We want to be able to work for salvation and to look down on those we deem not working hard enough. But the truth is, we all need the blood sacrifice and we all need the scapegoat.