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February 21, 2016
“The Day of Atonement”
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Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. God bless you!
I love grace. It’s one of the best things that God could do for people. Grace is the place where God covers our wrongs with His unmerited favor, undeserving that we are. With that being said, I have to wonder sometimes if living in the dispensation of grace has dulled our senses to God’s holiness. Sometimes I think we take too lightly what God has done for us and we don’t get serious enough about sin.
The Apostle Paul asked, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1). Shall we keep doing what we want to do, disobedient that it is, so that we can continue to hide under the umbrella of grace? Paul’s response to his own question was, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2).
Grace is not a license to sin. Perhaps if we lived during the Bible era and participated personally in the sacrifices that went into the covering of our sins we would take sin more seriously. Lessons such as “The Day of Atonement” remind us of God’s holiness and the impact sin has on humanity and their relationship with God.
The fact of the matter is sin destroys. And, there is no way around atoning for that sin and restoring humanity’s relationship with God outside of shed blood. Hebrews reminds us, “Without shedding of blood is no remission,” (Hebrews 9:22).
Today, we learn more about the Old Testament sacrifices which would be a foreshadowing to what Christ would do permanently in atoning for our sins. “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: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 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,” (Hebrews 9:24-26), where He not only covered our sins but took them away forever. Something that the blood of bulls and goats could never do (see Hebrews 10:4).
- “And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:
- And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail:
- And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incese may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:
- And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.”
To gain a clearer understanding of what is taking place here we have to go to the beginning of this same chapter. There we see the importance of not only the sacrifices themselves, but how we approach God. Leviticus 16:1 says, “And the LORD spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the LORD, and died.”
To recap that portion of Scripture one has to turn back a few chapters to number 10 and there they will see, “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD,” (Leviticus 10:1-2).
Nadab and Abihu took it upon themselves to approach God in a way that was not “commanded” by Him. We don’t know what was in their hearts in grabbing the censer and offering it up, but we do know that their actions were not approved by God.
Now, in today’s lesson, God instructs Moses and Aaron on how they are to come before Him, and with that the specifics of the atoning sacrifice are laid out. He begins to lay out the pattern that is to be followed by the high priest. The LORD spoke in Leviticus 10:3 saying, “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.”
It is imperative to approach God’s presence as He instructs. After laying out the specifics of what needed to be done on this day with these sacrifices (Lev. 16:4-10), here, in the verses of study before us, they are reiterated to be more exact and pinpointing that the meaning of nothing will be missed and they will worship God with preciseness.
“Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house.” The first of the tasks laid out before Aaron was to make sure he was covered. According to what God mandated in verse 6, Aaron had to cover himself and his house first before rendering services for the people.
Why? As a man, a regular man, he was prone to be affected by sin as well. This is not to be taken in the wrong context, but compared to Jesus Christ, no matter who the high priest was he was not a perfect man. He was not unblemished in the sight of God. Since the fall of man, sin affects every human on the face of the earth, regardless of their position.
In comparison, when Christ came on the scene and became God in the flesh and rendered the services of the high priest through His own atoning blood, Hebrews tells us He was, “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,” (7:26). He had no sin of His own to take care of because He was perfect in every way.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4:15). But for Aaron and his house, reparations needed to be made in regard to their spiritual status before God. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t even enter the holy place without the sacrifice with him (see Lev. 16:3). To come to God outside of what He prescribed could result in the ultimate punishment: death. A lesson Aaron’s sons found out the hard way.
If we read up a few verses prior to these, we see that not only was the specifics of the sacrifices and incense laid out when it comes to the seriousness of this event, but even the priest’s attire had to be fitting the ceremony that was to take place. Normally, the priest would wear several pieces with jewels and such that set him apart as the high priest. In verse 4 only the linen parts of his garments were to be worn and he was to be washed before putting them on. Everything pertaining to the priest had to be in order.
“He shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail.” With each step and each part of the rituals involved for the priest on that day, they get more and more intense because the seriousness level of what he is about to do is raised. Here, he is instructed to go to the “altar” where sacrifices are made to the “LORD” and take live, hot, burning “coals” from it. The coals, along with the ground up “incense,” he is to bring “within the vail.”
The tabernacle, with all of its trappings, is sacred enough. But, to go through the “vail,” the curtain that is hanging and separating the holy place from the Holy of Holies was to take the seriousness of the events to a whole other level (see Exodus 26:33). Going behind the vail was going where the presence of God was represented to be.
If we remember, for Moses himself just to step on the ground where the burning bush was sacred and to be revered. So much so he was instructed to take his shoes off. How much more to enter the most sacred place of the tabernacle, where God is said to dwell among His people?
This was serious business at the highest level. Do we take the holiness of God as serious today? No, we don’t have to do all of the priestly things they had to because Christ fulfilled them all. And, yes, we have free access to come to Him any time we want (Hebrews 4:16). But, do we respect His holiness? This is a question for all of us to ponder.
If we look at the next verse we see the purpose of these instructions. “And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he may not die.”
His life was at stake. As already stated, if he presumed to approach God with indifference to His holiness, his life would have been required of him. God is preparing him (the priest) to meet Him (God).
The Ark of the Covenant was residing behind this vail. The Ark of the Covenant housed a pot of manna from their wilderness wanderings, Aaron’s rod that budded, and of course the Ten Commandments. The lid to the ark was called the “mercy seat.”
The purpose of the burning incense was to make a “cloud” to protect the life of the priest. Do you remember when Moses requested to see God’s face? God out and out told him, “There shall no man see me, and live,” (Exodus 33:20). Although it’s not part of today’s lesson it really emphasizes just how holy God is and again, how we can and cannot approach him.
No, God’s face was not above the mercy seat but to be in such close proximity of His presence was to be taken just as seriously, “that he may not die.”
Next, instruction for the blood’s use that was collected from the sacrifices was given. “And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.” This lends us to believe that after he took in the incense before the LORD, he came out of the holy of holies to gather the blood for this portion of the service from where it was retain at the altar. Upon reentry, it is supposed that that is when the sprinkling of the blood occurred.
- “Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:
- And he shall make an 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 shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among the midst of their uncleanness.
- And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.”
One of the things that really strike me as sticking out is the awesome task this one individual had to carry out for all the people of Israel. Whether he went into the holy of holies to make atonement for himself, for his house, or for the people, all of it had to be done without the aid of another. No support. No help. No one to stand by his side. “There shall be no man in the tabernacle,” is what verse 17 tells us.
Yet, it is so symbolic of what Christ would do on the cross. Although, He hung between two thieves, He ONLY hung to save the sins of the world, whereas they were under the condemnation of their own sins. Jesus, by Himself, ascended Calvary’s cross. Jesus, by Himself, died a horrible death that we could have life. Jesus, by Himself, carried His own blood in the Holy of Holies to make atonement for all sin, for all time.
In making “atonement” for the “people” all the same protocols were followed with the difference of having the blood of one of the “goats” shed and sprinkled. As for the other goat that remained alive, Leviticus 16:21 tells us, “Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.”
Thus, he becomes the scapegoat we all hear so much about. Both goats share in expressing all that Christ would do and has done through His sacrificial death. Through Christ we have the “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; 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,” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
The symbolism can’t be missed! Jesus Christ became the final atonement sacrifice for all!
- “And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about.
- “And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.”
The “altar” was the next focus of atonement. All the sacrifices made for all those sins – wow! Thus, the altar received the same sprinkling of blood from both the “bullock” and the “goat” is applied along with it being put on the “horns of the altar.”
If we look through this lesson we will see words such as “uncleanness,” and “transgressions,” and “sins,” all of which needed an answer to; all of which man needed taken care of so that his relationship with the heavenly Father can be restored once again. The “atonement” through animals became the temporary solution in the Old Testament until the permanent solution found in Jesus Christ came on the scene and fulfilled His ministry in the New Testament.
God offers forgiveness and He offers a way of reconciliation, but it has always come at a cost. Sin is serious and needed and still needs a serious solution. Jesus Christ is as serious as it gets.
Yes, the gift of grace is very real. But, also is the sacrifice that atones for our sins. Let us not take for granted the work of Christ on the cross.
(Click here for PDF: The Day of Atonement Sunday School Lesson, or click print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: The Day of Atonement Draw the Scene
How Many Words?: The Day of Atonement How Many Words
Memory Verse: The Day of Atonement Memory Verse
Below are Activities/Links/Resources to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Printable Paper Model of Moses Tabernacle in the Wilderness” (Scroll down for link. One of the easiest ways to teach a lesson like this through illustrations. This printable tabernacle will help do the trick in pointing out the specifics of this lesson. Give yourself plenty of time to print out and set up. But, it’s well worth it. Or, have students help you assemble. Either way it will be a great addition to any classroom. Enjoy!) – Don’t forget to use cardstock. (Also scroll down to the title “Christ Died for Our Sins” to see a wonderful powerpoint explaining the significance of His sacrifice to your students.)
“Yom Kippur Coloring Page/The Scapegoat” (With Bible verses that match Leviticus 16:10 with Jesus Christ our atonement. Enjoy!)
“Veggie Tales Forgiveness Song” (This youtube video has a catchy beat that will teach children to forgive because God has forgiven us.)
“Yom Kippur Reenactment Video” (This is a great teaching tool. A very detailed video showing you and your students what the actual ritual may have looked like. Warning: some scenes pertaining to the sacrifice may not be suitable for younger students.)
JESUS CHRIST is the Lamb of God (see John 1:29) who became our permanent Atonement sacrifice. Use any of the links below to find suggestions that support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Jesus is the Lamb of God Coloring Page” (This coloring sheet is ideal for your younger students. Enjoy!)
“John 1:29 Coloring Sheet” (Awww! This coloring sheet is absolutely adorable and covers the theme of our lesson for this week nicely. Enjoy!)
“Lamb of God Activity/Craft” (This is a simple, easy and inexpensive craft for teachers to put together quickly for their students. Simply print out the lamb outline and glue on cotton balls to make this little guy fluffy. Enjoy!)
“Lamb Craft” (Here’s another adaptation to making a “lamb” craft. This one uses a simple, white paper plate with black construction paper cut outs. So simple. So easy. So, enjoy! 🙂 ).
“Paper Bag Lamb Puppets” (Looking for something a little different? Make these paper bag lamb puppets. Print out the lambs head, decorate, cut out and glue on the front of a paper bag. Easy Peasy! And, your students have a little homemade toy to take home. Enjoy!)
“Sheep Tracks Banner” (Oh, this is different, but I like it. This is the whole class participating to make one big craft/project. Enjoy!)
“Lamb of God Crayon Resist Craft” (This activity can be done with your own lamb cut out or any lamb coloring sheet or cut out. This takes the lamb cut out to another level. By using white crayons your students can write the name Jesus on the lamb and make swirly designs for the wool. Using watercolors to go over it all leaves a beautiful impression that I think your students will love. Enjoy!)
“Lamb of God Washcloth” (Yes, I said washcloth. This one is for you if you have a little more time. Following these simple instructions (video instruction included) your students can make their own lamb washcloth. Cute. Enjoy!)
“Lamb Paper Craft” (This lamb paper craft can easily be adapted to today’s lesson. We love these simple and printable activities that are easy for students and teachers alike. Enjoy!)
“Jesus is the Lamb of God” (If you need a little extra help explaining to students how Jesus is the Lamb of God, this simple site with pictures may help you. Enjoy!)
“Handprint Lamb of God Craft” (This is so easy! If you have construction paper, googly eyes and cotton balls then you have a craft your younger ones will enjoy. Just have them trace their hands to use as a lamb pattern and decorate. Enjoy!)
“Paper Plate Lamb” (White paper plates matched with these printables give you an easy put together project for your students. They can write a memory verse on the back of the plate as a reminder of this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Q-tee Name Card Holder” (This one takes a little more time and patience but your older students will love it. The lamb is made using Q-tips for a 3D effect. With their name written in the background this would be a lovely keepsake as a reminder for this week’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Painted Handprint Lamb” (Paint your students and use as a lamb stencil to make this cute creature. Students will love the fact that they can put paint on their hands. Enjoy!)
“Jesus is Our Passover Lamb” (This activity connects the first Passover with Jesus as the Lamb of God. Enjoy!
Any one of these “sin” activities can prove useful in explaining the seriousness of sin and the work of Christ as our “atonement” to cleanse us from it. Enjoy!
“Sin Revealed” Activity from Kids Sunday School Place
“Sin Spoils” Activity from Kids Sunday School Place
“Object Lesson for Sin and Forgiveness” from Yahoo! Voices
“Children’s Activities About Sin” from Ehow.com
“A Heart for Jesus Activity” from Kids Sunday School Place
“Jesus Cleanses Us From Our Sticky Sins Activity” from Christianity Cove
“Covered By Christ Activity and Coloring” from Ministry to Children
“Forgive Us Our Sins” Coloring Page from Ministry to Children
“If We Confess Our Sins” Coloring Page from Coloring Page Spot