Two stages of atonement
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Two Stages of Atonement. Adapted from: Roy Gane, Altar Call (Berrien Springs, MI: Diadem, 1999). Exodus 25:8. “And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them” (NRSV). Variety of Sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7).

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Two Stages of Atonement

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Two Stages of Atonement

Adapted from:

Roy Gane, Altar Call (Berrien Springs, MI: Diadem, 1999)


Exodus 25:8

“And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them” (NRSV).


Variety of Sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7)


The multi-faceted magnificence of Christ’s sacrifice explainswhy there were different kinds of animal sacrifices at the Israelite sanctuary (Lev 1-7).


All sacrifices pointed to Christ’s sacrifice (Jn 1:29; Heb 9:25-28).


Purification Offering(so-called “Sin Offering”)


Purification Offering and Forgiveness

  • Blood was applied to horns (highest points) of outer or inner altar, so elevated and emphasized.

  • Christ’s blood ransoms/redeems human lives from deadly “debt” of sin (Lev 17:11; Matt 6:12; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Eph 1:7).


Purification Offering and Forgiveness

  • Blood on horns of an altar.

  • The more prominent the blood, the more powerful the atonement.

  • Two kinds of purification offerings:

    (1) For high priest or community (Lev 4:3-21): blood into “Holy Place.”

    (2) For other persons (vv. 22-35): blood only on outer altar.


Purification Offering and Forgiveness

  • Emphasis on blood, representing ransom for life (Lev 17:11).

  • Required for sin or serious physical impurity (Lev 4-5, 12, 15, etc.).

  • Token payment of obligation/debt.

  • So offerer couldn’t eat, and purification offering performed before burnt offering gift (Lev 9:8-14, 15-16).


Purification Offering and Forgiveness

  • Pointed to Christ’s sacrifice as the way for God to “forgive us our debts” (Matt 6:12).

  • Paid by blood, so debt for life = ransom.

  • Only Christ can pay this price (1 Pet 1:18-19), which we can never pay (Ps 49:7).


Purification Offering and Forgiveness

  • Lev. 6:27 ‘Anyone who touches its flesh will become consecrated; and when any of its blood splashes on a garment, in a holy place you shall wash what was splashed on.

  • Lev. 6:28 ‘Also the earthenware vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken; and if it was boiled in a bronze vessel, then it shall be scoured and rinsed in water.


His blood was lifted up, not on the highest points of a ritual altar, but on the cross.


God’s Forgiveness

  • Why can’t God forgive without sacrifice?

  • Love includes justice + mercy.

  • Mercy at the expense of justice would compromise love.

  • Having broken the law of love, we must die.

  • But love makes God want to save us (Jn 3:16; Judg 10:16)!

  • Christ’s sacrifice extends mercy with justice (Rom 3:26).


Day of Atonement Made Simple


Day of Atonement Made Simple

  • Purification offering (to the Lord) bull for priests.

  • Purification offering goat for laypeople.

  • Purification ritual (not a sacrifice) goat from everyone to Azazel.

  • Burnt offering ram for priests.

  • Burnt offering ram for laypeople.


Day of Atonement Made Simple

  • Only the purification offering goat for laypeople had independent significance pointing to Christ’s sacrifice.

  • The bull and ram for priests were necessary because the priests were faulty.

  • The burnt offering ram for laypeople added to the quantity of their purification offering (compare Lev 5:6-7; Num 15:24-28).


Day of Atonement Made Simple

  • Cleansing the sanctuary and camp all boils down to “a tale of two goats.”

  • Lord’s goat for laypeople carried meaning of Christ’s role for His people.

  • Nonsacrificial live goat for Azazel represented someone else.

  • That is the Day of Atonement made simple!


Two Goats


Two Stages Of Atonement

Evils came into the Israelite sanctuary throughout the year and were taken out of it on the Day of Atonement.

What goes in must come out!


Two Stages Of Atonement


Two Stages Of Atonement


Two Stages Of Atonement

  • Purging sanctuary on Day of Atonement removed all evils that had already been removed from persons by sacrifices throughout the year (Lev 16:16).

  • Reversal of blood applications in holy place.

  • Difference in purification of assistants.


Two Stages Of Atonement


High Priest sprinkling blood on ark cover


Two Stages Of Atonement


Two Stages Of Atonement

  • Disposing of purification offering carcasses on Day of Atonement makes assistant impure (Lev 16:28).

  • On other days such a task does not defile assistants (Lev 4:11-12, 21).

  • Due to opposite function: sacrifices carrying evils in (Lev 4; compare 6:27) and out (Lev 16).


Forgiving Guilty People


Forgiving Guilty People

  • God’s headquarters are at His heavenly sanctuary/throne (Ps 11:4; Jer 17:12).

  • God’s throne/sanctuary represents His character, authority, and reputation.

  • God’s “name” at sanctuary (Deut 12:5, 11).

  • His “name” involves His reputation (Ezek 20:9).


Forgiving Guilty People

Evils cleansed out of earthly sanctuary on Day of Atonement (Lev 16:16), clearing His reputation:

  • Physical ritual impurities

  • Rebellious sins (“transgressions”)

  • Forgivable “sins”


Forgiving Guilty People

  • Why would forgivable “sins” be handled twice at the sanctuary?

  • After forgiveness, what need for atonement could remain?

  • The woman of Tekoa to David: “The blame is on me, my lord the king, and on my father’s house, but the king and his throne are clean” (2 Sam 14:9; translation by Roy Gane).


Forgiving Guilty People

  • God is like David: morally responsible for His judgments, including forgiveness of guilty people.

  • Having paid our ransom (Matt 20:28), God is just when He justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Rom 3:26).

  • God balances justice and mercy, the two sides of love (Ps 85:10).


Cleansed Through Judgment

  • Judgment between loyal and disloyal (Dan 7).

  • = Justifying/cleansing God’s (heavenly) sanctuary (Dan 8).

  • Justifying God’s sanctuary through judgment clears God’s reputation.

  • Like Day of Atonement: judged when sanctuary cleansed (Lev 23:29-30).


Cleansed Through Judgment

  • How can judgment justify God’s sanctuary?

  • God’s throne represents His justice (Ps 89:14; compare 2 Sam 14:9).

  • God’s justice must be vindicated because He forgives guilty people.

  • He also must be vindicated when He condemns rebels who defame Him, illegitimately defiling His sanctuary (Lev 20:3; Num 19:13, 20).


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • God’s reputation matters.

  • By forgiving guilty people, God lays Himself open to a charge of injustice.


In Christ, God took responsibility for forgiving guilty but repentant people.


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • God is vindicated when He justifies those who have faith (Rom 3:26).

  • But Satan continues to accuse (Rev 12:10) by saying that people do not really have faith.


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • God is not fully justified until an end-time judgment because He cannot save a person who does not have (present tense) faith (Col 1:21-23).

  • The question is: Who has faith in Jesus?

  • The question is not: Who has sinned? (Rom 3:23).


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • Only God can read thoughts (see Ps 139:23; Lk 7:39-40).

  • So the judgment considers records (Dan 7:10) of works (Eccl 12:14) showing whether true faith exists (James 2:26; Gal 5:6).

  • The judgment reaffirms assurance of those who are forgiven (Dan 7:22).


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • Having faith and receiving forgiveness means receiving Christ and the transformation He brings to our lives through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8).


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

“God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart.


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

David had the true conception of forgiveness when he prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10.” (Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 114).


Sanctuary and God’s Reputation

  • We can look forward to God’s judgment as deliverance (Ps 26:1; 35:24)!

  • Unlike the woman of Tekoa, we need not bear responsibility for pardon (Isa 55:1).

  • We can leave to God the cost of mercy!


“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other” (Ps 85:10; NRSV).


Books by Roy E. Gane dealing with Ritual Activity Systems and the Character of God

  • Altar Call. Berrien Springs, MI: Diadem, 1999.

  • Leviticus-Numbers. NIV Application Commentary series;Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.

  • Ritual Dynamic Structure. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2004.

  • Cult and Character: Purification Offerings, Day of Atonement, and Theodicy. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2005.

  • Who’s Afraid of the Judgment? Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2006.

  • “Leviticus.”In The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary on the Old Testament; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, forthcoming.


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