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It is the belief of many Christians today, that forgiveness of sins was only made available after Yeshua (Jesus) died for our sins.  There are also a number of different beliefs and doctrines based around this concept that forgiveness of sins only came after the death of Yeshua.  While the sacrifice of Christ was the final sacrifice for sin for all mankind, both Jew and Gentile to usher in the New Covenant, Yahweh was not as cruel as He has been made out to be prior to the coming of Christ during the time of the Old Covenant.  To understand the story of forgiveness of sins, we must first understand what “sin” is, and secondly we must examine all of the scripture, both old and new testament, that is available to us.  To the surprise of probably many, forgiveness of sin was available not only with the New Covenant, but also with the Old Covenant.  To begin- let’s understand what exactly sin is:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” ~ 1 John 3:4

“… I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” ~ Romans 7:7

Sin you can see here is defined by the scriptures as ‘transgressing the law’, and is further identified as ‘transgressing the 10 commandments’ (Thou shalt not covet- 10th commandment).  Our disobedience to the laws of Yahweh results in sin, for which we must be forgiven, or receive the penalty of death:

“For the wages of sin is death…..” ~ Romans 6:23

The ancient Israelites are recorded as committing all kinds of sins (transgressions of the laws of Yahweh), yet in the law of Moses, provisions were made for these situations.  Firstly, Yahweh baptized the Israelites in the sea prior to establishing the law through Moses:

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:1-2

Baptism is a cleansing of the sins and disobedience of the past and a rebirth into a life of obedience to Yahweh, and the ancient Israelites as a foreshadowing for us today received of the baptism in a unique way as Apostle Paul outlines- while walking on dry ground through the parted Red Sea.  According to the Book of Jasher, they first received the law just prior to reaching Elim in the wilderness.  Then the law was spoken by the voice of Yahweh himself on Mount Sinai.  On Mount Sinai, there was the case where while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the tables of stone containing the 10 commandments, the people below were building an idol known as the golden calf.  Yahweh was furious and wanted to wipe the people out.  Moses went down the mountain to correct the people and asked those that were with the Lord to stand with him, and those who were not- to stand on the other side- and that day 3,000 men were slain who were against the Lord.  Of those that remained, many were guilty of the sin of worshipping idols yet repented and stood with Moses, and for this Moses went to beg Yahweh for their forgiveness:

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” ~ Exodus 32:31-33

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Though Moses pled for forgiveness, God decided still to plague the people because they had sinned against Him.  Notice also the warning of Yahweh- that whoever sins against Him will be blotted out of His book.  This is a warning that echoes even through the New Testament in the book of Revelation- and we will mention these verses at the end of this article.  Because of the sins of the Israelites, Yahweh through Moses instituted the sacrificial laws of the Old Covenant, whose purpose was to atone for sin.  Forgiveness was offered, and can be seen in Leviticus 4 and 5:

“And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” ~ Leviticus 4:20

“And he shall burn all his fat upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.” ~ Leviticus 4:26

“And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.” ~ Leviticus 4:31

“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.” ~ Leviticus 4:35

“And he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.” ~ Leviticus 5:10

“And the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him” ~ Leviticus 5:13

“And he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.” ~ Leviticus 5:16

“And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.” ~ Leviticus 6:7

“And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.” ~ Leviticus 19:22

There was also a provision made for those that would sin by ignorance of the law, whether they were an Israelite or an outsider:

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And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, Even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the Lord, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin offering before the Lord, for their ignorance: And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance. And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the Lord, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.” ~ Numbers 15:22-29

The “Day of Atonement” was the most high and holy feast day of the year, occuring on the 10th day of the 7th month every year.  On this day, the high priest would offer up a sacrifice for the sins of all of the people, and would make atonement for their sin.  This was how the ancient Israelites were able to experience forgiveness:

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God.” ~ Leviticus 23:26-28

You can see from the scriptural account in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant, forgiveness was offered to the Israelites that repented.  The problem with the Old Covenant was that over time, the people failed to repent.  They viewed the Day of Atonement as a license to sin throughout the year.  The law of Yahwah was not found in their hearts and they failed to repent of their wickedness.  Jeremiah warned the Israelites of their deteriorated condition prior to the invasion of Babylon and their enslavement:

“I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.” ~ Jeremiah 8:6

The Israelites didn’t heed the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, and because of this they were over-run by the Babylonians and became slaves for quite some time.  You can see that repentance and forgiveness was a principle established through the laws of Moses.  The sacrifice of animals was the atonement for sin, as only blood can atone for sin:

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” ~ Leviticus 17:11

Atonement for sin was originally accomplished via the blood of sacrificed animals.  In this verse above, you can see the foreshadowing of the New Covenant that would come, when Yeshua (Jesus) would shed his own blood for the atonement of all repentant souls.  The forgiveness of sin was attainable under the Old Covenant, if the individual would repent, obey the commands of the sacrificial laws of Moses, and become obedient to the laws of Yahweh.  Part of the process of the actual yearly Day of Atonement, was to “afflict your soul”, in other words reflect upon your soul and the sin that exists there and repent.  The Israelites under the old covenant fell into a trap of relying on a “perpetual door to forgiveness”, which caused them to continue in their wicked ways year after year leading to destruction.

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The New Covenant began with the ultimate and final blood sacrifice for sin- the death of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus).  Yeshua was perfect, he had no sin, and perfectly obeyed the laws of the Father.  Because he was perfect, he offered himself as a sacrifice for all men:

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” ~ Hebrews 9:22-28

Yeshua fulfils the “type” of both the old covenant high priest, and the blood sacrifice.  Under the New Covenant, he is now our High Priest serving in the tabernacle that exists in Heaven, and accounts as the blood sacrifice for the atonement of sins for the repentant sinner.  Just as under the Old Covenent, the New Covenant requires repentance and a change in behavior and heart towards obedience to Yahweh’s commandments.

“For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” ~ Romans 2:11-16

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Today, many run the risk of falling into the same trap of the ancient Israelites.  Due to many twisted “grace doctrines“, Christ is viewed by many as the revolving door to forgiveness, just as under the Old Covenant, the Day of Atonement became the ancient Israelite’s revolving door to forgiveness.  Because of these false teachings, many are lost- never truly finding freedom in obedience to Yahweh and his laws and commandments.  Rather many turn to ways that are wicked and disobedient to Yahweh’s commands, and fail to experience the true grace that is offered to the “repentant” believer.  Those that become a part of the New Covenant approach Yeshua in repentance for their disobedience to the laws of God, they ask for forgiveness and cleansing in Yeshua’s blood, they become clean through baptism with water and the Holy Spirit, the laws of Yahweh are written into their hearts by the Spirit of Yahweh that is placed within them, and they obey Him from the heart under the New Covenant.  How tragic is it that today just as in times of old, forgiveness is viewed as a revolving door and a license to sin (disobey Yahweh’s laws).  Please realize, forgiveness is not a new concept, it spans back to the Old Testament.  Yet we are warned under both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant the consequences of taking grace for granted and of disobeying Yahweh under either covenant:

WARNING UNDER THE OLD COVENANT: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” ~ Deuteronomy 11:26-28

WARNING UNDER THE NEW COVENANT: For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? ~ Hebrews 10:26-29

If we are to avoid being blotted out of the Book of Life, we must overcome the flesh and sin by walking in the Spirit that is given to us:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” ~ Revelation 3:5

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” ~ Revelation 20:12

Please note- our works alone cannot grant us salvation, but they certainly can seal our judgment and second death.  We encourage you to search the scriptures to see that forgiveness was offered under the Old Covenant to the repentant believer, and is also offered under the New Covenant to the repentant believer.  The difference in the two, is that today through the Holy Spirit Yahwah’s law is written into our hearts and we obey him from the heart to the best of our ability.  We seek to obey Him, His will, His law, His statutes, His judgments, and His mission.  The return of Yeshua is near- Repent!  For the Kingdom of Yahweh is at hand!