Atonement

as set forth in the Old Testament.

C E Stuart

Publisher: W H Broom.

Sacrifices were instituted at a very early date after the fall. “By faith,” we read, “Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain” (Heb. 11: 4). The knowledge acquired, and the practice of offering sacrifices, survived the flood, and Gentiles as well as Abraham’s descendants had their altars, on which they were offered. By-and-by they will again take place, and God’s altar at Jerusalem will be sprinkled daily and annually with blood, though for centuries no sacrificial victim has been offered on any altar of divine appointment.

From the first, it would appear, that the burnt-offering character of sacrifice was known and adopted, the whole animal being presented to God, and consumed on the altar, though it is not till after the flood that the character of the offering is described. Noah, we learn, on the occasion of his leaving the ark after the flood, offered, on the altar which he erected, burnt-offerings of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl. (Gen. 8: 20.) We can understand, therefore, how this character of offering came to be generally known, before the special regulations about sacrifices were communicated by Moses to Israel. And, as around the altar erected by the patriarch there were assembled with him all the members of the human race which had survived the flood, to acknowledge with thankful hearts their preservation from the judgment that had overtaken kinsfolk, friends, acquaintances, and the rest of Adam’s descendants who had seen the commencement of the deluge, it is clear how the knowledge of sacrifices could have been carried abroad over the earth. Abraham and Isaac were familiar with them. (Gen. 22: 7, 8.) Job in the land of Uz resorted to them. (Job 1: 5.) Balak, king of Moab, and Balaam of Mesopotamia, were cognisant of them. (Num. 23.) The Phoenician worship of Baal demanded them. (Jer. 19: 5.) And Chemosh, the god of Moab, it was thought, accepted them. (2 Kings 3: 27.) And for various reasons were they offered. Job had recourse to them, when he feared his sons had sinned against God. His three friends were commanded to bring them, because they had not spoken rightly of the Almighty. (Job 1: 42.) And Balak, when seeking to obtain his desire that Israel should be cursed, offered a bullock and a ram on each of the seven altars, which by the prophet’s command he had built on the high places of Baal.

After a time sacrifices of a different character were introduced in addition. Thus Jethro took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God when he visited Moses and Israel in the wilderness, and heard from the lips of his son-in-law all that the Lord had done to the Egyptians on behalf of His chosen and now ransomed people. (Ex. 18: 12.) And Moses, on the occasion of the ratification of the covenant, sent young men to offer burnt-offerings and to sacrifice peace-offerings unto the Lord. (Ex. 24: 5.) Clearly then there was already a recognised distinction between burnt-offerings and sacrifices; and peace-offerings too had been introduced. These last, however, are only mentioned in connection with Israel. What had been the patriarchal custom — whether, like Jethro, they sacrificed other offerings in addition to or distinct from the burnt-offering — is not made known to us. Jacob indeed offered sacrifices at Beersheba on his way down to Egypt. (Gen. 46: 1.) But it is not till we reach the book of Exodus that we have the two plainly distinguished. And as we peruse its pages, another feature of sacrificial ritual, very prominent in the law, and highly instructive to us, is presented to our notice. Throughout Genesis we have mention of altars and sacrifices, but never of blood in connection with the victims. Blood in this connection is first noticed in Exodus, and is dwelt on at length in Leviticus. Redemption by power, and atonement by blood, are subjects of divine revelation communicated by God’s servant Moses. For redemption as treated of in the Old Testament has to do with the nation, so we there read of redemption by power; whereas in the New Testament it is set forth as concerning individuals, and there we learn of redemption by blood. The nation had therefore to be in existence before redemption by power could be known and enjoyed. Atonement by blood requires a priest to effect it. Priesthood had therefore to be instituted before it could be made. To the Old Testament teaching on atonement let us then now address ourselves.

But what are we to understand by atonement? In Hebrew there is one word used to express it, the primary meaning of which is said to be to cover.* All, then, that was requisite to cover the people’s sins before God is included in the idea of atonement. Until after the giving of the law the verb is is not met with in this strict doctrinal meaning, though the noun derived from it, and translated “ransom,” is used by Elihu in Job 33: 24. With the verb the patriarchs were well acquainted, for Jacob gave utterance to it when he said of Esau his brother, “I will appease him” (lit. I will cover his face) “with a present.” The flocks and herds destined for Esau were so to cover his face that he should no longer view Jacob in the light of a supplanter, and wreak his vengeance upon him. That was Jacob’s thought, who as a man acted thus towards his fellow-man. We can understand this as between man and man. The offender may know how to appease, and turn aside the wrath of the one against whom he has sinned. But who shall determine what can make atonement for sins committed against God? God only can do that. And in Scripture God alone declares it. This is at once fitting and gracious. It becomes Him to do it. He is gracious in doing it. He has compassion on His sinful creatures, and provides an atonement for their sins. To palliate, or to be indifferent to them, would not be like God. To provide an atonement, whereby He would be righteous in dealing with sinners in grace, and in casting all their sins into the depths of the sea, — this is worthy of God. But, till God spoke of it, what could make atonement for sins committed against Him was unknown, and by consequence unprovided for. Substitution in some measure was understood, as the history of Job, already referred to, sets forth (1, 42.) The sacrifice offered up for those who had sinned, it was known, would preserve them from being dealt with according to their folly. But atonement in the Old Testament is more than this, though involving it. Propitiation is included in it, as Leviticus 16 makes plain.
{*For though the verb is not so translated in the Bible, it seems to bear the sense of covering in Arabic. Once met with in Kal (Gen. 6. 14), wherever atonement is expressed by the verb, it is always in either the Piel, Pual, Hithpael, or, as some would add, Nithpael voice.}

God then must teach men about atonement, if their sins against Him are to be rightly dealt with, and they are not to suffer the just consequences of them in eternity. God too must provide the sacrifice to make atonement, if any is to be effected on behalf of His erring creatures. This Elihu in the book of Job teaches in connection with God’s ways in government. “Deliver him,” he represents God as saying, “from going down to the pit. I have found a ransom.” (33: 24.) But the book of Job will not teach us, what God afterwards made known by Moses, that atonement by blood can alone deal with the question of our sins before Him. Who would have understood this had not the Lord revealed it?

And the occasion and channel for revealing this God reserved to Himself to determine. So the first who used the verb im, in its doctrinal sense of making atonement, was the Lord God Himself. From His lips (Ex. 29: 36) that word in this sense first fell. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” is the statement of Rom. v. 8. In perfect keeping with this we find that God was the first to speak of atonement by blood. Thenceforward, in the law, in the prophets, and occasionally in the Psalms, we meet with the verb frequently translated “to make atonement.”

Asaph, making mention of God’s dealings with Israel in grace, recalls to mind how many a time He, being full of compassion, forgave (lit. covered) their sins (Ps. 78: 38.) The godly remnant of the future, desiring restoration to their land and to divine favour, will find provided by the Spirit of prophecy suited language for them to take up before God (Ps. 65. 3; 79: 9.) They will look to God to purge away their sins. As a sinful people they will confess that God alone can do it; for though typically under the law atonement was made once a year, the real atonement was a thing of the future. And nothing less is in store for the faithful remnant of Israel than the results of the atoning work of Christ on the cross being applied to them both nationally and individually. As a nation they will want it (John 11: 51); as individuals they will enjoy it. (Isa. 53: 6.) For nothing short of atonement by blood can give a sinful people a standing, and the conscious enjoyment of it, before the throne of God. By that alone, according to Old Testament teaching, can the sins of God’s people be covered. And now, keeping in mind during the progress of our inquiry that the original meaning of the verb is to cover, the reader should understand that it has been translated at times, to reconcile (Lev. 6: 30, 8: 15, 16: 20; Ezek. 45: 15, 17; Dan. 9: 24); to purge (Ps. 65: 3, 79: 9; Ezek. 43: 26); to forgive (Deut. 21: 8; Ps. 78: 38; Jer. 18: 23); to be merciful (Deut. 21: 8); to cleanse (Num. 35: 33); to pardon (2 Chron. 30: 18); as well as to make atonement.

Sin is a grievous thing, and the consequences to men who commit it, whether governmental or final, are terrible, unless God provides a means whereby atonement can be made for the offence. The sinner is therefore entirely in the hands of Him against whom he has sinned. If God appoints that which can make atonement, well and good. If He does not, the iniquity of the offender can never be purged. Thus the iniquity of Eli’s house was not to be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever, (1 Sam, 3: 14.) Isaiah speaks of those whose iniquity would not be purged till they died. (22: 14.) And Jeremiah asked God not to forgive the sins of his persecutors, (18: 23.) What a solemn thought this is! In what a position does the sinner stand with God! No thoughts of man, no suggestions of his own heart, will here avail. God’s thoughts are the thoughts he really wants to be made acquainted with, to learn whether an atonement can avail on his behalf. Now there are cases in which Scripture pronounces, with a clearness which none can gainsay, that no atonement will be accepted for those to whom they refer. (Mark 3: 29, 30; John 3: 36; 2 Thess.1: 9.) Thank God the sinner’s case is not irremediable if he hearkens to God; for the instances referred to are of those, who reject the divine testimony. But the remedy must be prescribed by God, and submitted to by the offender.

“By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” Man therefore has forfeited all claim to continuance of life on earth, because he has sinned against God. In the garden of Eden God warned Adam of this, and in that same garden He pronounced on man his doom, as far as this world is concerned: “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” But life here is not everything. As an immortal creature man exists, and must exist, for ever. Therefore, as a sinner by nature, another question arises; viz., the condition of his everlasting existence. Can he have everlasting life, or must he for ever and ever have his part in the second death? Can he, though he have sinned, have a standing in God’s presence by means of atonement, or can he not? These questions it is in the province of God’s word to answer. It does answer them satisfactorily, and exhaustively. God has provided the needed atonement; but it is atonement by blood.

Now, atonement in the Old Testament is viewed in two distinct lights; the one in connection with God’s ways in government upon earth, the other in connection with the standing both of individuals, and of the people of Israel before Him. Pursuing our inquiry in this order into the Old Testament teaching on the question in hand, we learn that, in connection with God’s governmental ways, it divides itself into two parts. The one treats of atonement made to prevent governmental dealing; the other shows us how atonement was made to arrest the progress of it after it had begun. Instances of the former are furnished, as in Ex. 30: 15, 16; Num. 8: 19, 31: 50, 35: 33; Deut. 21: 8. Examples of the latter are found in Num. 25: 13, 16: 46, 47; 2 Sam. 21: 3.

When the Israelites were numbered from twenty years old and upwards, the age at which they were able to go out to war, and were regarded as having grown up to man’s estate, and fit for the service of life (Num. 1: 3, 14: 29; Lev. 27: 3; 1 Chron. 23: 24, 27: 23), they were commanded to bring every man a bekah, or half shekel, to make atonement for his soul, that “there be no plague among them.” (Ex. 30: 12.) God thus provided to ward off His hand in government, if they would acknowledge His goodness and mercy to them by the bringing of the stipulated sum. Judgment is His strange work, in which He does not delight, but to which, if His people are disobedient, He must have recourse. But how gracious to make known the terms on which He would withhold it! How calculated this was to remind them to whom they belonged! Would they glory in their strength and ability to act as they chose, reckoning on their strength from their numbers? They were to acknowledge to whom all their strength of manhood and numbers was due, else a plague might break out to emasculate and decimate the people. How often this command was obeyed, and God’s gracious purpose towards His people carried out, we have no means of ascertaining. Far on, however, in the history of the kings of Judah, we have a notice of it, which shows that it had not wholly fallen into abeyance; for Jehoash assigned the produce of this tax, called “the money of every one that passeth the account,” along with others enumerated by the historian (2 Kings 12: 4), to swell the fund to be collected for the repair of the house of the Lord.*
{*Compare Ex. 30: 13 with 2 Kings 12: 4 (5 in Hebrew). See also Ex. 38: 26.}

In another way God provided for His people to shield them from governmental dealing. He took the Levites in the place of the first-born of Israel, on whom He had a special claim (Num. 8: 16-19), “to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation, and to make an atonement for the children of Israel, that there be no plague among the children of Israel when the children of Israel come nigh unto the sanctuary.” What care on God’s part did this evince for the welfare and immunity from judgment of His ransomed but stiff-necked people! All the people were redeemed, and the first-born were God’s in a special manner; but He chose the Levites, and gave them to Aaron and to his sons to do the service of the children of Israel in the sanctuary, that governmental dealing should not be called into exercise by reason of any of the children of Israel coming nigh the tabernacle of the congregation. (Num. 1: 53; 18: 22, 23.) So on no plea or pretext were any of Israel, apart from the tribe of Levi, to come near to the tabernacle. Now this injunction was not issued after the attempt had been made, and had ended in a terrible disaster. It was issued by God, and Moses announced it, as the provision made by the Lord to avoid the occurrence of that which must otherwise have taken place.

On another occasion God accepted an offering, voluntarily presented to Him, to make atonement for the warriors of Israel. They had gone out to war with Midian by God’s direction. They had prospered by God’s help. They returned without a gap in their ranks, a striking proof of God’s special goodness. Wherefore, of their own accord, after numbering the people, and ascertaining the mercy bestowed upon them, the officers presented an offering from the spoil of 16,750 shekels in weight of gold, to make an atonement for their souls before the Lord. (Num. 31: 50.) They desired to acknowledge that their lives were in God’s hand, and to His care they owed their preservation from injury and slaughter. Had they shared in this signal favour without acknowledging it, they might justly have feared the divine displeasure. By their offering, which God accepted, all fear of judicial dealing was removed. As men, they were no better than the Midianites, whom they had slain. By this action they owned it, but by it made atonement for their souls.

Prevention, however, would not always have met the case. They were a rebellious people, so governmental dealing had to take place, and they had to learn, by bitter experience, what it was to sin against God. But when divine wrath was deserved, who could avert it? When it was outpoured, who could arrest it? If it was righteous in God to visit on the offenders their sins, how could His hand in government be rightly withdrawn till all the guilty had perished? As regards the sinners, their condition was helpless, and their only resource was in God, for Him to act in mercy, if He could consistently with His righteousness, and stay the plague when it had already commenced. Scripture history records that He could, and He did. In the plains of Moab this was seen, as well as in the desert of the wanderings. At Shittim Israel had joined themselves to Baalpeor, and committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab. A plague in consequence had broken out amongst the people, and 24,000 died from it. The action of Phineas, however, stayed it, when he slew Zimri, a prince of Simeon, with Cozbi, a daughter of Midian, and thus made atonement for Israel. (Num. 25: 13.) A man had been found to vindicate God by taking part against offenders in Israel. With that the Lord graciously arrested the judgment, which was doing its direful work in the camps of the people. Because of judgment executed on an offender the congregation were spared that day.

But there were circumstances into which Israel had brought themselves at another moment of their history, when action of a different character had to take place for God to stay His arm, then lifted up in wrath. After the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram had been dealt with, the congregation murmured against Moses and against Aaron, and accused them of killing the people of the Lord. In a moment, without any warning, the plague began. And nothing could stem the tide of judgment, and shield the survivors from the death which threatened them, but the intervention of the high priest with a censer full of burning incense, lighted from the fire of the altar. At the suggestion of Moses Aaron ran, for the matter was urgent, and thus atonement was made for the congregation. (Numbers 16: 46, 47.) The arrest of the plague at Shittim took place when a man was found to take God’s side against that of his own people. The plague was stayed in the wilderness, when Aaron with his lighted censer stood between the dead and the living. Those who had died were beyond recovery, for them no atonement was possible. For the living only could Phineas or Aaron interpose; for governmental dealing was all that these two were concerned with. Zeal for God was seen in the one, and the merits of Christ set before God were displayed in type by the other. Thus the congregation were preserved from reaping the fruits of their ways.

Again, in the reign of David there was a famine in the land three years, year after year. God was dealing with them for some sin, that was clear; so what it was, and how to turn aside God’s hand from them, were questions of the deepest importance. For if God restrained the fruitfulness of the earth, man could only wait till He was pleased to bless its increase. On this occasion then, as on the others, God was their only resource. But it was sufficient; for on David inquiring of the Lord he learnt the reason of the famine, and speedily discovered the way to stop it. The execution of children and grandchildren of Saul by the Gibeonites atoned for that king’s breaking faith with, and slaughtering the Hivites, and God was entreated for the land. (2 Sam. 21.) This was a special case, though in perfect keeping with that provision in the law for cleansing the land from blood where the murderer was known. Under such circumstances there could be no atonement for the land, except by the blood of him that shed it. (Num. 35: 33.)

But there is more than governmental dealing to which men are liable. There is another and a deeper question to be settled than the continuance or not upon earth of those who have sinned against their Maker. There is an existence which survives death, and which temporal death cannot touch. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9: 27.) A question then of all importance is raised for each individual who has failed in obedience to God (and who is there who could say he had not?): What shall be his condition of existence in eternity? One alone can give the answer to that, and He has given it. At the threshold, then, of an inquiry of this nature we must cast behind us all men’s thoughts on the subject, and as learners hearken to what the Holy One has to say about it. A position this is which man in his pride kicks against, but which he who is really wise accepts.

A new feature now presents itself, for our attention is directed by God to the positive need of atonement by blood, since “it is the blood,” we read, “that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev. 17: 11.) Hitherto, in the instances of atonement to which we have turned, we have not met with the mention of blood. Atonement in connection with governmental dealing might be effected without blood. Atonement in connection with the sinner’s real position before God, whether in type or not, is only accomplished by blood. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls.” Let us mark the grace here indicated — “I have given it to you.” God, against whom we have sinned, provides that by which atonement for our sins can be made. He provides it, and He reveals it. Now this was something quite new; for accompanying this revelation there was a special enactment, made for Israel and the stranger who dwelt among them, against the eating of blood. Not that this was the first occasion on which God had forbidden it. For just after the flood He forbade Noah and his sons, and through them the whole human race, to eat blood, assigning as a reason, that the life of the flesh is in the blood. (Gen. 9: 4.) But no penalty was then annexed to any infraction of the command. In Lev. 17: it was different. The reason for not eating blood, given by God to Noah, was not forgotten, for Moses in Lev. 17 mentions it; but another reason against it was appended, and a penalty was attached to non-compliance with the precept. Thenceforward atonement by blood was regarded as a cardinal doctrine, and the people were never to forget it.

For this God made provision, and in the first year that Israel existed as an enfranchised people on earth they heard about it. (Ex. 29: 36.) As long too as they shall continue to be God’s earthly people, throughout the millennium, they will remember it (Ezek. 45: 18-20.) At the new moons, throughout the paschal feast, at the feast of weeks, and again during that of tabernacles, atonement was to be made for the congregation, as well as at the feast of trumpets, and on that solemn day in their ecclesiastical calendar, the day of atonement. Thus they never could present themselves at their annual festivals before the Lord without being reminded as a people of their need of it. On the eighth day of Aaron’s consecration it was first made for all Israel. (Lev. 9.) When the sons of Zadoc shall resume their ministrations at the altar, they will afresh be reminded of atonement. During the week of the consecration of Aaron and his sons atonement was made for the altar of burnt-offering. (Ex. 29: 36-37.) In the temple, as described by Ezekiel, the same thing will again take place (Ezek. 43: 20-26); for they will purge it. Annually too on the tenth day of the seventh month the high priest made atonement for the golden altar, and for the tabernacle which was among them, “because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins.” (Lev. 16: 16.) Thus of the defiling nature of sin Israel were continually being warned.

But not only were the congregation taught about it, the individuals in Israel were made frequently to feel their need of it. God brought it home to the consciousness of every one amongst them. Had it been only a national want individuals might never have felt their responsibility and personal condition; but when any one had sinned, or trespassed in a way which admitted of an offering for his sin being brought to the altar, he was made to feel that he personally had need of atonement, even if no one else was in a similar position. The man, the Israelite, had to acknowledge that he was thrown wholly upon the mercy and gracious provision of his God. Now all would understand that in certain cases this was but right. They had, however, to learn that for the congregation, or any individual who sinned unwittingly, atonement was needed (Num. 15: 25, 28), as well as for a trespass committed against the Lord. (Num. 5: 8.) Sins of ignorance called for atonement as well as sins done wittingly, if indeed for such the law had made any provision. For few were those, out of the catalogue of what men would generally call sins, for which any offering could be brought by the offending Israelite. For presumptuous sin nothing was awarded the one guilty of it but death. David felt that when he uttered to God those words, “Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it thee; thou delightest not in burnt-offering” (Ps. 51: 16); and Nathan acknowledged it when he said to the king, “Thou shalt not die.” (2 Sam. 12: 13.) This, which perhaps is little understood, deserves to be well considered if we would estimate aright the relief of being not under law, but under grace.

But, further, the leper on the day of his cleansing confessed publicly his need of atonement (Lev. 14: 10-20), as the priest presented him with his offerings before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; and the Nazarite, who had sinned by the dead, had also to acknowledge that he stood in need of it. (Num. 6: 10, 11.) Cases these were very different to outward eyes, yet for each of them atonement was required. The leper on the eighth day of his cleansing, and the defiled Nazarite on the eighth day of his cleansing, stood in need of atonement by blood. In the case of the leper it was his leprosy which had made him unclean — the working out of what was within him; in the case of the Nazarite he was defiled by a man dying suddenly near him. This was defilement from without, and defilement against which, very probably, he might not have been able to guard himself; but no plea, which he could urge, would have availed to release him from the obligation of approaching the altar of burnt-offering with his pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons — the one for a sin-offering, the other for a burnt-offering — to make atonement for him, “for that he sinned by the dead.” Was a man or a woman afflicted with an issue in the flesh? For such, too, a sacrifice for atonement was demanded on the eighth day after its cessation. (Lev. 15.) In each of these cases we have mention made of the seventh day, and of the eighth day. The seventh day marked that a full period had elapsed since the defilement had taken place, or the uncleanness had ceased. The eighth day, as the one on which each was to bring his offerings for atonement, marked the commencement of a new period of time, from which each was to live to God. A mother, too, each time she became one, had likewise to present herself before the Lord with an offering which confessed her need of atonement. (Lev. 12: 7.)

Now what was there in common in these cases that in each of them it was required? Why were the Nazarite and the mother, for this purpose, put on common ground with the leper and the one who had been afflicted with an issue? None of the children of men would surely thus have classed them. And, indeed, we may go further, and say that in none of these cases would men, unless taught of God, have understood that there was any need for atonement. In God’s eyes, however, they all required it, yet none could effect it on his own behalf. Each had to confess the need of it by bringing the sacrifice appointed, but, when brought, the priest had to deal with the blood. On the ministrations of God’s priest they were all dependent; atonement by blood they all required; for in these cases it was the outflow from man’s nature, which in God’s eyes is un-cleanness, that necessitated the bringing of the offering. This the leper, the one with an issue, and the mother, had all to acknowledge. Besides this, as death is connected with sin, it is in itself an unclean thing; so the Nazarite, who by his consecration had been set apart for God, found himself defiled if a man died suddenly near him. Again, as the priests at their consecration brought a bullock for a sin-offering, so the Levites came with a bullock for a similar purpose, to make atonement for their souls, when they were set apart as wholly given to God from among the children of Israel. (Num. 8: 12.) God could not take up the one class or the other without this acknowledgment of their condition, and this confession of their need. And if any one among the children of Israel was moved in his heart to bring a burnt-offering to God, he too was reminded that, if filled with gratitude for favours received, it was not for his personal worthiness God had thus dealt with him, for the animal he offered was accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Lev. 1: 4.) How varied, then, were the occasions on which atonement was made. In seasons of rejoicing as well as in seasons of personal affliction it had to be effected. The happy mother was reminded of it, the rejoicing Israelite could not forget it. The one on whom God had laid His hand required it, as well as the Nazarite defiled by the visitation of God coming suddenly on one by his side. And the priest, and the Levite, when set apart for God’s service, confessed their need of it, as did the man who had sinned, or had committed a trespass against the Lord, or against his neighbour.

But if God was thus teaching His people their need, He never left them in doubt as to the sacrifice they were to bring. Here again we have to remark His goodness and thoughtfulness. None had to ask himself with what should he appear before the Lord. The divine word had prescribed it all beforehand, that, as soon as the individual was aware of his need, he might offer that which he well knew the Lord would accept at his hand. Now by three kinds of offerings could atonement be made; viz., by burnt-offerings, by sin-offerings, by trespass-offerings, but not by meat-offerings or peace-offerings, though in the case of the burnt-offering there was offered its accompanying meat-offering. (Lev. 14: 20; Num. 15: 1-11.) This, however, was quite distinct from the meat-offering proper as set forth in Lev. 2, as the reader should bear in mind; for after the entrance of Israel into their land no burnt-offering was complete without its accompanying meat-offering, God thus directing that in that sacrifice the life, as well as the death, of His well-beloved Son should be delineated in type before Him. The specific offering in each case God, we have said, prescribed. If it was a burnt-offering, there was liberty to bring any animal which could be offered in sacrifice, with this one proviso, that, when it was of the flock or of the herd, the victim in each case was to be a male. In the case of a sin-offering, or trespass-offering, special provision was made; and He, who judges righteously, took note in the sin-offering at times of the responsibility, and at times of the ability of the offerer. Thus, if a sin was committed through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord which ought not to be done, a bullock was to be brought, a kid of the goats, a male, or a female lamb, or kid, according as it was the anointed priest, the congregation, a ruler, or a common person, who was guilty. From this rule there was no appeal; the offering varied only with the class in Israel in which the delinquent was found. God thus took note of their responsibility, measuring it by a just measure, but He could pass over in none a sin even of ignorance. Hence, if the anointed priest or the whole congregation had sinned in this way, the largest offering was to be brought on their behalf, whereas for a common person the Lord appointed the one of least value to be offered. In Lev. 5: 1-13, certain other sins are specified for which an offering was required. Here the ability of the offerer was taken into consideration. The man’s position in life under these circumstances made no difference. Each one had to bring the same sacrifice, unless his temporal circumstances precluded him from procuring a female lamb or kid. In that case he might bring two turtle doves or two young pigeons — the one for a sin-offering, the other for a burnt-offering. But were he too poor even for that, then he might bring for a sin-offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour, which was an omer equal in measure to about five pints. In a country where corn was plentiful, and the land was divided amongst those inhabiting it, this would doubtless have been within the compass of the poorest of the people. And to such an one God gave the comforting assurance, “It shall be forgiven him.” How gracious was this! No one therefore, not even the poorest in Israel, had to leave God’s altar after bringing his appointed sin-offering, without the word of God, as it were, ringing in his ear, “It shall be forgiven him.” Purging by blood was the normal rule, and in the case of the true Sacrifice we know how that has been carried out; for in Him “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1: 7.) God, however, met the poor sinner in Israel by prescribing that he should offer an offering according to his ability, though nothing short of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ could really atone for that poor man’s sin before God.

For a trespass-offering a ram was required, whether the trespass was committed through ignorance or not (Lev. 5: 15, 6: 6, 19: 22; Num. 5: 8.) At the great festivals the sin-offering was a goat, offered up for all the congregation of Israel; so it was on the eighth day of Aaron’s consecration when first a sin-offering was sacrificed for the people. For the Nazarite, or the one afflicted with an issue, the smallest offering in which blood was shed was appointed, even two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, because the defilement God could not overlook, it must be atoned for. In the case of the leper, and of the woman after childbirth, God considered their circumstances. For the woman a Iamb was the normal sacrifice, but, if she was too poor to procure it, the two birds already noticed were to be taken in its stead. It was of this gracious provision that Mary the Virgin availed herself — a declaration on the one hand of her poverty on earth, and on the other of her condition before God. For though she was well aware of the manner of her conception, and had been informed of the holy nature of her child, she could not assert for herself, what others have since done, her own immaculate conception; for the sacrifices she brought told a very different tale, as she offered the burnt-offering and the sin-offering to cleanse her from the issue of her blood, and to make atonement for her that she should be clean. (Lev. 12.) Thus over and over again God reminded Israel, that without shedding of blood is no remission (Heb. 9: 22); for on one occasion only could an omer of fine flour be accepted as a sin-offering in lieu of an animal, and the sprinkling of its blood. But even then there was represented in type the judgment of God against sin, borne really by Him who was the true sin-offering, for a handful of the flour was burnt by the priest for a memorial upon the altar. Little probably did the offerer understand, as he availed himself of God’s gracious provision on his behalf, and brought what he was able to get, that by the true sin-offering — nothing short of the full judgment of God against sin must be borne. In that case no alleviation could be permitted, for the question then settled was not simply what concerned the sinner, but what was due to the majesty and nature of God. This was taken up fully in type only on the great day of atonement.

In all the cases hitherto noticed, the relief of the individual from his guilt, or the making him acquainted with his need, are clearly set forth; but the making propitiation was scarcely shadowed out. Identification between the offerer and the offering was taught, as the hands of the offerer were laid on the head of the animal previous to its being killed, intimating, in the burnt-offering, that the individual was identified with the sweet savour of that offering; but teaching in the sin or trespass-offering, that to the victim brought as a substitute the guilt of the offerer was transferred. After this the sacrificial victim was slain, and the blood was duly dealt with. In the burnt-offering it was sprinkled round about upon the brazen altar, if the sacrifice was of the flock, or of the herd; or wrung out beside the altar, on the east part of it, if it was a bird. In the same manner was it dealt with if a delinquent brought the ram appointed for the trespass-offering. In the case of the sin-offering, however, the blood was treated differently, and that varied with the person or persons on whose behalf it was shed. For the anointed priest, or the whole congregation, three different actions with the blood were prescribed. It was sprinkled seven times before the veil before the Lord. In this action we have the nearest approach to a shadowing forth of propitiation, yet it did not fully express it. For, sprinkled seven times before the Lord before the veil, it was rather the assuring those on whose behalf it was presented of their standing before Him, than the simple meeting of the requirements of His holiness, answering more to the sevenfold sprinkling before the mercy-seat than to the one sprinkling upon it. After sprinkling it before the veil, the blood was next put upon the horns of the golden altar, as meeting the responsibility of the offenders at the ordinary place of their standing. Then the rest of it was poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering, the life of the victim being thereby seen to have been given up for that of the sinners. In the case of an individual in Israel, whether a ruler or a common person, the blood was not taken within the sanctuary. It was not therefore sprinkled before the Lord, but part was put on the horns of the brazen altar, as meeting the individual sinner’s responsibility at the recognised place of his standing, for further in than that he never could get, and the rest was poured out at the bottom of the altar. The dealing with the blood in the sin-offering then teaches us a great deal. God had to be considered as well as the sinner. This, however, was only fully done on the day of atonement. To a consideration of that let us now turn.

On the tenth day of the seventh month that special service took place. God fixed the day, and appointed the service. (Lev. 23: 27.) At the time of its institution, the reason why the seventh month was selected might not have been apparent, nor can we determine how far the godly in Israel entered intelligently into the mind of God about it. Suffice it for us if we can see the reason of its appointment in the seventh month, instead of in any other. Now, the ecclesiastical year of Israel being really an outline of their history from the exodus to the millennium, it commenced naturally with the Passover, and ended, as far as the great feasts were concerned, with that of Tabernacles. Beyond this there was nothing for Israel. Beyond what that feast really speaks of there will be nothing; for it runs on in type to the commencement of the eternal state, having, what was common to no other festival, an eighth day, the beginning of a new period, of which there was no word of the end. So, though the ecclesiastical year began with the Passover, with which was connected the Feast of Weeks — the time for the observance of the latter being fixed in connection with the former (Lev. 23: 15) — Israel did not observe the day of atonement till the tenth day of the seventh month came round, after the feast of blowing of trumpets. To us all this is clear. Pentecost, which is now, as it were, going on, being fulfilled in God calling out the Church, must take place before Israel are brought to own their sins, and to share consciously in that redemption by the blood of Christ, which was shadowed out by the Passover. (Rom. 11: 25.) And since they are at present cast out by God, disowned as His people, and exiled from their land, He must take them up again as His own ere they will learn what it is to have their sins put away. So what the feast of blowing of trumpets typifies, the re-gathering together of the people, must precede the true day of atonement for the children of Israel. The Jews, gathered out of the countries whither they have been scattered, will look on Him whom they have pierced, and mourn (Zech. 12: 10), after which all Israel will keep the true feast of tabernacles, enjoying millennial rest under the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Had the day of atonement been fixed for any other time of the year, the annual national purging of sins and uncleannesses would equally have taken place; but the prophetic history, sketched out in the order in which the several feasts were to be observed, would have been thrown into confusion. Now that history in the days of Moses was foreknown only by God. The people could never have divined it by intuition, analogy, or any process of mental exercise. None but He, who sees the end from the beginning, could have foreseen Israel’s temporary rejection, the calling out of the Church, and the restoration afresh of the nation to its place as God’s earthly people. The sacred calendar therefore of Lev. 23 bears on the face of it the impress of the divine mind; and when God gave it to Moses, He had evidently before His eyes the whole history of the people from the exodus to the millennium. Nothing that they have done has taken God by surprise. Their whole moral history was before Him when He gave that law to Moses, just as their political history lay unrolled before His eye, when Jacob on his death-bed, in blessing his sons, sketched that out by the spirit of prophecy. (Gen. 49) But not only did God look onward down the whole line of Israel’s moral history, when He arranged their sacred calendar; for He looked onward to the atoning work of His Son, on which all their future and final blessings will be found to rest. And this work, in its propitiatory and substitutionary character, was especially typified in the rites of the day of atonement.

On that day the people were to rest not only from servile work, as in all their great feasts, but from all work of whatsoever kind, just as they did on the sabbath. (Lev, 16: 29, 23: 28-32; Num. 29: 7.) On the sabbath they rested in remembrance of God’s rest after His six days’ work in making the heavens and the earth. On the tenth day of Tisri they rested, because a work was being done for them in which they could take no active part, yet in which they had special and pressing interests. Resting from all work, they were not, however, to sit at home listless and unconcerned, whilst the High Priest was within the sanctuary. They were to afflict their souls. Atonement was God’s gracious provision for His people who had sinned. The people were not therefore to think lightly of it. If the High Priest was actively engaged on their behalf, it was because they had sinned. Hence afflicting of their souls was enjoined upon them. If any one refused to do that, cutting off from his people was the penalty to which he exposed himself. If any one did any work on that day, destruction from among his people would be the due reward of his deeds. (Lev. 23: 29, 30.) Two things they were to learn — nor they only. First, that though atonement for their sins was effected by another on their behalf, they were not to think lightly of sins, which required, as we now know, the death and the shedding of the blood of the holy Lamb of God; and, secondly, that God will have the sinner to own his inability to have a hand in that work. Thus, on the one hand, all lightness of thought about sin in the presence of God’s abounding grace was to be checked, and all mistaken thoughts of the sinner doing anything for himself, when the work of atonement was required, were to be corrected. Their need of atonement the people were fully to own, what their sins were was to be deeply impressed on them, and their indebtedness to the ministry of the High Priest to make it, they were equally to acknowledge. “For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord” is the reason assigned for this enforced afflicting of themselves, and for the perfect rest which was enjoined upon them.

All on this day depended upon the High Priest. If he was faithful in his work, atonement would be made for all Israel; if not, of course it could not. And since on no other day in the whole year could it have been made, if the High Priest had failed to do it on that day, it must have remained unaccomplished till the tenth day of the seventh month again came round. And further, since the question to be taken up had especial reference to the claims of God’s holiness, and the grounds on which He could righteously act in grace towards a people who had sinned against Him, there could be no room for man’s thoughts to come in as to what would be a suited service, nor for man’s suggestions as to that which should be done. God must prescribe everything, for God alone knew what would enable Him to act in grace consistently with all that He is. This is manifest on a moment’s reflection. All then that was requisite the Lord prescribed, leaving to Aaron only to carry out what He had enjoined.

Peculiar was the service appointed; special too were the garments in which the High Priest was to be arrayed. Clean and spotless is the Great High Priest, of whom Aaron was but a type; but to be a type even, he had first to wash his flesh in water, and then to put on the holy linen garments, which were exchanged for his ordinary pontifical attire, when he subsequently offered up the burnt-offering upon the altar. (Lev. 16: 4, 23, 24.) Washed and clothed, Aaron next proceeded to the specific work of the day, for which sin-offerings and burnt-offerings were appointed, in both of which, as we have already seen, the thought of atonement enters. As, however, on this occasion the dealing with the question of sins was the prominent matter, the sin-offering took precedence of the burnt-offering in the making of atonement; whereas at the great festivals the order was just the reverse. And now a work had to be done for Aaron and his house, and a work as well for the congregation; and these are distinguished by the animals selected for the sin-offerings. For Aaron and for his house it was one bullock, for Israel two he-goats; the one was offered up as the Lord’s, but the other was to be the scapegoat,* after Aaron had cast lots upon them. Thus even in the selection of the goat for the sacrifice Aaron had no discretion. It was chosen by lot, and if the lot is cast into the lap, the whole disposing is of the Lord. (Prov. 16: 33.) The burnt-offering was the same in each case — a ram — in token of the consecration of the Lord Jesus to do the will of God.

{*The scapegoat Azazel. This word occurs nowhere but in Lev. 16, in which it is met with four times (verses 8, 10, 26). After all that has been written about it, the simplest, and probably true, explanation of the term is to take it as compounded of two words, a 'goat', and 'to go away', meaning goat of departure or scapegoat.}

Everything thus prepared, and Aaron having killed the bullock for himself and for his house, he took a censer of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, and with his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, brought it within the veil, so that the cloud of the incense, ignited by the burning coals, might cover the mercy-seat, that he should not die. The sweet incense typified the sweet savour of the merits of Christ. It was compounded of four ingredients chosen by God (Ex. 30: 34-36), three of which are mentioned nowhere else, for there was that, we must all acknowledge, in the Lord Jesus Christ which was acceptable to God that was peculiar to Him. With the cloud of incense between Aaron and the mercy-seat he could stand before it. The glory of God shining on the mercy-seat (“For I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat,” was the Lord’s announcement to Moses) Aaron could behold through the medium of the cloud of incense, and God viewed Aaron, the representative of his house and of his nation, through the same medium. He of whom Aaron was the type needed of course no cloud of incense through which to be seen by God. He is in the presence of God according to the excellency of His person, and He abides there, thus teaching us of the perfectness of His work. But none of the children of men can stand before God apart from the merits of Christ. For if the representative of the redeemed people could not enter the divine presence with the blood of the sin-offering, unless the cloud of incense was rising up before the mercy-seat, what folly for any unredeemed soul to think it could be in God’s presence without judgment overtaking it. None of Adam’s descendants can be there except as they own the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, and are received by God, as it were, through the medium of the merits of Christ. But who discovered this? Conscience can make a man feel his unfitness for the presence of God, but revelation alone can tell him on what conditions he, personally by nature unfit, can enter there in confidence and in peace. Who prescribed the cloud of incense for Aaron that he should not die? It was God. And thus He testified of His desire for the work to be rightly done on behalf of His earthly people, and has taught us His wish to have sinners righteously at home before Him.

With the incense thus burning Aaron did his work, first with the blood of the bullock, and then with the blood of the selected goat. Two victims were required, though both types of the Lord Jesus, who died but once; so the blood of both was dealt with in the same way, being sprinkled once on the mercy-seat, and seven times before it. Here too the order is not without significance. The mercy-seat was the place of God’s throne upon earth, so the blood was first sprinkled thereon. The claims of God’s throne were to be first considered, since on that day the making propitiation was to take precedence of all thought of the sinner’s standing. Sprinkled once on the mercy-seat, it was sprinkled seven times before it. For God once was enough. All that the blood could speak of to Him He well knew. To assure the sinner, however, of a perfect standing before the throne, it was sprinkled seven times in front of it; for whilst caring for His own glory, God thought of the sinner, because of whose sins the atoning death of His Son was required.

After this Aaron withdrew from the immediate presence of the Holy One of Israel. He could enter the holiest, but he could not stay there. He entered to shadow forth the way atonement could be made by the blood of the sin-offering. He did not, however, remain there, because the real atonement was not then made. But now, since the Lord Jesus has entered in by His own blood, He has remained there, having found eternal redemption. Aaron’s annual entrance into the holiest pointed to what would be effected at a time then future. The Lord Jesus remaining in the heavenly sanctuary, speaks of what has been accomplished by His blood. “For by one offering He hath perfected for a continuance (eis to dienekes) them that are sanctified.” (Heb. x. 14.) Aaron’s entrance gave ground for hope. The Lord’s continuance there gives grounds for confidence and certainty.

But all those on whose behalf atonement was made upon the cross have not yet understood about it, or rested upon it. The nation of Israel are still strangers to it, and will not understand about it, till they see the Lord, as Isaiah (53.) and Zechariah (12.) set forth. Now the order prescribed by God for the special service of that day portrayed this in the distinction between the sin-offering for Aaron and for his house, and the sin-offering for the people of Israel. The former was killed, and the blood of it taken within the veil (Lev. 16: 14, 15), before the goat for the Lord’s lot was even slain. The Lord really died but once, and never will die again (Heb.9: 28); but His death was on this day typified twice. Very probably none of the people in the wilderness could have explained the reason of this. To us, however, it is clear, and we see how the foreknowledge of God was here also displayed in a victim being taken for Aaron and for his house, and another being chosen for the nation of Israel. For as all those now saved are priests to God, and that in a double character, their place in this typical service was really with Aaron and his house. They are a holy priesthood, and they are a royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2: 5,9.) The former character of priesthood was in Israel confined to Aaron and his house, and will again be true only of the sons of Zadok when the Lord returns to reign. (Ezek. 44: 15.) A holy priesthood Israel never was, and never will be. A royal priesthood God offered to them on conditions, to which, however, they failed to conform. (Ex. 19: 6.) By-and-by they will share in this, but never can they as a nation have part in the holy priesthood. (Isa. 61: 6.) The sons of Zadok will, on the contrary, in that day be the latter, and share with the rest of the people in the former. Hence we who believe are in this respect on common ground with Aaron and his house, so in type are represented with them. And since we share in the atoning work of Christ before Israel as a nation come to know about it, we see clearly how accurate was the delineation of things, when Aaron offered for himself and his house distinct from, and before he offered the sin-offering on behalf of, the people of Israel. But the ways of “God with which we are familiar, His work in grace whilst Israel is viewed as Lo-ammi (Hosea 1: 9), was not then made plain, though it was all perfectly known to and arranged for by Him.

By Aaron’s work within the holiest propitiation was effected, for the blood was sprinkled on the mercy-seat. Thus the claims of God’s holiness were met. The action of the throne in judgment, with which the cherubims were associated, was stayed, and their faces being towards the mercy-seat, they gazed, as it were, on the blood, which never, that we read of, was wiped off, or washed away. Provision, as we see, was duly made for the blood to be sprinkled thereon, but nothing was said or provided for obliterating all trace of it afterwards. There it remained, and because it had been put there propitiation was made, and God was seen to be righteous in dealing in grace with sinners; for the action of propitiation is Godward, the making good the ground on which God can righteously deal in mercy and favour with those who have sinned against Him; but that being made, it is evident that, as far as God’s character and nature are concerned, He can righteously deal in grace with all sinners, if He can righteously deal in grace with one. Whether all will submit now to God’s righteousness is another matter. Propitiation, however, having been once truly made by the blood of Christ, it can avail for the whole world, as John the apostle teaches us. (1 John 2: 2.)

From the holiest Aaron retraced his steps to do his allotted work in the outer chamber of the tabernacle, commonly called the holy place. Into the holiest none but the High Priest could ever enter. There then he must always have been alone. To the outer chamber, however, all the priests had equal access, but on that day their ingress was prohibited whilst Aaron was engaged in making atonement in the holy place. Aaron alone was typically to do that which really was done by the great High Priest, to whom all the glory of it must ever be given. Thank God, in the results of it all who believe on the Lord Jesus share, and share for ever, though in the doing of it they had, and could have had, no part. How carefully did God, on the one hand, care for the glory of His Son, and on the other again inculcate, in the plainest manner, the impossibility of those on whose behalf it was done taking any part in the work. “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.” (Lev. 16: 17.) In the camp the people were resting from all work, though afflicting their souls. From the tabernacle all the priests were excluded whilst Aaron was performing the appointed service in the holy place.

What more, then, was wanted than the carrying in of the blood to God? That indeed laid the ground for God to act in grace, and made good the standing of sinners before the throne. That, too, was the first and the most important work of the day. But more was requisite; for, as acting on behalf of the earthly people, the blood had to be put on the horns of the golden altar, the altar that is before the Lord, mentioned in verse 18, the ordinary place of their standing; and the tabernacle and its vessels were to be sprinkled with blood, to make atonement because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins. (v. 16.) We stand before God’s throne, on ground sprinkled, as it were, with the blood of Jesus; for we have boldness to enter the holiest by that blood. To the earthly people such an entrance was unknown, so, where they nationally stood before God, the blood was put on their behalf, to make atonement for the altar, to cleanse it, and to hallow it from all the uncleanness of the children of Israel, (vv. 18, 19.) But, further, they were taught that, where in person they never got, their uncleanness was found. Into the sanctuary they never on any pretext entered, yet their uncleanness was regarded as reaching into it — a reminder that the effects of sin reach far beyond the person who commits it, and a guide to us as to the meaning of those words in Heb. 9: 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.”

All having been done as prescribed in the sanctuary, Aaron reappeared to public view, a token to all Israel of God’s acceptance of their representative, and of the accomplishment of his work within the tabernacle. Aaron within the sanctuary answers in type to the Lord as High Priest in the true tabernacle, from which by-and-by He will in person come out, and the remnant of Israel will then learn what that day of atonement really shadowed forth, and who is the High Priest chosen by God to represent that people before Him. When then we read of Aaron coming out, we pass from what has been fulfilled — the dealing by the Lord with His blood in the heavenly sanctuary — to what is still future — the open declaration of the remission of the sins of the people, typified in the sending away of the scapegoat into the wilderness. Now this goat was for Israel, as distinct from Aaron and his sons, though, of course, the latter could learn about the teaching of it; just as what it speaks of for Israel we understand for our joy; viz., the putting away of sins, never to rise up against those who have committed them. But since this will only be known by Israel when the Lord Jesus comes out of heaven, though we know it for ourselves now by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, the accuracy of the type is fully manifested. For Israel there was the scapegoat; for Aaron and his sons there was none. On that animal Aaron laid his hands, and confessed over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the scapegoat, and sending him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness, (v. 21.) Charged with all the guilt of Israel, that goat went away. If then their sins rested on the goat, they rested no longer on the people. They could not be upon both. The goat was to bear them away. (v. 22.) Here we see portrayed in type substitution, as we have already seen portrayed propitiation. Both are necessary for atonement. Propitiation being made, God can act in grace. Substitution being effected, the sins are transferred to, and borne by, another. The man selected for the work let go the goat in the wilderness, and God provided that it should not reappear upon the scene: “The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” (v. 22.) Who directed the steps of the scapegoat after the man in charge had let him go? Who was concerned in making known the full and everlasting putting away of sins, never to be remembered against the sinner? The High and the Holy One was concerned in this, and He provided for it: “The goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited,” was God’s gracious announcement in anticipation of what He would do. For who ever heard of that goat coming back? God took the matter in hand. The goat sent away was never to return. How gracious of God was this! Doubt or uncertainty as to the effectiveness of the work of atonement never came from Him. He provided that Israel should be satisfied that all was done, and rightly done, which concerned the question of sins. Providing, however, for that by a work in which Israel had no hand, He made all see what sin was before Him, since Aaron, the man who took away the scapegoat, and the one who burned the sin-offerings, had each to wash his flesh in water.

When Aaron had done that, and had changed his dress, he re-appeared in his ordinary pontifical attire to offer the burnt-offerings, to make atonement for himself, his house, and the people; and then burnt the fat of the sin-offerings on the brazen altar. The order here is instructive. The burnt-offerings were first offered, then the fat of the sin-offering. By both atonement was made, but the whole surrender of the Lord Jesus Christ to do God’s will, typified by the burnt-offering, was the basis on which the fat of the sin-offering rested. The Lord’s surrender of Himself to death is most precious to God, and had a prominent place in that day’s ceremonial at the altar; for service at the altar recommenced after Aaron had sent away the scapegoat. Till then, from the time the sin-offerings were killed, nothing went on at the altar in the court. There could be no service carried on there whilst Aaron was within the tabernacle. Now this cuts at the root of all ritualistic principles, in carrying on a service now at the altar whilst the great High Priest is in the true tabernacle. It would have been just as improper for Eleazar or Ithamar to have been ministering at the altar whilst Aaron was hidden from view, as it is for Christians now to profess to do it, whilst the Lord is in heaven for us. With the burning of the fat of the sin-offerings on the altar Aaron’s special work in making atonement ended, though other sacrifices as well were appointed by the Lord for that day.

Before, however, noticing them, let us review the character of what we have been considering, to gather from it what are essential conditions for, and elements of, atonement. First, as to the high priest. He must be holy and clean. Who has ever answered to that but Him who is holy, harmless, undefiled? (Heb. 7: 26.) Next, the sacrifice must be that of God’s appointment, and none can be with the high priest when engaged in this work. He must do it all alone, God has provided the Lamb. To Him John the Baptist pointed; of Him as a lamb Peter wrote, (1 Peter 1: 19.) Having learnt, then, about the person in whom alone all the requirements are found, we may next inquire, What are essential elements of atonement? Death, dealing with the blood, transferring the sins from the offenders to the victim to bear them away, and the enduring divine wrath, these are component parts of what we sum up in one word — atonement. Both the burnt-offering and sin-offering character of sacrifice have to do with it. The life of the victim must be given up on behalf of the sinner, and that life must be surrendered voluntarily to do the divine will. Propitiation, too, must be made, and that by blood. The blood shed had to be sprinkled on the mercy-seat as well as before it. The character of God must be considered as well as the standing of the sinner be made good, and the blood also has to be sprinkled wherever the uncleanness of the sinner has reached. The sins, too, must be transferred to and borne by another, and borne away never to come back to sight or remembrance. For as the sin-offerings and burnt-offerings were to make atonement, so was the scapegoat (v. 10) likewise. In its dismissal, and the burning of the bodies of the sin-offerings without the camp, the putting away of the sins was clearly set forth. Besides this, the wrath of God had to be endured, which was typified in the burning on the altar of the two rams for the burnt-offerings, and the fat from the bullock and the goat of the sin-offerings. For the fire on that altar had come from heaven, and so was a marked emblem of divine judgment. Five living creatures, then, were required to shadow forth atonement. One only in the universe could be found really to accomplish it. Creatures of earth could typify it; a person from heaven alone could make it.

But other sacrifices had to be offered as well. Of these we read in Num. 29: 7-11. A burnt-offering of one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year, with their accompanying meat-offerings and drink-offerings, and one kid of the goats for a sin-offering. The one bullock appointed for part of the burnt-offering seems to intimate that the tenth day of the seventh month concerned Israel in an especial manner. At the great feasts, in the fulfilment of which others beside Israel share, two bullocks were appointed to form part of the burnt-offerings selected by God. (Num. 28. 29.) At the feast of blowing of trumpets, and on the day of atonement, one bullock, not two, was to be offered. For as the feast of blowing of trumpets concerns Israel exclusively, so the day of atonement in the seventh month has special reference to their history, as has been already pointed out. After all these sacrifices had been duly offered, the evening burnt-offering, and the kindling of the incense on the golden altar, with the lighting of the lamps within the sanctuary, brought to a close a day of the greatest importance, which taught Israel their need of that atonement which they will never be allowed to forget. Once, however, in every fifty years, something else had to take place; viz., the proclaiming the year of jubilee, which commenced on the evening of this day, and was announced by the blowing of the trumpet. Welcome must the sound of the trumpet have been to the impoverished Israelite, and to the poor one who had been sold to his neighbour for a servant. Possessions returned to their owners, fields were re-occupied by those to whom they had belonged, and the family circle might be cheered by the filling up of gaps, which had been made when one or more of their number had been sold into servitude. At the sound, too, of that trumpet the Levite could return to his house, if it had been sold, as the Israelite to the fields of his possession. For of freedom, restoration, and joy that jubilee trumpet was the signal. (Lev. 25.)

Very gracious was it of God to institute the jubilee, in which, doubtless, many rejoiced when they shared in the provision thus made for them — the proof of divine forethought for the impoverished amongst God’s people, in whose eyes earthly prosperity was a token of divine favour. Yet the people never experienced the fulness of grace, of which their jubilees were but the earnest. By-and-by the real jubilee, the year of the Lord’s redeemed, will come, and Israel shall return to their own land, and the captives and the exiles will rejoice in a freedom which no oppressor will ever curtail, and in a security which no enemy will be allowed to disturb. But, as the year of jubilee only commenced on the evening” of the day of atonement, Israel’s deliverance will only be known when they have learnt what their sins required, and how by the Lord’s death their need has been met. When, however, the day of atonement was drawing to a close, the jubilee trumpet sounded, for God did not let the priest put that off till the morning. The trumpet blast was heard before night closed on the scene; so when the nation shall know of the finished sacrifice of Christ, and own it, they will enjoy deliverance, and the possession of their land once more. When the Lord comes out of heaven, the remnant will see Him. “They shall look upon me” says Zechariah, “and mourn.” (12.) On Jehovah they will look, and learn then of His humiliation to death for them. Well may they mourn, as the sense of divine grace and love dawns on them, who deserve only to have divine wrath for their portion for ever. How they will be affected when they see the Lord, Zechariah describes; what will be the language of their hearts, and it may be of their lips, Isaiah 53 sets forth. They will own His atoning death as the one wounded for their transgressions, bruised for their iniquities, by whose stripes they are healed. His death, too, they will make mention of, and the transference of their guilt to Him as the true scapegoat, who, appearing in glory, will make it evident that He has borne their sins away. The Lord, they will learn, has laid them on Him (Isa. 53: 6), and has cast them all into the depths of the sea (Micah 7: 19); so that, if sought for, they shall not be found. (Jer. 1: 20.) At that day, then, they will learn and confess that Aaron’s typical work has received its full accomplishment, and the tenth day of the seventh month will be set apart no longer for that special service.

Atonement, however, they will never as the earthly people forget, for in the first month, on the first day of the month, the sanctuary will be annually cleansed with blood; and on the seventh day of that same month the blood of the sin-offering shall be dealt with for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple; so shall they reconcile or make atonement for the house. (Ezek. 45: 18-20.) Will it then be discovered that the work of the Lord on the cross was defective, or that something will be needed in addition? Thank God, that will never be found to be the case. The perfectness of His work will never be questioned in that day, as those passages from Jeremiah and Micah show. The earthly people, however, will offer sacrifices on the altar at Jerusalem, for that always has been, and throughout the millennium will be, the normal character of worship for people whose portion is on earth. Sacrifices of this character have ceased for a time, because God is calling out a heavenly people, who worship Him now as they will also by-and-by, bringing the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of their lips. For in heaven there are no sacrificial victims to offer to God. On earth it will be different. Hence, in this way they will celebrate and recall to remembrance that one perfect sacrifice which avails for us, and will be seen to avail for them. In token, too, of the work of Christ being perfect, and their standing being established on what has been accomplished on the cross, their ecclesiastical year will commence with the remembrance, in God’s appointed way, of an atonement already effected. Of old they commenced their ecclesiastical year with atonement in prospect, to be effected ere they reached the close of it. By-and-by they will commence their annual festivals with the remembrance of atonement effected. All then will start from the atonement accomplished, known, and enjoyed by God’s redeemed people. Ezekiel writes of this in respect of Israel, who annually will be reminded of God’s provision on their behalf. (Ezek. 45: 15, 17, 20.) They will then know of atonement accomplished, as their fathers knew that the national redemption of Israel was accomplished.

All the world, however, will not partake in the everlasting benefits which flow from the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who remain of the nations that shall fight against Jerusalem in the last invasion of the northern army, prior to the establishment of the kingdom in power, will be required to assemble annually at Jerusalem to keep the feast of tabernacles, in token, it would seem, of the favour enjoyed of living under the peaceful sway of the King, the Lord of hosts (Zech. 14: 16-19); but we read not that all on earth will be required to keep the paschal feast. That will be incumbent on the redeemed people of Israel, and any with them who are joined to the Lord. None but those who are redeemed are required by God to commemorate redemption. All the saints in heaven will be rejoicing in atonement made by the blood of Christ. All God’s people on earth will have their part in the results of it.

Here the sketch of the Old Testament teaching on atonement naturally ends. We have traced it from God’s first mention of it at Sinai to Israel’s future acknowledgment of it and enjoyment of its fruits in the millennium. One feature is conspicuous throughout; viz., God’s desire that His people should learn about it, and understand what the provision is which He has made on their behalf. We never should have known the depth of our need, had He not declared it. We never should have discovered what alone could meet it, had He not revealed it. We never could have provided what was requisite — the offering to make atonement. For the impossibility of a sinner atoning for his sins is now fully demonstrated, since we have learnt who it was who died to effect it — the Lamb of God, who is the only begotten Son of God. We should never have understood what sin is in God’s sight, and how far the uncleanness of our sins has reached, had not God taught us. For intelligence, then, and for teaching about atonement, we are wholly dependent on God. But who in heaven or on earth surmised what was all along the purpose of His heart — to send “His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4: 9, 10.)