Happy Atonement Day!

“Virtually all Christian churches teach some kind of doctrine regarding the Atonement of Christ and the expiation of our sins that comes through it.  But the Book of Mormon teaches that and much more.  It teaches that Christ also provides relief of a more temporal sort, taking upon himself our mortal sicknesses and infirmities, our earthly trials and tribulations, our personal heartaches and loneliness and sorrows–all done in addition to taking upon himself the burden of our sins….”

“That aspect of the Atonement brings an additional kind of rebirth, something of immediate renewal, help, and hope that allow us to rise above sorrows and sickness, misfortunes and mistakes of every kind.  With his mighty arm around us and lifting us, we face life more joyfully even as we face death more triumphantly…”

“So Christ came to earth, lived his thirty-three years, then fulfilled the ultimate purpose for his birth into mortality.  In a spiritual agony that began on Gethsemane and a physical payment that was consummated on the cross of Calvary, he took upon himself every sin and sorrow, every heartache and infirmity, every sickness, sadness, atrial, and tribulation experienced by the children of God from Adam to the end of the world.  How he did that is a stunning mystery, but he did it.  He broke the bands of physical death and gained victory over the grasp of spiritual hell.  A God himself came down and made merciful intercession for all the children of men.”

–Jeffrey R. Holland (LDS apostle), Christ and the New Covenant, 223, 224, 228

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2 comments on “Happy Atonement Day!

  1. I did enjoy Elder Holland’s message, but in the interest of reconciling the Old Testament “day of Atonement” with what Elder Holland is talking about, I’d like to state the following.

    To be sure, the Paschal Lamb’s blood had a special purpose.

    I think, that as the Paschal Lamb’s blood in the first instance saved the firstborn of the Hebrews, it should have taught a beautiful example to the Jews when they heard Jesus said, “this is my blood, which was shed for you”. Secondly, I think it interesting that as for Aaron (High Priest) and Israel the sin offerings were a calf and a ram, respectively. However, firstborn sons continued to be redeemed preferentially by “a lamb of the first year, without blemish”.

    A firstborn son was a sign of the continuation of the family in the culture. Therefore, there was a special value put upon the firstborn son; moreover, while a one-year-old lamb may not be the most valuable thing that a family has to offer, we must remember that they did that in remembrance of the First Passover.

    Now, with that background it should be clear that as the Lord was preparing to bring the Gospel to the wider world, it was a good idea to bring his firstborn and offer him to the people as a way of showing a “more perfect way” forward. I don’t know whether there was a plan A or B, but I’m sure the Lord was counting on what actually happened (seeing that all individuals make decisions; I can’t concede to being a marionette, however weak-willed I may be). When the Firstborn of Elohim was given as the “Lamb of God”, it should have been clear that he was to effect the continuation of the families to his followers. Or, at least in hindsight.

    Anyway, I think it’s intriguing in a way.

    BTW, Yom Kippur means in English, Atonement Day, or otherwise known as “day of repentance”, when you are supposed to “afflict your souls”, i.e. feel remorse for our sins and confess them (according to Leviticus 16:29-30). Yom Kippur will occur almost exactly six months from now, as you probably know.

    This, naturally, has more to do with the Jewish notion of Atonement which means actually confessing and repenting of our sins (and in case of actual sins this does indeed entail some affliction of soul) instead of Christ just doing it all for us, as is the common Christian notion.

    We LDS fall somewhere between those two, varying depending on the personality etc. But for us, Atonement means, as well as the sacrifice for sin that Jesus made, our repentance that brings it into effect for us. We may not overcome everything but we can do a lot, when we put our hearts to it. Even to overcoming this world, by faith.

    Peace. And sorry for my verbosity again. I was just brought up on good old-fashioned stories which relied on careful positioning of players. I’m much sloppier than they were.

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