The Yom Kippur of God, Part 2

This is the second post that is about the Day of Atonement throughout the Scriptures. I was originally going to go for a two post series (Leviticus 16 rules -> The Trial and Crucifixion of the Christ) but I think there are two big steps that lead up to the full anti-typical Day of Atonement Sacrifice at Calvary. This thought is derived from Isaiah 6 and the ideas expressed are coming from Peter Leithart’s recent Credenda/Agenda post here.

I can’t really add to that article as far as content is concerned, but I can focus the Day of Atonement theme throughout and relate it to the Leviticus 16 outline of the duties of the High Priest.

What I am focusing on here is the difference between the “normal” Day of Atonement, and the Isaiah 6 Day of Atonement. In Leviticus 16, the coal of fire is taken from the censer and placed in the Holy of Holies and is used to create a smoke of incense to protect Aaron from seeing God and dying. Isaiah cries out that he will be undone because of the vision of God in His Holy Place that he receives. He is going to die because of his iniquity and the iniquity of the people he dwells among. This is a good mirror of Aaron’s position as needing an offering for himself and for the people to sanctify the Holy Place and tent of meeting because it is dwelling among the uncleannesses of the people.

Isaiah stands in front of God, in the midst of the Temple which has become truly unclean because of the people of Israel. Isaiah identifies himself as a representative of Israel, as a representative of the unclean Temple. He is in need of atonement, as the seraphim who brought the fiery coal recognized. The fiery coal is brought from the altar (which is brought from outside of the Holy of Holies in Leviticus) and brought to Isaiah’s lips for atonement (in the Holy of Holies). In this language, Isaiah is the incense brought to the Holy of Holies which is lit on fire, making him a fragrance of life to life or death to death (cf. 2 Cor 2:16). He also becomes the smoke which allows Isaiah himself to stand in the presence of God and not die. Isaiah becomes a mediator between God in His glory and the people of Israel, bringing a Spirit of judgment with him. Isaiah’s call to ministry is essentially a Day of Atonement for himself, as a representative of the Temple and Israel. He is then set apart, or sanctified to bring the fire (just as the fire that consumed Aaron’s sons for their false worship!) of God to Israel and burn them until all that is left is the Holy Seed (cf. Isaiah 6:13). This is an important evolution in Day of Atonement language used that will lead to the New Covenant in Christ and make that transition more smooth in Israel’s growth toward maturity. Truly, God is revealing Himself progressively in redemptive history here, and preparing to finish what Isaiah is merely a shadow of in Christ. The article speaks to much more going on in the Isaiah 6 passage than I focused on here, so I greatly recommend it!

The next installment will be on the Zechariah 3 reference to the Day of Atonement.

To be continued then!

  1. February 8th, 2011

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