Saturday, August 7, 2010

Daily Word: Forgiveness From a Hebrew Perspective

Yesterday, we considered repentance and forgiveness from Yeshua's actions in Mark 2:1-5. Today, we continue with the concept of forgiveness according to rabbinic thought because Yeshua was a Jewish rabbi. When some Pharisees took offense by reasoning in their hearts that Yeshua's forgiving the paralytic's sins was blasphemous, Yeshua was able to read their hearts, i.e. their inner person which includes thoughts, will, and emotion. Verses 8-9 read: But Y'shua knew in his spirit these things that they were thinking in themselves. And he said to them, "Why do you think these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say to the paralytic that, 'Your sins are forgiven you' or to say, 'Get up! Take your pallet and walk?'" Yeshua was making a positive claim to be able to read minds and forgive sins.

In Hebrew, forgiveness is kaphar and it means to cover, to expiate (i.e. satisfy) for an offense, or to appease. These definitions probably seem more suitable to defining atonement; however, in Hebrew, they mean forgiveness. Yeshua is pronouncing without an animal sacrifice, that the paralytic is forgiven. Gentiles have been taught that the Old Testament taught forgiveness through animal sacrifice only. Apparently, Yeshua didn't know that. The truth is that animal sacrifices assisted human beings to have the right approach to sin and repentance. However, without the proper heart condition of sorrow, there was no forgiveness no matter how many animals were sacrificed. The word picture for kaphar is to cover the mouth of a man. Just as a man with his mouth covered can make no noise, neither can sins that have been forgiven have any voice in our lives. This is a beautiful reminder of God's forgiveness in the Hebrew Scriptures.

As we continue to study the actual teachings of Yeshua, we may find ourselves changing our view of certain long held Christian doctrines. The point is that if you are going to be a disciple of Yeshua, should you not follow His teachings as opposed to those that developed centuries later about Him?

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