* Our easy access to God
Aaron had to spend hours preparing himself to meet God. But we can approach God anytime. What a privilege! We are offered easier access to God than the high priests of Old Testament times! Still, we must never forget that God is holy nor let this privilege cause us to approach God carelessly. The way to God has been opened to us by Christ. But easy access to God does not eliminate our need to prepare our hearts as we draw near in prayer. (NLT)
Leviticus 16:1-25 – The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who died when they burned a different kind of fire than the Lord had commanded. The Lord said to Moses, “Warn your brother Aaron not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; the penalty for intrusion is death. For the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–is there, and I myself am present in the cloud over the atonement cover.
“When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering. Then he must wash his entire body and put on his linen tunic and the undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are his sacred garments. The people of Israel must then bring him two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering.
“Aaron will present the bull as a sin offering, to make atonement for himself and his family. Then he must bring the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be sacrificed to the Lord and which one will be the scapegoat. The goat chosen to be sacrificed to the Lord will be presented by Aaron as a sin offering. The goat chosen to be the scapegoat will be presented to the Lord alive. When it is sent away into the wilderness, it will make atonement for the people.
“Then Aaron will present the young bull as a sin offering for himself and his family. After he has slaughtered this bull for the sin offering, he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the Lord. Then, after filling both his hands with fragrant incense, he will carry the burner and incense behind the inner curtain. There in the Lord’s presence, he will put the incense on the burning coals so that a cloud of incense will rise over the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. If he follows these instructions, he will not die. Then he must dip his finger into the blood of the bull and sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover and then seven times against the front of the Ark.
“Then Aaron must slaughter the goat as a sin offering for the people and bring its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the blood on the atonement cover and against the front of the Ark, just as he did with the bull’s blood. In this way, he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place, and he will do the same for the entire Tabernacle, because of the defiling sin and rebellion of the Israelites. No one else is allowed inside the Tabernacle while Aaron goes in to make atonement for the Most Holy Place. No one may enter until he comes out again after making atonement for himself, his family, and all the Israelites.
“Then Aaron will go out to make atonement for the altar that stands before the Lord by smearing some of the blood from the bull and the goat on each of the altar’s horns. Then he must dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle it seven times over the altar. In this way, he will cleanse it from Israel’s defilement and return it to its former holiness.
“When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tabernacle, and the altar, he must bring the living goat forward. He is to lay both of his hands on the goat’s head and confess over it all the sins and rebellion of the Israelites. In this way, he will lay the people’s sins on the head of the goat; then he will send it out into the wilderness, led by a man chosen for this task. After the man sets it free in the wilderness, the goat will carry all the people’s sins upon itself into a desolate land.
“As Aaron enters the Tabernacle, he must take off the linen garments he wore when he entered the Most Holy Place, and he must leave the garments there. Then he must bathe his entire body with water in a sacred place, put on his garments, and go out to sacrifice his own whole burnt offering and the whole burnt offering for the people. In this way, he will make atonement for himself and for the people. He must also burn all the fat of the sin offering on the altar.”
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