Old Testament Sin- Was it just covered? Or was Israel sanctified and forgiven? Lev.4:35

By Edward O'Hara:

There are many who teach that sins were not forgiven under the law, but only covered. Is this true? And what would make someone teach that it was only covered if the Bible says it was forgiven?

In Lev.4:32-35 we read how sin was dealt with through the sacrifices under the law. It reads,

32 And if he bring a lamb for a sin offering, he shall bring it a female without blemish.

33 And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.

34 And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:

35 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them upon the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, AND IT SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM.”

In the Hebrew this word for forgiven is sawlach. Which means forgive, pardon, or spare. So it means what we see in this verse in the KJV. To forgive.

This is why in Paul tells us in Heb.9:13 that the sacrifices in the Old Covenant brought complete forgiveness and cleansing of the flesh from sin. Here Paul writes, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh”. Which means to completely separate the sin from the individual so that his flesh is purified.

Why is it important that we understand this? Because we need to know that the cleansing of the flesh, the forgiveness of sins, is not only available now through faith in Jesus. But, was always available under the law too. And that the fact that the purifying of the flesh was all the law could do is why that covenant was insufficient for eternal life.

This forgiveness of sins that was available under the law is why Jesus could forgive sins before He went to the cross. And not after He paid a fictitious penalty for sin that so many falsely proclaim was required by God for men to be forgiven of sin.

Because what the cross made possible was not only the forgiveness of sins that was always available by the sacrifices done under the law. But, also their taking away once and for all time when the law was nailed to the cross with Jesus(Col.2:14). To show Israel that they were no longer held accountable by God to keep them. Which also by faith in Jesus provides the spiritual life all men need to gain entrance into heaven.

This is what is being taught in 2Cor.3 when Paul says, “7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?”

This is why here in vs.6 Paul said “the letter kills, it is the spirit that gives life.” Because the letter can only bring a cleansing of the flesh that is destined only to return to the dust from which it came as God told Adam in Gen.3:19. And can never give spiritual life because it was never intended to. So that righteousness for eternal life can not come by the works of the law.

The law only dealt with the natural man. And rightly so because like Adam when he was made, they too were not spiritual, but only natural(1Cor.15:45-48). And all men would remain that way until the New Covenant was of force after Jesus gave it power by His death and subsequent resurrection.

This is why we read in Heb.9:14-17,

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”

So it was because the blood of bulls and goats could only cleanse and purify the flesh from sin that Jesus had to come to finish it. To bring it to an end. So that by a New Covenant made available by Jesus’ death the spiritual life only found through faith in Jesus in this New Covenant could now be had by everyone who believes in Him. To the Jew first as we see in Acts, and then also to the gentile as we see in Paul’s preaching.

And this is why Paul asks the question in Gal.3:21 saying, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”

Here Paul is telling us that it wasn’t that the law was against God’s promises that was the problem with Israel being under the law. The problem with the law was that it only had power to deal with the fleshly sins Israel committed. Making clean only the flesh that was only made to live on earth. When the real issue that needed to be dealt with was man’s being natural, and not spiritual.

This is why Paul says “for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The righteousness of which Paul is speaking is the life the law could not give. Because it only dealt with the cleansing of the flesh.

So the righteousness in this passage is the life from God that is a spirit created in every one who trusts in Jesus for eternal life. Which means that the life God creates in man when he trusts in Jesus to be born again is righteousness. A righteousness that is our relationship with Him.

This is why righteousness unto eternal life can not be by works. Because this righteousness is our relationship with God. And can not be had by works that we do. As so many Israelites who wrongly trusted in law keeping for righteousness believed keeping the law got for them.

This is why in Heb.10:1 Paul says, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Perfect here meaning complete. As in being made a spirit being and not just a natural one. Born of God being born again. Because if they could make them complete then those who offered them would not have to do them again and again year after year.

But, they did do them over and over again because there was still something missing. What was missing was a spirit created by God in us that joins us to Him for eternity. And equips for life in heaven.

But, for this to happen a final once for all sacrifice for sin under the law was needed. A sacrifice that would allow Jesus to say on the cross “It is finished”.

Because once the final sacrifice was finished there is no more sacrifice for the sins of the flesh. This is why “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe”. And is why when the Jew trusts in Jesus he is delivered from the law and set free from sin’s dominion(Rom.6:14). By a personal and loving relationship with his Creator.

His sins no longer being imputed to him or having any dominion over him because as Rom.6:14 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace.” Grace that was shown when the final once for all sacrifice for their sins under the law was made. And then rose again. Now with the power of a New Covenant for them that gives the believer a righteousness that is eternal life.

So what have we learned here? We have seen that there was forgiveness of sins under the law just as there is now. And that this is why Jesus was able to forgive sins before He went to the cross.

We have also seen that this forgiveness does not equate to eternal life because when Jesus forgave sins there was no spiritual life given to them then. But, as it was being under the law they only received the purifying and cleansing of the flesh.

This is why even those like Zachariah and Elizabeth who “walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” still needed Jesus. Because the righteousness that comes from a law that only provided the cleansing of the flesh by the works of that law is not the righteousness that is eternal life.

We saw this in Gal.3:21 that even though the law was not against the promises of God, the righteousness for eternal life could not come from the law. Because the law only dealt with the sins of the flesh. And did nothing toward creating a spirit in them that joins man to God eternally. And end any need for them to continue doing those sacrifices over and over again year after year.

So Jesus came to bring an end to a temporary covenant He made with with Israel through Moses. A covenant that was only meant to keep them from destroying themselves so that the messiah could come through their bloodline as prophesied. So that after giving power to a New Covenant by His death both Israel and gentiles, that is the rest of the nations, could be made spiritual beings who live in constant communion with God by the Holy Spirit that is also in them.

So we must understand that forgiveness of sins in the New Covenant is part of a package. It happens when we turn from not believing in and knowing Jesus. To believing in and knowing Him. Because sin as defined by the New Covenant per John16:9 is not believing in Jesus.

This is why it is only this sin that can keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God. Because to inherit the kingdom of God a man must not only be forgiven of his sins. He must also be made a spiritual being. And those who have only been born of the flesh are not spiritual, they are only natural.

This is why Paul said “flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God”. Not because the flesh is evil as gnostics believe. But, because the flesh is an earth suit only made for living here on earth. But, the spirit that God creates in all who trust in Jesus is made for His kingdom in heaven.

See now why the Bible teaches that going to heaven has nothing to do with naughty or nice behavior? An that it can not be had by works? Having nothing to do with works of any kind?

So this is why Jesus said “Ye must be born again”. Because “What is born of the flesh is flesh. And what is born of the Spirit is spirit”. And what is only flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of God.

And when we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus. And believe in our hearts that He has raised from the dead. A spirit is created in us that joins us to God for all eternity. After which we will never again be able to not believe in Him. Which is the sin of 1John3:9 that John says a believer can not do. And is the only sin that can separate men from God.

So believe and be saved. Trust in Jesus now to have a spirit created in you that was never there before. Do this and you will have eternal life now. Do this and you will be made immortal at the resurrection. Do this and you will be made a child of God and heir to the kingdom of God. Do this… and I will see you there or in the air!

This message can also be heard at: https://rumble.com/v4i8cxx-old-testament-sin-was-it-just-covered-or-was-israel-sanctified-and-forgiven.html


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