The Substitute for Atonement
February 6, 2020
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.
In the Old Testament, God gave his people a civil, ceremonial and moral law. Within the ceremonial law was a way for sins to be forgiven. God’s justice demanded death to pay for sin. God’s love provided a substitute to die instead of the sinner.
The substitute was to be a male animal without defect. Identifying himself with the sacrifice, the worshiper would lay his hand on the animal’s head. Then he, along with the priests, would kill the animal. The life of the animal was in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). As the blood left the body and death came, the worshiper identified with the death of the substitute that provided atonement – forgiveness, and reconciliation with God.
While the system of sacrifice was needed for the Old Testament believer, it was only a “shadow of the good things” to come (Hebrews 10:1). God was preparing his people for the perfect one-time-for-all-time sacrifice of Jesus. “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is the only one who can make atonement for our sins.
Father, just as the Old Testament believer identified himself with the sacrifice, I pray that you will lead a person reading this to identify with Jesus today by trusting in his work on the cross. Thank you for the atonement that only Jesus provides. I pray in his name. Amen.
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