Dear Hope family,

Thought for the Week

God’s plan to Pay the Price

Leviticus 16v30 “On this day, atonement will be made for you to cleanse you. Then before the Lord you will be clean from all your sins.”(NIV)

God established the Jewish Calendar through Moses around 1450BC. There was one very special day each year: the “Day of Atonement” (‘Yom Kippur’ in modern Hebrew). “Atonement” means getting rid of an obstacle to peace by making amends or reparations for a sin against a person. On that Day of Atonement, the High Priest could enter, through a curtain, into the presence of God in the Most Holy Place of the temple. No one else could enter, and at no other time could he enter.

The Day of Atonement showed the Jews that while God might live among them, there was a huge obstacle to actually entering His presence. The curtain to his presence represented the obstacle of human sin and unholiness. Before entry, sin had to be taken away in some way. The way was given in a procedure for the day which was:

  • The High Priest would make atonement for himself with the sacrifice of a bull.
  • The High Priest then sprinkled the bull’s blood on items both in the Most Holy Place where God resided and in the rest of the temple to “make atonement” for it all.
  • The High Priest then took a selected goat and put the people’s sins on the goat by laying his hands on it while confessing the sins of the people.
  • The goat was then sent out into the wilderness, taking the people’s sins far away.

This ritual was prophetic, pointing forward to the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus came as the “Holy One of God” (Mark1v29), so he did not need to make atonement for himself. He also came as the “Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world” (John 1v29), and so now, as we confess our sins to him, he “removes them as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103v12), so that “they are remembered no more,” (Isaiah 43v25). How do we know this is true? Because as Jesus died on the cross, the curtain, which the High Priest could only go behind on the one day in the above ritual, “was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27v51): God did this to show the way into God’s presence is now open. This is why the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus as our “Great High Priest” (Hebrews 4v14).

As we approach Easter, let’s give thanks that Jesus died so that our sins could be completely removed. Let’s confess our sins and receive the full impact of Christ’s sacrifice.

With love and blessing,