Atonement is the privilege of forgiveness. The instructions for the Day of Atonement were given after Aaron’s sons were killed when they entered the Lord’s presence and burned the wrong kind of fire before him. God’s instructions were to be followed. The privilege of forgiveness was God’s to give not man’s right to get.
The Right Heart Attitude for Forgiveness
Leviticus 23: 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, 27 “Be careful to celebrate the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of that same month—nine days after the Festival of Trumpets. You must observe it as an official day for holy assembly, a day to deny yourselves and present special gifts to the Lord. 28 Do no work during that entire day because it is the Day of Atonement, when offerings of purification are made for you, making you right with the Lord your God.
The Day of Atonement is the only festival where God required fasting, a day to deny yourselves. They were also to do no work, the work on this day was the work of the Lord making them right with Him. The forgiveness the people received on the Day of Atonement was a gift of God.
This foreshadows that we are saved only through God’s grace, through faith. We cannot earn our salvation because of our character or good works. Ephesians 2: 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Dealing with Sin is Important
On the Day of Atonement God called His people to get serious about sin and He still calls us to do the same today.
James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
Warren Wiersbe has a great quote: “Forgiveness and the fear of the Lord go together, for the privilege of forgiveness carries with it the obligation of commitment and obedience. Jesus offered Himself up to the Father in total obedience, and we cannot do less than follow His example.”
To hear about the privilege of forgiveness, listen here: