Sermon on the Holy Son 2
What Do the Old Testament’s
Laying on of Hands and the New Testament’s Baptism Mean?
< Leviticus 1:3-4 >
“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice
of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer
it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting
before the LORD. Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt
offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement
The Old Testament tells us that when
the people of Israel gave to God their offering of the remission
of sin, they had to make sure to bring an unblemished animal and
to put their hands on its head. And it is also written that when
priests, on their behalf, killed the animal, drew its blood, put
the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and poured
the rest of it on the ground, then they would receive the remission
of a day’s worth of sins.
On the other hand, to be forgiven
of a year’s worth of sins, Leviticus 16:6-10 states, “Aaron shall
offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make
atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats
and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of
meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for
the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring
the goat on which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.
But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be
presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and
to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.” In the Bible,
the scapegoat means “to give out.”
In addition, Leviticus 16:29 says,
“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month,
on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and
do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger
who dwells among you.”
How were the people of Israel forgiven
of a year’s worth of their sins all at once? First, they needed
the High Priest—in the main passage above, this was Aaron at the
time. To make a year’s worth of the Israelites’ sins, it was absolutely
required to have the High Priest. Who, then, was the representative
of the priests of the Israelites? It was none other than Aaron.
God set aside Aaron and his descendants as the High Priest.
Aaron brought a bull into the Tabernacle’s
court, passed his sins onto it by first putting his hands on its
head to make atonement for himself and his house, cut its throat
open, drew its blood, and took some of the blood of the bull and
sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side;
and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with
his finger seven times. This is how Aaron and his house first received
the remission of sin. Atonement means passing one’s sins onto the
sacrificial animal by putting his hands on its head. The vicarious
death of this sacrificial animal is atonement.
The sinful must die because of their
own sins, but when they pass their sins onto the sacrificial offering
by laying their hands on its head, then this animal is put to death
instead. This is how the High Priest and his house were first remitted
of their sins. After doing so, he entered into the Tabernacle by
himself and offered one of the two goats to God by laying their
hands on its head and killing it to take its blood. On behalf of
the people of Israel, he then laid his hands on the other goat before
their presence and thereby passed their sins onto this goat.
Putting his hands on the head of the
goat, the High Priest therefore prayed, “Oh, Lord, the people of
Israel have broken Your Law, from the first to the last of Your
Ten Commandments, and all the 613 articles of the Law. Lord, all
these tribes have become sinners before You. I therefore pass all
their sins onto the sacrificial goat by laying my hands on its head.”
He then cut the goat’s throat, drew its blood, and took this blood
into the Most Holy, where he was allowed to enter only once a year.
He then sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat on the east side,
covering the Ark of the Testimony, and before the mercy seat he
again sprinkled the blood seven times.
The Ark of Testimony was placed inside
the Most Holy. The covering of this Ark was called the mercy seat,
and when this covering was removed, one would have seen the two
stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the golden pot that had the
manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded inside the Ark. Aaron’s rod that
budded refers to resurrection, the two stone tablets of the Law
refers to the righteousness of God, and the golden pot that had
the manna refers to God’s Word of life. On top of the Ark of the
Testimony, a covering called the mercy seat was placed. The blood
of the sacrifice was sprinkled seven times before the covering.
As bells of gold were attached to the hems of the robe worn by the
High Priest, whenever he sprinkled the blood dipped in hyssop, the
bells made sound.
As Leviticus 16:14 explains, “He
shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his
finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy
seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.”
Every time the High Priest sprinkled the blood, the bells rang,
and outside the Tabernacle, all the Israelites heard the sound of
these ringing bells, for all the sins of the people of Israel could
be blotted out only when the High Priest offered this sin offering
on their behalf. As such, for the people of Israel, this sound of
the ringing bells coming from inside the Most Holy was the blessed
sound of the gospel that told them that their sins were all blotted
When they heard the golden bells sounding
seven times, they told themselves, “I am free now. I had been burdened
by all the sins that I accumulated over the past year, but now this
burden has been lifted.” On this Day of Atonement, the people of
Israel won their freedom from all sins, and then went back to their
everyday life in joy. Now, in the present, this sound of bells is
none other than the very sound of blessings that enables us to be
born again of water and the Spirit. The gospel has the power of
dynamite that can blow away all sins once and for all.
We have been saved by hearing with
our ears, believing in our hearts, and confessing with our mouths
our faith in the Word of God, the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The gospel of the remission of sin enables us to be born again of
water and the Spirit. Leviticus 16:21-22 states, “Aaron shall
lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it
all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions,
concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat,
and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable
man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited
land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” The
offering that thus accepted all the sins of the Israelites passed
onto it by the laying on of hands then carried these sins on itself,
roaming the sand desert until its ultimate death. This was the Old
Testament’s remission of sin.
It is written in Jeremiah 17:1 that
everyone’s sins are written in two places before God. One is God’s
Book of Judgment, and the other is people’s own hearts. As such,
to be forgiven by God for our sins, we must receive the remission
of our sins, and sins should be erased both in God’s Book of Judgment
and in our own consciences. Also, we must receive this remission
of sin by believing righteously before God.
This is why the High Priest performed
the ritual of the sin offering that atoned for all the sins of the
people of Israel by putting his hands on the head of the goat in
their presence—to show them, in other words, that all their sins
were indeed passed onto the goat.
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When people hear this good news of
the gospel, some people realize it soon, while others are slow to
understand it. Those who say, as soon as they hear, “If I had been
sinful but my sins were passed onto the goat, then it is the goat
that now has these sins”—these are the ones whose realization is
quick. When our sins are passed onto the sacrificial offering, then
we become sinless. How simple is this? Once one realizes it, truth
is easy to grasp. When the goat disappears from the sight and the
man who sent it off returns, the goat then roams in the wilderness
with neither vegetation nor water, and in the end dies with the
sins of all the Israelites on its shoulder.
This is how the righteous law of God,
that “the wages of sin is death,” was fulfilled. God, in other words,
saved the nation of Israel by sacrificing this goat, the sacrificial
offering, for their sake. God passed all the sins that all the Israelites
had accumulated all year long onto the goat, and thereby saved them.
In the New Testament, Jesus has given
us salvation by being baptized and crucified (Matthew 3:15-17; 1