Exploring the Concept of Atonement as It Relates to the Tabernacle and Salvation

Numbers 31:50, Make atonement.

What is the big deal about the concept of vicarious atonement, that is, someone dying in another person’s place to repair a wrong or an injury? Does there really need to be the shedding of blood for the atonement of sin? This is a concept shared only by Christianity and no other major religions in the world including Judaism. The Christians are always making a big deal about “the cross” and “Jesus dying for our sins,” or “Jesus paying for our sins.” Is this a biblical concept or just some idea of man to put people under bondage to some ancient religious and irrational superstition? Knowing the answer to this question is a matter of life and death. 

In Numbers 31:50 we read, “We have therefore brought an oblation for YHVH, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before YHVH.” In a similar passage in Exodus 30:15–16, we read, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls(emphasis added). The question before us is this: Do these passages in the Torah imply that YHVH grants man absolution from sin based something other than the shedding of blood, and by logical extension, does this call into question our redemption from sin through our faith in Yeshua the Messiah’s blood atonement death on the cross?

The concept of atonement can be a confusing one. Some scholars in rabbinic Jewish circles teach that the Torah (i.e. the first five books of the Bible) does not require the shedding of blood for atonement of one’s sin to occur. According to the above scripture, this could appear to be the case. Before briefly discussing the subject of atonement, let us not forget the stern warnings of the Peter the apostle when he warned end-time saints against false teachers who would lure people away from the simple truth of the gospel:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not….But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Yeshua Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2)

In the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament), there is no question that when the concept of atonement (i.e. to make ransom for or to cover over man’s sins) is presented, it is related to the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, being shed for the remission of man’s sins, which is the means through which reconciliation between Elohim and man occurs. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), however, the idea of atonement is somewhat broader and at times more generalized in scope. Herein lies the confusion and the misconceived disparity between the Former (Old) and Latter (New) Testaments or Covenants. Are they in opposition to one another, or is the latter the logical outgrowth of the former and compliments or ­elucidates the former?

The Hebrew word for atonement is kapar. A verb, it means “to make an atonement, make reconciliation, purge. In its noun form, kapar means a ransom, gift, to secure favor”(see Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament [or TWOT], word 1023). Kapar also means “to cover over”and is the same Hebrew word meaning “to cover or smear with pitch”as in caulking the seams of a wooden ship so that it becomes waterproof (see Brown-Driver-Briggs H3722). Our English words cap (as well as the Hebrew kipah, which is a small hemispherical hat that many religious Jewish men wear)and cover are related etymologically to kapar (see The Word—The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of Our English, by Isaac E. Mozeson). 

What can we learn from all this? Kapar means “to cover” that which is bare, such as the human head. It also means “to smear (or cover) with pitch”so that your ship will not sink drowning all aboard. For example, YHVH instructed Noah to “pitch/kopar [Strong’s H3722] [the ark] within and without with pitch/koper [Strong’s H3724].” Furthermore, kapar means “to ransom” someone that would otherwise be a prisoner of one’s enemy and without the ransom being paid one would probably be killed. Kapar also means “to reconcile”with someone who has the power of life and death over you (e.g. Elohim) and to pacify someone who has the power to do you harm. 

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Natan’s Commentary Notes on Numbers 8–11: The Menorah, Silver Trumpets & Glory Cloud

Numbers 8

Numbers 8:2, The menorah. The phrase toward the face of the menorah is an interesting one. The Jewish sages teach that the three wicks on the right and the three on the left were all directed toward the menorah’s central stem, thus concentrating light toward the center. The menorah symbolized that YHVH is the Source of all light (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 775). What are the connotations of this for a believer in Yeshua? How did Yeshua describe himself? (See John 8:12; 9:5.) Moreover, what did he mean when he said that “I am the vine and you are the branches?” (John 15:5) What does this mean and how is this pointing to a type of human menorah? Now relate this to the seven Messianic assemblies of Revelation 2 and 3 being likened to menorahs (Rev 1:13, 20). Is Yeshua the center of all that we do? Do we place all of our focus on him? Can we say, as the Apostle Paul did, that “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)? Does the power of his resurrected life and anointing flow through you even as oil was in the menorah and sap flows through a tree to its branches?


Redeemed Israelites Are That Menorah

The Scriptures plainly states that Yeshua and his body of followers are likened to a tree of which the seven-branched menorah that adorned the mishkan (tabernacle) in the wilderness as well as the sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple is a picture. Furthermore, remember what Yeshua said in John 15:5? “I am the vine and you are the branches …” This is a perfect picture of the menorah, which has a central trunk with six (the number representing man) branches growing out of the trunk. Remember what Yeshua said in Matthew 5:14–15, that his followers were to be lights upon a lampstand on a hill for all the world to see—a clear allusion in the mind of anyone in Yeshua’s audience to the temple’s menorah (which was upon the Temple Mount like a light on a hill).

Additionally, when a redeemed believer in and follower of Yeshua is in a sacred state of worshipping his Master and Savior, he will often lift his arms heavenward. Not only is this the universal sign of surrender (in this case to one’s Heavenly Master), but when we lift our hands our bodies are actually forming a human menorah. By doing this, in worship we are acting out what we are—a lampstand to the world radiating forth the good news of the truth and love of Yeshua.

In fact, The Scriptures shows us that the menorah, and not the cross, is the symbol of Yeshua’s spiritual body of believers. We see this in Revelation 1:12, 20 and 2:1 where the seven congregations are symbolized as a seven-branched menorah! The menorah here is the symbol of the congregation of redeemed believers.

Though the cross is representative of the redemptive work Yeshua accomplished on our behalf, it is not the symbol of the body of believers, commonly called the “church,” but the menorah is! Furthermore, in Jewish thought, the menorah is analogous to an olive tree (the ancient temple menorah was constructed of hollow tubes of solid gold filled with olive oil that burned when lit), to which the Apostle Paul makes reference in Romans 11, as representing the tree of life (which ultimately represents Yeshua) into which all must be grafted if they are to be part the spiritual body of Yeshua and have his eternal life.


Numbers 8:10, The children of Israel shall lay their hands. By this act, the Israelites were affirming on earth YHVH’s choice of the Levites as the tribe who would minister to him in the tabernacle by assisting those of the Aaronic priesthood. When did YHVH chose the Levites to serve him? (See Exod 32:29, read the preceding verses for context; cp. Num 8:18–19.) Are there examples in the Testimony of Yeshua of the congregation of redeemed Israelites laying hands on individuals who had been chosen to serve YHVH in some special way? (Read Acts 6:1–6; 13:1–3.) What was a key element in the choosing of these spiritual vessels? (Note Acts 6:3; 13:3.)

Numbers 8:24, From twenty-five years old. A young Levite went into a five year training period starting at age 25. How long did this apprenticeship last and when did he begin ministering as full-fledged Levite? (See Num 4:23; , 30,35,39.) Can you recall other biblical examples of YHVH preparing his servants for leadership by passing them through a period of time of spiritual training and refinement? Let’s test your knowledge of Bible trivia how long did Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, the 12 disciples, and Paul spend in YHVH’s apprenticeship program before being launched into ministry? YHVH’s qualifications for ministry leaders are stringent and are not to be trivialized. The same is true for leaders in the congregation of redeemed Israelites. (Review 1 Tim 3:1–7; Tit 1:5–9.)

Numbers 9

Numbers 9:1–14, The Second Passover. Here we see contrasted those who are not able to keep the Passover, but it is in their heart to do so, while the second group are able to keep the Passover, but don’t want to. To the first group, YHVH is gracious and makes allowances for them through the spirit of the law, while to the second group, the penalty is banishment from Israel.

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Moses coming into the holy of holies—an example for US to follow

Numbers 7:89, When Moses went into the tabernacle.Moses entering into the inner most sanctuary of the tabernacle is a lesson for us in how to experience intimacy with our Father in heaven through Yeshua the Messiah. To understand this, let us first ask and answer some important question.

The holy of holies in the tabernacle from which the voice of YHVH emanated pictured what? (See Rev 7:15.) The Tabernacle of Moses is a spiritual picture of what? (Read Eph 3:21–22; 1 Cor 3:16; 1 Pet 2:5.) 

If the holy of holies represents Elohim’s throne room in heaven, and the saints are the temple of the Set-Apart Spirit, can they, like Moses, hear the voice of Elohim? Again, let us explore the answer to this question by asking some more questions and finding the answers in Scripture. (See what Yeshua said in answer to this question in John 10:3–5, 27 cp. Acts 8:29; 10:19; 11:12; 29:4.) How does YHVH now speak to his people? (Note John 16:13; 1 Cor 2:12.) How does the Spirit interact with man to speak the mind, heart and will of Elohim to humans? (See John 14:17; Job 32:8; Prov 20:27; Rom 8:16; Eph 3:16; 1 John 2:20, 27; 4:2–3; 1 Cor 2:10–14.)

We find a corollary passages to Numbers 7:9 in Psalms 61:4 where David speaks of abiding in YHVH’s tabernacle forever, and putting his trust in the shelter of YHVH’s wings.With this in mind, now consider this:Over the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant, which was the seat of Elohim’s presence on earth and symbolically represented his heavenly throne room, was the over-shadowing wings of the two cherubim (for another perspective of Elohim’s throne room, see Isa 37:16; Ezek 10:1–22; 11:22–23). It was in this place of intimate worship before the “Rock that his higher than me” (verse 2) that David sought shelter or refuge and deliverance from his enemies (verse 3). Phrases like, “under the shadow of your wings” is a Hebraism meaning “before YHVH in the place and state of worship” (see also Pss 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 63:7; 91:1, 4). 

It was also in this place—between the cherubim—that Moses heard the voice of Elohim (Num 7:89), and that David would see the power or might, strength and glory or manifest presence of Elohim in a prophetic, ecstatic or spiritual vision (Ps 63:2). The saints now have access to the throne of Elohim through Yeshua the Messiah and prayer (Rev 5:8; 8:3). 

Occasionally, YHVH will still communicate with his servants through an audible voice, dreams, visions, or an angelic visitation. But this is rare now, even as it was in biblical times. This is because YHVH is testing his people to see if they will walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7), and will remain faithful to his written word as found in the Bible. 

Currently, YHVH is refining, testing and preparing his bride—his people— for her marriage to Yeshua. Will she be faithful to him having never seen him visually? The time is coming after Yeshua’s coming, however, when she will be in YHVH’s blessed presence forever, which is the object or end goal of our faith.

Voice of One…above the mercy seat. Think about this for a moment. The ark of the covenant upon which the mercy seat rested contained and was surrounded by several items, which give us an understanding as to on what basis we are to come into YHVH’s presence to hear his voice. 

First, the ark contained Aaron’s rod that budded. Second, it contained the golden pot of manna and then the two tablets containing the ten words written by YHVH’s finger. Leaning up against the ark was the scroll containing the entire Torah that was given to the Israelites through Moses. 

All together these items in and around the ark teach us that man can only come into YHVH presence on the basis the Torah-word of Elohim of which Yeshua was and is the Living Manna or bread from heaven, and upon which man must feed for his spiritual sustenance. 

Even as the manna was in a golden pot, so YHVH’s words should be within the heart of man. The ten words or commandments which were written by YHVH’s finger form the foundation of the Torah and need to be written on the heart of man. 

The heart of man contains two parts, like the two stone tablets, and man’s heart, until spiritually regenerated, is hard and stoney like the rock upon which the ten words were written. 

YHVH is calling his servants to be a kingdom of priests of which Yeshua the Messiah is our Chief High Priest of which the rod, a symbol of the tree of life, is a prophetic picture. Under King Yeshua’s rulership, in his millennial kingdom, his priest-saints will exercise the authority in leading this world into obedience to and the worship of YHVH. The saints are presently in training for that lofty role as Yeshua’s kings and priest co-ruling with him over the world (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). 

The Torah scroll leaning up against the ark shows us that obedience to YHVH’s instructions is dependent on our relationship with Yeshua through which his words must be written on our hearts by the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Elohim. 

Moreover, when the high priest would come into the holy of holies, he carried a censor filled with incense and sprinkled lamb’s blood on the ark of the covenant. This is pictures the saints coming into YHVH’s Presence only through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah who atoned for man’s sins, and through humble prayer like a contrite petitioner before a mighty king. 

 

The Role of the Levites and the Tribal Banners

Numbers 1

Numbers 1:50, The Levites. The role of the Levites was to assist the priests in the tabernacle service (Num 3:6–8; 16:9; 1 Chr 23:28–32; Ezra 3:8) including caring for the tabernacle (Num 1:53) and its furniture, its setting up, dismantling and transporting (Num 3–4). In addition, they assisted the priests by preparing the cereal offering (1 Chr 23:29). They acted as singer and musicians in the temple to offer praise to YHVH (1 Chr 23:30). They were allowed to approach the tabernacle furniture only after the priests had covered and prepared them for transport (Num 4:5–15; 18:3) but they could not touch any of the tabernacle’s set-apart instruments lest they die (Num 4:15), nor could they even see them (Num 4:20). 

Not only were the Levites commissioned to attend to the needs of the priests and the things of the tabernacle, but YHVH instructed them “to attend to the needs” or “keep charge” (Heb. mishmereth) of, presumably, the spiritual needs of the whole congregation or children of Israel (Num 3:7–8). Although mishemereth is a noun meaning “charge, function, obligation, service, or watch,” it is often translated into English as a verbs of actionsuch as “to keep, guard, keep charge, or watch” through its root shamar, a verb meaning “to keep, guard, observe, give heed.” Mishmereth principally refers to the Levites’ obligatory duties relating to the service of the temple. 

Later on, the Levites were involved in teaching and interpreting the Torah (Neh 8:7, 9; 2 Chr 17:7–9; 35:3). There is no indication that the Levites were permitted to offer sacrifices, with the notable exception of Samuel, who was a Levite, but not a priest (1 Sam 1:1 cp. 1 Chr 6:28).

YHVH chose the Levites as his set-apart ministers to replace the firstborn of the Israelites that he spared when he smote the firstborn of the Egyptians (Num 3:12–13, 41–45).

Numbers 1:52, Standard [or banner]. Each tribe had its own flag or banner. Although the Torah doesn’t tell us what these flags looked like, Jewish oral tradition records this information. According to Numbers Midrash Rabbah, the flag of each tribe was the color of its stone in the high priests breastplate and is described as follows:

  • Reuben’s stone was ruby and the color of the flag was red with embroidered mandrakes.
  • Simeon was topaz and his flag was green with the town of Shechem embroidered thereon.
  • Levi was smaragd (like an emerald) and the color of his flag was one third each of white, black and red and was embroidered with the urim and thummim.
  • Judah’s was carbuncle and the color of his flag was like the heavens and was embroidered with a lion.
  • Issachar’s was a sapphire and the color of his flag was black and embroidered on it was the sun and moon, which is an allusion to the text in 1 Chronicles 12:33 that the sons of Issachar understood times.
  • Zebulun’s was an emerald and the color of his flag was white with a ship embroidered on it in allusion to the text that Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea (Gen 49:13).
  • Dan’s stone was the jacinth and the color of his flag was similar to sapphire, and embroidered on it was a serpent in allusion to the text that Dan shall be a serpent in the way (Gen 49:17).
  • Gad’s was an agate and the color of his flag was a blend of black and white, and on it was embroidered a camp in allusion to text that says Gad shall be a troop (Gen 49:19).
  • Naphtali was an amethyst and the color of his flag was like clarified wine of not a very deep red, and on it was embroidered a dear in allusion to the text which says that Naphtali will be like a dear let loose (Gen 49:21).
  • Asher was beryl and the color of his flag was like the precious stone with which women adorn themselves, and embroidered with an olive tree in allusion to the text that says that Asher’s bread shall be fat (Gen 49:20).
  • Joseph was an onyx and the color of his flag was jet black and embroidered thereon for both princes, Ephraim and Manasseh, was Egypt because they were born in Egypt.
  • On Ephraim’s flag was embroidered a bullock in allusion to the text that says his firstling would be a bullock (Deut 33:17).
  • On Manasseh’s flag was embroidered a wild ox in allusion to the text which says his horns are that of a wild ox (Deut 33:13), which alludes to Gideon, the Joash, who came from that tribe.
  • Benjamin’s stone was jasper and the color of his flag was combination of all the twelve colors, and embroidered thereon was a wolf in allusion to the text that says that Benjamin is ravenous like a wolf (Gen 49:27).

Now compare this list of precious and semiprecious stones with the list of stones that will comprise the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:19–21). There are a lot of similarities.

 

Leviticus 16—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Leviticus 16:1–34, Passover and the Day of Atonement compared. A cursory reading of the Scriptures seems to indicate that there exists overlapping similarities between some of the blood atonement ceremonies of Passover or Pesach and the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. What are the differences between the sin atonement offerings of Pesach and Yom Kippur

Perhaps realizing the fact that the Passover occurs during the spring feast day season and the Day of Atonement occurs during the fall feast day season may help to answer this question. This is because prophetically the spring feast days picture Messiah Yeshua’s first coming, while the fall feast days prophetically point to his second coming. How does this understanding shed light on the answer to this question? 

Both Pesach and Yom Kippur picture redemption through the shed blood of Yeshua, that is, the saint being delivered from bondage to sin and the rudiments of this world. Passover symbolizes the first steps a new believer takes when coming out of spiritual Egypt and accepting Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, as one’s Savior and Master. Yom Kippur, on the other hand, pictures the blood of the Lamb covering over the saint’ sins after his initial salvation experience and the corporate sins of the nation of Israel. 

If our understanding of the order of end time events is correct, Yom Kippur also prophetically points to the time when Yeshua will return to the earth to initiate the final regathering of the lost and scattered tribes of Israel, and to prepare to marry his bride, redeemed Israel or the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16), that is, the saints. Perhaps this latter understanding will help to answer why another Passover-like feast is needed. Yom Kippur does not focus so much on leaving Egypt, but rather on YHVH’s people preparing to enter the millennial kingdom under the Messiah. Those saints who will be the betrothed bride of Yeshua need to make themselves ready for Yeshua’s return by putting on spiritual robes of righteousness that are spotless and pure. Although the bride of Messiah saints are not sinners by definition, for the Bible calls them “the righteous” (1 Pet 4:18), they still sin (hopefully only occasionally; 1 John 1:8–9; Rom 7:13–25), and still need to have their sins washed away by the blood of Yeshua, even just before they meet Yeshua at his return. Yom Kippur pictures this final redemptive cleansing or preparation time of Yeshua’s bride.

Understanding the Yom Kippur Goat Rituals

Understanding and interpreting the rituals of Leviticus 16 can be perplexing and complicated task. This is because often encrypted in certain scriptural passages the deep and open-minded Bible student will find multiple levels of meaning and prophetic fulfillments. The serious biblical researcher understands this and is not put off by any seeming discrepancies between a surface or literal fulfillment of a scripture vis-à-vis its prophetic fulfillment. An example of this would be the virgin and child prophecy of Isaiah 7. There was both a historical or immediate fulfillment of this prophecy and a future one relating to the coming Messiah. 

Moreover, we must keep something else in mind when dealing with biblical passages that are difficult to understand because they contain figurative language of a prophetic nature that often employ typologies (types and shadows). By definition, a type is a person or thing that represents someone or something else. When dealing with prophetic types in Scripture, the type never perfectly mirrors that to which it is prophetically pointing. The type is merely a shadow of what is to come (Col 2:17; Heb 10:1; 8:5), and therefore it is neither a perfect representation of the reality nor its there a perfect one-to-one correlation between the two. However, there are enough similarities to deduce a correlation between the two, even as a shadow is the shape and outline of the image it represents, but it doesn’t contain all the details of it.

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The Protocols for Coming Into the Presence of the Almighty Creator

Leviticus 16:1–31 Explained

How do humans come into the presence of YHVH Elohim? There is one proper way to do so, and many improper ways. The Torah’s discussion pertaining to the rituals associated with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) reveal to us what the proper protocol is and also alludes to the fact that there is an improper way to approach the Almighty Creator as well—something which brings disastrous results. We see an example of this in the case of Nadab and Abihu.

Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before YHVH, and died… (Lev 16:1)

Elohim killed Nadab and Abihu because they came into the holy of holies in the Tabernacle of Moses (a representation of Elohim’s heavenly throne room) in a careless and indifferent manner. Not only does the Torah indicate that they intoxicated with alcohol, but they failed to follow the proper ceremonial protocols outlined by YHVH Elohim to come into his presence. The next few verses lay out what those protocols are to come before the King of the universe. To not follow those protocols brings the death penalty on the person. Such a person is entering illegally as an unauthorized trespasser.

Before exploring how to enter the presence of Elohim properly, let’s bring this abstract concept down to a level we can understand. For example, who hasn’t seen signs on private property that say something like this: “Private Property, No Trespassing,” “Government Property, No Trespassing,” “Unauthorized Entrance Prohibited,” “Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law,” or “Violators Will Be Shot”? What happens to an uninvited intruder who climbs over the fence around the White House or over the walls of Buckingham Palace? Likely, they will be arrested if not shot on the spot. Similarly, there are penalties for coming into the throne room of the Almighty YHVH Elohim illegally.

…and YHVH said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. (Lev 16:2)

YHVH Elohim does not allow humans to casually saunter into his presence anytime and in any manner they want. Though Elohim is our loving Heavenly Father, he is holy (set-apart) and is the Creator of the Universe who is to be feared and respected (Heb 12:28), and he is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). He has the power of life and death; he gives life and can take it away (Matt 10:28). Humans (especially Christians) would do well to know their place before the Almighty, to treat him with the respect he is due and to follow his instructions in all areas of their relationship with him. Indeed, YHVH wants humans to come before him, but in the proper way.

It is utter foolishness and hubris on the part of humans to ignore the clear commands and instructions of Elohim. Nadab and Abihu found out the hard way; their folly cost them their lives. There are no theologies regardless of the respectability or age of the religious institution or denomination or the erudition of the biblical scholars that invented them that can circumvent the clear instructions of YHVH Elohim. Phrases one often hears mainstream church leaders quote with regard to the laws of the Almighty such as “It has been done away with,” “It has been nailed to the cross,” “We’re under grace now, not under the law,” “That was for the Jews,” “Jesus fulfilled that for me, so I’m not required to do that” and so on will not pass muster with Elohim. He makes the rules, his rules do not change, and humans would do well to remember that. For those who take the commands of Elohim casually more as suggestions, remember Nadab and Abihu! “That was under the old covenant, we’re under the dispensation of grace now,” one might say in objection. My reply? Well, then consider the case of Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts whom Elohim struck down for lying to the apostles and the Set-Apart Spirit (Acts 5:1–11)!

So what is the first rule of protocol for coming into the presence of YHVH Elohim?

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 burnt offering. (Lev 16:3)

Without humans acknowledging that they are sinners, they cannot come into the presence of Elohim. What’s more, they must bring the proper sin offering—a perfect bull or ram. Only by the shedding of blood can man’s sins be atoned for. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Until a person’s sins have been atoned for through the shedding of blood, one is not allowed into the presence of Elohim. Period! There are no religious rituals of man, no mantras, no amount of prayers, begging or pleading, no ascetic exercises, no formulas, no incantations, no drug induced altered states of consciousness, no conjured spells, no abracadabra mumbo jumbo words, no wishful thinking, no amount of good thoughts, no self-made or designer spiritual paths or anything else that can bring us into the presence of the Almighty. There is only one way to the Father in heaven and that is through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who paid the price for each person’s sins (Acts 4:12; Matt 1:21; Mark 16:15–16; John 3:36; 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5–6; 1 John 5:11–12). The sacrificed animals in this chapter are prophetic foreshadows pointing to Yeshua’s death on the cross as a payment for each person’s sin penalty. As no one could come into the Tabernacle of Moses except by following the proper protocols involving sacrifices and the cleansing rituals associated therewith, even so, no one is allowed into the presence of Elohim except through the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah.

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Leviticus Chapters 1 to 7—What Was the Purpose of the Sacrificial System?

The concept of animal sacrifices may be a hard for modern people to comprehend—especially for those who are squeamish when it comes to death and blood. This ancient ritual, rooted in the nomadic lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Middle East, carried more symbolic significance for a people whose daily existence was tied to the earth and who were dependent on domestic animals for their survival. It is out of this cultural background that the biblical narrative springs and with it the ritual symbols with which the ancient people described therein could relate. With these things in mind, the following is a list showing the main reasons for YHVH’s establishment of an animal sacrificial system as a means to help man to understand spiritual lessons far beyond the actual sacrifice itself.

  • The laws pertaining to the sacrificial system were added to the rest of the Torah because of sin, and were in force until the time of Yeshua the promised Seed (Gal 3:19). When and why did YHVH add them making this system incumbent upon the Israelites? This occurred after and because of the sin of the golden calf. It was then that YHVH established the Levitical priesthood and subsequently gave Israel the sacrificial system to not only show them the seriousness and grave consequences of sins, but to guide them forward on the path toward redemption and salvation.
  • The Levitical system foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah’s ultimate sacrifice (Heb 9:11–12).
  • The tabernacle offerings were specifically designed to spiritually draw the offerer near to Elohim through the sacrifice of a prescribed animal (Ps 51:16–17; 50:12–15 cp. 1 Pet 2:21).
  • Elohim commanded offerings to assist the offerer to better understand himself; his attitude, and his personal relationship with Elohim (e.g. Gen 3:21; 4:3–5; 8:20; 22:1–2 cp. 1 Cor 11:28).
  • Altars were erected by the patriarchs in order to honor Elohim through sacrifice after having had direct contact with him (Gen 12:6–8; 13:18; 26:24–25; 35:1; 35:2–4; Exod 17:13–16; cp. Exod 20:12).
  • Proper and regular sacrificial offerings kept the children of Israel in direct contact with the Elohim of the patriarchs (Exod 5:3; 10:25; cp. 1 Tim 2:5).
  • To make the offerer holy (set-apart) so that he would be allowed to approach and commune with the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel (Isa 43:15; 57:15; Lev 19:2 cp. 2 Cor 6:16–18).
  • Under certain circumstances, blood, as used in the Levitical system, could serve as a purification agent for both people and objects (Heb 9:18–23 cp. Luke 2:22–24).
  • The blood of the animal sacrifices served to cover the offerer’s sins, thereby allowing him to draw near to the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel. However, the offerer could only be forgiven for specific sins through full repentance and by returning to Elohim’s way of life as outlined in the Torah (Lev 1:4; 4:35; 23:27–28; Heb 10:3–4; cp. Rom 4:7–8).
  • The purpose of the animals offered by the Levitical priesthood served as a shadow of the blood of Messiah, which does not merely cover our sins, but removes all of the sins of the person who accepts Yeshua’s offering of himself for that sinner (Heb 9:11–12, 24–28; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Eph 5:25–27; Lev 25:47–49; Rom 5:11; John 1:29 cp. Heb 13:10–13).

Words and Definitions

(These words are the Hebrew words behind the English words offering and sacrifice as translated in the KJV):

  • Asham: (Strong’s H817/TWOT 180b) meaning “guilt, offense, sin, guiltiness, trespass, fault, compensation (for offense), trespass or sin offering.” 
  • Chag: (Strong’s H2282/TWOT 602a) meaning “festival, feast, pilgrim-feast, festival-gathering, festival sacrifice.”
  • Chatah: (Strong’s H2403/TWOT 638e) meaning “sin, sinful, sin offering, condition of sin, guilt of sin, punishment for sin, purification from sins of ceremonial uncleanness, sinner.”
  • Ishshah: (Strong’s H801/TWOT 172a) meaning “burnt offering, offering made by fire, fire offering.”
  • Korbawn: (Strong’s H7133/TWOT 2065e) meaning “offering, oblation, sacrifice.” 
  • Minchah: (Strong’s H4503/TWOT 1214a) meaning “to apportion, to bestow, gift, tribute, offering, present, oblation, sacrifice, meat or grain offering (Gen 4:3–5).”
  • Necek: (Strong’s H5262/TWOT 1375a) meaning “drink offering, libation, molten image, something poured out (Gen 35:14).”
  • Nedabah: (Strong’s H5071/TWOT 1299a) meaning “voluntary, free-will offering.”
  • Olah: (Strong’s H5930/TWOT 1624c,d) meaning “whole burnt offering/sacrifice, ascent, stairway, steps, to go up (Gen 8:20; 22:2,3,6,7,8,13).”
  • Qatar: (Strong’s H6999/TWOT 2011,2011e,g) meaning “to sacrifice, burn incense, burn sacrifices, make sacrifices smoke, incense, incense altar.”
  • Shelem: (Strong’s H8002/TWOT 2401b) meaning “peace offering, requital, sacrifice of alliance or friendship, voluntary sacrifice of thanks.”
  • Tenuwphah🙁Strong’s H8573/TWOT 1330b) meaning “swinging, waving, wave offering, shaking.”
  • Terumah,: (Strong’s H8641/TWOT 2131i) meaning “a heave offering, any offering; an offering of grain or money, etc.; contribution, oblation.”
  • Zebach: (Strong’s H2077/TWOT 525a) meaning “sacrifices of righteousness, sacrifices of strife, sacrifices of dead things, the covenant sacrifice, the Passover, annual sacrifice, thank offering.”
  • Zabach: (Strong’s H2076/TWOT 525) meaning “to slaughter, kill sacrifice, slaughter for sacrifice”(Gen. 31:54; 46:1).

YHVH instituted the basic sacrificial system after the fall of man, and it served to point the way to the coming of Yeshua the Messiah, the eventual Redeemer and Savior of mankind. Later on, YHVH established a more elaborate sacrificial system and appointed the Levites to administer it. This occurred after the golden calf incident in Exodus 32 and in conjunction with the establishment of the Tabernacle of Moses. Paul makes reference to this “added law” in Galatians 3:19.

Depending on how one understands the scripture passages recording the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezek 40–48), there may or may not be a reinstitution of part of or the whole sacrificial system during the millennium. Some believe that Ezekiel’s Temple is only an allegorical picture of Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross and speaks to YHVH’s plan of salvation and therefore will never be built. Others feel that it is yet to be built.

After the fall of man, YHVH made Adam and Eve coats or garments of skins or leather (Gen 3:21). Though the Scriptures don’t tell us, we can guess these were made of leather from a kosher animal such as a cow, sheep or goat. In other words, YHVH probably sacrificed a kosher animal like a lamb to cover their physical and spiritual nakedness. This would have marked the beginning of the sacrificial system and thus pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross through his shed blood — the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The next occurrence of a sacrifice was that of righteous Abel in Genesis chapter four. After that, animal sacrifices become a common occurrence with the male head of each family acting as the officiant or priest for his family. It was not until the golden calf incident (Exod 32) that the responsibility of the male head of the family to perform sacrifices passed to the Levites, thus, initiating the Levitical priesthood with its sacrificial system.

Sacrifices are no longer necessary, since Yeshua our Messiah offered his body as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, once and for all, forever (Heb 10:10–21).