We continue with our discussion: https://answeringallah.com/for-whom-did-the…e-atonement-pt-1/
Israel Alone or the Whole World?
The second point to note is that the OT high priest didn’t make atonement only for Israel, but actually offered sacrifices for the salvation of the whole world, for all the nations that God had created. This fact can be seen from Solomon’s prayer of dedication right after he had finished building the Temple in Jerusalem:
“But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You; much less this House that I have built. And You shall turn to Your servant’s prayer and to his supplication, O Lord my God; to hearken to the cry and to the prayer that Your servant is praying before You. That Your eyes may be open toward this House day and night, toward the place in which You said that You would put Your name, to hearken to the prayer that Your servant will pray in this place. And You shall hearken to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel when they will pray toward this place; You shall hear from Your abode, from heaven, and You shall hear and forgive. If a man sins against his neighbor, and an oath be exacted of him to cause him to swear, and he come and swear before Your altar in this House. You shall hear from heaven, and do, and judge Your servants, to recompense the wicked, to bring his way upon his head, and to justify the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. And if Your people Israel is struck down before the enemy because they sin against You, and they repent and confess to Your name and pray and make supplication before You in this House. You shall hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel and bring them back to the land that You gave to them and to their fathers. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess to Your name, and repent of their sin, so that You may answer them. You shall hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, for You will teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and You shall give rain upon Your land, which You have given Your people for an inheritance. If there be famine in the land, if there be pestilence, if there be blast, mildew, increasing locusts, finishing locusts, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness [there be]. Any prayer, any supplication, which will be [made] by any man or by all Your people Israel, every man shall know his plague and his pain, and spread forth his hands toward this House. You shall hear from heaven, Your dwelling, and forgive, and give to each man according to his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of the children of men. That they may fear You to go in Your ways all the days that they live on the face of the land that You gave our fathers. And also to THE STRANGER, WHO IS NOT OF YOUR PEOPLE ISRAEL, but will come from a distant land because of Your great name, Your strong hand, and Your outstretched arm, and they will come and pray toward this House. You shall hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and You shall do whatever the stranger calls upon You, THAT ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH MAY KNOW YOUR NAME, TO FEAR YOU, as [do] Your people Israel, and that they may know that Your name is called upon this House, which I have built. If Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You send them, and pray to You toward this city, which You have chosen, and the House that I have built for Your name. You shall hear from heaven their prayer and supplication and maintain their cause. If they sin against You, for there is no man who does not sin, and You will be angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and their captors will carry them in captivity to a land, far or near. And they bethink themselves in the land where they were carried off into captivity, and repent and make supplications to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned; we have dealt perversely, and we have committed wickedness.’ And they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity where they led them away captives, and pray toward their land, which You gave to their fathers, and the city that You chose, and toward the House that I built for Your name. You shall hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and You shall forgive Your people who sinned against You. Now, my God, may Your eyes now be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer of this place. And now, arise, O Lord God to Your resting place, You and the Ark of Your might; Your priests, O Lord God, shall be attired with salvation, and Your pious ones shall rejoice with the goodness. O Lord God, do not turn back the face of Your anointed one; remember the kind deeds of David Your servant.” 2 Chronicles 6:18-42
God responds by telling Solomon that he has accepted the Temple as a house of sacrifices to make atonement:
“And when Solomon finished praying, and the fire descended from heaven and consumed the burnt offerings and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the House. And the priests could not enter the House of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord. And all the Children of Israel saw the descent of the fire, and the glory of the Lord on the House, and they kneeled on their faces to the ground on the floor, and they prostrated themselves and [said]: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His loving-kindness is eternal.’ And the king and all the people were slaughtering sacrifices before the Lord. And King Solomon slaughtered the sacrifices of cattle, twenty-two thousand, and sheep, one hundred and twenty thousand, and they dedicated the House of God, the king and all the people. And the priests were standing on their watches, and the Levites with the instruments of the song of the Lord, which King David had made to give thanks to the Lord, for His loving-kindness is eternal, with David’s praise in their hand; and the priests were sounding the trumpets opposite them, and all Israel were standing. And Solomon consecrated the interior of the court that was before the House of the Lord, for there he offered up the burnt offerings and the fats of the peace offerings, for the copper altar that Solomon had made could not contain the burnt offerings, the meal offerings, and the fats. Now Solomon observed the Feast at that time seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assemblage from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of Egypt. And they made on the eighth day a solemn gathering, for the inauguration of the altar they made seven days, and the feast seven days. And on the twenty-third day of the seventh month, he dismissed the people to their homes, rejoicing and delighted of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had wrought for David, for Solomon, and for Israel His people. And Solomon completed the House of the Lord and the king’s palace and whatever entered Solomon’s mind to make in the House of the Lord and in his palace, he succeeded. And the Lord appeared to Solomon at night, and He said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer, and I have chosen this place for Myself FOR A HOUSE OF SACRIFICE. If I shut up the heaven and there be no rain, and if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence upon My people. And My people, upon whom My name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My presence and repent of their evil ways, I shall hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. Now, My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer of this place. And now, I have chosen and consecrated this House that My name be there forever, and My eyes and heart will be there at all times.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-16
We even find this reiterated by the prophet Isaiah who clearly states that the Temple in Jerusalem was meant to be a house of prayer for all nations, being the place where the Gentiles could come to offer sacrifices to Yahweh their God:
“So says the Lord, ‘Keep justice and practice righteousness, for My salvation is near to come, and My benevolence to be revealed.’ Fortunate is the man who will do this and the person who will hold fast to it, he who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it and guards his hand from doing any evil. Now let not the foreigner who joined the Lord, say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from His people,’ and let not the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For so says the Lord to the eunuchs who will keep My Sabbaths and will choose what I desire and hold fast to My covenant, ‘I will give them in My house and in My walls a place and a name, better than sons and daughters; an everlasting name I will give him, which will not be discontinued. And the foreigners who join with the Lord to serve Him and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, everyone who observes the Sabbath from profaning it and who holds fast to My covenant. I will bring them to My holy mount, and I will cause them to rejoice in My house of prayer, THEIR BURNT OFFERINGS AND THEIR SACRIFICES shall be acceptable upon My altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer FOR ALL PEOPLES.” Isaiah 56:1-7
That God intended to provide salvation even for the Gentiles through the sacrificial work of his high priests is further confirmed by God commanding his priests to sacrifice seventy bulls on the altar during the feast of Tabernacles:
“And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, there shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall not perform any mundane work, and you shall celebrate a festival to the Lord FOR SEVEN DAYS. You shall offer up a burnt offering, a fire offering for a spirit of satisfaction to the Lord: thirteen young bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs in the first year; they shall [all] be unblemished. And their meal offering [shall be] fine flour mixed with oil; three tenths for each bull for the thirteen bulls, two tenths for each ram for the two rams. And one tenth for each lamb, for the fourteen lambs. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation. And on the second day, twelve young bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. And their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering, and their libations. And on the third day, eleven bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. And their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering and its libation. And on the fourth day, ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. Their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering and its libation. And on the fifth day nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. And their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation. And on the sixth day, eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. And their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libations. And on the seventh day, seven bulls, two rams and fourteen lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. And their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed for them. One young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering, and its libation. The eighth day shall be a time of restriction for you; you shall not perform any mundane work. You shall offer up a burnt offering, a fire offering for a spirit of satisfaction to the Lord: one bull, one ram, and seven lambs in the first year, [all] unblemished. Their meal offerings and their libations, for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, as prescribed. And one young male goat for a sin offering, besides the continual burnt offering, its meal offering and its libation. These you shall offer up for the Lord on your festivals, besides your vows and voluntary offerings, for your burnt offerings, for your meal offerings, for your libations, and for your peace offerings.” Numbers 29:12-39 (The Complete Jewish Bible With Rashi Commentary http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9957#v=12)
The number of bulls that the priests were to offer to God over the course of the seven days of the feast comes out to seventy. Jewish tradition understood that these seventy bulls were offered as atonement for the seventy Gentile nations, which we find listed in Genesis 10:
And their meal-offerings and their libations, for the bulls: The seventy bulls of the [’Succoth’] festival corresponded TO THE SEVENTY NATIONS, which progressively decrease in number, symbolizing their [the nations’] destruction [Midrash Aggadah]. At the time of the Temple, they [the sacrifices] shielded them from adversity [Mid. Tehillim 109:4, Rashi on Sukkah 55b; Rashi on Ps. 109:5; Mid. Tadshei ch. 11; Pesikta d’Rav Kahana pp. 193b, 194a; Mid. Song Rabbah 4:2, Mid. Tanchuma Pinchas 16]. (Ibid. http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9957#v=18&showrashi=true; capital and underline emphasis ours)
- Eleazar32stated, To what do those seventy bullocks33[that were offered during the seven days of the Festival] correspond? TO THE SEVENTY NATIONS.34 To what does the single bullock [of the Eighth Day] correspond? To the unique nation.35 This may be compared to a mortal king who said to his servants, ‘Prepare for me a great banquet’; but on the last day he said to his beloved friend, ‘Prepare for me a simple meal that I may derive benefit from you’.
- Johanan observed, Woe to the idolaters, for they had a loss and do not know what they have lost.36When the Temple was in existence the altar ATONED FOR THEM, but now37who shall atone for them?
(Talmud – Mas. Sukkah 55B, p. 183 https://halakhah.com/pdf/moed/Sukkah.pdf; bold and capital emphasis ours)
(34) Seventy is the traditional number of Gentile nations, and the seventy bullocks are offered TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR THEM.
(36) By their destruction of the Temple.
(37) That it is no longer in existence. (Ibid., p. 185; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Therefore, it is simply not true that the OT high priest only made vicarious sacrifices for the nation of Israel since the foregoing OT examples conclusively prove that the offerings, which were presented to God in the Temple, were for the salvation of the whole world. God in his love and mercy made sure to prescribe atoning sacrifices for all the nations so that they too could receive forgiveness of sins.
In a similar fashion, we find the Lord Jesus offering himself for the salvation of the whole world,
“This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’” John 6:50-51
To redeem human beings from every language, tribe and nation:
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:9-10
In fact, not only did Christ offer up his life to redeem human beings, he even died on the cross for the express purpose of reconciling the whole entire creation to God:
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have REDEMPTION, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him ALL THINGS were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—ALL THINGS were created through him and for him. And he is before ALL THINGS, and in him ALL THINGS hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself ALL THINGS, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:13-20
The context here is quite clear: Jesus died on the cross to make peace between God and the entire creation that he brought into existence. Thus, the same One who created all things in heaven and on earth is also the same One who died to redeem all the things that exist in heaven and on earth.
Therefore, far from proving that Christ died only for the elect the OT sacrificial system and priesthood actually confirm that the Lord Jesus offered his life to save the entire creation, shedding his blood in order to make peace between God and every creature that exists. However, this salvation must be received by faith, otherwise a person who refuses to believe in Christ shall die in his/her sins:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:14-18
“I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” John 8:24
“whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:25
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:21-23
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him THROUGH FAITH in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” Colossians 2:11-15
All New Testament citations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.