Then Aaron is to go into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. He shall bathe himself with water in the sanctuary area and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people. He shall also burn the fat of the sin offering on the altar. The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and intestines are to be burned up. The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp. – Leviticus 16:23-28
This passage follows some very important passages about atonement, confessing sins, and placing the sins of the nation of Israel on the head of a goat to be sent into the wilderness. Clearly there are parallels here with Jesus, His being sent into the wilderness, and His atonement for our sins. The term scapegoat has become synonymous with someone blamed for something when they do not deserve it. In a sense Jesus was the ultimate scapegoat for our sins. God himself placed the sins of the world on His own shoulders and gave himself for us. This is an amazing thing. One of the things about Christianity that attracted me and is so different from many other religions — a God who serves.
There is a lot of washing up going on which makes sense given the amount of sacrificing, burning of animal parts, and blood being shed and splashed about. It just occured to me that we “wash up” through the act of baptism in response to accepting that Jesus’ blood was shed on our behalf for atonement. I am not sure that this is connected in any way but it is an interesting parallel.
I am not sure I understand the whole linen garment thing. What is difference between “regular garments” and the linen garments that are to be worn in the tent of meeting and Most Holy Place? Come to think of it why does superman need a special suit to do his thing? or spiderman? It seems like the reason for the “super suits” is that they help the person wearing them and us identify the person wearing them and their role. It is hard to believe God would need any such thing for Aaron….maybe it was not for God but actually for Aaron.
Perhaps some of the trappings and more liturgical and ceremonial things we do which are ostensibly for God are in fact partly for ourselves. God knows we need these things. I am thinking about hymns, songs, worship, creeds, and the like. Perhaps God appreciates these things but they are actually in part to give us confidence that we are really “super heros” or in the case of Aaron a “super priest”. Super christians — faster than a session meeting, more powerful than a local committee; able to lead tall church buildings without being crowned. I suspect we can do all these things without the special underwear. What we really need is the ability to listen really well to each other and to God. This would go a long way toward resolving some of the division and strife that can infect our churches and relationships.
Prayer: God help us to put on the garment of your grace and receive your forgiveness so that we may forgive others.