What a blessing for the Body of Christ to share with one voice on a particular day the glorious message of the resurrection. While so much of the world looks for answers to life that coexists on a planet somewhere in the universe, the Church has already found the source of all life in God. As we look into the story of redemption, the first need of the human race is to know that God sent His Son to rescue us from the tragedy of a sinful nature: SIN, the power of evil that inhabits every human being. Guilt and shame haunt the human race. There is nothing in the arsenal of human effort that can rid us of it. That is, nothing but the sacrifice of Christ.
One of the most amazing teachings on the day God would forgive us for our attempted independence from Him is known as the Day of Atonement. From the time of Moses to Christ attendance on this feast day in Jerusalem was required fby all male Jews. They would come from all over the world to observe this most solemn time to have a sense of the forgiveness of sin. It was only a sense of forgiveness and not the reality of it. Hebrews 10:4 says, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” This must have been obvious to them since the day after the Day of Atonement the daily routine of sacrifices started all over again until it reached its culmination a year later.
Leviticus 16 gives us the Biblical view as to when this most precious truth when God forgave our sins. The service on that day began when God told Moses to instruct Aaron how He wants to be approached in the Most Holy place where the Ark of the Covenant was stored. In verse 11 Aaron had to first sacrifice an animal for himself, he had to become acceptable to God before he could offer a sacrifice for the people.
Lev 16:11, “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.” Notice the emphasis on who this sacrifice was made for; himself, himself, himself. He goes into the Most Holy for himself and in 16:15, he repeats this action for the people. “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.”
The animal was sacrificed on the altar but its death was not accepted by God until the animals blood was presented to Him on the mercy seat. For years I had believed that Aaron wore the special regalia that we often see in pictures or drawings of that wonderful dress wear God commanded for the high priest. However, when he entered the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement, he dressed with different garments.
Lev 16:4, “He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.” The clothing was referred to as “holy garments.”
The meaning is more than referring to the whiteness of the garments as representing purity. Aaron had on a pair of linen trousers then he was to rap strips of linen around his chest and around his head. The Church makes much of comparing types with antitypes and rightly so. Aaron was a type of Christ who was made our High Priest before the Father. Let’s take the type and antitype of the Day of Atonement and see what comes out of this which would have helped the believers in New Testament times recognize that Jesus was the Messiah.
In a series titled The Call of the Torah, Rabbi Elie Munk tells us what the holy garments of Aaron meant to the Jews as they observed Yom Kippur. “The words in this context remind us of the inevitable day of final judgment that each man must face. Accordingly, there is a custom for each man to wear a white garment [commonly called the kittel] during the Yom Kippur services. He is aware that this very same garment will become his shroud when death finally claims him.” Page 175 in Munk’s commentary of Leviticus. However, even without this explanation there is ample description to help us reach a conclusion as to the meaning of this service.
Aaron wore a representative shroud. Actually, anyone confession their sin over an innocent victim allowed the animal to die in their place. Why was this referred to as “holy garments?” Aaron must appear before God on the Day of Atonement as one who had died and must offer the blood of the victim in God’s very presence as though it was his blood. The animal was sacrificed on the altar. The sacrifice would not be accepted until the blood was brought before God.
When Jesus died on the cross it was the Old Testament picture of the sacrifices that were sacrificed on the altar. His death was not accepted by the Father at this point. He was being treated as a criminal by His Father this is why He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” If we are following the Old Testament type, His blood had to be presented before His Father before His sacrifice was accepted.
In John 20, we have the picture of Peter, John and Mary at the tomb of Christ. Both Peter and John looked in the tomb and saw the strips of linen, the “holy garments” if you will. Verse 6-7, both Peter and John saw the linen garments, “6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.” They both leave the tomb site, and Mary shows up again. In verse 11-12, she sees two angels in the tomb, “11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.”
An angel on both ends of where Jesus’ dead body was placed along where the holy garments were, no doubt stained with His blood. This is the antitype of the Ark of the Covenant on the Day of Atonement. Further, when Jesus called to Mary, she hangs onto Him and He says in verse 17, “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
Reading further in Leviticus 16:23, "Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there.” Compare this with John 20:4-7 in the experience of Peter and John at the Tomb, “So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.” Aaron left the “holy garments” before the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus left His garments in a similar fashion.
The first Passover was instituted in Exodus 12 and sheds additional insights into when the Day of Atonement would take place at the time of the resurrection. “1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.”
What is the significance of these 5 days in the record of Christ? The first thing that came to mind when I began looking closer into the time of when our sins were first forgiven was the clue mentioned in John 12:1, “Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.” It is interesting that the first 11 chapters in John deal with the years of the ministry of Christ from the time of His baptism. However, from John 12 to the end of the book deals with the last 5 days in the life of Christ before His crucifixion. The starting point of the last 5 days begins in John 12:12-15, “12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: "Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord !'* The King of Israel!" 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 "Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey's colt."*
The 11th of Abib begins in Matthew 21:18,-19, “18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away. “
Mark 11:20, gives the response of the disciples as they passed by the tree Jesus cursed the day before which now records the 12th of Abib. After the Passover meal in the upper room, Jesus and the disciples go to the Garden of Gethsemane which fell on the 13th of Abib and they remained there until His arrest. It was on the 14th of Abib that He was crucified.
If we follow this timetable of the five days leading to Passover and if we look into the symbolism of Leviticus 16, the conclusion would be that this leads to the Day of Atonement. If this follows the Leviticus pattern then perhaps the reason Jesus told Mary He had not yet ascended to His Father was because He had to appear before the Father as One who had died in order to atonement for our sins.
Yes we attend services on Sunday to commemorate the resurrection of Christ. I would submit to you that adding to that the thought each Sunday is the day in history our sins were forgiven. The Jews observed the Sabbath in honor of Creation. I believe the forgiveness of sins and being reinstated with God is of greater consequence than the creation of the world. My members enjoy the added understanding of Sunday attendance when sins were forgiven.