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Vayikra/Leviticus 16:3 In these Aharon shall come to the holiness: in a bull ... and a ram
Aharon, the brother of Moshe, the first Kohen Gadol, was allowed to enter the very presence ofHaShem in the most inner place; before the Ark containing the tablets of testimony, the jar of manna and the budded almond rod; through the parokhet, curtain, that marked the point beyond which no others could go. Aharon must go there to represent the people before G-d, and he must go "in a bull ...and a ram" - a sin offering and a burnt offering. His passport, his ticket of entry, into the physical presence of G-d was the blood of animals, ritually slaughtered as sacrifices to effect atonement and bring him close to G-d. There is some debate between the Sages as to when this was permitted: Rashi insists that it was only on Yom Hakippurim itself, to connect with v.29 at the end of this account. Vayikra Rabba 21:7, on the other hand, cites an alternative opinion, later elaborated by the Vilna Gaon, that this verse allowed Aharon to enter before G-d at any time during the year, provided that he brings these prescribed blood sacrifices.
In the book of Hebrews (rightly called 'Messianic Jews' by translator David Stern in his Complete Jewish Bible) we reads that Yeshua too, as the Kohen Gadol not only of Israel but also all who believe in Him from among the nations, entered with a blood sacrifice: "And He entered not by means of the blood of goats and calves, but by means of His own blood, thus setting people free forever" (Hebrews 9:11, CJB). Unlike Aharon and his descendants who served in the Mishkan and the two temples, "He did not enter heaven to present Himself over and over again, like the Kohen HaGadol who enters the Holiest Place year after year with blood that is not his own ... He appeared once ... in order to do away with sin through the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:25-26, CJB). The rabbinic debate over how many times a year the Kohen Gadol might enter the Holiest Place doesn't affect Yeshua because, "after He had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of G-d, from then on to wait until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet" (Hebrews 10:12-13, CJB).
That rabbinic debate is also not relevant to us as believers because, "we have confidence to use the way into the Holiest Place opened by the blood of Yeshua" (Hebrews 10:19, CJB). We can come into G-d's presence at any time, knowing that in Yeshua we are always acceptable to G-d; whether to praise Him, to seek forgiveness, mercy or guidance, or simply to chat through the events of the day. We are not restricted to particular times or places, to what we are wearing or not wearing, or even how we feel - we can always have an audience with our G-d. "Therefore, let us approach the Holiest Place with a sincere heart, in the full assurance that comes from trusting" (Hebrew 10:22, CJB).
Further Study: Isaiah 57:14-15; Hebrews 10:1-4
Application: Do you feel distant from G-d? Particularly at this time of year, as our community is celebrating the High Holy Days, it can make G-d seem very remote. But this is just the time to get closer and spend time getting to know Him better!
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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