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Definite Atonement in Leviticus


I can’t help wondering: how do those who object to the doctrine of Definite (or, as in the TULIP, Limited) Atonement deal with the very specific and limited atonement provided by the Levitical priesthood?

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The high priest of Israel alone entered the Holy of Holies to represent God’s people. His intercession for Israel pictured the particular death of Christ on behalf of the elect of God:

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil. . . . Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins.” —Leviticus 16:15–16

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel entered behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. As he approached, “he carried with him on his shoulders the badge and the engraved stones that were representative of the Twelve Tribes” of Israel. As he stepped into the Holy of Holies, he was representing the people of God—not the Canaanites, Egyptians, or Babylonians. He ministered on behalf of those chosen by God, making atonement for their sin. All this prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the High Priest exclusively for His people. It was not for the entire world that Christ made atonement, for if He had, all the world would be saved. Rather, Christ atoned for all who ultimately will be saved, those chosen by the Father. In eternity past, the names of the elect were etched upon Christ’s heart, and upon the cross the Father transferred their sins to Him. As the Great High Priest of God, Jesus stood before the Father on their behalf, not the world’s (John 17:9)

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 88–89.



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Posted  in: Foundations of Grace · Leviticus · Old Testament Gospel · Steve Lawson
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