"It is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you shall be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute."Leviticus 16:30-31
Once again Aaron is making a sacrifice, killing a bull for sin offering and presenting two goats, one to be sacrificed and one to become Azazel, the scape goat or the goat demon.
This is the Atonement, a permanent statute for all the sins once every year. We know it as Yom Kippur, the highest, holiest day for the Jews. Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and God, not for sins against another person.
Atonement [atone = at + one] is the making of amends or reparation for sin, injury or wrongs; to be reconciled and restored to unity.
Other words used in scripture around this concept of atonement include expiation and propitiation. Expiation is the transfer of one's sin upon another in order that compensation or repayment for damages can be done to reconcile one to another. Propitiation means to eagerly give of one's self in order to pacify the other.
The interesting thing about atonement is this: it must be done for you.
One can not atone one's self; one cannot cleanse one's self. All you can do is sit and wait and watch someone or something else make things right on your behalf. In a world where many of us want to do for ourselves, this is a very hard thing.
The day of Atonement is a sabbath of solemn rest. On this day, a person was not allowed to work at all. This points to the helplessness of an individual. We not only are not allowed to help in our atonement; we are unable to help in our atonement. This is a very humbling experience.
"That you may humble your souls."
When I was very sick from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, I could not walk by myself, cleanse myself, feed myself, dress myself or get myself anywhere I was to go. Everything had to be done for me.
How very humbling for us whose identity is often in what we can do and how well we can do it!
So how does one get right with God?
"Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."1 John 2:2
This is the very humbling experience of Grace. We cannot save ourselves by our own sacrifices, our own good works or payment; we cannot appease or placate God. Atonement is total gift, done on our behalf by Christ who is the high priest, the sacrifice and the scapegoat. Jesus Christ willingly gave his life in place of the life of the offending ones, you and me.
All we can do is watch.
All we can do is wait.
All we can do is rest.
It is a solemn rest.
It is a humbling rest.
It is grace.