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Atonement in the Old Testament

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posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 05:03 PM
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Old Testament remedies for sin; Cover it up

The use that Horatio, Lord Nelson, made of his blind eye is a well-known story.
The injury was one of the ways that his body had been knocked about in his various battles.
In fact, in the superstitions of cricket, the “unlucky” score of 111 is named after Nelson, in the mistaken belief that he was reduced to one eye, one arm, and one leg (or a different part of his anatomy).

The story relates to the Battle of Copenhagen.
His immediate superior, stationed on the horizon, sent him an unwelcome flag-signal telling him to “break off the action”.
Claiming that a man with only one eye had “a right to be blind sometimes”, Nelson deliberately placed his telescope to his blind eye, and exclaimed that he really could not see the signal.
Therefore he ignored it, and carried on with his own plans.
Hence the expression “turning a blind eye”.
Though this is more commonly used now about people in authority, pretending not to notice the misdemeanours they should be punishing.

There is a reason for remembering this story in the context of thinking about Atonement.

On previous occasions, I’ve described Original Sin as humanity taking itself out of alignment with God’s will, a misalignment which obstructs their relationship with the God who made them.
Certainly God’s rejection of sin is one of the most basic premises found in the Bible, and it results in his ultimate rejection of sinful people.

One of the first lessons taught in Genesis is the impossibility of concealing sin from God.
Adam and Eve tried to hide behind trees. Cain tried to hide behind words. But their sin remained as visible as ever.
If we cannot conceal our involvement with sin, and we cannot escape our involvement with sin, how can we escape rejection?
One possible solution is that God should allow himself “not to see” the sin.
In other words, he turns a blind eye.

This is where Atonement comes in.
What does “atonement” really mean?

The English word “Atonement” was originally “one-ment”; that is, “a bringing together”, from the old verb “one”, or “unite”.
Then it got expanded to “At-one-ment”, with much the same meaning, but treating “one” as the number.
It seems that the verb “atone” is a back-formation from “atonement”, rather than the other way round, so it doesn’t have anything more to tell us.

When Paul says that in Christ “we have received the atonement” (Romans ch5 v11), the Greek word used means “reconciliation”. Strictly speaking it means “change”, in the sense of changing a state of enmity into a state of friendship.

So the English and Greek words are both about the effect of atonement.
The breach in the relationship is healed, and the two parties are reconciled.

If we want a clue to the way the effect has been achieved, we must look to the Hebrew word, as found in Leviticus.
The word is KAPHORETH, which means “covering”.
The concept of “covering” sin can be found in the New Testament as well, reflecting the upbringing of the writers.
We are told that love, and more specifically bringing a wandering sinner back to the faith, will “cover a multitude of sins”(1 Peter ch4 v8 and James ch5 v20).

It seems to me that atonement must be “covering” sin in the sense of “concealing it from God’s eyes”.
Of course we know already that sin cannot be genuinely concealed from God’s eyes.

So what the atonement must be offering is a reason for God to choose “not to see” the sin, and to postpone his natural reaction against it.
In other words, we come back to the image of “turning a blind eye”.
This is exactly what the Psalmist is asking for when he appeals to God to “Hide thy face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities” (Psalm51 v9)
Our only hope is to persuade God to avert his eyes from our faults.

Ways of sacrifice; the Atonement offerings

This is where there is a brief merger between two streams of my threads.
Because, of course, the method of atonement provided in the Old Testament is by sacrificial offering.
The key text is in the Leviticus laws explaining why blood should not be consumed.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life”. Leviticus ch17 v11
Israel would surely have been offering sacrifice in any case, because this was the normal custom of peoples across the region at the time.
The effect of the statement in Leviticus is to attach a specific meaning to the practice.

If I’m right in my understanding of “atonement”, then the blood-offering has the effect of “covering” the sins of the people, in the sense of “concealing” them.

Why should this work through the offering of blood?
The text itself gives the explanation- “by reason of the life”.
Offering the blood of the animal means offering its life.

Clearly this leads on to another question.
Why should atonement work through the offering of life?

I’ve been coming to the conclusion that what this God really wants from his people is that they should be offering their own lives.
The essence of sin is that they have not been offering themselves. They have been holding something back, acting in disobedience.
So the purpose of the blood-sacrifice is to remedy that omission by presenting a symbol of the self-offering.
“We understand that we owe you our lives. Here are some lives, as a token of our debt.”
A visible offering of some kind is necessary, because this is a culture in which everything has to be acted out.
The action is expressing a recognition of their previous failure, and an implied promise to do better.
Their sin is then “covered” by the offered blood because God is willing to accept that as a reason for disregarding the sins of the past and allowing them time to mend their ways.

But since the atonement sacrifices are only a symbol of the self-offering, they cannot be the final answer.
If the sacrifices had been a full solution to the problem, as the writer of Hebrews points out, it would not have been necessary to repeat them.
We all know the kind of person who thinks that saying “Sorry” every time he does something wrong gives him permission to continue doing it.
The complaint about Israel, which runs through the Old Testament, is that they are falling into the same way of thinking.
They are starting to treat regular sacrifice as a substitute for obedience and repentance.
In the long-term, as their history shows, these regular “apologies” wear out their God’s patience, and he begins to take more notice of their sinful lives.
In short, there comes a time when the “covering” effect of atonement sacrifice breaks down, and the offerings do not succeed in warding off the judgements of God.

The only final answer would have to be a more genuine, more complete, self-offering.




posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 06:10 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

My conclusion, God wants to show he is Boss, if you dont follow orders then he makes a statement, he wants us to know he created the world we live in. He wants to show he is the greatest deity ever to have come up.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 06:11 PM
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a reply to: yulka
If he did create the world we live in, then he is Boss, isn't he?
Nothing unreasonable in expecting that to be recognised.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 06:35 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

Yeah thats logical reasoning, the point is correct. It is his world.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 07:48 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI




I’ve described Original Sin as humanity taking itself out of alignment with God’s will


I thought God was Omnscient? So how did the event of the temptation go unnoticed until god walked in the garden

Sorry Original SIn, not buying it too many plot holes in the narrative.




One of the first lessons taught in Genesis is the impossibility of concealing sin from God


And yet their physical presence was hidden from god by the bushes



[3:9] But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"
[3:10] He said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
[3:11] He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?

edit on 14-8-2015 by TheConstruKctionofLight because: spelling



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 07:50 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

A very insightful read, I learn alot from you. I enjoyed the bit about the background of "turning a blind eye". I love learning the history of idioms.

What caught my eye....

"...for the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement.."

Sounds a LOT like.....

"...take this, all of you and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you, and for many, so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me...."

The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The blood of The Lamb, washes away the sins of humanity. Happy are those, called to the supper of the lamb.

I see my kid..."sinning"...all the time. He's 7 years old. 99% of the time, I "turn a blind eye". I see everything he does though and he doesn't even know that I know what he's done. He's so naive, so blind, so caught up in his 7 yearoldishness, he's clueless. But I love the lil guy so much, he could do just about anything and I'd just think it's cute. But that other 1% of the time? If he is doing, or has done something REAL stupid, or dangerous, something that could hurt him? I let him have it, and it's usually a lesson he'll never forget. Until tomorrow, when he does it all over again.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 07:53 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI




If he did create the world we live in, then he is Boss, isn't he?
Nothing unreasonable in expecting that to be recognised.


Unless he was the creator (demiurge) and not the Lord as evidenced by his lack of sight when the temptation occurred



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:00 PM
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a reply to: Ignatian




I see my kid..."sinning"...all the time


How can a child sin? And what would qualify as a a 7 year old sin?




REAL stupid, or dangerous, something that could hurt him? I let him have it, and it's usually a lesson he'll never forget. Until tomorrow, when he does it all over again.


So you letting him "have it" didnt work otherwise he would have learnt from the lesson of yours.
What I'm trying to say i guess is no christian ever wonders how the world was repopulated from an Ark with a few thousand creatures and 1 distinct race group.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:21 PM
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a reply to: TheConstruKctionofLight

I was speaking metaphorically. That's why I used the little quote marks around "sinning".

That whole paragraph is metaphorical, to make an analogy to the behavior that our God exhibits towards his creation, humanity. I believe you might see how this is very relevant to Disraeli's post.

If you don't believe in God, you'd be more like an infant, or a toddler, instead of a 7 year old. There's an entire universe, completely out of their realm.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:31 PM
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originally posted by: TheConstruKctionofLight
I thought God was Omnscient? So how did the event of the temptation go unnoticed until god walked in the garden

You're taking the Genesis account more literally than I do

And yet their physical presence was hidden from god by the bushes

No. "Where are you?" was a summons.
He knew exactly where they were.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:34 PM
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originally posted by: TheConstruKctionofLight
as evidenced by his lack of sight when the temptation occurred

You musn't take these things so literally. He knew exactly what was happening.

And "Original Sin" is not the Genesis story.
"Original" refers to what we were born with. It is about the fact that none of us are following God's will.
Original Sin re-visited

edit on 14-8-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:37 PM
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a reply to: Ignatian

What does nihilism say?



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:38 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

You are teaching ignatian bad things, disraeli



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:41 PM
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a reply to: yulka
That post was not a response to Ignatian, and I don't see that I'm teaching bad things.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:44 PM
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a reply to: yulka

Nihilism has nothing to do with this thread, it might be best to stay on topic.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:48 PM
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a reply to: Ignatian

It has to do with your beliefs, and St. Ignatius. I said before brother dont follow blindly



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 08:50 PM
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originally posted by: Ignatian
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. The blood of The Lamb, washes away the sins of humanity. Happy are those, called to the supper of the lamb.

Yes, I'm postponing discussion of the New Testament connection to another time, but I did drop in a hint at the end of the OP.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 09:22 PM
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no one ever spoke Koine Greek it was dead in the water by 300AD. there are no Koine Greek dictionaries Strong's Greek has mostly Koine Greek words with Classical Greek meanings. When God said he would preserve his word to all generations in Psalm 12:6,7 he did what he said he would do he preserved his words in one English version (not a plethora of them). He did so, so we would not have to go to copies of Greek manuscripts we could not even prove were exact copies.

If you don't believe what it says in the preserved English Holy Bible then you can never know it in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic or any other language the original's may have been penned in.



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 09:29 PM
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a reply to: ChesterJohn

Most accurate bible Jehovah's



posted on Aug, 14 2015 @ 09:38 PM
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originally posted by: yulka
a reply to: ChesterJohn

Most accurate bible Jehovah's


Which Bible?

Can you hold it in your hand?



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