365 Prophecies: Prophecy 33
It is the life of the Messiah that makes the forgiveness of our sins possible.
Old Testament Prediction:
Leviticus 17:11a “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
New Testament Fulfillment:
Hebrews 10:1-7 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.” Then I said, “Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.”
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
How can the life of one man be sufficient to pay for the sins of all other men?
This is the paradox of this 33rd Prophecy of the Messiah. The premise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that His death has paid for the sins of the whole world. The reasonable question that should be asked then is: “How is this possible?”
If Jesus were just a normal man, mortal with a limited life span, and possessing the defect of a sinful nature, how could His life be valuable enough to pay the great price of redeeming billions of other mortal, sinful people? The obvious answer is—He could not.
The Book of Colossians declares that Jesus is not an ordinary man.
Colossians 1:16-17 For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Jesus is the eternal God dwelling within the body of a man. It is from this basis that the claim is made that His life is sufficient to pay for the lives of all other men. What is the value of the life of God? If we can agree that because He is eternal and the Creator of all things that His life is of infinite worth, then it would certainly be reasonable that He could redeem all human beings.
God could offer His life in exchange for all of ours, if that was His desire.
In order for God to make His life a ransom, He would have to become one of us. It is only possible for mankind to be redeemed by another man. God could orchestrate the redemption, but He would have to use the vessel of human flesh to redeem those who are also human. For this reason, before time began, Jesus offered His life for us, knowing that we would require a redeemer. The Book of Hebrews presents an interesting exchange between the Father and the Son, when they agreed to fashion a human body for Jesus to live in as a man, when He would come to earth as the Messiah.
Hebrews 10:4-5 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.”
The animal sacrifices, which the 33rd and 34th prophecies speak of in describing the blood that makes atonement, could not permanently remove the sins of a human being. Animals cannot die for human beings to redeem them. The sacrifice of bulls and goats in the Old Testament were meant as an illustration of a future sacrifice that the Son of God would make for the sins of all people, for all time.
Hebrews 10:12,14 But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God… 4 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
The life of Jesus, who is God dwelling within the body of a human being, is of such infinite value that it was sufficient to pay for the sins of every person.
Those who died, before the arrival of Jesus and the completion of His sacrifice, were held in a place of rest, somewhere in the deep recesses of the earth that is often referred to as Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise. This is illustrated by the thief on the cross next to Jesus at His crucifixion, whom He promised: “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
When Jesus died, He descended into the lower parts of the earth and preached to the departed souls of the Old Testament, who did not believe in the promises of God for salvation through a coming sacrifice.
Ephesians 4:9 Now this, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah…
Redemption for all men, for all time, is found only in the blood of Jesus Christ, when He died as the one sacrifice that would forever satisfy the righteous requirements of God to put away sin forever.
1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
In Jesus’ fulfillment of this amazing 33rd Old Testament Prophecy, we have the assurance that God will accept anyone who comes to Him through the life of infinite value which the Son of God has presented to the Father on our behalf.
In the next prophecy (34), the second part of Leviticus 17:11 is further defined by the blood that the Son of God shed for us, being the method by which our sins are atoned for.
“…to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
The term Atonement comes from the phrase “at-one-ment.” The idea is that those who are participating in redemption—God and man—are in agreement over the correct procedure. God has defined what must be done; man agrees. Therefore, they are at-one or in harmony or agreement. A secondary meaning is observed in the one who is coming to God in repentance over his sin, as he brings a substitution who will take the penalty for the guilty party. This agreement between the guilty and the redeemer, causes them to be “at one” with each other in the manner by which the sin will be dealt with and removed. In other words, when I bring my sacrifice to God for my sins, I am in agreement with the one who is offering His life for me, that my sins are transferred to Him so that may be acquitted.
This is the very essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. We agree with God that we have sinned and need forgiveness.
2. Our sins require a perfect sacrifice.
3. Jesus was perfect and willing to be our sacrifice.
4. God accepts Jesus sacrifice for us because He is a perfect man–without sin.
5. We agree to transfer all our guilt to Jesus; He agrees to take it.
6. Jesus died to pay the debt we owe to God for our sins.
7. We are cleansed of all our sins and are made perfect in the sight of God.
From these seven above, we see that the Old Testament procedure for atonement was repentance (#1), confession (#1), and sacrifice (#2-7). No one is ever forgiven of their sins without all three of these parts of atonement being completed.
Repentance: The internal feeling of deep remorse for sins committed against God and a desire to turn from these sins–to a life of righteousness.
Confession: The act of speaking to the Lord, honestly, and specifically–what our sins are, without making excuses, and with an understanding of the wrong that has been committed.
Sacrifice: Understanding that when a sin is committed, a penalty is owed to God. According to the Old Testament, that penalty is death . “Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die” –Ezekiel 18:4
A sacrifice then, is the substitution of an innocent life–for the guilty, who will die to pay the penalty owed for the sin committed.
Notice that in atonement, there is very little that is required of the one who is obtaining forgiveness–only item #1 above: agreement with God that we have sinned and require forgiveness. The remaining acts of atonement are accomplished by the one making possible the cleansing of our sin.
Of course, a part of agreeing with God that we have sinned (Item 1) requires that we confess our sins and feel sorrow for them to the degree that we are willing to not continue in the former sins that required a sacrifice in the first place. All of the other components of atonement (2-7) are accomplished during the sacrifice which was completed by Jesus for us.
This is a good illustration of how salvation is completely the work of God. Items 2-7 were all accomplished for us by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The entire work of salvation is from God, and none of it is made possible by anything that we do–except to believe what God says. After we agree with God that we have sinned and express our sorrow and desire to turn from our sins and not practice them any longer, He does the rest, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In this way, we see how the life of the Messiah has made it possible for all of us to experience the removal of our sins–forever and gain eternal life.
 Niels-erik A. Andreasen, ‘Atonement/Expiation in the Old Testament’ in W. E. Mills (ed.), Mercer dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)