By laying a hand on the head of the blameless sacrifice, the offerer established a relationship with the animal such that it was accepted on the offerer’s behalf. This meant that the offerer received the benefits of the sacrifice, such as atonement.
In general, the word atonement communicates two ideas: (1) ransoming, and (2) purifying. On the one hand, sin or impurity puts people at risk of the Lord’s judgment, from which they need to be ransomed. On the other hand, sin and impurity are defiling, as a result of which people need to be purified. The word atonement has both of these in view: it is a “ransom-purification” taking place by means of the animal’s lifeblood.
Jesus was the ultimate blameless sacrifice presented on our behalf (1 Pet. 1:19), and those who put their trust in him receive all the benefits of his sacrifice, including forgiveness of sin and adoption into God’s family (Rom. 4:25–5:2; Gal. 4:4–5; 1 John 1:7). Because Jesus’ sacrifice is atoning, it is sometimes described as that which ransoms us (Matt. 20:28) and at other times as that which purifies us (Titus 2:14). In either case, we can receive this atonement because Jesus has given his lifeblood in place of our own (Rom. 5:8; 1 Pet. 3:18). This is such a precious gift, given at such a great cost, it fills us with thankful reverence and a desire to live lives worthy of our Savior (1 Cor. 6:18–20; 1 Pet. 1:17–19).
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.