Numbers 29:7-11 – Mazda 3 Headlamps, The Day of Atonement, and Jesus Christ

Posted: November 2, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 29:7-11

Offerings for the Day of Atonement

Have you ever had a problem with your house or your car that you could not afford to permanently fix so you take the cheap route and temporarily fix it but keep having to fix it again and again. For example, with my wife’s car, we keep burning through headlamps on the driver’s side of the car at a rate that is alarming. We know that there is an electrical issue on that side of her Mazda 3, but the permanent fix will expose us to a great expense – first to simply figure out what exactly is wrong and then to fix it permanently. Because the engine compartment of a Mazda 3 is so small and jam-packed, it is hard to easily fix most engine problems. Even with the headlamp on the driver’s side of the car, you practically have to remove the battery of the car to even get to the headlamp casing.  It’s a great car and has given us very little trouble otherwise. It has 138,000-plus miles on it now and still runs like a brand new car otherwise, but to fix or replace anything on it, the mechanics pretty much have to drop the engine out of it to fix it.


So, why would fixing an electrical problem be any different than the complex? To assess the reason for the continuing replacement of headlamps, they would have to take the bumper off the car, remove the battery from behind the headlamp casing and then begin to follow the wires and test them. Then, when proper wire is identified, that leads to a complex process of removing it from the tight spaces and replacing it. As you can imagine, the expense would be pretty large for just a problem with a headlight. Over the eight years, Elena has had this car (she bought it about a year or so before we got married), we have had to replace that one side of the car’s headlamp at least nine or ten times. There is some kind of electrical surge, or flare-up of an electrical short, or just an ongoing issue of too much electricity for the lamp that causes us to burn through at least one lamp a year. Because of the heady expense of finding and fixing the problem permanently, we fix it with the temporary solution of new headlamps over and over and over again – as I said at least once per year. It is frustrating because we love that little car. It is, like I said, otherwise a great little car. We have driven that car all over the place and it is probably the most reliable car either one of us has ever owned. The headlamp problem is vexing one. Like this year, the headlamp didn’t go out until it started getting darker earlier in the evening. Thus, with our busy schedules with work and church, Elena often here in the last few weeks would get stuck driving in the dark with one functioning headlamp until she had time to go get it fixed.


Like I said even the simple, less costly fix is a chore. A person who is not a mechanic such as Elena and me cannot even replace the headlamp on the driver’s side without great effort. The car’s battery is right behind the driver’s side headlamp. Only my three month old granddaughter’s hand would fit in that space and Ralyn is uncooperative when it comes to fixing headlamps – being 3 months old and all and for some reason 3 month old babies lack the motor skills to take care of the issue even if they were able to stick their hand between the headlight and battery! LOL. Thus, when that particular headlamp burns out, we have to take it to our local trustworthy auto repair shop to just replace a headlamp. We play this song and dance at least once a year. It is frustrating but it is the best solution we have available until we decide to sink the funds into permanently solving the issue.


That idea of temporary solutions vs. permanent ones with regard to Elena’s Mazda 3 is what came to mind when I thought of the celebration of the Day of Atonement as I read through the sacrificial offerings list for this holy day in the life of Israel. That may not make sense at first, but stick with me on this and you will see how replacing headlamps at least once a year and the Day of Atonement have in common. Let us read through the list of sacrificial offerings that were to be made on the Day of Atonement here in this passage, Numbers 29:7-11, and then we will talk about what he Day of Atonement is. At the end, we will tie it altogether with Elena’s Mazda 3. Let’s jump in to the journey now:


7 “‘On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves[a] and do no work. 8 Present as an aroma pleasing to the Lord a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 9 With the bull offer a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 10 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 11 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the sin offering for atonement and the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.


The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27-28), also known as Yom Kippur, was the most solemn holy day of all the Israelite feasts and festivals, occurring once a year on the tenth day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. On that day, the high priest was to perform elaborate rituals to atone for the sins of the people. Described in Leviticus 16:1-34, the atonement ritual began with Aaron, or subsequent high priests of Israel, coming into the holy of holies, the place where the priest would encounter the presence of God. The solemnity of the day was underscored by God telling Moses to warn Aaron not to come into the Most Holy Place whenever he felt like it, only on this special day once a year, lest he die (v. 2). This was not a ceremony to be taken lightly, and the people were to understand that atonement for sin was to be done God’s way.


Before entering the tabernacle, Aaron was to bathe and put on special garments (v. 4), then sacrifice a bull for a sin offering for himself and his family (v. 6, 11). The blood of the bull was to be sprinkled on the ark of the covenant. Then Aaron was to bring two goats, one to be sacrificed “because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been” (v. 16), and its blood was sprinkled on the ark of the covenant. The other goat was used as a scapegoat. Aaron 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 (v. 21). The goat carried on itself all the sins of the people, which were forgiven for another year (v. 30).


Being created beings, even an umblemished animal was coming from a place of a sin nature. Even nature groans under the weight of sin resulting from the sins of Adam and Eve. Thus, these animals, though unblemished were not perfect and were not born of perfection. As a result, the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement had to be repeated each year. For the Jews, it was a day of focusing on rededicating their lives to God and asking for forgiveness of the sins they had committed in the previous year. Because of God’s greater redemptive plan, the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement were symbolic of the future plan. He would only grant atonement through the sacrifices for one year so that the people would yearn for a permanent solution. Jesus Christ was that permanent solution.


The blood of bulls and goats could only atone for sins if the ritual was continually done year after year, while Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for all the sins of all who would ever 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 God, and no further sacrifice was ever needed (Hebrews 10:1-12). Since Jesus was God in the flesh and he was conceived in a virgin womb, he was never touched by sin even in his conception. Then, living the perfectly sinless life, he was the first and only ever completely perfect sacrifice for sin. It was quite the investment by God. It required Him coming down from heaven and living among us and then offering Himself up on the cross to taking the wrath of God against sin (as was previously symbolized by the blood of the bull and the taking on of the sins by the scapegoat). God poured out his wrath against sin on Jesus and His blood was spilled as the permanent atonement for sin, past, present and future. Only Jesus, as God in the flesh, could withstand to pain and loss of taking on God’s wrath against sin for all time on the cross that day. Only Jesus was complete perfection. Only God in the flesh was sufficient to end the cycle of sacrifices. After His sacrifice on the cross, there was no need for sacrifices anymore. It is done and it is finished.


Just as replacing the headlamp periodically on our Mazda 3 is the temporary solution that fixes the problem for sometimes up to a year, so were the Day of Atonement sacrifices. They were temporary. The process had to be repeated because it was not the permanent solution. Just as the permanent solution to our headlamp problem would require a larger investment of time (doing without the car for up to a week) and money to solve the problem permanently, the only way that a permament solution to the atonement for sin could happen was through the great investment of Jesus Christ in setting aside his glory for a time and coming to earth to become the permanent sacrifice for sin. Just as the more expensive solution would permanently fix the headlamp problem in our car, Jesus was the greatest sacrifice of all and it permanently fixes the sin problem of mankind. All we have to do is humble ourselves before Christ and proclaim Him to be the sufficient sacrifice for our sins and believe that He is our Lord and Savior and the living God. Once we accept Christ as our Savior, Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and work to guide us to be more and more Christ-like until such time that we are perfected when we join Jesus in heaven. The work of the Holy Spirit takes a lifetime but because we have Jesus’ sacrifice we are covered for our imperfections and sins. Our sins become more and more revolting to us as the Holy Spirit does His work in us, but the penalty of our sins has been already paid by the permanent solution of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice was most costly to God but it was the necessary and permanent solution to our sin problem.


Amen and Amen.

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