Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Psalm 103:3 (KJV)
Forgiveth – Did you know that God practiced forgiveness prior to the coming of Yeshua? Did you know, like the Psalmist writes, that this forgiveness was for ALL thine iniquities? Yep, all of them. Well all except the ones that He chose not to forgive (Deut 29:19-20; Lam 3:42), or the ones that were impossible to forgive without a specific action taken (Num 15:30-31).
The word here is salah in Hebrew. It’s only ever used of God’s action of pardon or forgiveness to the sinner. This word is never used to refer to people forgiving each other. What does this tell us? The first thing we should notice is that God’s forgiveness (salah) is different than forgiveness of each other by the very fact that when He does it, it’s a different word completely.
The next part that we might struggle with is the statement in the verse that God forgives ALL sin. But this seems to contradict the author of Hebrews who states that Old Testament forgiveness was ineffective and impossible (Heb 9:9; 10:4). So can we dig deeper here to find common ground? Let’s start with that claim that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb 10:4). This is true. Sacrifice was a way of drawing near to God… and a way of realigning one’s life with the will of our Creator. Not all sacrifices were about sin. And not all sin could be forgiven with a sacrifice. WHAT?? Just look at the law of divorce from Deut 24. If a man divorces his wife for adulterous purposes, and she become the wife of another, the first husband can never take her back. That’s the law. It doesn’t matter how many sacrifices he or she brings before God… he can never take her back because she has become defiled. So what about the house of Israel? God divorced them in Jeremiah 3:8. The 10 tribes of the house of Israel could never return to God again because they committed spiritual adultery and the husband divorced them. No matter how many sacrifices they brought, God could not take them back again. So what happens next? Well the only way the wife can be released from that law is when the first husband dies. Have you read Romans 7? This is exactly Paul’s point. Yeshua comes to die for the house of Israel, and frees them from that law – the law of divorce. The blood of goats and bulls couldn’t do that.
That’s why Yeshua came. I know we like to think it was to die for the sins of the world, or take away the sins of the world… but think about it. There’s still sin in the world, so He didn’t take it away, right? And if Yeshua died for the sin of the world, then everyone is forgiven… even the atheists and unbelievers. Does that sound right? If He was able to die for all of our future sins, then surely He died for all of their future sins too. There’s no need for repentance because Yeshua did all the work. Or is it a bit different than our paradigm claims?
Yeshua died for a very specific group of people (Matt 15:24). He died to free this group from a very specific sin, adultery, which lead to divorce. His kingdom can now be reestablished. All twelve tribes can now unite again. It is important to note that though He died for a specific group, His death did affect the entire world.
But what about my sin? Christ died for that, right? Well Christ, like His Father, forgave sin while He was still alive. He didn’t need to die to forgive a repentant sinner. This is you and me. Our sin is included in Psalm 103:3 above. God was always a forgiving God. He’s been practicing forgiveness long before Yeshua was born a man. Yeshua forgave sin before he died. And the great thing is that they are both forgiving sin today. Repent and turn your life back to the commandments of God, and salah will be given.