Today’s readings from Exodus and Hebrews relate the behaviors for atonement God established for the Israelites in earlier times to the later behavior of Jesus. God’s provisions for atonement from sin were experienced by the Israelites as a gracious gift. When the High Priest represented the people to God on the Day of Atonement, it was a redemptive practice that restored God’s desired relationship with His people. The annual repetition of this rite of reconciliation was a continual assurance of God’s covenant love and mercy.
The writer of Hebrews explains the life and death of Jesus as extending, amplifying, and completing this expression of God’s grace. In living a life of complete faithfulness to God – even when such faithfulness leads to sacrifice and death – Jesus the Messiah represents the people to God. In our commitment to be faithful to follow the Way of Jesus, we are assured that his faithfulness to God has already been demonstrated and completed. God and His people are forever reconciled.