“Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any kind of sin against another person and thus breaks faith with Adonai, he incurs guilt. He must confess the sin which he has committed; and he must make full restitution for his guilt, add twenty percent and give it to the victim of his sin. But if the person has no relative to whom restitution can be made for the guilt, then what is given in restitution for guilt will belong to Adonai, that is, to the cohen — in addition to the ram of atonement through which atonement is made for him.”-Numbers 5:5-8
Another false notion that has long been promoted by the church with the result that many unconsciously harbor this misperception is the idea that “progressive revelation” is a New Testament concept.
However, we’re about to see that that’s not the case.
Because right here in Chapter 5 of the Book of Numbers we encounter a fascinating example of progressive revelation.
Verses 5-8 talk about an incident of somebody committing some kind of crime against another person and then swearing an oath to God that he did NOT commit such a crime.
Bottom line, the transgressor is lying to God.
Now here’s what I mean when I say we encounter “progressive revelation” here.
Up until now, “lying” has been classified as an INTENTIONAL SIN.
When I say INTENTIONAL, I am referring to the type of sin that is of such a high-handed nature it cannot be atoned for.
For those of you who have been studying with me from the beginning, you should be quite familiar with the difference between “intentional” and “unintentional” sins by now.
However, right here in Numbers we are introduced to a revolutionary NEW principle!
And that new principle is CONFESSION!
So what is “confession” exactly?
Let’s take a look at some dictionary definitions.
-acknowledgement, avowal, or admission
-acknowledgement or disclosure of sin or sinfulness
-a formal, usually written, acknowledgement of guilt by a person accused of a crime
Now all of these definitions aren’t bad.
They all agree that one has to “acknowledge” his or her wrongdoing.
However, there is a key nuance missing here that can only be gleaned from the original Hebrew.
The original Hebrew is VE-HITVADU.
VE-HITVADU literally means “to declare“.
Confession is not just mentally acknowledging to God that you did wrong, it is DECLARING you sinned.
A declaration includes verbal repentance followed by action.
Now there’s another super key point here that mustn’t be overlooked.
A sin cannot be forgiven if it is not confessed.
Or to put it another way, from a Torah perspective, not confessing or declaring your sin to God is THE SAME THING AS LYING TO HIM.
This dynamic is actually quite different than the sacrifices that were offered up for unintentional sins.
For unintentional sins, sometimes the worshipper offered up sacrifices just in case he had sinned but wasn’t exactly sure what wrong he might have done.
So to get back to my original point concerning progressive revelation, here we have a situation of somebody lying, which is a high-handed sin for which normally there was no atonement, now being able to be forgiven because he had confessed!
Once the person confessed his high-handed sin, he was no longer lying to God but now in agreement with Him.
And as a result, he was now in a position to be forgiven.
The big takeaway here is this:
The sacrificial system was not some automatic machine that provided forgiveness every time you dropped some coins into it.
Having a repentant heart followed by confession and a change in one’s behavior was also required.
Somebody who remained unrepentant, even if that person fulfilled the technical requirements by offering up the proper sacrifice was NOT FORGIVEN.
The Torah has never been about legalism.