The word atonement appears seven times in these verses. Atonement is significant in both the Old and New Testament. In Exodus 32, we read that when Israel sinned at Mt. Sinai by worshiping the golden calf and corrupting themselves God said to Moses “let Me alone that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them”. We heard in Sunday’s sermon that God is not only a God of grace and mercy but also of judgment and holiness. Seems to me we get a glimpse of how awful God sees the sin of idolatry, worldliness and carnality in the above. Skipping to verse 30 Moses says to the people ”You have committed a great sin. God never regards any sin lightly. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” By going up to God, Moses for the purpose of atonement hoped to make things right. I have heard it said by separating the word atonement like this, “at-one-ment” we can gain understanding of what it means. Moses wanted to restore the relationship between God and Israel even if it cost him his own life.
Lev. 16:29-34 describes the Day of Atonement or what we hear referred to now as Yom Kippur. The most solemn of all Old Testament feast. At this time, Israel was called to consider sincerely the seriousness of their sins and they were not to be distracted by anything. This was to happen once a year every year and was when the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies with blood “to make atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins, once a year.”
What a difference we have in Jesus Christ for through Him we have now received reconciliation, ”atonement”. For “He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself which He did once for all.” Continuing with thoughts from Heb. 10, "Therefore brethren having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh." We are all familiar, I think with the words of Heb. 9:22, "without shedding of blood there is no remission" and Lev. 17:11b, "For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul."
I think the words from Frances Havergal’s hymn Precious, Precious Blood of Jesus helps us to see these things in a personal way. “Precious, precious blood of Jesus, shed on Calvary, shed for rebels, shed for sinners, shed for me.