EASTER 2023: ATONEMENT: SACRED SPACE
As we come to Easter this year, let us think about the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) and look to Leviticus 16 for more context about atonement. In Leviticus 16, we read that God instructed His people that a bull be sacrificed as a sin offering to cleanse the High Priest and his family as part of the atonement process. Also, a ram be completely burned up and washed and dressed in a specific way. He did this to purify himself in order to intercede for the community without dying within the Holy of Holies where God would be present on the Day of Atonement.
The same bull and one of the two allotted goats were dedicated to God for purification. The lives of these God-given innocent animals were used in sacrifice to cleanse the Sacred Space for God to be with His human community (Israel) because of sin.
The other of the two goats was allotted to Azazel. This goat provided a means to transfer of known and unknown sin in the community. The High Priest put his hands on the goat’s head and the sins of the people were confessed publicly. The goat was then cast outside of the community to waste away and die with Azazel in the wilderness. Sin was driven out of the presence of God from the midst of His people.
The Day of Atonement came as a yearly sacred event and pointed to a better everlasting atonement. Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection is that better and lasting atonement. Sin is forgiven in a complete manner by means of Christ’s atoning sacrifice (the condemnation of sin in His human flesh). Now we can approach God and ask for forgiveness.
Easter is about the fact that Jesus Christ created Sacred Space within humanity itself wherein God and Man can be as one.
Yes! Jesus is a human being without sin who provided for humanity a place where the rest of us could have communion with God. Now we can live in the presence of His Lordship where humanity is cleansed of sin and freed of the threat of death. Just as the goat was sent out into the desert with Azazel to die, Jesus Christ takes our punishment due to sin through His death. In addition, He Himself being sinless, is able to take on all about us that is polluted and dying. His death brings about a complete removal of sin from His believing community and leaves sin outside with the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places that are condemned to their fate.
Jesus Christ has made an everlasting sacrifice to be Sacred Space where God is pleased to dwell. The very body of Christ is our Space. He is the place of God’s mercy. He is the Sacred Space through which the Presence dwells. This body He shares with His disciples in that the very Spirit of the LORD lives within His believers.
The New Testament proclaims and teaches this boldly.
Romans 3 states it clearly and let me emphasize the word used for his sacrifice. In Romans 3:25, in the proclamation of Christ’s sacrifice, the Apostle Paul uses the word: [Hil-as-tay’-ree-on]. This word means 1) relating to an appeasing or expiating, having to placate or expiating force, expiatory: a means of appeasing or expiating, a propitiation. My eye centers on the means of appeasing, which is the sinless Jesus “God Himself.”
This is the word also used in Hebrews 9:5 which is translated as “mercy seat” which is the cover of the Ark of the Covenant where on the Day of Atonement the blood of the bull and the allotted goat that would have been sacrificed (see above). The High Priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices 7 times on the mercy seat to cleanse the Space where the Glory of God rested under the wings of the cherubim.
Jesus Christ, in Himself, provides what all the types and shadows provided atonement on a yearly basis. These activities and sacrifices were but pointers to the genuine means of God’s redeeming love. John 3:16 tells us as much- “For God so loved the world that He sent His unique Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” In addition, a variant of the word used for Atoning Sacrifice I mentioned in Roman 3:25 is used in 1 John 2:2 to tell us that through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, we have an Advocate with the Father and He will forgive those of us who repent of sin.
Thus, only those in Christ can be at one (at-one-ment) with the LORD since the body of Jesus Christ is the Sacred Space where the LORD and humans can be at peace (see also Ephesians 2).
Finally, 1 John 4:7-10 tells us: “Dear friend let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who love has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God because God is love by this the love of God is revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son to be the Atoning Sacrifice for our sins.”
Let us together understand, Jesus Christ came to create Sacred Space within Humanity itself because of our sins.