Atonement for Personal Sin
The most important day in the Jewish religious calendar is the
Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). It is to this day central to Judaism even though the
sacrificial system came to an end with the destruction of the temple in A. D. 70. It is
the highest holy day in Judaism.
On the day of Atonement the high priest entered the Holy of Holies in
the tabernacle of the wilderness, and later the temple in Jerusalem, to make atonement for
the sins of the people of Israel.
The word atonement means, to cover the sin, and thus to
wipe out, to erase, to cover. In doing so the
sacrifice removed the guilt of mans sin before God. The removal of the
sin accomplished reconciliation between men and God. Perhaps this is why the Jewish rabbis
called it the Day, or the Great Day.
God provided the Day of Atonement to avert His wrath for sins already
committed and guarantee His presence with His people.
The sacrifice of the first goat and the sending the second one away
into the wilderness to die were intended to cleanse the nation, the priesthood, and the
sanctuary of sin.
Every sacrifice in the tabernacle reached its climax on that day.
Something was left undone in the daily sacrifice and rituals to cover sin. Only one day of
the year could the high priest enter into the Most Holy place and meet with God before the
mercy seat. Only on the Day of Atonement could the representative of the people enter into
this most solemn meeting place between God and man. It was only with the sacrificial blood
of the animal substitute that He could enter on behalf of the people and himself.
Why this special sacrifice for sin? Jehovah God is a most holy God
who will not permit sin in His presence. All of the combined offerings for sin could not
provide for unknown sins. With this special sacrifice God provided for complete atonement
of all sin committed during the year (Lev. 16:33). Or did it?
In reality the sacrifice of atonement on this special day did not
cover all sins once and for all because it had to be repeated yearly. It was a
type along with all of the other Jewish sacrifices of the atonement that God
would one day provide by the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Our great
high priest, Jesus Christ, offered up Himself in the shedding of His own blood on Calvary
to atone for the worlds sins (Heb. 9:11, 12; Rom. 3:25; 5:9-10; 1 Cor. 5:7; 2 Cor.
5:18-21; Gal. 3:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 5:9).
The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all that was
prefigured in the Old Testament sacrificial system. God was in Christ reconciling the
world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19).
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ secured our eternal
redemption. What the imperfect sacrifice of animals could not do, Jesus Christ did
once and for all for all who will believe on Him.
Christ represented us in His death. He is our substitute. One
has died for all (2 Cor. 5:14). Our representative is before the Father pleading our
case with His blood (1 Jn. 2:2). God graciously provided the perfect sacrifice for our
sin. It was an act of God in grace for sinful man. The death of Jesus Christ is what
provides atonement for the sinner. We can come into Gods presence only by that blood
(Matt. 26:28; Lk. 22:20; Col. 1:20). The atonement of Jesus Christ is once-for-all, never
to be repeated.
The Old Testament idea of substitution is prevalent in the expression
for us, for me. Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all
(1 Tim. 2:6; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Mk. 10:45). He became a curse for us (Gal.
3:13). The shedding of blood was central in making atonement for sin. A death occurred.
Someone died for the penalty of sin (Heb. 9:22; Rom. 5:8; Jn. 1:29, 36; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
One of the clearest expressions of the substitution idea is the
unintended prophecy of the high priest Caiaphas at the trial of Jesus in the early morning
hours of the day Jesus died. It is expedient for you that one man die for the
people, and that the whole nation should not perish (Jn. 11:50).
It is imperative that every individual appropriate the atonement of
Jesus Christ by faith. No one else can do it for you. You must put your faith in Christ as
your substitute in order to be saved from sin and spend eternity with God in heaven.
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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