This preamble to the instructions for the ritual on the Day of Atonement reflects on the failure of the priesthood, represented by Aaron's sons. The event in question took place in Leviticus 10, but God uses it as a starting point for the annual cleansing and removal of sin. Thus, God's instructions begin with a reminder of how the priests had incurred His wrath due to their careless approach.
Recall that God instituted the sacrificial system because of Israel's failure in general; it was added to the Abrahamic covenant “because of transgressions” (Galatians 3:19). God says something similar in Jeremiah 7:22-23:
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.”
His original marching orders for Israel were simple: Obey His voice, walk in the ways He commanded—just as Abraham did—and the Creator Himself would be their God (Deuteronomy 27:9-10). Israel failed in this, so He added the Levitical priesthood and the sacrifices as a tutor (Galatians 3:24-25), to give Israel a disciplined, practical system of worship—as well as a reminder of sin (Hebrews 10:3)—until the Promised Seed arrived.
David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Four)