This week’s Torah portion begins by stating the following, Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6-8, ה וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָֹה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר: ו דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשֹוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם לִמְעֹל מַעַל בַּיהוָֹה וְאָשְׁמָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא: ז וְהִתְוַדּוּ אֶת-חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשֹוּ וְהֵשִׁיב אֶת-אֲשָׁמוֹ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וַחֲמִישִׁתוֹ יֹסֵף עָלָיו וְנָתַן לַאֲשֶׁר אָשַׁם לוֹ: ח וְאִם-אֵין לָאִישׁ גֹּאֵל לְהָשִׁיב הָאָשָׁם אֵלָיו הָאָשָׁם הַמּוּשָׁב לַיהוָֹה לַכֹּהֵן מִלְּבַד אֵיל הַכִּפֻּרִים אֲשֶׁר יְכַפֶּר-בּוֹ עָלָיו: 5:5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 5:6 ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the Lord, and that person is guilty, 5:7 then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged. (NASB) Moshe explains in the Torah text saying, אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשֹוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם “man or woman does from any of the sins of man,” the way the Hebrew text is written using the words מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם indicates sins, any sin that is common to man. The Hebrew text goes on to say וְאָשְׁמָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא וְהִתְוַדּוּ “his soul is guilty and confess.” This reveals to us that the first step for a sinner must be his confession of having committed a sin. One must admit their wrong doing, One must confess his or her transgression of God’s command. This is the idea of owning up to what we have done. The confession before God is a necessary part of Teshuvah (Repentance), and after one has admitted what he has done and that it is wrong, we are told he is to make restitution and add one-fifth to the restitution and give it to the one who was wronged. If only God was wronged, the 1/5th is given to the priest. The Talmud Bavli Kiddushin 35a states that both men and women (אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה) are guilty of sinning, and here we see the equal requirement for women as well to bring an offering for atonement to the Tabernacle, standing before God, confessing sins, and making restitution.
In Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, Repentance 1:1 he comments on the importance of repentance as a necessary requirement for the forgiveness of sins. Rambam says that one finds no atonement in the sacrifice unless one repents! Even the one who needs to make financial compensation, even if he gives the financial money, if he does not make a verbal confession and repent by obligating himself never to repeat this again, he does not receive atonement. This interpretation illustrates the importance of repentance where a sacrifice is qualified for atonement only if one repents and confesses his sins before God. Note how this same requirement is applicable to us today who have faith in Yeshua the Messiah (read Hebrews 10). The sacrifice Yeshua made does not qualify for atonement until we repent and confess our sins before God. I have heard it taught by the hypergrace movement that one does not need to repent, all one has to do is believe in Yeshua. This is attitude towards what Yeshua has done is very inconsistent with what we read according to the Torah and what Yeshua taught concerning these Torah passages.
Yeshua said the following according to Matthew 5:21-26.
5:21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 5:22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 5:24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. 5:25 “Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 5:26 “Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent. (NASB)
Notice the context that Yeshua is drawing in comes from this week’s Torah Portion (Parashat Naso). Yeshua draws in the importance of the sacrifice along with the state (condition) of one’s heart, whether one has hatred towards others, to the point of calling a person a fool, suggests pride and arrogance are diametrically opposed to finding atonement in the sacrifice. Pride and arrogance are the opposites of being humble and broken before God when seeking atonement for the forgiveness of sins. Yeshua’s point is we are to have a broken heart for having (i) disobeyed God’s Word, being concerned with having hurt the Lord in heaven and (ii) for hurting a fellow human being. As we see when comparing the rabbinic literature, the Torah, and Yeshua’s words, he always raises the bar in regard to the interpretation and application of the Torah. Murder is an act that can be committed in the heart. This is an easy thing to do that is connected to despising someone else, looking down on someone, holding prideful thoughts and attitude towards others to the point of considering one to be inconsequential, or unimportant, these things are connected to the murderous thoughts as thinking someone is a fool, this is what Yeshua was speaking of here. Our thoughts can and do make us guilty in the heavenly court just as Yeshua explains for the one who says “you fool” is guilty of “pride and arrogance” leading one to the danger of being cast into hell. This is paralleled then to the one who brings his offering to the altar of God and remembers that he has something against his brother, he is to leave the offering and go make reconciliation first. This going and making restitution is part of the act of repentance, and the offering becomes effective when we make good on our intentions of repentance by following through with what we say and believe by faith (making restitution). This is the definition of what it means to be faithful to God and His Word. The idea presented here is to make reconciliation quickly such that one is not handed over to the judge who will cast judgment and be thrown into prison. These things speak of this verse from Parashat Nasso which states that the one who sins has broken faith with God in heaven (לִמְעֹל מַעַל בַּיהוָֹה). The Hebrew phrase לִמְעֹל מַעַל בַּיהוָֹה means “treachery or deception” in the sense of the transgression (sin) against God (YHVH). The first aspect of this breaking of faith is related to those who are in a covenant relationship with God as opposed to those who are not.
Notice the Torah calls one to bring a sacrifice to the Tabernacle because he/she is already in a covenant relationship with God by faith and is being faithful to His Word (mitzvot / commands). The act of being faithful is vitally important, as illustrated by Yeshua’s Words according to John 3:36 which state 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (NASB ὁ πιστεύων εἰς τὸν Υἱὸν ἔχει ζωὴν αἰώνιον· ὁ δὲ ἀπειθῶν τῷ Υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, ἀλλ’ ἡ ὀργὴ τοῦ Θεοῦ μένει ἐπ’ αὐτόν.) Note how Yeshua says the one who believes has eternal life, but the one who does not “obey” (ἀπειθῶν, apeithōn, “not obeying”) the Son will not see life. This is a very rabbinic way of saying all of the commandments of the Torah, whether they are mandatory or prohibitive, if a man violates any one of them, either presumptuously or erroneously, then he must repent and turn away from his sinful ways. This again is drawing from this Week’s Torah Portion according to Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6-8, both a man and woman are obliged to confess his or her sins before God! As it is said, “When a man or woman shall commit any sin …” (אִישׁ אוֹ-אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשֹוּ מִכָּל-חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם) then they shall confess their sin which they have done (Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6-8). This is both a confession of words that is coupled to one’s actions meaning one must turn from sin. This is why the words of confession of faith in John 3:36 is coupled to obedience to the Son, the very thing that is being drawn out from the Torah command according to Yeshua!
King Solomon wrote in Mishley / Proverbs 28:13 saying, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” What we have been discussing here from the passages from Parashat Naso is how Sin is the refusal to do what is right. Sin is not a matter of ignorance (see Vayikra / Leviticus 5:17), but a matter of rebellion, not living according to God’s Word by disobeying His mitzvot (commandments). Because of these things, grace or mercy are inaccessible to those who refuse to confess (admit) their sins before God. This means that the one who sins refuses to be honest with his or herself, hiding the shame of sin. The God of Israel and Yeshua the Messiah cannot save the soul that denies the condition of sin. Salvation is impossible for such a person! This is why Teshuvah (Repentance) is absolutely necessary because we have to have a willingness to admit our guilt before God, and humbling ourselves before Him as recognizing our need for forgiveness. A person who “conceals” or “covers” his sin denies it, either by outright disavowal or by explaining it away by offering self-deceptive excuses. Something to note about the Torah command: it is God alone that has the ability to cover or atone for sin. This is the expression of His mercy, of His grace, and it is not fitting for someone to atone for his own sin in order to exonerate himself. We discussed this at lengthy in last week’s Torah portion (Article and Video). We discussed how it is a pagan practice to earn our salvation or entrance into heaven. Disobedience or violation of the command is not atoned for when sin is minimized, dismissed, excused, or rationalized away. This is because all sin is an offense against the Word of God and represents a breach of relationship. The one who denies or excuses his sin simply cannot prosper as Solomon wrote, and will not receive forgiveness of sins. Confessing the truth about ourselves, and owning up to our behavior means taking responsibility for our actions, not blaming others, and confessing our own guilt, these things lead to spiritual blessing and true inner peace.
The Lord God of Israel sees and knows about sin, whether private or public, and He does not let sin go unpunished. This is why the Scriptures prescribes confession and repentance in order to receive atonement in the blood of Yeshua the Messiah! We are to also confess one to another, before our Father in heaven, and also to forgive others of their sins. Bamidbar / Numbers 5:6 states that the one who commits sin against a fellow man breaks faith with the Lord God. This is why the greatest consequence of private, personal sin is to our own mortal soul. Ezekiel 18:4 states, “the soul that sins shall die,” and Paul wrote to us saying in Romans 6:23 saying “the wages of sin is death.” For those who are the people of God, both Jew and Gentile, there is a standard of conduct, both in private and in public, and this is the Torah! This is why Paul wrote saying, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) We are given the desire (by God) to glorify God in our lives according to His Word by His indwelling Spirit. The Lord also provided a way to have fellowship with Him. He has promised that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As you can see, the Torah and the understanding of repentance and confession of sins are intimately coupled in NT text. So when we are told to repent and turn from our sins in the NT, this is a Torah based concept right out of Parashat Naso. This is what Yeshua was doing, he was teaching the Torah as he began his ministry according to Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (ESV) The Gospel Message is the revealing of God’s Messiah, the miraculous deliverance of Israel, and the writing of God’s Word upon our hearts, that is coupled to God literally dwelling in our hearts! This is how the Torah and the Gospel Message go hand in hand!