The Person of Christ - 22 - His Atonement pre-figured in the Old Testament OT


Chapter 22 - The Atonement of Christ

In The Old Testament

Harold S. Paisley


The subject of atonement is of vital importance and is one of the great fundamentals of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. The concept of atonement as presented in the Old Testament is a covering of sins on the grounds of the death of the Lord Jesus yet to be accomplished at Calvary.




The beautiful Hebrew word translated ?to make atonement? is ?kaphar? and is found only once in its simple form. The instructions given by God to Noah has this word in relation to the ark which was to be pitched within and without with pitch. Mr. Newberry gives the root word for pitch to mean ?to cover or to make atonement? (Gen. 6:14). The word is used in other forms some one hundred times elsewhere in the Old Testament and is usually rendered ?to make atonement.?




With these considerations we believe that atonement is not a New Testament word at all, but is replaced by the grand word which conveys deeper truth, even the word propitiation (I John 2:2).Thus the truth of atonement is first of all an Old Testament doctrine. It must be pointed Out however, in this century the two words atonement and propitiation are used as equivalents. The careful student will observe and appreciate that while words have changed their meaning by common usage there is no confusion in the language and thoughts of God. His Word is ever the same. It is unchanging and every word of God is pure.




The basic meaning of atonement has the idea of the covering of sins or the hiding of them from sight for a time. The concept of propitiation is the giving to God full satisfaction for sin forever.

On the day of atonement the blood was carried into the sanctuary but not placed upon the sinner (Lev. 16:15). In propitiation however, the Precious Blood of Christ fully cleanseth the sinner from every trace of sin and guilt. The Old Testament atonement gave a brief period of rest to the sinner, at the longest one year, through the blood of the sacrifice. ?Those sacrifices could never make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins? (Heb. 10:1-2). In propitiation the soul enters into Eternal rest and a standing before God without a spot on the grounds of the one offering of the Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross. The words ?their sins and iniquities will I remember no more,? have the blessed thought of a once for all dealing by God with the question of our sins. He remembered the sins continually year by year in atonement, but now in propitiation they are remembered no more, because they have been, once for all, laid upon the Victim at Calvary (Heb. 10:11-15).

On the Day of Atonement the High Priest alone entered into the presence of God as a worshipper. The people were excluded and stood waiting without. They had no right of entrance into His Presence. In reconciliation which is one of the great blessings flowing out to us as the result of propitiation, all has been changed. The believer is now constituted a priest and has received a fitness and a title to draw near to God, within the veil, as a worshipper to offer the sacrifice of praise. This right is not confined to any select number of the people of God but is the grand and holy privilege of the whole priesthood of all believers.

The atonement of the Old Testament removed sin from man for a little while, but the man himself was unchanged in his nature. The propitiation however, transcends this and should cause us to stand amazed in His presence, Who hath done all things well. The believing soul now appears clothed in all the beauty of the Son of His love, changed by Divine grace, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and given a perfect place of acceptance in Christ before God.




In the consideration of atonement in this light it appears evident that it was a foreshadowing of the crowning glory of propitiation. God in His forbearance covered sins that were past on the grounds of the coming sacrifice of His Son, which sacrifice was witnessed in the continual blood-shedding of the animal sacrifices. Now all has been finished and the sins covered over for centuries have been put away by the death of Christ, and thank God the sins of all in the present age, and that to follow, who have and will rest on the work of Calvary have propitiation. ?Christ Jesus whom God hath set forth to be the mercy seat through faith, to declare His righteousness because of the passing over of sins that are past through the forbearance of God, to declare at this time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of him which is of the faith of Jesus? (Rom. 3:25-26).