Day 11

The Day of Atonement

from the Leviticus reading plan

Leviticus 16:1-34, Leviticus 17:1-16, John 1:29, Mark 15:33-39, Romans 3:25-26

BY Patti Sauls

“Vasovagal syncope” is typed at the top of my friend’s chart. This tongue-twisting term warns medical personnel that she faints at the sight of blood. If she gets a blood draw or even a finger prick, her vision fades and she breaks into a cold, clammy sweat. You know where this is going. Loss of consciousness and collapse. How curious that the sight of blood causes such intense, visceral reactions.

Let’s follow this curiosity into the center of the book of Leviticus where we find God’s plan for the Day of Atonement. To understand this annual holy day, we remember that Israel had a big problem—sin. Ever since humans rejected attachment and relationship with God by disobeying Him (Genesis 3), there had to be separation between God and His people. As darkness is destroyed by light, so sinful people cannot survive in the presence of a perfect God. Sin had to be dealt with—atoned for—if God was going to dwell among His people in the tented temple. 

Here’s the good news that weaves through the Bible: God had a plan to conquer sin. He knew it was impossible for the Israelites to overcome this deadly dilemma on their own. But God made the way. “Atonement will be made for you on this day to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (Leviticus 16:30). God established the annual Day of Atonement to heal His people’s sin sickness so they could abide with Him. 

The Day of Atonement was full of grace, but it was also full of blood. God instructed the high priest to perform specific rituals: multiple animal deaths, blood drained, blood sprinkled, blood-smeared. The stark reality could not be missed: reckoning with sin required bloodshed and death. 

I may not faint at the sight of blood, but I recoil at the thought of these bloody rituals. But we dare not gloss over the gruesome scene. We’re meant to experience a visceral reaction; we’re meant to feel the horrific truth about the effects of sin. There is nothing small or subtle about it. Conquering sin calls for an all-out assault. “For the life of a creature is in the blood…it is the lifeblood that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11). Do I realize what sin causes and costs? What a bloody mess. 

You know where this is going. The bloody sacrifices performed every year on the Day of Atonement culminate in Jesus offering Himself and pouring out His own lifeblood to cleanse us from our sins. His sacrifice did not need to be an annual endeavor. Jesus, the perfect sacrifice who rose to life despite suffering a bloody death, was the only One who could destroy sin and say, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Jesus’s gruesome crucifixion transformed into His glorious resurrection and leads us to grateful praise as we declare, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Post Comments (38)

38 thoughts on "The Day of Atonement"

  1. Sydney Scott says:

    Loved this. I was bored in Leviticus and now I love Leviticus bc it shows me how great Jesus is.

  2. Susan Lincks says:


  3. Mercy says:

    How I love the Bible and the sharp sword that it is. No compromise. No political correctness. The nice thing about the Bible is that it does NOT need updating either, that is such an amazing thing about God’s Word. His Word cuts into the part that was dulled by sin through sharp conviction. Thank you Bailey for another wonderful devotional! I love it. I too struggle with little sweet children fighting over their rights, and I see myself as a mom having to step up as their judge. The sinful nature of human shows clearly in our innocent children, as the Word says humans born into sin (john 3:3), “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child” (Proverbs 22:15), hence, all must be born again. Praise God for this privilege of being born again. Leviticus 18 and 19 are so detailed and very practical to our daily living for personal conduct, forbidden immoral acts and more living laws, to sum up in the Law of Love. Above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Thank you to a dear she who posted this from HRT with a question: “But what about those sins that they didn’t even notice? How could they be rescued from the wickedness that escaped their conscious minds?” I read this and I saw the solutions all in the Word of God. The entrance of Your words gives light. It gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). God’s Word is a mirror in which we look into, to see His reflection and our reflection to better align ourselves daily, with consistent course correction of our thoughts/heart intentions/micro shifts in behavior and to bring about a compound shift in our total identity and awareness. As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart (Proverbs 27:19 NIV). May God help us to embrace the changes to become Him.

    Praying for our beloved sisters, Jennifer loves Jesus (may God’s hand cover your mom and your whole family in this time), Rhonda J (love your strength and positivity, continuing to pray for you/family/community), dear Taylor, Victoria E for grace to get through, Lawren GW (for your husband). Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed: for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go( Joshua 1:9). Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all! I am thankful for God and our lovely SRT family. Be blessed dear sisters.

  4. Kimberly Z says:

    Praying for all of you tonight. @Taylor I’ve been thinking of you this week. As hard as it is to surrender yourself to God keep doing it. As a

  5. Lauren GW says:

    Unrelated to this study, thank you for your prayers for my husband. We’ve had a calmer week. I know it’s not forever, and there are still a lot of unknowns in the long term plan. As I pray about it, I’ve been feeling god tell me to look each day for “manna from heaven,” trusting that god will provide for me today, and then tomorrow, he’ll provide again anew. The planner in me finds this hard, but I’m working on trusting god!

  6. Jennifer Loves Jesus says:

    Yes and Amen GramsieSue!

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