By: Michael Peebles
Date: March 21, 2015
Leviticus 6:7 (5:26 in the Jewish division)
“And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and thereby become guilty.” (Lev. 6:7, ESV)
This verse involves a principle of Torah in which the person who comes to meet with God can become acceptable to God. The act of atonement here specified is to clear the person of the guilt incurred by disobedience.
The idea of atonement in Biblical Hebrew is about bringing back together two parties that have become estranged. The word used in the original language is related to the word for the ransom, or life-price. It is also linked with the idea “to cover”.
But, this is not the kind of covering where something is whitewashed or painted over in order to make it presentable without changing its character. If we read the Torah attentively and in order, we already know this from the ark of Noah having a covering of pitch to seal it and keep out the floodwaters of destruction.
On the contrary, we find that the thing atoned for, ransomed, or covered is inherently changed in the process. And, at the same time it is made useful and complete, to function as it should. Atonement functions to restore relationship with God.
In the present instance, the process involves acknowledgement of disobedience, and a change of heart. This includes doing what is necessary to restore whoever was impacted by disobedience to a state of wholeness.
We are too used to this idea of acceptance to notice it as we should. This is tragic, because it should always be a most astonishing thing to consider that divine mercy could follow our change of heart. If we can properly appreciate this, it should help us to remain in obedience, and live close to God.
In Mark chapter 8, verse 35, Yeshua says that, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” It is an interesting thing to consider that if we act in a way that is self-interested, we will part company with God. That is because he is not self-interested, and will not condone self-interest in us.
It is because God loves us that he made a way for us to be acceptable to him.