(Bring a backpack to class loaded with books so that it is somewhat heavy. Ask for a volunteer to wear it during class but say nothing about it until the closing. The longer we carry our heavy weight of sin the more difficult it becomes. If the person should take it off during the class then make the point at that time.)
We have been studying about sin and the sacrificial system God instituted to help the people come to terms with their sinfulness and the cost to restore our fellowship with Him after we’ve sinned.
1. Do you think people today have a more lax view of sin than people one hundred years ago?
2. Why do many people have a difficult time coming to terms with their sinfulness?
3. When someone does realize they have sinned against God and yearn for the fellowship to be restored how is that person’s feelings described? (Guilt becomes overwhelming. Guilt is defined as “feeling responsible or regret for a perceived offense, real or imaginary.”)
Sometimes we may feel guilt for something that happened for which we had nothing to do with and were not responsible. But when we feel guilt brought on by God’s conviction in our heart that we have sinned against Him, that guilt is real!
4. What can we use or do to clean a sin-stained heart and lift the burden of guilt?
God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to “The” Sacrifice that would come in Jesus Christ. But in the mean time to cover their sin until it could we washed away by Jesus’ blood, God gave them the sacrificial system to teach them the heavy cost of sin and to point toward the perfect Sacrifice, the Messiah.
The function of the priests involved distinguishing “between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean” In chapters 11-15 of Leviticus God gave specific instructions regarding what is clean and what is unclean. The Lord set apart some animals as clean or acceptable to eat and designated others animals as unacceptable to eat. He then gave instructions to Moses and Aaron concerning uncleanness by contamination and the rites of purification. In chapter 16, God instituted the Day of Atonement. It was the 10th day of the 7th month on the Jewish calendar (Sept-Oct).
Preparing to Sacrifice! Read Leviticus 16:3-6
1. How was Aaron to prepare himself according to God’s instructions? (Wash and put on linen garments, take a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering for himself and the priesthood, then take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering for the people.)
2. Why so much preparation to enter the presence of God and make atonement for the people’s sin?
3. What mind-set do you think Aaron had when Moses told him what he would need to do in order to be prepared to carry out the atonement sacrifices for the people? (In preparing to be high priest, Aaron undoubtedly felt the burden of his own sin, as well as the sins of the people.)
Like children who come in from playing outside and are unaware of how much dirt they have accumulated, we too have difficulty realizing our own sin stains. God’s Spirit lovingly, though not always gentle, makes us aware.
4. How does realizing the need for purity before God cause you to think about Jesus’ extravagant provision for you?
5. How do we rightly prepare ourselves to enter into God’s presence? (We discussed last week the issue about coming into our worship services flippantly. May we make a conscience effort to come to worship focused on God.)
6. When we come to our worship service are we more interested in seeing friends or that we are about to have an encounter with the Living God?
7. Is it more difficult to prepare the internal or the external when it comes to preparing to be in God’s presence?
8. Is there a level of reverence our dress should project at church?
Just as Aaron prepared himself to enter God’s presence, God’s desire is that our hearts be ready and right with Him when we come to worship. Now let’s look at the sacrifice Aaron brought.
The Chosen Goat! Read Leviticus 16:7-10
The word “azazel” is the Hebrew word translated uninhabitable place.
1. How does the picture of the two goats give us a visual reminder of God’s justice, grace and forgiveness? (One goat was slaughtered, the other had the sin of the people placed upon it and was let go in the wilderness to demonstrate God’s gracious removal of Israel’s guilt and sin.)
2. In what way was the Day of Atonement a temporary fix to the guilt and sin of the people of Israel?
3. In what way is Jesus’ death on the cross a permanent solution to our sin problem?
4. How does Jesus’ death give a believer confidence and humility at the same time?
5. How does one strike a proper balance between confidence and humility?
We can live confident that Jesus’ death on the cross means we no longer need to carry the guilt of sin. Now let’s read God’s words as He established the Day of Atonement for His people.
The Day of Atonement! Read Leviticus 16:29-30
1. As we have talked about “atonement” these past few weeks what have you come to understand about atonement? Have you learned anything you were not aware of before? (God’s justice demands payment and the sacrifice for atonement was that payment time after time until Jesus came to be our final Sacrificial Lamb!)
2. How did God require the Israelites to observe the Day of Atonement? (They were to practice Sabbath, withdrawing and resting from the daily occupations of mind and body. They were to practice reflection and self-denial, traditionally understood to mean refraining from doing anything to improve or please one’s self.
3. What are the benefits of practicing regular reflection on God’s work in your life? (The Day of Atonement demonstrated God’s interest in the heart of people. Most important were the realizations and determinations brought about in the hearts of the people during this time.)
When our worship becomes rote, we can reset our gratitude and reverence for God when we spend time reflecting on the atonement Jesus accomplished for us. We have an opportunity every week to come together and celebrate with thankful hearts what God has done for us through the atoning sacrifice of His Son!
Summarize and Challenge!
(Turn to the person wearing the backpack and ask if they are ready to get rid of their burden.)
Ask them these questions:
1. Did the backpack become more difficult over time?
2. Did you look forward to the time it would come off?
This backpack represented the guilt of sin. The longer we carry it, the more uncomfortable it becomes.
3. How can we get rid of our sin guilt? (Only through Jesus.)
4. What could you say or do to help someone who is carrying the guilt of sin as a heavy burden?
Jesus paid for our sin one time for all with His blood. He is purifying His own as we walk with Him daily. He will do away with the presence of sin altogether in our future. What is present reality in heaven will be present on earth as well.
5. In what ways are we too casual or too confident when it comes to approaching God?
6. How might you prepare to humble yourself before God?
We will celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday! How about pausing to reflect on what God has done for you and your family!
Close in a prayer of thankfulness to God for providing everlasting atonement through His Son, Jesus!