Only the high priest can enter this space, the holy of hollies, and only once a year. On the Day of Atonement (or “Yom Kippur”), the high priest, following very specific instructions, goes in and makes a sacrifice offering on behalf of all the people. He steps into the tabernacle, beyond the curtain and approaches the mercy seat, sprinkling sacrificial blood over it. Blood is shed for forgiveness of sins. Fitting that it is shed over the ark of the covenant, the place where the law is kept. The law that no one can ever keep.
This is a day to acknowledge the sins of the people and make a sacrifice to be temporarily reconciled to God. It is temporary because it has to be repeated every single year.
Much is required to approach a holy God. It is not to be taken lightly. The priest is to bring two young goats and a bull. At God’s direction, one goat will be sacrificed with the bull, and the other one set free.
The blood from the sacrificed goat and bull is sprinkled on God’s mercy seat; on the Ark of the Covenant. The priest then puts his hands on the other goat and confesses the sins of the nation, transferring them onto the goat. The goat is brought deep into the wilderness and released with the sins of the people.
Two goats – payment for sin and removal of sin. Bloodshed and freedom.
It is a shadow of the sacrifice Jesus came to offer. Hebrews 5 shows Jesus as the great high priest, both sacrifice and sacrifice. Not only does Jesus come to die on the cross to shed blood in payment for our sins, but He also transfers His righteousness to us. He takes our punishment AND sets us free. Free from guilt and condemnation. Free to approach a holy God. One sacrifice for all time. Only Jesus…the great high priest and spotless lamb.
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