The Day of Atonement

Written by Kyle Power

If you are following along on our Bible reading plan you read Leviticus 23 earlier this week. And if you are not doing the reading plan, I would encourage you to jump in with us, grab a bookmark from church this Sunday! Leviticus is a hard book full of rules, guidelines, punishments and festivals the Israelites were supposed to observe. Leviticus chapter 23 talks about one of those festivals called the Day of Atonement.

"The Lord said to Moses, The tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement... when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God."

The Israelites were human, they sinned, they screwed up, they messed up, they broke promises, they missed deadlines, they didn't always do what they said they were going to do, they lied, they cheated, they stole, they murdered, they were broken people.   Because of their brokenness, they needed God; they needed His provision, His guidance, and His forgiveness. You read it all over the Old Testament, God lead Israel out of Egypt by a pillar of fire and a cloud, He told David when to engage in battle and when not to, He forgave sins, He stayed faithful to the covenant with Israel.

As we keep reading through this plan I hope you notice the pattern - God saves His people from the destruction they brought on themselves. They cheer and pledge their loyalty and their love to God, but then they forget, break their promises and walk away from God. He warns them about what will happen if they continue in their ways. Israel is stubborn and rarely listens, which leads to slavery and destruction, but God stays faithful to His people and His promises. Eventually He restores them, and it all starts over from the beginning again!

God set up this "Day of Atonement" as a yearly festival where the priests would offer a sacrifice as Atonement, as payment, for the people's sins. As in God was receiving the sacrifice of the animal rather than releasing His wrath on the people. This was a yearly tradition because, well, they kept sinning, and animal sacrifice was not a perfect sacrifice, so it needed to be repeated.

Here's the cool part - JESUS WAS THE PERFECT SACRIFICE. Jesus was the perfect human, which allowed Him to be the perfect sacrifice for all of humanity to atone for EVERY sin, past, present and future. The festival the Israelites celebrated year after year after year was pointing them again to their need of a sacrifice that would be enough that would actually cover their sins.

Jesus atoned for your sins, meaning he paid the price! The wages of sin is death, and yet your penalty for your sins has already been paid by the perfect sacrifice - the sacrifice that will never have to be repeated!

Trusting in Jesus as your savior, means that you are forgiven, you have been forgiven already. I hope that truth gives you some peace today. I hope it also gives you confidence to live with confidence and not shame - God saw you as worth sending his son to pay your penalty for your sins. You matter.