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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 6616 atonement, in OT
6616 atonement, in OT

6616 atonement, in OT

The OT laid down complex regulations by which the guilt of sin could be removed through the sacrificial system. Particular emphasis was placed upon the role of the high priest, who was required to make annual atonement for the sins of the people.

The covenantal framework of atonement

As God’s covenant partners, the Israelites undertook to keep his laws Ex 24:3 See also Dt 26:17; Jos 24:24

The sin offering made atonement for unintentional sins under the covenant Lev 9:7 See also Lev 4:13-14; Nu 15:22-26

The guilt offering atoned for sins where reparation was required Lev 19:20-22 See also Lev 6:1-7

Deliberate flouting of God’s law could not be atoned for Nu 15:30-31 See also Nu 35:33; 1Sa 3:14

The Day of Atonement provided for the removal of the nation’s sin Lev 16:34 See also Ex 30:10; Lev 16:1-33 The nation’s sin was atoned for by sprinkling the atonement cover in the Most Holy Place with the blood of the sacrificial goat; the removal of the people’s sin was symbolised by the driving of the scapegoat into the wilderness; Heb 9:7

The atonement cover Ex 25:17-22 The locating of God’s presence above the atonement cover in the tabernacle demonstrated that it was only on the basis of atonement that God could accompany his people. See also Ex 30:6; Lev 16:2; Nu 7:89

Atonement was effected by the blood of the sacrifice Lev 17:11 The blood signified that the life of the animal had been given in place of that of the worshipper. See also Heb 9:22

The role of priests in making atonement

Priests were dedicated to God in order to make atonement for others Ex 29:44 See also Lev 8:22-30

The priests had to make atonement for their own sins Heb 5:1-3 See also Lev 9:8-11

The priests represented the people before God to atone for their sin Heb 5:1 See also Ex 28:36-38; Lev 10:16-17

The people had constant reminders of the need for atonement

Rituals of cleansing included an atoning offering Lev 12:7-8; Lev 14:18-22,53; Lev 15:15

Atonement was a feature of Israel’s festivals Nu 28:22,30; Nu 29:5,11

Abuses of the system of atonement

The sinful conduct of the priests who made atonement Hos 4:7-8 See also 1Sa 2:12-17; Jer 6:13-14; Eze 22:26; Mal 1:6-8

The sinful conduct of the people who sought atonement without repenting of their sins Hos 8:11-13 See also Isa 1:10-17; Isa 66:3; Jer 7:21-24; Am 4:4

The need for repentance for a relationship of atonement Pr 16:6 See also 1Sa 15:22; Ps 51:16-17; Mic 6:6-8

The prophets foretold a renewing of God’s relationship with Israel, involving atonement for sin

Isaiah’s message about the obedient servant Isa 53:4-12

Jeremiah’s prophecy of a new covenant Jer 31:31-34

Ezekiel’s vision of a new temple Eze 43:18-27

See also

7308Atonement, Day of
7376high priest
7435sacrifice, in OT
7444sin offering

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