“For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD,” Leviticus 16:30
Atonement is an act ordained by God and effected by man whereby a sinner is cleansed in the presence of God. The sinner for whom the atonement was made by a priest was no ordinary person—it was one who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, understood in his heart that he had sinned and believed that, until this sin was removed (cleansed) from his conscience, it was impossible to be reconciled with God, “And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned,” (Leviticus 4:27-28). This person was not compelled by anyone to offer a sacrifice but, rather, he freely brought it of his own will as empowered by the Holy Spirit, “If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD” (Leviticus 1:3). With the priest as a witness the guilty person laid his hands upon the head of the animal, as did Aaron, and confessed that he had sinned against God, “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:21). The sin that the guilty person confessed before the priest was that which he knew and which troubled his conscience, “And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing” (Leviticus 5:5). The animal was accepted as the atonement or payment for sin and it was killed in front of the priest who sprinkled the animal’s blood for the forgiveness of the guilty person’s sins, “And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. And he shall kill the bullock before the LORD: and the priests, Aaron's sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Leviticus 1:4-5) and, “… and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:31).
These animal sacrifices, however, did not permanently remove sin, as past sins were confessed again and again, “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4). It took God Himself to provide the perfect sacrifice in Jesus, “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God “(Romans 3:25). Thus all past sins are permanently forgiven when a guilty person believes the blood of Christ declared (sprinkled) by a servant of God, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Jesus’ death on the cross made the final payment (atonement) for the sins of the world, “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12), “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). In like manner those in the Old Testament who believed in the redemptive work of Christ to come were also saved, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). Because we are all sinners let us with confidence have our hearts cleansed of the sins that weigh on our conscience through the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus as applied by a servant of God, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
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Contact us at:
Eastern Missionary Association
PO Box 69
Hancock, MI 49930
Chairman: Pastor Ernest (Chuck) Bylkas III
Phone: (906) 281-4983
Secretary: Charles Korhonen
Treasurer: Pastor Ernest (Chuck) Bylkas III