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. Marissa Pettit says:

    Jennifer- praying for a successful recovery for your mom. May you all feel peace as she is in surgery today. Taylor- praying for clarity and peace for you. ♥️♥️

  2. Jennifer Ficklen says:

    I am forever thankful and grateful that my savior, my best friend, and my king laid down His life so that I could be reconciled to the family of God! Thank you Jesus for you gave it all! Amen!

  3. Mia Faith says:

    Jennifer, praying for your mom, your family and her team of caregivers/docs.

  4. Peggy Pappas says:

    Interesting that Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement just ended last night for the Jews. As I read this morning, it reminds me to pray for their eyes to be open to see their Messiah has come, perfectly fulfilled the requirements and there is no need for the 25 hr fasting, resting from work, wearing white, refraining from certain pleasures and other outward rituals to fulfill their outward obligations. I am so thankful that my Savior Jesus came, sacrificed His precious life blood for me. That I am forgiven and I am His.

  5. GramsieSue says:

    “No evidence of disease progression”
    Yessss! The wonderful words we wanted to hear! Steve’s scan was clear! So thankful! So two more months from now we go again, but in the meantime we praise God and live life. Hhhmmmmm
    That sounds like we only praise God when things go well. Which isn’t true. He walks with us through the darkest days as well. God is teaching me so much through this journey. Thank you for your prayers, ladies. Hugs to all ❤️

  6. Jane K says:

    Jennifer Loves Jesus, praying for your mom today and in the following days for complete healing and strength.

  7. Charlie says:

    TAYLOR: I’m so sorry for your heartbreak. It is so hard to navigate relationships period, long-distance ones even more so. Maybe this will work out ultimately, or maybe not, but right now, I pray you will find rest, insight, and relief from your anxiety. Breathe deeply and take a few walks if you can. I find Psalms to be tremendously comforting, too. Love will come.

  8. Kathy says:

    Jennifer, I’m praying for your mom. Keep us posted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *