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What Is The Meaning Of Atonement In The Bible

The Reading Of The Torah

The Meaning of Atonement | Romans 4 – Lesson 5

In the morning service six people are called to the reading of the Torah from the portion Aarei Mot , whose subject is the Day of Atonement. The *maftir is the section in Numbers dealing with the additional sacrifices of the Day of Atonement , and the haftarah is Isaiah 57, from verse 15 until 58:14 , in which the prophet describes the ideal fast. During the afternoon service three men are called to the reading of the Torah of Leviticus 18, which deals with incest prohibitions . The haftarah is the Book of Jonah and Micah 7:1820, whose subject is ideal repentance and its effect, and Gods forgiving mercy .

Jesus And The Day Of Atonement

The Tabernacle and the Temple gave a clear picture of how sin separates humans from the holiness of God. In Bible times, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies by passing through the heavy veil that hung from ceiling to floor, creating a barrier between the people and the presence of God.

Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter and offer the blood sacrifice to cover the sins of the people. However, at the very moment when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew 27:51 says, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”

Thus, Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross of Calvary is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Hebrews chapters 8 through 10 beautifully explain how Jesus Christ became our High Priest and entered heaven , once and for all, not by the blood of sacrificial animals, but on the cross. Christ himself was the atoning sacrifice for our sins thus, he secured for us eternal redemption. As believers, we accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the full and final atonement for sin.

The Atonement Of Christ

At the very heart of the Christian system lies the all-important doctrine of the Atonement. The Apostle Paul, himself an advocate of sound doctrine, in a condensed statement of what the Christian Church believes, said,

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures .

Though the Gospel according to Paul included a sinless and a bodily-resurrected Christ, he gives first place to the fundamental fact that Christ died for our sins. In spite of the fact that some religious leaders object vigorously to the Doctrine of the Atonement, that the Death of Jesus Christ was sacrificial and necessary for mans redemption, we proceed on a sound biblical basis to pursue this great subject.

The word atonement in the Authorized Version of the Bible is an Old Testament term. It appears only once in the New Testament where it is translated reconciliation in the Revised Version. It is not entirely fanciful to suggest the idea of at-one-ment because the word atonement is used to refer to the atoning death of Christ through which the sinner is reconciled to God, restored to His favor.

In this study we will give thought to the biblical teaching how the death of Christ and the shedding of His blood atones for mans sin.

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What You Are Longing For In Those Moments After Youve Fallen Is Atonement

The English word is a combination phrase originally meaning at-one-ment or at-one-with. It means that you feel in every bit of your being the fracture in our relationship with God and you desire for it to be made right. That doesnt mean you desire God, necessarily. But it means that you are created in the image of God and you know things are not as they were meant to be.

So, what did Adam and Eve do in that moment? And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. They were laid bare before each other and before the Creator of the universe. Their solution shows us how deeply sin had already penetrated their hearts. They did not think of going to the Father who said he would provide everything they need. Instead, they attempted self-atonement.

And we have been doing the same thing ever since.

But it doesnt work.

What Is Atonement In The Bible

Definition Of Atonement

Atonement isnt a word we frequently use in our daily vernacular. But it merely means the reparation for an offense or injury. or the act of showing you are sorry for doing something wrong in the past.

It has the same meaning as more familiar words such as reparation, payment, restitution, or amends.

Atonement also means bringing two things together. When we break it down, atonement is a combination of at-one and ment. And it was often used in the 1500s English to mean being at one with others.

Biblical atonement has a little bit of both definitions. However, there is one key difference in its usage. For further understanding, lets look at the original Hebrew and Greek words.

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Who Does The Scapegoat Represent

So, who does the Scapegoat represent? Most Christians believe that the Scapegoat or the live goat represents Jesus since He is called the Lamb of God. Virtually all Lambs and Goats in the Bible are said to represent Christ.

But this live goat is not sacrificed like all the other examples in the Bible. Nor is his blood taken as part of the atonement process like all the other animals that are sacrificed. We know that Jesus was also sacrificed for our atonement and that His blood had to be taken into the heavenly Sanctuary to atone for our sins. This is the pattern that we see.

  • But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building
  • Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but , having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:11-12
  • So, this scapegoat does not represent Jesus since there is no shedding of any blood. The goat is just left to die out in the wilderness with the sins of the righteous that had been placed on him. After all, it is indeed a scapegoat! Thus, the live goat bears all their iniquities on itself and dies with all the sins.

  • ‘And he shall burn all its fat on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of the peace offering. So the priest shall make atonementfor him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:26
  • However when the scapegoat is mentioned, we find that it was done to make atonement upon or with it.

    The Old Testament Sanctuary

    God commanded Moses to build a Sanctuary so that He may dwell among them:

  • “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8
  • So, Moses directed in the building of the sanctuary according to the instructions that God gave him. This Sanctuary had two apartments. The first apartment was also called the holy place. It was used for everyday use throughout the year in the daily services. So when the sinner came to have their sins forgiven them, the priests would often go inside the first apartment in order to make an atonement for the sinner.

    The second apartment was where the Ark of the Covenant was located. This apartment was called the most holy place. The high priest would go into the most holy place only once a year on the day of atonement, to make a final atonement for the people of Israel for each year. The glory of God would often shine in this place. The Holy presence would be above the top covering of the Ark of the Covenant. This covering was also called the mercy seat. Inside the Ark was Aaron’s rod that budded, a golden pot with manna, and also the two tables of stone containing the 10 Commandments that God wrote with His finger.



    The table of showbread was on the north side of the first apartment or outer apartment while the golden candlesticks were on the south side. We also saw that showbread was also present, which was placed on the table in two stacks of six, 12 in all.

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    Jesus The Perfect Substitute

    The author of Hebrews helps us see that the Old Testament sacrifices were incompletethey were just a shadow pointing to the reality. As Hebrews 10:1-3 says:

    “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.”

    This is why the sacrifices had to be done over and over and over again. But Christ was able to make a once for all sacrifice. He is the perfect Lamb of God.

    Could The Scapegoat Be Satan

    The Bible and the Day of Atonement

    This scapegoat cannot represent Jesus since there is no shedding of any blood. On the other hand, this goat does bear the responsibility for all the sins of the righteous people. So, the only one that this could represent is Satan. He is the originator of all sin Thus, he is actually responsible because he is the one who tempted the righteous, he or the evil angels under him.

  • He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. . . 1 John 3:8
  • “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44
  • So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9
  • The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10
  • Since Satan has deceived practically the whole world, He will one day receive his punishment just like people will receive their punishment one day.

  • The wicked plots against the just, And gnashes at him with his teeth.
  • The Lord laughs at him, For He sees that his day is coming. Psalm 37:12-13
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    An Observance To Keep Todaywith Fasting

    In Leviticus 23:27Leviticus 23:27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.

    American King James Version×, translated as afflict. Thus, to afflict ones soul or being refers to the humbling process we go through when we fast. This day of fasting is for the purpose of humbling ourselves before God in a repentant and obedient frame of mindto practice self-control with Gods help as we seek Him.

    This time of fasting is not for the purpose of appearing to other people to be righteous .

    Fasting typifies the kind of humble, repentant and obedient attitude we as Christians must have. Christ promised that in the ages following His first coming, His disciples would fast on occasion .

    In fact the Day of Atonement is still mentioned long after Christs death and resurrection as the Fast in Acts 27:9Acts 27:9Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,

    Why Is Blood Necessary Is God Blood

    This can all seem a little barbaric to us. It sounds a bit like something we would read of the angry and tyrannical Roman gods who required sacrifices in order to appease whatever whim they had that day. Why does God require a goat to die in order for a person to live? Is the God of the Bible no different than the pagan gods we read about? I appreciate the way The Bible Project has answered this question:

    The problem is, when we come to read about animal sacrifice in the Bible, we unfortunately assume that the same gods are at work. Much of popular Christian belief has simply imported this pagan storyline, reminiscent of the Greek and Babylonian cultural texts referenced above, into Leviticus and the stories about Jesus death on the cross. The result is a tragic irony. What the Bible is portraying as an expression of Gods love gets twisted into something dark. Our version goes like this:

    God is holy and perfect. You are not. Therefore, God is angry at you, hates you even, and so he has to kill you. But, because hes merciful, hell let you bring this animal to him and will have the animal killed instead of you.

    Our sin really has made a fraction between us and God. We have broken fellowship with God. Weve also wreaked havoc upon Gods creationwhich includes other people. Therefore, restitution must be made.

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    Leviticus 1: 11 Tells Us Why Blood Is Necessary

    “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” The wage of sin is death. And life is found in the blood. Therefore, in order for the wages of sin to be paid blood is required. This shows the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.

    Animals were sacrificed in the Old Testament, and in Genesis 3, to ultimately point to the Lamb of God. This is what Jesus meant in when he said his life was given as a ransom.

    The Meaning Of The Day The Day Of Atonement In Philosophic Aggadic And Belletristic Literature

    What Is Atonement in the Bible?

    In the Pentateuch there is no reference to mourning practices on the Day of Atonement. On the other hand, the Book of Jubilees maintains that the Day of Atonement, the one day in the year when forgiveness is granted to all who repent fully , was established on the day that Jacob heard of Josephs death and mourned for him. For this reason one should always be sad on this day , and atonement is made with a male goat as a reminder of the male goat which Josephs brothers slaughtered and in whose blood they dipped his shirt. This conception of the Day of Atonement as a day of sadness is peculiar to the author of the Book of Jubilees and does not appear elsewhere in Judaism except among many Karaites who instituted mourning practices on the Day of Atonement.

    During the Middle Ages, the character of the Day of Atonement as a joyful and a festive day did not change, but emphasis was also put upon its character as a day of judgment and justice and as the hour of signing the verdict. As did Philo and the sages, the medieval philosophers also describe the Day of Atonement as a day when the soul, freed from corporal fetters, attains the peak of its perfection in the service of God .

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    The Earthly Sanctuary And Its Serviceswas A Shadow Of Heavenly Things

    The earthly Sanctuary of the Israelites was originally where all the atoning of sin was done. But when Jesus died, the purpose of the earthly sanctuary was finished. Thus invisible hands ripped the veil of the temple from top to bottom showing that God’s presence would no longer be there.

  • And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
  • Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, Matthew 27:50-51
  • Now, while the earthly sanctuary is no longer functional, nor needed Yet, the old sanctuary and its services is something we should look into because it was a copy and shadow of what is to happen in heaven:

  • For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer.
  • For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law
  • who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:3-5
  • Moses was divinely instructed to make all things according to the pattern he saw on the mountain. Thus, everything was a copy and shadow of the heavenly Sanctuary.

  • concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.

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