A Job Done to Perfection

“When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel” (Lev 16:17).

No little ink has been spilled by the rabbinic interpreters on this verse. According to this verse, “no man” was permitted to go into the tent of meeting to help the high priest make atonement for the people. Some rabbis limited this restriction to the tent of meeting since the high priest received help to perform this ritual in the temple. Others argue that even the four creatures of Ezekiel 1:10 departed from the Holy of Holies in compliance with this verse. Still others maintain that the high priest must have been far more significant than a man (see Mal 2:7) since “no man” was permitted in the tent of meeting when the high priest did his holy work.

A Very Important Work

One thing is for sure. When it comes to the atonement of our sins, as individuals and as a nation, the Torah is quite clear: we must put all the weight of our trust upon the high priest to get the job done. No doubt, we must “humble our souls” (i.e., repent; Lev 16:29, 31) to benefit from the high priest’s work, but there is literally nothing we can do to make atonement for ourselves. We can only humbly receive the atonement the high priest makes for us.

And this, dear friends, is why Yeshua is the way, the truth, and the life.

Religious activities, good deeds, and even begging God to forgive us cannot make atonement even for the tiniest of sins.

God has given the job of making atonement to a high priest so great that King David calls him “lord” (Ps 110:1), to a high priest so divine that his priesthood remains forever (Ps 110:4), to a high priest so perfect that he only needed to make atonement once and for all rather than year after year.

Let us, dear friends, be still and rest entirely in the finished work of our great high priest, knowing that Yeshua doesn’t need or even want our help to forgive us. All God desires from us is our total and undivided trust that the work that secured our eternal atonement is, through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, our Messiah, completely finished.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3).

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