Thoroughly Equipped: The Atonement

Today’s reading includes Leviticus 7:28-9:6, Mark 3:31-4:25, Psalm 37:12-29, Proverbs 10:5.

Today we will take a look at the Sin offering required by God in the Old Testament.

A Sin offering was a sacrifice, made according to the Levitical law, and it provided atonement for sin.  What does the word atonement mean?   The dictionary says that it is reparation for a wrong or injury; reparation or expiation for sin.  Another definition I saw in the dictionary was this:

  • (the Atonement)the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.

In the other definitions, the word was a lower-case word. In this final definition, it was capitalized.  It was a proper noun.  Proper names and titles are among the proper nouns and this small detail points to a large truth.  The Atonement was a person, Jesus Christ.

The Hebrew phrase for “Sin offering” literally means “fault offering.” The sin offering was made for sins committed in ignorance, or unintentional sins.  The sin offering was a picture of what was to come in the sacrifice of Lamb of God, when Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world.  The laws found in Leviticus required that the animal be without blemish.  The law also required that the sacrifice be made as a public display, just as Jesus was publically slain.  Leviticus 4:12 tells us that the Levitical Sin offering was required to be taken outside the camp, just as Jesus, the Perfect Sin offering, was slain outside the city gates.

12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people pthrough his own blood. 

                                                                        Hebrews 13:12

And of course, the Sin offering required the shedding of blood.  Why?  We find the answer in Hebrews 9.


22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

                                                                        Hebrews 9:22

The Levitical law required blood to be shed for forgiveness and purification to be revealed.  And Jesus provided that blood.  He fulfilled the law so that we would not have to. Let’s look at Leviticus 6:27 to glean a powerful truth.

27 Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy, and if any of the blood is spattered on a garment, you must wash it in the sanctuary area.

When I saw this verse, my mind immediately went to the story in the New Testament of the woman with the issue of blood.  Do you remember the story?

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. 43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding,[g] and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” 47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.48 “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

First, let’s look at the woman and her problem.  She had an issue of blood.  She had female problems—and big ones. What does that holy twelve number represent here?  Normally, 12 represents the family of God, and indeed the deeper roots of her problem is a problem for all of the family of God.  She needed a savior to heal her and lift her out of the terrible pain she lived in day in and day out.  For 12 long years, she suffered.  Not only with the discomfort, but also with the isolation.  In those days, when a female was menstruating, they had to separate themselves from their families.  They had to separate themselves from their husbands.  They were basically banned from society until their cycle ended and they went through the process of being cleansed.  But she never stopped bleeding.  Her cycle never ended, and she was never able to be cleansed.  And one more tragedy.  She could never be fruitful and multiply, as the covenant and command insisted.  Her physical issues kept her from physical fruitfulness, and the grief and pain kept her from spiritual fruitfulness.  But then, she heard about Jesus.  He had healed others, maybe He could heal her.  I picture her pushing through the crowd, reaching out to touch Him.  “If I can only touch Him, even the end of His garment, maybe I will be healed.”  And Jesus felt her deliberate touch and felt the healing power leave His body.  When she heard Him speak, when she knew she had been healed, what could she do, but fall on her knees at His Holy feet, and publically declare her healing.  He called her daughter, for she was now part of His family, for she believed. And the Prince of Peace sent her on her way with peace.  She was now free to live.

I love this story.  I can picture it so vividly in my mind.  But what does this have to do with the sin offerings of Leviticus?  First, we can’t forget main purpose of the book of Leviticus.  It was a book of instruction for the Levites, for the priests of the Lord.  Though, the woman may not have known it with her head, her heart recognized who walked before her that day—the greatest High Priest, the One who had on the spiritual linen robe.  He could go to God on her behalf.  And not only did her spirit recognize the greatest High Priest before her, her spirit also recognized the sacrificial Lamb.  The greatest and final Sin Offering walked right in front of her, and she had to reach out and touch Him, for “Whatever touches any of the flesh will become holy”.  She reached out to touch the Holy One and in the process, she became holy.  Her unclean-ness symbolized by her issue of blood could not stay once she had become holy, once she had touched Him.

Of course, she had no way of truly knowing how that would all turn out.  That is why it was called faith.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Do you need healing?  Do you need the great High Priest to go to the Throne on your behalf?  Do you need to touch the holy Lamb of God, so that you could be made holy, too?  The correct answer to all of those questions for each one of us is the same—a resounding yes!  I need that and you need that.  So, today, let’s reach out and touch the Lamb.  Let’s reach for Him in faith, knowing He is ready and willing to heal and help us.  The work has been done, the sin offering has been made.

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