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lady cleaning up yard February 21 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 16

It's Time for a Cleanup

Many people do spring and fall cleaning. They clean their yards, their garages, and they begin or finish up outside projects. They have their windows cleaned, their carpets shampooed, and sometimes their entire house cleaned. Everything is done before the hot summer days or before the holidays. Spiritually speaking, this was the reason for the Day of Atonement instituted in Israel– spiritual cleaning before the holiday of their Thanksgiving festival. Do you need a spiritual cleaning?

Many offerings were made throughout the year for dedication, unintentional sin, guilt, and thanksgiving, but early on there was a problem - things were not done right. Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron the high priest, had been killed for taking censers with incense and offering unauthorized fire (Leviticus 10:1). Perhaps this means that they did not take coals from the altar as they were instructed (Leviticus 16:12). Perhaps they were drunk and disorderly (Leviticus 10:8). Perhaps they entered behind the curtain of the Most Holy Place where only the high priest was to enter there on the Day of Atonement. Immediately after this incident, God told Aaron that he must distinguish between the clean and unclean, i.e., what is ceremonially holy from what is unholy because the LORD is holy (Leviticus 10:10). He further instructed him, “‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them,’” (Leviticus 15:31, NIV). However, what if mistakes were made, whether purposeful or not, and the priests, leaders, and people were unclean (unholy)? To remedy this, once a year there was a fall cleanup (in the month of Tishri, late October or early November). This was called the Day of Atonement (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T. by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.198).

The Day of Atonement was a day of specific offerings for all kinds of sins that were not dealt with during the year. The high priest would offer a sacrifice for all sins, both for his own and for all the Israelites. One bull was offered for a sin offering and one ram was offered for a burnt offering (a dedication offering) for the priest to atone for his sins. Two goats were brought for the Israelites to atone for their sins. Lots were cast (sort of like drawing straws), and one goat was offered to the LORD, while the other one was a scapegoat. The priest did not wear his ornate vestments for this ceremony. After he washed in the bronze basin, he wore only his linen tunic, linen undergarments, a linen sash, and a linen turban; it was a time of humility, and the ceremony was preceded by fasting. The sin offerings of the priests were offered, not like other sin offerings with the blood of the animals sprinkled on the altar and before the curtain of the holy of holies, but it was sprinkled on and before the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the presence of God, behind the curtain. This was only done by the high priest once a year. He entered behind the curtain with coals in a censer and incense smoking from it. The smoke would go before him and hide the mercy seat so he could not behold the glory of God, which was present. Then he would sprinkle the blood on and before the mercy seat. After that he would come out, take blood and smear some on the horns of the bronze altar, and pour the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. Then the priest would repeat the procedure for the goat - the sacrifice to the LORD for the sins of the Israelites. Then God said,

When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites- - all their sins-- and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Leviticus 16:20-22, NIV).

The LORD told Aaron this Day of Atonement

will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins…. and [to] make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the people of the community, (Leviticus 16:30,33, NIV).

Full forgiveness led to joy and thanksgiving. This fall ceremony pictures Jesus Christ purifying us from all sin (Hebrews 9:7-14, 24-26; 1John 1:7). Jesus was the high priest who went behind the veil of the Holy of Holies, not to offer sacrifice for his own sins because he was perfect, and not with the blood of bulls and goats because they only ceremonially cover sin, but Jesus went into the holy of holies in heaven, having offered his own blood on the altar, the cross of Calvary, to make atonement for and do away with all our sins, both intentional and unintentional. God's forgiveness is available to all who trust in Christ's atoning sacrifice as being sufficient for their sins. “God presented him [Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood,” (Romans 3:25, NIV). Praise God!

Christians, have you been lax in coming to God for regular cleaning of your spiritual life? It is time for a spring or fall cleanup, a time to get rid of the dirt and clutter of sin that you may have let accumulate. Come to God in contrition, humility, and confession. Pray to him for a full cleansing of all your sins. Complete cleaning and forgiveness is offered through Christ (1John 1:9). You can be truly clean and then you will celebrate with thanksgiving!

Lessons to live by:

  • The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, brings us forgiveness, new spiritual life, and peace (more...)
  • Full forgiveness leads to joy and thanksgiving. Come to Jesus in contrition, humility, and faith for a complete cleaning.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

1Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (NIV)

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