Pastor Randy’s Top 66 – Leviticus
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” Leviticus 17:11
One of the primary or fundamental or foundational doctrines of the Christian faith is that of the atonement. Atonement, in general, means to make satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; it usually involves some sort of payment, whether it be financial, work oriented, or more graphically, in the taking of a life, to make amends, pay back whatever harm had been caused by the other person.
Atonement is the central message of the Christian faith because it is the hunger of all humans – although they do not see it or agree with it – to be reconciled, to be in a harmonious relationship with the Lord God Almighty. Fallen man won’t agree because he generally sees himself as ‘okay’, although this same person will do all the good works he can muster up to bring some sort of peace in his heart, and he doesn’t even know why or to who he is trying to do this for.
All cultures – all religions – have some sort of view of atonement – some way of appeasing their god because of the innate guilt within them. And many of these cultures and religions see that the ultimate sacrifice – the taking of a life – is what is required to appease their gods. In the Old Testament the Lord set a means by which His children could be forgiven for their sins. It started when the Lord slew an animal and took its skin to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. The taking of the animals life – the ‘shedding of its blood’ (which means the taking of life) – ‘satisfied’ the righteous and holy justice of God. A price had to be paid for sin against the perfect God, and sin is so grievous to His holiness that the only ‘atonement’ could be the taking of the life.
But in God’s love, mercy and grace, He provided a way that Adam and all of His children henceforth could be forgiven; through the sacrificial system. So, in this case, atonement meant ‘a covering’. Just as Adam and Eve were ‘covered’, their sins, and the sins of the faithful who brought the proper sacrifice were ‘covered’ as well.
But, as we read in the New Testament Book of Hebrews, the tenth chapter and first verse: “The law (and everything done in the worship experience in the Old Testament) is a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves.’ So, the sacrifices, the washings, the fasting, the tabernacle, then the Temple, the priesthood, the tithes, the dietary laws et al, are just shadows pointing to the perfection of this atonement system found in Christ.
So, when we read in Leviticus 17:11 that the Lord has given to His children the blood or life of the animal to be an atonement for their sin, we see the Lord’s amazing grace graphically depicted. Remember, the holy, righteous and just Lord God doesn’t have to do anything to make us right with the Lord. He could have just as easily – and justly – left us dead in our sins – but according to His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ (through His sacrifice – through His atonement for our sins) even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9).
And there’s a big difference between the Old Testament ritual of atonement (animal sacrifice) and Christ’s sacrifice. The animal sacrifice just ‘covered’ the sins of the faithful children of God; it never got to the root of the sinful nature because – as Hebrews 10:4 tell us – “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins”. The blood of animals can cover the sins, but not take away the sins. This is why Jesus is the perfect sacrifice – the perfect sacrifice of atonement for our sins. He didn’t just cover our sins, but He ripped out of us the very sinful nature of us. Romans 6:6 tell us, :”For we know that our old self/sinful nature was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…”.
So, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was absolutely perfect – no longer a shadow, but the fulfillment of everything the Triune Lord God had in store for the complete redemption of His children. The Book of Hebrews is so rich, it’s hard to just quote one verse to make a point! So, I’ll end this dissertation on the Levitical blood sacrificial system with these amazing verses from Hebrews 9:23-28 –
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Thank you Jesus for dying in my place and paying completely and permanent my debt of sin that I owed to the Father. Thanks be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit! Amen!