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He is our scapegoat. Our sin was laid upon him, and he removed it from us. Jesus died outside the camp for us to make atonement for our sin. Let us now turn to another Old Testament story which has similar parallels. In Leviticus 14 the cleansing ritual for a leper is given. This ritual had nothing to do with the sins of the leper and only dealt with a physical disease.

Nevertheless, there are categories of thought and expression here which are similar to and useful in understanding the cross of Jesus. A leper who had been healed was to appear before a priest.


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The priest would make an examination to see if the leper was really cured from the disease. If he was cured, then two clean birds were brought forth. One bird was killed. Its blood was sprinkled seven times over the former leper. He was pronounced clean. The living bird was then dipped in the blood of the sacrificial bird.

Again the shedding of blood symbolized purifying and cleansing. The leaving of the second bird represented the removal of the disease of leprosy. If we picture sin as our leprosy, we can see that Christ fulfills the role of both of the birds. As we compare these various rituals and ceremonies with the cross of Jesus Christ, let us never forget one overwhelming difference between them. The sacrifice of a goat or a bird is not a costly sacrifice. In the cross, though, we see God giving his beloved Son! Jesus came not offering the blood of animals, but his own precious blood.

The story is told of a war between two tribes in the territory that is now Alaska. One old chief saw that if the war continued, neither tribe would put up its winter supply of food mostly berries and salmon and both tribes would die of starvation. Under a flag of truce he pledged that his men were willing to stop fighting. I am worth more than ten of your men. You may kill me and let the people have peace. They killed the chief and peace came. It is claimed that years later a missionary came and preached to those tribes.

When the cross was proclaimed to them, it made sense to the people as they remembered the kind old chief. In January of , 19 year old Pfc. McGinnis could see an insurgent on a rooftop fling a hand grenade at his vehicle.


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  • He shouted and tried to deflect it, but it fell inside. Four of his buddies were down there. McGinnis had time to leave the vehicle, but he did not. Instead he threw himself backward onto the grenade, absorbing the blast with his body. He was killed instantly. The others escaped serious injury. But Christ in His sufferings and death was not paying a commercial debt. He was paying a penal debt. No finite, fallen creature, an offender against God could ever pay in time or eternity the obligation which he owes. When a sinner bears his own penalty, he is lost forever.

    C. H. Spurgeon :: The Day of Atonement

    The difference lies in the fact that God was behind the Atonement. The penalty for sin must be paid by one who is holy if the justice of God is to be satisfied. In any study of the Atonement, the sinlessly perfect and holy character of Jesus Christ is a truth of the first magnitude. Jesus was tempted, but in His essential nature He was God, and God cannot sin.

    Therefore, as the perfect God-Man, the blood He shed has abiding efficacy, and it satisfies the righteous demands of the holiness and justice of God. Indeed God is satisfied! Here we enter upon an intricate aspect of the doctrine of the Atonement. The Apostle John uses it twice in his First Epistle. Speaking of Jesus Christ, he writes,. He is the propitiation for our sins: Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins I John 4: Christ alone, through the shedding of His Blood in His sacrificial and substitutionary Death on the Cross, is the Propitiation, that which expiates or propitiates.

    He extinguishes the guilt of the sinner by suffering the penalty for sin. Notice that it does not say that His death was the propitiation, but that He himself is the Propitiation. It is the Person of our Lord which gives efficacy to His atoning work. 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 forebearance of God. The mercy seat was the golden lid or the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.

    Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood of an innocent victim to atone for the broken Law. The tables of stone on which were written the holy Law were kept in the Ark. The sprinkled blood covered the broken Law and made possible a meeting place between God and the sinner Exodus The mercy seat was made of pure gold Exodus According to Scripture, therefore, the mercy seat in the Tabernacle was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Our Lord fulfilled the type and symbol perfectly. After His death and burial He arose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, and on the ground of His shed Blood made possible a meeting place where the sinner could come to God. 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: It is true that God hates sin and will always hate sin.

    The Death of Christ was a purely legal operation. The Judge took upon Himself the penalty so that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat. This man stood on Old Testament ground before the Death of Christ, and he was actually asking God to offer that one Sacrifice for sin which would put that sin away and thus provide a ground upon which a holy and righteous God could bless him with salvation.

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    Remember, he was not asking God to be generous or lenient with him. He was merely asking God to be propitious, and in making such a request he was justified. Now we can see plainly that such a prayer need not be uttered today. God has been propitious in Christ. God cannot be lenient with sin, and sinners need not beg mercy from God.

    The Day of Atonement by C. H. Spurgeon

    God was merciful when He provided for man the Saviour, and man is saved when he believes in and receives the Lord Jesus Christ. God has paid the penalty for sin, and on that basis His mercy is extended to you today. For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee Psalm With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption Psalm In its effect toward mankind, the Death of Christ is looked upon as a substitution. Though we have never found the words substitute or substitution in the Bible, the idea of substitution is clearly seen in the work of Christ upon the Cross.

    We often hear the work of the Cross referred to as the vicarious sufferings and death of the Saviour. The word vicar refers to an agent or deputy who has been authorized to act in the place of another. Fallen man stands before God owing an obligation which he cannot pay in time or eternity.

    He needs an authorized substitute to stand in his place and represent him. The death of the sinless One was substituted for the death of sinners. Stephen died as a martyr for the truth, but in no way does his death benefit us. The substitutionary aspect of the Atonement was clearly anticipated in the Old Testament. When God chose the harmless, gentle lamb as the principal animal for the sacrifice, He was teaching His people that they were forgiven and spared only because another who was innocent took their place and died in their stead.

    Furthermore, every sacrificial offering in Old Testament times was an execution of the sentence of the Law upon a substitute for the guilty one, and every such offering pointed forward to the substitutionary death of Christ. We see the type in the case of Abraham and Isaac Genesis God had told him to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Abraham did as he was told, bound Isaac on the altar and made ready to slay him.

    God spoke to him and stayed his action. Then Abraham saw in a thicket nearby a ram, which God Himself had provided. It illustrates the substitutional element in the redemptive work of Christ. The prophet Isaiah wrote,. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all Isaiah The New Testament abounds in passages which show that the Lord Jesus Christ took the place of guilty sinners in His death.

    The Son of man came. The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world John 6: This is my body which is given for you. This cup is the new testament in my Blood, which is shed for you Luke The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me Galatians 2: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

    Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us. Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it Ephesians 5: The legitimate use of these and numerous other passages imply an actual substitution. The Death of our Lord Jesus Christ effected reconciliation. Man lost his heavenly citizenship and was made to be an alien. Man became an enemy of God; God never became the enemy of man. Man ceased loving God; God never ceased loving man. Now reconciliation can never result until the existing enmity is removed, and since there is no enmity in the heart of God it must be removed from the heart of man.

    How is such an act accomplished? Here we are to see the love of God at work. Right here we can see a marked difference between human and Divine love. Human love is expressed in Romans 5: When Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, He brought to an end the estrangement between God and man. But God has done His part.

    The Bible and the Day of Atonement

    Now man must repent and turn to God. To refuse to do so is to reject that reconciliation which was made in Christ. God in Christ comes to man, pleads with him to return, offers to forgive him and to put away all his sins if he will but trust Him. And when the sinner receives Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he too will say with Paul,. We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement reconciliation Romans 5: And having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

    And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled. In these verses we see a two-fold aspect of reconciliation. We are reminded that the whole creation has been affected by sin. The cursed earth is the cause of the suffering, sorrow, catastrophes and death which come every day to the peoples of the earth. Indeed the earth needs to be purified. Yes, and the heavens also!

    Sin began in Heaven, when Lucifer, the son of the morning, rebelled and sought to exalt himself above the throne of God Isaiah Here we see the glorious work of Christ in behalf of sinners which becomes effective the moment one believes. The believer rejoices that he has been brought back into favor with God and fully restored. We who are Christians were alienated from God and enemies in our minds.

    And because we are reconciled to God, personal relations have been settled. In a former lesson in this series on Justification we saw how judicial relations between God and man are settled. Here we learn that reconciliation turns the heart of the criminal toward the Judge in love. Let us read the following verses with care,. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and, hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His Flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby Ephesians 2: Under the law it was entirely out of order for a Jew even to eat with a Gentile.

    The enmity between the two is common knowledge, and it can easily be traced in history. When Peter came to the house of Cornelius, he expressed the Jewish view on this matter Acts He went into Galilee to bring light to the Gentiles who were in darkness Matthew 4: When He cleansed the temple Mark How far reaching are the effects of His Atonement! That work is far too extensive to be contemplated in any single phase of it. The theme is so vast that a few ideas could never indicate its fullness. And yet, perhaps no word has been used more to represent the saving work of Christ than the word redemption.

    But we must guard against confining ourselves to this or any other single term lest we restrict the work of the Cross.

    The Day of Atonement

    Redemption means to buy back something that had been temporarily forfeited. Redemption is an act of God by which He himself pays as a ransom the price of human sin which the outraged holiness and government of God requires. Redemption undertakes the solution of the problem of sin, as reconciliation undertakes the solution of the problem of the sinner, and propitiation undertakes the problem of an offended God. Though parts of one complete whole, these great themes should never be treated as synonyms.

    Only on one day in the year might the high priest enter within the vail, and then it must be for the great purposes of the atonement. Now, beloved, the atonement is finished, and you may enter within the vail: O child of God, I know not of any privilege which thou hast, save fellowship with Christ, which is more valuable than access to the throne.

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    Access to the mercy seat is one of the greatest blessings mortals can enjoy. Precious throne of grace! I never should have had any right to come there if it had not been for the day of atonement; I never should have been able to come there if the throne had not been sprinkled with the blood. You read at the 29th verse, "And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: Sure, sinner, there is nothing that move thee to repentance like the thought of that great sacrifice of Christ which is necessary to wash away thy guilt.

    It is well, when we hear the name of Calvary, always to shed a tear, for there is nothing that ought to make a sinner weep like the mention of the death of Jesus. On that day "ye shall afflict your souls. And did my Sov'reign die? Would he devote that sacred head For such a worm as I? Drops of grief ought to flow, ay, streams of undissembled sympathy with him; to show our grief for what we did to pierce the Saviour. Weep o'er your Jesus; weep for him that died; weep for him who was murdered by your sins, and "afflict your souls. Then, better still, we are to " do not work at all ," as ye find the same verse, 29th.

    When we consider the atonement, we should rest, and "do no work at all. Now will I serve my God with zeal, but now I will no longer seek to save myself, it is done, it is done for aye. Then there was another thing which always happened. When the priest had made the atonement, it was usual for him, after he had washed himself, to come out again in his glorious garments. When the people saw him they attended him to his house with joy, and they offered burnt offerings of praise on that day: The atonement is finished; the High Priest is gone within the vail; salvation is now complete.

    He has laid aside the linen garments, and he stands before you with his breastplate, and his mitre, and his embroidered vest, in all his glory. Hear how he rejoices over us, for he hath redeemed his people, and ransomed them out of the hands of his enemies. Come, let us go home with the High Priest; let us clap our hands with joy, for he liveth, he liveth; the atonement is accepted, and we are accepted too; the scapegoat is gone, our sins are gone with it. Let us then go to our houses with thankfulness, and let us come up to his gates with praise, for he hath loved his people, he hath blessed his children, and given unto us a day of atonement, and a day of acceptance, and a year of jubilee.

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