Thursday, November 8, 2007

Shadows of the Cross in the Day of Atonement

Reflections on Leviticus

Earlier in Leviticus we saw various sacrifices for all kinds of infractions – there were fellowship offerings, burnt offerings, and sin offerings – and yet as we get to chapter 16 we find that there has to be yet another sacrifice. This is the Day of Atonement – the most holy day of the Jewish religious calendar.

After all the ceremonies and sacrifices the Israelites still had to have one more sacrifice for their sins. How thoroughly must sin stain to require so much to remove it?

Here I see some interesting parallels to the cross. The priest must first make atonement for his own sin – only one without sin can make atonement for the sins of the many.

The priest must burn incense so that the glory of God may be covered. During the atonement, darkness will replace the light.

As part of the ritual the priest sprinkles blood on the cover of the ark of the covenant. Underneath the cover of the ark is a copy of the ten commandments. As the glory of God hovers over the ark, the law is there to remind God of the sins of the people. The sacrifice on this day does not undo the sins of the people; it covers the law: “…before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins.”

They were clean not because of their righteousness but because an innocent died in their place. Just like you and me.

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