What is atonement? How do we make atonement? How do we atone? Simple questions. But the answers are profound and make the difference between life and death, Heaven and Hell. Atonement means, after doing something wrong, making it right so that a damaged relationship is restored.
People can atone for offenses against people; and people can atone for offenses against God. People can make atonement with other people. For example, a man does something that offends his wife. She’s angry. She’s hurt. She’s upset. She packs her bags and goes home to her mother. The man realizes he’s offended his wife. He calls her. He apologizes. He tells her he’s sorry. He loves her. He’s learned his lesson. He won’t do it again. And he means it. He buys her flowers. He takes her out to dinner. She forgives him. She moves back home. Their relationship is restored. That’s atonement.
People can make atonement with other people; and people can make atonement with God. When it comes to God, there is only one way to make atonement for our sins which have offended the Almighty and damaged our relationship with Him: Repent. Turn. Turn to God. Agree with God the Father that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God; that Yeshua died and overcame death; that Yeshua is alive now, the risen and victorious Lord and Savior. Then make a serious commitment to follow Messiah Yeshua. Then live according to who Yeshua is.
But Rabbi Loren, can’t I make atonement without believing in Yeshua? Can’t I make things right with God by confessing my sins and making restitution for those sins? No. Here’s why: Trying to make atonement for lesser sins while continuing to sin the greatest sin doesn’t work. What is the greatest sin? It’s the sin of rebelling against God. It’s the sin of refusing to end your part in the great rebellion against God that was started in ages past by the fallen angels.
One way to understand the fall of man is by understanding that when Adam and Eve sinned, they sided with the leader of the fallen angels. Adam and Eve joined the Adversary’s rebellion. And all of their descendants joined that rebellion. All of us are born as rebels who are on the side of the fallen angels. The Lord is a great God and King. He is so wise, so good, so loving. He gave us life. He made us in His image, with such amazing gifts, such tremendous potential. To continue to rebel against the great and wise and good and loving Creator is the greatest sin. Our rebellion against God offends Him. Our rebellion against God prevents us from being reconciled to Him – even if we try to make little atonements for our sins.
There was a good and wise king. Some wicked men in his kingdom rebelled against him. They attacked one of the king’s cities, destroyed much of it as they conquered the city. The king sent his army, which fought the rebels and defeated them. They were brought before the king for judgment. He said to them, “You rebelled against me and attacked one of my cities and destroyed much of it. What do you have to say for yourselves?” “It’s true we rebelled against you and attacked one of your cities,” they replied. “If you let us go, we will repair the damage done to the city.” “And what about ending your rebellion against me?” the king asked. “Will you do that?” “No,” they replied. “We will continue to rebel against you.” “Unacceptable. Take these wicked rebels away and execute them,” ordered the king. That’s what efforts to make little atonements are like if there is no atonement for the greatest sin – refusing to end your rebellion against God.
A man had a son he loved. He bought him a new Lamborghini. One night while the son was driving his new car, he was car-jacked. During the car-jacking, the car-jacker shot and killed the son. The police were alerted. The car-jacker sped away. The police pursued. At the end of a high-speed chase, the car-jacker lost control and crashed the Lamborghini into a tree. The car was destroyed. However, the man survived and was arrested.
During his trial, he was found guilty of grand theft auto and first degree murder. After the verdict, he felt some remorse and wanted to atone. He said to the father, “I’m sorry for destroying the car you gave to your son. I want to buy you another Lamborghini to replace it.” The father answered, “You killed my son. He was much more important to me than the car. What do you have to say to me about him?” The man responded, “Sir, I’m a car-jacker, and things like that happen during a car-jacking. Unfortunately, your son was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was collateral damage. I can’t do anything about him. I’m only concerned about making restitution for the car.” “You are a horrible human being,” replied the father. “A car can be replaced. My son can’t. I don’t want you to buy a car to replace the one you destroyed. I wouldn’t want to think about you when I saw it. My insurance company will take care of replacing the car. And I hope you get the death penalty for killing my son.” That’s what efforts to make little atonements are like if there is no atonement for the greatest sin – refusing to end your rebellion against God.
This day, many Jewish people think they are making atonement. They aren’t because they are trying to atone while refusing to end their rebellion against God, which can only be ended by accepting the truth about Yeshua. Many who call themselves Christians think they have received atonement because they believe in God. They haven’t received atonement because real atonement changes a person. Real atonement produces an awareness of God and a desire to commune with God, to talk to Him, to have Him teach you wisdom in your inner being through interaction with His Word. Real atonement reduces our desire for the things of this world and increases our desire for the things of God. Real atonement creates a desire to resist temptation, to be holy, to be righteous, to be pure. Real atonement produces a desire to teach others the truth, especially to proclaim the message about the Messiah. Real atonement produces a desire to serve God by serving the people in whom God lives. That means being an active, involved member of a Yeshua-community and doing things to serve the people there.
Today is the Day of Atonement and this is the meaning of atonement. My question to you is: Do you have real atonement?