XVI The institution of the yearly day of atonement for the whole nation. The wholeservice is committed to the high-priest, who is,
1. Then only to come into the holy of holies, in his linen garments with a young bullock, ver. 1-4.
2. To offer a goat, and a bullock for a sin-offering, ver. 5-13.
3. To sprinkle the blood before the mercy seat, and upon the altar, ver. 13-19.
4. To confess over the scape-goat, the sins of the people, and then send him into the wilderness, ver. 20-23.
5. To offer the burnt-offerings, ver. 24-28. And,
6. To appoint this day to be a solemn fast, by a statute for ever, ver. 29-34.
Verse 2. At all times - Not whensoever he pleaseth, but only when I shall appoint him, namely, to take down the parts and furniture of it upon every removal, and to minister unto me once in the year. Lest he die - For his irreverence and presumption. In the cloud - In a bright and glorious cloud, over the mercy-seat, as a token when I would have him come.
Verse 3. With a young bullock - That is, with the blood of it; the body of it was to be offered upon the altar of burnt-offerings. A sin- offering - For his own and family's sins; for a goat was offered for the sins of the people.
Verse 4. The linen coat - It is observable, the high-priest did not now use his peculiar and glorious robes, but only his linen garments, which were common to him with the ordinary priests. The reason whereof was, because this was not a day of feasting and rejoicing, but of mourning and humiliation, at which times people were to lay aside their ornaments. These are holy - Because appropriated to an holy and religious use.
Verse 8. For the Lord - For the Lord's use by way of sacrifice. Both this and the other goat typified Christ; this in his death and passion for us; that in his resurrection for our deliverance.
Verse 11. The bullock - Mentioned in general, ver. 6. The ceremonies whereof are here particularly described. This was a different bullock or heifer from that Num. xix, 2, 5, 9, 10, 17, as appears by comparing the places.
Verse 12. Within the veil - That is, into the holy of holies, ver. 2.
Verse 13. Upon the fire - Which was in the censer, ver. 12.
14. Upon the mercy-seat - To teach us, that God is merciful to sinners only through and for the blood of Christ. With his face east-ward, or upon the eastern part, towards the people, who were in the court which lay east-ward from the holy of holies, which was the most western part of the tabernacle. This signified that the high-priest in this act represented the people, and that God accepted it on their behalf. Before the mercy-seat - On the ground.
Verse 15. Then shall he kill the goat - He went out of the holy of holies, and killed it, and then returned thither again with its blood. And whereas the high-priest is said to be allowed to enter into that place but once in a year, that is to be understood, but one day in a year, though there was occasion of going in and coming out more than once upon that day.
Verse 16. Because of the uncleannesses of Israel - For though the people did not enter into that place, yet their sins entered thither, and would hinder the effects of the high-priest's mediation on their behalf if God was not reconciled to them. In the midst of their uncleanness - ln the midst of a sinful people, who defile not themselves only, but also God's sanctuary. And God hereby shewed them, how much their hearts needed to be purified, when even the tabernacle, only by standing in the midst of them, needed this expiation.
Verse 17. In the tabernacle - ln the holy place, where the priests and Levites were at other times. This was commanded for the greater reverence to the Divine Majesty then in a more special manner appearing, and that none of them might cast an eye into the holy of holies, as the high-priest went in or came out.
Verse 18. The altar before the Lord - That is, the altar of incense, where the blood of sacrifices was to be put, particularly the blood of the sin-offerings offered upon this day of atonement, and which is most properly said to be before the Lord, that is, before the place where God in a special manner dwelt. His going out relates to the holy of holies, into which he was said to go in, ver. 17.
Verse 19. Seven times - To signify its perfect cleansing, (seven being a number of perfection) and our perfect reconciliation by the blood of Christ.
Verse 21. All the iniquities - He mentions iniquities, transgressions, and sins, to note sins of all sorts, and that a free and full confession was to be made, and that the smallest sins needed, and the greatest sins were not excluded from, the benefit of Christ's death here represented. On the head - Charging all their sins and the punishment due to them upon the goat, which tho' only a ceremony, yet being done according to God's appointment and manifestly pointing at Christ upon whom their iniquities and punishments were laid, Isaiah liii, 5, 6, it was available for this end. And hence the Heathens took their custom of selecting one beast or man, upon whom they laid all their imprecations and curses, and whom they killed as an expiatory sacrifice for their sins, and to prevent their ruin. A fit man - Hebrew. a man of time, that is, of years and discretion, who may be trusted with this work. Into the wilderness - Which signified the removal of their sins far away both from the people, and out of God's sight. And here the goat being neglected by all men, and exposed to many hazards from wild beasts, which were numerous there, might farther signify Christ's being forsaken both by God and by men, even by his own disciples, and the many dangers and sufferings he underwent. The Jews write, that this goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called, ver. 10, and that there he was cast down headlong.
Verse 24. He shall put on his linen garments - Not his ordinary priestly linen garments, for he was to leave them in the tabernacle, ver. 23, but the high-priestly garments, called his garments properly, and by way of distinction. And this change of his garments was not without cause. For the common priestly garments were more proper for him in the former part of his ministration, both because he was to appear before the Lord in the most holy place to humble himself and make atonement for his own and for the people's sins, and therefore his meanest attire was most fit, and because he was to lay his hands upon that goat on which all their sins were put, by which touch both he and his garments would be in some sort defiled, and therefore as he washed himself, so we may presume his linen garments were laid by for the washing, as the clothes of him who carried away the scape-goat were washed, ver. 26. And the high-priestly garments were most proper for the latter part of his work, which was of another nature.
Verse 29. The seventh month - Answering part to our September and part to our October; when they had gathered in all their fruits, and were most at leisure for God's service: This timeGod chose for this and other feasts, herein graciously condescending to men's necessities and conveniences. This feast began in the evening of the ninth day, and continued till the evening of the tenth. Your souls - Yourselves, both your bodies, by abstinence from food and other delights, and your minds by grief for former sins, which though bitter, yet is voluntary in all true penitents, who are therefore here said to afflict themselves, or to be active in the work.
Verse 31. A sabbath - Observed as a sabbath-day from all servile works, and diligent attendance upon God's worship.
Verse 32. He - The high-priest, who was to anoint his successor.
Verse 34. This shall be an everlasting statute - By which were typified the two great gospel privileges; remission of sins, and access to God, both which we owe to the mediation of the Lord Jesus.