Some chapters in the Bible are uncomfortable to teach because of their difficulty of interpretation. Others are tough because of their doctrinal difficulties. But this chapter before us is demanding not for interpretation, not for doctrine, but because the subject matter encroaches upon areas that we don't usually talk about with anyone, much less in church. We're goinjg to go through this chapter as quickly and tastefully as we can, while still understanding what the Lord is dictating here.
These laws apply to any discharge that comes from a man's body. It could be from a venerial disease, a skin infection, or anything that results in liquid oozing or seeping from his body.
These verses dictate that anything or anyone the man comes in contact with becomes unclean.
This section describes how the man must wait a week, then wash and offer both a sin offering and a burnt offering.
Now God specifically begins to address the discharge of semen from the man. Although things became unclean in this circumstance, no sin offering was required.
At this point, God now addresses the matter of discharge with regards to a woman, specifically mentioning her monthly menstrual cycle. The same concept applied as with the man's discharge - everything and everyone she touched would be unclean. After a week, she would be clean, and offer her burnt offering and sin offering.
The Lord gave them the rules in this chapter to keep them from entering into the tabernacle in uncleanness, and dying in His presence.
Remember that back in chapter 10, we saw that Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to the Lord and were consumed. God is now going to tell Moses how Aaron can avoid that same fate.
Although the priests duties in the tent of the tabernacle included entering the Holy Place to perform his duties (offering incense on the altar, replacing the show bread, and keeping the lampstand continually burning), he was forbidden to go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies - except on the Day of Atonement, what we know of as Yom Kippur.
In these verse, God is explaining exactly how Aaron should enter behind the veil once a year on the Day of Atonement. He had to wash in water, then dress in the clothing that God had prescribed for the ordinary priests.
Then came a sin offering and a burnt offering for his own sin and sinfulness.
Next, there were sin offerings and burnt offering for the congregation, but something interesting here: only one goat will be offered for the sin offering. The other will become known as "the scapegoat."
The goats would both be presented to the Lord at the doorway, and then Aaron would cast lots for them. One would be sacrificed as the congregation's sin offering, the other would be presented alive. This one would be sent into the wilderness. We'll talk about this more in a few verses.
These verses tell us that after the sacrifices, Aaron would then be allowed behind the veil. He would take coals from the altar of incense, along with two handfuls of incense, and then go behind the veil. He burned the incense on the coals so that the smoke covered the mercy seat. Then he sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices on and in front of the mercy seat.
The reason this would be done was because even after all of the sacrifices to cover their sin and sinfulness, people's impurities and transgressions would still "get through" to defile the tabernacle, which was set up in the middle of the people.
Only the High Priest could enter the Holy Place during this Day of Atonement.
The scapegoat was another Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. The iniquity and transgressions of all of Israel was placed on this goat. It is written of Jesus,
Isa. 53:6 ...The LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Isa. 53:12 ...And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
Then the goat was sent away into the wilderness, to a solitary land. It symbolically carried the sins of the people away from them. In other words, it was lost, never to be seen again. The same is true for what Jesus Christ did for our sin:
Ps. 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Jer. 31:34 ..."I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Jesus is our scapegoat that carried away our sins, never to be brought back.
After the scapegoat was released, Aaron washed, and put back on the garments of the high priest. The one who led out the scapegoat washed, as did those who burned the remains of the offerings outside the camp.
This was the first day of atonement, which would thereafter be observed annually, on the 10th day of the 7th month. The Jews still observe the day, Yom Kippur. This year it will occur in a month and a half, on Sept. 30th.
Although the command of God was that the Jews humble their souls and have their sins cleansed by sacrifice, it has turned into a day that Jews consider their good works and bad works, believing they have atonement if their good works outweigh their bad ones. Believing that your good works could ever outweigh any bad works is far from humbling your soul. The Bible tells us specifically,
Isa. 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Your best righteousness will never outweigh your smallest wickedness.
In these verses, God communicates that all sacrifices must be made at the tabernacle. They are no longer to sacrifice in the open field or to any other god.
Here God says that His people and the strangers that sojourn among them are not to eat blood, for it represents the life of the flesh.
God tells them that eating an animal which is killed by beasts or dies naturally will make a person unclean.
The Lord tells the people to forsake the old, sinful, idolatrous ways that they saw and practiced in Egypt. They are to adopt His laws and His ways.
In these verses, God forbids both idolatry and any sexual contact which would constititute:
Incest - with a relative
Adultery - with someone else's wife
Homosexuality - with another of the same gender
Bestiality - with an animal
These were all acceptible among the pagan cultures, but God tells them they are absolutely forbidden to practice them.
Sin has effects that we cannot see or comprehend. The sinful practice of the nations actually defiled the land in God's eyes. If the Israelites continued in the abominable practices of the nations, the land would spew them out as well.
Dear saints, sin is devastating. Every week, I come in contact with folks that have allowed sin to ruin them. Marriages are destroyed, children are wounded, hearts are hardened. Sin comes in so many forms - alcoholism, addiction, adultery, pornography, gossip, hate, complaining, and coveting.
Learn to hate sin, learn to walk in holiness. Don't let the devil, this world, and your flesh have victory over you.