“There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for the assembly of Israel.”
The Holy of Holies was the innermost chamber in the temple, a room so sacred only one person could enter it, and then only one day out of the entire year. This room was a perfect cube, 15 feet in each direction. Only one object was housed there: the ark of the covenant. There was no light inside the chamber other than the glow from God’s glory. A thick, embroidered veil separated the holy place from the Holy of Holies inside the temple proper.
Regular priests were allowed in the outer holy place, but the Holy of Holies could be entered only by the high priest on the annual Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. On that day, the high priest would bathe, then put on the clean linen garments of the priest. His robe had solid gold bells hanging from the hem. The noise of the bells told the people he was making atonement for their sins. A rope was tied around the high priest so if he died in the inner sanctuary, because of unconfessed sin in his life, the priests could pull him out. If the priests went in after him, they would all die because only one man, the high priest, could enter.
The high priest entered the inner sanctuary with a censer of burning incense, which would produce thick smoke, hiding the mercy seat on the ark where God was. Anyone who saw God would die instantly. The high priest brought the blood of a sacrificed bull and two goats into the inner sanctuary. He sprinkled the blood of a sacrificed bull on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant as a sin offering for himself and his family. Next, he sacrificed one of the goats and poured its blood on the mercy seat of the ark as a sin offering for the Israelites. The other goat was used as a scapegoat. The high priest placed his hands on its head, confessed over it the rebellion and wickedness of the Israelites, and sent the goat out with an appointed man who released it into the wilderness. The goat carried on itself all the sins of the people, which were forgiven for another year. (Leviticus 16:1-34)
When the high priest emerged from the Holy of Holies, the priests, and the Jews knew their sins had been forgiven for another year. They were reconciled back to God because the sins they committed were remembered no more. However, it was necessary for the high priest to atone for man’s sins yearly because the blood of bulls and goats administered by an imperfect man could only atone for sins if the ritual was performed year after year.
When Jesus, who was the perfect High Priest, the Sacrificial Lamb, and the Scapegoat, shed His blood on Calvary, his death was sufficient for the forgiveness of all the sins of everyone who would believe in Him. When His sacrifice was made, He declared, “It is finished”. (John 19:30) He then sat down at the right hand of the Father and no further sacrifice for sin was ever needed. (Hebrews 10:1-2)
Have you been forgiven of your sins? Absolutely, if you placed your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior! If Jesus has not forgiven you of your sin, would you commit your life to Him right now and receive His salvation through the forgiveness of your sin? If you receive His forgiveness, it means He has forgiven you of the penalty of sin. You will never experience eternal death in hell. Jesus will never remember or recall your old sinful life for as long as He lives! Not only has Jesus forgiven you of the penalty of sin, He has provided forgiveness from the power of sin on earth and the presence of sin when you enter heaven’s eternal rest. This is the gospel: Jesus forgives sin!
A profound truth in scripture is: Jesus forgave us of our sins so we can forgive others who sin against us. One of the ways you know you have received eternal life and are walking in fellowship with Christ is by your willingness to forgive others. Jesus said, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 5:14-15) Is there someone who has sinned against you, a loved one, or a friend whom you have not nor will not forgive? Do you realize your unwillingness to forgive is hurting you more than them? It is robbing you of God’s forgiveness, God’s faithfulness, and God’s friendship. God will not answer your prayers if you harbor an unforgiving spirit. (Psalm 66:18) Forgiveness does not mean you condone the sin. On the cross, Jesus showed how much He hated sin while at the same time, He showed how much He loved the sinner. Will you confess your unforgiving spirit and set the captive free? (Oh, by the way: You are the one held captive!) Do not miss the opportunity to worship and serve the living God freely because you are unwilling to forgive others as you have been forgiven by God.