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August 4, 2021

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Theology of Atonement – Part III, the Ritual

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(Continued from Part II – History)

Three hundred sixty four days a year, the priest was present during the first three acts of a sacrifice, but began his function only after the blood was received for sprinkling. However, on the Day of Atonement, the priest performed all parts of the sacrifice. Lev. 23:27-32

In the first part of the sacrifice, the sinful worshipper brought his live, unblemished sacrifice to the elevated altar, just as our sinless Christ was raised up on the cross.

During the second part, the offensive worshipper laid his hands on the scapegoat or victim’s head. This action has always been understood to be a communication between one party and another, and in this case, it was a symbolic transfer of guilt to the substitute. On the Day of Atonement, it was accompanied with the confession of sin. Lev. 16: 20-22, 2 Chr. 29:24

The third part was the killing of the animal. Only through the death of one can another live. This was also done on most days by the hand of the worshipper. Just he, who had laid his hand on the victim, could perform the slaughter. In the same way, the Lord Jesus met his violent death by the hand of the Sinners he was dying for.

The fourth part of the sacrifice involved the sprinkling of blood. This was where the priest, who had usually been standing aside as a witness, took his role. Without the priest, the sacrifice could not be offered correctly. Receiving the blood, he made it his own, and poured it on the horns, the altar’s highest point, the foot of the altar and the mercy seat. The priest, in his proper vestments and sanctification, shadowed the holy righteousness of God. In stepping in at this time and accepting the blood as his own, he is portraying that what was done to the victim was supposed to have been done to him. Ex. 30:10

The fifth and final act was the burning of the victim. The first fire for Aaron’s first sacrifice was a holy fire from heaven, never to be extinguished (Lev. v. 6-7). Rising to heaven with a sweet smelling savor, the burnt offering was recognized as an acceptable sacrifice. Some also surmise that the smoke is a shadow of the Holy Spirit.

But the frequency and repetition of the sacrifices reflected their inadequacy. David (Ps. 40:6 and 51:16) Asaph (Ps 50:8), Micah (6:6) and Isaiah (1:11) give clear testimony that the sacrifices were inadequate. The blood of lambs and goats could never take away the stain of moral sin or spiritual guilt.

PART IV – The New Testamaent… March 27, 2016