These are my notes from a sermon by Mark Dever entitled "A Biblical Understanding of The Atonement in the Old Testament" preached 3/9/1997.
The Cross is central to Christianity. Word crucial comes from the root crux which means cross.
We should read the Bible both (1) to study [which he recommends outlining entire books/testaments/the Bible.], and (2) to read the Word for pleasure.
Exhorts us to not fail to recognize the importance of the Old Testament as it is part of our Scripture [it was Jesus’, Paul’s, Luke’s, John’s Bible!].
The silhouette of Jesus is being formed by the Old Testament. Also, he said the key to a lock is only of worth because it fits perfectly into the lock. So Jesus [the key] is of great worth because He fits the context of the Old Testament’s outline of atonement [the lock] of redemption between man and God. The Old Testament poses a question and Jesus is the answer.
Here is a list of the questions posed by the context of the Old Testament that Christ’s atonement answers. "The Four P's" (1) Presuppositions of relationship, (2) Problem of sin, (3) Practices prescribed, and (4) Person prophesied.
(1) Presuppositions of relationshipsa. Covenant language (relationship)
b. Table of communion “New covenant in His blood”
c. Federal language of love, Representative language…familial.
d. Covenant: agreement on termsi. Swearing an oath
ii. Offering of sacrifice /literally cutting a covenant1. Animal cut in half…this shows the seriousness of Paul’s concept of communion, Jeremiah 34:18
iii. Witness, someone or something as a reminder [even if inanimate]1. Stones piled up as a witness to covenant made.
2. Feast [such as a wedding feast].
e. Covenants with God are different than covenants between two people.i. Noah had nothing to offer God. God had “life” to offer; the earth was cut in half by the flood; the witness to this covenant is the bow in the sky.
ii. Abraham had nothing to offer God. God had “life” to offer; circumcision was the sign or sacrifice cut in two [Genesis 15; Galatians; Exodus 24 …regarding Israel]
f. God only commits Himself. He is not bound to fulfill this covenant as if a slave to men as if it is a right of the people. He binds Himself to this covenant by His sovereign, free, holy will [Jeremiah 31:31]i. This is foolishness to the Jews…a scandal (1 Corinthians 1)
ii. Therefore, we seek to see the covenant that God has made with us. Not us with Him…like folk who create false gods of a harvest…only for our good…not to bring glory to the One Living God.
(2) Problem of sina. Yom “Kippur”- Day of Atonementb.
Because of sin atonement must be made…there must be some way to deal with the problem of sin…Atonement.
c. This is not an impersonal act for a good harvest rather this is for a relationship in need of reconciliation. [Habakkuk 1:13; Isaiah 59; Proverbs 15]
d. Sin breaks our relationship [covenantal relationship with God]
e. Sin breaks relationship; incites anger in God that must be dealt with judicially.i. Disturbed and opposed to our sin
ii. “All Fall Short [1 Kings 8:26; Psalm 14:3; Proverbs 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20].”
f. We can’t deal with this sin or solve the problem by ourselves
g. Just condemnation by God must be dealt with [Jeremiah 31]
h. Atonement is fundamental to reconciliation.
i. Restoring/Reparation of relationship was work through sacrifice in the Old Testament.i. This is not like offering a virgin to a volcano…rather payment for specific infractions of the law of God that we broke by sinning against God’s covenant. This is specific payment required to atone for specific sins.
j. This is the Living God who have spoken and provided a way to propitiate His anger and restore His relationship with us.
k. “Kippur”i. Used 150 times in the Old Testament…means to cover or conceal.1. Verb: Offer substitute, make atonement used 49 times in this way in I. Purge, removal of sin or the defilement through sin.
2. Noun: Ransom. Exodus 30:12; Isaiah 43:3; Numbers 35:31. A gift to secure favor 1 Sam 12:3.
3. “Place of Atonement”; used 27 times. This is where the blood was sprinkled in the place of something else on the lid of the ark of the covenant [where the 10 commandments were kept] on the Day of Atonement. This has been mistranslated as “mercy seat” in some translations.
4. Romans 3:25
l. Problem of sin dealt with through atonement…Particulars to follow in the Old Testament…i. Redemption
ii. Cities of Refuge
iii. Year of Jubilee
iv. Israel’s Redemption from Egypt
v. Redemption of First Born “Passover”
vi. Redemption of Israel from Babylon
vii. Personal Redemption seen in the Psalms
(3) Practices prescribeda. Sacrifices.
b. No specific command can be cited in the Old Testament that kicks this off.
c. The idea of “sacrifice” seems to be innate…we seem to have an idea that we’ve done something wrong against God, and we have to do something to make things right.
d. Genesis 4, Cain and Abel- sacrifices
g. All throughout Israel’s history “Passover”i. Exodus 12; Passover Lambh. Exodus Deliverance
ii. Lamb without defect, slaughtered, blood spilled, used blood to mark the houses of salvation; limited to his people wit the blood on the doorframe.
iii. Not all houses, but God’s own people’s houses were marked by the blood of the substitute in their place, the lamb.
iv. As if to say, “When I see blood I will pass by satisfied by blood because sin is a serious matter.”
i. Leviticus is the restoration of God’s relationship with His peoplei. Offering1. Voluntary
3. Offerers own
4. Accompanied by confession of sin. Sin is associated with the loss of life.
5. According to God’s prescription.
ii. Sacrifice not brought by the grateful [e.g. for a good harvest], but for the guilty [of sin]. They know that they have offended a personal God. Could it be that Cain and Abel were aware of this when they sacrificed?? Probably. This was brought by the conscious [conscious of their sin.]
iii. Association with death
iv. Innocent given for the guilty
v. Picture/symbol of what is needed to assuage the wrath of God. [Genesis 9; Leviticus 16:21; 1:4; 4:4]
vi. The one making the sacrifice is identified with the sacrifice…as if to say “this should be me…I’m acknowledging it’s fate should be my fate.”1. Exodus 32:30 Moses displays this attitude.
2. Dealing with sin includes his life and death. [Nehemiah 25; Ezekiel 18; Deuteronomy 21; 2 Samuel 21]
vii. “SIN BRINGS DEATH”…
viii. Leviticus [Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22] the law is at the heart of this.
ix. The Jews mistook the ritual for reality when in fact it was a shadow of the true reality of the coming Christ.1. Jeremiah 7…the denunciation to people making sacrifices…they missed the point.
2. When sacrifices were correctly made they recognized that they didn’t actually work in making atonement for their sins…they were not efficacious.
3. Shadow and sign of what was to com Hebrews 10
4. Salvation and forgiveness is costly…pointed to truth about sin, but never actually atoned for sin.
x. “Day of Atonement”1. Sin offering made for whole nation…reminder that the normal sacrifices throughout the year were not enough Leviticus 16.
2. God is the only one who sees the blood in the holy of holies in the temple. So His seeing the blood in their place is in fact to His satisfaction for their sins.
3. This was done every year.
4. Other nations not recognizing the One True Living God would make sacrifices only when things got bad…but not Israel. They had to do this all the time.
5. This reality points to the fact that we are in a state of sin.
(4) Person Prophesieda. Isaiah 52:13 and forward.i. The suffering servant, a person becomes the sacrifice of efficacious actual atonement for sins.
b. Romans and Hebrews are a commentary to the Old Testament.
c. This was the propitiation to satisfy, turn away, asuage the wrath/anger of God.
d. Substitution [punishment of the undeserved in the place of the deserved], life of the innocent for the deserved wrath on the life of the guilty.
e. Relation of offerer with the victim…laying hands recognizing, “This should be me.” Isaiah 52-53