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The Day of Atonement: A Prequel to Easter – Holy Week

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As we approach Easter, it’s important to remember the significance of Holy Week and the events that led up to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today, I want to focus on Leviticus 16:1-34 and the Day of Atonement. This was a yearly observance where the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to maintain God’s special relationship with Israel.

But what does this have to do with us today? Well, Jesus is our better High Priest who removes our sins and gives us access to God’s presence for ourselves in the right relationship. In Leviticus, we see that redemption means to purchase for oneself. When God redeemed Israel in Egypt, He bought the nation for Himself. Redemption deals with the sinner’s relationship with God, whereas atonement deals with his relationship with sin. People experience redemption, but God has atoned for their sins.

To help us understand this concept of redemption, let’s look at the redemption rate for recycled bottles and aluminum cans in Michigan. The state offers to repurchase them to encourage people to recycle instead of throwing those reusable materials away. This is similar to how God redeemed us by purchasing us for Himself through Jesus Christ.

We no longer need a physical temple or high priest to have the right relationship with God. Hebrews talks about Jesus as the greater high priest who completed the need for a holy sacrifice for all time. He has become a high priest forever and can ultimately save those who come to God through him.

Finally, only the high priest was allowed to enter behind the curtain into the Holy of Holies once a year. But when Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was supernaturally torn apart, giving all believers access to God’s presence as beloved children when we receive Jesus’ redemption.

As we enter Holy Week, let us remember the significance of the Day of Atonement and how Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has given us access to God’s presence and a right relationship with Him.


Paul Luna

Paul Luna is a pastor, husband & father of four in Oregon. He's passionate about faith, family, & community, he enjoys painting, hiking, & tech.

All stories by: Paul Luna