The message of atonement is a tremendously powerful and liberating message for Christians. It is a message that is included in God's unfolding plan for today and is for every person who lives on earth or who will live before the final day of the Lord arrives. Atonement actually means to cover (Hebrew: kaphar, to cover, cancel; Greek katallage: exchange, reconciliation).
Gabriel showed me how to draw the diagram which explains the importance and function of the atonement.
This three-fold message is for those who are living for God, for those who are careless, and for the unbeliever, to let them know the awesomeness of God. This message is so important that has been a part of every angelic visitation. It is the focal point of all history and for all people - it is the center of God's plan for the redemption of mankind. It is the launching pad for eternity.
The urgency and importance of this message is so significant that I feel challenged by God to tell you to get it into your heart, into your mind, and to talk about it with people wherever you are. Let people know what Jesus has done and what he can do.
In the center of the diagram is an arch, similar to a rainbow. This arch over us is the atonement, the covering, the blood of Christ. Above the atonement arch is God and the way he sees us. Below it is man and the way he sees us. Man sees us with sin, fault, and failure; but God looks through this covering, this atonement, and sees holiness instead of sin because he has already taken care of sin. Instead of fault, God sees blamelessness. Instead of failures, he sees us unreproveable, he sees nothing with which we can be reproved, rebuked or even chided for (Colossians 1:22 TLB).
God cannot tolerate sin because of his very nature. From his viewpoint, there must be total perfection before he can accept us. From our earthly viewpoint, we look for a way to make ourselves free from sin by pulling ourselves up by our own boot straps, but God explained holiness to me in an entirely new light.
Holiness is very similar to the glory of God. It is the radiating of his personality and his presence. Absence of sin is the result of holiness, not holiness itself. Holiness is literally the character and the nature of God. GOD IS HOLY!
God speaks of the highway of holiness which reaches right down to earth. Through grace, God's unmerited favor, man approaches God on that highway. Jesus was and is the holiness of God extended to us, and he provides the way because he IS the way! We are accepted by God because Jesus was holy, and then we are covered with righteousness so that GOD SEES US EXACTLY LIKE HE SEES JESUS!
We see below the atonement arch (see diagram) the way we are viewed in the eyes of man. Man looks at our sin, our fault, and our failures from the underside, and accusations come against us both by people and by Satan. God's desire for us is that we see those about us as he sees them. To accomplish this, he has given us his Word, his Spirit, and the blood of his Son, Jesus!
Just as God cannot stand sin, he cannot even stand fault. When a lamb was sacrificed under the old law, not only did the lamb have to be perfect, without a single blemish or fault, but the priest who made the sacrifice had to be without blemish in order to function as a priest; he could not even have one mole on his entire body. God is a God of perfection!
God gave very strict and exact laws to Aaron, the high priest, as to how he was to present sacrifices of animals for the atonement of the sins of God's chosen family, the children of Israel. God allowed me to see the Old Testament priest as he went in with the sacrifices to offer for the sins of the people, so they could be covered from one year to the next. I had previously interpreted this scripture to mean that the priest was ready to go into the holy place within the veil because he had done all the right things before he went in; that he had attained complete perfection by following every single one of God's instructions. I had always felt that this was sufficient preparation. But God let me see that this was not a complete understanding of the purpose of these rites.
Aaron, the high priest, and his successors, could only go to a certain place in the sacrifice before completing their preparation for entrance into the most holy place within the veil. It was called this because of the sacredness of this inner place of the tabernacle. The Ark, covered with the mercy seat, was kept behind the veil in the most holy place. God said, "For I myself am present in the cloud above the place of mercy." The one person in all the world who could have been spoken of as totally righteous, as totally ready, as totally prepared, would have been the high priest.
God allowed me to see this scene almost like a living panorama! I saw Aaron, the high priest, coming in, bringing a young bull, which had to be slain just for the cleansing of this priest. The blood of this calf had to be applied to Aaron and put on all of the Articles in the room where he went. But he could not begin his work in the most holy place until something else happened!
He was instructed to take a handful of incense which had been beaten and pounded into a fine powder. This represented the scourging which Jesus had to endure for us. Then Aaron took some live coals directly from the fire, entered into the most holy place, and quickly put that handful of incense on the coals. Instantly a cloud billowed up from the incense and covered the mercy place above the Ark. Aaron became engulfed in the cloud which was a sweet-smelling incense that reached up and pleased God. Then when God looked down, he saw Aaron through the cloud which represented Jesus Christ and his suffering. Only by this act could Aaron save his own life.
Aaron's life was spared by a substitute sacrifice for the stroke of God's wrath. His hope of acceptance rested in what the incense represented, which was Jesus! Aaron was covered because the fire of judgment struck the substitute and Israel was given another year of reprieve.
Jesus, the sinless Son of God, went in as the high priest for the sins of the world with no atonement for himself. His hands were empty! He had no covering! God's wrath was diverted from man, and Jesus took the stroke of God's judgment upon himself!
A cloud arose from the burning incense which Jesus represented, that spread around the world. It moved back through history to the beginning of man. It moved ahead from Calvary to that great day of his coming! As it spread through time and space, it covered all people of all ages who have placed their trust in the eternal covering, God's sacrifice of Jesus!
After seeing the panorama of this beautiful truth, Gabriel told me that if I would like to read about this, I could find it in Leviticus 16:6,11-12. Then he told me I could read about what happened to the people after Aaron offered the sacrifice. The blood of one of the goats (also a type of Jesus) which was the sacrifice for the sins of the people, was to be brought within the veil and sprinkled upon the place of mercy and in front of it. This covered the broken commandments which were man's sins, contained in the Ark of the Covenant.
After the rite of atonement was completed, the live goat was brought in. Aaron laid both hands upon the head of the live goat and confessed all the sins of the people over it. Then he sent the goat, with all these sins on it, into the desert where no one lived. This was the "scapegoat," and it took all the sins away. After first covering sins of the people so he could accept them, then God totally removed all evidence of sin.
God wants us to know that when he covers our sin, he is not going to leave a rotting, smoldering pile of sin underneath the covering. He covers it first so he can accept us, then he takes it all away to a place where it can never be found. Our sins are not only covered, but they are removed as far as the east is from the west.
Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, which was the atonement for our sins, God can look down at us and upon all that happens in the normal course of this life, and our sins are hidden from him. That is his way of providing for our acceptance in the most holy place where he is present in the cloud above the place of mercy.
When God gave me this panoramic view of the atonement, or covering, Gabriel brought a message to me from God's heart, telling me that as Christians we can be completely relaxed in the glorious knowledge that he is taking excellent care of all things in his kingdom, and that believers do not need to feel weighted down once they understand their position in God. He told me that when God looks down upon us and sees our faith in Jesus and his sacrifice, he sees us looking just exactly like Jesus! We are accepted in the blood and wrapped up in his love. He referred me to Ephesians 1:4-5, and said God's intention was that man should be holy and without blame in his sight. "Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own, through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault - we who stand before him covered with his love. (Ephesians 1:4-5 TLB). Hallelujah!
God has given us his Word and his Holy Spirit because he wants the world to see us in the same way he sees us, which is looking like Jesus!
In Titus 2:11 it is written, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared (has been revealed) to all men." All men have not accepted salvation, but the provision has been made. It has a message of justification, of sinlessness, that beams up toward God; but it has a message that beams downward, "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:12).
Then Gabriel reminded me that since we are now justified, we have already been accepted by God so these other things which are done by our own efforts and our own spiritual achievement are not for the purpose of God's acceptance, but so that men might see his likeness in us. "These things are good and profitable unto men" (Titus 3:8). They need to see Jesus in us, just like God does, then we actually become an extension of the beauty of Christ!
He gave me a reference in Colossians 1:21-22 where he said God has wrapped up this message in a brief verse just as he showed me on the atonement diagram. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable IN HIS SIGHT:" Look back at the atonement diagram - from God's viewpoint. Then God lists the conditions for this to be so IN HIS SIGHT. Colossians 1:23: "IF you continue in the FAITH (in his covering) grounded and settled (confident), and be not moved away from the HOPE OF THE GOSPEL (this Good News) ..."
"For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him - and all along he knew who would - should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came he declared us 'not guilty,' filled us with Christ's goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory" (Romans 8:29-30 TLB).
He is saying that he will beam down on us the very atmosphere of heaven and give us a little foretaste of what it is going to be like up there. This is the reason believers are happy. The Lord has literally given us a beautiful sampling of what he has in store for us because he has promised us his glory!
"Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven. Who then can ever keep Christ's love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn't love us anymore? And if we are hungry, or penniless, or in danger, or threatened with death, has God deserted us? No ... but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loves us enough to die for us" (Romans 8:33-37 TLB).
Because of his great love, God does not, and will not condemn us. Jesus said in his own words in John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
Many people think Jesus came to condemn them, but the truth is, "He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). God was saying in this scripture that this world had lost its way, and it needed a way out. His purpose in sending Jesus was to make a way for us to go into God's presence and remove the cloud of condemnation.
Great angels from heaven are around us to take charge of us and bear us up, lest we slip (See Psalm 91:11-12). God didn't save us to condemn us, but to give us life. His plan is to restore us into a place of fellowship and then reunite us with himself. This is God's plan! Hallelujah!
Because we are his, the atoning blood keeps on flowing to cleanse us all the time. We are not cleansed just by verbal confession, because our lips can say words we don't mean. Our true confession comes from the heart when our sincere desire is to please him. God loves us so much he wants us to know that we don't have to be on pins and needles in his presence, plagued by fear of failure in word, thought, or deed. When little things divert our attention, a little temper rises or a bad attitude creeps in, and we forget to ask God's forgiveness for it, he looks at our hearts and our intentions. We are justified under the new law because of what Jesus did when he died for us, and that precious blood continues to cleanse as long as we want to stay under the covering God provided, and he has also provided guiding signals from his Holy Spirit which are ever present to keep us under his covering.
In this day, the final message before the call of the trumpet for us to come higher, is the one of atonement. This follows the pattern which God gave in his plan of salvation before he made the earth. He wants people today to fully understand that they are covered, and the sinners need to know what God has in mind for them in order to enable them to come to him and be at peace with him.
Even if you refuse and reject him, nothing can separate you from his love. He loves even the most ungodly, but he does tell us in Exodus 34:7 that though his mercy and his loving kindness reaches out generation after generation, it will not clear the guilty; only faith in his sacrifice will do this. He loves people who are guilty and far away from him, and they are beginning to feel the warmth of his love. But this alone will not give you a ticket to heaven. It means that God loves you and gives you the opportunity to choose him, but the only provision for guilt is the acceptance of what Jesus has done.
We also need to remember that God is not only a God of love, but he is also a God of wrath. Sometimes people are looking for a license or excuse to sin because they have no real desire to turn from evil. However, they still want to have the safety of the covering and are trying to pull it over themselves. God wants people to know that while he has provided a place of safety, there is also an edge beyond which the covering does not reach.
The things which give believers their biggest problems are not their sins against God, but the shortcomings and attitudes of man against man in their daily lives. "It is the thought-life that pollutes. For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts ..." (Mark 7:20,21 TLB).
A shortcoming continued becomes sin, which is rebellion against God, and is not covered by the blood. A shortcoming discontinued becomes obedience to God's wishes, and is covered by the blood. "... You can choose sin (with death) or else obedience (with acquittal) ..." (Romans 6:16 TLB).
Moses and Aaron lived with the children of Israel and looking at them from earth level they saw evil in the camp. But from God's view from above the covering, God saw their obedience instead of their sin. "He has not seen iniquity in Jacob, neither has he seen perverseness in Israel" (Numbers 23:21). The Living Bible states, "He has not seen sin in Jacob."
God told Balaam he had looked at Israel from man's viewpoint, but now he wanted him to look at them through his eyes. In the 24th chapter of Numbers, Balaam said he saw something totally different now that his eyes were opened to see it the way God sees it. "'He has said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: How goodly (not evil now) are your tents, O Jacob and your tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign (wood) aloes which the Lord has planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.'"
God is not creating a big irrigation system so he can open the floodgates and water them all at the same time, but he is lovingly taking individual care of each one. He wants us to grow strong and healthy in him.
When the Lord spoke about this, I said, "God, what about Israel? If you had them so beautifully covered during this time, why did you punish them over and over and over again in between those sacrifices?"
God explained to me that rebellion and idolatry are the two things which will take man out from under the covering. It is not that God removes the covering, it is not that God goes down and looks under it, but man removes himself. Look at the life of Israel and you will find that whenever God smote them and punished them, it was because of rebellion and idolatry.
When people put their faith in anything other than what Jesus has done, they voluntarily choose to be out from under his protective covering. When this is their decision, they are exposed to God's eyes, and he sees their sins, faults, and failures.
Our sins were all washed away by the blood of the lamb, and the only way God looks at us is through the cleansing blood of Jesus. Then he sees: Holiness instead of sin. Blamelessness instead of fault. Unreproveable (perfection) instead of failure.
We GET UNDER the covering by repenting of our sins. We STAY UNDER the covering by wanting to please God, and by obeying him even to the thoughts and intents of our heart. We GET OUT FROM UNDER the covering by rebellion or idolatry. "AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD! (Joshua 24:19).
Next: God's Warning Signals