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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundredth (Covering)

I hope you had a great week! I know we've looked at sacrifices and sin a few times, but we're going to try a different angle this time. We've talked about how Jesus is the final sacrifice that was necessary to atone for the sins of all mankind from Adam and Eve on. We also have looked at the sacrifice process that was required for sins and set out in Exodus and Leviticus.

When you read the description of this process there's a certain word used. The Hebrew word is kaphar, and it means "to cover over." It also means "pacify." This word is first translated to atonement in Exodus 29:33 and in that passage it is used in reference to Aaron and his sons eating the flesh of the animals that were used for a sin offering. Aaron and his sons were the beginning of the line of priests that were responsible to maintain the tabernacle and conduct the offerings required by Yehovah, to include the sin offerings.

The tabernacle was the place in which God made His dwelling among the Israelites (Exodus 25:8-9). The high priest, the only one authorized to enter the Most Holy Place, would enter this area of the tabernacle to make atonement for the sins of all the Israelites once a year. This was done on the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:27-28).

There was quite a process for this atonement. It involved incense, two baby goats, a ram, and a bull. There were certain clothes required to be worn, a cleansing with water and a sin offering for the individual entering. In addition to this, incense was brought into the Most Holy Place and placed into the fire so the cloud would cover the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16:1-34).

Interestingly, this cloud was used to cover the mercy seat for a specific purpose: to keep the high priest from being killed (Leviticus 16:13). So in this case, the idea of covering is used for protection, and the Hebrew word used is also different: kasah. In a sense, the atonement covering and this incense covering were both for protection. Protection from the consequences of sin.

However, atonement as a covering for sin to me doesn't seem like an actual removal of that sin. But more on that later. First, what's with the two goats? One bullock was required for the high priest to be able to enter the most holy place. Were two goats used because there was so many Israelites they needed it? No, there was a specific process for these goats.

By drawing lots, the goats' end was decided. One goat would be killed and offered, its blood used similar to the bull's to cleanse the tabernacle. The other would be given all of the Israelite's sins and taken out to the wilderness. Presumably, the goat would end up dying from starvation or perhaps even a predator.

Notice the goat was not killed directly by the priest or anyone else, however this process cleansed them before Yehovah (Leviticus 16:30). It's very interesting because the idea of covering to me, does not mean cleansing. It means whatever is covered is no longer seen by whoever was looking at it.

There are other places where this idea of covering comes up as well. Paul talks about covering when writing to the church of Corinth. Only this time the idea of covering is sort of flipped on its head...no pun intended! Paul points out that since man is the image and glory of God, his head shouldn't be covered while praying or prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:7).

The word Paul uses is katakalupto, which is derived from the word kalupto, which means to cover, and kata, which is a preposition indicating "down" from a higher plane to a lower plane (i.e. heavenly plane to earthly plane). In other words, a covering over the earthly item being covered which conceals it from the heavenly. And in this case, not only is a man not supposed to be covered, he's actually dishonoring Christ when he is.

So how can we have this idea of atonement in the Old Testament being a covering up as well as a cleansing? Honestly, I don't know (so if you have any ideas, I'm all ears!). But what I do know is that we're told that original process of sin offerings never fully cleansed people (Hebrews 7:19, 10:4). The person offering that sacrifice was imperfect, and therefore the result was imperfect.

Our Savior Jesus, however, not only became the person to make our offering, but also the sacrifice needed for that offering. He entered the place which the earthly tabernacle merely copied, and presented Himself as our sin offering. Not to cover our sins before God, but to completely get rid of them (Hebrews 9:12).

Satan likes to remind us of those sins, despite Jesus redeeming us from them. However, we know that not only did Jesus enter the heavenly tabernacle to make the final, once and for all, sanctification of us, Yehovah is also faithful to forgive us of our sins (1 John 1:9). So, Satan can not hold those against us or controls us with them!

Keep that in mind as you go through the week. Things that come up that remind you of the sins of your past, cast them out in the name of Jesus! Do not let Satan take you captive by using your own thoughts or those his minions put there. You have the ability to take control of them, so ask the Holy Spirit for help!

Shabbat shalom and God bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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