The Book of Leviticus, the book of regulations for the priesthood, worship, festivals, sacrifices and the blood of atonement. There is a long list of requirements and procedures for the sacrifices of bulls, sheep, goats, pigeons and dove. All of which have some special requirement for the blood of the sacrifice.
But, what did the animals do? Why are they being sacrificed for the sins of humans? How does that “atone” for someone’s sins? Other than the financial loss of the sacrificial animal, there seems to be little actual punishment for the offender. Follow along with me and my layman’s look at the penalties and atonement of sin in the book of Leviticus.
Not one is Righteous
As we are reminded in the new testament writings of the Apostle Paul “Romans 3:10 – 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;” Nobody, on their own performance, is righteous before God. We just can’t do it on our own.
It was no different for the Israelites, the were responsible to keep the law, the whole law in it’s entirely – ALL THE TIME. As we see in the book of James 2:10 – “10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend on one point, he is guilty of all”.
We are all guilty and deserving of God’s wrath and judgment. However, by his own design and grace, God has provided a means to satisfy his righteous wrath and make atonement for all our sins.
Justice Requires Atonement
The book of Leviticus gave the people specific rules for atoning for their sins that involved animal sacrifice, and the involvement of the priest. Each time one discovered a sin, they were required to bring to the priest the required sacrifice. Makes you wonder: What if you sinned and died before you could make the sacrifice?
If you sinned again, it required another sacrifice so the blood of animals was only a temporary atonement for a specific sin. The sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross became the perfect and permanent sacrifice for sin. Previous, current and future sins for the entire world to those who believe.
A righteous God demands justice, and how can there be justice if sin is not paid for? God the founder and creator of all that is good and righteous punishes the guilty and yet provide a means of reconciliation of the sinner to himself.
The Need for a Mediator
Throughout the book of Leviticus it becomes apparent that, while the one who sinned must provide an animal for the sacrifice, the Priest conducted the actual sacrifice and make atonement on behalf of the offender.
Even in old testament times, you could not save yourself. You needed a mediator, the Priest, to make atonement on your behalf and be the “go between” you as a sinner and a righteous God.
So, while there was something for you to do: admit to your sin, acquire an animal for the sacrifice, and bring it to the priest. It was the actions of the priest as mediator that atoned for your sin.
The Book of Leviticus – Priests and Atonement
- Leviticus 4:20 And the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
- Leviticus 4:26 and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 4:31 and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 4:35 and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 5:6 and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.
- Leviticus 5:10 and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 5:13 And the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him
- Leviticus 5:16 and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 5:18 and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and knew it not, and it shall be forgiven him.
- Leviticus 6:7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord
- Leviticus 7:7 the priest who maketh atonement therewith shall have it.
- Leviticus 12:8 and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.
- Leviticus 14:18 and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord.
- Leviticus 14:19 And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness
- Leviticus 14:20 and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean.
- Leviticus 14:29 to make an atonement for him before the Lord.
- Leviticus 14:31 and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the Lord.
- Leviticus 15:15 and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord for his issue.
- Leviticus 15:30 and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the Lord for the issue of her uncleanness.
- Leviticus 16:30 for on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you to cleanse you,
- Leviticus 16:32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement,
- Leviticus 16:33 and he shall make an atonement
- Leviticus 19: 22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him
As you can see from the scriptures listed above, there is no doubt who makes atonement for the sinner. The priest, as mediator between sinful man righteous God, conducts the actual sacrifice and thus makes atonement on the offenders’ behalf.
Jesus Christ a Better Priest and Mediator
Centuries later, Jesus appears on the scene forgiving sins, healing the lame, giving sight to the blind, and announcing a new covenant. The son of God, the only one able to keep the law perfectly. The son of God who offers us a new covenant and the perfect, and last, atoning sacrifice.
Jesus Christ the better, and only, mediator between sinful man and God. The better priest who makes one sacrifice for all and for all time. Providing atonement for our sins once and for all. God provides the sacrifice, the son of God lays down his life for his sheep.
There is now no need for sacrifices or the blood of bulls and goats. Only the blood of Jesus Christ having been shed for the sins of the world, can make atonement for our sins, past, present and future.
By the grace of God, if you believe and trust in Jesus and that he died for your sins, you are saved from the wrath of God.
There is still something for us to do, we must repent, have faith, trust and believe in the death, resurrection, and Lordship of Jesus Christ the son of God who gave his life as a ransom for many. Then he will ” make atonement for your sins”, and you will be forgiven.
You Can’t Save Yourself
No matter how much we try to do good and be good, we can never be good enough to save ourselves. The book of Leviticus shows us just how serious God is about the atonement for sin. At the time of Leviticus, the animal sacrifices were required each time someone sinned, and annually for the Israelites as a whole.
God sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ our LORD and Saviour, to be the perfect sacrifice and once and for all atone for the sins of the world as a free gift of grace to those who believe and have faith in HIM. And, according to the Apostle Paul, even this faith is a gift of God “Lest any man should boast.”
The requirements for atoning for your, and my, sins have been satisfied by Jesus on our behalf. And, there is no way we can ever repay his sacrifice.
We can only bring him honor and glory by obeying his commands and leading a life that glorifies God the father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit.
If you have any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below and I will get back with you asap. Follow me on Facebook: The Sinner in the Mirror, Instagram: sinnerinthemirror, and Twitter: @sinnermirror.
Humbly submitted by the grace, mercy and love of our LORD,
The Sinner in the Mirror