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In the days of Moses there was a ceremony which took place just once a year on behalf of the whole community. It was called The Day of Atonement and is remembered today by its Jewish name Yom Kippur. In Leviticus chapter 16 you can read about what happened in the days of Moses on this occasion. It is where the High Priest would take two goats, one to be sacrificed to God that its blood on the altar would atone for the sins of the community for one year.

The other goat would be prayed over by the High Priest and the leaders of the community, laying their hands on its head and confessing all the known sins of the community. The other goat, the one to be sacrificed to God would be killed and its blood sprinkled on the altar for the forgiveness of the sins of the High Priest and for the whole community of Israel.

If the goat sacrificed to God was without fault or blemish, then the sacrifice would be accepted by God and the sin of the whole community for that year would be atoned for. In order to prove to the whole community that the sacrifice had been accepted by God and that the sins of the community had been atoned for the High Priest would come out of the tabernacle and appear before the people once again.

If there were any physical defect in the goat which was sacrificed to God the High Priest would immediately drop dead, the bells round the bottom of his tunic would stop ringing and he would have to be pulled out of the tabernacle by his long girdle so that no lay person would have to enter the tabernacle at that time and themselves be struck down dead for entering the tabernacle without being summoned by God.

The whole of its blood would be drained from the sacrifice and what remained would be poured out on the Mercy Seat which was behind the veil behind the altar and was where the presence of God is believed to have physically resided. You will see from the study "Your Toad to Emmaus" that Jesus completely fulfilled the role of the High Priest as well as both the goats.

The goat that was sent out into the wilderness after the High Priest and the community leaders had laid their hands on it and confessed all the known sin of the community was known as the Scapegoat and this is the origin of the phrase still used widely to this day. Because Jesus made it very clear to us that we cannot obtain salvation and righteousness before God through our own efforts, Jesus opened up the way for us to come back into fellowship with Himself and enjoy the kind of intimacy He planned for us from the start.

The intention of sprinkling the Mercy Seat with the blood of the sacrifice was so that God's promise to the community could be fulfilled, that when He looked down on the community He would not see their sin but the blood of the sacrifice. This promise was for one year at a time, now, with the sacrifice for sin having been Jesus Himself, this promise is effective for all true believers for all eternity.

Before Jesus went to the cross He appealed to His Father that if there were any other way possible He could choose it, but committed Himself to whatever was Father's will. It happened like it did because there was no other way that forgiveness of sin and a righteous relationship with God could be achieved. Jesus is the greatest gift this world has ever been offered, but like any other gift if you do not receive it unto yourself and use it for the purpose for which is was intended then it will do you no good whatsoever.

On the cross Jesus took the full wrath of God for our sin, not just for our past sins, not even just for our present sins, but for the sin of the whole world for all time. All a person has to do is ask Him to forgive your sin, come into your live as your Saviour, Messiah and Lord and live a life thereafter in fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. If you do this and you do this you are born again by the Holy Spirit of God."

Some people today claim that Jesus only fainted on the cross and that He did not actually die, that is why He was able to come out of the tomb after three days. However the Apostle John clearly states that since Jesus had died on the cross sooner than expected to make absolutely sure that He was dead the Roman Soldier pierced Jesus side and out came blood and water, physical proof that Jesus was now dead.

John chapter 19 verses 31 to 35 reads: "Now it was the day of Preparation (preparation for the Sabbath) and the next day was to be a special Sabbath (proof that this could not therefore have been a Friday). Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies to remain on the cross throughout the Sabbath, they asked Pilot to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.

The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, then broke the legs of the other man crucified with Jesus, but when they came to Jesus they found He was already dead so they did not break His legs. Instead one of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a spear and out came blood and water. The man who saw it gives testimony and his testimony is true." The Roman Soldier pierced Jesus in the side in such a way that it had obviously and intentionally pierced Jesus heart. When anyone has this done to them you can be certain that they are dead immediately.

What we have been looking at today are events that are independently verified by ancient records. The scriptures say that "Darkness covered the land from noon until the 9th hour." The ninth hour of the Jewish day was actually 3pm, since their day began at 6am. Now we can be certain that Jesus died on the cross we will next look at the evidence that He rose again to life three days later, just as He said He would.

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