Faith Matters: Atonement and sacrifice

  • Pastor Dennis Jacob in the Northfield Baptist Church. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Northfield Baptist Church. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Northfield Baptist Church
Published: 7/19/2019 12:20:29 PM
Modified: 7/19/2019 12:20:17 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader in Franklin County offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

The Hebrew word “kaphar” in the Old Testament Bible is translated into English as “atonement” and it means “to cover.”

Atonement involved the sacrifice of an innocent animal, and by the shed blood of that animal, God would see the sins of the person(s) who offered the sacrifice, covered. God commanded such sacrifice because He is holy, and mankind as sinners needed a costly way to have their sins covered, so they might be in right relationship with God. Those who wanted to know God, and fellowship with Him, would by faith, offer the sacrifices to have that relationship and fellowship with Him. Those who were not people of faith, didn’t sacrifice, and therefore would not have their sins covered, and thus be separated from God.

The first need for atonement is revealed in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned and hid themselves because, having disobeyed God, they saw themselves as naked. God sacrificed an animal or animals, using their skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. There are many examples of men like Abel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob offering up sacrifices to atone for or cover their sins. God gave Jacob the name Israel, and through Him was born 12 sons making the 12 tribes of Israel. This brings us to God’s written commands about atonement.

God used Moses to deliver these tribes out of Egypt, and while doing so, commanded him to write down many things. This is where the first five books of the Bible come from. In the third book, Leviticus, a great deal was written for the tribe of Levi about sacrifices. This tribe of Levi was the God-appointed priesthood for the other tribes. God created for this nation of people, a system of sacrifices by which they, as sinners, could draw near to Him, and benefit from His life-giving presence. He designed a tabernacle or tent where His presence could be seen, with the nation encamped all around Him. This tabernacle, designed by God, was the place where atonement or covering of sin was accomplished by those who had faith in God, and therefore obeyed Him by offering their animals.

God never intended this sacrificial system to be an end in itself, or to be the only answer for the sins of people. Atonement, being only a temporary covering of sin, was never the ultimate answer to solve mankind’s greatest problem. Rather, this system of sacrifice merely prepared this nation of Israel, and the whole world, for One who would come, and offer His own life as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin. In the book of Hebrews, it explains that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sin, or in other words have sins permanently forgiven by God. With the animals, there would always be the need for another sacrifice. But by the power of the sacrificial blood of Jesus, the Son of God, dying on the cross, the potential for anyone’s sins to be washed away and forgiven forever by God was made possible.

Atonement in the Old Testament was a temporary faith exercise of sacrifice done by those who believed in God and showed it by offering those sacrifices. Jesus did far more than just temporarily cover sin: He destroyed it, rising from the dead, conquering the power of sin and death for all who believe. Today, in light of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ, those sinners who humbly by faith receive Him and His sacrifice into their hearts and lives are forgiven by God of all their sins. These believers have the wisdom of God’s Word and the Presence of God the Holy Spirit in them to grow in His goodness. Most importantly, they are promised by God the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ their Lord.

About Northfield Baptist Church

The Northfield Baptist Church started as a small Bible study in the mid-1950s. Paul Bubar of Word of Life Ministries in Schroon Lake, N.Y., was a 21-year-old Bible College student based in New England. He came to assist in the teaching of that little Bible Study, and from His efforts, God grew the Northfield Baptist Church. Within just a few years, there were over 100 people attending meetings. The building and parsonage at 85-87 Main St. were built soon after his work was completed. Sunday meetings are at 9:45 and 11 a.m.


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