Leviticus 16:2 (AV)
And the LORD¹ said unto Moses²,
Speak unto Aaron³ thy brother,
that he come not at all times
into the holy⁴ place within⁵ the vail⁶
before⁷ the mercy seat⁸,
which is upon the ark⁹;
that he die not:
for I will appear¹⁰ in the cloud
upon the mercy seat⁸.
¹) Literally YHWH, meaning “the existing One”. YHWH is the proper name of the one true God.
²) The name “Moses” means “drawn” or “drawing out”.
³) The name “Aaron” means “light bringer”. He was a brother of Moses, a Levite, and the first high priest.
⁴) Apartness, sacredness, holiness.
⁵) On the inside.
⁷) Facing, in the presence of.
⁸) The mercy seat is the place of atonement. It is the golden plate of propitiation on which the High Priest sprinkled the seat 7 times on the Day of Atonement, symbolically reconciling YHWH and His chosen people.
⁹) Ark of the Covenant.
¹⁰) To appear, present oneself, to be present, to be seen, to be visible.
The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron your brother he must not come at all times into the Holy of Holies within the veil before the mercy seat upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat. [AMP] and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. [ESV] "Tell your brother Aaron not to enter into the Holy of Holies, barging inside the curtain that's before the Atonement-Cover on the Chest whenever he feels like it, lest he die, because I am present in the Cloud over the Atonement-Cover. [MSB] And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. [KJV] The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. [NIV] The LORD said to Moses, "Warn your brother Aaron not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; the penalty for intrusion is death. For the Ark's cover--the place of atonement--is there, and I myself am present in the cloud over the atonement cover. [NLT] and the LORD said to Moses: "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. [NKJV]
Some further information:
Before (Literally: “face”)
Means simply presence, as when it is recorded that Adam and Eve hid themselves from the “face [Revised Version: ‘presence’] of the Lord God” (Genesis 3:8; compare Exodus 33:14,15) where the same Hebrew word is rendered “presence”).
▪︎ The “light of God’s countenance” is his favour (Psalms 44:3; Daniel 9:17)
▪︎ “Face” signifies also anger, justice, severity (Genesis 16:6, 8:1ff.; Exodus 2:15; Psalms 68:1; Revelation 6:16)
▪︎ To “provoke God to his face” (Isaiah 65:3) is to sin against Him openly.
▪︎ The Jews prayed with their faces toward the temple and Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:38,44,48; Daniel 6:10)
▪︎ To “see God’s face” is to have access to Him and to enjoy His favour (Psalms 17:15, 27:8) This is the privilege of holy angels (Matthew 18:10; Luke 1:19)
▪︎ The “face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6) is the office and person of Christ, the revealer of the glory of God (John 1:14,18)
Now let us reflect on this
It was an institution of the Lord, that the high priest, only once a year, namely on the Day of Atonement, was allowed to enter the most holy place. And when he entered, the bowl with the sacrificial blood was in his hand, which he was to sprinkle on the golden lid of the atonement of the ark of the Lords.
Above that ark the Lord enthroned in majesty and holiness. And the glow of it would consume the one who entered, if he approached God’s presence without the blood of atonement.
That is why he was only safe in the presence of the Lord on the Day of Atonement.
This service, although it was only a shadow of that what was coming, was rich; But the service of fulfillment is much richer.
The ministry of Aaron is now over, but in its place has come the ministry of the Christ. And He does not go into the Holy of Holies once a year with the sacrificial blood of an animal, but is always there, with His own precious blood, which He has shed on Golgotha.
Therefore now poor sinners in themselves can and may also draw near daily to the throne of judgment, which because of that atoning blood has become a throne of grace. A real mercy seat.
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