“When they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the Altar to serve there or offer gift offerings to GOD, they are to wash so they will not die” (v20). The tabernacle’s activities involved all the senses: washing with water, smelling the incense, anointing with oil, seeing the brilliantly colored tapestries, and hearing the songs of thanksgiving. While these were ways of teaching about and experiencing God, they were not “just colorful rituals”; without proper observance, sinful humans could die in God’s presence.
“So as to make atonement for your lives” (v16). When we take sin seriously, we appreciate the atonement that Jesus made for us, once for all, by giving his own life in our place.