Why does there need to be the shedding of blood for the atonement of sin?

Numbers 31:50, Make atonement. 

What is the big deal about the concept of vicarious atonement, that is, someone dying in another persons’s place to repair a wrong or an injury? Does the really need to be the shedding of blood for the antonement of sin? This is a concept shared only by Christianity and no other major religions in the world including Judaism. The Christians are always making a big deal about “the cross” and “Jesus dying for our sins,” or “Jesus paying for our sins.” Is this a biblical concept or some idea of man to put people under bondage to some ancient religious and irrational superstition? Knowing the answer to this question is a matter of life and death.

Exploring the Concept of Atonement
as It Relates to the Tabernacle and Salvation

In this verse we read, “We have therefore brought an oblation for YHVH, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before YHVH.” In a similar passage in Exodus 30:15–16, we read, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls(emphasis added). The question before us is this: Do these passages in the Torah imply that YHVH grants man absolution based something other than the shedding of blood, and by logical extension, does this call into question our redemption from sin through our faith in Yeshua the Messiah’s blood atonement?

The concept of atonement can be a confusing one. Some in rabbinic Jewish circles teach that the Torah (i.e. the first five books of the Bible) does not require the shedding of blood for atonement of one’s sin to occur. According to the above scripture, this could appear to be the case. Before briefly discussing the subject of atonement, let us not forget the stern warnings of the Apostle Peter when he warned end-time saints against false teachers who would lure people away from the simple truth of the gospel:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not…. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceiving while they feast with you; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children, which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Yeshua Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2)

In the Testimony of Yeshua (New Testament), there is no question that when the concept of atonement (i.e. to make ransom for or to cover over man’s sins) is presented it is related to the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, being shed for the remission of man’s sins, which is the means through which reconciliation between Elohim and man occurs. In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), however, the idea of atonement is somewhat broader and at times more generalized in scope. Herein lies the confusion and the misconceived disparity between the Former (Old) and Latter (New) Testaments or Covenants. Are they in opposition to one another, or is the latter the logical outgrowth of the former and compliments or ­elucidates the former?

The Hebrew word for atonement is kapar. A verb, it means “to make an atonement, make reconciliation, purge. In its noun form, kapar means a ransom, gift, to secure favor”(see Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament [or TWOT], word 1023). Kapar also means “to cover over”and is the same Hebrew word meaning “to cover or smear with pitch”as in caulking the seams of a wooden ship so that it becomes waterproof (see Brown-Driver-Briggs H3722). Our English words cap (as well as the Hebrew kipah, which is a small hemispherical hat that many religious Jewish men wear)and cover are related etymologically to kapar (see The Word—The Dictionary That Reveals the Hebrew Source of Our English, by Isaac E. Mozeson). 

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The Significance of Blood in the Bible

Leviticus 17:10, Eats any blood. This prohibition is so serious that the Torah repeats it three other places (Lev 3:17; 7:26; 17:14), and the apostles make it one of the four requirements imposed on new Gentile converts before allowed into the fellowship of believers (Acts 15:29). This law was so serious that not only was it imposed on the children of Israel, but upon the strangers that sojourned with them as well (Lev 17:10). The penalty for doing so was basically capital punishment—to be cut off from Israel (vv. 9, 14).Why is the eating of blood so onerous in the eyes of Elohim? The context of this verse involves prohibitions against the demonic practices of the neighboring Baal-worshiping heathens. Eating and then the letting of blood was something that figured prominently in the demonic religious rituals of the heathens and is something YHVH wanted to keep his people from practicing. (For a further discussion of this, see notes on Lev 17:1–14.) In YHVH’s spiritual economy, blood was to be reserved exclusively for the atonement of sin and was to be respected as such.

Leviticus 17:11. The blood. Long before modern science confirmed this in the seventeenth-century, YHVH revealed in the Torah that the life of flesh is in the blood.

Leviticus 17:11 is a crucial scripture theologically regarding the blood atonement. Presently, the Jewish religion offers no hope for its followers in light of this passage, since they deny the only means by which humans can have their sins atoned, namely, through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah. For believers in Yeshua, the message of Messiah and him crucified addresses this issue. The importance of the blood of the Lamb in the atonement for sins as well as in overcoming sin, sickness (1 Peter 2:24) and the powers of hell (Rev 12:11) cannot be over emphasized. How thorough is your understanding of the power of the blood? Do you appropriate this power on a regular basis in your life? The power of the blood is central to the efficacy of the communion elements and specifically to the concept of redemption. The concept of the blood of Yeshua is central to the gospel message with some 50 references to it in the Testimony of Yeshua. Such terms are used as “blood of the Lamb,” “blood of Messiah,” “precious blood of Messiah,” “blood of the everlasting covenant,” “redemption through Messiah’s blood,” “blood of His cross,” “communion of the blood of Messiah,” “faith in his blood,” and “purchased with his blood.” Is the reality of the blood of Messiah central to your faith walk? How so? If not, why not? (Read and ponder Matt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:12, 22; 10:19; 12:24; 1 Pet 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5; 7:14; 12:11.)


 

A Tithe on War Booty and the Holy Half Shekel — A Memorial Pointing to Yeshua’s Atoning Death

Numbers 31:50, Make atonement. 

Exploring the Concept of Atonement as It Relates to the Tabernacle and Salvation

In this verse we read, “We have therefore brought an oblation for YHVH, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before YHVH.” In a similar passage in Exodus 30:15–16, we read, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls(emphasis added). The question before us is this: Do these passages in the Torah imply that YHVH grants man absolution based something other than the shedding of blood, and by logical extension, does this call into question our redemption from sin through our faith in Yeshua the Messiah’s blood atonement?

Natan holding an actual 2000 year old silver half-shekel from his biblical antiquities collection. This actual coin likely passed through the temple treasury in Jerusalem.

Natan holding an actual 2000 year old silver half-shekel from his biblical antiquities collection. This actual coin likely passed through the temple treasury in Jerusalem. YHVH commanded the Israelites to a pay yearly temple tax of a half-shekel of silver to help fund the sacrificial system that  was a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross.

The concept of atonement can be a confusing one. Some in rabbinic Jewish circles teach that the Torah (i.e., the first five books of the Bible) does not require the shedding of blood for atonement of one’s sin to occur. According to the above scripture, this could appear to be the case. Before briefly discussing the subject of atonement, let us not forget the stern warnings of the Apostle Peter when he warned end-time saints against false teachers who would lure people away from the simple truth of the gospel:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not…. But these, as natural Continue reading


 

Is there a back door around the bloody cross?

Exodus 30:15 and 16, To make atonement for your souls. Some will read these verses and conclude that one can buy their redemption through charitable giving and therefore circumvent the need to place one’s faith in Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross. Does this passage suggest a theology where man can save himself from his sins by acts of charity? Let’s dig a little deeper to see what these verses are really teaching us.

Cross, nailed hand 15210507

In this passage, YHVH instructed the Israelites to pay an annual half-shekel temple tax. This money went, in part, toward, the service (verse 16) and constructing of the Tabernacle of Moses (e.g., Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT, vol. 1, p. 459; Exod. 38:21–31), and later toward the purchase of the animals the priests sacrificed (The Temple and Its Service, by Alfred Edersheim, p. 48). In this way, the people were participating vicariously in the act of sacrificing an innocent animal as an offering or atonement for their sins. Again, the Scriptures reveal that this sacrificial system merely pointed prophetically toward the Greater Sacrifice that would come later in the Person of Yeshua, the Redeemer of Israel. (Read Isa 53.) On the point that the paying the half-shekel was a merely a temporary solution to the problem of man’s sin, Keil and Delitzsch say in their commentary on this passage,

As an expiation [atonement] for souls, it pointed to the unholiness of Israel’s nature, and reminded the people continually, that by nature it was alienated from God, and could only remain in covenant with the Lord and live in His kingdom on the ground of His grace, which covered its sin (Ibid.)

Keil and Delitzsch’s point is further strengthened in Exodus 30:16, which says,

And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. (emphasis added)

The giving of the half-shekel was a memorial to what? The Hebrew word for memorial is zikrown (Strong’s H2146) meaning “reminder, token, record.”

According to The TWOT, a zikrown is an object or act which brings something else to mind or which represents something else. It reminded them of their sinfulness and pointed prophetically to a Redeemer—Yeshua the Messiah— who would come and take away their sins once and for all (Heb 10:10). For a more detailed study of this subject, please see our teaching article entitled, “The Atonement: Bloody or Bloodless? Understanding the Concept of Atonement in the Torah” located on the Hoshana Rabbah website at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/atone.pdf.


 

On Blood, Goats, Demons and Yeshua

Leviticus 17:7, Sacrifices to demons. Sa’ar, the Hebrew word for goat, refers to the Egyptian goat gods, or goat demons that were believed to inhabit the wilderness (The ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra Leviticus Commentary, p. 313; Keil and Delitzsch, p. 593). In several places, the KJV and NAS translate this word as satyr (e.g., Isa 13:21; 34:14), which, in Greek and Roman mythology were associated with Pan, the half goat and half man-like creature. These demonic forces were believed to be destructive causing fear and turbulence, murder and mayhem (Ibid., ArtScroll Tanach Series Vayikra). Interestingly, sa’ar and Se’ir as in Mount Seir, the home of Edom (Num 24:18), share the same Hebrew consonants and derive from the same root word. From this, the Jewish sages deduce that Edom, the descendents of Esau­—Israel’s perpetual enemies down through the ages (even to the last days)—was the embodiment of evil (Ibid.). Additionally, in occult lore, there exists a creature called Baphomet, which is represented by a horned goat’s head inside of an inverted star or pentagram. The origins of this symbol are debated as to whether it goes back to the satyr or is more recent origination. However, it is well-documented that the use of blood (in sacrificial and cannibalistic rites) and its veneration is an important aspect of Satanic rituals even into modern times. This is one reason why YHVH forbad the Israelites from eating animal blood (verse 10).

From this passage in Leviticus (and the surrounding verses), it should be clear that YHVH not only expected the Israelites to respect blood (see verse 11), but to properly dispose of it in a way that would preclude them being tempted to engage in idolatrous and demonic rituals. In our notes under verse 11, we will see why YHVH valued the blood so highly. 

Leviticus 17:11, The life of the flesh. Long before modern science confirmed this in the seventeenth-century, YHVH revealed in the Torah that the life of flesh is in the blood.

Leviticus 17:11 is a crucial scripture theologically regarding the blood atonement. Presently, the Jewish religion offers no hope for its followers in light of this passage. For believers in Yeshua, the message of Messiah and him crucified addresses this issue. The importance of the blood of the Lamb in the atonement for sins as well as in overcoming sin, sickness (1 Peter 2:24) and the powers of hell (Rev 12:11) cannot be over emphasized. How thorough is your understanding of the power of the blood? Do you appropriate this power on a regular basis in your life? The power of the blood is central to the efficacy of the communion elements and specifically to the concept of redemption. The concept of the blood of Yeshua is central to the gospel message with some 50 references to it in the Testimony of Yeshua. Such terms are used as “blood of the Lamb,” “blood of Messiah,” “precious blood of Messiah,” “blood of the everlasting covenant,” “redemption through Messiah’s blood,” “blood of His cross,” “communion of the blood of Messiah,” “faith in his blood,” and “purchased with his blood.” Is the reality of the blood of Messiah central to your faith walk? How so? If not, why not? (Read and ponder Matt 26:28; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:12,22; 10:19; 12:24; 1 Pet 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Rev 1:5; 7:14; 12:11.)


 

Why Animal Sacrifices?

The Purpose of Sacrifice

The concept of animal sacrifices may be a hard for modern people to comprehend — especially for those who are squeamish when it comes to death and blood. This ancient ritual, rooted in the nomadic lifestyles of the inhabitants of the Middle East, carried more symbolic significance for a people whose daily existence was tied to the earth and dependent on domestic animals for their survival. It is out of this cultural background that the biblical narrative springs and with it the ritual symbols with which the ancient people described therein could relate. With these things in mind, the following is a list showing the main reasons for YHVH’s establishment of an animal sacrificial system as a means to help man to understand spiritual lessons far beyond the actual sacrifice itself.

  • The Levitical system foreshadowed and pointed to the Messiah’s ultimate sacrifice (Heb 9:11–12).
  • The tabernacle offerings were specifically designed to spiritually draw the offerer near to Elohim through the sacrifice of a prescribed animal (Ps 51:16–17; 50:12–15 cp. 1 Pet 2:21).

Sacrifice on Altar-lightening 20260002

  • Elohim commanded offerings to assist the offerer to better understand himself; his attitude, and his personal relationship with Elohim (e.g., Gen 3:21; 4:3–5; 8:20; 22:1–2 cp. 1 Cor 11:28).
  • Altars were erected by the patriarchs in order to honor Elohim through sacrifice after having had direct contact with him (Gen 12:6–8; 13:18; 26:24–25; 35:1; 35:2–4; Exod 17:13–16; cp. Exod 20:12).
  • Proper and regular sacrificial offerings kept the children of Israel in direct contact with the Elohim of the patriarchs (Exod 5:3; 10:25; cp. 1 Tim 2:5).
  • To make the offerer holy (set-apart) so that he would be allowed to approach and commune with the Set-Apart Elohim of Israel (Isa 43:15; 57:15; Lev 19:2 cp. 2 Cor 6:16–18).
  • Under certain circumstances, blood, as used in the Levitical system, could serve as Continue reading