Get your archaeology tools ready for today’s excavation. We are continuing our search for Jesus in the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch). Before we begin today’s quest to find more sightings of Jesus in the book of Deuteronomy we first need to view the book through the eyes of our Lord.
Jesus in the Shields
The Holy Spirit often uses a shield symbolically to communicate His protection; our protection has its root in our faith; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8), “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (Ephesians 6:16)
We saw this protection for Abraham: After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1) We also find this same message from the Holy Spirit to the Israelites. There are several places in Deuteronomy where God uses the idea of a shield such as Deuteronomy 33:29:
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”
We also find this symbolic message from the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;”
Let’s take a rabbit trail and consider what God was communicating. We have the most information about Roman shields, shields that were familiar to the Ephesians.
The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (“tortoise”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.
God’s shield of faith is available to every believer. Jesus has also promised us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)” Therefore, when we gather together in the name of Jesus, we can join our shields of faith and, within the will of God, create a “tortoise” shell (testudo ) of protection for whomever we agree for in prayer.
We will return to Deuteronomy next time because Jesus shows Himself in many more places in this amazing book of the Bible.
Before we can see Jesus in Deuteronomy, we need to know who we’re looking for – I guess it’s a little late to point this out. Anyway, we need to understand 1 Timothy 3:16, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He [Jesus] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” That’s Jesus. An excellent analysis of this verse can be found in “Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers”
Now, we know the “who”, but we also need to know where to look. Many of our sightings of Jesus will come into focus only as we become familiar with this tapestry of Scriptures that the Holy Spirit wove in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy teaches us about Moses’ farewell to the generation of Israelites that would enter the Promised Land. We are taught of the handoff of leadership from Moses to Joshua. And are taught of Moses’ reminder to the Israelites regarding God’s blessings and God’s judgments.
During Christ’s earthly ministry, He often quoted from Deuteronomy. For example, Jesus answered all three of his temptations in the wilderness with quotations from the book of Deuteronomy (Luke 4:1–13). Jesus carefully fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, yet He was not subject to the Law for He was before Abraham. (John 8:58) Jesus was not a Levitical priest. He was not from lineage of Aaron. Instead. it is said of Him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:17) There are several places in the Gospels where Jesus exercised His law-making authority while still fulfilling all the Law and the prophets.
As for this book of Deuteronomy, we find it bursting through, into the New Testament, in such places as the prohibition of personal revenge (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19), and Deuteronomy 30:14, “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”, Romans 10:8, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim) …”
Jesus in Monotheism
Perhaps the most famous verse is Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This proclamation firmly establishes the Israelites and Christians as monotheistic. This message is at the very heart of God’s message to Israel, and all who have been grafted into the “true vine” (John 15:1). So, surely, Jesus is in this verse. How could He not be, if it is only one of the most salient verses in the whole of Scripture, but where is He?
Deuteronomy 6:4 is so foundational that Jesus quoted it to the Pharisees when asked what the greatest commandment was (Matthew 22:36-40). So this seems to be a good spot to dig in to discover Jesus.
“Hear, O Israel.” The obvious intent of this passage is to be spoken. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
The second part of this passage is, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Historic, orthodox Christian monotheism says that the one divine essence equally belongs to three distinct divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We clearly see this in the passage, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14) Therefore, Jesus in firmly seen in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Well, we’ve certainly seen Jesus in Deuteronomy. In the second part of Jesus in Deuteronomy, we will see Jesus in shields. I hope to see you then!
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27
Today we are wrapping up our excavation of the Book of Numbers. We have certainly found Jesus in the pages of this book, but we’re not done. Walk with me as I return to the time of the Israelites during their wilderness journey. Let’s discover more places where Jesus was foreshadowing His earthly ministry.
Jesus in Assignments
Foreshadow:When their names were recorded, as the LORD had commanded through Moses,each man was assigned his task and told what to carry. And so the registration was completed, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Numbers 4:49)
The Church: But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose (1 Corinthians 12:18).”
Jesus Returns From East to West
The esteemed location: From Job 23:8,9 we know that the term kedem properly means that which is before or in front of a person. This word is used to designate “East”. Therefore, for the Israelites in the wilderness the directions East, West, North, and South were called “Before,” “Behind,” “Right,” and “Left.” So from Numbers 3:28 we learn the most prominent location, “The area in front of the Tabernacle, in the east toward the sunrise, was reserved for the tents of Moses and of Aaron and his sons.”
The return of Jesus: “For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27).
Here are a few examples of God prophetically pointing us to the East, from where Jesus will return: “Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east.” (Ezekiel 43:1); “As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east,” (Ezekiel 43:4). The idea of a gate on the eastern side as the principal entrance to the court of the sanctuary goes back to the days of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:13-16).
The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall containing eight major gates. Moving counterclockwise from the northern-most gate are Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, the Dung Gate, the Eastern Gate, and the Lions’ Gate.
The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is also called the Golden Gate or the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2). In Hebrew, it is Sha’ar Harahamim, the “Gate of Mercy. The Eastern Gate faces the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley. When Jesus entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 21. He would have used the Eastern Gate built during the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:29).
That Rock was Christ
We learn from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that Jesus was with the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. Paul writes, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Means of Grace
Once again we’ve seen Jesus in the book of Numbers. I hope we are more acutely aware that all the Scriptures speak to us about Jesus, our Savior. As believers, we also have to walk in the wilderness, for our wilderness is our journey from our regeneration (Ephesians 2:8-10) to the completion of our race (2 Timothy 4:7), leaving this world and joining Jesus in heaven. Plagued, as we are, by the deceptions and enticements of the world, we should avail ourselves of the “means of grace” God has provided for sustaining us throughout this journey.
As we have done with previous sites, we need to provide some Biblical context for our new excavation site. By now we must have learned that artifacts without God’s Word remain just a pile of dry bones. But oh, when God speaks!
Our search for Jesus in the book of Numbers requires us to use different excavation tools than we’ve used at other sites. Why? Because the whole contents of the book of Numbers is a singular type. This book testifies to the Church in the wilderness. As we shall see in greater detail, the Church, and therefore you and I, are pioneers, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Christ Jesus, as the pioneer, made the way for us to join him and participate in His work, through Him. Even though victory was secured at the cross, His Church is still in this world and therefore in a spiritual war. “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11) And now, for a little while, we are at war. Not against people, for people are made in the image of God, but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
The unseen heavenly host of rulers and authorities, along with the saints that have completed their race, comprise a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), cheering us on as we fulfill our assigned roles in God’s kingdom, pressing forward for the joy that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has set before us.
The difficulties, battles, and temptations which the Church faces, have been choreographed to us through the Israelites travail in their
The difficulties, battles, and temptations the Church faces have been choreographed to us through the Israelites’ travails on their wilderness journey from Egypt to Canaan. Their wilderness journey speaks to the journey of “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)
The descendants of the Jews that entered the Promised Land will someday recognize their Messiah, Jesus, and take their rightful place within the Church. The Jewish voices, as recorded in the book of Numbers, tell the Church to be on guard, to be sure that we are near God’s “tabernacle”, that we learn our assigned tasks and we do them as unto the Lord.
“So the Israelites did everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 1:54)
“So the people of Israel did everything as the Lord had commanded Moses. Each clan and family set up camp and marched under their banners exactly as the Lord had instructed them.” (Number 2:34)
There was a time in their wilderness journey that the Israelites did as the Lord commanded. We often forget that. We just remember their disobedience. Now, for those of us that have asked and been made bondservants of Christ, let us be obedient until our end, remembering what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:18-25:
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom, and storm; to a trumpet blast or to a voice that made its hearers beg that no further word be spoken. For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to myriads of angels in joyful assembly, to the congregation of the firstborn, enrolled in heaven. You have come to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if the people did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject Him who warns us from heaven?
Well, I think we’re ready to dust off the book of Numbers and find Jesus in this book. Until then, I pray this blessing upon all God’s people:
Numbers 6:22-27: The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
Previously, we found the Passover in Exodus, chapter twelve, and the Day of Atonement in Leviticus, chapter sixteen both foreshadowing the coming Messiah, Jesus. Now we will search for Jesus in the Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both found in Leviticus, chapter twenty-three.
As we find in the Old Testament, Passover is the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). For Hasidic and Orthodox Jews this feast lasts eight days. We know that as time passed from the original “Pass Over” meal in Egypt, the Jewish Passover has become very ritualized, so much so that the Jewish Passover is now called the Seder meaning “order.” The Passover meal includes unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, the Passover lamb, and the singing hymns, all intended to remind each generation of Jews how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
When God told Moses to get the Israelites out of Egypt, His message to Moses purposely didn’t give the Jews time to make “normal” bread for their “last supper” in Egypt. Did we just see Jesus? Yes, I think we did.
As believers in the Lamb of God (John 1:29), we can see the Jewish Passover lamb pointing directly to Jesus and His death on the cross. Many of the “foreshadows of Jesus” that we find in the Old Testament are not immediately obvious. The Passover is obvious, it is overt, you just can’t miss the Passover lamb pointing to the Perfect Lamb of God. With verses, such as the following, we clearly see Jesus in the Passover:
John 1:36, “and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Feast of Unleavened Bread
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” –Leviticus 23:5-6
When we look at the Feast of Unleavened Bread we find that it commemorates the Israelites’ affliction in Egypt (Exodus 3:7) and their journey through the wilderness. At the beginning of their exodus, before God provided them with manna, the Jews ate unleavened bread. By this change in the Jewish diet we see the Jews leaving their sinful world (leavened bread) to a time of God-ordained preparation, purging worldliness from their lives (unleavened bread), and then entering into God’s provision (manna), sustained by Yahweh Jireh, the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14).
In God’s Word, leaven is commonly, but not always, associated with sin or worldliness and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is used by God to remind His chosen people how difficult it is to get sin “out of your house.” Not only does, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), but cleaning leaven out of your house is nearly impossible because yeast floats in the air.
We find Jesus in the unleavened bread for He is sinless, untouched by the worldliness which leaven represents. Also, leaven represents death and corruption. Leavened bread quickly becomes moldy and decays. The body of Jesus did not decay for the Bible states in Acts 13:27, “but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
The unleavened bread that the Israelites made would have brown splotches from being baked in wood-fired or dung-fired, portable ovens (uneven heat). These are said to represent Christ’s bruising and wounds. When we partake of unleavened bread during the Last Supper / Eucharist / Communion, we identify ourselves with the suffering and afflictions that Jesus took on our behalf. Notice that we do no work in our sanctification. It’s all about Jesus: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)
More About the Feast
Since the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Passover meal, all leaven (sin) must be removed before the Passover. To get yeast (leaven) out of their homes, modern Jews vacuum their homes, wipe off all surfaces, and take out of their homes all leavened bread. This is in obedience to God’s command in Exodus 13:7: “Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.”
In keeping with leaven being a “type” of sinfulness, we find that no sacrifices to God contain leaven. “No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord.” (Leviticus 2:11).
The Jewish tradition of cleaning their home of all chametz (leavened bread/yeast) is called kashering. They search their homes for any trace of chametz. This process usually begins several weeks before the Passover meal – it’s difficult to get sin out of our lives.
On the night before Passover, a ceremonial search for chametz is performed by candlelight by the whole family. This search is called bedikat chametz. Before the search starts, a Hebrew blessing is recited:
Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the removal of chametz.
In a kind of “hide and seek”, there is an old custom that ten pieces of chametz are hidden around the home. The whole family searches for the hidden chametz. The ten pieces are symbolic of the ten plagues that God poured out upon Egypt. A feather and a spoon are used to sweep up the last crumbs of leavened bread. Then the next morning, the crumbs of leavened bread, the feather, and the spoon are burned.
A fascinating sighting of Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with the history baked into leavened bread. In ancient Israel, bread was made by adding yeast (leavening) and by adding a bit of sourdough.
Sourdough is commonly used as a starter for bread. The sourdough can be a hundred years old, or even more! The sourdough in San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread has existed since the 1800s.
We’ve read about the yeast, but we haven’t considered the starter, the sourdough. Common bread always carried a history in it and that history comes from the sourdough used to get the bread to rise. We, as descendants of Adam, carry the history of Adam’s sin within us; it’s baked in. However, when we are saved, we are born again and become unleavened bread – flour & water. We have no yeast (corruption) and we have no history of sin (sourdough). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
“The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” – Augustine
As we found last time, Jesus is THE sin sacrifice, once for all time, to conquer sin in the bloodline of Adam – It’s not surprising that Jesus is called the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). As part of Christ’s work, He fulfilled the Messianic Old Testament prophecies. Matthew 26:53-54: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
So, we are looking for Jesus in the Day of Atonement ceremony that God gave to Moses. We already found Jesus in the sin atonement for the high priest. Now we are looking for Jesus in the actions required for the annual sin atonement for the nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:30).
On the Day of Atonement, two goats were brought to the temple. Two goats were required because the Holy Spirit showed two aspects of the single offering which Jesus made on the cross, hence, two goats.
As I understand the ceremony, here’s what happened. A man would bring two goats to the high priest. The goats were presented to Yahweh (God). “And Aaron (the high priest) shall cast lots on the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” (Leviticus 16:8) The lots consisted of two small tablets. One was engraved with the words “For Jehovah,” and on the other, the scapegoat, the tablet had the words “For Azazel.” The sins of the nation of Israel were transferred to the scapegoat and the scapegoat was taken / sent into the wilderness.
There were three priests involved in this ceremony, the high priest plus a priest to the right and a priest to the left of the high priest (some theologians think the trinity of priests was a type for the Triune God). The high priest shook the urn containing the two tablets. Then, at the same time (this shows that Jesus fulfilled both at the same time), the high priest would bring out both tablets. The high priest would put a tablet on each goat facing him.
The Sin Sacrifice
Let’s say that the goat to the right of the high priest received the “For Jehovah” tablet. Then, the priest to the right of the high priest would proclaim to the high priest, in a loud voice, “Hold up your right hand!” And then the priest would proclaim, “To the Lord a sin offering!” The goat given the title, “For Jehovah,” would be sacrificed as a sin offering to pay for the atonement (covering over) of the sins of the nation of Israel. Remember, sin always requires death.
The Day of Atonement also points to Jesus through the scapegoat. When the cross was laid on Jesus and He was led outside of the city, to Golgotha (Matthew 27:33), He carried our sin into the wilderness, fulfilling the imagery of the scapegoat.
After the sin offering is completed, then the other goat, called the scapegoat, is brought to the high priest. Leviticus 16:21, “And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.”
As we said, the scapegoat “carried” the sins of Israel away. The goat was a “type” for Jesus: Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
If we spent more time excavating Leviticus, chapter sixteen, we would surely find many more sightings of Jesus. Sadly, we must move on for there are more sightings to come! Join me as we continue our quest to find Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures (Luke 24:27).
We’ve got quite a bit of ground to cover in this Chapter, so grab your archaeology tools and let’s find Jesus in Leviticus!
If you have ever heard the word “scapegoat,” the creation of that word is found in Leviticus. And yes, the term is scapegoat, not escape goat. 😉 Just like true archaeologists, we have some prep work to do before we visit our dig site.
We have chosen to venture into one of the most misunderstood and under-appreciated books in God’s Word. Leviticus is a book that demands the reader’s full attention when reading it. Taken out of context, well, let us read a quote from Dr. Charles Stanley’s InTouch Ministries:
“A quick look at Israel’s sacrificial system can make one wonder whether all these animal carcasses point to a God who needs His pound of flesh in order to be satisfied. But we know God is hardly a malevolent carnivore with an insatiable taste for fresh meat.”
Keep in mind that there’s no reason for us to enter Leviticus if we don’t look for Jesus within those pages. Leviticus is first and foremost about the cross of Calvary and the entrance Jesus made into heaven when He presented His blood for the sacrifice that ended all sin sacrifices (Hebrews9:12). If we reject that truth, then there’s no reason to read Leviticus.
As we saw last time, the key to understanding Leviticus is to “foresee” it at the cross of Calvary. Jesus is the key that unlocks this amazing book. “The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come…” (Hebrews 10:1). So, in our search for Jesus, we are heading into the best of the best of the book; we are headed to the center of Leviticus to discover Christ Jesus in the Day of Atonement ceremony.
What was the Day of Atonement?
For decades, Las Vegas has been known as Sin City. Most residents there seem to be quite happy with this moniker. If only humanity would understand the cost of sin. Sin is death. Sin demands the shedding of blood. We saw this at the beginning of humanity in Abel’s sacrifice (Genesis 4:4) and now in Leviticus the process has been codified (formal rules).
As with the individual sin offering, God designed the Day of Atonement to make the Israelites, and us, deeply aware of the grievous cost of sin, and to show us that the Day of Atonement was a temporary “fix” that would be replaced when Father God’s beloved Son arrived.
Each year the high priest had to follow a very formal and strict process, created by God, Himself, for the “covering over” (atonement) of the sins the nation of Israel for that year. This formal process is bursting with shadows of Jesus. Not only is Jesus our eternal High Priest, He accomplished this by His perfect sacrifice. We see this in Hebrews 9:12: With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.
God deeply wants people to understand that moral justice demands the maximum punishment for even a single sin. So, in God’s great mercy, He established an escape from the eternal punishment through the sacrifice made by His Son, Jesus. Until God’s perfect timing for the birth of Jesus, God provided the Israelites with a process for reconciliation between God and the nation of Israel. That’s what the Day of Atonement did.
Now we see Jesus
We’ve already spotted Jesus a couple of times in Leviticus. Now we will find that the Day of Atonement is full of imagery of Jesus and “Good Friday”, the day of Christ’s crucifixion.
On the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to purify himself before he could bring the nation before God. This required the death of a bull for a sin offering and the death of a ram for a burnt offering. His sin offering demonstrated the imperfection of the high priest and the ram points us back to the sacrifice by Abraham of Isaac (Genesis 22:13).
Sacrifices were required to “cover over” the sins of the high priest and his family. This shows us that the high priest was imperfect and therefore temporary. Jesus, the eternal High Priest is the perfect solution for He is perfect.
The high priest had to wash himself in water and remove his elaborate clothes and put on simple, plain, linen clothes. This seems to point forward to the time when Jesus took off his outer garments and, in the appearance of a slave, washed the feet of His apostles (John 13:1-17).
The high priest humbled himself, setting aside his high position and authority (Leviticus 16:4). This seems to point to what Jesus did to defeat sin and death by setting aside His position in heaven. We see this in Philippians 2:5-8:
We must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Full of Types and Foreshadows
All of the children of Adam have sinned. However, by the blood of Jesus our sin is not covered over (atoned) but removed. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) This is amazing. We can approach God because Christ’s blood is better than the blood of bulls and goats (Hebrews 10:1-10); “And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.” (Hebrews 10:19)
As we are seeing, every aspect of the Day of Atonement is full of types and foreshadows. The imperfect high priests have been replaced by Jesus, the perfect High Priest. The imperfect mediation between the people and God is now perfect because Jesus is the sole mediator between them (Hebrews 9:15). Because Jesus is now the High Priest in heaven we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Well, we didn’t get to the scapegoat but I promise that we will in the next installment of “Finding Christ in all of Scripture.”
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27
As we prepare to excavate our first site in Leviticus, we should know that there are two names for this book: The English name Leviticus refers to the priestly tribe of the Israelites, “Levi.” In Hebrew, the book is called Vayikra (Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָא), from the opening of the book, va-yikra “And He [God] called.” The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting… (Leviticus 1:1).
Often, people wonder what happened to the sacrificed animals. The answer can be found in several places in the Bible. Let’s look in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 9:13 we find: Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings.
The officiating priest for the sacrifice could invite not only his family but other priests and their sons to join in the meal. There were some sacrifices that were completely burned on the altar which meant that there wasn’t anything left to eat.
Our First Sighting of Jesus
Lay your hand on the animal’s head, and the Lord will accept its death in your place to purify you, making you right with him (to make atonement for you). Then slaughter the young bull in the Lord’s presence, and Aaron’s sons, the priests, will present the animal’s blood by splattering it against all sides of the altar that stands at the entrance to the Tabernacle. (Leviticus 1:4-5 NLT)
The word atonement is the key that unlocks the book of Leviticus. God gives us this key at the very beginning of the book. If we look in Strong’s Concordance for the definition of “atonement” (Strong’s Hebrew 3722) we find that atonement means: to cover, purge, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch, to coat or cover with pitch, to cover over, pacify, propitiate, atone for sin, make atonement for, atone for sin and persons by legal rights, to be covered over, to make atonement for, to be covered.
Hey, atonement can mean pitch! We discovered pitch when we dug into Noah’s work on the ark in Genesis. And, in Exodus, we saw that the blood applied to the doorposts and lintel for the “pass over” in Egypt protected the Israelites from God’s judgement upon the Egyptians. And now, in the very first verses of the 3rd book of the Old Testament, we find God telling Moses how atonement could be applied for the children of Israel.
Now, this is getting interesting. We saw Jesus in Genesis, and we saw Jesus in Exodus, and, already, we’ve spotted our Lord in Leviticus. And, we should keep in mind that about 1,000 years elapsed between Noah and Moses. Still, God’s message is the same. He will provide.
Just as God provided an ark for Noah and a ram for Abraham, so Father God provided Jesus, the Son of God, as the substitution for us. Jesus was the sin offering. He was the only sinless son of Adam (man), ever. That qualified Jesus to be the one sacrifice for all eternity; the only perfect sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19), the Lamb without spot or blemish.
We’ve seen atonement in Genesis, Exodus, and now Leviticus. Let’s stop here for a moment and consider what God is doing. Atonement communicates three fundamental thoughts. These concepts are “covering over,” “propitiation (appeasement),” and “reconciliation.” We find all three meanings in Strong’s definition. The way atonement works is “covering over” + “appeasement” = “reconciliation.” Atonement by the blood of animals was always a “stop-gap” measure until God’s perfect sacrifice by the blood of Jesus.
Covering Over: Just as Noah covered over the ark, both inside and outside, with pitch so atonement covers over (paints over) sin. Why? Because God cannot look upon sin. We know this from passages such as “Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” (Psalms 51:9) and “for you have cast all my sins behind your back.” (Isaiah 38:17). The atonement through the sacrifice of animals could not remove sin, it simply covered over it.
Though the sin wasn’t removed by atonement it did restore access between God and man. Until Jesus was crucified there was no way for God to live in a person. Abraham, Moses, and King David were friends of God, but it wasn’t until the Holy Spirit came into the eleven apostles that God lived in a son of Adam.
Propitiation:The concept of propitiation is that once a sin has been “covered over” at the cost of the life of a substitute (bird, goat, ram, bull) then God’s judgement was appeased. You can think of it like a speeding ticket. You broke the law, so justice demands a punishment. The punishment is that your fine must be paid. The money is the “blood” that appeases the court. You are still guilty, but the court no longer holds your guilt against you. Nevertheless, you are still guilty so God cannot come and live in you. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Jesus not only atoned for our sins, He took the wrath of God that should have come upon us. We know this from John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Reconciliation: The reconciliation that was accomplished by Old Testament sacrifices reestablished an external relationship between God and a person or the whole nation of Israel – remember the speeding ticket. The court was appeased but the guilt remains, so there is still no way for God to commune with a person the way God and Adam communed in the Garden of Eden. Only Jesus can provide the perfect sin sacrifice.
Isn’t it interesting that God’s sacrifices can be traced all the way back to Abel’s sacrifice (Genesis 4:4). And from that beginning point God required the shedding of blood 🩸. My hope is that we’ve seen Jesus, beginning in the very first chapter of Leviticus. And, I also hope we’ve seen God’s consistent message, traced from here back to the fall of Adam; that message is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There is no way to avoid this. Sin demands death. Before Jesus, God provided a way for reconciliation but not for regeneration (born again).
Jesus was the ultimate blameless sacrifice presented to God on our behalf (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus took our place, shed His blood and died as the perfect sin offering (Romans 5:8, 1 Peter 3:18). His salvation is available to everyone, not earned by anyone, and given to no one unless they ask.
Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27
We will continue our quest to discover some of the types, foreshadowings, and prophecies in the Old Testament which God created to point to Jesus. It’s been said that Genesis and Exodus are picture-books because they are full of “pictures” of Jesus and His works. Nearly everywhere we looked in those books we found Jesus. Now we are entering Leviticus. Some people are afraid to venture there. It’s as if Genesis and Exodus are “safe” places to excavate but to step into Leviticus is to step into danger.
There is a richness of detail in Leviticus, still, it’s like an avocado; it’s an acquired taste. If we simply read Leviticus without looking through time to gaze upon our Lord and Savior then Leviticus is challenging. However, when we learn the Truth behind the truths of this book then it springs alive and feeds our souls.
The Cost of Sin
Among other things, Leviticus tells us about the cost of sin. We begin to see that within the enumeration of the various sacrifices and offerings God is spiritually leading the children of Israel as well as physically leading them. We could say that Leviticus is God’s picture–book for the work of Jesus on the Cross because the sacrifices in this book point to “the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
I’ve heard people say, in disgust, that Christianity is a bloody religion. Well, underneath all of the wisdom, beauty, compassion, and love that we find in God’s Word, we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). And without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22b). So, yes, we do rejoice in the sacrifice that God made upon the cross of Christ Jesus.
They All Point To Jesus
It is important to remember that all Old Testament sacrifices were mere shadows of the sacrifice of Jesus upon the cross. And that the Old Testament sacrifices were worthless, in themselves. They were all I.O.U.s, waiting to be paid by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:10–14). Now you may well ask, why animal sacrifices? We can answer this from Leviticus 17:11:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make an atonement for your souls upon the altar, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement.
A Deeper Revelation
Well, we’ve entered Leviticus but we haven’t traveled far and our excavation tools haven’t left our backpacks. Still, it’s crucial that we level-set our understanding of sacrifices before we dig into the unveiling that God does in this book. As we’ve seen, Genesis and Exodus provide context as to why the children of Israel are special. In Leviticus God shows more of Himself to the family of Jacob (Israel), and God unveils types, pictures, and foreshadowings of a future, perfect sacrifice.
Yesterday we dug into Moses and found a treasure trove of the power God used through Moses to make his life an example of the promised Prophet, Jesus the Messiah. Still, we have many more sites to uncover that foreshadow the coming Savior, Jesus. So get your archaeologist tools ready, ‘cause here we go!
A Change in Yokes
If we look at Exodus 6:6 we read, “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment…”
Now read what Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Christ’s words carry great comfort to everyone, but how much more are these words of Jesus comfort and hope to the Israelites (i.e. the family of Jacob).
Next, we find in Exodus 12:12-14: For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
The Blood of Jesus
The “pass over” occurred the day before the Israelites left Egypt. So, just as God established the Passover on the day before the Israelites’ departure (i.e., exodus) from Egypt, Jesus established the “Last Supper / Communion / Eucharist” the day before the beginning of God’s perfect exodus. This is true because the next day was the day redemption was paid in full by the blood of Jesus on the cross. The great exodus of God’s children from the chains of sin and death began when Jesus called out, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
From Exodus 12:13 we find, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you…” And in Colossians we find, “and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:20) The blood of Jesus makes reconciliation available. If we are covered by the blood of Jesus, then we are protected from God’s coming judgement.
Jesus in the Exodus
It’s also worth noting that Joseph foresaw the exodus of Israel from Egypt and was determined to be buried in God’s land, the land God gave Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. We see that “By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.- Hebrews 11:22
The exodus of the Israelites and the return of Joseph’s bones to the promised land speaks to the work of Jesus. The promised land and Joseph’s burial both foreshadow our exodus out of this world and into our home with Jesus, for we read in John 14:1-4, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Make This a Family Game!
Today, we’ve uncovered a few small samples of Scripture that show us Jesus in Exodus. You may want to make a family game of being explorers and reading through the book of Exodus to discover the many places where you find Jesus.