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What the Bible says about Covering Sins
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 1:3-4

God accepts the animal in place of the offerer. The offerer remains alive, and the animal represents him giving or sacrificing himself. In this respect, Christ becomes even more prominent, and we fade into the background, though not entirely.

Every man's acceptance before God depends upon perfect righteousness. An animal cannot sin, so in the imagery sinlessness is symbolically present. However, the sinlessness required for our acceptance goes well beyond this. Paul writes in Romans 3:10, 23: "There is none righteous, no not one; . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Jesus, though, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4), took on flesh and blood as the seed of Abraham (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14) and lived a perfect life (I Peter 2:22). His sinless life was acceptable to God, and by God's grace, we are accepted because of Christ. Thus, the offering must be without blemish; it must match Christ's sinlessness.

This also helps to explain the word "atonement" in Leviticus 1:4. Normally, we think of it in the sense of a "covering for sin." However, since sin is not contemplated in this offering, this understanding is incorrect here. In this case, atonement indicates "making satisfaction." God is satisfied because a requirement is met, not that His offended justice is satisfied.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering

Leviticus 4:20

Clearly, in the sin offering described here, atonement is used in the sense of "a covering," and therefore as a means of forgiving sin. By contrast, in the burnt offering sin is nowhere seen because it is not part of what the burnt offering teaches. In it, God is satisfied because the offerer has met His requirement through his life, by the righteous way he lives his life. Thus, the offering shows the offerer accepted.

However, not all sense of covering is lost in the use of "atonement" in Leviticus 1. Here, the essence of covering arises in the fact that the offering covers—is fitting or appropriate—in the sense of meeting all conditions. The conditions involve a life of sincere, wholehearted, and loyal devotion to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Two): The Burnt Offering

Leviticus 23:27-32

This is probably the least understood and least appreciated of all God's holy days. The world looks upon it as a curiosity. The Jews keep it as the most solemn day of the year. They, at least, realize that this day has solemn implications, but they do not know what they are.

There is an interesting interpretation within this verse in the word "atonement." The Hebrew word underlying it, kippur, does not literally translate into "atonement," but as "covering." The translators have interpreted the concept of covering and inserted a word that instead describes the effect of being covered. The covering of our sins causes atonement. This is the implication and meaning that we derive from other verses. The forgiveness of sin—the covering by the blood of Jesus Christ—enables us to be reconciled to God.

Had this not been done, there would be no opportunity for us to be at one with God; our sins would still be a barrier separating us and God. Because there was an atonement made by the blood of Jesus Christ, this gaping divide is bridged. Thus, the word kippur is interpreted as "atonement."

That this is a festival implies the act of eating and drinking in a convivial atmosphere. Though this Day of Atonement is a festival, there is no eating or drinking permitted—at least physically. The reason we have trouble relating to this day is because of the Adversary, who is, above all others, striving to hide its meaning behind a smokescreen of disinformation. He has tried to obliterate its significance from the minds of those who are aware of his existence.

If we were to mention the Day of Atonement to most Protestants or Catholics, they would likely give us blank stares or shrug their shoulders. To them, the day has been literally obliterated. They would have no clue what we were talking about.

Satan has also obliterated its significance to the Jews. They are aware of the day, of course, knowing it as Yom Kippur, and realize that it has solemn significance and is most holy. But they do not understand what it means. It does not mean the same thing to them that the Bible teaches us it means, mainly because they do not believe in Christ nor in His atoning blood. Therefore, they cannot make the proper connection between the blood of Christ and the blood of the goat that is slain during the symbolic ceremony on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility

Proverbs 28:13

Four words in this verse—"cover," "prosper," "confesses," and "forsakes"—highlight some valuable instruction for us. According to Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, these Hebrew words mean:

» Cover (kacah, #3680): "to cover, to conceal, to hide."

» Prosper (tsalach, #6743): "to advance, to prosper, to make progress, to succeed, to be profitable."

» Confesses (yadah, #3034): "to throw, to shoot, to cast" and by extension, "to confess" or even "to praise."

» Forsakes ('azab, #5800): "to leave, to loose, to forsake, to let go."

In other words, if we try to hide or ignore our faults, our chances for success in life are dim, but if we admit them and put them behind us, we will have favor. In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck remarks that "it is easier for us to try and forget a problem that we know exists than to deal with it." He states a fundamental truth about our problems. If we do not deal with a problem—in our case, sin—it will never go away. It will fester, and it will always come up later or manifest itself in a different form.

Spiritually, then, if we are not honest with ourselves about our sins and shortcomings, we will not reach our full, God-given potential. God can show us our sins, but He cannot and will not force us to overcome—that decision is ours. We must see ourselves for what we are and have the desire to make the conscious choice to change. Thus, Paul instructs us in Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Staff
Setting Spiritual Goals

1 Corinthians 13:7

Do we love the brethren enough to bear with them? By using the word stego (meaning "cover, conceal, protect"), Paul means that it is an act of godly love when we keep silent about unfavorable matters; when we restrain ourselves from talking about somebody else's sin; when we delay judgment and keep our brother's reputation intact; when we keep a sin or a fault "hush, hush" between us and the walls, as it were, so the person has time to repent and to recover from it. We need to be careful not to let any of our brothers' sins become a source of mockery toward the church because we "let the cat out of the bag" and gossiped.

There are peoples' sins and faults that we should take with us to the grave, as Paul says about the man in Corinth: "These things shouldn't even be talked about. Shut up. Keep it to yourself. Cover that person's sin in love." Love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). Do we love our brother enough to give him a chance to repent? God does. Why can't we?

Such a rush to condemnation causes the church to fly apart! Rather than have the forbearance to allow our brethren to repent, we just want to kick them out, and as quickly as possible. Or, we want to shun them, saying, "Go to some other group. We can't stand you anymore." Why can we not be a little bit more forbearing, as God is? He takes the time to let these matters work out. We need to show a little bit of love, as Paul advises, "Let brotherly love continue" (Hebrews 13:1).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Forbearance


 




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