Does He Forgive?

Does He Forgive?
“From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have befallen you, at the end of days, you will return to the Lord your God, and hearken to His voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God, He will not abandon you nor destroy you, and He will not forget the covenant of your forefathers that he swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).

“As for the wicked man, if he repents from all his sins that he committed, and he observes all My decrees and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he committed will not be remembered against him; he shall live because of the righteousness that he did. Do I desire at all the death of the wicked man? – the word of the Lord God. Is it not rather his return from his ways, that he might live?” (Ezekiel 18:21-23).

“Now you, Son of Man, say to the house of Israel, thus have you spoken saying; “Since our sins and iniquities are upon us and we are wasting away because of them, how can we live?” Say to them: “As I live – the word of the Lord God – [I swear] that I do not desire the death of the wicked one, but rather that the wicked one return from his way, that he may live. Repent, repent from your evil ways! Why should you die, O House of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:10,11).

“He has not treated us according to our sins, nor repaid us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens is above the earth, has His kindness overwhelmed those who fear Him. As far as east is from west, has He distanced our transgressions from us. As a Father is merciful towards His children, so has the Lord shown mercy to those who fear Him. For He knew our nature, He is mindful that we are dust. Frail man, his days are like grass; like a sprout of the field, so he sprouts. When a wind passes over it, it is gone, and its place recognizes it no more. But the kindness of the Lord is forever and ever upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness is upon children’s children, to those who keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to fulfill them.” (Psalm 103:10-18).

The prophets assured us of God’s forgiveness when we turn away from our sins. How then can we accept the claim that “… without the shedding of blood there is no remission from sin” (Hebrews 9:22)? This dark teaching is openly refuted by the words of the Living God.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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24 Responses to Does He Forgive?

  1. June Volk says:

    Atonement (sacrifice) was always connected with forgiveness of sins for Israel, according to the Law. The prophets spoke of repentance which is very important, but according to Leviticus 16 there was atonement (sacrifice) accompanied (shedding of blood) for forgiveness of sin. Since the Temple was destroyed there is no place for Atonement (sacrifice) to be made – therefore, how does Israel as a nation receive forgiveness for the sins of the people? If Jesus is Not our Atonement (sacrifice) – then for 2,000 years we (Israel) have a major problem:

    The ‘Loan Concept’ of Forgiveness

    The ‘Loan Concept’ of forgiveness is commonly used to explain the difference between forgiveness under the Law and forgiveness in Jesus. It says that just as a man has fulfilled his obligation when he makes a payment on a loan and thereby postpones the debt he cannot pay, so the Jew who owed a debt of sin that he could not pay (he could not present his soul pure and sinless before God who gave it) could by offering his sacrifice upon the altar fulfill his obligation before God under the Law and so postponed the debt.

    The language of the Old Testament stands opposed to this concept. When a man makes a payment on a loan, he has not fulfilled his entire obligation, but only temporarily – he must still make retribution. The Israelite under the Law however was told to provide atonement (Lev. 4:27-35) and he would be forgiven and it is significant that this was the end of matter and his obligation under the law regarding the covering of God’s wrath for this particular sin and not just one payment.

    The effect of his sin however was not done away with by the atonement. The cumulative effect of the sins of the nation caused the people to become unclean before God and because God’s tabernacle dwelt in the midst of this unclean people it too was affected by the sins of the people and became unclean. The Day of Atonement provided a cleansing for the people and the tabernacle so that the people could stand clean before God (Lev. 16:16). Now even though atonement is mentioned in Leviticus 16 forgiveness is not. The reason is simple. The sins of the people, although having been forgiven (i.e. the people were covered from the wrath of God so that he no longer sought punishment against them for those sins), had not been forgotten (Hebrews 10:1-3) and the stain of sin had caused them to be unclean. Forgiveness is not under consideration but cleansing.

    Even here in Leviticus 16, although this was a yearly event (which may be reminiscent of a regular loan payment), the language does not speak of an obligation which is only temporarily taken care of. Furthermore, the language does not lend any credence to a related mistaken concept of ‘rolling the sins forward’. This concept is related to that of the loan payment in that it describes the sins of the people as something which cannot be expiated and can only be temporarily rolled forward year-by-year until the Christ should come. Instead the language of Leviticus 16 describes the effect of the atonement provided by the priest as allowing the people to stand ‘clean’ before God (Lev. 16:30). To say that the sins were merely rolled forward is to say that the atonement was not affective. The Law provided for no further obligation on the part of the congregation or individual concerning these sins.

    It is evident from the language of the Law that the Law did provide atonement and that the worshipper could stand clean from all his sins before God. There is no mention of these as temporary payments or that their effects were only temporary. The real thing that the law could not accomplish was to put man back into the same relationship with God as he enjoyed before his fall in the garden of Eden. The Law was not for that purpose and therefore its forgiveness of sins did not preclude the coming of the Messiah, but rather pointed to that need (Job 19:25-27). So this debt that man could not pay God paid for him. But it should be noted that the atonement under the Law was not for temporary payments toward this debt and should not be viewed as such.

    • Naaria says:

      Why make God so small, that you can talk for God rather than let God speak for God? God of Tanach disagrees with you at many places. You believe God & God’s tabernacle become unclean and so God sent a messenger to “lounge around” in the very midst of this uncleanness, this cesspool, yet the messenger somehow was immune to being contaminated by touching the “uncleanness” and “rubbing shoulders” with it? God was insincere when God called God a redeemer or somehow God had to experiment or “work the kinks out of the forgiveness/atonement scheme” for a couple of thousands years before it was perfected? And how could one be atoned (at one with God) but not forgiven? Shouldn’t it work the other way around? A Just & Merciful God of grace needed to act like man (give an offering or sacrifice of human or god blood like the heathen gods required) in order to be satisfied with our inability to “pay off a “loan””? God commanded us to be holy because God was Holy, but God was ignorant and did not understand that we were incapable of pleasing God, unlike Abel and many others that had proven we could indeed please God, that we could be righteous enough for God although God intentionally made it impossible for us to please God? Some say iesous’s “sermon on the mount” gave us goals that were too impossible for us to met? We can’t be meek enough,etc for the God who is impossible to please, unless God kills himself using a different name so we can’t see through God’s scheme, this playacting like pagan gods???

  2. June
    The Jewish Bible NEVER says that there is no atonement for sin without blood. The Jewish Bible DOES say that the way to get out of our present exile is through repentance (Deuteronomy 30:2). That is what we should be aiming for – not a “blood offering” that is contrary to the heart of our national covenant with God.

    • Q says:

      Jesus actually did teach forgiveness without sacrifice according to the new testament….however most Christians are not taught these things.
      Abram was also made righteous (free from sin) without sacrifice.

  3. Shawn says:

    June, can you tell me if Jesus is the final sacrifice, why Ezekiel says the sacrifices will continue in the final temple?

    Also, can you tell me where in the Old Testament we are told that believing in the messiah will provide atonement?

    Because I see probably 20-30 verses speaking of repentance and turning back to G-d, but none about “believing in the messiah.” Can you please point me to these verses?

    • Q says:

      People (many Jews and most Christains) sometimes assume “atonement” means blood sacrifice.
      Thats not what atonement means.

  4. Q says:

    Couple things.
    Firstly this “battle” is really between sacrificers, and non-sacrificers (Cain and Able).
    It was Gods wish that Israel be weaned away from the things of the nations which included sacrifice…however sacrificers far out number non-sacrificers in the world (as to this day) and God gave Israel their way and allowed certain types of sacrifice, until they come/came to knowledge.
    Hebrews 10 is often misunderstood by Christians, because they think Day of Atonement sacrifice / anointed priest, is the same as the daily sacrifice by the ministerial priests.
    They are not the same…nation vs. individual.
    Levitical blood sacrifice is authorized in Day of Atonement.

    There are several views concering purpose of day of atonement by both Jewish and Christian scholarship.
    One view holds (what I believe) that Day of Atonement was for national sins, of the people that sinned with knowledge or in defiance, of which there was no sacrifice for (see Num. 15:27-31 and Hebrews 10:26), and for sins committed in ignorance and not made known to the person.
    In this the people had a constant reminder that no matter how hard they tried they still committed sins they did not know about….also to a writer of sacrifices at this time (new testament Hebrews as an example), it would seem as though almost all sins were forgiven by shedding of blood (in the sacrificial mindset).

    Remember sacrifices were instituted for a people who came from and believed in a form of deity appeasement…not for a small poor group (or a remnant) that believed in Gods forgiveness / grace without sacrifices.

  5. Q says:

    Also…common sacrificial understanding is that Able offered a lamb.
    I hold that it was the “fat” of his herd or curds, milk etc….not the slaughter of animal or blood appeasement…this comes concept comes from the nations.
    In a similar; “lamb of God” in Aramaic really means “child of God”….nt a literal animal lamb.

  6. Q says:

    Jesus sacrifice is often perverted by mainstream christianity (which is really Roman or Pauline), thats why you have apologists who try to make Jesus the same as a levitical sacrifice, when they too, all along , are part of sacrificial cults, that kill the Word of the prophets.
    Sacrificers are really unbelievers in Gods forgiveness, and cleansing is really by a Holy Spirit (union between God and Man).

    Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh.
    כב כִּי לֹא-דִבַּרְתִּי אֶת-אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא צִוִּיתִים, בְּיוֹם הוציא (הוֹצִיאִי) אוֹתָם, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם–עַל-דִּבְרֵי עוֹלָה, וָזָבַח. 22 For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices;
    כג כִּי אִם-אֶת-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה צִוִּיתִי אוֹתָם לֵאמֹר, שִׁמְעוּ בְקוֹלִי–וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵאלֹהִים, וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ-לִי לְעָם; וַהֲלַכְתֶּם, בְּכָל-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, לְמַעַן, יִיטַב לָכֶם. 23 but this thing I commanded them, saying: ‘Hearken unto My voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’

    The above passage is not about Moloch (to fend off invaders:))

  7. Q says:

    Here is an example in Luke 5;

    19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.

    20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

    Matthew 9;

    And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.

    Luke 7:47-50;

    47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

    48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

    49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”

    50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

    Does anyone see blood sacrifice in Jesus’s word that sin was forgiven?
    Why would Jesus lie about blood sacrifice?
    If blood sacrifice was necessary for atonement and cleansing of utensils…then why would Jesus give people assurance without sacrifice?

  8. Q
    Why do teh prophets tell us that the blood offerings will be restored?

    • Q says:

      Sacrificers vs. Non-Sacrificers.
      Does the creator require this, or does man?
      What Temple pattern was given to Moses?
      Is there blood sacrifice (or special sacrificial animals) in heaven?
      The prophet does not always speak what God commands, but what will or might come to be.
      Because the Holy Scriptures spea of stone temple and levitical sacrifice, does not mean that God actually commanded it.

  9. Q says:

    When a christian reads Hebrews 9:26 for instance;

    “Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

    Has sin really dissapeared?
    Do people still sin?
    Do christains still sin?
    Yes we do….sacrifice in animals or Jesus, really does not make sin not happen, or be put away.
    Everyone still will die (no matter how they understand sacrifice).
    So what really is the purpose of sacrifice?
    To those of the sacrifice they equate blood atonement as an assurance forgiveness of sin (their conscience will be cleansed).
    They think that there is something special in the properties of special animals or special bloods etc., that God requires (a form of appeasement).
    There are others (Jesus as an example) who believe(d) in repentance and confession towards God as atonement, and through this was assurance of forgiveness of sin.

    Often times sacrificers try to validate sacrifice (guilty conscience) as the only form of atonement.

  10. agadah says:

    The NT (and non-canonical “heretical” Christian writings) is the only place we know about Iesous. And it is filled with contradictions or it was written by Sophists, who argue against what one says no matter how convoluted their logic, no matter how they contradict themselves. As “Q says” says, Jesus thought disease or ‘handicaps’ were only a result of a punishment for sin or because demons. Demons are another one of Jesus’ many beliefs which are most likely based on his Babylonian, pagan, or Zorasterian roots, not on any biblical, Hebrew roots (except for the ba’alists). His acts of “forgiveness” were only directed to certain individuals (not the “righteous” or the so-called “hypocritical righteous”. Jesus also said to take the offering, a sacrifice to the temple, his father’s house where he neither complained nor did nothing to stop the actual sacrifices. He couldn’t cleanse the temple, he created an unholy mess, and he cursed a tree. A tree, of all things, to spew hatred and unforgiveness upon, just because he had no power to bring it to bear fruit (forgot the commandment not to kill fruit tres?). And Why did his father need a temple in the first place? In the end, Jesus “gives in” to the “sacrificers” (his plan all along) and models himself after pagan and heathen ideas of human sacrifice and self-sacrificing-dying-rising gods. On the other hand, Jesus is a Gnostic or a Platonist; you can’t get to god unless you go through him. He is the intermediary (negated the reason why the temple “curtain” was supposedly torn). And he sure confused his disciples about many things, including sacrifices, which even Paul took part in order to show the “Jerusalem church” that he was a real “Iesous/Yeshua/Jesus” follower.

    • Tsvi says:

      I thought you believed in Jesus

      • agadah says:

        As a non-Jew raised in the USA, you are pretty much “culturally a Christian”. There are many different types of Christians based on your chosen (or “born into”) church/denomination or your personal beliefs. When I was very young, I was as naive about Jesus or Christianity as the overwhelming majority of adult Christians. Somewhere in my Sunday School days, learning about the “Old Testament”, I figured out Jesus was not the Creator of the Universe, but could only be a “messenger” of God, maybe a prophet, a “son of God” like King David, etc of the OT. But not the glorious and eternal God. God is not a man, was not “born” and God can not die. And God does not play “games” like Jesus does, “play-acting” like a god (like the gods, goddesses, “divine” sons & daughters of Greek, Roman, or Norse Mythology that I learned about in the 7th grade at school). Countless thousands of hours of hearing about Jesus in church services or on the radio never caused me to believe that Jesus was the same as God. And the more I read about Jesus (from Christian literature, writings, or scholarly studies), the less I believed that Jesus ever even existed as a person (even as a “preacher” or leader of a cult of a few dozen men and women). The more I tried to find a historical Jesus, the more I found a fictional Jesus (or fadishly called “Yeshua” by these “new age” Christians).

    • Sharon S says:

      Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

      Good day. Hope you , your family and community are well ,especially in the midst of this pandemic.

      I am sorry to be bothering you again. It seems that the question I posed in my earlier comment had not been answered to date. Perhaps you may be busy with other matters.

      I did searches on forgiveness and the gentile online and came across this article from the Chabad here

      According to the article , although “teshuvah’’ (repentance) atones for a Jew’s sins , it does not atone for the sins of the non Jew (Jerusalem Talmud Tractate Nazir 9 & Midrash Tanchuma Haázinu 4). There are two levels of teshuva in which the first level is applicable to both Jew and non Jew. In the first level of Teshuvah , one is considered righteous from the time this teshuvah is performed and hereafter. However the non Jew is not “afforded the special opportunity to rectify the past through regret and confession, thereby wiping the slate clean”. This is reserved for the Jewish people only.

      I searched two resources listed at the bottom of the article. I am able to have access to an English translation of Midrash Tanchuma through the Sefaria app. According to the Midrash , God “lifts His face” to those who repents , but not to another nation. The Midrash quoted Jeremiah 2:22 , which states “Even if you wash yourself with soap..the stain of your guilt is still before me”-which indicates that the past sins of a repentant non Jew is not wiped clean even after he/she conducts teshuva. There is no English version of the Jerusalem Talmud tractate Nazir 9 available in the Sefaria app.

      The question is -what about the repentance of the Ninevites as described in the book of Jonah? I learnt from another discussion here that there is a difference in the repentance of the Ninevites 1: Because it was such a large city and there were many innocent people and animals. 2: They went way above and beyond what they would have had to do. 3: All the Teshuva did was push off their punishment. Their slate is not wiped clean.

      As such , it seems that the verses you quoted is applicable in its entirety to a Jewish audience , Christian or otherwise-as per Jewish tradition. The non Jew reading in should exercise some caution , based on what I have shared above.

      I hope that you can respond to these comments when you have the time. I would strongly suggest that you specify the target audience of your articles like this one , so as to prevent any misconception-especially to the non Jewish audience like myself.

      Please correct me if I am wrong. Thank you.

      • Sharon S I did not read the article but if it says what you are saying it says then they have misquoted the Jerusalem Talmud and the Midrash Tanchuma. Neither of these sources say that repentance does not work for the non-Jew. The verse in Jeremiah that you quoted is applied by the Midrash to the Jew who fails to repent.

        1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

        • Sharon S says:

          Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

          Good day. Thank you for your reply and the clarification.

          I do admit that the passage from Midrash Tanchuma (the English translation) is lengthy and I may have come to wrongly interpret Jeremiah 2:22 as how it is quoted in the Midrash.

          The verses that you quoted in your article (Deuteronomy 4:29-31, Ezekiel 18:21-23, Ezekiel 33:10,11 ;Psalms 103:10-18) were originally revealed and addressed to Israel.

          In light of your reply , does the Jewish tradition then regard the message of these verses as applicable in its entirety to ALL people?

          Thank you for your patience.

          • Sharon S The underlying message of repentance is applicable to all people, Jews and Gentiles. This according to the Bible (see the book of Jonah) and according to the tradition (Sforno Exodus 7:3 quotes the passages from Ezekiel in reference to Gentiles). 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources wrote: >

  11. Sharon S says:

    Shalom Rabbi Blumenthal,

    Good day. Thank you for sharing these verses from the Jewish Scriptures.

    I hope you don’t mind with this question- do you have any specific target audience audience in mind when you write this article?

    It seems from a plain reading of these verses that Moses/David & the Prophets clearly intend to  assure  Israel of God’s kindness and forgiveness when they turn away from their sins. Israel was their target audience.

    As such , does the lens of Jewish tradition regards these verses as applicable to all people?

    Thank you

    • mr.heathcliff says:

      hi sharon, i have an off topic question. many times christian missionaries say that “the law shows our defects and we can never please god through the law”

      counter missionary groups say that the law tells you to repent and through obedience to the law brings eternal life.

      my confusion is.

      if the torah was not for the gentiles, how are gentile works “menstrual rags” ? the torah law does not even apply to them, so in time of noah, abraham, moses, amos , jeremiah , how are gentiles being judged when there is no covenantal agreement with god?

      • Sharon S says:

        Hi mr. Heathcliff,

        According to Jewish tradition , the 7 Noahide laws are binding on all humanity. The breakdown of these laws are as follows (taken from the Chabad website):
        1) Do not profane G‑d’s Oneness in any way.
        2) Do not curse your Creator.
        3) Do not murder
        4) Do not eat the limb of a living animal
        5) Do not steal
        6) Harness and channel the human libido (Incest, adultery, rape and homosexual relations are forbidden)
        7) Establish courts of law and ensure justice in our world.

        God punished peoples/humanity in the Torah (Genesis) apparently from the violation of these laws.

        Unlike the 10 commandments /statements , the 7 laws are not clearly spelt out in the Torah .The formulation of these laws you see above is based on Rabbi Yochanan’s teaching , which is derived from Genesis 2:16 -the first command God gave to Adam. However there are other Sages /figures in Jewish tradition that came up with different composition of these laws and the proof text from which it is derived from. I have written about it here

        In conclusion , I believe that God would have given some form of laws for humanity to adhere to , however there was a break in the transmission of these laws over time.

        Thank you.

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