This article was originally published as a book called Atonement – Old or New Testament Doctrine? It is taught by many that ‘atonement’ is an exclusively Old Testament idea that means to “cover sin up”, whereas ‘propitiation’ is a New Testament truth that enables the actual putting away of sin. Bible teacher Mr Samuel McBride (Northern Ireland) begs to differ. He makes a powerful case here, from the original Hebrew and Greek, that the Old Testament concept of atonement and the New Testament concept of propitiation are one and the same thing.
The Hebrew word, kaphar – to make atonement – traced in Scripture.
Kaphar – Context: The Ark, and atonement in type
The verb Kaphar (3722), in Gen 6:14 is rendered ‘to pitch’. “Pitch it within and without with pitch” (kopher – 3724). It is important to note the relationship of the words kaphar and kopher. Pitching (verb – kaphar) the ark with pitch (noun – kopher) was a work; an immense undertaking and a great moment when Noah could exclaim, “It is finished”. In the type, the principles of atonement can be clearly seen. This work which Noah did – both visible and tangible – was necessary to save the eight souls, literally, from the waters of judgment, in which all others outside of the ark perished, and so with atonement, for it too gives cover from judgment – type and antitype. Kaphar is seen here in a literal sense, and in its most basic form.
Kaphar – Context: Esau and Jacob – atonement in principle
In its second occurrence, a progression in thought and perhaps design of the Spirit, is seen in Gen 32:20, when the word ‘kaphar’ is being used now in a figurative sense. (This important change from the literal to the figurative usage has been observed by Strong). Jacob said, “I will appease (kaphar) him with the present.” So here, too, the thought of wrath being appeased, is paramount. ‘Kaphar’ is seen, by usage, acquiring an extended meaning, ‘to appease, or propitiate’, which is, I feel, by an overruling design of the Holy Spirit. This extended meaning it often retains in later usage. Its counterpart in the LXX (or Septuagint – the Greek version of the OT) is rendered to propitiate, and the Hebrew word is so translated by H. Spurrel, J. N. D., and the R.V. The corresponding N.T. Greek word is ‘hilaskomai’ in Heb 2:17, where it has been wrongly translated “reconciliation” in the A. V., but in the R.V., it is rendered “to make propitiation”. The same Greek word is in Luke 18:13 with some grammatical difference, but both show different aspects of atonement.
Kaphar – Context: God and man, Israel and the sanctuary; atonement – a doctrine in O.T. theology
The third occurrence of ‘kaphar’ is in Exod 29:37, where we notice some additional things emerge:
First: it is seen, here, and later, with an extended use, pertaining to ‘God and man’ or Israelites; the priesthood, and sanctuary relationship, in the book that tells of the exodus through redemption. Redeemed Israel, who later trembled at the presence of the God of Mount Sinai, were soon to know Him as the God of the Sanctuary, dwelling in their midst, having His abode between the cherubim above the mercy-seat, which was upon the ark of the covenant containing the tables of the law unbroken. These told of justice Divine that must be upheld, while the mercy-seat spoke of pardon that may be extended; but how? Not without blood. The claims of the law must be met; therein lies the need for atonement; an imperative, in order that a holy God might righteously dwell in their midst; and at the same time righteously extend pardon in respect of their sinful acts – for this, expiation was essential (see Lev chaps. 4, 5, and 16). In the former context it was in a relationship, man with man, but here the word is, by the Holy Spirit’s usage, being lifted to a much higher plane, and seen to acquire a more theological connotation, in keeping with the righteous and holy principles of the sanctuary. Israel, who had experienced redemption, is now being taught the need for, and the nature of atonement. It is of interest that atonement, too, as a doctrine, at least in relation to the Old Covenant, commences in the latter half of Exodus and both doctrines [redemption and atonement] extend into the theology of the N.T. where the substance is realised. The relationship of redemption and atonement makes a profitable study since they both form the basis of our blessings in salvation.
Secondly, atonement by blood, now becomes evident, and it is later declared more doctrinally, in an abiding principle, that,”It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11). (The principle of atonement can be seen in germ, as early as Gen 3 and 4, but is not at that point mentioned either by name or unfolded as a doctrine). By comparison, we notice here that atonement, ‘kaphar’, is not now with pitch, nor with a present, but by sacrifice and shed blood, and we hope to see in another paragraph, by ransom price paid. Note the progression in use and thought.
Thirdly, we are introduced to another word, a noun, derived from kaphar, which is kippurim (3725) or ‘atonement’ (A.V.) – Strong and Benjamin Davidson give it the additional meaning of expiation. This substantive is here (Exod 29:36) mentioned for the first time, and later in the phrase, ‘the Day of Atonement’ (plural) and it evidently comprehended the different events of that solemn day. If we accept ‘the law of’first mention’, we are now seeing ‘the making of atonement’ expressed as a doctrine in O.T. theology, contained in one word. This is the word that was so immensely important to Israel on the many days of atonement in the past, and shall be infinitely so in a day soon to come, then in relation to the New Covenant (cp. Psa 65:3; Ezek 16:63; and Dan 9:24). In Lev 23:27-28, relative to the Day of Atonement in its future application to repentant Israel, when the Son of Man comes (beyond the present Church period), the words ‘kaphar and kippurim‘, both found in verses 27 and 28, will then be combined in the substantive, atonement. Repentant Israel shall then by faith, through portions like Isa 53, own their true Messiah, acknowledging Him as the one whom they had rejected. In the LXX, this word ‘kippurim’ (noun form of kaphar) is rendered: hilasmos (found eight times: see Strong’s dictionary); and the N.T. equivalent is found in 1 John 2:2 and 4:10, and in the A.V. , is propitiation. This is an indication that the doctrine of atonement in the O.T. can be identified in the N.T.
Fourthly, it is significant that this chapter (Exod 29) deals with the inauguration of the priesthood and has a ceremonial bearing. Perhaps we shall look at this later.
Kopher – Context: The half shekel – atonement by ransom or, price of expiation
In Exod 30:12-16, we can see a further vital element being introduced in the making of atonement, and that is atonement by the paying of a ransom (Kopher – found also in Job 33:24; 36:18). Here we see a vital relationship between the same two words with which we commenced in Gen 6:14: ‘kaphar and kopher‘ (cp. also Num 35:31-34). In the type of the half shekel of silver, ‘the kopher‘, it was to be given to make an atonement (kaphar) for the soul. Now what is the ‘kopher’? Its Greek equivalent in both the LXX and in the N.T. is given as ‘lutron‘ which, according to Gesenius and Wilson, means: ‘price of expiation‘ or ‘redemption‘. The double meaning given is of special interest because the word ‘kopher‘ is related to both the doctrine of atonement and of redemption – perhaps more often in relation to atonement (‘kaphar‘) (Cp. Exod 30:12-16 with Psa 49:7-8). Both doctrines, being foundational, would seem to be typified in the two sockets for the boards of the tabernacle to rest upon, but this we cannot pursue. The N.T. counterpart of kopher is ‘lutron‘ or ransom, “instead (anti) of many” (Mark 10:45). It also appears in a compound ‘antilutron‘, indicating a full provision, substitutionary in character, unlimited as to availability, for (huper), ‘on behalf of’ all (1 Tim 2:6). Repentance and faith brings the sinner into the good of it, and he can then say Christ is my personal substitute, and that one is then seen amongst the many of Mark 10:45.
The atonement by ransom (Exod 30), and atonement by blood (Lev 17:11), is seen in beautiful harmony in poetic form, in the following verse.
There as my Surety He firmly stood,
Paid for my ransom His precious blood;
Died for my sins to bring me to God –
Jesus died for me; Jesus died for me.
The point, however, that I wish to emphasise, is that atonement is by the paying of the ransom, i.e. ‘the price of expiation‘. The half shekel had also in it the idea of satisfaction – it was enough and God would not allow it to be added to, nor diminished from. This thought of satisfaction may be further reflected (Num 35:31-33) in a negative statement,”Ye shall take no satisfaction (kopher, 3724) for the life of a murderer; the land cannot be cleansed (kaphar) of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it”. The aggregate of half-shekel offerings was designated: ‘the atonement money’ or, ‘the silver of atonement‘ (kippurim 3725). The substantive would here, too, express the combined ideas of ‘kaphar‘ and ‘kopher‘ in the one word ‘atonement‘ (cp. similar parallel in Gen 6:14 – see first paragraph of this article).
Kapporeth – Context: the Mercy Seat and atoning blood – God’s justice satisfied.
We have now had three of the words inseparably connected together in the doctrine of atonement, and to complete the picture perhaps I should mention a fourth. This is the Hebrew word for ‘the mercy seat’, which is ‘kap-poh-reth‘ (3727) which takes our thoughts right within the holiest of all. There the high priest entered alone, one day in every year, and not without blood, which he sprinkled once upon, and before the mercy seat seven times on the day of atonement. The atoning blood there displayed, satisfied the claims of the throne, which this became the meeting place, from whence pardon could be extended – used only of the mercy seat: this word first occurs in Exod 25:17-22.
The word atonement, in the phrase, “The day of ‘atonement’ is ‘Kippurim’ (mentioned above), which means ‘expiation‘. It comprehended the different aspects of the work accomplished on that day, and expressed it in a single word. In it we have the idea of: wrath appeased; ransom paid; and satisfaction made – it points to the end result.
Context: Israel – a theocratic, law-covenant nation. Atonement – governmental considerations
1) Law – covenant, consideration:
God had redeemed Israel out of Egypt to be His treasure and possession. He says of them, “Thou art Mine”, and would have their lives as a redeemed people to be ordered for His glory. Israel, as to government, was a theocracy, in which the law, with its sundry issues, figured predominantly. The Divine requirements had been set forth at Sinai in the law, which they undertook to obey, thus entering into a solemn covenant with Jehovah: a perfect and binding standard had been set; albeit one, to which they could not possibly attain. Israelites, whether by natural birth or new birth – Moses, Aaron, Caleb, Joshua, priest, ruler, and the men of faith of that period – were alike subject to the rule of law, each in his life from day to day. It entered into their national, civil, social, personal and religious aspects of life and conduct; they were all under law, a solemn consideration – it is one aspect of the theocratic principle, of which the Gentiles knew nothing.
2) Law – Death, the ministration of:
It is thus designated (2 Cor 3 : 7); and the many who despised it died without mercy, eg : Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10); the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath (Num 15:32-36); a stubborn and rebellious son (Deut 21:18-21), the blasphemous son (Lev 24:10-16); and Achan, son of Carmi (Josh 7:25) etc. There was no provision for presumptuous sin, but it had also been stated, that “Every transgression and disobedience must receive a just recompense of reward”. Those who may have tried to reach its holy standard – with best efforts but to fail – were made painfully aware that “He that keepeth the whole law, yet offendeth in one point is guilty of all”. Every infrigement of its holy standard incurred a judicial liability that called for atonement. There was thus, for the Israelite, by breach of the law, a solemn governmental consequence impending: he was exposed to its rigour and in danger of being cut off for his sin in time. His transgression placed him under condemnation, and under obligation to bring the compulsory and specific sin or trespass offering, in order that atonement might be made – the covenant of law demanded expiation. Of this, the late Mr William Hose said:-
“There must be full attainment or full atonement. Had it not been for God’s provision in grace through sacrifice, ere long, Israel would have been consumed.”
3) Law – Its breach – the corporate consequence of: wrath begun, atonement made, wrath stayed
It is solemn to consider how many thousands of Israel, at different times through the centuries, died for breach of its holy commandment. For the Gentiles it was otherwise, not being under the rule of law. perhaps we could look at two examples of such breach and the resulting death toll of many thousands:
The first example is in Num 16, when, “They that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah”. After Korah and company had been judged, and when the congregation had accused Moses and Aaron of killing the people of the Lord, the glory of the Lord covered the tabernacle, with the solemn announcement to Moses that Israel was about to be consumed. They fell upon their faces, one would presume in intercession before the Lord, and Moses instructed Aaron to “Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement (kaphar) for them for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun.” Aaron put on incense and made an atonement for the people, standing between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed – atonement made. Wrath stayed. It was both expiation and propitiation.
The second is in Num 25, in the solemn incident of Baal-peor, where, in all, twenty four thousand died. The law had here been breached in a number of ways and consequently the fierce anger of the Lord had been aroused: offenders were to be put to death on account of their sin. We are told that Phinehas was zealous for his God and made atonement for the children of Israel (v13); and Phinehas, the priest, “turned My wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in My jealousy” (v11). Here, atonement was not by animal sacrifice or substitution, but by the execution of righteous judgement upon offenders; and the awful wrath stayed. Sin was thus judged in the camp; God’s glory maintained; and the theocratic governmental consequence halted. Did ‘kaphar‘ here mean just ‘to cover’ or ‘to expiate’? These examples relate of course to the temporal issues of the law. At the same time, they give us an insight into the usage and meaning of the word atonement.
4) Law – its claims – met by sacrifice – provision of grace
For transgression, perhaps through ignorance or weakness, there was Divine provision; mercy was extended, not at the expense of justice, but on the righteous grounds of sacrifice, and atonement made thereby – forgiveness through expiation; expiation God-ward and forgiveness man-ward. This aspect of forgiveness for an Israelite was primarily in relation to the governmental consequence of the law, time-wise – he was thus spared the sentence that should have fallen.
Herein we see an abiding principle, whether in the temporal, governmental aspect of things, or in relation to the eternal; the principle is the same, though the end result may be different, because the former was by animal sacrifice, but the eternal, through the blood of Christ. If we might draw a parallel avoiding mixed ideas, we can see in it, shadow and substance, type and antitype, but the same principle! While it is verily true that the blood of bulls and of goats could never take away sins (as to eternal consequence, which only the blood of Christ could do), at the same time it is just as clearly revealed that God was pleased to forgive the trespass of the law on the principle of atonement, of course in relation, time-wise, to the governmental consequence that otherwise may have fallen – it was forgiven (Lev 4:20, 26, 31, 35 etc.). The righteous grounds of God dealing thus, even in temporal forgiveness, were foreshadowed in the animal sacrifices and in atonement in type.
It should also be noted that this forgiveness was commensurate with the act or acts committed, confessed and expiated, so that subsequent acts of sin called for further sacrifice, shed blood and atonement – no finality under law. It would seem, too, that many Israelites, who by compulsion of law, and out of expediency, rather than by faith, offered sin and trespass offerings, did not thereby enter into eternal blessing. Although escaping the governmental consequence of the law in relation to their sin, in time, there was no inward or spiritual change of heart accompanying. Contrast Heb 11:4, “By faith Abel offered“. We hope to see later how a sinner could in O.T. times have forgiveness and eternal salvation.
How much more blessed is our forgiveness as stated in 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” – the perfect tense would indicate that our forgiveness is once for all; it abides eternal, because it is based upon an eternal redemption. This, by contrast, highlights the imperfections of the sacrifices of the law, yet in them there was:
“A shadow of good things to come” (Heb 10:1)
“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18)
How delightful to trace the types of the O.T. to their substance in the N.T. – the shadow of good things to come. Yet we should ever remember that with God it was different; for, when He was giving the types and shadows to His people of old, the substance had not only been divinely foreordained, but was in diving reckoning seen in fruition. Though still awaiting fulfilment in divine operation, that substance was allowed to cast its shadow beforehand, for the benefit of those living in that time. The shadow and substance were of necessity the same in principle; it was the same kind of doctrine, whether by name or nature, couched, it may be, in type, with oft-times a temporal result in the O.T., but with a spiritual or an eternal in the N.T.; for example:
Redemption in the O.T., in its various aspects, draws our attention to a number of Hebrew words, none of which are found in the N.T (nor could they be, it being a Greek volume), though they have Greek equivalents. To find out what they are, we are somewhat dependent upon the Septuagint (LXX) – the O.T. translation from Hebrew into Greek. In this way we can trace the doctrine by word into the N.T. and there find not only the Greek equivalent, but also the substance, of that which was largely typical and temporal in O.T.
Israel had been delivered or redeemed out of Egypt, but that redemption was not in the eternal sense. Nevertheless, it typified the substance of Israel’s future day of deliverance, both spiritual, national and eternal, in the N.T., and their becoming a people; the nation of Israel to be ruled theocratically, even in millennial days. Israel’s coming Deliverer, the Lord Jesus, was anticipated according to Matt 1:21, Luke 2:28, 21:28 and 24:21. The principles of the doctrine, in both type and antitype, are the same, though the end results are different – the type was in relation to time, but the antitype is not only in relation to the millennium, but their spiritual state which is eternal. By word study, too, we can, in the same way, trace atonement in its substance, into the N.T.
Kaphar Context: prophetic; the New Covenant envisaged. Atonement – its future bearing on Israel
There are at least three occurrences of ‘kaphar’ in prophetic contexts in relation to Israel entering into New Covenant blessings that will be both theocratic and spiritual; then the laws of God shall be written in each heart (Heb 8:8-13).
1) Psa 65:3 As for our transgressions, “Thou shalt purge them away” (kaphar). [“Thou wilt expiate our transgressions” – Spurrel]. The language would take our thoughts back to the type of the live goat (Lev 16), and in its prophetic application as in Lev 23, and forward, too, to the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness (Zech 13:1). ‘Kaphar‘ is seen here in relation to the New Covenant.
2) Ezek 16:63 “When I am pacified” (kaphar) towards thee.” ‘Kaphar‘ is here in a context that, on the one hand, recalls the failings in the Old Covenant, and, on the other, foretells Israel’s establishment in the New, with God having been pacified concerning their sin.
3) Dan 9:24 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation (kaphar) for iniquity” (to expiate iniquity – Spurrel). This verse, too, brings us to the end of the seventieth week and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness, with Israel brought into the blessing of atonement, within the New Covenant.
This will also be the time of their theocratic redemption – their being delivered from Gentile powers, and again established in Mount Zion; and, through atonement, their sins pardoned; their hearts changed inwardly by regeneration of the Spirit; the laws of God written therein; their sins and iniquities no more to be remembered; and Jehovah their redeemer dwelling again in their midst – what a day for Israel!
In this section we have been considering ‘kaphar‘, in prophecy, taken into a New Covenant (Testament) context, and use; with atonement and its blessings being made good to Israel: but how can this be if atonement had not first been procured through the death of Christ?
Without the blood of the New Covenant – the blood of Christ, and atonement thereby, it could not be extended to Israel in their future restoration! This may be a logical conclusion, but is it not borne out by Scripture?
Have we not also been considering, both redemption and atonement, by a word study, identified in the N.T. Greek text, with oft-times the same equivalents as the LXX of the O.T., and that in relation to the work of Christ? If in this way we have redemption in the N.T., we must, for the same reasons, have atonement, too, but our English version has obscured it.
In the Spanish Translation, the pendulum, however, swings just as much in the other direction. I understand that, generally, the Spanish word for ‘kaphar‘ is ‘Expiacion‘ which is the English equivalent to ‘Expiate’, so that it would be scarcely possible in Spanish to represent it as just ‘to cover’! This would highlight the importance of word study, paying particular attention to its contextual setting.
Kaphar context: sin’s uncleanness – and divine holiness. Atonement – ceremonial aspect
Most of our studies until now have had to do with either personal or corporate acts of sin, or sins. with a judicial consequence of the law impending, that called for expiation, in order that pardon might be righteously extended, and the immediate penalty of the law averted. There was however another solemn
consideration: that of,
Sin’s defilement – requires purging by blood
There is need for purging by atoning blood, since God is of “purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab 1:13). Hence we read, “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22). Defiled things needed purging: guilty persons need remission; therein, we see the two-fold demand of Divine holiness and Divine righteousness – both called for atonement.
Sin had caused defilement: in the universe, in the world – the heavens not clean, and the earth too defiled; and, not the least, in the sanctuary. God’s answer to all of this is purging by atoning blood. For the present, we shall have to confine our thoughts to Israel in sanctuary relationship, and there consider the defilement their sin had caused. All that man, in a body of flesh, put his hand to, was defiled in God’s sight: and how much more defiling his unclean sinful acts? All this highlights the need for purging by atoning blood, and here occupies our thoughts with the animate and inanimate, both persons and things needing atonement in order to cleanse and hallow – God’s holiness demanded it. All had a spiritual import, as we hope to see. But why for the inanimate, since they could not sin? Was it then just mere ceremony or ritual? Certainly not. There was no divine ceremony without significance – the type was full of meaning, for as inanimate things needed cleansing by atoning blood because, in God’s sight, they were defiled by the uncleanness of Israel and their sins, so with things that are heavenly (Heb 9:22-23).
Here, I feel, a word of caution, as to interpretation, is needed: first, lest we fall into the snare and practice of Christendom, of bringing the literal and typical into the sphere where we should be occupied with the spiritual – the substance of the shadow. Consequently, we have ornate buildings, each purporting to be the house of God; furnished with altars, fonts, etc; with much too that is ritualistic; and not the least, a copying of the priestly dress for their ministers. All of this is the product of mixing of that which is Judaistic – maybe, betimes, that which is paganistic – with Christianity and the ecclesia of God. Secondly, there is the danger of going to the other extreme, that, since we do not have, legitimately, any of that ceremony or ritual, in the dispensation of grace, we limit the doctrine of atonement to the O.T. – a grave mistake – failing to recognise that the ceremony in the type had a deep spiritual significance in relation to the New Covenant, as unfolded to us in the Hebrew Epistle, and foreshadowing the purging of heavenly things, effected by the atoning blood of Christ (Heb 9:22-23). The parallel in Hebrews is very clear, whether in relation to persons or things. May the Lord preserve us from either of these pitfalls.
Kaphar – a recapping on its meaning
Perhaps at this point we might recount a former study, in which we saw that the meaning of the word ‘kaphar‘ in theological contexts had often in it the thought of ‘expiation’. This has been verified by a number of reliable Hebrew lexicons and also, I trust, in a more convincing way, through the tracing of the word in the O.T., which was seen to acquire in scriptural usage, a much deeper meaning than its basic, ‘to cover’. It could also, according to context, mean to appease; make atonement; expiate; cleanse or purge; pardon; and not the least, to satisfy the claims of God.
We have also been tracing the substantive ‘kippurim‘ which is used only theologically, and gives expression to the end result, the work accomplished, as ‘atonement’, and have earlier remarked, that it contains the thought of expiation and satisfaction. It expressed, not only the action of the verb ‘kaphar‘, but the costly means or ransom by which it was effected, and at the same time did not lose sight of the subject of the verb, the person who performed it, and the satisfaction that it gave to God when the blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat – it is comprehensive. Its Greek equivalent ‘hilasmos‘ is rendered, ‘propitiation’ in the LXX, and in the N.T.
Kaphar and Kippurim: links with the N.T. – some proofs:
1. Already it has been noticed, that: kaphar, to atone; kopher, ransom; kapporeth, mercy seat; kippurim, atonement; all have their equivalents in the Septuagint (LXX), and in N.T. Greek as follows: hilaskomai, to atone, to make propitiation (R.V. Heb 2:17); lutron, ransom (Mark 10:45); hilasterion, mercy seat (Heb 9:5); hilasmos, atonement or propitiation (1 John 4:10, 2:2).
2. Kaphar, in three prophetic contexts: Psa 65:3; Ezek 16:63; Dan 9:24; points forward to New Covenant (Testament) blessings for Israel.
3. Ceremonial consideration: the Holy Spirit’s comment on the O.T. given in Heb 9:22-23, would connect the making of atonement for inanimate things, with ‘purging (katharizo) by blood’ and the purifying of heavenly things by better sacrifices, i.e., the sacrifice of Christ in its various aspects (katharizo is used of the work of Christ in Heb 9:14; and its substantive in Heb 1:3).
These give us a three-fold cord of proof, that the doctrine of atonement is found in both the Old and New Testaments – type and antitype – by the blood of animal sacrifice in the Old; by the blood of Christ in the New; in relation to the law and its penalty in time, in the Old; but we thank God with an eternal result in the New – the principle is the same though in each case the end result is different.
There has been a multitude of saints down through the years, who, both in oral and in written ministry, in prayer, thanksgiving and praise, in poetry, and in song, have most sincerely used the word atonement in relation to the work of Christ accomplished once for all at Calvary, believing it to be a reverent and scriptural term. The word atonement, together with the related doctrine of redemption (Rom 3:24-25), expresses the vastness of His work, and the basis upon which other blessings in salvation rest. May all who read these few lines be encouraged to continue to use it in relation to the work of Christ.
Exposition by some godly men of the past
There are quite a few scholarly men who have concluded, as did the late Mr John Ritchie, that, “propitiation is the New Testament equivalent to ‘atonement’ in the Old” (B.M., Vol. 7, Page 76).
Of ‘kaphar’ the same author wrote, “Expiation, or covering by sacrifice, is the primary meaning of atonement”; and of the various ways in which it is rendered: to pitch, to appease, ransom, satisfaction, he said: “All these words express in varied ways the meaning of atonement and point onward to the work which was to be effected and has now been accomplished, once and for all by the offering up of the great sacrifice of Christ at Calvary” (B.M. 1906).
Furthermore, he adds the following in Part II, page 91: “The Levitical rubric, ‘the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul’ (Lev 17:11), tells how and where atonement was made, the words ‘blood’ and ‘altar’ clearly pointing to sacrificial death, foreshadowing the cross.”
This precious statement, that, “It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11), is full of the provision of grace and is an abiding statement of doctrine that should not be limited to the O.T.
Mr. William Hoste – author of Bible Problems and Answers
An extract – page 32 – he says, “Some shallow teachers having sufficient acquaintance with Hebrew to know that Kaphar (making atonement) means primarily ‘cover’ have thought this was its only meaning and have whittled ‘atonement’ down to ‘covering’, and asserted that it is a purely Jewish thing. They ignore the fact that the word has a secondary meaning, denoting that by which alone God can cover sin, namely, by making full satisfaction for His broken law. This has alone been effected by the blood-shedding of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The same author also said on page 304; “Wherever in the Old Testament scriptures you have the Hebrew root for ‘atone’, ‘mercy-seat’, ‘atonement’, this same Greek root (hilaskomai, hilasterion, hilasmos) is employed in the Septuagint translation, the Greek of which resembles closely that of the New Testament; so that wherever we have this root in the New Testament, we might equally well, one would suggest, translate it ‘atonement’, ‘to make atonement’, etc.”
Atonement – context: the Day of Atonement – Leviticus Ch 23. The live goat – past and future application to Israel
Perhaps someone may wonder in what way does atonement in Lev 23:27, in the ‘Day of Atonement’, relate to Lev Ch 16. At this point, might I state briefly, that in Ch 16 the type or shadow was fulfilled in Christ’s first advent, through His sacrifice, death and shed blood at Calvary. He thus became the antitype prefigured by the shadow, and thereby atonement infinite and eternal was made. The fulfilment of Ch 23:27, from the Divine standpoint, looks forward to His second advent at His coming as Son of Man, when repentant Israelites shall be brought into the blessing of the atonement that had been made over two millennia before. Of the two chapters we might say there is similarity, on the other hand there are important points of distinction.
Shall we look first in more detail at Ch 16 at the shadow or type in relation to Israel year by year, and atonement in relation to the Law of Moses. It was the most important and the most solemn day of the year, for atonement had to be made because of their sin and shortcomings under the Law of Moses, and the defilement, too, of the tabernacle thereby. So the need of atonement becomes very evident, and without it there would have been retribution, because by their guilt and violation of the law they were brought under the sentence of death. Therefore, to the Israelites, atonement thus made, gave relief of mind in relation to the year past, the claims of the law having being met by shed blood. The blood of the goat that was slain, and taken by the High Priest within the vail, was sprinkled on and before the mercy seat seven times, and God was propitiated thereby – satisfied by atoning blood; He could continue to dwell in their midst.
Secondly: as already stated, the shadow or type pointed forward to the Lord’s first advent, when, by His precious shed blood, a full atonement was made thereby, which was eternal in its value. It was one sacrifice for sins for ever – Heb 10:12. The blood of animal sacrifices could never purge the guilty conscience – that could only come by the shed blood of Christ.
The live goat – application to Israel in the past
The live goat, otherwise called the scapegoat (or Azazel, Heb. word) was brought within the sight of the Israelites at the entrance of the door of the tabernacle, to make an atonement with it, Lev 16:10. They witnessed the High Priest lay his hands on the head of the live goat, confessing the sins of the people over the head of the goat. It was then taken and led by the hand of the fit man into the wilderness ; “a land not inhabited” (cut off); a place of desolation. The fit man returns, leaving the goat – it was forsaken; ‘cut off”; never to be seen again; evidently left to die, having become a sin offering and a substitute for the Israelites. According to the law, it had to bear the full consequence of that which should have been theirs – (Lev 16:5: two goats, two aspects of one sin offering). They witnessed their substitute, the scapegoat taking their sins; to be cut off in a land not inhabited. Thus the sins of the past year were gone, and, I am sure, thanksgivings arose for atonement and forgiveness thereby. The Israelites on that day were to be in affliction of soul (indicative of repentance), a type of the remnant in the future, which we must mention later.
The live goat – future application to repentant Israel
Shall we now consider the subject still further, as to the future, when the repentant remnant shall look upon their Messiah whom they had pierced (Zech 12:9-14), and mourn for Him as an only son, and thus enter into the blessing of atonement that had been long since procured. In Dan 9:26 (3772), Isa. 53:8 (1504), the Messiah was “cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken” – thus His people shall be spared being cut off. And just as the Israelites of the past were, each year, spared being cut off, according to the sentence of the law, so will repentant Israelites in the future, not only be spared, but be brought into the blessing of atonement, even forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. So, in this, we can see the harmony of the type and antitype, and how they correspond. Perhaps at this point I should mention the warning to those of Lev 23:29, who refuse to be ‘in affliction’ (6031) of soul, and evidently unrepentant; they would be ‘cut off’, and instead of entering into the Millennial Kingdom would come in for the judgment of God – a solemn warning in the type, and even more solemn as to the future. I think that those mentioned in Dan 9:27, who, in the future shall accept a false Messiah instead of the rightful Messiah, shall find themselves amongst those who are going to be ‘cut off’.
Atonement – as viewed in the Feasts of Jehovah – Leviticus Ch 23
Shall we here consider further the live goat in Lev 23, as seen in ‘The Feasts of Jehovah’, setting forth in types (Divinely set, or arranged), and, as to their position and timing. Forming, so to speak, a divine calendar of events that were all future when given by God to Moses. When I consider them, I feel like taking up the words of the Apostle in Rom 11:33: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”, for “known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). We should note that it is stated in Lev 23:37 “every thing upon his day” – not the day before nor the day after, because the timing of the first four feasts is setting forth meticulously the relation, time-wise to each other. First: “The Passover, on the 14th day of the first month”; then on the 15th day of the first month, there were “The days of unleavened bread”, to be kept for seven days. Also in the same week, there was the offering of ‘The sheaf of firstfruits’ after having entered into the land. It is vitally important to notice, it was not according to a date, but irrespective of date, it was to be always “on the morrow after the Sabbath”; it was on the first day of the week, in the week of unleavened bread. Year by year the dates would differ, nevertheless, it was always to be on the first day of the week, and on the year of the crucifixion of Christ; He died; was buried; and “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”. ‘The day of His resurrection’ – 1 Cor 15:3-4. Then after 50 days there was ‘The new meat offering’; again on the first day of the week; the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1) in which the Holy Spirit of God descended, and, on that day, the out-calling of the church began. It was then that the present dispensation commenced and still runs its course, and will continue until the blood-bought church is complete at the time of the Rapture. Then, ‘The Day of Christ’, which is heavenly in character, will take place, and in it the ‘Judgment Seat of Christ’ – a solemn day for saints of this present period, to look forward to.
The seventh month – three feasts – future fulfilment foreshadowed
When the church is complete, it will be caught up – raptured (1 Thess 4:13-18), and the saints will then be found in the Day of Christ. Later, on day one of the seventh month, there will be the feast of trumpets, the first of three feasts, which in the writer’s mind are all earthly in character, and should not be confused with the Day of Christ, that is heavenly. The trumpets, typically, foreshadowed the future day of Israel’s awakening out of their slumber and unbelief at the time when the revival of their blessings will be near at hand. The subject matter of the last three feasts is too vast to deal with in much detail in this present article. I will, however, deal with some of the main features that may be helpful to the reader. The sounding of the trumpets, typically, will be the beginning of ‘the Day of the Lord’, with two feasts following, that will be in relation to earth, and to Israel, in particular, leading to their repentance, restoration and Millennial rest. I think it would be helpful in getting a better knowledge of the ‘Feast of Trumpets’ to consider the state of Israel, having been given the spirit of slumber (Rom 11:8), because of their unbelief and rejection of Christ. They will be found in need of a spiritual awakening from their slumber and unbelief. By the trumpets sounding, typical of the power of Holy Ghost ministry, they will certainly be awakened. There will be at the commencement of that day the fulfilment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32, which will be the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, and the inauguration of the going forth of the “gospel of the kingdom [which] shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end (telos) come” (Matt 24:14). Its message will again be “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). The Scriptures show that there will be a period of time, at least seven years of tribulation days, in which many events will take place and not the least the trumpets, typically, sounding the gospel of the kingdom in Holy Ghost power, accompanied with warnings against the many false Christs and the abounding apostasy of those terrible days. That short period will lead to “the great and the terrible day of the Lord”, when He shall come as the Son of Man and as Israel’s Messiah.
It will then be the sixth feast – the Day of Atonement
The last three Feasts are different from the first four in that the dates here in the seventh month, of necessity, are representative. We ask the question – why? Well, the first four all took place within a period of almost sixty days, and, time-wise, were fulfilled exactly in relation to the Lord’s first advent in His death, burial and resurrection. The fourth, ‘a new meat offering’ took place fifty days after the resurrection of Christ; that was on the ‘Day of Pentecost’. Since the last three cover a period of 1,007 years, or maybe a few more, the days are representative of years, and still await a future fulfilment in the seventh month – Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles, all in relation to His second advent. It will be His coming as the ‘Son of Man’, “in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. It will be His coming to Israel, as their rightful Messiah, and “He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt 24:30-31).
The day of atonement (Lev 23:27) is not so much atonement being made, for that took place at His first advent; rather is it seen in its future application, being made good to repentant Israelites at the time of His coming as the Son of Man. They shall then see Him as their Messiah whom they had wrongly rejected at His first advent. In Pilate’s judgment hall they cried, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him…We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). This they said on the day of His rejection. But on the ‘Day of Atonement’ a repentant remnant, believing the gospel of the kingdom, which shall go forth in all nations in tribulation days (Matt 24:14), shall look with regret on Him whom they pierced. They shall then, in bitter, bitter mourning, own their wrongful rejection of Him, and in the language of Isaiah 53:5 say, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”
Atonement and its fruits – the Feast of Tabernacles follow
The Feast of Tabernacles was the last one of seven. which was to be observed on the 15th day of the seventh month. It is described as the feast of ingathering of the fruits of the land; and as to the past, a memorial of their booth dwellings when they came out of Egypt – the first rest of redemption. Typically, it foreshadowed the future Millennium. The Israelites, having been brought out of the house of bondage, failed miserably in many ways as revealed in their historical record. Firstly, they failed to enter the land that had been promised to the Patriarchs, and along with their oft-times idolatry and divisions etc. they provoked the God of Israel and, for the present, His dealings with them have been halted. Although Israel failed, God will not be defeated in His purposes, for He shall begin shortly after the present parenthetic dispensation, to fulfil His purposes, in taking up dealings with Israel again as typified on the first day of the seventh month. We have been noting that it commences with the trumpets, and then through the Day of Atonement, to restore them both spiritually and nationally, fulfilling the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in bringing them into the Messianic Kingdom. When they in the past celebrated the feast annually, it was their duty to dwell in tabernacles, which they had on some occasions neglected to do, but when they did, it foreshadowed Israel’s future Millennial rest and Divine protection in peaceful dwellings in the glorious reign of their Messiah. The Feast of ‘Tabernacles or booths’ (5521) was to be kept annually – it was a statute for ever, to be celebrated even in millennial days (Lev 23:41, Zech 14:16).
A comparison – Israel’s past – delivered by redemption. Israel’s future redemption (Luke 21:28) Purging by atonement (Zech 13:1)
Although already mentioned, it is of special interest, that the Children of Israel, after enduring the affliction and tribulation in Egypt, were brought out by virtue of the typical blood of the lamb, through the Red Sea, on that day to be constituted a redeemed nation. It is a wonderful comparison, that, in a day not too far distant, God is going to bring a remnant of born again Israelites out of the great tribulation, and as they shall look, in repentance, upon their Messiah, become, so to speak, a nation born in a day! It will be upon the basis of redemption and atonement. Already we have been comparing the booth dwellings, after having been brought out of Egypt, to rest under divine protection in the booth, and so will Israel find rest and divine protection from all their enemies when dwelling in the glorious Promised Land. That will be the day when the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, shall be fulfilled, in relation to both the land and the lineage of Jacob (Gen 28:13-15). It shall then indeed be, ‘Immanuel’s Land’.
Messiah’s righteous reign – blessing for the cursed earth – many notable features follow
1) In Gen 3:14, Satan was cursed for his subtlety in deceiving Eve, and because of Adam’s disobedience, God said, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake” (v17). Sin and the curse no man can separate. Neither can blessing come to sinful man apart from the death of Christ. So blessing and the cross we cannot separate. The proof the cursed earth is evidenced by ‘thorns and thistles’ (Gen 3:18); nettles too, and many other weeds remind us continually of earth still under the curse. This state has continued through all the past millennia; through the present dispensation; and will, beyond, even through tribulation days. But when the Messiah comes, and begins to reign, there will be a tremendous change for the earth (Psa 65:9-13, Amos 9:13-15). Of the rich blessing, one might, like the Queen of Sheba, say, “The half has not been told” and, behold. a greater than Solomon is here.
2) What is Messiah’s reign, or the Millennial reign? (Isa 32:1-2, Psa 72:8). It shall soon be ‘The Kingdom of Heaven in Manifestation’ – when He comes. It is also that for which tribulation saints will pray, “Thy Kingdom come” (Matt 6:10). It will be in contrast to the present time. ‘The Kingdom in Mystery’ form (Matt 13:11). The poet described it well when he said; “Jesus shall reign were e’er the sun, doth his successive journeys run.” And another said, ’twill be, “The crowning day that is coming by and by.”
3) What shall be the sphere of His reign? He shall, upon earth “reign over the house of Jacob” for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33, Zech 9:10). It will be the “Promised Land” for Israel (Gen 13:15-17). For Gentiles, it will be over all nations (Rom 15:12). “The Lord shall be King over all the earth” (Zech 14:9). And, “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick” (Isa 33:24). For the church, it will be the heavenly sphere, the New Jerusalem (Heb 3:1, Rev 22:5, 2 Cor 5:1).
4) His reign will be righteous, and peaceful. “Behold a King shall reign in righteousness” (Isa 32:1, Psa 72:7-11, 67:4, 85:11-13). As for the nations: they too shall then be peaceful and become subject to the reign of the King (Micah 4:3).
5) “The earth shall yield her increase” (Psa 67:6, 85:11-12). “The plowman shall overtake the reaper” (Amos 9:13-15). “There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon” (Psa 72:16). “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isa 35:1).
6) “On earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). This, I believe, shall have a further fulfilment after His second advent in the future. “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa 2:4). “He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth” (Psa 46:9-11). For He is Melchisedec, King of Salem, King of righteousness; King of Peace; “King of kings and Lord of lords, who will smite the nations and rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev 19:15-16, Psa 2:1-2, 9, Zech 12:9). Soon, therefore, shall His earthly people, according to divine promise, reach their peaceful dwellings in His Holy hill (Psa 24:3-6).
7) The change that shall be in the brute creation. Before the fall, the animals in the creation, were in harmony with each other and obedient to Adam the head of God’s creation. Adam had been given dominion over everything in God’s fair creation (Psa 8:4-9). Adam was the first man (1 Cor 15), and through his sin and disobedience he became a fallen creature, and all of his posterity as a result (Rom 5:12). His sin and fall brought about the ferocity of the animal creation. Thank God for the second man, the last Adam; “The Lord from heaven”. Through His death and full atonement made, He has become the Restorer, and could say, “Then I restored that which I took not away” (Psa 69:4). And within the scope of those many, many things, will be the great change of the brute creation; restored, I judge, to their original Eden estate (Isa 11:6-9). “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain” (v9) -rich blessing through the second Man, the last Adam.
8) At the time of Messiah’s coming there will be great changes geologically. These are vast and far beyond the scope of this present article. However, we shall look at some thoughts in relation to these changes that will take place in the Day of the Lord. It is a long protracted period of over 1,000 years in duration and in relation to the present earth. In it, after the seven years tribulation, there will be “the great and the terrible day of the LORD” (Joel 2:31), and then the Millennium, brought in by His coming as the Son of Man and as the Messiah. The changes that shall then take place can best be considered from Zech 14:4-6: “His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, which shall cleave in the midst toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” It will evidently provide an escape route for the remnant to flee for safety, from the armies of the nations intent upon Israel’s destruction (Zech 14:5). But instead of Israel’s destruction, it will be the smiting and utter fatality of the armies of the nations, when He, as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, comes to reign (Rev 19:15-21). He shall then bring Israel into the blessings of ‘the Kingdom’, then in its glorious manifestation.
The atoning blood of Christ – its infinite power – its certain victory. Satan the deceiver – the little season – his defeat and doom
During the thousand years of Messiah’s reign, Satan’s abode will be in the bottomless pit, and after that he must be released for a little season (Rev 20:3). When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. What to do? Just what he did in Gen 3, when he deceived Eve – he will do the same again. He shall go out to deceive the nations; the multitude that did not desire the principles of the Kingdom nor receive the gospel then proclaimed. Those nations shall then be marshalled together by Satan, to compass the camp of the saints that they might overthrow the beloved city! Alas, alas, even before they have time to attack, fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev 20:10). How exceedingly solemn.
The solemnity of the Great White Throne judgment
In Rev 20:11 John sees a great white throne “and Him that sat on it from whose face earth and heaven fled away.” It is the ‘judgment of the Great White Throne’! All of those who, like Cain, right down through the course of time, died in their sins, shall come before the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, not then as Saviour but as the righteous, inflexible Judge. When the books are opened, every sin that has been committed in each one’s lifetime shall be brought to light, and righteous retribution shall be meted out to each individual. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). That exceedingly solemn event takes our thoughts beyond earth and time. It has often been said “this event is not in heaven. nor on earth, for both have passed away.” It is therefore, evidently, in space.
The eighth day – an eternal day
The eighth day, as mentioned in Lev 23:36, we shall now look at in some detail. The eighth day is not in relation to time, coming after the Feast of Tabernacles, which represents the last collective testimony on this present earth. It will therefore take our minds and thoughts to the new heaven and new earth, to consider ‘the eternal state’ (Rev 21:1-2), for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. It might be helpful to trace the long chain of events from Rev 19:11, through Ch 20, and into the eternal state mentioned in Ch 21:1-8. It is important to see these events occurring in chronological order. In the eternal state (v1-2) John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven (from the third heaven, God’s dwelling place) prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Then in v3, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men”. In v4 we have the blessed ‘no more’s‘, for the former things are passed away, and in v5, “He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’.” While we have the various companies of the redeemed, in their blessed eternal abode, on the other hand how solemn it is to think of the list of sinful characters, that shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. It is true that they are in contrast to the redeemed, and how solemn it is that their awful portion, too, is going to be eternal. If this be the eternal state, and it is, you cannot advance beyond that. How then do we place the long section that follows? I personally believe it is in relation to,
The bride of the Lamb – viewed in both the millennial and eternal spheres
Let me point out a few details in considering the next blessed portion from Rev 21:9 through to Ch 22:5, for by the Spirit of God our thoughts are evidently being taken back to consider part of Ch 20:4-6, where there is not much said except for those tribulation saints who are going to share in the last stage of the first resurrection. In addition to those events of the 1,000-year period, there will be supplementary details in relation to the bride the Lamb’s wife. She is seen in Ch 21:9 as the bride, and in v10 as the great city, holy Jerusalem, descending from God out of heaven – that will be at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ. Then she is seen again a second time, 1,000 years later, in the eternal state in Ch 21:2. John says “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband”, with not an atom of her glory and splendour, either faded or changed. We have heard some illustrate from the photograph of the wedding day of the bride in her splendour and bridal attire, comparing it with one taken. say, fifty years later. And what a change; the wrinkles and perhaps the grey hair; all show the fading glory. Not so the Bride of Christ, for she has been washed in the shed blood of redemption and atonement of the Lamb. I personally believe that we see the bride of Christ in all her glory in two contexts: first, in millennial times in the heavenly sphere (Ch 21:9-22:5) and then after the 1,000 years she is seen again coming down from God out of heaven (singular) to the new heavens and earth of the entire eternal state (Ch 21:1-2). In the millennial times she is seen, even then, eternal as to her state, and at the same time existing concurrently with the earthly Jerusalem. In Ch 21 the richest things of earth are employed to set forth the grandeur of the heavenly City. In addition to the detailed description given, there are some verses in Ch 21:24, 26, 22:2, that are vital to note because, in addition to the description, they set forth the relationship of the heavenly, holy Jerusalem to the earthly city of Jerusalem. It is well to remember that it is mostly the N.T. scriptures that reveal to us the vast truths in relation to the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the bride of Christ. On the other hand it is very largely the many, many O.T. scriptures and prophesies that give us so many details concerning the Promised Land and the earthly city of Jerusalem, being the future divine centre and the Metropolis from which the administration and rule for the nations shall go forth during the millennial years.
The nations going up to Jerusalem to worship – the tree of life for a heavenly and an earthly people
The nations (on earth), as they go up to Jerusalem to worship year by year, which they must do, shall walk in the light of the heavenly City; “The Kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into (unto eis) it…They shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into (unto eis) it” (Rev 21:24-26). In Ch 22:2 there is the tree of life. It is first mentioned in Ch 2:7, regarding the promise to the overcomers, “to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” – the heavenly sphere. We are told that “The tree bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month” – an exceedingly precious provision for glorified saints. I think it can be none other than the glorified Christ Himself. So the fruit is for the glorified saints in the heavenly sphere, while the leaves of the tree are for the healing or therapy of the nations, still upon earth. It will be a ministry that will preserve the nations on earth for the 1,000 years in peace and in preservation from war. Israel will then be in the ‘Land of Promise’ with the spiritual seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, dwelling therein. It will then be the fulfilment of Jacob’s typical ladder (Gen 28:12) between the heavenly and earthly. Of the ladder, the Lord’s interpretation given to Nathanael was, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51). In John 1:29, John the Baptist saw the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”. He was then still alive. It is of interest that “the Lamb”, mentioned often in Revelation, is not the same word as that used in John’s Gospel or the epistles. In Revelation the Lord is seen often as the Lamb that was slain, and liveth again, and is alive for evermore. In Ch 7:14 and 12:11 we have mention made of the blood of the Lamb, and how precious that is. For in Him we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:14) – and we thank God that that redemption is eternal (Heb 9:12). The Apostle Paul said in Acts 20:28 of the church of God, that it hath been purchased “with His own blood”, and it is true also of the Church which is His body, which, at the marriage of the Lamb, shall become the Bride of Christ. Nor should we forget the rubric of Lev 17:11 – valid for all time – “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” The shed blood was the costly price of making expiation, to meet the claims of God, and He is propitiated thereby. There is much in the universe that requires purging, things in the created heavens and earth, that are not clean, having been defiled by sin (Job 15:15-16), but thanks be to God that the basis for accomplishing it, has been laid, by the shed blood of redemption and atonement.
Some additional thoughts on the gap between the 4th and 5th Feasts of Jehovah
The promises of John 14 have always been very precious to the saints through past centuries. In v3, He says: “If I go…I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where am, there ye may be also.” A further promise in relation to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit in John 16:7, “If I depart, I will send Him unto you.” This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and all of those who were saved on that day, along with those who were saved prior to that day, and who were still alive, were in the energy of the Holy Spirit, baptised into the church, or the Ecclesia, and, thus, became members of the body of Christ. The death, burial and the resurrection of Christ has laid the righteous basis for the formation of His blood-bought church (Matt 16:18). His ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and the promise “I will come again” – the Rapture – mark out the time-period and bounds of His blood-bought church. The period has now continued more than two millennia, and when it is complete the rapture will then take place. This great mystery unfolded by the Apostle Paul is unique, and was not revealed to the Prophets of past ages (Eph 3:3-5, 9, Col 1:25-26). This mystery belongs to the present dispensation, or age, and was not revealed in the O.T.. While the promise of the Rapture is not directly mentioned in the type of the ‘New Meat offering‘ it is, nevertheless, clearly seen in the antitype. It is, on the one hand, inseparably related to the promise of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (John 16:7) and, on the other hand, to the promise of the Lord given to John in Ch 14:3 – “If I go…I will come again and receive you unto myself.” These purposes will complement and complete both the out-calling, and the up-calling of the church which is His body. So the coming down of the Holy Spirit and the taking up of the Saints we cannot separate, even though many centuries come in between the two precious promises. Shall I say again, that the first four feasts in various ways relate to the Lord’s first advent, and pointing to the rapture, whereas, the last three in the seventh month relate to His coming as the Son of man, when the blessings of atonement shall be made good to repentant Israel.
Some supplementary thoughts
This article is primarily a word study, and perhaps leaves room for comment on some aspects of the subject that have not been much dealt with. So I am giving some further and general comments on atonement.
The Hebrew verb ‘kaphar‘ ‘to make atonement’ is found many times in the O.T.. If we consider the making of atonement in Lev 16 and other portions, we are being given a foreshadowing of things to come (Col 2:17, Heb 8:5); and in Heb 10:1 “of good things to come”. In these scriptures we are seeing both type and antitype of which there are many in the O.T.. In the Divine mind and purpose, God had ordained the substance, and in the shadow God was giving a foreshadowing of things to come, or of the substance to come.
We have two main aspects of atonement in the Type:
(A) That of expiation, and (B) of propitiation
In the making of atonement, expiation was required, and it was the duty of the High Priest to do so in the linen garments. It required the death of the victim (or victims). Its blood had to be shed (Lev 17:11) -death and shed blood being the expensive ransom price. This aspect of atonement was necessary in making the costly expiation, and having being done, according to the due order, the High Priest went within the veil and sprinkled the blood on and before the mercy seat seven times, as commanded. God, looking upon the shed blood and the claims of the law being met, was satisfied – that is propitiation, or the end result through expiation.
Later the bodies of the sacrificial victims, whose blood was brought within the veil, were burnt without the camp, speaking of Divine judgment – the wrath of God on account of sin. In relation to the bodies being thus burnt, it was a type, that set forth a solemn picture of the judgment of God. Similarly, in the antitype (Heb 13:12-13), the Lord Jesus, in order to sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Having done so He cried: “It is finished“, and voluntarily bowed His head and gave up the ghost. He died, He was buried, He rose again, He has ascended to God’s right hand, He is alive for evermore and has thus become “The propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, 4:10).
It is very evident then, that there cannot be propitiation without expiation and both of these words, and others, according to context, are contained in the one word ‘atonement’. The veil being rent in twain was further divine evidence of God being fully satisfied. Important it is to say, that the typical day of atonement had to be repeated year by year continually, for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins; “But this Man (the man Christ Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12). In this paragraph, we can see, again, type and antitype.
Questions that might be asked
A) What benefit was there to Israel as a community in the ritual of the day of atonement?
Let us not forget that Israel was under the law of Moses, and by their sin were exposed to death by ‘the Law’ that knew no mercy. Although the atonement was but a shadow of the substance to come, which has since been accomplished at Calvary, God was nevertheless pleased to pardon their sins of the year that was past in relation to the Law of Moses, and its temporal consequences, even in time, for by it they had been brought under the sentence of death. So we see that God not only pardoned their sins of the past year, thus averting the judgment that should have fallen, but also, because of atonement made, was pleased to dwell in their midst until ‘the day of atonement’ the next year. The recurring Day of Atonement annually remained the picture until the time of the Great Day of Atonement, when Christ died an atoning death – which did not need repetition, it being eternal in its value.
B) How could the individual Israelite have eternal salvation?
Every repentant Israelite who through the word of God, had faith in the coming of Christ their Messiah, could say like the Psalmist David, “Blessed is He whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” In O.T. times, those of faith, like Abraham, were not only forgiven and justified, but were often spoken of as saints and viewed as precious even in their death (Psa 116:15). The forgiveness that they had possessed by faith in the word of God, and by virtue of the atoning death of Christ to be accomplished at Calvary, did not have to stand in abeyance until that great work was accomplished. God, looking forward to Calvary, could righteously justify those of faith in a past day, as He now does, those of faith in a present day who look back to Calvary – God can save yet righteous be. There were quite a number of Israelites who had that assurance (see the names in Heb 11) and are spoken of as those who “died in faith” (Heb 11:13). Presently they await the first resurrection. Job too, in his day, had that blessed assurance (Job 19:23-27).
C) How do the Hebrew, Greek and English words relate?
This question has been answered above, but I am giving a more condensed form here, showing their equivalents in a list. “Greek” refers not only to the New Testament, but also to the Septuagint (LXX) the Greek translation of the Old Testament.
The Hebrew Verb “Kaphar” means “to make atonement”
The Greek equivalent is “Hilaskomai”, a verb meaning “to atone, propitiate” (Luke 18:13, Heb 2:17)
Translates into English as “to make atonement, or to expiate” (Baxter’s Greek Lexicon)
The Hebrew Noun “Kippurim” means “atonement”, as in “day of atonement”
The Greek equivalent is “Hilasmos”, a noun meaning “atonement” or “one who makes expiation”
Translates into English as “atonement”, “propitiation”, “satisfaction (Wuest) (1 John 2:2, 4:10)
The Hebrew Noun “Kopher” means “the ransom price paid in order to expiate or atone” (Exod 30:12, Job 31:24, 36:18)
The Greek equivalent is “Lutron”, a noun meaning “ransom, the price paid” (Bagster) (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45). See also “antilutron”, a compound found in 1 Tim 2:6.
Translates into English as “ransom”, “the price paid to expiate”. Antilutron translates as “a ransom or provision for (on behalf of) all.
The Hebrew Noun “Kaporreth” means “mercy seat” (7x in Lev 16).
The Greek equivalent is “Hilasterion”, a noun meaning “a propitiatory” or “mercy seat” (Rom 3:25, Heb 9:5)
Translates into English as “mercy seat” or “propitiatory” or “place of propitiation”
Atonement – its eternal extent
The Word “eternal” is found often in Scripture. We do well to note the various phrases that are said to be eternal, and we can rejoice for the blessed fact that we have ‘eternal life’, a phrase mentioned about 30 times in the New Testament. The shed blood of Christ has procured ‘eternal salvation’, ‘an eternal inheritance’ and ‘eternal redemption’. God’s ‘eternal purpose’ in relation to His blood bought-church (Eph 3:11) shall be ours forever to enjoy. These phrases would remind us of the words of Solomon, “Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever” (Ecc 3:14). This is true of the atoning blood of Christ; it is eternal in its value, and for this we praise God there cannot be any breakdown in our eternal security.
The created heavens and earth
Job tells us that the “heavens are not clean in [God’s] sight” (Job 15:15). The earth, too, has been cursed because of man’s sin (Gen 3:17-18). Great changes for good there will be in Millennial times, in both the heavenly and earthly spheres, by the power of atoning blood. Beyond this thousand-year period, Peter will tell us that in the Day of the Lord “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise…the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up” (2 Pet 3:10). Peter, by the Holy Spirit, looks forward to the Day of God, the eternal state, and sees “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (v13). While it is true that every believer can greatly rejoice in this their eternal inheritance, nevertheless, we are saddened to think of those who are unbelievers, and outside of all this eternal sphere of blessing, and their portion to be in the abode of eternal fire (Jude v7, Rev 21:8).
Appendix regarding the Greek prepositions anti and huper
Although the Greek prepositions anti and huper are variously translated according to context, yet in some contexts they are certainly not interchangeable – see examples here:
1) In Genesis 2:21, in relation to the rib removed from Adam, it says “and God closed up the flesh instead thereof.” In the LXX the preposition is anti.
In Gen 4:25, Eve said “God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel.” The Greek preposition here is anti.
In Gen 22:13, Abraham offered up the ram “for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.” Again, the Greek preposition is anti.
2) Turning to the Kings of Israel, in 1 Kings 1:35, David said of Solomon “he shall be king in my stead.” A king instead of David, and the Greek preposition is anti.
In 2 Kings 14:21, “Azariah was made king instead of his father Amaziah.” The Greek preposition is anti.
In Jeremiah 22:11, “Shallum reigned instead of Josiah his father”. The Greek preposition is anti.
3) In the New Testament, in Matt 2:22, “Archelaus did reign in the room of (Gr. prep. anti) [or in the stead of] his father Herod.”
In the above contexts to change the preposition from anti to huper i.e. from “instead of” to “on behalf ” is not possible. In the last case, using huper could mean that Archelaus took over as a deputy under command, but not as a reigning King. In other words, in these examples the prepositions anti and huper are not interchangeable.
4) In examples given in the booklet The Theology of Prepositions by Basil F C Atkinson, MA., Ph.D., of the use of huper, he says :”In all these the force of the preposition ‘huper‘ is not that of substitution, a conception that is brought out by the use of anti. With reference to Matt 20:28 and Mark 10:45, he says that, “The meaning of the preposition anti, which is a very important word in the sentence is,”in exchange for”, “as the equivalent of”, “instead of”. The sentence teaches the substitutionary doctrine of atonement, and I think it is safe to say that no other view can be safely entertained.”
5) Having considered the distinctions between the two prepositions huper and anti, now compare the contexts of Matt 20:28 and Mark 10:45 where the ransom is “for” many (the prep ‘for’ is anti – in the stead of’) – the many who can each claim Christ as their personal substitute. In relation to 1 Tim 2:6, some would deny the ‘all’ of a universal provision and wrongly restrict it to a selected few, which is a denial of God’s desire for all men to be saved. The one Mediator between God and men gave Himself a ransom for (huper) all. The ransom here is ‘antilutron‘ which is substitutionary in character and provisionally enough ‘for’ all (prep. huper), “in the interests of, or on behalf of all” – thus, the provision is on offer to all. If we were to use the preposition anti in 1 Tim 2:6. we would be virtually doing away with man’s responsibility of repentance and faith in Christ. It is only the believer in Christ who can really say “Christ is my personal substitute.” This is the blessed and unspeakable privilege of His redeemed people. This view, which I believe to be scriptural, does not narrow the scope of the Divine provision for all.
6) We perhaps should not rely unreservedly on the basic dictionary meaning of Greek words generally, for that can vary somewhat according to context and grammatical import. This principle would apply to the use of prepositions, for they too may vary according to context. It is best not to isolate them from the phrase, clause or sentence of which they form part lest we form a doctrine upon a preposition alone. While it is true that we do not build a doctrine upon them, at the same time, it is just as great a mistake to isolate them from the phrase, clause or sentence of which they form a part.
7) If we take, for instance, an example of the Greek word ‘paralambano‘ which is found about 50 times in the N.T., and is variously translated according to context and grammatical import. The two portions that we are concentrating on just now are John 14:3 and Matt 24:40-41. The word in John 14:3 in the KJV is translated “receive”. Bagster in his Greek Lexicon would render it: “to take, to receive to one’s self.” W.E. Vine gives the meaning “to take, or receive”, and we have no doubt that will take place, according to 1 Thess. 4 17, at the time of the rapture – it means to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. What a blessed hope is ours. It has been taught that, because this same word, “paralambano“, is found in Matt 24:40-41, the rapture is to be found in Matt 24. However, that is not so, for very good reasons. Firstly, the passages are quite different grammatically, according to the authority of Greek scholars. Secondly, in John 14:3, the Lord receives the saints unto Himself, without accompanying angels. At His coming as the Son of Man with His mighty angels (2 Thess 1:7, Matt 24:31), He will commission them to gather His elect from the four winds for the Millennial reign in the promised land. That will be at the very end (telos) of the short period that is called, “the end (sunteleia) of the age” – the period of tribulation days between the rapture and His coming as Son of Man. Again, in “the end of the age” (Matt 13:41-42, 49-50), the Son of Man shall send forth His angels to gather out of the kingdom all things that offend and do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire – there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (v42). This Greek word “paralambano” is thus found in two different contexts that are distinct, both grammatically and dispensationally.