On Sunday we will reach the very centre of our studies in the book of Leviticus: The Day of Atonement (Lev 16). As Alistair Roberts described it, the Day of Atonement is the “have you tried turning it off and on again?” day of the sacrificial system. It is the annual purge, the yearly cleansing ritual, the “if all else fails try this” day. The symbolism of the day is rich, though not always easy to grasp. Leviticus often doesn’t explain its own symbolism. It asks that you imagine yourself into it, and make sense of it by being curious and asking: “What might that mean?”.

It would be good to read ahead of Sunday and come along prepared to dig deep into this crucial part of God’s word. Here’s some questions that might help you get ready:

1. Try and get your head into what actually happens on that day.
See if you can map out the day’s events.
What happens when?
Who does what?
What would it be like to be an average Israelite?
Where are you?
What do you see?
What can’t you see?

2. What is the high priest’s role?
What do we see of him and learn about him in this process?

3. What sense can you make of the two goats?
Why two?
What purpose does each serve?
What might it all mean?

One of the curiosities of the passage is the status of the second goat. The text literally says it is “The Goat for Azazel”. This could mean “the goat that departs”, “the goat for the wilderness”, or even “the goat for the goat-demon” (”Azazel” was the name for a demon). We’ll explore this on Sunday.

See you there!

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