Considering converting from atheism to Catholicism, but am wondering about Leviticus 16:30

I’ve noticed that Jews have criticised the Christian gospels of confusing Passover with Yom Kippur.

Leviticus has instructions on Yom Kippur and states,

For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. (Leviticus 16:30 [ESV])

I’m wondering, since Yom Kippur also had an animal sacrifice, why is Jesus the Passover lamb?

Moreover, I thought animal sacrifices were not able to cleanse sin as the verse above seems to claim.

These animal sacrifices prefigured the perfect sacrifice.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. There is no more need for animal sacrifices.


Jesus, being sinless, was the unblemished lamb of the pascha.

There were other animal sacrifices as well— like, for example, the scapegoat, which was ritually burdened with the sins of the populace and then driven away— in addition to the usual Temple sacrifices.

The Aaronic priesthood relied upon animal sacrifices, which were constantly renewed.

Our high priest is Jesus, but he is also our God and our victim, all rolled into one entity. He was able to sacrifice himself, once, for all— and each time we conduct the Mass, we have a re-presentation of that sacrifice.

There’s a lot of discussion amongst historians/theologians about historic animal sacrifice amongst the Hebrew people. There’s one theory that the Hebrews had become accustomed to animal sacrifice during their time amongst the pagans, so when they entered into the Promised Land, and when the Temple was built, all animal sacrifice was centralized to a single location, with God ultimately wanting to move them away from something that had its roots in idolatry. There are a number of verses in the OT where God says through the prophets, over and over and over again, about how it’s not sacrifices he wants, but an obedient spirit. How the smell of sacrifices sickens him until their hearts become pure. That sort of thing.

So yes, I would agree that animal sacrifices are unable to cleanse sin.

If Jesus was able to redeem us merely with his death, the simple thing would have been for him to allow himself to be killed by Herod as an infant. Poof, all done. But instead, he stuck around for 30 years, and then spent 3 years in public ministry. And his most frequent topic was “The Kingdom of God is like…” So that suggests that his preaching was just as important as the mechanics of the Redemption itself.

Out of all the people in the world, Jesus was the one who got to choose not only who he was born to, but also the manner of his death. I suspect that a large part of why he chose to suffer so terribly was to give a visual reminder of how terrible sin itself is, because it separates us from God… and the magnitude of his love in reaching out to redeem humanity.

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In Judaism today prayer has taken the place of sacrifices. The Day of Atonement used to include a sin offering and a burnt offering. Sin offering to bring one back into fellowship with God based on confession followed by His forgiveness, and burnt offering symbolising the dedication of one’s entire self in service.

Isaiah 1 (~ 700 BCE.):

11 What do I care for the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs, and goats
I find no pleasure.

Then see Hebrews 10.

11 Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12 But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; 13 now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated.

If you are sincerely converting to Catholicism, you are spending your time in the wrong Testament.

Christianity is based on the New Testament.


I’m looking for consistency with the New Testament’s scriptural foundation.

I chose to phrase this concern as ‘I’m wondering’ because I’m confident that I’ll find an answer, but I wonder what the answer is, especially since I should find it before making the commitment to convert.

The Jews are responsible for their holidays, why would you expect perfect congruence with the next step, Christianity?

If you are basing your decision on putting this question to bed, I suggest that you’ve missed the message in the New Testament. Spend your time and effort studying the teachings in the New Testament.

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I HIGHLY recommend Dr. Brad Pitre’s The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.for clearing up many questions you may have on how the MANY OT sacrifices prefigured Christ’s sacrifice. In fact, if you look in the Naryx of many a Church, you’ll see a display of low cost Catholic media, including Dr. Pitre’s book and CD.


Great book. More excellent resources are here

May I ask you a question: (I am going to anyway), do you actually believe in God? Be a theist before you become a Christian. It seems rather odd to call yourself an atheist if you’re thinking about converting to Catholicism. If you are thinking about converting to Christianity, you have ceased to be atheist.


That’s wrong to say. It just makes since to start in the Old Testament, otherwise the New makes no sense. The Old Testament is where I began, and I’m a better Christian for it.


I see your point but I believe it is also said that Christi’s covenant is built on the New Testament. Also, the New Testament in comparison to the Old Testament is rather compact to read versus the Old Testament, Maccabees, some of the OT is difficult for me to absorb. That’s just me.

Perhaps part of it depends on what your background is. If you’ve grown up immersed in Christianity/Catholicism, it’s easier to go straight to the OT, because you’ve already absorbed the NT stuff throughout your life. And seeing the reflection in the OT is a familiar thing, and you say, “Ahhh! I’d never thought about that!”

But I think starting in the OT is much harder for someone coming in from an atheistic background, even if it’s the chronologically correct method. Because you don’t read something in Genesis or Exodus and say, “Oh, wow! That’s totally foreshadowing something happening 1200 pages later!” :grin:

Instead, you’re more likely to run into a situation where someone says, “See! It says right there, 'Don’t wear mixed fibers! Do YOU wear cotton/poly blends? Huh? Well, let me tell you— it’s against your religion!” And they don’t connect that with the Council of Jerusalem bit that happens in Acts 1300 pages later, where they have to decide whether to continue being Jews who recognize that their Messiah has come, and if pagan converts need to first become Jews before they can become Christians, or if they’re something distinctly different, even if their roots were in Judaism, and they preserve the moral code, even if the cultural code that kept them distinct from their pagan neighbors is no longer mandatory.


Jesus’ death occured during Passover. It was preceded by a Passover seder. Through this Passover we are led out of bondage (to sin) to the promised land. Jesus is prefigured by Moses. Interestingly, you can also say we’re currently in exile in the desert before reaching the promised land.

But there are connections to Yom Kippur, too, with Jesus as our priest ascending to the Holy of Holies not made by hands in Heaven.

They occur on different days in the Jewish calendar but in Jesus the true meaning of them were tied together in the cross.

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Jesus fulfills both Passover and Yom Kippur. On Passover the lamb was slain and its blood was placed on the doorposts so that when the Angel of Death passed over, those who were secure inside their homes were seen as under the blood of atonement and death could not affect them. Those who have spiritually placed themselves under the blood of Jesus are atoned for and spiritual and eternal death will not affect them.

Jesus also fulfills Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur two goats were chosen. One as the scapegoat on which the people’s sins were transferred. This scapegoat became “guilty of sin” but yet was set free. The other goat, although “innocent” (no sin was laid upon it) was lead to its death to die instead of the guilty one. Jesus has died in our place, the righteous for the guilty, and we have been set free from our sins.

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I know about covenants and types and antitypes, but I just see what to me looks like an inconsistency, and before I ever convert this would have to be clear up.

I’m beginning to see that the holidays were not confused in the gospels. But now the issue is what I mentioned about Leviticus 16:30 and it’s apparent contradiction with Hebrews 10:4.

Leviticus 16:30 [ESV]

For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins.

Hebrews 10:4 [ESV]

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

I am thinking about converting to Christianity because while I’ve been impressed with the arguments for classical theism I want Christianity to confirm that it is true. I am still technically an atheist since I haven’t been completely convinced that the arguments have fulfilled the burden of proof. (Remember that agnostic and atheist refer to knowledge and belief, respectively.) But let’s not get distracted from the topic too much.

Is it truly the animal blood of the sacrifice that actually makes atonement, or the offering with a contrite heart? Jews, not just Christians, recognize the distinction here. See Psalm 51 (the numbering varies a bit, but see the one that starts something like “Create in me a clean heart.” I’m sure it’s in the Wisdom literature, too.

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I’m willing to accept that. But what does Leviticus mean when it says “clean before the Lord from all your sins”?

It means the high priest makes atonement on behalf of the people through the offerings. But it’s not as simple as spilling animal blood being sufficient for the atonement of sins. This was the ritual, but you could say it is nothing without contrite hearts and a proper disposition.

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Perhaps I should have been more specific. I thought that only Jesus could cleanse from all of one’s sins.

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