You Can See The Cross From Here

Bible Book: Leviticus  16
Subject: Cross; Blood of Jesus
Introduction

Leviticus, chapter 16, is far removed in time and space from the story of the cross of Christ which appears in the gospels. Yet, it can be safely stated that one can easily see the cross from here. The events in Leviticus 16 pre‑figure the events at Golgotha.

In Leviticus 16 we observe Moses receiving directions from the Lord for observing a day that was to be very special in the life of the Israelites. This special day was to be called, The Day Of Atonement. The modem term for it is Yom Kippur. It was to be a day set aside once a year for the High Priest to perform special acts which pre‑figured and were symbolic of the great deed of our Savior when He died for us at Calvary.

The Day of Atonement involved the High Priest going into the Holy of Holies as many as four times. First, he was to go in before the Ark of the Covenant and light incense. Secondly, he was to offer blood from a bull for his own sins. Thirdly, he was to enter the Holy of Holies with the blood of a goat for the sins of the people. Lastly, he was to go in to the Holy Place and change his garments. Each of these events had great significance and spoke of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Before we proceed, let us ask, what is atonement? The word atonement has been said to mean, AT‑ ONE ‑ MENT. That, in fact, is what it means. It means to be reconciled to God. It speaks of a broken relationship between God and man, and it involves an act which restores the broken relationship to a relationship of association and communion.

Describing fully the meaning of atonement is not easy. There are depths to this subject which no one can fully cover in one message. I feel a little like the American Indian who was sending smoke signals to his girl friend in western part of the United States. He was only a few miles from a secret test sight for the atomic bomb. Just as he was in the middle of sending a message, the Army detonated one of the atomic bombs. The Indian was stunned when he saw the plumb of smoke that rose for a couple of miles into the sky. He looked at his little smoke signal and then turned to look again at the huge tower of smoke from the bomb. He was overhead to say, "I wish I had said that."

When one comes to the subject of atonement, it seems the best that can be said is but a puff of smoke compared to the depth and beauty of the subject. Certainly there is a desire to convey the towering truth of the atonement. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will assist us in examining this great theme.

I. The Person Of Atonement

Who was assigned with the task of performing the ministry of atonement in Leviticus? This is a very important question, for the person carrying out this ministry was a representative of Christ. Note with me three important factors about this person which point clearly to Jesus and His work at Calvary for our sins.

A. A Solitary Person ‑ The High Priest

Only one person could perform the work on the Day of Atonement. That person was the High Priest. On other days and other occasions, the priest might have many among there number working and ministering around the Tabernacle. But on the Day of Atonement, only the High Priest was allowed to minister. Why was this so?

The work of atonement was a pre‑figuring of the great work of our Lord at Calvary. It was important that the picture of Jesus' work for us be kept pure and clear. Turn to Hebrews 4:11-16,
11 "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (NKJV)

Note that Jesus is the true heavenly High Priest.

Salvation is a work wrought by Christ and Christ alone. No other could redeem us, and no other is needed to redeem us. The songwriter has rightly said,

"Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."

B. A Selfless Person ‑ The Humble Priest

The priest was to change his garments on the Day of Atonement. Look at Leviticus 16:4, 23‑24

4 "He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on."

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.
24 And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people."

Why was he to change garments? The High Priest wore a magnificent and regal garment to signify his position. But on the Day of Atonement he was to lay that garment aside and put on the common linen garment which a common priest wore.

The High Priest was to act in humility as he fulfilled the duty of making atonement for his own sins and those of the people. This is a picture of our Lord who made Himself of no reputation and took upon the form of man, even a servant‑man, and walked among us. Jesus washed His disciples feet. Jesus ate with sinners. Jesus was a selfless man!

C. A Spotless Person ‑ The Holy Priest

The High Priest was to wash himself thoroughly before and after he performed his duties on the Day of Atonement. This was symbolic of the perfection of our Lord. Jesus was a spotless Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. He had no tears for his own sins, but sweat drops of blood for mine!

As a missionary told the story of Jesus to a tribe in South Africa while the chief of the village listened intently. When the missionary finished, the chief asked him to repeat the story. As he got to the part about Jesus' death, the chief suddenly rushed forward and pleaded, "Hold on, Bwana, hold on! Take Jesus down from that cross! Take Him down! He doesn't belong there. I do! Take Him down and put me there!"

The tribal chief had recognized this important Biblical truth: Jesus died as our substitute. A look at various verses reminds us how clearly God's Word explains this concept Isaiah 53:6, "...the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." 1 Peter 2:24, Jesus "Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed." Romans 8:32, "He...did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." 1 Peter 3:18, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." Yes, God judged our sin in the person of His Son. The wrath that should have fallen on us fell completely on Jesus, our Sin‑ Bearer. When in faith we believe on Christ, God credits to our account His righteousness. We can no longer be condemned. By accepting Jesus' sacrifice, we become safe in our Substitute.

II. The Provision For Atonement

The High Priest had nothing of his own to offer for atonement, so what was he to give for the sins of the people? First, understand that the High Priest had to first make atonement for his own sins. This Jesus did not have to do. Afterward, the High Priest was to offer blood. Look at Hebrews 9:22, "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission." (NKJV)

Note the place from which the High Priest was to obtain the blood for the atonement.

A. The Sacrifice

The High Priest was to receive two goats from among the people. The goats came from among the people, just as Jesus came from among the Jewish people. Then, he was to cast lots. The goat chosen by lot was to be set aside as a substitute, but the other goat was to be sacrificed. The blood of this goat was to be carried into the Holy of Holies and placed on and before the Ark. This goat pictured the sacrificial death of our Lord. He poured out innocent blood for our sins.

In the 1980s, I pastored First Baptist Church, Cherryville, North Carolina. One of our members, Mr. Leatherman, was in the hospital, suffering from Leukemia. He looked very pale on the day I arrived to visit him. I asked his daughter how he was doing, since Mr. Leatherman could hardly speak due to his weakness. She said, "He's not doing well right now, but they are getting some blood for him. When he gets the blood, he will be alright."

Jesus gave his blood, and when you are redeemed through His death and sacrificial blood, you will be alright. In fact, you will be better than alright because His blood cleansing to the uttermost from sin.

B. The Substitute

The other goat was to have the sins of the people pronounced on its head, and then it was led out into the wilderness. It was to be watched by the one selected to lead it away until it could be seen no more. Thus, the sins of the people were said to be forgiven and carried away. When the man who led the goat into the wilderness returned to the camp, he would inform the people that their sins had been carried away. Surely there was shouting and rejoicing in the camp of God!

In the famous painting of the crucifixion by Rembrandt, your attention is drawn first to the dying Savior. Then, as you notice the crowd gathered around that scene at Calvary, you are impressed by the various attitudes and actions of the people involved in putting the Son of God to death. Finally your eyes drift to the edge of the picture and catch sight of a lone figure almost hidden in the shadows. He represents the artist himself, for Rembrandt realized that his sins had helped nail Jesus to the cross! Like Rembrandt, you and I were at the Cross. Our sins crucified Him. He died as your substitute!

C. The Suffering

Both goats on this day represented the suffering of the Savior for sin. One spoke of the life he gave, the other of the loneliness he endured. One spoke of the pain he bore, the other spoke of the penalty laid upon him. No wonder the songwriter, Philip P. Bliss penned, "Hallelujah, what a Savior." Indeed, Jesus suffered for our sins. It is interesting to note that "Hallelujah, What A Savior" was one of the very last songs that Bliss wrote. In what is believed to be his last public messages and singing presentations, Bliss spoke at the State Prison in Jackson, Michigan to the prisoners. He spoke on the "Man of Sorrows" and then sang, Hallelujah, What A Savior." Many of the prisoners later gave testimony that they were saved that day. Oh, dear friend, when we see the Savior suffering for us at Calvary, we are drawn by His love and grace to embrace Him and enjoy the everlasting life He alone provides.

Canadian author William D. Mathieson, in My Grandfather's War, tells of a veteran who walked through the streets of his hometown with an empty sleeve. When a passerby commented on the loss of his arm, the veteran replied, "I didn't lose it. I gave it." That describes what Jesus did for us. He didn't lose His life on the cross, He gave it.

Jesus willingly took our place at Calvary. He suffered and died in our place.

III. The Purpose Of Atonement

A. Forgiveness

While an English farmer was walking through his field one day with a friend, he suddenly remarked, "You know, I was saved by my 'good looks."' He explained that he had attended a gospel meeting where he heard an evangelist preach on Isaiah 45:22. The farmer said, "He pictured Jesus on the cross in a general way as the divine substitute bearing the sin of the world. Then the preacher pointed us to Hebrews 12:2 and told us to look again unto Jesus, 'the author and finisher of our faith,' who saves 'to the uttermost' (Heb. 7:25) all that come to Him. He said that everyone has to accept this personally. When I saw the Lord in this way, I received Him as MY Savior." The farmer's friend was impressed. "Now I know what you mean," he said. "It was your 'good looks' at Christ and His cross that resulted in your conversion."

Forgiveness comes when we look to Jesus, confessing our sin and professing Him as the Savior. Christ offers atonement so that we can be forgiven - so that our sins will not be counted against us - not now - not ever!

B. Fellowship

Part of the purpose in this Day of Atonement was the restoration of fellowship with God. Look at Leviticus 16:30, "For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD." (NKJV) Note that the people were made clean "before the Lord." Sin separates from God, but in Christ we are given fellowship with God. In Christ, we are clean "before the Lord."

Throughout history, royal families have received special treatment. Often they were exempt from keeping the law or receiving punishment or even discipline. But the royal children still needed to know that when they misbehaved they deserved to be punished. When a prince or princess disobeyed or did poorly in schoolwork, the punishment was given to a "whipping boy" instead. There was no doubt who was really at fault, but it was simply unthinkable for a servant to spank a person of royalty. The cross of Calvary gives a completely different view of dealing with wrongdoing. Although the servant is at fault, royalty receives the punishment. Jesus Christ, the Prince of Glory, took our place when He died on the cross. He voluntarily became our "whipping boy" and paid the penalty for our sins.

Conclusion

When a large religious service was being conducted at the Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco, many people quickly became aware that the minister delivering the main address was not thoroughly orthodox. Although a gifted speaker, he began to direct most of his eloquence against the power of the blood of Christ. Ruth E. Marsden relates that when his fluent oratory ended, a timid, elderly lady stood up in the midst of the crowd and softly began to sing a great hymn by William Cowper as a touching rebuttal to the modernist's remarks. A hush fell over the assembly as they heard those faint but familiar words: "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel's veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." Before she could begin the second stanza, approximately a hundred people rose to join her. By the time she reached the third verse, nearly a thousand Christians all over the audience were singing that blessed song of faith. The triumphant, thrilling strains rang out loud and clear: "Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more." Many were deeply moved as that humble believer stood up for her Lord and with the light of Heaven upon her face gave testimony that she had found peace through the blood of His cross!

Yes, we have been looking at Leviticus this morning, but you can see the Cross from here. Come to the Great High Priest, Jesus, and be made whole today.