It’s impossible to overestimate the importance of Leviticus 16 in the religion of the Old Testament. Its teaching about the Day of Atonement is absolutely central to the book of Leviticus. Leviticus contains the instructions for the priests and the sacrifices. And because the sacrifices are the very heart of how one becomes right before God, prefiguring the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, this chapter is more important than anything we have studied thus far. 

At the beginning of this study I said that all Christians today are priests. Therefore what we learn from these chapters is to be applied for us. Peter makes a great deal of that, using Old Testament language to talk about Christians. He writes, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

The end of chapter 9 is probably the highest peak to be found in the entire book of Leviticus. The priests have been consecrated and ordained. They have offered the sacrifices during the first formal worship service of the people. God has come down upon the tabernacle to bless it in the visible presence of the shekinah glory. Yet, when you come to chapter 10 there is an enormous change. Suddenly we are in a different world, because instead of blessing, what you find is death.

The sacrifices that are offered in Leviticus 9 as part of worship are first of all for Aaron and his sons—that is, for the priests—and second, for the people. Now in the previous chapter the sacrifices were made at the ordination of the priests, which were a bull, a ram, and then another ram. But for the people here in Leviticus 9, the sacrifices were a male goat (the sin offering), a calf and a lamb (the burnt offerings), and an ox and a ram (the peace/fellowship offerings). For both the priests and the people, the sequence of the offerings was the same: first the sin offering, then second, the burnt offering, followed by the fellowship offering. This tells us how we must approach God.

Jesus Christ is the perfect prophet, the perfect priest, and the perfect king. How does that apply to us? It applies to us in this sense: we’re told in the New Testament that although we do not serve as Jesus Christ did, and continues to do, nevertheless, because we belong to Christ we have roles that are somewhat analogous to His.