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Old Testament remedies for sin; Wash it away

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posted on Jul, 31 2015 @ 05:00 PM
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The ritual laws of the Old Testament demand that a man should wash himself, or part of himself, and perhaps also his clothing, on certain specified occasions.

Sometimes the washing is an obvious physical necessity.
If a man has been suffering from a discharge of some kind, or if blood has been spilt upon him, then clearly he and his clothing should be washed.
The various requirements are described in careful detail, especially in Leviticus.

But even as a physical necessity, it can be done with symbolic purpose.
If a man has been “set apart” because of pollution, or because of leprosy, then he will have one final wash at the end of his time of separation to mark the moment when the cleansing is complete and he can re-join society;
“And he who is to be cleansed [of leprosy] shall wash his clothes, and shave off his hair, and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean; and after that he shall come into the camp”. Leviticus ch14 v8

Sometimes it is not physical pollution that is being washed away, but spiritual pollution.
That’s probably how we should understand the healing of Naaman the Syrian, who came looking for a cure for his leprosy, and was told to wash in the river Jordan (2 Kings ch5).
While the need for washing after contact with the dead (Leviticus ch19) is not just about the physical contact, because it even extends to those who have touched a grave. Evidently there is something “unclean” about Death itself.
And why is a garment washed if it has been soiled with the blood of the sin offering? (Leviticus ch6 v27). This will be partly because the blood is physically unclean, but also, presumably because the blood is too holy (as belonging to God) for casual human contact to be permitted.

From the washing of blood, to the washing of metaphorical blood.
A man who has killed another is said to have “blood on his hands”.
So a person protesting his innocence could act out his claim, by washing his hands to show there was “no blood on them”.
Thus if the body of a murdered man was found in the open country, “All the elders of the city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer… and they shall testify ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, neither did our eyes see it shed’” (Deuteronomy ch21 vv6-7)
Of course this is exactly what Pilate was doing in front of the Jerusalem crowd.

Following on from this physical washing, acting out a metaphor , the washing itself can become just a verbal expression;
“I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence”. (Psalm 73 v13)
Therefore the prophets and the psalms speak of the need for the people to “wash themselves” from their sins.

Isaiah urges the people of Jerusalem to “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean”, because their hands are “full of blood”.
This “washing” is then explained as “cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow”. (ch1 vv15-17)
And the prophet looks forward to a time when
“The Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem” (ch4 v4)
Jeremiah makes a similar demand;
“O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved.
How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you?” (ch4 v14).

The same language applies to the sins of the individual.
In Psalm 51 we find the plea;
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin…
Purge me with hyssop and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v2, v7)
And this is another way of saying
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (v10).

[One of the replies in this thread has reminded me of this additional reference;]

originally posted by: Lazarus Short
Taking the washing metaphor a little further, Malachi 3:2 describes God as being "...like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap."


On previous occasions, I’ve described Original Sin as humanity taking itself out of alignment with God’s will, a misalignment which interferes with their relationship with the God who made them.
If this is a fair description, then it’s obviously not possible for sin to be literally “washed away”.
The act of washing is a dramatized metaphor.
The language of the prophets shows that they already understand it as a metaphor.
The metaphor is expressing and teaching two important points;

1 ) It is necessary for sin to be remedied. It must not be allowed to remain part of the life of the people.

2 ) It is possiblefor sin to be remedied.

These are lessons which we can still absorb from contemplating the act of ritual washing.


edit on 31-7-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 31 2015 @ 05:33 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

I agree, I think that is why the Jews accepted John's baptism in water for the repentance of sins. Washing away sin was something they were already accustomed too.

I believe the washing away of sins leads to the following two concepts. Eliminating willful sin and attaining the resurrection, which in other verses Paul likens to running a race.



9 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. Pslam 19




10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3


The idea seems to be to wash away past transgressions and to work to overcome even the transgressions of ignorance which are not direct violations of the Legal Code.
edit on 31-7-2015 by Isurrender73 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2015 @ 05:41 PM
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a reply to: Isurrender73
Yes, it's one of several Old Testament images which get picked up, or sometimes extended, in the New Testament.
Another good parallel is in 1 Corinthians;
"You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians ch6 v11).
At a later stage I'll be wanting to do a similar survey of the New Testament metaphors about what happens to sin.




edit on 31-7-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 31 2015 @ 05:53 PM
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Taking the washing metaphor a little further, Malachi 3:2 describes God as being "...like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap."

Just imagine: Fire and Soap!

Get washed in soap & water, then have your wood, hay, and stubble burned up in the fire, and you are clean, clean, CLEAN! Nothing will be left but the proverbial gold, silver, and precious stones.

BTW, this means that the Lake of Fire is to refine, not punish, us. Yes, everyone.



posted on Jul, 31 2015 @ 05:59 PM
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a reply to: Lazarus Short
Good catch. I hadn't noticed that one (I was looking up the word "wash").
The connection is that "refining" is actually a cleansing process, removing the dross.
"Fullers' soap" is soap used for cleaning cloth in the preparation process, so they could afford to use ingredients which would be stronger and harsher than soap for personal use. Get that on your skin, and it would probably feel like fire.

P.S. I have now added that reference to the OP, thank you.
edit on 31-7-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2015 @ 05:25 AM
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originally posted by: Lazarus Short
Taking the washing metaphor a little further, Malachi 3:2 describes God as being "...like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap."

Just imagine: Fire and Soap!

Get washed in soap & water, then have your wood, hay, and stubble burned up in the fire, and you are clean, clean, CLEAN! Nothing will be left but the proverbial gold, silver, and precious stones.

BTW, this means that the Lake of Fire is to refine, not punish, us. Yes, everyone.


In the book of Revelation it states about the lake of fire:

Revelation 13-15 - 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

There is no refinement in the lake of fire but a final death blow....judgement.



posted on Aug, 1 2015 @ 06:09 AM
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a reply to: DeathSlayer

I know that scene is troubling, but I always follow this method from the Bible: line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Picking one passage and putting it up on a pedestal as the whole truth can be misleading.

Here is what I stated in my "The Gospel According to Laz" thread:

Revelation 20:13 & 14 tell us that death and hell (the grave would be a better translation) give up their dead, and some are cast into the Lake of Fire – death and the grave are also tossed in. This is called the Second Death, but Revelation 22:15, at the very end of the Bible, describes the unholy still skulking outside the New Jerusalem. Are you confused? Me too, but let’s look ahead to “…the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father…he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:24 – 26) At the end of the Revelation, Jesus is still reigning, but at the “end” Jesus gives the rulership back to His Father. At this time, death is destroyed. I ask you, how can anyone be dead at this point, let alone, in Hell? It cannot be, and that is good news!

Did you know that the Revelation is not the chronological end of the narrative? The Message is scattered here and there, so that we must go back many times and search - until the Word has done its work in us.

As for the Lake of Fire, since at some point in the far future, death is destroyed, the LoF must then, if it had not done so already, give up its dead. Refinement after all, otherwise God the Father would not be able to become All in all.
edit on 1-8-2015 by Lazarus Short because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 2 2015 @ 02:07 PM
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This thread is the sequel to an earlier thread;
Send it away
There will be other threads on the same theme.
edit on 2-8-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)




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