The only way God deals
with our sin is through the blood of the Lamb of
The very thought that the
LORD God and sinful man are brought together in an
intimate love relationship is expressed in the word
"at–one–ment." Behind this word is the
presupposition that alienation and hostility have
been overcome. Reconciliation and forgiveness are
also associated with atonement (Romans 5:11).
Atonement is needed
because of the depravity of man (Romans 1-3). The
LORD God is a holy God and He cannot look upon sin.
The word "atone" has the idea of "to wipe out," "to
erase," "to cover." It is often translated "to make
atonement," "forgive," "pardon," "purge," and
In the Scriptures, the
means of atonement was the offering of a bloody
sacrifice. God is seen providing the sacrifice and
man performing the rite. Man is not seen initiating
the relationship, but God. God made the provision
for sin in an act of grace. The shedding of blood is
the central action in making atonement for sin. This
theme is developed throughout the Scriptures.
Leviticus is a bloody
book. You read only a few verses and you are into
blood, sacrifices and offerings. There is the
shedding of blood and sprinkling of blood on altars
and veils. You can't escape it. It is not beautiful,
but it was never meant to be beautiful. It fully
meant to paint a picture of the awfulness of sin.
Sin is not so beautiful as portrayed every night on
our TV. It is ugly and it is deadly. "The wages of
sin is death." "The soul that sins will surely die."
Sin is always sinful. God
has never treated it lightly. It outrages the
holiness of God. The "wrath of God" is God's
opposition to all sin (Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28;
When the Hebrew heard the
word "blood", he most likely thought of a violent
death and in particular to denote the blood of
sacrifices. There was a close connection between
life and blood in Hebrew thought. No reference is
found to blood as indicating life distinct from
death. Leviticus 17:11 is not referring to life as
existent after the blood has been poured out, but to
death. It is a life given up in death. The life
ceases to exist when the blood is poured out. The
shedding of blood stands for the bringing to an end
of a life in the flesh. It is referring to physical
death. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood,
and I have given it to you on the altar to make
atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by
reason of the life that makes atonement."
In the Old Testament, the
shedding of blood in sacrifices has a special
significance. The sprinkled blood is a "covering"
for sin. The life of the animal was poured out in
death as a substitute for the people. The animal's
life was given up on behalf of the life of the
people. Judgment was carried out by transferring the
sin of the people to the animal sacrifice. The
Passover lamb and the scapegoat are substitutes for
the offerer. The animal sacrifice was a sign that
death had already taken place. Therefore, the death
angel passed over that individual. It is the
termination of life, the infliction of death that
atones. Death had violently taken place as a
substitute in the Passover sacrifice (Exodus 12:13).
The shedding of blood
signifies a violent death, killing or murder. Life
is associated with blood that flows through our
veins. Life was given up in the pouring out of its
precious blood. Death occurred. The dominant thought
of the Old Testament is the infliction of death
rather than the release of life. The natural
interpretation when we think of blood and shedding
of blood is death. The "blood of Christ" is a clear
expression for the death of Christ. Blood is the
symbol of sacrificial death; a life poured out in
death. It is not the releasing of life, but the end
of the life, death. Redemption is only possible by
blood life poured out. Hebrews 9:22 summarizes the
whole Old Testament teaching on sacrifice. "And
according to the Law, one may almost say, all things
are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of
blood there is no forgiveness."
The whole Old Testament
sacrifices find their fulfillment in the blood of
Christ in His sacrificial death (Hebrews 9:7-28;
13:11-12). God achieved our full complete
comprehensive redemption through the blood of Christ
(Heb. 10:20; 9:26). The substitutionary sacrifice of
Christ on the cross is all–sufficient and perfect to
deal with all our sin and guilt.
The Old Testament saints
anticipated the death of Christ for their sins by
offering animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ is the
substitute that has met the holy demands against the
sinner. The sinner was forgiven only after the
priest offered the bloody sacrifice anticipating the
death of Christ for sin (Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35;
5:10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7; 19:22; Numbers 15:22-28).
Paul said, "In Him (Christ) we have redemption
through His blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,
which He lavished upon us" (Ephesians 1:7-8).
By offering the
sacrificial blood, the worshiper was acknowledging
his own guilt and the just penalty of death. By the
atonement, God was "passing over," "overlooking" and
"covering" sins until Christ came. When Christ came
and died He did not pass over or cover it, but took
it away (John 1:29; 1 Peter 2:24). God's infinite
holiness was satisfied in the death of Christ (John
19:30). The sacrifices in the Old Testament
anticipated the efficacious blood of the perfect
Lamb of God. The atoning blood of the animal
sacrifices, by symbolizing the shed blood of Christ,
served to cover (atone) sin until the day when
Christ would actually deal with the sin. The death
of Christ proved that God was righteous in passing
over the sins for which the animal sacrifices had
been shed before His coming. God had forgiven sin
based on the promise of a sufficient Lamb. The death
of Christ proved God to be righteous in all that He
promised to the Old Testament saints.
Peter had the sacrificial
system of the Old Testament in mind when he wrote 1
Peter 1:18-19. So did Paul in Romans 3:24-25 and
John in Revelation 5:6-9. Jesus is clearly
reminiscent of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 when He speaks of
the "ransom" in Mark 10:45.
The expression "blood"
and "cross" are synonyms for the substitutionary
death of Christ. The expression "blood of Christ" is
used more frequently in the New Testament than
either the death of Christ or the cross of Christ.
Christ made an atoning sacrifice by the offering up
of His blood (Romans 3:25). We have been sprinkled
with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:2). The only
remedy for sin is the shed blood of the Lamb of God,
Jesus Christ (John 1:29). The blood of Christ refers
to the violent, voluntary, substitutionary death
upon the cross for men. The "blood of Christ"
reveals the significance which His death bears for
sinful men (Rom. 5:9). It is a once-for-all
accomplishment. We have been "sprinkled" by His
blood (Heb. 9:14; 10:19-23; 12:24; 13:20; 1 Pet.
1:2, 7). We have "redemption" through His blood
(Rom. 3:24), "propitiation in His blood through
faith" (3:25; 1 John 4:10), "justified by His blood"
(Rom. 5:9), "peace through the blood of the cross"
(Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20, 22). The death of Christ has
effected our reconciliation with God.
The blood of Jesus
removes from the believing sinner the wrath of God
(Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). God is the one who
removes His own wrath by the sacrifice He provides.
To "propitiate" signifies "the turning away of
anger," usually by an offering. Christ is that
offering provided by God.
The life of the sinner
was under the sentence of death until Christ by the
shedding of His blood in the death on the cross
released and cleansed us of all sin (Eph. 1:7; 1
Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 1:5; 5:9). Christ bore the
divine penalty and God is now free to forgive all
sin and declare the believing sinner just in His
sight (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).
The physical application
of His blood occurred only on the cross of Calvary.
However, the benefits of the finished work of Christ
continue to be applied to the believer today (1 John
1:7). Those who "drink" His blood and "eat" His
flesh appropriate by faith the benefits of His death
and find shelter from the wrath of God (John
The blood of the Passover
lamb sprinkled on the doorposts stood between the
firstborn and death when the death angel passed
through Egypt. God wrought His wrath on the
firstborn of Egypt. Only the blood of the Passover
lamb saved the firstborn that night. However, the
only begotten Son of God gave Himself as a
"propitiation" for the sins of the world. His blood
covers all our sins if we will only believe on Him.
It was a reminder that the children of Israel were
saved from death by the blood of the lamb.
"This cup is the new
covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink
it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:25). The
New Testament makes the teaching clear that the
death of Christ on the cross provides atonement. The
language of the Old Testament is expressed in the
world "blood" in the New Testament. The "new
covenant" of Christ is sealed by His blood,
The death of Christ is
the fulfillment of all that was prefigured by the
sacrifices in the Old Testament (1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1
Cor. 5:7; John 1:29, 36; 2 Cor. 5:21).
The blood of Jesus saves
us from the death of sin and eternal condemnation.
It is by His blood we are cleansed and forgiven. The
Passover and the Lord's Supper proclaims "the
message of the Cross" (1:18, 23; 2:2, 8).
1 John 1:7 reminds us
that "blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all
[every] sin." The blood of Jesus has the power to
cleanse from all sin. It purges the guilty
conscience form dead works and removes the sense of
guilt by perfect forgiveness. God has made a
covenant with the believer in the blood of Christ
(Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:25). The shed blood of
Christ consummates our redemption. Moreover, "we
have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood
of Jesus" (Hebrews 10:19).
The blood of bulls and
goats was incapable of taking away our sins (Heb.
10:4). Christ has taken away our sins by the
sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:24-28). Hebrews 9-10
interprets the cross of Jesus in terms of a
sacrificial system, particularly the Day of
Atonement. What the Temple sacrifices were unable to
accomplish, Christ actually did on the cross. The
Law and its sacrifices were "a shadow of the good
things to come" (Hebrews 10:1). We now have boldness
to enter into the Holy of Holies "by the blood of
Jesus" (10:19). Christ entered the heavenly
sanctuary with His own blood to make atonement for
us (9:24). By His dying He broke the veil of His
flesh and sprinkled His own blood upon the mercy
seat in the heavenly tabernacle in the presence of
God. Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself
In Hebrews 10:19 "blood"
stands for all that is implied in the sacrifice of
Christ. This sacrifice provides "a new and living
way" for all believers. "Blood" in Hebrews refers to
the death of Christ (9:14f; 12:24; 13:11ff). Christ
presented His offering in a heavenly and perfect
sanctuary (9:12). Something is done in the death of
Christ, which enables God to justify the ungodly who
believe on Christ, and at the same time enables God
to remain a righteous God. "The wages of sin is
death," and Christ died the sinner's death.
Christ was represented a
sacrifice for sin in the same sense in which the sin
offerings in the Old Testament were sacrifices. The
New Testament teaching on Christ's death makes it
clear that Christ's blood was shed as a sacrifice
which God Himself provided to meet His holy demands
against sin. Jesus was the substitute for sinners,
who bore our guilt, suffered the penalty of the law
in our stead, and reconciled us to God. Christ is
the sacrifice that perfectly fulfills all that is
foreshadowed in the Levitical system. He is the one
sacrifice that removes all sin. All that the
sacrifices dimly foreshadowed is perfectly fulfilled
in Christ. He did what the animal sacrifices could
never do. The blood of Christ cleans the soul from
Blood is associated with
the covenant (Heb. 9; 13:20); remission (Matt.
26:29; Mk. 14:24; Heb. 9:22b; Isa. 53; Heb. 13:12;
sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2; Heb. 2:10-11; 9:13-15);
redemption (Eph. 1:7; Jn. 1:29; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet.
1:18-19; Rev. 5:9; Acts 20:28); propitiation (Rom.
3:25); peace (Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20); reconciliation
(Col. 1:20-22; Rom. 5:10ff); victory (Rev. 12:11);
justification (Rom. 5:9); and through it entrance
into the Holy of Holies (Heb. 10:19-20).
Now that Christ has died
for sin the only requirement, regardless of the
degree of guilt, is to believe on Him as your
Savior. The death of Christ on the cross answered
the divine judgment against every sin. God is
uncompromised in His holiness. God justifies the
sinner who does nothing more than believe in Jesus.
He can remain just and righteous because of the
substitutionary death of Christ who paid the debt
for the believing sinner.
The resurrection of
Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit are proof
that God is satisfied with the death of Christ for
our sins (Rom. 4:25; 1 John 2:2; Romans 8:16;
"In this is love, not
that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His
Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 John
17:11 Blood of Atonement
in the Old Testament