The Day of Atonement

The Bible in Art: The Day of Atonement     

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Verses for Consideration: Leviticus 16:34

34 “This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.”

And it was done, as the Lord commanded Moses.



A government official who was testifying in front of a congressional committee was asked whether or not he had lied to his superiors about a situation under investigation. The official answered that he had not lied but that he had “reported a chronology that was radically different from the truth.”

This verbal handiwork may make us moan, but we use it too. We “borrow” an item from a coworker without any intention of returning it. Instead of gossiping, we might “share information” about another person.

What God calls a sin in his Holy Scriptures is a sin despite our attempts to make it otherwise. The word sin means “to miss the mark.” Our holy God’s standard is perfection, but each day, in our thoughts, words, and actions, we miss his bull’s-eye.

The solution is not to make the target bigger or to shoot the arrow and then move the target to wherever it lands. The solution, thank God, has already been provided. In Jesus Christ, God gave us a man who hit the bull’s-eye every day in every way. His sacrificial death and his resurrection defeated sin, death, and the devil once and for all.

This solution is ours by faith in Jesus as our personal Savior. Trusting his saving work is the only way we can have the condemnation of our sins removed. When we attempt to call our sins something else, ignore them, or claim the times have changed, we place ourselves in spiritual danger. If our sins are not sins, then for what do we need Jesus?

The opposite of using clever phrases to mask our sin is to humbly confess them. May we, with King David, confess to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” What follows is the assurance that our sins have been forgiven in Christ. No manipulation on our part is necessary.

Prayer: Move me to confess boldly and freely my sins each day, and fill my hearts with the peace that comes from knowing that your Son, Jesus Christ, lived and died to take my sins away. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Title: Day of Atonement (1894)

Artist: Illustrator of Henry Davenport Northrop’s “Treasures of the Bible”