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The power of sin. Most of us don’t truly understand how deadly it is in God’s sight. The other half of the equation that David is rejoicing in is that, forgiveness is so much more wonderful than most of us have ever fully understood. Not the joy we have, but the mechanics through which God goes to make us forgiven. Those are the two elements that are linked all the way through this 32nd Psalm. This is what I want to show you, because if you are doing a Bible study, let’s tonight, just do a Bible study of the 32nd Psalm. The first thing that an observant student studying this 32nd Psalm would see is, that David is so thankful that he’s forgiven.
He uses four different words and we touched on these last time. I’ll just point them out to you. In the first two verses David says, “Blessed is he whose transgression is…” and here’s the first word, “forgiven.” Beautiful, pictorial. A very deep word, that we saw last time, about crushed and pushing off, and having sin lifted off. It’s just very descriptive.
Secondly, he said, “whose sin is covered.” We are going to look at tonight, the powerful implications of that word for our sins and the atoning work of Christ that David’s talking about. I hope that, especially as we review the day of atonement from Leviticus 16, you understand what he’s talking about when he said, his sins are covered.
Look at the 2nd verse, “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.” That word speaks of entering into the permanent record. In our penal system in America, there’s different forms of, I don’t even know all the terms, plea bargaining. If you stay clean for a year, they take it off your record. That’s the idea here. “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.” Doesn’t write it permanently on our record. David says, oh, I’m so glad that my sin isn’t imputed, that it’s not there.
Then, “in whose spirit there is no deceit.” The forgiveness side or the positive side is a deceit-less spirit. He said, I don’t have to go through life being fake and deceiving. That’s one happy man. David is declaring the depths of His forgiveness in every way.
Secondly, the same careful, observant student looking at Psalm 32 would make another observation. The first observation is how much he talks about forgiveness and how wonderful it is that they’re forgiven, and covered, not imputed, a deceit-less spirit. Another observation is, sin is such an offense to God. Sin is not as offensive to us, we’re far more comfortable sin than God is. Sin is such an offense to God that in the Old Testament, God uses 15 different Hebrew words. 15, to describe what we call sin. Right here in this 32nd Psalm, the scriptures in David song give four, the actual chief words out of those 15. Some are very slightly used in the Old Testament, but the biggest four words are the ones right here. They’re attached to these words I just showed you.
The first one is transgression, in verse 1, that first word for sin. We’re going to study what that means, transgression has been forgiven. Sin, that’s one of the most common words in the Old Testament, ḥăṭā’â. It speaks of what I’m very good at, missing the mark. I don’t want to tell any more hunting stories, but boy the last day of hunting. I was out there and saw beauty at 120 yards. I didn’t know it was 120 yards, I’m not a seasoned hunter. I took my time and got everything all lined up, Kaboom! I looked through the smoke and the deer was just smiling at me, still eating the leaves. I thought what happened? So, I paced out 120 yards, and they told me that you have to drop the barrel so far for every so yard. I hadn’t done that. All I did is, I added more lead to the swamp and totally missed the mark. That’s the word right here for sin, completely missing the mark. Not even getting near. That’s what he said, I’m so glad that my missing the target is covered.
The third word for sin is iniquity. That’s the end of verse 2. That’s another graphic word. Then finally, deceit. This whole deceitfulness. This makes us think, this psalm makes us think of two things. Last time, how wonderful forgiveness is. Tonight, the many faces of sin, the many ways that God says sin is to be rooted out, discovered. It’s like in modern medicine, don’t you want all the cancer found out? What would you think of a doctor that says, we’ll just get some of it, we’ll leave some, it’s not that bad. God says, sin is so bad I want you to see and deal with all of it.
What does He do? Starting in verse 1, God describes what sin looks like. The first description is that word transgression. When David stole his neighbor Uriah’s little ewe lamb for his already overflowing banqueting table, remember that’s the story Nathan told, when he did that he was defying the rule that God had laid down. This word transgression means to resist or to defy God’s rule. God says, this area is yours. He marked it off. He says, you’re the king, these are your wives, this is your kingdom, this is what you have, this is not. When David wasn’t content with this, and he stepped over into his neighbor’s field, his neighbor’s herd, his neighbor’s yard, that’s the story Nathan tells. That’s when this transgression took place.
The word in verse 1 is translated transgression. “Blessed is he,” the very first part of verse 1, “whose transgression…” That word is the Hebrew word pešaʿ. That’s how, if you would have heard David singing this, he would have been seeing about pešaʿ, about transgression. What does it mean? If you pick up a Hebrew lexicon, this is what it says. Going away, departing, crossing over a boundary, doing what is prohibited, or rebelling against an authority. In other words, if the sign says no trespassing, you trespass. If the sign says, do not enter, you enter. It’s going directly against the authority. To resist or to defy the rules. This word picture is of someone who’s intentionally doing this. It’s someone who sees the sign. It’s not someone who is wandering through a forest and crosses some invisible boundary line and all of a sudden, they’re inadvertently trespassing. No, it’s someone that sees a fence and climbs over it. Someone that sees the gate, cuts the lock off, and goes through it. Someone that sees the sign and walks right by it. That is this word in Hebrew. It’s someone that intentionally goes against authority and boundaries.
What that produces is sin. The remedy for that is at the end, “whose transgression is forgiven.” I’m not going to go through the complete dynamics because we did that last time. Basically, our transgressions, as we looked at last time, are so heavy. When we bust through a gate, go through a locked door, go against a clear authority that God has instituted, we are covered with our transgressions that are so heavy. They have to be pulled off us or we smother. A lot of people can go for a long time, but their spiritual life is smothering. Their spiritual life is like when a part of your grass when it’s summer and you have beautiful grass growing. If you leave anything on it for too long it’s slowly kills the grass underneath it, smothers it. Even though everything else looks great, that object left there on the grass kills it. That’s the heaviness of sin, it smothers.
Forgiven literally means to have our sin lifted off, Hebrew word nāśā’, but the lifting has to be done by a substitute. Last time I talked to you about someone that would be the spotter, that would lift up the weights. The actual word there is, a substitute that takes the weight on themself. That’s the picture of this forgiveness. It’s like in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. As Christian walked, his crushing load was constantly pushing him down. When he gets to the Cross, that load comes off his back, but it doesn’t just sit at his feet. Do you remember what happens? It tumbles down the hill and it goes into the open door of the empty tomb. In other words, what Bunyan was saying is, it was taken by his substitute. That load didn’t just drop, it isn’t still there. It isn’t hanging around somewhere and you’re going to bump into it again if you’re walking around the cross. It falls into the empty tomb. We can rejoice that all of our sins were lifted off by a substitute. Nāśā’ means to be taken away by a substitute, someone that takes the weight on themselves. It isn’t like just throw the backpack off, it’s they have to carry it now. It’s not just that they lift the weight off, they have to bear it. That’s the substitutionary idea. There is a Redeemer that David is rejoicing in, who set him free, who cleansed David’s sin by taking it on Himself. This is the whole picture of what Jesus accomplished at the cross. That’s why this is a theology of forgiveness, but we covered that last time.
Look at the second half of verse 1, because here’s where we bump into the second word for sin. Remember there are four different concepts, four different pictures of sin. The first one, transgression. Blowing through the sign. Blowing past the barrier. Here’s the second one. It says, “Blessed is he whose transgression,” that’s the rebellion thing, “is forgiven,” lifted off. “Whose sin,” there’s the second word we’re going to look at, “is covered.” Sin. In Psalm 32:1, the second half, the word sin is the word ḥăṭā’â in Hebrew. What it means is, in fact when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into the Septuagint using the Greek language, it’s interesting that this word ḥăṭā’â becomes translated by the most frequent New Testament word for sin, which is hamartia. Which means to miss the mark of the target, to not hit the target, to fall short. That Greek word, hamartia, means coming short, falling short. It’s like an arrow falling short of the target. It’s like hitting the bale of hay, not the target. It’s missing the whole goal. The target is God’s law. Sin is not attaining, not measuring up to, not coming up to, not making the mark that we’re supposed to make. The picture is of a person whose actions fail to measure up.
If you’ve ever been to an amusement park with little people and they so much want to go on a certain ride. When you get to the amusement park, they have that little measuring stick. That little hand, that’s like this high, and the kids stand under there and it’s right here. They’re trying to get as high as they can. Sometimes they hold the measuring stick, and they hold it up to the child. The child’s trying their hardest, but everybody can see they don’t measure up. That’s the picture here, not measuring up to God’s divine standard.
Ḥăṭā’â, when we don’t measure up, it must be, look at the next part of this verse, “whose sin is covered.” This missing the mark, not measuring up, not hitting the target, this arrow stuck in the bale so far from the target, so far from the bullseye has to be covered up or else it just stays there as such a reminder. What he’s talking about is that this sin, this odious abomination, must be put out of sight because in God’s sight, to not measure up, to miss the mark, as long as that remains it’s offensive to Him. It has to be covered over. For us, we failed, we sinned we blew it, but God…
In fact, we were having a big discussion last week about the nature of physics, that matter’s neither created nor destroyed. We’re talking about not God’s creation; we’re talking about in our physical universe. The fact that even as I speak right now, what you’re hearing are a certain frequency of sound waves, which were just vibrated off toward you. Those sound waves are just going to continue on, and they just get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. They go out there. Have you ever thought about radio broadcast? Television broadcast? About all of the frequency waves that are being sent out digital? Most of us never think about. After your antenna, or your cable system, or your cell phone picks up that signal, where does it go? In the truest sense all of our words, those vibrations, all of our brainwaves, that frequency, that electrical signal that’s sent out all of our communication on Earth, in the truest sense they never go. They just get so small, such a low strength that we can’t detect them anymore. There’s somebody out there that has a much better receiver than we do. That’s why, in the scriptures, God is always portrayed as sitting on His throne and all the frequencies, all the waves, all the light and sound waves coming up from Earth are only sin before His face. He’s such a good receiver. He has such a sensitive reception system that He is still hearing all of those sins. All of those words, all of those thoughts, all of those deeds, all of those events are still floating through the universe, according to physics, except for those… look back at this… who sins, whose odious, heinous, abominable presence, are covered.
That’s one of the wonderful things about being a Christian they’re covered; my sins are gone. They’re not going to be remembered, they’re taken away. But, for the lost, when they stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, a lot of people wonder what’s God going to do? He’s going to play the event, it’s still there, it never is gone. Every word, every thought, everything ever done, still in the truest mathematic sense is still out there. All the Lord has done is, collected them all, for this was your life, let me just show you, it’s still here. Everything you ever did, and thought, and said, and didn’t do. Amazing. That’s why people are going to be absolutely silent. They’re going to stand there. That was their life. They are going to stand condemned by God’s standard and they see that everything felt short. All the arrows are going to be there. There’s God’s target and their arrows are just everywhere except where they were supposed to. David says that I am so glad my sin is covered.
The great Baptist preacher of 100+ years ago, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was preaching on this text one time. He says that our sins are covered by God, like the Ark was covered by the pitch that Noah put onto the Ark, so it was waterproof. It’s like the “Egyptians covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover it must be which hides away forever from the sight of the all-seeing God all the filthiness of our flesh and of our spirit!” He was just commenting on what a great covering that is.
I remember early on in life, when my dad used to ask me to paint. He said, now the most important part of painting is the prep work. I thought, all the sanding and brushing, and all that I’ll just brush it with my hand and paint over it. You know what happened? The same year it flakes off and the covering was insufficient. That’s what religion is. When God comes in, He completely makes brand new, and covers our sin.
How do we define God’s covering? Look back at what it says at the end of verse 1. That word, sin, is missing the mark, but what does that word covered mean? This is where we are getting to tonight. This is the most important part. So, if you’re wandering, this is a part to remember. Even this morning after the service, I always stand up here. I never get to the pew before people just start coming, waiting in line. The first person that came up to me, they had their Bible, he says, could you help me with this? I’m working with someone, and they’re so concerned. They looked around, no one was close enough. They said, this is what they’re struggling with, this sin. They had their Bible and they said, does it say in there that that’s forgivable. I said, oh yes. They said, where? They got their pencil right out and got their bulletin out. I said in 1 John, and so they went right here to the index, looking for 1 John. I said, here, let me show you where it is, and they circled it. Do you know why? Because we long to know that our sin is not going to come back to face us.
How did God do that? This word, covered, speaks of the incredibly graphic events of what’s called the Day of Atonement. I want you to go back with me, cause most of us are rusty on the Day of Atonement. Let’s go back to Leviticus. There is a book that’s probably pretty fresh in your Bibles. It goes, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus. Let’s go to chapter 16. The whole chapter is about, you’ve probably heard of Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. I just want to briefly talk about how God in the Old Testament shows us what Jesus Christ did on the cross. That’s why the Old Testament is the picture book of what God accomplished in the wonders of redemption of Christ on the cross in the new covenant.
On the day of atonement, the High Priest takes the blood of an animal and sprinkles it on the mercy seat. Above the mercy seat was the presence of God. You remember how the Ark of the Covenant, that box made of Acacia wood covered with gold, had two angel cherubs with their wings out, that were over the top. If this is the top of the Ark of the Covenant, there was a two winged angel like this and a two winged angel like this, looking down. Their faces are looking right here, at the middle. The middle, a little raised part of the lid, was called the mercy seat. Right under that were the tablets of the 10 commandments. The picture is, in this box, here’s the law of God demanding judgment and My wrath upon sin. Then there was this meeting place called the mercy seat and the angels were looking down. When there was nothing on the mercy seat, all they saw was the wrath of God against sin. Once the priest came in, took the blood of the sacrifice, brought it in a bowl, and put that blood on that mercy seat. Why? So that when God looked down, the blood kept Him from seeing the wrath that was due for that sin. The law that demanded justice, that demanded retribution, that demanded punishment, the blood covered over the sins that were to be judged. That’s the picture of the Day of Atonement.
Just as the presence of God was portrayed by the shekinah, remember the glory cloud? The glory glow was right above that mercy seat. God was hovering over and the angels were representing Him and that glow, and the law was underneath. Once a year, that priest tremblingly came in and went into the very Holy of Holies and poured the blood on that little tray. The blood sat there and as it dries it made a layer, like paint. That was God’s way of saying your sins are covered for another year. They’re not gone. It’s like repainting the weathered wood, the aging, the effects are still there. It’s just, they’re held off for another year. The atoning work of the sacrifices were just layers of paint until Jesus came. He tore the building down and made a brand new one.
The cross isn’t another layer of paint, it is completely taking away the sin and making us a new creation in Christ. In essence, the blood would stand between a Holy God, represented by the stone tablets portraying God’s divine law that was in the box. That blood stood between the Holy God and the sinners who broke His law. That blood, on the mercy seat, averted for another year the wrath that was due. Every year, the children of Israel were all excited about this Day of Atonement. They still celebrate it, Yom Kippur. You’ve heard of the Yom Kippur War of 73. They still celebrate this season in their calendar. Our sins were not just covered, but also taken away. In the book of Hebrews, it says in Hebrews 9 and 10, that just like they had to keep having that sacrifice every year to cover the sins, so Christ by one sacrifice forever, Hebrews 10, has forever taken away sin.
Back to this morning, my friend that came to me. He says, what about this? I said, the scripture say this; 1 John 1:9, If we are constantly characterized by agreeing with God that we’re sinners, that’s the present active indicative 1 John 1:9, God is faithful to once and for all have already forgiven us. I said tell your friend, that no matter what sin they sin, Jesus has already once and for all, 2,000 years ago, already paid the price. When I was saved, Jesus paid for all of my sins. From 1956 when I was born until 1962 when I called on Him. He also paid from 1962 to 2010, almost the end of the year. Plus, He has already, in advance, paid for 2010 to my last breath, and yours if you’re in Christ. That’s what we’re going to see in this imagery, the blood of Jesus shed for us.
God cleansed David’s sin that had soiled his life and now those sins were removed from God’s sight. That’s why in Psalm 32 David says, oh, how wonderful it is to have your sins covered that God sees them no more. Forgiveness means shielded from the wrath, having that blood layer so that the wrath of God, that is based on His holy divine law, doesn’t penetrate and begin to work on us. The word covered is the Hebrew word kāsâ, and it shouts of the imagery of the Day of Atonement, this chapter that we’re in. I’m going to summarize this chapter in just a minute, but I want you to think about this in Leviticus 16. On one day, the high priest took the blood of an animal, sprinkled it on the mercy seat, the mercy seat was there for another year covering that sin. That event was over. That’s usually all that we know about the Day of Atonement, but do you know what else this chapter gives us? It gives us the picture of how it was that God was able to do that.
For most people to understand theology, they think like I told you a while back, that Christian didn’t just drop his backpack, his heavy burden, and leave it on the ground. God doesn’t just let sin get dropped, like litter. You drive down the highway, people just throw stuff out the window. I know there are these nice, good Samaritan people that collect it once a year and they put little signs up. That’s not how God works. God says, if you’re going to drop a sin on me, you don’t just leave it there. It tumbles down and goes into the empty tomb of your substitute. How did he do that? He did it through what this chapter calls, the scapegoat.
Let me see how many verses are in chapter 16. There are 34 verses and, in your Bible read through, some of you are going through again, the next time you go through your Bible read through, take a moment to mark down all of the steps that take place. Let me just summarize for you how Christ is our scapegoat. One of the most gripping pictures of Christ death for us is when, and if you remember in John 19 as Jesus is going to the cross, it says in John 19:16, after Jesus stood before Pilate it said, “Then they […] Led Him away.” Anybody that has a Jewish background, that would just jump out at them. It doesn’t say they took Christ. It says that they led Him to His death. That’s exactly the picture from Leviticus 16 of the scapegoat offering.
What’s the scapegoat offering? Everything in Christ death on the cross is eerily patterned after the 16th chapter. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the High Priest took an innocent goat. He laid both of his hands on his head. He confessed the sins of the nation over that goat. When it was led away, the sins of the nation would be carried by it. That “led away,” when Jesus was led away, He was being led away in the element of the Day of Atonement, where the goat… actually, they had to use two because they didn’t know how to resurrect goats back then. The priest would take two goats. One of them would be killed and the other one would be prayed over and led away because they had to have both elements of salvation. They had to have a substitute that died for the sin, but they also had to have that substitute that took the sin away. They could only do that with two goats.
On the Day of Atonement there were two goats. A series of men would lead the goat, that wasn’t killed, away. They would take it, each man taking the goat further, out into the wilderness. They would start at the temple and after the High Priest prayed over it, they’d take this goat out and finally get to the edge of the wilderness. In our minds when we think of wilderness, we think of the great pine forest of Northern Michigan. The wilderness in Israel is desert. They call that wilderness. No trees. Cliffs. Deep wadi valleys. Stark. Rugged. Sun baked. They would bring that goat, the scapegoat, led with a little string around its neck, a little rope. They bring it right up to the edge of the wilderness, with a straight drop-off, and then they just throw it off the edge. That goat took that year’s sins, and they were all placed figuratively on that goat. God says confess all the sins of the nation over that goat. Then, take it out to an uninhabited place and get rid of it, so that it never can come back and bring those sins back. That was what the day of atonement was all about.
On the day of the crucifixion, when Jesus was brought to the council of the Jews, they declared that He was guilty. Then Jesus was sent to Pilate, where He was given a cross to bear. As Jesus stumbled under the cross, it was a picture of Him bearing our sin. Just like that goat had a little red tag tied onto it and all the sins of the nation were put on it. When that goat left Jerusalem, all the people watched on the Day of Atonement as the High Priest sent it off. The men carried it off with that little red tag that was tied onto it. That little tag was a picture of all their sins. The people would stand there on the Day of Atonement, there’s this silence as they watch their sins being taken away and they hope they never return.
That’s what Jesus did. Only what God was doing, the scriptures tell us that, God made Jesus, “who knew no sin to be sin for us.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. When Jesus was accused by the religious leaders, and was condemned by Pilate, and was led away as it says in John 19:16, it’s the pictures of the Day of Atonement of Leviticus 16. Only, Jesus didn’t have a little red tag on Him. God made Him my sin and yours. That’s what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21. It says in Isaiah 53: 6, God “laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” As Jesus walked to the place of execution, He carried our sin on Himself. He was acting out the events of the Day of Atonement.
For just a moment. If you look, it says, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses,” this is Leviticus 16:1, “after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD.” Verse 2, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is by the ark, lest he die; for, I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burn offering.” What the scripture say is, that these priests couldn’t even come in because of their sin. They had to have a pre Day of Atonement cleansing, but once they were all cleansed, then it says this in verse 11. “Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself,” that’s to get him ready, and then it talks about all that he’s supposed to do. Then, verse 15, “he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people.” This is the first half of the scapegoat.
That first one was picked in verse 8. “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats,” this is verse 8, “one lot for the LORD, the other one for the scapegoat.” One, if the lot fell on it, it was the one that was killed. The other one that the lot didn’t fall on for death became the scapegoat. That’s what scape means, it’s to carry it away, to have their sins escape.
Verse 15, he kills the one goat, the one that was the sacrifice, takes the blood, and it goes all through what he’s supposed to do. Finally, in verse 27, “The bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement […] shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal.” He talks about this intricate process. In fact there are, if you read it, over 30 different steps. I thought how hard it would be. This priest put on the clothes and took off the clothes, and he took a bath, and they took another bath, and then he carried the blood, and then he took and put on this… it just was so complex. Why? Because God was saying, I want you to see that this portrays the One who bears your sin away. Salvation is when I go from saying He died just for sin to saying He died for my sin. The first thing that they were supposed to do is, they were supposed to place their hands on the goat and confess over it. In fact, we even have the wording, it’s recorded for us, what the priest said. If you want to read one of the clearest ones, it’s in Daniel 9. When Daniel says we have sinned, we have transgressed, this is the imagery of this Day of Atonement Prayer. The priest, on the goat that was going to be taken away, would actually place his hands on that goat and would confess the sins first of himself, that’s what this first part is about, then for the nation as he put his hands on it. Why? Because it was this identification with the substitute. Salvation for us is when we say, I see the cross and Christ’s back as He walked to Calvary represented my sins.
At Christmas, we have a lot of people that say that Jesus came and died. That’s historic Christianity. He was born at Christmas, and He died at Easter. That’s historic Christianity. Do you know what being born again is? It’s not just acknowledging Jesus came and died. It’s saying that He came and died for me. On the Day of Atonement, we see that Jesus Christ, if we will place our hands on Him and confess over Him that it’s our sin, He bears it away.
What about people that need assurance? One of the things that many Christians struggle with is making sure that their sins are really on Christ. That’s why this is so beautiful for those who wish to be assured of salvation. How do we guide them? Simply this, have you come to Christ and by faith, just like that priest led the goat out in front of the people, put his hands on it, and confessed with his mouth the sin, have you ever come to Jesus Christ and said; Jesus, not historic I believe you came and died but Jesus, will you take my sin on yourself? Jesus, I placed my hands on you by faith and I say it is my sins that you bore on the cross. It is my sins that you suffered, and bled, and died for. That identification, that’s why it says in the Bible that if thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart, that it’s for your sins that He died, you shall be saved. Have you told him that you trust that He alone can bear your sins away? If so, Hebrews 10:12 says by one sacrifice forever He has taken your sin. Let’s turn there.
As you go to Hebrews chapter 10, we’re going to close with this tonight in just a moment, I want to read to the full process of the Day of Atonement. I want you to see the conclusion in the book of Hebrews. New Testament. Book of Hebrews, starting in verse 11 and then going to verse 12 to talk about what I’m going to describe for you. Let me read to you, as you look at Hebrews 10:11-12, it says, “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.” Now, listen to what they did in Leviticus 16 on the Day of Atonement, when the sins of Israel were forgiven by being carried away, this is how the process was carried out at daybreak.
The high priest was washed and robed. He had to get up at daybreak. He had to go take a special ceremonial bath. Then he started putting on his high priest, Leviticus 16, outfit. It was only worn one day in the whole year. First, he was put on a one-piece linen undergarment. That was all the way down to his feet. It was woven from one piece of linen. Then over the top of the robe was put on him. The robe of dark blue that was fringed all around the bottom edges with a tassel that was woven together of blue, purple, and scarlet tied into the shape of pomegranates and alternated with these little golden bells. The ephod was put on over that robe. It was described by God as worn over the robe and consisted of linen woven with scarlet, purple, and gold. On the shoulders, on each side, an onyx stone was engraved. Six tribes on one side, six tribes on the other. On the front was a breast plate with a set of 12 precious stones. Each one had the name of one of the tribes engraved upon it.
The high priest would walk in, as it says in Isaiah 53, on your shoulders he’s bearing. He’s bearing, as a picture of Christ, the whole nation on his shoulders. He’s also holding them over his heart. That’s what that breastplate was. Then the high priest, after he got on that ephod over the top of the robe, he would put on this tall mitre or headpiece. That was again made of pure white linen. In the front it had a gold plate that was attached to a blue ribbon that went all the way around it. The golden plate, that was right over his forehead, was inscribed with the words directly for all to see as he went in. It said holiness to the Lord, which is a reminder about how vital holiness is. That’s why the whole 16th chapter started with whether or not Aaron was going to be cleansed from his sin. God says, I want you coming before my presence and how important your mind is of holiness, of total focus on Me, of all sins beneath the blood. A constant reminder to the High Priest, that holiness to the Lord, and to all of us that our minds are the habitation of God.
Once he was wearing that whole outfit, including the head-dress. He would first offer a sacrifice for himself; one bull, seven lambs, and a ram. That was just to get him ready. After he offered that sacrifice, he took off all of those clothes. He’d spent all morning getting a bath and putting on all these layers. Then he goes out and kills all these animals. As soon as he’s done with that he has to go back into the tent, take all that stuff off, and take another bath. All the people are outside waiting, they’re waiting for the big scapegoat deal. This time he came out in his simple white robe.
As he came out solemn events began to unfold. The two goats were brought out. One was chosen to be sacrificed. The other one chosen to be confessed over. That priest would put his hands on the scapegoat and would say. Our Lord God, I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed, I have sinned, and my house, and my nation. I entreat thee, cover over, atone for our iniquities, and on and on he went. There are many recorded prayers. After he did that, after he put his hands on that goat, then everyone watched. It was the highlight of the day as that goat was led off into the wilderness bearing the sins, and the other goat, the blood was taken from that and brought to be poured on the mercy seat.
There are two elements that David is celebrating. One is, Christ’s sacrifice makes my penalty never to be brought upon me for my sins. But that’s not all. Not only is the penalty paid by the blood, but the record is also forever removed. That’s what justification is. Jesus paid the penalty and removed, like the scapegoat walking out into the desert, the record of our sin. As that goat carried the load of the sins of the nation, the scapegoat was pushed off a cliff, so it fell to its death, carrying with it all the sins never to return. That portrayed Christ the final sacrifice, that we have before us right here in Hebrews 10. It says in Hebrews 10:12 “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever,” both the pouring out of His blood and the bearing away of the sin… two parts in one man, he “sat down.” That’s why Jesus was the Great High Priest. He perfectly took both of the goat’s places. The one that was pouring out its blood and the one that was carrying away the sin. And that’s why our sins are covered and bored away by the blood of Jesus, shed for us.
We’ve saved exactly two minutes to do two things. One, take your hymn book for just a moment. I want you to see hymn number 199. As we’re doing that, we’re going to also prepare and you can get the slide up on the screen because we’re going to close by singing, but I want you to read with me. Look at 199. 199 is Charles Wesley’s hymn about the Day of Atonement and about how Jesus Christ paid the price. In this hymn, “Arise, my soul, arise; Shake off your guilty fears; The bleeding Sacrifice.” (That’s the one that was slain.) “In my behalf appears: Before the throne my Surety stands.” He’s speaking of the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat that portrayed Jesus standing before God. Then look at the imagery of the High Priest. Look at what Wesley wrote. “My name is written on His hands.” That high priest had tribes on his shoulders, tribes on his chest. But Jesus, it says in Isaiah, has written our names and scribed them on His hand because as He stands before the Father, as He stands with His wounded hands, that’s where it talks about, He pleads for us. He’s our intercessor.
The second stanza: “He ever lives above,” and this is Hebrews 7:24. “For me to intercede, His all redeeming love, His precious blood to plead; His blood atoned for every race, his blood atoned for every race, and sprinkles now the throne of grace.” Now we’re in Hebrews chapter 4. We can boldly come to the throne of grace and mercy because of Christ.
Next stanza: “Five bleeding wounds He bears,” two in His hands, two in His feet, and then the pierced side and also his thorn crowned head. “Received on Calvary; They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me: ‘Forgive him, O forgive,’ they cry, Nor let that ransom sinner die!” Do you know what Satan’s favorite method of attack is? Reminding us of our sin. You know what we should remember? Our sins are gone. Jesus shed His blood like that goat and His blood covers the wrath of God. It doesn’t just deal with the punishment, like the scapegoat, it takes away the record.
I want to end tonight with all of us standing and we’re going to sing this wonderful hymn that talks about what Jesus is doing for us right now before the throne of God. Jesus Christ our scapegoat has paid, cleansed us with His blood, bore away forever the record of sin. Let’s sing to our Lord and worship Him together.
Let’s bow before Him now.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are the perfect and Great High Priest. You not only went through all of the pain and suffering of dying for our sin, You forever have borne them away from us. They are as Psalm 103 says, they are hidden in the depths of the sea, “as far as the east is from the west,” and you remember them no more. I pray that the great heritage we would have, as we go through life doing spiritual warfare with the evil one, is to remember that you are an unchanging High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us. By one sacrifice you’ve paid for our sins. Every time the tempter comes accusing us before the throne of God, you Lord Jesus say My blood paid for them. My sacrifice, once and for all, has forever covered all. They are mine. Thank you for being our Redeemer, our interceder, the One who loved us, and forever loosed us from our sins. I pray with David; we would have the great delight of knowing our sins are pulled off of us and they’re covered forever. In the precious name of Jesus we thank you. And all of God’s people said, Amen. God bless you, as you go.