Leviticus 16:1-10 The Lord instructed Moses to tell Aaron that he can’t just go into the Holy Place where the mercy seat is whenever he feels like it or he will die. On the Day of Atonement (Once a year), Aaron shall bring a bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. Aaron shall dress in his special Day of Atonement priestly garments after bathing in water. He shall receive two male goats from the people and offer it as a sin offering and one ram as a burnt offering. Aaron shall offer the bull for himself. Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one for the Lord and one as a scapegoat. The one for the Lord shall be offered as a sin offering for the people. The other goat shall be sent away into the wilderness.
Notes: This special day for atoning for the sins of the people covered ALL the sins that may have been overlooked. Some interpreters assume that this description of sins refers to heinous offenses that have not been dealt with by the rituals on ordinary occasions. But the emphasis of “all their sins” (see also v. 21) appears to require the interpretation that the sins and uncleanness on the ordinary occasions are once again taken up on this occasion. Only those who were genuine in faith and repentance received its benefit. That forgiveness was not based on any animal sacrifice, but on the One all sacrifices pictured—the Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect sacrifice on the cross.
Two Goats: One animal would be slain to picture substitutionary death and the other sent to the wilderness to represent removal of sin. These goats were symbols of Jesus Christ who would accomplish both purposes of the two goats.
Leviticus 16:11-14 After Aaron offers the bull as a sin offering for himself and his household, he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar, and two handfuls of sweet incense and bring it inside the veil, putting the incense on the fire that the cloud of the incense covers the mercy seat that contains the 10 commandments. Some blood of the bull shall be sprinkled by his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side seven times.
Leviticus 16:15-17 Next, Aaron shall kill the goat as the sin offering for the people. He shall bring the goats blood inside the veil and so sprinkle its blood on the mercy seat like he did the bull’s blood. Atonement is now made for the Holy Place and all the people because of their sins. No one is allowed in the tent of meeting when Aaron is performing the ritual behind the veil.
Leviticus 16:18-19 Aaron shall then go and make atonement for the altar by taking the blood of the bull and goat and placing it on the horns of the altar to cleanse and consecrate the altar from the uncleanness of the people.
Leviticus 16:20-22 Aaron shall now deal with the live scapegoat. He shall place both hands on the goat and confess all the sins committed so that the sins will be transmitted to the goat (As our sins are transmitted to Jesus) and sent it away into the wilderness.
Leviticus 16:23-28 Lastly, Aaron shall return to the tent of meeting and remove his special Day of Atonement priestly garments and leave them there. He shall bathe in water and then put on his regular priestly garments. He shall then offer the burnt offerings for himself and his people. The person who let the scapegoat go free must wash his clothes and bathe in water before returning to the camp. The rest of the bull and goat that was used in the sin offering shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin, flesh, and dung shall be burned with fire. The one doing the burning shall wash their clothes and bathe in water and then can return to the camp.
Notes: Aaron leaves his Day of Atonement clothes inside the Holy Place because they are holy. They are not to be worn for the normal activity of the high priesthood.
Outside the Camp: This represents the historical reality of Christ’s death outside of Jerusalem.
Leviticus 16:29-34 The Day of Atonement shall be celebrated on the 10th day of the seven month every year. It is like a Sabbath rest for the people. No work is to be done that day.
Notes: The Jewish calendar would have this event somewhere between September and October of our current calendar. This atonement was based on cleansing through the sacrifice of Christ. The better sacrifice of Jesus Christ was offered once-for-all, never to be repeated. Upon that sacrifice all forgiveness of sin is based, including that of Old Testament believers.