Atonement and Sacrifices

Full Atonement With One Perfect Sacrifice

Whenever you think of the Day of Atonement just remember the importance of that day to the Jews. Each year on the tenth day of the seventh month, God remembered all of the sins of that nation. Atoning sacrifices were always connected with appeasing the wrath of God (see Numbers 16:41-46; 25:1-13), and it was imperative that this holy day of atonement be observed.

Atoning sacrifices were always connected with appeasing the wrath of God.

Atoning sacrifices were always connected with appeasing the wrath of God.

Now consider how the observance of this day would have impacted the infant church. There were 3,000 who obeyed the gospel on Pentecost and so many more afterwards. They were promised the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), and it became a visible reality in their lives just four months after Pentecost. The Jews assembled again for the next annual feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, observed each year on the first day of the seventh month, and the feast lasted for an entire week. Just two days after the feast ended, the Day of Atonement was kept. The high priests carried the blood of a bull and a goat into the Most Holy Place and assuaged the wrath of God by sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat.

Perhaps those Christians in Jerusalem would have on that day seen the difference between the blood of animals and the blood of Jesus. Every devout Jew would have been mindful of the blood carried by the priest that day, except those who had become Christians. They would have vividly seen the distinction now made between the two covenants. Christians did not need the blood of animals. Their salvation had nothing at all to do with the events happening in the temple. There was a new law, a new altar, a new priesthood and a new blood sacrifice. That Old Testament Day of Atonement had been superseded by a far greater day of true atonement.

The new priesthood was not the Levitical priesthood established by Moses. The new high priest did not need to first offer blood sacrifices for himself, for the new high priest was sinless. He did not need to offer a yearly atoning sacrifice, for Jesus’ blood obtained eternal redemption! The book of Hebrews sums it up with these words. “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Heb. 13:10-14).

The words of a hymn say it all: “Full atonement, can it be? Hallelujah! What a Savior!”

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