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Epistle of James

People in the Life of Christ

The Beatitudes of Jesus

1 & 2 Thessalonians

Our Vital Union in Christ

Christ in the Psalms

7 Last Sayings of Jesus

Miracles at Calvary


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Perfect 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 man’s 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 world’s 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 God’s 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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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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