Introduction: This past Sunday evening I was sitting on a bench
overlooking the lake by my home. The quiet, beautiful evening turned
my thoughts towards God and my place in His world. I thought about
why it was I believed God existed, that Christianity was true and
Jesus was the Messiah. Our lesson this week speaks to those issues.
My reason for believing God exists is the order I see in the
Creation. Owning cars and houses has taught me that things move from
order to disorder, not the other way around. That God foretold the
Messiah through the symbols of the Atonement shows His order. The
three major world religions believe in the account of the sanctuary
service, yet only Christianity can match it up to Jesus the Messiah.
Only Christianity relies on these fulfilled symbols for the
forgiveness of sins. Christianity is the logical, consistent,
reasonable religion. Let’s jump right into our study of the Bible to
better understand this!

  1. The Path From Sin

    1. Read Leviticus 6:1-4. Why are all of these sins being
      “unfaithful to the Lord?” Isn’t it the fellow next door
      who is short his property? (God is the One who said these
      things are wrong in the Ten Commandments. It is God’s
      standard that is being broken.)

    2. Read Leviticus 6:5. What is the first step to recovery
      from sin under the Old Testament system? (Although God’s
      law is being broken, God wants us to restore what we have
      taken. We need to try to fix things. The first step is to
      admit our error and try to make things right.)

    3. Read Leviticus 5:6. Why does this text say “and as a
      penalty?” I thought the 20% premium was already paying a
      penalty! What else is required for sin here? (The 20%
      penalty was paid to the person cheated. This penalty is
      paid to God.)

      1. If the animal is “of the proper value,” what does it
        matter if it is “without defect?” Why not kill the
        defective animals if they have sufficient value to
        satisfy the penalty?

      2. Why would you kill the animal anyway? You pay
        penalties with something that works, not something
        that is dead! “I’m sorry I stole your rims (wheels),
        here is a dead battery to make it right.” (These two
        requirements make no sense without the Christian
        understanding of the Messiah.)

    4. Read Leviticus 5:7. Up to this last point in the text we
      have what I would call a typical system of justice. The
      state tries to take the profit out of criminal activity,
      restores the victim of crime and requires a penalty be
      paid to the state for keeping order. What does this text
      add that is unusual? (It has to do with this last point
      about the dead animal. We move into something more than
      criminal activity. We now specifically address the matter
      of sin.)

      1. Who does this text say makes atonement? (“The priest
        shall make atonement for him” for his sin.)

    5. Let’s explore this atonement idea a bit more. Read
      Leviticus 4:27-31. Who kills the animal? (The person who
      sins puts his hand on the head of the animal and then
      kills it.)

      1. Notice that this involves unintentional sin. Would
        this process make you more careful about sinning in
        the future? (I would hate to kill the animal. For me
        it would deter sin.)

      2. If you were to walk up to a wise person and say “I’ve
        harmed someone, what do you think I should do?” The
        answer would likely be “Try to make it right and
        don’t do it again.” We’ve looked at the restitution
        idea. Killing the animal would help to keep me from
        doing wrong again. Is that all there is to it? Is
        that what atonement means – discouraging future
        wrongdoing? What important element is missing?

    6. Read Leviticus 17:11-12. In this text and the last, we
      have all of this discussion about handling the blood. How
      does blood fit into this picture?

      1. Why is blood something which can atone? (Read Genesis
        2:15-16. The result of sin is death. God says in
        Leviticus that life is in the blood. The death of the
        animal substituted in some way for the death-causing
        sin of the human. The animal’s blood atoned for the
        person’s sin. This is something quite different than
        restitution or deterrence. We started out saying that
        sin is being unfaithful to God. It is a violation of
        His standard. His standard says sin results in

  2. Atonement As Prophecy

    1. We considered before what a wise person would say to
      someone who had done something wrong. I think it is safe
      to say that a blood sacrifice would never enter the mind
      of the wise person. Are there any major world religions
      who believe in blood sacrifice for personal wrongs (short
      of murder)? Are there any who believe or teach an

    2. Read Romans 3:23-26. How does the Bible suggest that the
      atonement component of the sanctuary system predicted
      Jesus? (The sanctuary system introduced the novel idea
      that the blood of the animal could somehow free the human
      from having to pay for his sin with his life. The person
      could avoid the ultimate result of sin by using a

      1. Notice that Romans 3:25 says this atonement idea
        demonstrates “justice.” Is that how you see it? If I
        were the advocate for the animals, I would be calling
        this system “injustice.”

    3. Judaism no longer practices animal sacrifices because the
      temple has been destroyed and not rebuilt. Is that a
      reasonable excuse not to follow the clearly laid out
      procedure to eliminate sin? (Read Exodus 20:24-25. The
      sacrifice did not require a temple. It could be made upon
      an altar of dirt or stones.)

    4. Does Islam, which accepts the Old Testament as God’s
      revelation, have anything approaching atonement by someone
      other than the sinner?

    5. Read 1 Peter 1:18-21. What does Peter say is the usual way
      to make wrongs right? (Pay a penalty: silver, gold or
      money of some sort.)

      1. How are our wrongs made right? (By the blood of

      2. Notice that Peter refers to the lamb being without
        blemish or defect. I raised this issue before saying
        that it made no sense in the abstract. How does it
        make sense now? (The reason why God required a
        perfect animal – without blemish – was to predict
        that Jesus, who lived a perfect life, would die to
        atone for our sins.)

      3. Was God making the sanctuary system up as He went
        along? (No. This text says that God had this plan in
        mind before the world was created. He put in place
        the sanctuary service as a symbolic device to teach
        us about His plan for the salvation of humans.)

      4. Why not just settle for animals dying? Why did Jesus
        have to die? How is this justice? If I were God I
        certainly would have used farm animals instead of my
        son! (This is still a difficult concept for me to
        grasp logically. My father’s friend, Patrick
        Stevenson, helped me to better understand this. If I
        committed a crime worthy of death, I could not offer
        the court my dog or any other animal. I could not
        offer the court any member of my family. The court
        would require my life. We corporately fell into sin
        when Adam and Eve sinned. When we become a Christian
        we become “in Christ.” Jesus is the “second Adam,”
        and we corporately become part of Jesus who lived,
        died and was resurrected on our behalf. Thus we died
        when He died. Contemplate Romans 5:12-19 to better
        understand this.)

  3. Practical Living

    1. Does the fact that Jesus atoned for our sin give us
      freedom to sin? (Read Romans 6:1-2. When we died with
      Jesus, we died to sin. If you remain in Jesus, you want
      to steer clear of sin.)

      1. If killing an animal would deter you from future
        sinning, what about killing Jesus?

    2. Read Psalms 51:3-4. What element does this highlight? (God
      says that wrongdoing is sin against Him. Confession of
      sin is to God because He is the one ultimately wronged.)

    3. Read James 5:13-16. Is James telling us that we need to
      confess our sins to fellow believers to be forgiven? How
      is this consistent with the idea that we sin against God
      when we break His rules? (James seems to be writing about
      how fellow believers can help each other to steer clear of
      sin. By letting a trusted believer know you have a problem
      in a certain area, that person may be able to encourage
      and counsel you. This might help you to avoid sin. Some
      call this an “accountability partner.”)

    4. Friend, Christianity is the thinking person’s religion.
      If you accept the Old Testament as God’s revelation to
      humans, the entire system for shedding sin pointed to a
      coming Messiah who would die to atone for our sins.
      Christianity alone accepts this logical link. Will you
      confidently take hold of what Jesus has done for you?
      Will you today live like you believed Jesus died for your

  4. Next week: Atonement in Symbols: Part 2.