Forgiveness is the highway where apologies, explanations expectations, regrets, rationalizations and remorse lose their crutches and acquire wheels.
Forgiveness is not a religious phenomenon. People of all stripes are capable of letting go of injuries they have suffered. People who are not religious or spiritual are equipped emotionally and rationally to make a firm break with animosity and hostility that may arise from injustices they have experienced.
It is curious how many religious people have a set of talking points about forgiveness which are wholly unattractive and inconsistent with a God of infinite mercy and compassion.
Take the sacred tent of the Levitical order. It’s purpose was for divine residence and for divine communication with the priesthood, but at its innermost recesses there were operations for the expiation of sins.
Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.Exodus 25:8
To see that this atonement process did not work one only needs to read the rest of the priest-temple narratives.
There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. Exodus 25:22
It is beyond question that the people pursuing that ancient concept and its supporting regulations are outrageously bewitched, and the leaders wilfully forgetful, that “there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God;” (2 Peter 3:5). All things from the beginning are not automatic contributors to the kingdom of God.
We say that after forgiveness comes the gift of the Holy Spirit not testing and failure. We say that after forgiveness comes the guarantee of the final redemption- of the body – not bondage to human and bodily discipline.
We are recipients of certainty, finality, rest, and peace. When Christ liberates people they are free for real, from death, bondage, and condemnation. When Christ saves people they are safe. What else could they be?
Who would have thought that the ruler of the age to come would make himself an offering for sin? The princes of this world did not for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. The bloody component of divine wisdom is scandalous, necessary and diagnostic.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Isaiah 53:10
His soul an offering for sin
If we do not know what sin is we might have an excuse. With the conscience accusing every one, and the law condemning everyone who looks into it, an offering for sin is the only answer. We know what a sin offering looks like. It is the holy and undefiled Son of God, incarnate and separate from sinners (all humans). Sin, for which Christ suffered himself, is unbelief. This is the universal failure of the human race. There is no one who is exempt from God’s evaluation of humanity.
I know that tombs were emptied the moment Christ died. In the Bible we find neither rumor nor speculation that the sick and diseased were affected by the Lord’s death. On the cross is where the atonement takes place, not before or after. It is to honour the Son that this timing is precise and public. Christ on the cross is God’s exclusive answer to the human problem, and that problem is not the kind of thing that a doctor, prophet, priest or king can treat. Sin calls for a life – “blood”, not a beating. The idea that the physical abuse our Lord endured is atonement for infirmity (sickness and disease) has no biblical support. To remove disease requires no offering, least of all the offering of God’s Son. The idea that Christ went to Golgotha to change the physical wellbeing of the human race is a mouldy piece of bread.
Trafficking in trademark trash
It is obvious that the mission of the original missionaries did not include forgiveness of sins. Jesus stopped funerals, reversed the corruption of death (in one case after four days). At his death all kinds of ancient dead came back to life.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
- The sick
- The lepers
- The dead
- The demonized (those possessed by evil angels)
- No price tag attached
Instead of believing the message we have turned the report into a set of fables. Isaiah’s question still highly functional. Who is believing the messsge of the evangelist?
Scandalous from the start
When the Hebrews slew a lamb and sprinkled its blood on their doorposts it saved their lives. Noone questioned this use of blood. There were no questions about the use of blood in the tabernacle day after day. However, since a life is given to pay for sin, and the life is in the blood, there was no living link between the sinner and the animal that saved his life. The priest sprinkled or poured the blood but that atoning blood never came into contact with the worshipper. Blood was the last thing an Israelite wanted to handle.
26. Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. 27. Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.