Image source: JohnsCreekBaptistChurch
When the bonds of a relationship is broken between two people, who should take the first step towards healing? If it is the bonds between friends, should it be the friend who is wrong, or the friend who is on the right? If it is bonds between married couples, should the husband take the first step or the wife, no matter who is wrong or right? Leviticus 16 is about healing broken bonds.
Leviticus 16 is titled ‘Day of atonement’ in most Bibles. Atonement simply means repairing a wrong or an injury. If I offend a friend and broke our relationship, I could make atonement by asking their forgiveness and take any other steps required to heal our relationship. Leviticus 16 is God instructing Moses, on what the High Priest needs to do to heal the relationship between us and God.
There are two sets of sacrifices in Leviticus 16. First, the High Priest offers a young bull (male cow) and a ram for himself. The bull is a sin offering for forgiveness and the ram is a burnt offering pledging commitment. The High Priest then offers two goats and a ram; the goats are the sin offering for the people, one is killed and the other is taken to the desert and set free, symbolizing that the people’s sins have been removed from the camp. The ram is a burnt offering symbolizing the people’s commitment.
Leviticus 16:15-16 (Modern English Version) states: “Then he shall kill the goat… and bring its blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it over and in front of the mercy seat. And he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel and because of their transgressions in all their sins, and so he shall do for the tent of meeting that remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness.”
Leviticus Chapter 16 brings together all we have learnt from Chapters 1 to 15. We learnt about the sacrifices (Chapters 1-5), then the role of the priests (Chapters 6-10), then the instructions about physical health and cleanliness (Chapters 11-15). Leviticus 16 shows the role of the priests and the sacrifices for the spiritual health and cleansing of the people, in order to heal their broken bonds with God.
There is so much more to be explained about Leviticus 16; if you are interested in learning more, watch episode 9 of ‘Leviticus: The Bloodline to Christ‘ series by Pastor Jack Abeelen on YouTube. While the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur in Hebrew) in Leviticus 16 was for the healing of the broken relationship between God and the people, it was temporary; Jesus is the permanent fix.
Dear God, help us to understand Leviticus better, Amen!