1. Do you feel separated from God? That there is a distance between you that stops you from experiencing His presence or His love and mercy?
2. Today we consider what it is that separates you from God and how that separation can be destroyed. How we can be near to God and enjoy Him and worship Him. The answer is found in our passage we just read.
3. For those of us reading through the bible this year, we have spent the past week reading about various offerings and sacrifices that the people of Israel. These included sin offerings guilt offerings, burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, grain offerings, and others. We may have felt lost in the details and wondered why this was all placed in the Bible. After all we do not make these offerings any more today.
4. There is much we can learn about God, ourselves and our relationship with Him through these offerings. And this most evident in the offerings or sacrifices which were to be made annually on the day of atonement.
1. Two of Aaron’s sons had been put to death by God for taking their censors, vessels in which hot coals were placed, and offering the to God. They had been told when and how to make offerings to God but they decided to do this on their own. Perhaps it should not sound like a big deal, but God was inaugarating the system of offerings with the people. And it was important for the to know from the offset that we cannot come to God and worship Him on our own man-made terms but only on His terms and in His ways. Almighty God has provided us with a way to approach Him. We must follow that way. And that is still the case for us today.
2. God tells Moses to tell Aaron that he cannot come into the Holy of Holies anytime that He chooses. It was in the Holy of Holies that the ark of the covenant was kept. It was the place were God’s was present in the cloud. It was the most holy part of the tabernacle, the place of worship and the sign of God’s presence.
3. God is a holy God. He demands holiness. Sinful man cannot stand before a holy God or he will die. It is our sin that separates us from God and failing to experience His presence. And so God says, in order to live, Aaron can only come before Him when and how God chooses.
4. But the good news is that God does provide him with a way. A way which is described in our passage.
5. The passage is very detailed. Aaron has to follow a number of instructions. My NIV notes list 14 steps that must be followed.
6. Why all the details? To remind Aaron that God decides who he can come before Him. But also that we are not to take coming before God to lightly. It is an awesome thing to come before our holy God.
7. To do so Aaron had to be clean and set apart. He had to be outwardly clean - washed and wearing sacred garments. But he had to be inwardly clean as well. Aaron was going to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. But before he could do that he first had to make himself acceptable to God. He first had to offer a sacrifice, a bull for his own sins. This sacrifice was to atone for his sins. To remove the sins that separated Him from God. The sins that prevented him from being in God’s presence. Without atonement we can never be right with God.
8. Aaron was to take a censer with some of the coals from the altar and some incense. The smoke from this would conceal Him from the presence, the glory of God.
9. Aaron was to take some of the blood of this bull and sprinkle it on the atonement cover which was above the ark and before the ark. Sin can only be atoned for by the giving of life and the blood represents life.
10. Aaron then was to take the two goats for the sin offering of the people. He was to cast lots to decide which one would be for the Lord and which one would be the scapegoat. Again this shows that it is God’s choice not man’s choice as to how the sacrifice is made.
11. And before Aaron makes the sacrifice for the atonement of the people’s sins, he makes atonement for the Holy of Holies, the Holy Place and the altar. In other words because they were sinful, even the means and tools used to offer sacrifices were stained and needed to be atoned for. Just like we say that the corporate sins of the church need to be confessed and forgiven . Everything we touch becomes unclean because of our sin and can be accepted only by God through atonement, by Him making it acceptable. The one goat has already been killed and its blood sprinkled.