“Adonai is slow to anger, rich in grace, forgiving offenses and crimes; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and even by the third and fourth generations.’ Please! Forgive the offense of this people according to the greatness of your grace, just as you have borne with this people from Egypt until now.”-Numbers 14:18-19
We have been examining the exchange Moses had with the Lord concerning the fate of the rebellious Israelites.
From this exchange, we learned two important things.
First, we learned about the Principle of Divine Retribution which refers to a sort of kick-the-can-on-down-the-line process where the punishment due one person will be placed on another person (a descendant) at a later time.
Second, we also learned that Moses was specifically asking God for a form of forgiveness known in Hebrew as SALACH.
This is a type of forgiveness that ONLY GOD CAN OFFER.
Now after all of that discussion, I wanted to focus our attention on what Yeshua accomplished by His sacrifice.
In order to understand that, let’s take a look at a teaching straight from the heart of Judaism and something I bet anti-missionaries do not want you to see.
This quote is taken from a book titled “The Way of God” and is written by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato otherwise known as RAMCHAL.
Read it very carefully and let the words sink in deeply.
“As a result of this principle, suffering and pain may be imposed on a tzaddik (righteous person) as an atonement for his entire generation. This tzaddik must then accept the suffering with love for the benefit of his generation, just as he accepts the suffering imposed upon him for his own sake. In doing so, he benefits his generation by atoning for it, and at the same time is himself elevated to a very great degree. For a tzaddik such as this is made into one of the leaders in the Community of the Future World, as discussed earlier.”
The quote then goes on to say…
“The world and everything in it are in a degraded evil state, and require that God’s unfathomable wisdom bring about the numerous chains of events to achieve their rectification. Among the more important elements of this sequence is the requirement that man must be punished for his wickedness until the Attribute of Justice is satisfied. God arranged matters, however, so that select perfect individuals could rectify things for others, as discussed earlier. The Attribute of Justice therefore relates to them rather than to the rest of the world in general.”
Okay, let’s apply some of the key parts of this quote that I have bolded and underlined to what Yeshua accomplished on the cross.
“suffering and pain may be imposed on a tzaddik (righteous person) as an atonement for his entire generation”
This is interesting.
So it says that suffering and pain may be imposed on a tzaddik or righteous person AS AN ATONEMENT for his entire generation.
Is that not what the New Testament says the Father did with the son?
“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross,
so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
“by his wounds you have been healed.”
-1 Peter 2:24
“…just as he accepts the suffering imposed upon him for his own sake”
The righteous person accepts the suffering and pain that will be imposed on Him by HASHEM.
That reminds me of this famous New Testament incident.
“On leaving, Yeshua went as usual
to the Mount of Olives;
and the talmidim followed him.
When he arrived, he said to them,
‘Pray that you won’t be put to the test.’
He went about a stone’s throw away
from them, kneeled down and prayed,
‘Father, if you are willing,
take this cup away from me;
still, let not my will but yours be done.'”
The quote then goes on to say the righteous man “benefits his generation by atoning for it”.
Again, this seems to be the central theme reiterated over and over again in the New Testament.
“In other words, you, who at one time
were separated from God
and had a hostile attitude towards him
because of your wicked deeds,
he has now reconciled in the son’s physical body
through his death;
in order to present you holy and
without defect or reproach before himself —
provided, of course, that you continue
in your trusting, grounded and steady,
and don’t let yourselves be moved away
from the hope offered
in the Good News you heard.”
“Among the more important elements of this sequence is the requirement that man must be punished for his wickedness until the Attribute of Justice is satisfied.”
Okay, what I’m seeing here is a direct reference to the “Principle of Vertical Retribution” we’ve been talking about.
Notice the emphasis on how the quote says that we must absolutely be punished for our wickedness until the Attribute of Justice is satisfied.
In other words, the sin debt owed does not somehow magically disappear.
It has to be paid by someone.
Let’s move on (I don’t know about you but I’m starting to get goosebumps).
“God arranged matters, however, so that select perfect individuals could rectify things for others“
Heck I don’t need to go to the BRIT HADASHAH to find a suitable cross reference (no pun intended).
Let’s just head right over to the classic Isaiah 55 text.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
So in terms of the Principle of Vertical Retribution which states that the payment of a sin debt can be postponed and carried on from one generation to the next, it appears that Yeshua’s sacrifice stopped the curse.
Or to quote the words of that late great US President Harry S. Truman “The buck stops here baby!” (The “baby” emphasis is mine).
Again I can really understand why the Apostle Paul was sooooooo esstatic at what Yeshua’s sacrifice accomplished.
As a most astute scholar of Judaism, he would have understood very well the implications of Vertical Retribution.
This is precisely why Paul referred to the New Covenant as a better covenant.
In other words, the New Covenant saved whereas the Old Covenant provided knowledge of sin.
But understand that the Old Covenant was NOT designed to save.
For example, when you’re going to sit down and have a delicious meal to eat, you sit down in a chair and put your food on the table, right?
You don’t place your food on the chair and sit down on the table, right?
This is kind of a crappy analogy but the point I’m making is that a chair is designed for you to sit on and the table is designed for you to place food on it.
BOTH ARE NEEDED AND BOTH WORK TOGETHER AS A PACKAGE.
The same goes for both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant to enable you to be everything that God wants you to be.