Under the old covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, in Leviticus, chapter nine, the Day of Atonement and the Priestly functions are described.
Once each year, the High Priest, in this case, Aaron, would offer the sin offering for all of the sins of the people. This ritual or ceremony consisted of several steps.
First, the Priest, himself, had to be cleansed. The Mosaic Law required that the Priest be from the tribe of Levi. This was demanded in the law.
Second, a calf or ram or lamb without blemish had to be sacrificed.(killed)
Third, the High Priest entered the Holy Of Holies in the Tabernacle and would take the blood of the slain lamb and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant for the sins of all the people.
Fourth, the High Priest would then emerge from the Holy of Holies and show himself to the people as a sign that God had accepted the blood sacrifice as forgiveness of their sins.
Each and every step had to be completely fulfilled in order for the atonement to be complete or consummated. The word consummate is very important. It means complete in every detail. As a verb, it means to make complete. Therefore, all the details of the Priestly functions had to be complete or consummated in order for the atonement or the reconciliation of the people back to God, be complete. This is very, very important! Not one step could be skipped. The ritual had to be done over and over every year because it was done by man and with the blood of a lamb. It was temporary.
Now the Bible plainly says that the tabernacle, the mercy seat, and all of the elements of the Priestly functions were shadows or types of the real things in heaven. The earthly ones (seen) were temporary, but the heavenly (not seen) were eternal. These were the type of that which would come when Christ came into the world. The book of Hebrews explains this typology in every detail.
Jesus Christ was born into the world to become the lamb or sacrifice. Jesus was without sin or blemish; therefore, Jesus qualified as the sacrifice and shed His blood upon a cross for mankind.
However, Jesus’ blood had to be sprinkled upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies in heaven by a heavenly High Priest. The cross inaugurated the atonement but did not consummate the atonement. We know this because there was yet to be a resurrection of Jesus, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the bringing in of the Kingdom of God. These were all future from the cross and were part of the atonement. Paul says, “if Christ is not risen, we are still in our sins”. We can see that the resurrection was part of our atonement and that was after the cross.
This presents several problems, but they are solved.
First, Jesus was from the tribe of Judah not Levi. Hebrews 7:14 states: “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” So, Jesus could not become our High Priest until there was a change in the law, the Mosaic Covenant Law. Hebrews 7:12 states” For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Therefore, Jesus fulfilled all the law and the prophets thus changing the covenant from law to grace. As a result, Jesus became our High Priest.
Hebrews 9, states: “the Holy Ghost, thus signifying that the way into the Holy of Holies was not yet made manifest as long as the earthly tabernacle was still standing.”
Secondly, Jesus destroyed the earthly temple in Jerusalem with the Roman armies in AD 70 therefore opening the way into the Holy of Holies in heaven. Now, Jesus as our High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies in heaven and offered His own blood on the mercy seat. Hebrews 9:24 says, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands which are the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” The killing of the lamb did not provide the atonement, but the spreading of the lambs blood on the mercy seat of the Ark of the covenant did. Therefore, Jesus’ dying on the cross as the lamb of God provided the blood that would later be spread on the mercy seat in the holy of holies in heaven. These are two distinct events.
Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence (parousia-coming) of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the time of restitution for all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began”.
Hebrews 10, verse 26..”but now once in the end of the world hath he (Jesus) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” We must understand that the end of the world is the end of the old covenant age, not the end of the material earth. If it were the end of the physical world, then we are still in our sins because this says” Jesus appeared in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This is important.
Jesus sprinkled His own blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies as our High Priest after the law and the earthly tabernacle were destroyed in AD 70.
Now, there is one more detail that must be completed in order for this heavenly atonement to fulfill the requirements given in Leviticus 9. The High Priest must emerge from the Holy of Holies showing himself to the congregation as a sign that God has accepted the sacrifice for sins.
Hebrews 10: 28 says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Hebrews 10:21 says, “ and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near. Verse 25 says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much more, as you see the day approaching.
Verse 37 says, “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”
I know this may be difficult for some of you, but if the High Priest did not come out of the Holy of Holies, then the atonement for sins is incomplete. The high Priest had to show himself to the congregation as the sign that the blood sacrifice was accepted by God and the people’s sins forgiven!
This is why the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 24, what shall be the sign of your coming or appearing?
Jesus told his disciples that these things: the destruction of the temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the passing of the Old Mosaic Covenant, and the end of the age were the sign of His appearing. This is the emerging of the High Priest from the heavenly Holy of Holies.
If our High Priest has not appeared, the atonement is not completed and we are still under the law and in our sins. But the Bible plainly says He has appeared and our sins are forgiven because God accepted the sacrifice of His Son’s blood upon the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies in heaven. Amen
Written by Allen D Brooks