Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament, Part 58

“…just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.’ ” Romans 4:6-8 (Part one)

Paul, in his letter to the church at Rome, quotes David’s inspired utterances from the book of Psalms, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Ps. 32:1-2 NAS) 

This week we are going to focus our attention on verse one of Psalm thirty-two from which the Holy Spirit moves Paul to quote. Next week we’ll direct our attention on verse two. First of all, let’s not forget what the Holy Spirit impelled Paul to also record in the letter to the Roman brethren, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) The Scriptures being referred to here are the Old Testament writings; the New Testament texts were not yet complete. In those are critical concepts and principles which the LORD laid in place upon which he intended to build instruction, perseverance, encouragement, and hope for the church. Do we often enough consider rightly what David and Paul were both moved to record for our benefit? How happy (blessed) we should be that our transgressions are forgiven? And that those transgressions were forgiven apart from the Law? The inspired apostle has just finished establishing the condition of every man-they are all under sin (Rom. 3:9) and that no one stands justified before God due to works of the Law. The Law was designed to produce knowledge of sins (Rom. 3:20) and demonstrate our rebellion towards God. The Hebrew word translated as “transgression” (NAS) in the Old Testament is pesha. The root meaning is ’revolt’.  That’s why the proper translation in the New Testament is ‘lawless deeds’, since that’s exactly what we did, we revolted against God and His law. When you live under law, your sins are ever before you! What you want is to just get those out of your sight. One of the great foreshadows in the Old Testament regarding the true concept of forgiveness had to do with events on the day of Atonement. All Israel would be gathered together on this day for the express purpose of forgiveness of their sins collectively and individually. One of the last acts performed by the high priest on that day was the offering of the live goat (Lev. 16:20). This goat came to be known as the scapegoat (Azazel, lit. ‘goat of removal’). The people would hear their sins confessed by the high priest while laying his hands upon the goat thereby transferring their sins to the live goat. Once completed, the people would then see the goat (and their sins) disappear out of sight into the wilderness to perish.  The Hebrew word translated forgiveness (nasa) uttered by David through the Spirit means literally “to lift up, to bear, to carry away” with a sense that it will be lost, or perish.  This same word is used concerning the scapegoat,  “And the goat shall bear (carry away) on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.” (Lev. 16:22) Take note brethren, that the goat not only carried away the peoples’ sins from their sight, but he was released into a solitary uninhabited land where no one would see or be aware of the sins upon the goat. This is the idea in the forgiveness concerning which David was moved to speak and Paul wants all Christians to understand. In Christ, those lawless deeds have been carried away, lost, not to be found, in an uninhabited place. The Holy Spirit inspires David to emphasize this picture by stating the sins, the crime and associated penalty (per the root of this Hebrew word,  khate) have been covered, literally, concealed as having been clothed. The impression then, is that the sin is covered over and no longer in the view of man or God. Kind of like, just as if you (or I) never sinned. That would mean we would be viewed by God as not having sinned and treated that way. Awesome picture, huh? These concepts do have a familiar ring to them, don’t they? Justified before God in Christ and called saints, regarded as though we had never sinned? These are the blessings upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness. Operate by faith, believe God and what He has said has happened because of our obedience to Christ. Amen


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