The Ministry in the Sanctuary
While the high priest was seeking the Lord in behalf of the people on this sacred and solemn day, and while this holy man of God was making the final atonement for all the congregation, an important charge was given to the Israelites:
First, to afflict their souls.
Second, they were to do no work on this day. They were to abstain from all secular labor. They were to observe the day as a holy day, a sabbath day. This day was regarded as more sacred than a regular Sabbath. The Hebrew expression (shabbath shabbathon), translated in our version, “It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest,” really means “a sabbath of sabbaths.” Writing on this point in the Jewish Encyclopedia, the author of an article on the “Atonement” says the following:
“All the various elements effecting atonement are in a marked degree combined in the Day of Atonement. … It is called ‘shabbot shabbaton,’ the holiest of rest days.”—Vol. II. p. 280. (See Leviticus 23:32.)
Third, the stranger and the sojourner must afflict the soul exactly as did the Israelite. Not a person in the camp of Israel was exempted from this command.
Fourth, it was to be a holy convocation.. The people were to gather together for the worship of God, and to seek the Lord most heartily.
Fifth, the soul that did not afflict itself on this day was cut off from among the people.
Sixth, the person who violated any of the requirements in regard to this day was destroyed from among the people. The most solemn obligation rested upon the congregation to guard most jealously the commands of God in respect to this holy day.
“Every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward. All business was laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel spent the day in solemn humiliation before God, with prayer, fasting, and deep searching of heart.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 355.
The people were charged to seek the Lord with all their heart. An illustration of the manner in which the people, in olden times, sought God with all the heart, is found in the experience of the prophet Daniel. (See Daniel 9:3; compare with Jeremiah 29:13, 14.)
The Day of Atonement meant life or death to the Israelite. Large numbers of people still feel the same way in regard to this most sacred day. The child of Abraham seeks thoroughly to investigate his life on this day, that no sin shall be recorded against him when the day terminates.
“On the Day of Atonement the pious Jew becomes forgetful of the flesh and its wants, and, banishing hatred, ill feeling, and all ignoble thoughts, seeks to be occupied exclusively with things spiritual.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 288.
No sacrifices, as in the days of the sanctuary and the days of the temple, are available. For this loss the Jew is sad and sorrowful. He greatly mourns the lack of an atonement. In his devotions during this day he offers the following prayer:
“Because of the abundance of our sins, we have no burnt offering, nor sin offering, no staves for the holy ark, no peace nor any meat offering, nor lot, nor heavenly fire, … no sanctuary nor any sprinkling of the blood, no trespass offering nor any sacrificing, no purifying with ashes, no red heifer, no Jerusalem nor any Lebanon, no laver nor any bread of the presence, no altar nor evening sacrifice, … no veil nor any atonement; … and all this because of the abundance of our sins, and the sins of our forefathers. We are diminished, and have not these things; and since that time, we have been destitute of these things.”—Prayers for the Day of Atonement.
The Jew spends the entire day in the synagogue. The pious believer eats no food nor drinks any water for at least twenty-four hours. He humiliates himself while in the synagogue by removing his shoes. He will not allow himself to be interrupted in his devotions to hold converse with his neighbor. Now that he has no mediator or substitute, he must permit no part of the day to pass without afflicting his soul, lest he be cut off at the close of the day. He must enter into no form of business deals, he must not even think of business enterprises, lest he be included among those who have performed work on that day, and be destroyed from among his people.
The services of the orthodox Jew on the Day of Atonement are now divided into five parts. In the evening of the day, every member of the family repairs to the synagogue for worship. And they enter as they would enter on Sabbath evening; for this is a sabbath of sabbaths. This is the rendering of the Hebrew text in Leviticus 16:31—shabbath shabbathon, sabbath of sabbaths. Unusual sacredness is attached to this day.
At this evening service all vows, promises, oaths, and other forms of agreements and contracts which may not have been fulfilled, must be absolved. They must be atoned for; they must be pardoned. It is a solemn and holy convocation. The penitent weeps because of his having been remiss. He puts forth earnest and expressive intensity, for he craves and longs for forgiveness.
The services during the day are divided into four Darts. The forenoon is devoted to thanks for life, and to special forms of expression used on Sabbath. At the additional service the law and the prophets are read, especially those portions which deal with fasting and affliction of the soul.
The time and work of judgment is read at the afternoon worship, and the worshiper then becomes absorbed in greater earnestness and devotion. There is no other opportunity for straightening matters out, except what is left on this day. The worshiper’s repentance must be thorough and complete. In the Talmudic work, Hilchoth T-Choo-vah (Laws of Repentance), it is written:
“At this time when there is no temple in existence, when there is no altar, there is no atonement, only repentance. Repentance atones for all transgressions. Even a very wicked man, who all the days of his life, has committed great wickedness, and repents at the last, not the least of all his evil deeds will ever be mentioned to him; for it is said: ‘As for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby, in the day that he turneth from his wickedness.’ The Day of Atonement itself also atones for them that repent, for it is said: ‘For on that day he shall make an atonement for you.’”
At three o’clock of this day the final exercises begin, Solemn and sacred are the hours and moments until the setting of the sun of that day. In addition to the work of judgment pending during this day, the penitent soul is reminded that he must be sealed before the day closes. During these later hours of the day he prays:
“Our Father, our King, seal our name in the book of life; our Father, our King, seal our name in the book of remembrance; our Father, our King, seal our name in the book of success and prosperity.”—Prayers for the Day of Atonement.
The closing moments of the Day of Atonement are recognized by the literal seed of Abraham as the most momentous. To him this day is his final opportunity. As long as the high priest on the Day of Atonement was in the sanctuary, the person who conformed to the will of God on this day, irrespective of his past record, found mercy and pardon. His past was overlooked. It was the “one more chance” to amend his life. It was man’s final hope of probation.
“Thus, the first ten days of Tishri [the seventh Bible month] grew to be the Penitential Days of the year, intended to bring about a perfect change of heart, and to make Israel like newborn creatures, … the culmination being reached on the Day of Atonement, when religion’s greatest gift, God’s condoning mercy, was to be offered to man. … The Day of Atonement was thenceforth made the annual day of divine forgiveness of sin, when Satan, the accuser, failed to find blame in the people of Israel, who on that day appeared pure from sin like the angels.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 281.
At the close of the services of this day every man and woman meets friend and neighbor. They clasp each other by the hand, and they offer one another the glad expression, “Hope you have received a good seal.”
The Day of Atonement meant everything to the high priest as well as to the people. This representative of God and man was placed in a singular position during the hours of this sacred day. As far as the people for whom he was officiating were concerned, he was mediating in their behalf for the last time, if there was any sin left in them. He must be clean. His family likewise must be separated from all uncleanness. According to Jewish writers, “so great … was the dread that some mishap might befall the high priest while officiating in the holy of holies, that at the conclusion of the service he was escorted home and congratulated by his friends, whom in turn the priest was wont to entertain in the evening at a feast.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, pp. 284-286.
In behalf of the sanctuary and the congregation, four definite acts were accomplished by the high priest on this sacred day:
First, the priest must make an atonement for the sanctuary (Leviticus 16:33); that is, the sanctuary must be cleansed. At the conclusion of his ministry in the holy of holies, “he shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.” Leviticus 16:18, 19. By this act the priest cleansed the sanctuary. Then he removed from the sanctuary the sins which had gathered during the year, and carried them forth from the tabernacle of the congregation.
“In the type, this great work of atonement, or blotting out of sins, was represented by the services of the Day of Atonement,—the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, which was accomplished by the removal, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, of the sins by which it had been polluted.”—Patriarchs and Prophets,” p. 358.
Scripture says; “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.” Leviticus 16:30.
Third, this Day of Atonement was the time when sins were blotted out.When the high priest left the holy of holies to go out of the tabernacle, he took with him the record of the sins which had been confessed and forgiven on that day and during the year.
“Important truths concerning the atonement were taught the people by this yearly service. In the sin offerings presented during the year, a substitute had been accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the blood of the victim had not made full atonement for the sin. It had only provided a means by which the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed the guilt of his transgression, and expressed his faith in Him who was to take away the sin of the world; but he was not entirely released from the condemnation of the law.
“On the Day of Atonement the high priest, having taken an offering for the, congregation, went into the most holy place with the blood, and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat above the tables of the law. Thus the claims of the law, which demanded the life of the sinner, were satisfied. Then in his character of mediator the priest took the sins upon himself, and leaving the sanctuary, he bore with him the burden of Israel’s guilt. … And as the goat bearing these sins was sent away, they were with him regarded as forever separated from the people.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 355, 356.
Fourth, this day was a day of sealing.. This thought has been discussed in the Notes of this study under question 3. The Jewish Encyclopedia makes this observation on the sealing in connection with the Day of Atonement:
“Down to the first century, … the idea of the divine judgment was mainly eschatological in character, as deciding the destiny of the soul after death rather than of men on earth. But … the idea developed also in Jewish circles that on the first of Tishri [the seventh Bible month] the sacred New Year’s Day, … man’s doings were judged and his destiny was decided; and that on the tenth of Tishri [the Day of Atonement] the decree of heaven was sealed.”—Vol. II, p. 281.
The belief in the sealing work on this most holy day has been prevalent and accepted among the seed of Abraham for many centuries. This idea is found in their literature through the ages.
With these four things definitely accomplished at the close of the Day of Atonement, not only were the people and the sanctuary cleansed, but the camp of Israel also was cleansed, for unless the congregation were cleansed, they would be cut off. The command was that those who failed to carry out Heaven’s instruction for this day were to be cut off from among the people—destroyed from among the congregation. (See Leviticus 23:29, 30.)
The priest now calls for the live goat. Till this time there has been no need of Azazel in connection with the day’s services. Not since the lot was cast has Azazel been considered. The work of atonement now is ended for the people and for the sanctuary. There has been no need of or demand for Azazel until the atonement is completed.
“When he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat.” Leviticus 16:20. The command is specific, that the other offering was not necessary until the ministry of reconciliation was ended. Azazel was not essential for reconciliation for the congregation, or for the tabernacle ministry.
Upon the head of Azazel must be placed the hands of the high priest. We learn from many scriptures (see Leviticus 1:4; 3:2, 8, 13 ; 4:4, 15, etc.) that sin was confessed upon the head of an animal, when it was offered for sacrifice, by the laying on of the hands of the individual who brought the offering. Following the act of confession. the animal was sacrificed. Its blood was brought into the sanctuary when forgiveness was made possible. When the blood was sprinkled, the penitent was pardoned.
When the high priest laid his hands on Azazel, he confessed over the goat the sins of the children of Israel. All the transgressions of the entire people were placed upon its head. The live goat became responsible for the sins of the congregation. The sins which were placed on the goat were not unconfessed sins. What were placed on the head of Azazel were the sins of the people which had been confessed and pardoned. The priest’s confession upon Azazel represented the guilt, which had been freely and fully forgiven, of those who during the year had acknowledged their wrongs, for which atonement already had been made. These were not the sins of sinners. They needed not to be atoned for by the death of Azazel; for Azazel’s life was not taken. The goat was not killed on that day, nor was the live goat sacrificed at any time for the sins which were confessed upon him. This live goat did not become a substitute for the congregation of Israel. Its blood was not needed for the people’s reconciliation.
The opinion of a large class is that Azazel, the scapegoat, represents one phase of the ministry of Christ. But the type, the Scriptures, the plan of redemption, and the antitypical ministry of the Lord Jesus, man’s High Priest, will not admit of such a suggestion. Let us consider a few facts in connection with the use and purpose of Azazel:
The Lord’s lot, the sin offering, accomplished all that was essential and necessary to make amends for the broken law in the holy of holies, and for the sins of the people. This goat was offered as a (chattath), “sin offering.” The sin offerings, noted in the fourth chapter of the book of Leviticus, were all offered to bear the sins of the people. The penitent sinner recognized in this sin offering his substitute, and he was pardoned of his sin when the blood of the animal was sprinkled in the holy place. Atonement was made for the sinner through the sacrifice, the sin offering. The chattath, “sin offering,” was ample to meet the needs of the sinner. Therefore the chattath provided for both the sanctuary and the people on the Day of Atonement, and when offered by the priests, met every need for the ministry on this day.
The virtue of the sin offering, the Lord’s goat, on the Day of Atonement was in the shedding of its blood. But as we have already observed, there was no blood of Azazel shed on that day. There was nothing in the use of Azazel which partook of the ministry of Christ, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
That Azazel, the scapegoat, does represent Satan, the devil, is clear, evident, forceful. The sins which are placed upon Azazel at the close of the ministry of the Day of Atonement are the sins of the righteous, and not of sinners. These sins which he bears have already been atoned for. Why should Satan bear the sins which have already been atoned for?
Man by nature is sinful. His nature does not desire regeneration. Christ, the Son of God, became man’s substitute. Our Lord took the place of man. He volunteered to become man’s Deliverer and Redeemer. Jesus bore man’s sins. Through Christ it is possible for man again to be reconciled to God. In Christ God and man are once more united; heaven and earth are again joined.
When the Spirit of God appeals to the sinner to return to the Father’s home and the Father’s heart, Satan immediately opposes this divine influence upon the sinner’s heart. The enemy of righteousness puts forth every effort to hold the captive in his grasp. The soul that longs for freedom from the cruel, satanic bondage, appeals to the almighty Saviour to free him from the clutches of this relentless foe. The Son of God hears the cry of the burdened heart, and releases the sinner from his bondage of sin. Christ makes a man free.
The devil, seeing that his prey has been snatched from him, begins a warfare against the Lord Jesus in the person of the individual who has been delivered. Satan manifests fierce wrath to bring back, if possible, the captive whom the Son of God has made free. The snares, pitfalls, and traps of the enemy are many and varied; for Satan is artful, deceitful, and cruel. Through Satan’s devices and cunning craftinesses he sometimes succeeds in causing the plucked captive to come again under his bondage. Once more this burdened soul cries to the Saviour for help and deliverance. Again Jesus rescues him, pardons him gladly and freely, and encourages him with heavenly assurance that He will hold him fast if the sinner will yield himself into the hand of the Deliverer. The battle wages between Christ and Satan in the man who has accepted the Lord as his Saviour and his Substitute. If Satan did not harass, bother, and trail the man delivered by the power of Christ, the captive would serve his Lord and Master devotedly. His enemy hounds him as a roaring lion seeks to terrify and slay its prey. By every means does Satan seek to destroy, if possible, the one who has been snatched from his grasp.
If through the power of Christ the ransomed one is in the end a conqueror, and has proved by a victorious life that he is prepared to live with the pure and the holy through the ceaseless ages of eternity, why would not Satan, the originator and perpetuator of sin, be responsible for the sins, the trespasses, and the transgressions he caused this child of God to commit when this redeemed one was endeavoring to serve his Saviour who gave him such deliverance? This is what took place at the close of the Day of Atonement in the typical service in the sanctuary.
“Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.” Leviticus 16:21.
The sins confessed upon the live goat, Azazel, were not the sins of the wicked men of Israel, the ungodly of the congregation. They were the iniquities of the people who had been forgiven.
It was but right and just that Azazel should bear the sins of the forgiven and pardoned, when these justified ones fully harmonized with the requirements of the God of Israel on the Day of Atonement.
“As in the final atonement the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted from the records of heaven, no more to be remembered or come into mind, so in the type they were borne away into the wilderness, forever separated from the congregation.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 358.
By a fit man is Azazel taken into the wilderness, bearing the iniquities of the camp of Israel upon him. He does not return into the camp. He remains in this uninhabited land. His life is not taken by the man chosen to lead him out of the camp. He is forever barred from returning to the congregation. “The goat that fell to Jehovah was slain as a sin offering for the people. But the goat of Azazel … was made the subject of a more striking ceremony. The high priest laid his hands upon its head and confessed over it the sins of the people. Then the victim was handed over to a man standing ready for the purpose, and, laden as it was with these … sins, it was ‘led forth to an isolated region,’ and then let go in the wilderness.
“Hence it was the practice in Jerusalem, according to Yoma [a Talmudic treatise], 7:4, to take the scapegoat to a cliff and push him over it out of sight. In this way the complete separation was effected.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. II, pp. 365, 367.
The people were free from their sins. The atonement now was completed. The tabernacle was cleansed. There was no more sin in the camp. The atonement was made for the sanctuary, and for all the congregation of Israel, before the Lord God. Leviticus 23:28.
“Once a year, on the great Day of Atonement, the priest entered the most holy place for the cleansing of the sanctuary. The work there performed, completed the yearly round of ministration.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 355.
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