With great regret and heartache I am informing all of you that Italo was found dead yesterday. Please pray for Bessy. It was apparently an accident on the road. His car went over a cliff.
Archive for May 26th, 2012
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, . . .” Leviticus 4:1-2 NASB
Unintentionally – The book of Leviticus provides atonement for unintentional sins. It is not necessary to take these unintentional errors to the Cross. Leviticus tells us that God provides specific rituals for dealing with sins that we were unaware of when we did them but we now realize that they were offenses to Him. Of course, without an altar, a Temple and a Levitical priesthood, taking these actions to the Cross is probably a good idea, but that wasn’t the original requirement. Therefore, we should notice that even God distinguishes sins committed accidentally from sins committed deliberately. And that’s the problem, isn’t it? You and I are saddled with deliberate sins. These are the ones that kill us. And there is no sacrifice in Leviticus to deal with these.
What can we do? The usual answer is to run to Jesus. Yeshua died on the Cross to substitute His life for ours, thereby removing the punishment we deserved, meeting the requirement of the law and rescuing us. But perhaps there is more to it. Consider Jacob Neusner’s insight:
“The willful sin can be atoned for only if repentance has taken place, that is to say, genuine regret, a turning away from the sin, after the fact therefore transforming the sin from one that is deliberate to one that is, if not unintentional beforehand, then at least unintentional afterward.”
How can a sin be “unintentional afterward”? That’s not how we usually think about intentionality and time. We think in straight lines. Intention comes before action, therefore it is impossible to change the intention after the action. But maybe we are just too Greek (the Greeks thought of time like a river flowing in only one direction). We know enough about the Hebraic view of time (there is no word for “time” in Hebrew) to realize that its concepts are not quite as uniform as the Greek straightjacket. ‘Aharit, for example, describes the future but looks toward the past. There are other Hebrew oddities. One is the concept that patterns repeat themselves in the course of history. What happened before will happen again. In this sense, time is more like a wheel moving down the road. It is going somewhere, but it moves through revolutions. It’s not like a river (one Greek philosophy said, “You never step into the same river twice,” because it constantly changes with the flow). What if repentance is the process by which I get a “do-over” with God? What if repentance is acknowledging that if I had the chance, I would not do what I did? And what if God accepts my acknowledgement as atonement and then gives me the opportunity to prove it? What if the second chance is really a way of erasing the first failure, of changing the intentional into unintentional by hindsight? If this is the nature of repentance, then the condition that repentance be followed by a change in behavior is already contained within the very concept. There is no “do-over” unless it is done differently.
What does this mean for the idea of Yeshua’s atoning death on the Cross? Does it mean that His death transforms our intentional sins into backward unintentional sins? Does it mean that because of His sacrifice more than the requirements of the Law were met? Could it mean that His death gives us a retake on mistakes? Is the temporal field so fixed that God cannot redress our past sins according to our present condition?
If you had to do it over again, would you still have acted disobediently? I guess that’s the real question, isn’t it?
Topical Index: unintentional, sin, time, Leviticus 4:1-2
 Jacob Neusner, Judaism When Christianity Began, p. 155.