A Few Words on Leviticus 16

This chapter treats of the great sacrifice which was made once a year. The Red Heifer was a sacrifice whereof they kept the ashes for purification with water every time one was defiled by a dead body.
Propitiation for our sins was made by Christ once forever. (Heb. 9; 10) The presence of God accompanies all the sacrifices. It is only in His presence that we can enjoy His communion. (Ver. 2.) The high priest entered alone before God and made atonement for himself and for his house. (Vers. 3, 6.) Then taking the two goats for Israel he cast lots, one for Jehovah and the other for Azazel, that is, the scape-goat; the one to offer for sin, the other to let go, with the sins of the people confessed on its head, into the wilderness. (Vers. 7-10.) By the blood of the slain goat expiation was made for Israel as a people. Jesus who interceded for them on the cross does so still. But He is not yet come out from the holiest to make the application of this sacrifice to the people, though those of the Jews who believe enter anticipatively into the blessing, being fore-hopers in Christ (Eph. 1), as also the Gentiles who have heard and believe the gospel. The Jews as a people will believe when they see; the Christian, the church, believes without having seen, and there is an especial blessedness in this respect. Having the call of grace, we have all the efficacy of these sacrifices. Indeed typically Christians are foreshewn in the offering for Aaron and his house, in distinction from the people provided for in the goats. To speak fully, our position is identification with the high priest himself within the rent veil. The Jews await the reconciliation when He comes. We in the Spirit are viewed in Him already within according to the efficacy of Christ as the bullock, His sweet savor having previously filled the sanctuary. ( Vers. 11-14.)
There were, as we have said, two goats, one for Jehovah, the other for the people. The first was killed and its blood brought within, and sprinkled like the bullock's upon and before the mercy-seat, the figure of Christ's blood presented to God. (Ver. 15.) The other goat, charged with the sins of Israel, is not brought forward till after an end is made of reconciling the holy place and the tabernacle and the altar (vers. 16-20), when Aaron lays his hands on its head, and makes confession, and sends it away into the wilderness.
That God might be fully glorified and act freely in love to sinners, expiation must be made and the blood be offered to Him. If God tolerated sin, it would not be love to sinners, but indifference to evil which would dishonor His character: such is God's love as worldly men conceive it. (Psa. 50:2121These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. (Psalm 50:21).) But it is God who is to judge man, not man God; and when God pronounces in His word, man has no right to say, Wherefore? The converted have spiritual intelligence that knows God cannot accept evil.
It was meet that the Captain of salvation should be made perfect through suffering. (Heb. 2) The Son of man must be lifted up, the great responsible surety, put to death as man for sin. The character of God must be perfectly glorified, and our sins be completely banished from us, in order for us to have everlasting fellowship with God. The blood having been presented and expiation made, love can flow freely from God's throne, and grace be preached to the sinner. It is what puts the conscience at large as to our sins which were all put on the head of Jesus who confessed them.
Observe the three things: 1st, the blood presented to God in the holiest; 2nd, the sanctuary and tabernacle and altar cleansed by the blood from defilement; 3rd, the iniquities of Israel confessed on the scape-goat. To these correspond: 1st, Christ gone into heaven by His own blood where God dwells in light inaccessible; 2nd, this world in relationship with God, where Christ suffered; our altar of burnt-offering, where we find our Savior in His sacrifice, the ground of reconciling all things; 3rd, sins confessed and borne by the great Substitute, which literally belongs to the people beholding Him come forth at the end of the age, but of course true of us now. He died for that nation, though not for it only, but for the scattered children of God who meanwhile believe, while Israel remains outside. We draw near into the holiest through the rent veil and look on the glory of the Lord with unveiled face. The way into the holiest was not yet manifested while as yet the first tabernacle had its standing. It is to-day, which makes a great difference between the Jews and us. The Jews could, according to their light, do things which would be great sins for us. We have been let into the presence of God without veil as to the principle of our relations with God. There is nothing between God and us. If the veil is rent, God in all His holiness and the world in all its sins are in presence without anything between. How is it God does not destroy the world? Jesus was made sin; but therefore it is that the sin of the Jews subsists without veil.
All the means God employed in vain till the death of Christ have shown the result of the experience God has made during four thousand years. Grace, that is, the activity of God in love toward condemned sinners—grace begins to be manifested. Christ's blood presented to God leaves God to act holily in His love toward the lost. Grace has appeared and goes forth. The world is condemned, but judgment is not yet executed. It is to-day the acceptable time, the day of salvation. Such is the actual economy. The blood is the life, the way of God's love. There is no inconsistency on God's part, if we should find our rest in Him. The blood of Christ's rejection is not on us, His blood is before the eyes of God; it has been shed, and sprinkled on the throne of God which becomes necessarily a throne of grace.
If my soul lives to God, I feel how precious is the blood. But my thoughts are not the measure of my assurance. Faith looks to the thoughts of God; and I know by faith that God estimates the blood of Christ as it ought to be estimated. He regards it always with the same eyes. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” There is the assurance of faith and our security. Nothing more than redemption has brought out God's horror against sin. To be always in God's presence; to be in rest as to our relations with God, we know the blood of Christ accepted, of God. He has received the expiation. There is no more question then of sin between God and me. That does not settle the warfare against sin. If I think of myself I have the conscience of sins; if I think of Christ before God, I have it no more. The blood is before God, and, if the sin is not entirely expiated, the blood is worth nothing. The blood, is God's answer to every accusation of Satan against me. His accusations thus fall; there is a source of continual peace. There is a perfect expression of God's love toward us. God loved us in our sins, and when wearied with them, in place of getting rid of us, He got rid of our sins by Christ. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son. He manifested His love in the cross. He did not spare His own Son for us, and the most precious object of heaven He gave up for us. The love of God, in Christ's expiation for man-this is what Christ's cross teaches and manifests. Conscience awakes, but finds in Christ a full repose.
In the goat Azazel we see Christ substituted for us, as if He had committed all our sins laid and confessed on His head; for He was at once victim and priest. It is a great comfort to know that all my sins have been confessed before God, and it encourages and engages me to confess them. Impossible to confess my sins to God if I think that those sins will make me condemned; whereas, if Christ did, and if wrath has already fallen on Him, our heart is comforted, and we can boldly confess our sins without fear of being condemned. This is what takes guile from the spirit. (Psa. 32) Thus we understand the church to be everlastingly saved, unless Christ died in vain. Would it be just to impute to me the sins of which Christ already bore the penalty? Impossible to fathom this love of Christ. The more holy He was, the more He felt the weight of our sins. The more He understood the holiness of God, the greater was His horror of sin.