The Privelage of Prayer (Part 3)

The author of this post, Rev Martin Pakula, is the Pastor of Hills Bible Church. This is Part 3 of his four-part series on “The Privilege of  Prayer”.

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In “The Privilege of Prayer (Part 2)”, I said that the Day of Atonement is a spring cleaning ceremony, where once a year the Temple is cleaned out from the sins and uncleannesses of the Israelites, so that a holy God could remain dwelling with his unholy people.  Like kids traipsing mud into the house, the Israelites traipsed spiritual mud – their unholiness – into God’s house all year-long.  Once a year God’s house was cleaned out.

Dirt is cleaned with water, but what do you clean sin with?  In the Bible, sin is cleaned with blood ().  Blood atones for sin.  It shows in picture-language that the penalty for sin is death.  And so the Temple is cleaned out with blood!  In Aaron bring his sin offering and takes its blood into the Most Holy Place (vs. 14).  He cleans out the Most Holy Place with the blood.  Once he has done that for himself, he does the same for the people (vs. 15).  Having cleaned out the Most Holy Place for himself and the people with blood, he then cleans the rest of the Tabernacle with blood ().  He then cleans the altar with blood (vs. 18).  Note : “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar…”  Notice for whom atonement is made.  Or rather, for what atonement is made.  Atonement here is not made for people, but for inanimate objects.  Here atonement is not about the forgiveness of sins (as with the daily burnt offering).  Atonement here is about cleansing the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is cleaned out with blood from the sins and uncleannesses of the Israelites ().  This is done so that a holy God may remain dwelling with his unholy people.  The Temple has now been cleansed.

To drive the picture home, in we have another graphic picture.  Aaron then confesses the Israelites sins over the head of a live goat, and sends it far away from the Temple.  The picture here is clear: the Temple has been cleansed of sin, and their sins are now sent far away from the presence of God.  Thus a holy God can remain dwelling with his unholy people.

The Day of Atonement is important.  It teaches us that God is holy and that we are unholy.  We cannot just ‘rock up’ before God in our sin.  If we do, we will bear our guilt and die.  And so the Day of Atonement teaches us that our sin must be dealt with for a holy God to remain dwelling with his unholy people.

These things are real.  God really is holy.  We really are unholy.  Our unholiness really must be dealt with for a holy God to remain dwelling with his unholy people.  But the Day of Atonement ceremonies were given to the Israelites as picture language.  They are like the blueprint for a building: a real blueprint showing a real building, but not the building itself.  They were the shadow pointing ahead to the reality ().  The Day of Atonement ceremonies don’t deal with sin once for all.  If they did, the ceremonies wouldn’t have to be repeated year after year ().  And it’s not as if the blood of animals can actually atone for the sins of humans ().  The picture language of the Day of Atonement ceremonies is showing us reality, but in a way that points ahead of itself.

Rev Martin Pakula, Pastor of Hills Bible Church, continues a four-part post on the “Privilege of Prayer”.

In his final post is this series, he writes, “Prayer is an immense privilege. I’m sure that most folk who aren’t Christian assume that they can approach God when they are in trouble and, hopefully, he will hear and answer their prayers. But would He?”

Read Martin’s upcoming post and see how he answers this question.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.”

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16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.”

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16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,

Hebrews 10:1-2

10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?

But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.