The Bible is filled with multi-syllable religious words. Sometimes we stumble over them. Sometimes we skip over them.
Preachers love them... we use our voluminous vocabulary to sound extra smart!
Let’s simplify a few of these fifty cent words and rejoice in the beauty and depth of their meaning, especially as they relate to Christ’s saving grace.
Let’s start with the three-syllable word “atonement.”
The Hebrew word kapar (pronounced ka-far), is found in the Old Testament over 100 times. It’s usually translated as atone or atonement.
That word, kapar, first appeared in Genesis 6:14 when God told Noah to build the ark and “cover (kapar) it inside and out with pitch.” To atone is to cover.
The concept of atonement appeared even before the word was written into the Scriptures. In the Garden of Eden, following the rebellion and fall of the first humans, religion was born when Adam and Eve attempted, by their own efforts, to cover their nakedness with fig leaves. Atonement was pictured when God sacrificed an animal so that the sin and shame of His creatures would be covered or atoned.
God must have thought atonement was important because He put it on the calendar. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), became Israel’s most solemn holy day. On the Day of Atonement, two goats were sacrificed, symbolizing both the atoning sacrifice and the complete forgiveness of sin. One goat was sacrificed as an atonement, an offering to cover the sins of the nation. The other goat was sent into the wilderness, carrying away the forgiven sins of the nation.
Atonement is in beautiful full bloom in the New Testament. Old Testament atonement is fulfilled, filled full of meaning, and God’s plan of atonement and salvation become a completed masterpiece.
Like pitch that covered Noah’s ark, Jesus covered our sin with His blood – He made atonement. The pitch kept the ark from sinking, and Jesus’ blood secured our eternal salvation.
And like the animal that was sacrificed in the Garden of Eden, Jesus was sacrificed on our behalf. Nothing else could hide our rebellious sin. Atonement was necessary.
Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) Just like on Yom Kippur, Jesus was the sacrifice to make atonement, and... and... and He carried away our forgiven sin forever. The Day of Atonement is still on the calendar... 365 times!
Here’s the simple truth: I’m a sinner, deserving of death! Jesus shed His blood to cover the debt that I owe. He died, so that I can live. He graciously paid the price for my atonement!