Sacrifice of Atonement

by Dr. Blake Killingsworth

Day 9 of Advent

Today's Reading

Leviticus 16:29-34

Sin is rampant. If you doubt that, just go online. The many forms of sin strike you across the face before you even make one click. You see pride, you see gluttony, you see idolatry. You see hatred, you see slander, you see man’s inhumanity against man. In short, you see sin.

The same is true in all of our lives. Sin is cancer that just never goes away. So it has been since the Fall.

That is why we have the Book of Leviticus. It was the guidebook to navigate a life full of sin. In there, the Lord provided the Law, not as a means to salvation, but to remain connected to Him. The most prominent means of that connection came not in our ability to keep the Law, but in the sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf—the Sacrifice of Atonement.

As seen in our passage for today, every year, the people had to gather for the High Priest to carry out this Sacrifice of Atonement; a “lasting ordinance” made “once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

Sin is rampant, and the atonement for that sin had to match its level of destruction.

Notice the problem faced by the Israelites. Indeed, they could sacrifice the ram and the goats and sprinkle the blood in the altar. They could also establish the scapegoat, a special sacrifice designed to place all the blame on a single creature and release him to the wild, thus casting out the sin from among the people. But they had to do it over and over and over again.

For generation after generation, the same sacrifices had to be made because for generation after generation, the same sin remained. If only something could be done to make an end to the cycle of sacrifices. If only one lamb could be slain for the sins of all and one goat be cast away, removing the sin from the camp.

Praise be to God that even as He established this system of perpetual sacrifices, He never intended for it to be eternal. From the foundation of the earth, He purposed to provide the ultimate Sacrifice of Atonement in the person of Jesus Christ.

Paul picks up on this theme in Romans 3. As he explains, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is made nowhere more evident than in the continual sacrifice system that was established in Leviticus. Yet it doesn’t end there.

He goes on to explain that we can be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  And here is the connection point—“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.”

Do you see what God did there? Like one of those “Easter eggs” you see in the movies, God planted back at the heart of the Law the means through which He would save the world, the ultimate Sacrifice of Atonement, Jesus Christ.

Unlike the continual sacrifice system, Christ’s death provided full atonement once for all who believe in Him. After Christ, there was no need for a ram, no need for lambs, and no need for a scapegoat. He took the place of it all.

Christmas certainly brings with it a sense of joy and peace. It shows the love and care God has for us, and we can share with others. But above all, it is the means through which God brought into the world the sacrifice to save the world.

In the manger, God provides for us a sacrifice for our atonement, which is the most precious and amazing gift we could ever receive.

Have you spent time thanking Him for that gift today? More than that, are you ready to go beyond mere words of gratitude and live a life that demonstrates the reality of the atonement?

God gave His Son to be our ultimate sacrifice so that we can be in right standing with Him. In response, we owe Him our very all. Are you willing to sacrifice yourself today?