What is Forgiveness?

(This article first appeared as a four-part blog by Dr. Stephen Pidgeon, October 23-28, 2014.)

And so today I heard in my spirit that YAH was placing a crown of thorns on my head – the thorns of forgiveness.  I was asked to consider each thorn as the pain inflicted on me, from the most grievous, and to forgive each person who had inflicted such pain.

I considered this in anguish and in fear at first, particularly when I heard that a crown of thorns would be placed on my head.  By I understood that I must forgive, even the most painful things – things that still hurt, like thorns in the scalp.

So I considered this, and as I considered it, it brought to mind a verse of scripture: that you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  (Marcus 12:31). The command speaks of equal treatment, doesn’t it?  Love your neighbor in exact proportion to how you love yourself.  If so, then it is equally true that you should love yourself as you love your neighbor. 

And so it occurred to me, that you should forgive your neighbor as you forgive yourself, or in my case, forgive yourself as you forgive your neighbor, for of all the people who have harmed, I am the one least likely to receive forgiveness from me.  Yet, we are forgiven, are we not, in the blood of HaMashiach?

So we sing this song:

Qadosh, qadosh, echad, Yisra’el; baroch shemo Adonai

(Holy is the holy one of Yisra’el; blessed be He, our Adonai)

Shema kole’enu YAHUAH TSEVA’OTH, baroch shemo Adonai

(Hear us, YAHUAH TSEVA’OTH! Blessed be He, our Adonai)

Nasa, nasa, peshai, YAHUSHA; baroch shemo Adonai

(Forgive, forgive my sin, YAHUSHA; blessed be He, our Adonai)

Shema kole’enu YAHUAH TSEVA’OTH, baroch shemo Adonai

(Hear us, YAHUAH TSEVA’OTH! Blessed be He, our Adonai)

Let’s take a closer look at the word forgiveness.  The Hebrew isהחָילִסְ  celiychah, which means forgiveness, or pardon. Strong's 5547.  The Greek is αφεσις aphesis (not Ephesus - Εφεσος), which means freedom; (figuratively) pardon:—deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission. Strong’s 859.  Consider, for a moment, if the city of Ephesus is in fact the city of forgiveness.

Chizayon (Revelation) 2:1-7

UNTO the angel of the called out assembly of Ephesus write; These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden menorahs; 2 I know your works, and your labour, and your patience, and how you cannot bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars: 3 And have borne, and have patience, and for my name's sake have laboured, and have not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your menorah out of his place, except you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Niyqolaciym, which I also hate. 7 He that has an ear, let him hear את what the RUACH says unto the called out assemblies; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of ELOHIYM.

The concept of removing the menorah is directly tied to willingness to repent (and thence to be forgiven) and to do the first works.  Now what could be meant by this statement, the first works?  Ya’akov gives us a clue:

Ya’akov (James) 2:24-26

24 Ye see then how that by a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

So what are these works?  Consider the Hebrew word here, which some of you might recognize as the word מַעֲשֶׂה ma`aseh – which means in the first instance “acts”; a transaction; abstractly, activity; by implication, a product (specifically, a poem) or (generally) property:— act, art, + bakemeat, business, deed, do(-ing), labor, thing made, ware of making, occupation, thing offered, operation, possession.

We refer to what is traditionally called the book of the Acts of the Apostles as Ma’aseh.  So, the word works means action – to act.  What then are the first acts required of the Ephesians? Could it be to undertake the works of the Torah?  If so, then the Ephesians are called back to the Decalogue and Moediym by this edict in the last book of Sacred Scripture.

This brings us to another key word in the passage directed to the Ephesians in the Chizayon of HaMashiach, which is the word repent

הבושט tshuvah, which means,to turn back (hence, away) transitively or intransitively, literally or figuratively (not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point); generally to retreat; often adverbial, again:—((break, build, circumcise, dig, do anything, do evil, feed, lay down, lie down, lodge, make, rejoice, send, take, weep)) X again, (cause to) answer (+ again), X in any case (wise), X at all, averse, bring (again, back, home again), call (to mind), carry again (back), cease, X certainly, come again (back), X consider, + continually, convert, deliver (again), + deny, draw back, fetch home again, X fro, get (oneself) (back) again, X give (again), go again (back, home), (go) out, hinder, let, (see) more, X needs, be past, X pay, pervert, pull in again, put (again, up again), recall, recompense, recover, refresh, relieve, render (again), requite, rescue, restore, retrieve, (cause to, make to) return, reverse, reward, + say nay, send back, set again, slide back, still, X surely, take back (off), (cause to, make to) turn (again, self again, away, back, back again, backward, from, off), withdraw.

The instruction then to the Ephesians is to turn back again to your first acts.  Consider the promise made under Mosheh:

Shemot (Exodus) 19:3-8

And Mosheh went up unto ELOHIYM, and YAHUAH called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shall you say to the house of Ya`aqov, and tell the children of Yisra’el; 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Mitsriym, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests (memlacha coheniym), and an holy nation (qadosh goy). These are the words which you shall speak unto the children of Yisra’el.

7 And Mosheh came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their facesאת  all these words which YAHUAH commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that YAHUAH has spoken we will do. And Mosheh returned the words of the people unto YAHUAH.

The return to the first things is the call to return to being a kingdom of priests and a holy (set-apart) nation.  This is done by keeping the covenant.  Consider the Decalogue as set forth in Devariym (the restatement): 

Devariym (Deuteronomy) 5:1-22

AND Mosheh called all Yisra’el, and said unto them, Hear, O Yisra’el (shema Yisra’el), the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2 YAHUAH our ELOHIYM made a covenant with us in Chorev. 3 YAHUAH made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4 YAHUAH talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, 5 (I stood between YAHUAH and you at that time, to show you the word of YAHUAH: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,

6 I am YAHUAH your ELOHIYM, which brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, from the house of bondage.

7 You shall have none other elohiym before me. 8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I YAHUAH your ELOHIYM am a jealous EL, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

11 You shall not take the name of YAHUAH your ELOHIYM in vain: for YAHUAH will not hold him guiltless את that takes his name in vain.

12 Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as YAHUAH your ELOHIYM has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work: 14 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of YAHUAH your ELOHIYM: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your ass, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Mitsrayim, and that YAHUAH your ELOHIYM brought you out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore YAHUAH your ELOHIYM commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

16 Honour your father and your mother, as YAHUAH your ELOHIYM has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which YAHUAH your ELOHIYM gives you.

17 You shall not kill.

18 Neither shall you break wedlock.

19 Neither shall you steal.

20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbour.

21 Neither shall you desire your neighbour's woman, neither shall you covet your neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbour's.

22 These words YAHUAH spoke unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.

What are the first acts? These are the first acts.

In the Hebrew, there is delineation concerning the various kinds of offenses that register before ELOHIYM and that require repentance (teshuvah).  Let’ take a look at these, with the understanding that the scribes and the prophets setting forth these discussions simply sought to clarify the actions of man in regard to the covenant of YAH.

First, is the sin group called חַָאָּטת chatta’ah, which means an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation.

Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 18:20

And YAHUAH said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin (chatta’ah) is very grievous;

This chatta’ah is a plural form of the word חטָא chata’ which means to sin; by inference, to forfeit, lack, expiate, repent, to lead astray, condemn, trespass.  Both of these have in their origin the word חטָא chet' (pronounced (k)hate, which means a crime or its penalty; a grievous offence, or sin.  The example for this is a difficult one: 

Tehilliym (Psalms) 51:5

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin ְחֵטְא (khate) did my mother conceive me.

However, sometimes sin is simply described as bad, and the word used is ra’ רע, which means bad or evil; adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, mischievous, misery, naughty, noisome, wicked, wretchedness, or wrong.

Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 39:9

There is none greaterֺ in this house than I; neither hats he kept back anything from me but thee, because you art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness רע (ra’), and sin חָטָא (khate) against ELOHIYM?

When discussing the sins of the nation, however, we have yet another word, a word which describes guiltiness, fault, offense and trespass, which is the word ה'אַשְׁמָ ashmah.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 4:3

If the priest (cohen) that is anointed do sin (chata’) according to the sin (ה'אַשְׁמָ ashmah) of the people (am); then let him bring for his sin (chatta’ah), which he has sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto YAHUAH for a sin offering.

The sins of the nation which are done through ignorance are called שָׁגָה shagah, which means to go astray, to be deceived, to err, to be ravished, to wander, and to sin through ignorance.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 4:13

And if the whole congregation of Israel sin through ignorance (שָׁגָה shagah) and the thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done somewhat against any of the commandments (mishva’oth) of YAHUAH concerning things which should not be done, and are guilty;

One sin whose name is a bit surprising describes temptation, or perversity.  This sin is called Avon (pronounced עָוֹן avown’).

Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 19:15

And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity (עָוֹן avown’) of the city.

Melekiym Rishon (1 Kings) 17:18

And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with you, O you man of ELOHIYM? Are you come unto me to call my sin (עָוֹן avown’) to remembrance, and to slay my son?

Tehilliym (Psalms) 51:5

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity (עָוֹן avown’); and in sin (חָטָא khate) did my mother conceive me.

In the Latin language, there is a word for evil which is mala, as in the common law doctrine of mala in se (evil intent).  However, this word too has a Hebrew root. The Hebrew word for treachery and falsehood is the wordלעַמַ  ma`al.

Ezra 9:4

Then were assembled unto me every one that trembled at the words of ELOHIYM of Yisra’el, because of the transgression (לעַמַ ma`al).of those that had been carried away; and I sat astonied until the evening sacrifice.

Finally, let us consider the sin of rebellion, or transgression, which is פֶּשַׁע pesha`.

Shemot (Exodus) 34:7

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving (אשנָ ashar) iniquity (ןוֹעָ  avon) and transgression (פֶּשַׁע pesha) and sin (תאָטָּח  chatta’ah), and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity (עָוֹן avon); of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Bemidbar (Numbers) 14:18

YAHUAH is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving (אשנָ ashar) iniquity (עָוֹן avon) and transgression (פֶּשַׁע pesha)), and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity (עָוֹן avon) of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

While the propitiation of HaMashiach is a complete propitiation, his right hand being pierced for the sins of our right hand; his left hand being pierced for the signs of our left hand; his side being pierced for the sins of our heart; his right foot being pierced for the walk of our right foot; his left foot being pierced for the walk of our left foot; his head being crowned with thorns for the sins of our minds; and by his stripes we are healed (note also that blood was shed on the eighth day in the circumcision for those uncircumcised), HaMashiach tells us of a sin for which there is no forgiveness:

Marcus (Mark) 3:22-30

And the scribes which came down from Yerushalayim said, He has Ba`al Zebub, and by the prince of the devils casts he out devils. 23 And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but has an end. 27 No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the RUACH HAQODESH has never forgiveness (Strong's Greek Dictionary 859. αφεσις aphesis: freedom; (figuratively) pardon:—deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission), but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30 Because they said, He has an unclean spirit.

There is a reference to this unclean spirit found in Zakaryahu 13:

In that day there shall be a fountain מָקוֹר (maqowr) opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Yerushaliym for sin חַטָּאָה (chatta’ah) and for uncleanness נִדָּה (niddah). 2 And it shall come to pass in that day, says YAHUAH TSEVA’OTH, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean (טֻמְאָה tumah) spirit (ר֫וּחַ ruach) to pass out of the land.

מָקוֹר maqowr: a source of water, even when naturally flowing; also of tears, blood; fountain, issue, spring, wellspring. Strong's 4726.

חַטָּאָה chatta'ah: an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation, sin. Strong's 2403.

נִדָּה niddah: rejection; by implication, impurity, especially personal (menstruation) or moral (idolatry, incest): filthiness, put apart, removed, separation, set apart, unclean(-ness, thing, with filthiness). Strong’s 5079.

טֻמְאָה tum'ah: religious impurity:—filthiness, unclean(-ness).Strong’s 2932

Let us consider this fountain (maqowr) which is opened to the house of David for sin and uncleanness.  Of course, in its initial reference, this surely points to the Gihon Spring, now the center point of the discovery of the situs of Shalomah’s temple.  However, in spiritual terms, the source of water, naturally flowing – also of tears and blood – the wellspring, is Mashiach.

Yahuchanon (John) 4:7-26

There came a woman of Shomron to draw water: YAHUSHA said unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his Talmidiym were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then said the woman of Shomron unto him, How is it that you, being a Yahudiy, ask drink of me, which am a woman of Shomron? for the Yahudiym have no dealings with the Shomroniym. 10 YAHUSHA answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of ELOHIYM, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink; you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water. 11 The woman said unto him, Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then have you that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Ya`aqov, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 YAHUSHA answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman said unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 YAHUSHA said unto her, Go, call your man, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no man. YAHUSHA said unto her, You have well said, I have no man: 18 For you have had five men; and he whom you now have is not your man: in that said you truly. 19 The woman said unto him, Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Yerushalayim is the place where men ought to worship. 21 YAHUSHA said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Yerushalayim, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Yahudiym. 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. 24 ELOHIYM is that RUACH: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman said unto him, I know that MASHIACH comes, which is called Messiah: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 YAHUSHA said unto her, I that speak unto you am he.

Here there is self-justification concerning the spiritual water and a direct reference superseding the Gihon Spring, as Mashiach instructs the woman that worship will not be had in Yerushaliym (the site of the Gihon Spring) nor in Shechchem (the site of Yoseph’s land and Ya’akov’s well), but rather in spirit (Ruach) and truth (emet –See Psalm 119.142). 

However, it is not yet clear exactly the nature of this spiritual water.  Let’s see if we can get closer to an understanding:

Yahuchanon (John) 7:37-39

In the last day, that great day of the feast, YAHUSHA stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believes on me, as the Scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spoke he of the RUACH, which they that believe on him should receive: for the RUACH HAQODESH was not yet given; because that YAHUSHA was not yet glorified.)

So, this statement is given “in the last day, that great day of the feast.”  This points to one particular day, given the feasts as we know them.  Of the seven feasts, Pecach (Passover), Matzah (Unleavened Bread), Bikoor (First Fruits), Sheva’oth (Pentecost), Yom Teruah (Trumpets, also Rosh HaShanah), Yom Kippur (Atonement), and Sukkoth (Tabernacles or Booths), we must consider only those feasts which have more than one day, which means either Matzah or Sukkoth, both of which are seven day feasts. 

One of the two of these has a great feast day on the last day, which for the most part rules out Matzah, as the feast of First Fruits does not necessarily conclude Matzah.  In Matzah there is always a regular Sabbath – a seventh day Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening), and the feast of First Fruits occurs on the following day (Sunday).  First Fruits, from time to time may occur on the last day of Matzah, but six times out of seven, it won’t.

However, the closing of Sukkoth ends with the great feast of Simcha Torah (the joy of the Torah), which was practiced from the time of Shalomah on the eighth day. Dvrei Hayamiym Sheniy 7:8-10.  Therefore, this proclamation of YAHUSHA occurred on Simcha Torah, the last day, that great day of the feast.

In this statement, Mashiach tells us that belief in Him is living water – that he is the fountain that is reference in Zakaryahu 13:1; the very fountain that “will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and . . . will cause the prophets and the unclean (טֻמְאָה tumah) spirit (ר֫וּחַ ruach) to pass out of the land.” To accuse the fountain of having the very unclean spirit that the fountain would cause to pass out of the land is to declare Scripture a lie.

Is there a further witness in this passage that YAHUSHA HAMASHIACH is the fountain of living water who will accomplish this task?  Let us continue to read Zakaryahu 13.

Zakaryahu (Zechariah) 13:3-6

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, You shall not live; for you speak lies in the name of YAHUAH: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesies. 4 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed everyone of his vision, when he has prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive: 5 But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth. 6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in your hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

Who is it that has wounds in his hands and who received the wounds in the house of his friends? 

Zakaryahu (Zechariah) 13:7-9

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, says YAHUAH TSEVA’OT: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 8 And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, says YAHUAH, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, YAHUAH is my ELOHIYM.

Who is this shepherd?  Who is the one to be smited? 

Yahuchanon (John) 10:7-16

Then said YAHUSHA unto them again, Amein, Amein, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. 13 The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. 14 I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and את eth am known of mine. 15 As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd.