Day of Atonement - RR181AE56

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Day of Atonement
Course: Course - Numbers; Faith, Law, and History
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 56
Length: 0:39:16
TapeCode: RR181AE56
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Numbers Faith, Law, and History.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all to stand. Let us pray.

Grant, O lord, that, by thy sovereign grace, we may stand in the day of difficulty and trial, in the day of battle and the time of adversity. Thou knowest, O Lord, that the ungodly nations take council together and conspire against thee, and against thy son. But we thank thee, O Lord, that thy response is laughter and that, in due time, thou shalt smite them with a rod of iron. Teach us to stand, patiently and firmly, with thee, that in Christ Jesus, we may be more than conquerors. In His name we pray. Amen.

Our scripture this morning is Numbers 29:7-11. The Day of Atonement is our subject. “And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein: but ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the Lord for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: and their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram, a several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: one kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings.” [00:03:05]

These verses requrie preparation and sacrifice for

These verses requrie preparation and sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. The day was to be one spent in afflicting one’s soul. Now, the word afflict can be translated as “humble.” The stress was on repentance. This was the only fast day required in the law, although special occasions could call for a day of fasting and prayer.

Fasting, in the Old Testament, could be total abstanance from food, or partial abstenance as with Daniel in Daniel 10:2. The Pharisees fasted twice in a week to claim a special holiness, and our Lord ridiculed them for it. The Pharisees turned fasting into a meritorious work, whereas it is commanded only the Day of Atonement to focus the peoples’ mind on repentance, but even then, the Day of Atonement concluded with feasting, and it was in the evening a time of celebration.

The full ritual of the Day of Atonement is given in Leviticus 16. The goat referred to in verse 11 is the goat for {?}, the other was sacrificed. The Day of Atonement, Yom Kipur, was observed on the seventh day of the seventh month. Nothing that man did or can do affected atonement. Atonement was and is God’s sovereign act of grace. What man was required to do was to reorder and reform his life by repentance and self-discipline into greater conformity to God, by means of self-examination. He was to bring himself into faithfulness to God’s law.

Irving L. Jenson called attention to five aspects of the offerings of Numbers 28 and 29. First, the offerings were not man-instituted, man-ordained, or man-desired. They were God’s ordination. We are therefore to feel no merit whatsoever is bringing to God what He orders us to give Him. The merit lies in His mercy and in His predestinating choice of us.

Then second, basic to all the offerings were the daily offerings. Fellowship with God was not to be an occasional or spasmodic thing, but a continuous reality. God does not function on the sabbath only. [00:06:42]

Then third, the basic and fundamental sacrifice was

Then third, the basic and fundamental sacrifice was the burnt offering which represented the yielding of the person to God. It signifies that we are not our own, but the Lord’s.

The fourth, all the feasts culminating in the Feast of Tabernacles emphasized joy and thanksgiving.

Fifth, these prescribed feasts were to be supplemented by the vows and the freewill offerings of individuals to be offered to God at any time as verse 29 in this chapter makes clear.

There is, in all the laws of sacrifice, an obvious stress on the costliness of worship, of believing in God. Cheap religion is a modern invention. In fact, some groups now have offered various formulae for getting rich or prospering by obeying certain church or cult rules. Some present this cheap religion as though it represents a triumph of the Reformation, which is very, very obviously and clearly a perversion. In fact, the emphasis too often now in orthodix, Roman Catholic, and Protestant circles is cheap religion. God is too often presented as a cosmic Santa Claus who only needs to have His arm twisted from time to time by prayer. As against this, God requires both sacrifices on our part and sorrow for sin, afflicting our souls.

Andrew Bonar wrote, with respect to this self-humbling on the Day of Atonement, “Sorrow for sin seems to be like the rough sand that a man uses to rub off rust from iron. Sorrow searches and rubs sores on the soul, but at the same time, effectually removes what cleaved to the soul before. The vessel is thus rinsed of the flavor of former wines and left quite clean for the new wine of the kingdom. Sorrow does not take away the sin, but it frees the empty vessel, the pardoned soul, from the former relish it had for earth. It is thus that the Lord’s children pass through fire and water to the wealthy place. For this reason it is that their souls are tried with spiritual griefs and outward tribulation.” Incidentally, Bonar was a Scottish commentator, and like the other Scottish commentator, relished such things. This is one reason why the Scottish Calvinism of bygone years was so powerful and effectual. They relished the humbling hand of God, and humbling themselves before God. It gave them strength. [00:10:33]

The Day of Atonement came and comes still six months

The Day of Atonement came and comes still six months after the Passover. The two festivals are combined into one for Christians. The Day of Atonement and the Day of Resurrection are our days of Good Friday and Easter, or Resurrection Day. On the Day of Atonement, the sins of the whole year were to be remembered and confessed before God. The Day of Atonement was an important, if not the central day of the Hebrew religious calendar, together with the passover. The emphasis here is not simply public. It is also highly personal. “Ye shall afflict your souls.”

Instead of concentrating on the high priest and the details of the ritual of atonement, here in Numbers, the sacrifices are tied to the duty of self-examination, repentance, and confession. Atonement is an objective fact. It is the work of God’s sovereign grace and mercy, and it does not depend on anything we do. However, those in whome God’s grace is manifest, do reveal that fact by their reaction and by their submission to a sovereign dealings with us. The goat referred to in verse 11 is the one over whom the high priest confessed the sins of all the people. According to Leviticus 16:21, “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, and all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness.” God separated the people’s sin and guilt by laying it all upon an unblemished guilt-bearer. [00:12:56]

Geerhardus Vos wrote of this sacrifice, ...

Geerhardus Vos wrote of this sacrifice, “It means that the animal cannot have been considered the mere double of the offerer. It must have been a second person, different from the offerer. In answering what was transferred to the animal’s substitute, we cannot, of course, be guided by the above analogies. There is independent evidence to show that the transferred thing was nothing else but the sin; the liability, the death punishment on the part of the offerer. In the ritual of the Day of Atonement, which we may consider the culminating occasion of the whole ritual system, Aaron is told to lay his hands on the head of the second goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people. This second goat was not a sacrifice to be slain after the ordinary manner. It was sent away into the wilderness for the purpose of symbolically removing the sin, yet it formed with the other goat, in reality, one sacrificial object, the distribution of suffering death and of dismissal into a remote place, simply serving the purpose of clearer expression in visible form, of the removal of sin after expiation had been made, something which the ordinary sacrificial animal could not well express since it died in the process of expiation. We are certainly warranted when here, the hands convey sin, and where the same ceremony occurs in ordinary sacrifice, in drawing the conclusion that on every such occasion, sins are transferred.” And of course, we are told by the prophets that God not only removed our sins, but tells us, “He shall remember them no more,” and when we know ourselves to be fully forgiven in Christ, and that God is blotted them out, then we, too, are guided into forgetting those things and moving forward in terms of God’s service.

The offerings of the Day of Atonement were of three kinds. First, there were the usual daily offerings. Second, there were special offerings for each holy day, and third, there was the sin offering of atonement. Driver & White{?} said, of the Day of Atonement, that it represents the culminating institution of the Levitical system. Because the necessary foundation of man’s entire foundation to God is atonement and the remission of sins, the rest of man’s life depends entirely on this fact of atonement. With atonement, man is under grace and is commissioned to do service to God. Without atonement, he is an enemy of God and at war with his own god-created being. [00:16:53]

In Law and Revolution, Harold J...

In Law and Revolution, Harold J. Berman called attention to the centrality of atonement to our whole justice system. Here and there, a few scholars are beginning to wake up to the meaning of atonement, and why it is relevant to all of society. The word atonement puts together three syllables: “at-one-ment,” and it conveys very accurately the meaning of the biblical doctrine of reconciliation with God. More than one religion believes in reconciliation, but the differing concepts are, in essence, humanistic. More than a few religions see reconciliation as self-purification. In some religions, charity is seen as a necessary aspect of this self-purification, and men will don a monk’s robes and become beggars for a charity for a time; in Buddhism, one month. The editors of the Encyclopedia Judaica see death as the final atonement for sin, their own words, and they state, “May my death be an expiation for all my sins, is a formula recited when the end is near.” The sad fallacy here is that death comes to all men. What merit do you gain before God by dying? Can anyone by reciting this sentence of death, make atonement for their sins? No where else than at this point is the radical departure of Judaism from biblical faith more evident. There is no grasp in their current writings of what atonement means, and when you realize in going through the law and the prophets, how atonement is at the heart of the Old Testament, what you have to say is they have taken what appeals to them in the Old Testament and made another religion out of it.

At the same time, we are seeing with in the churches, a drift in two directions. First, with many, there is an outright denial of any need for Christ’s blood atonement. This is the mark of the modernist churches. Second, in many evangelical churches, there is an affirmation without knowledge. People speak of being saved by the blood of Jesus without any concern for the meaning of the doctrine of the atonement. They have no concern for what reconciliation means, or the relationship of grace to law, or the implications of atonement for social order. We can add that there is a third substitute within the churches today, Catholic and Protestant, for the doctrine of atonement, a mystical attitude towards communion, so that what commemorates and celebrates the atonement becomes a substitute for it. So, the churches are, in what one scholar said, again in a period of deformation and what is needed, once again, as has occurred several times over the centuries, is Reformation. Let us pray. [00:22:03]

Our Father, we thank thee that by thy grace, we are

Our Father, we thank thee that by thy grace, we are through Christ’s atonement, a new creation, that our sins are blotted out and thou hast declared legally and finally, that thou wilt remember them no more. We thank thee that, by thine atonement, thou hast made us soldiers of thy kingdom, commissioned us to go forth and to bring all things into submission, into captivity to Christ, to disciple all the nations so that the ends of the earth may believe on our savior and obey thee. In Christ’s name. Amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] I’m {?} detail and specificity of the recipe for these offerings. Question number one would be who originated them? Did the priests come up with these recipes for specific offerings?

[Rushdoony] No, God gave them through Moses.

[Audience] Okay, so they were . . .

[Rushdoony] Yes, God-ordained, and the penalty for departing from them was death, because man could not offer anything. He was comparable to an actor in a play. Only the God-appointed actor reciting the precise words and going through the precise motions could be acceptable before God. Anything else was punishable. When I was a student, I recall a professor of drama, who was very close to the New York theater and knew one of the directors of the thirties on Broadway, who said that he had a problem with one actor who, because of his success, had a big head, a very inflated idea of his own performance, so he felt that he could improvise, and he would try, not only to improvise, but to direct attention to himself in a variety of activities on stage. So, they too to issuing not only ultimatums to him, but drawing “X” marks on the stage as to where he was to go and stand, because he had no right to play games with what was not his own property. Now, that’s a mild illustration of what God had in mind. The priests could not vary anything. It was God-ordained. Yes? [00:26:06]

[Audience] Several things

[Audience] Several things. One, when the Judaism abandon the scapegoat?

[Rushdoony] We don’t know for sure, but a great many things were going by the board by the time of our Lord, or were merely formal rituals which no longer had their meaning, because Phariseeism had come to place a value on what man did, such as fasting twice in a week, and bragging about it, and our Lord mocks the Pharisees because they stood, he said, at the corners of streets where they would be a lot of traffic, to make a public demonstration of prayer, as though they were super holy. They were doing the kind of thing that subsequently, out of Phariseeism, went into Islam, because in Islam, the required daily prayers which are recited, have to be repeated at a specific time no matter where you are, so that you make a public demonstration that you are a good Muslim, and in many other ways, of course, the Muslim, like the Pharisee demonstrated publicly, his faith in externals, not in what is internal because, as Mohammed said in direct contradiction to Paul, who said, He is a true Jew or a true member of the covenant who is one inwardly, and what Phariseeism, and what Mohammed said it, “He is a true Muslim who is one outwardly.” Now, this process meant that the minute the temple was destroyed, the whole of the sacrificial system, the whole of everything connected with it was dropped by Phariseeism, by Judaism, which is today a continuation of Phariseeism because they felt that it was not essential. It had become a religion of two things: one, everyone who was a true son of Abraham, born of Abrahamic seed, by works of superarrogation, was saved by the merit of Abraham, which saved all his descendants to the end of time. Now, a great many of the priests moved into the church, and they helped create such doctrines within Christendom. Then, you gained merit in status by the extra, such as praying in the street corners, going only so many yards, walking that is, on the sabbath, and fasting twice in a week, and so on and on and on, a vast multitude of external observances.

[Audience] The other point is that, is there any equivalent to the Day of Atonement in the Christian religion and, assuming that confession is similar, what is the Protestant equivalent? [00:30:20]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. First of all, Good Friday and Easter are the Day of Atonement in the Christian calendar. The doctrine of atonement has had varying forms in the early church to the present, and I am in process of writing and, hopefully before too many months, completing a book on the whole theology of atonement. At first, public confession before the whole congregation was very common if what the man did affected everyone. If it affected one person in particular, someone in the community or his wife or her husband, confession had to be made to them. Otherwise, it was private. Then, it became, towards the latter part of the Medieval Era, and especially thereafter, private, and inviolable. Then, with Protestantism, it began to vary because in the days of its corruption, confession had been greatly abused, but in some churches, it did continue. However, in most, a general confession, as in the Book of Common Prayer, replaced it. In many, it is a personal and private confession directly to God, before communion and daily in prayer, or as the occasion requires, so there have been varieties of observances of confession. The problem today is that in all its forms, confession is disappearing from all the churches, because any theology on which it is grounded is eroding. The doctrine of man as fallen, doctrine of original sin has gone by the boards because of humanism, it is only conventionally confirmed in most churches, and the consequence has been that confession has fallen out of use, and communion has become a mystical rite which has replaced what was originally the objective atonement of Christ. Yes? [00:33:59]

[Audience] Well, I think we’ve reach a state, as a

[Audience] Well, I think we’ve reach a state, as a society, when even an admission of error is no longer common. Witness Governor Clinton.

[Rushdoony] Yes, and even better, Eagleton. Not that we would say that Eagleton had sinned in going to a psychiatrist, but he was open and honest about it when the question came up. He had made no effort to hide it. It was a matter of public record. He did not believe that it was anything that much was to be made of. I think the best example in politics of confession is Grover Cleveland, and it was a more Christian era, and Grover Cleveland, who was a Presbyterian, confessed that years earlier, when he had been a single man and a sheriff, and living in a boarding house, he had been involved in adultery with the landlady, the woman who ran the boarding house, a widow, and a child was born. However, the evidence was very clear that she was involved with some other men, and her involvement with Cleveland came later when she was already pregnant, but Cleveland felt that because he had become involved, he took responsibility for the support of the child. He confessed it freely and publicly when a newspaper dug up the episode. He made no attempt to say the evidence was thus and so. He said, “I did have relations with my landlady and I am supporting the child, and I’m heartily sorry for what I did at that time,” and since we had a more Christian country then, it made no difference in his re-election campaign. In fact, it redounded to his favor as more and more people became aware of the facts, but he immediately shamed his critics by his thoroughly straight-forward confession. Now, we’ve lost that, so you see where there is no atonement, sin remains, and people will hold it against others all their lives, so that those who are involved, whether it be a Gary Hart or anyone else, both by their lack of repentance and because the public doesn’t see any validity to confession and atonement, the fact of sin remains. Are there any other questions or comments? Well, if not let us conclude with prayer. [00:37:54]

Our Father, we give thanks unto thee that we are thine

Our Father, we give thanks unto thee that we are thine, that our sins have been forgiven and remitted through Christ’s atonement, blotted out forever, that our legal standing before thee is one of innocence, the innocence of Christ. How great thou art, our Father, and we praise thee. Give us grace, therefore, to walk in the freedom of the remission of sins, and in the power of thy spirit. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:39:05]

End of tape

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