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Sin and Atonement

This article examines the principles of Sin and Atonement under the Law using the same principles and practice gathered from the Exegesis series.

It is a candidate for collecting information from other sources such as:

Here we will examine the internal validity of these ideas.

Concessions under the Law

What is the legal validity of the idea that we can perform teshuvah in order to gain forgiveness from our sins as described by the Prophets, King Solomon, etc? I.E. where did they get the Ecumenical authority to make those claims?

Well first, there is solid scriptural support in the torah for teshuvah. But beyond this there is the following passage;

Deuteronomy 17:8-20 (KJV) (RSV)
8 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; 8 “If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns which is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God will choose,
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: 9 and coming to the Levitical priests, and to the judge who is in office in those days, you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision.
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: 10 Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place which the Lord will choose; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you;
11 According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 11 according to the instructions which they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the verdict which they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left.
12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. 12 The man who acts presumptuously, by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die; so you shall purge the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. 13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again.

So, what is this? I ask the simple question: When someone is guilty of a sin, and will get the death penalty, WHO is it who will judge and execute this punishment?

Also consider Deuteronomy 18:19;

Deuteronomy 18:18-19 (RSV)
18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

This establishes the authority of Judges and Prophets in special circumstances. What are these special circumstances?

In 1 Kings 8:46-53 King Saul gives special commandments for atonement once the temple is destroyed. In 2 Kings 17:13 we see the summary comment that this warning was given again and again to the people via the prophets.

The Example of Ezekiel 18:20

Ezekiel 18:20 says, “20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”

Many Christians use this to show that under the Law, people who sin are doomed to die. But what happens when you keep reading?

Ezekiel 18:21 begins with a golden word: “But.”

This is a great joy, this word, it is a cause for celebration!

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

24 “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. 27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!Ezekiel 18:21-32

God repeats himself three, even four times, and he is very clear!

The Curious Case of 2 Peter 3:9

A Christian I often speak with frequently asserts that 2 Peter 3:9 can be used to extrapolate everything I need to know about Sin and Atonement. Granted this is a Christian scripture but let's take a look:

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.2 Peter 3:8-10 (NIV)

The idea here is simple; God keeps his promises. The same idea can be gathered from many verses throughout the bible; here are a few examples from Psalm 119 alone:

  • v.38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.
  • v.41 May your unfailing love come to me, Lord, your salvation, according to your promise; 42 then I can answer anyone who taunts me, for I trust in your word.



A multitude of quotes have now been shown that establish the legal authority for God to forgive sins under the law and for people to become forgiven via repentance and turning to God.

sin_and_atonement.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/04 07:52 by serena