The Berean Expositor
Volume 19 - Page 75 of 154
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of the word in the Scriptures shows by the very problem of its translation that from
earliest days--even from Eden itself--forgiveness of sin was associated so intimately
with the bearing of sin and its attendant punishment, that the same word was used to
convey the two separate though related ideas:--
"My punishment is greater than I can bear" (Gen. 4: 13).
"Mine iniquity is greater than it may be forgiven" (Margin).
Long before Moses was instructed to give the law and prescribe the great typical
sacrifices, the inter-relation of "bearing" and "forgiving" was understood.  Joseph's
brethren say: "Forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy fathers" (Gen. 50: 17),
using the word nasa ("to bear").
With the addition of the word "face" the meaning of the word extends further and
becomes "acceptance", as in Gen. 19: 21: "I have accepted thee concerning this thing."
We are not left in doubt as to what "bearing iniquity" involved.
"Lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore" (Lev. 22: 9).
Forgiveness, therefore, as this word testifies, while an act of grace and mercy, has a
righteous basis: "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." And so we read of the
Lord Jesus:--
"He hath poured out His soul unto death . . . . . He bare the sin of many, and made
intercession for the transgressors" (Isa. 53: 12).
The next word we consider is kaphar, which is more frequently translated "to make an
atonement" than in any other way. In a previous article in this series we have examined
this word, and found that it meant, "the covering of sin by cancellation", and hence, when
it is translated "forgive", it approaches very near to the idea of nasa. Forgiven sin is
borne sin, borne it is true by another, but lifted up from the sinner and carried by the
Saviour: "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree" (I Pet. 2: 24). So
forgiven sin has been "covered". Not "covered up" as some have said, but "covered" in
the sense that its liabilities have been met and discharged.
Jeremiah uses an expression with kaphar that makes the figure more vivid: "Forgive
not their iniquity, neither blot out their sins from Thy sight" (Jer. 18: 23). That is
scriptural "covering" of sin--"blotted out from God's sight", and he would be
presumptious who would say thereafter that O.T. atonement or "covering" was a "mere
covering" of sin.
The Psalmist said:--
"But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not;
yea, many a time turned He His anger away" (Psa. 78: 38).