“He is to take from the community of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Aharon is to present the bull for the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and his household.”-Leviticus 16:5-6
Verses 5 and 6 of Leviticus chapter 16 reveal the dual nature of the YOM KIPPUR rituals.
The people of Israel, as a whole, are to provide two male goats for their national HATTA-AT (Purification Offering).
And Aaron, the High Priest, is to provide a young bull as his own HATTA-AT to be offered up on behalf of himself.
After lots are drawn for the scapegoat ritual (which I went into in depth in my last post), the sacrificial bull for Aaron and his family is slaughtered and placed on the Brazen Altar to be burned up.
Afterwards, Aaron takes a fire-pan or censer, fills it up with hot coals from the Brazen Altar (where the bull is being roasted), adds some special incense to it and then heads towards the sanctuary.
Now this is where the real danger begins.
Aaron is about to enter the very presence of God and based on everything we’ve studied about thus far about the nature of God, we know that the Lord cannot and will not tolerate one speck of UNCLEANNESS in His presence.
If Aaron makes one tiny slip up and transgresses upon the Lord’s HOLINESS while inside the Holy of Holies, he’s done for and he knows it.
Aaron takes his smoldering fire-pan, pulls back the PAROKHET (the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies) and approaches the KAPPORET (the Mercy Seat).
He then lays the censor filled with the burning coals next to the mercy seat.
At this stage, HOLY smoke emanating from the Lord’s presence fills up the space between the wings of the cherubim stationed on each side of the Mercy Seat.
This is the very spot where God’s presence connects with mankind on earth.
Now why did the Lord engulf the Mercy Seat with smoke?
There are two reasons.
First, remember that no man can look upon the Lord’s essence and live.
The wall of smoke was a protective barrier that allowed Aaron to face the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat.
The smoke allowed him to be in the same room with the presence of the Holy One.
Second, recall that YHVH traveled with Israel in the form of a cloud.
So there is an obvious connection to this point.
The important thing to remember is that the cloud of smoke was not for the benefit of the Lord.
It was to protect the High Priest “lest he die”.