Imbedded in Leviticus 17:11, "it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul", are three important words that aren't part of our daily vocabulary - blood, atonement, and soul.
Soul refers to the intangible part of us that will exist beyond the grave. In our sensory driven world, we spend much time caring for the external, touchable, tangible elements of life. In contrast, the Bible teaches that the immaterial soul is of far greater value because it is eternal. (Luke 12:20)
The English word Atonement essentially means to be "at-one," to make peace with another. The Hebrew word it translates can mean to cover, to purge, to make reconciliation, or to pacify. The need for atonement goes back to the Garden of Eden in Genesis where man is told that his sin would bring death, both physically (in that his body would now be subject to death,) and spiritually (in being separated from God.) Mankind's condition of being spiritually separated from God requires "atonement," being brought back into a condition of oneness with God through the covering of his sin.
Blood is a word we don't use very much these days. In fact, we live in a time when many try to avoid the sobering realities of "death" and "blood shed".
Consider how we buy meat at the local supermarket, killed in slaughter houses hidden from our eyes. Even cremation is becoming more popular, ostensibly for economic reasons, but perhaps also to avoid having to look death in the face.
Many people who have little knowledge of the Bible would be surprised to discover that "death" and "blood shed" are key Bible themes, given to help us understand how man can be brought into a right relationship with God.
God instituted a system of sacrifice that taught mankind in a very graphic way that sin demanded death and the shedding of blood.
Consider a youth watching his father bring a ram to the priest to have its blood spilt just because his father had told a lie. Think of the impression on that youth as he realizes the seriousness of sin. He would clearly understand that sin demands death, but the shed blood of a substitute can cover sin.
Leviticus 17:11 teaches us that "it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Notice, it is not good works nor a good life that can heal the breach between man and God, but the blood.
We no longer offer animal sacrifices since the "Lamb of God," Jesus Christ, was offered as one sacrifice for sins forever on the cross (Heb 10:12). Now all we need to do is trust Him and the value of His precious shed blood. All the sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to the once for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross when He shed His precious blood for sinners.
May I kindly ask you three questions about these three words?
"Do you value your "soul" more than your material possessions?"
"Do you realize your sins have separated you from God and you need the "atonement"?
"Has the shed "blood" of Jesus Christ been applied to your sins?"