What is atonement? A dictionary definition includes:
- Amends or reparation made for an injury or wrong; compensation
- An individual’s reconciliation with God by means of repentance and confession of one’s transgressions.
Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur
The Hebrew word kapar, translated “atonement,” means “to ransom, to remove by paying a price. Thus, in atonement blood is shed to pay the price for sin. Hebrews 9:22 In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
The Day of Atonement is also known as its Hebrew name, Yom Kippur. This was the holiest of the Levitical feast and happened in the fall during September or October on our calendar. God gave His people a specific procedure for the day. First, the High Priest would offer a sacrifice for His sins. Then he would offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation. And finally, he would offer a sacrifice which cleansed the Temple of the sins of the people.
Jesus Became our Atonement
Paul explained this concept in his letter to the Romans and I can’t explain it any better. Romans 3: 20 because no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin. 21 But God has a way to make people right, and it has nothing to do with the law. He has now shown us that new way, which the law and the prophets told us about. 22 God makes people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. He does this for all who believe in Christ. Everyone is the same.
23 All have sinned and are not good enough to share God’s divine greatness. 24 They are made right with God by his grace. This is a free gift. They are made right with God by being made free from sin through Jesus Christ. 25-26 God gave Jesus as a way to forgive people’s sins through their faith in him. God can forgive them because the blood sacrifice of Jesus pays for their sins. God gave Jesus to show that he always does what is right and fair. He was right in the past when he was patient and did not punish people for their sins. And in our own time he still does what is right. God worked all this out in a way that allows him to judge people fairly and still make right any person who has faith in Jesus.
What is atonement? Listen here to find out more:
 The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.