Leviticus 16-17

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 21, 1997


Ever since the death of Nadab and Abihu, God has been instructing the people about what is clean and what is unclean.

Leviticus 16

:1 after the death of the two sons of Aaron

The occasion for this ritual was the death of Nadab and Abihu not understanding the holiness of God.

They were toasted when they came rushing into the Holy of Holies with their strange fire.

God hadn't asked them to do it.

They had not only disobeyed God, but defiled the tabernacle at the same time by their sin.

Wenham, "The main purpose of the Day of Atonement ceremonies is to cleanse the sanctuary from the pollution introduced into it by the unclean worshipers so as to make possible God's continued presence among His people."

Itís all about dealing with sin.

Just in case there were some ways in which the tabernacle was defiled without anybody knowing about it.

Just in case somebody hadnít dealt with their sin completely.

Taking no chances with sin.

:3 sin offering Ö burnt offering

These were to be for Aaron.

:4 He shall put on the holy linen tunic...

I find it interesting to note what Aaron is wearing, and what he is not wearing.

He is wearing simple linen clothing, that's it.

He is not wearing his flowing purple robes, the ephod, the breastpiece, the crown, the Urim and Thummim.

There is a note of simplicity here. Nothing fancy.

This is a time for dealing with sin, and you canít hide sin in fancy clothes.


Dealing with sin requires openness and honesty.

God is not impressed by fancy things, when you come to Him, He sees right through all the stuff you hide behind.

You canít hide behind your ministry, your accomplishments, or a pretty façade.

Itís just you and God.

To those who try to impress God.

Stop hiding behind all the junk. God sees right through it all anyway.

Heb 4:13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

:5 take of the congregation

Part of the offerings were for Aaron himself, the other offerings were for the people.

:9 which is the Lordís

The one that got to be the Lordís got to die.

Thatís how you give something to God.

:11 and shall make an atonement for himself,

Before the priest takes care of the sins of the people, he is to take care of his own sin.

Lesson #1:

Ministry to others begins with allowing yourself to be cleansed first.

(2 Tim 2:21 KJV) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

There a sense where we are more useful to the Lord if we allow Him to fully cleanse us.

I think the picture of a "vessel" is a good one. Sometimes weíre like a dirty old milk container, trying to pass on clean water to others. Yuck! Wash the container out first! So they taste nothing but what you contain. None of you.

Lesson #2:

Deal with your own sins before you try to deal with the sins of others.

(Mat 7:1-5 KJV) Judge not, that ye be not judged. {2} For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. {3} And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? {4} Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? {5} Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Often the very things we are critical of most in others are also the areas we ourselves are weakest in.

The saying goes, "My sins always look worse on you."

It's real easy during a Bible Study to listen and think of all the people that should be listening to this Bible Study. Gee, if only Fred could hear this, he's really blowing it big time...

:13 the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat

BKC - this was a "smoke screen" that kept the high priest from seeing the Shekinah glory of the Lord, and kept him from dying because of it.

It wasn't to hide Aaron from the Lord, but to keep Aaron from seeing God's glory.

:15 the sin offering, that is for the people

This whole ritual was to prepare the way for a complete atoning, through Jesus Christ.

Heb 9:22-28 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. {23} It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. {24} For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: {25} Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; {26} For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. {27} And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: {28} So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

:15 sprinkle it on the mercy seat

The mercy seat was the place of "propitiation", a place where sins were covered, where they were washed away.

(1 John 2:1-2 KJV) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: {2} And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Your sins have been taken care of by Jesus' death on the cross. Once and for all.

:16 he shall make an atonement

Atonement - kaphar - to cover, purge; to ransom, to remove by paying a price.

This is one of the principle ways God deals with our sins.

This is all paving the way for our Savior, who would pay the price for our sins by dying on a cross in our place.

:16 so shall he do for the tabernacle Ö

Not only was the high priest supposed to cleanse the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, but the cleansing was to be repeated for the courtyard, the place that the common people were allowed into.

:17 shall be no man in the tabernacle

Aaron was to do this alone, they were not to risk having a second individual be in the tabernacle who had not dealt with his own sin.

:22 the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities

This was the goat called the "scapegoat".

The Hebrew (azazel) means a "goat + go away", or, "goat of removal".

This is the origin of where we get the term "scapegoat"

It's the person who gets blamed for things he didn't do. "You're just making me the scapegoat".

Who's the ultimate "scapegoat"? Jesus.

(Isa 53:5 KJV) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

This offers us a different slant on how God takes care of our sins. He not only covers our sins, He not only pays for the penalty of our sins, but He totally removes our sin.

The blood atoned for the sin before God, the scapegoat removed the sin from the people.

PSA 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

MIC 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.

:27 they shall burn in the fire

Unlike other sin offerings, nobody got to eat a portion of the meat. The sole purpose of this offering was to spill the blood.

This was because the blood of these sacrifices had been brought into the Holy Place.

(Lev 6:30 KJV) And no sin offering, whereof any of the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, shall be eaten: it shall be burnt in the fire.

:29 this shall be a statute for ever unto you:

This is the holiday known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

This year it will be celebrated on Saturday, October 11.

:29 afflict your souls

This was the one day of fasting among all of Israel's annual days of feasting.

:30 on that day shall the priest make an atonement Ö

Today, instead of offering sacrifice for their sins, the Jews are to take the day recounting the last year, weighing their sins against their good deeds.

Hopefully the amount of good deeds they have done will be enough to balance the sins they have committed.

Sadly, the Bible doesn't say that we can atone for our sins with good works, but our sins can only be atoned with blood.

HEB 9:22 And according to the Law, {one may} almost {say}, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

:2 that he come not at all times

This was the only time during the year that anybody was allowed into the Holy of Holies.

Approaching God wasn't to be an everyday, ho-hum kind of thing.

Doing it might mean taking your life into your own hands, you might not come out alive, just like Nadab and Abihu.

Part of the priest's robe was a hem with golden bells sewn to it. As they went into the Tabernacle, people could hear the priest walking around because of the bells. If the bells stopped tinkling, something was wrong.

Later the high priests began to tie a rope around their ankle, just in case they died, then somebody from the outside could pull their body out of the Holy of Holies.


You can enter in.

Unlike the Old Testament worship, we ARE able to enter into Godís presence at any time.

That is because the blood of Jesus Christ is so much better than the blood of bulls or goats.

(Heb 10:19-22 KJV) Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, {20} By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; {21} And having an high priest over the house of God; {22} Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

It is healthy for us as Christians to retain that sense of awe and fear at the presence of God, yet to be able to rejoice that we can come before God at any time.

We are actually able to literally come before God's throne, not be killed, and give praise and worship to God.

Leviticus 17

:4 blood shall be imputed unto that man

Meat was not the ordinary part of the diet as it is to us today.

Killing your animals to eat meat was kind of costly.

If a guy decided to kill one of his cows to have hamburgers, and did not bring the animal to the tabernacle to be sacrificed, then the man would be guilty of killing an innocent animal.

Actually, thereís more to it. The idea is that the man is somehow offering a kind of sacrifice, perhaps even to God.

God wanted all sacrifices to be made to Him.

:5 peace offerings unto the Lord

In other words, anytime you wanted to eat meat (with a few exceptions), you had to come to the tabernacle and offer a peace offering.

The peace offering was a time of fellowship with God, where God gets a portion, the priest gets a portion, and you and your family get the rest.

It means that any time you had burgers, God had to be invited. I like the sound of that!

:7 they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils

The reason for keeping the people from killing their animals away from the tabernacle was to keep them from giving sacrifices to other gods.

The Hebrew (saw-eer) means "he-goat", and may refer to a form of idolatrous goat worship which was practiced in the eastern delta of Lower Egypt.

:9 and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle

The whole point is to get the people to bring their sacrifices to God.

The Law of the Central Sanctuary

Deu 12:1-6 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. {2} Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: {3} And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. {4} Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God. {5} But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: {6} And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:

The whole point is to make sure that the beliefs of the Jews stayed pure.

This was a day when people didnít have their own copies of the Bible.

They relied upon the Levitical priests to teach them about God and how to worship him.

But when the people started getting away from a set standard of worship, the result would always be that the people would go into idolatry.


The Central Sanctuary is Godís Word.

For us, itís not the issue of coming to a central place to worship.

The issue is making sure we keep our worship on track, by making sure we stay in Godís Word.

When churches begin to get away from Godís Word, itís like the people trying to offer sacrifices their own way, and they end up worshipping goat-demons instead of following after God Himself.

:11 the life of the flesh is in the blood:

This is a very important, foundational verse relating to salvation Ė underline it!

God doesnít want His people eating flesh with the blood in it, because He has set aside the blood to be a symbol of the animalís life, and God wants to use that as a way of making atonement for our sins.

When blood is spilled, a life is given.

When blood is spilled for sin, then a life is given to pay for the sin.

:13 pour out the blood Ö

If you went hunting, you could eat the animal, as long as it was a "clean" animal, and as long as you poured out the blood first, and covered it with dirt.

Animals that were hunted were not allowed to be a "sacrifice", because is didnít cost you very much.

:15 eateth that which died of itself Ö

Referring to a clean animal which perhaps was killed by a lion, or died by natural causes.

Example: Old Bessie is killed by a mountain lion. You find her and think, "Gee, itís a shame to waste all those steaks...".

The animal's blood wouldn't have been properly drained out, so if you ate of it, you had to be unclean until evening.

Later, this command was modified so that only resident aliens and strangers could eat of this kind of meat. (Deut.14:21)

* Ole Bessie *

Farmer Joe decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe.

Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, "I'm fine," said the lawyer. Farmer Joe responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite cow Bessie into the......."

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question." "Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'"

Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road..."

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite cow Bessie."

Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite cow, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move.

However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.

Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her then he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes.

Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me.

He said, "Your cow was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?"