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Atonement



Heb 10:11 . . And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins

The Old Testament's Aaronic sacrificial system was established by Moses' covenanted law in the book of Leviticus. A question sometimes arises that if the Aaronic sacrifices, which were God-given, God-mandated, and God-approved didn't take away sins, then of what real use was it to slaughter all those innocent birds and animals?

Their deaths were far from useless. The purpose of an Aaronic sacrifice was to obtain an atonement. The Hebrew word is kaphar (kaw-far') which identifies the bituminous pitch Noah used to waterproof the Ark (Gen 6:14). Kaphar didn't remove the Ark, nor did it alter the Ark; it just protected the Ark from the Flood's waters. That's exactly what Aaron's sacrifices did; they protected the sinner by coating his sins while taking none away. In that respect, kaphar is a garment whose sole purpose is to conceal a sinner's guilt in God's presence (cf. Rev 3:18). The sinner is still guilty, but with kaphar properly applied, his guilt isn't readily apparent. In that respect, the Aaronic system was extremely valuable for associating with God until such a time as the Lord introduced a sacrifice that would actually delete sins from a sinner's record rather than just conceal them from view.

Imagine yourself a leper in advanced stages of the disease. I've seen documentaries of that, so I know for myself just how hideous and repulsive advanced leprosy is in the flesh. But sufficient wrappings consisting of cloaks, robes, veils, towels, rags, and blankets make a leper's presence somewhat tolerable. That's what the Aaronic system did; and actually, in that respect, those kaphars were just as much for God's sake as the sinner's sake since naked sins provoke a somewhat negative response from the Bible's God. However, it's much better to cure the leprosy than to simply cover it up.

The purpose of the Hebrew holy day of Yom Kippur (Lev 16:29-34, Num 29:7-11, Heb 9:7-8) is to remind adherents of Judaism that their sins are still on the books and that the only thing that Aaron's system accomplishes is to cover those sins while leaving them on the books; because had the system removed them, then there would be no annual remembrance of their sins year to year. Yom Kippur serves to remind Judaism that though they may forget their sins; God doesn't. However, under the terms and conditions of the new covenant; Christians may be confident that God has put their sins completely out of mind.

Heb 10:16-18 . .This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (cf. Jer 31:31-34)

The koiné Greek word for remission is aphesis (af'-es-is) which means: freedom. Kaphar provides no one with freedom; only concealment. With remission one can look God right in the eye and righteously proclaim: You have nothing on me.

In a nutshell then; Christ's crucifixion provides the one thing that kaphar cannot: Innocence.

Objection: You say the Aaronic system was God-given, God-mandated, and God-approved; yet Hebrews 10:6 says: "with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased."

When that verse in Hebrews is compared with its parent verse in Psalm 40:6, it's immediately apparent that what it's saying is that sacrifices are not God's ideal. He much prefers that one's obedience be such that sacrifices are unnecessary.

Jer 7:22-26 22 . . For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. From the time your forefathers left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers.

1Sam 15:22-23 . . Samuel replied: Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

The average rank and file pew warmer is totally unaware that he is no better than witches and idolaters. How so? Because anybody that needs to go to confession has obviously been disobedient; which, according to Samuel, is nothing to be proud of.

So then, since God isn't satisfied with sacrifices, then how is He any less dissatisfied with Christ's crucifixion? Answer: because beneficiaries of Christ's crucifixion are also beneficiaries of a new covenant with the power to transform sinners into perfectly sinless saints who will then be so obedient that sacrifices of any kind are totally unnecessary. (cf. Jer 31:31-34, Ezk 36:24-28, and Heb 8:7-12)

The Crucifixion vs Aaronic Atonements                       

It's very important to make a clear distinction between Jesus' crucifixion and a common atonement in order to fully appreciate just how effective Jesus' crucifixion really is— in not just purifying —in separating a sinner from his sins.

.Jesus' crucifixion goes way beyond the scope of an atonement. His death doesn't sweep sins under the rug, no, his death deletes sins; in point of fact, his death goes even further than that: by proxy participation in the crucifixion; his death actually deletes the sinner.

Rom 6:3 …Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

Rom 6:6 …Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him

Gal 2:20 …I am crucified with Christ

Col 3:1-4 …For you died when Christ died

Question: What's our "old man" of Rom 6:6?

The "old man" is the Adam man; viz: the original human race created on the sixth day. There now exists a second human race— totally unrelated to the original human race —that the Bible calls the new man.

1Cor 15:42-50 ...So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a supernatural body. If there is a natural body, there is also a supernatural body.

...So it is written; the first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The supernatural did not come first, but the natural, and after that the supernatural. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Everything about me as an Adam man is now reckoned dead on Heaven's books. My body is dead, and the me that I am is dead too; lock, stock, and barrel: all gone thanks to Christ's crucifixion.

Forgiveness                   

We pointed out that the common Hebrew word for atonement is kaphar (kaw-far') which, technically, means: to cover (specifically with bitumen) like the pitch that Noah used to coat the inside and outside of his ark at Gen 6:14.

Under the terms and conditions of Moses' covenanted law, forgiveness is a reprieve; which Webster's defines as: (1) to delay punishment, (2) to give relief or deliverance to for a time, and (3) a temporary respite (as from pain or trouble).

Christians are often asked how the Old Testament's personages were saved. Well, they were saved by a reprieve, that is: the justice due their sins was put on hold till Christ's crucifixion was accomplished.

Rom 3:23-26 . . For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.

It's easy to fall prey to assuming that Christ's crucifixion was something new and unusual in his day; when in point of fact, it was positioned in the cosmos' master plan from the very beginning to satisfy justice for anyone who wants it, both the Old Testament world and the New (1Pet 1:20, Rev 13:8). In other words; Christ died for the whole world, not just the New Testament world.

Isa 53:3-6 …He was despised, shunned by men, a man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, he was despised, we held him of no account. Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, smitten and afflicted by God; but he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; And the Lord visited upon him the guilt of all of us.

1John 2:2 . . He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Webster's defines propitiate as: to gain, or regain the favor or goodwill of; viz: appease, conciliate. In other words, Jesus crucifixion gave the law of God its pound of flesh and made it possible for a God of justice to let Hell-worthy sinners off the hook without compromising His integrity.

 

 

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