Hymns on the Atonement. Lessons from Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
* Prelude: O Mensch Bewein (ELH 272) — J. S. Bach
(As the hymns are introduced, you are invited to read
the explanations and passages from Leviticus 16.)
Day of Atonement
The Old Testament Day of Atonement was the one day a year when atonement was made for all of Israel’s sins. It was fulfilled on Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the sins of the whole world. Leviticus 16 gives the Lord’s commands concerning this special day, the only day in the year when Isarelites were commanded to fast (afflict their souls).
29 “This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. 30 For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. … 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the Lordcommanded Moses.
*Hymn 272 O Sinner, Come Thy Sin to Mourn
Blood of the Sacrifice
On the Day of Atonement, a goat or lamb was offered as the price of the sins of Israel. It had to die to pay for the people’s sins, just as Jesus died and shed His blood on the cross. The blood was sprinkled in the Most Holy Place before the ark of the covenant to cover sins, just as we speak of Jesus’ blood cleansing us from all sin. In Psalm 51 and Psalm 32, David speaks of the Lord blotting out our transgressions, purging our iniquities, covering our sins, washing away our transgressions.
15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. 16 So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins … 18 And he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.
* Hymn 297 Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted
* Hymn 432:3-5 Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness
Scapegoat Carries Sins Away
Another animal was chosen as the “scapegoat.” Sins were confessed upon its head and it was sent into the wilderness to “take away” the sins. John the Baptist points to Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we have forgiveness of sins, life, and eternal salvation.
10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.
20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
* Hymn 305 Not All the Blood of Beasts
* Agnus Dei
*Hymn 593 On My Heart
* Postlude: Prelude in B Minor — J. S. Bach