Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Day of Atonement

A Sabbath School resource from the Victorian Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia


There is no feeling like that of being truly “at one” with another. Experiences of that moment of true oneness are few and far between. For some it happens when they find their “soul mate”. For others it happens in a deep discussion that spills into and over them until they feel as if that other person truly knows them. The day of at-one-ment is God’s moment in time with his broken people - the moment that he fully reveals his true nature - when He is revealed as both merciful and just. The day of atonement is when we find the law and Lawgiver again, as if for the first time.

The Day of Atonement: Meeting the Law again, for the first time

While with Moses on top of the mountain, and delivering the first set of covenant tablets, God tells Moses that the people are worshiping a Golden Calf in his absence. Read Exodus 32. What two amazing things does Moses say to God (11-14, 30-34)? How are God’s answers different?
What does the first answer tell us about the Mercy of God?
What does the second answer tell us about the Justice of God?

How do you respond when you receive an answer to prayer that reveals God’s Mercy?
How do you respond when you receive an answer that reveals God’s Justice?

Moses had a very special relationship with God. Read Exodus 33:18-34:10.
What does this conversation tell us about God?
What does it tell us about Moses?
What does it tell us about ourselves?

On the Hebrew yearly calendar, the day of atonement is scheduled on the day Moses came down the mountain with the two tablets of God’s Law - the second time. 
Why do you think this day was so significant to the Israelites?
Compare the experience of the first set of tablets and the second:
What differences were revealed in the people?
What differences were present in Moses?
What differences were shown in God?

On the day of Atonement:
     How did the High Priest represent the people to God?
     How did the High Priest represent God to the people?
How does Jesus, as our High Priest, serve in these two roles for us?
How do you, as a follower of Jesus, serve in these two roles for the watching world?

What was the difference in Moses’ attitude when he walked up the mountain to receive the tablets the first and second time?
What was the difference in him when he came down the mountain the second time?

The Day of Atonement: A Live Dragon in the Desert

In the New Testament prophetic telling of the Great Controversy (Revelation 12) Satan, fallen from Heaven, is portrayed as a Dragon. In the Old Testament Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) Azazel, the one symbolically guilty for all Sin, is a “Live Goat”. Intriguingly, artists have seen this parallel for eons - drawing dragons with a head strikingly similar to a goat’s head. How does “keeping the story alive” help us to recognise evil and call it by it’s right name?

In the typical (Old Testament) day of Atonement, the goat was released in the wilderness to demonstrate that all sin is, finally one day, to be placed on the head of one cast out. In Revelation 12, the dragon attempts to defile heaven and is cast out by Michael and “thrown down” into the wilderness. How does this teach us, again, of God’s plan for salvation?

When “the dragon, Satan” and “the goat, Azazel” arrive in the desert their “time is short.” How so? How does this dragon/goat parallel reveal them as type and antitype? how are their story’s (past, present, and future) similar?

What other parallels do you see between Leviticus 16 and Revelation 12?
“When the Devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future!”

The Day of Atonement: Sabbath of Sabbaths

How does the Day of Atonement, and it’s effect our lives, change our interaction with the world around us?
At what times in your life have you felt God’s anger toward sin?

At what times have you carried God’s mercy toward sinners?
How do we, as God’s heart and hands on Earth, hold Mercy and Justice as equals? How do we deal with those needing forgiveness, and after forgiveness, cleansing?

Is God’s love powerful enough to cleanse the Earth?
How does this take place?
How does the day of atonement, both Old Testament and New, reveal God’s plan for sin, salvation and eternity?

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