Atonement and Freedom - RR172C6

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Atonement and Freedom
Course: Course - Leviticus; The Law of Holiness and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 6
Length: 0:41:53
TapeCode: RR172C6
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Leviticus The Law of Holiness and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let's worship God.

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made Heaven and earth. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him. He also will hear their cry and will save them. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, saith the Lord Jesus, there am I in the midst of them. Let us pray.

Oh, Lord, our God, unto whom vengeance belongeth, we come unto Thee in a world where many lords claim dominion over Thy Church and Thy kingdom; where the ungodly nations rage and take counsel together against Thee and against Thine anointed, seeking to destroy Thy Law forever. Oh Lord, our God, give us in the face of these the ungodly ones, Thy heavenly laughter. For Thou doest sit in the circle of the heavens doth laugh and Thou does have them in derision; and in due time, Thou shalt smite them. Give us grace, faith, and courage that we may stand in the days ahead that we may be more than conquerors through Christ our Lord. In His name we pray, amen. [00:01:59]

Our scripture is Leviticus ...

Our scripture is Leviticus 5. Leviticus 5. Our subject: atonement, confession, restitution and freedom. Leviticus 5:

"1And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.

2or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcass of an unclean beast, or a carcass of unclean cattle, or the carcass of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.

3or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty.

4or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these things.

5and it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:

6and he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.

7and if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.

8and he shall bring them unto the priest, who shall offer that which is for the sin offering first, and wring off his head from his neck, but shall not divide it asunder:

9and he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering.

10and he shall offer the second for a burnt offering, according to the manner: and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin which he hath sinned, and it shall be forgiven him.

11but if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put any frankincense thereon: for it is a sin offering.

12then shall he bring it to the priest, and the priest shall take his handful of it, even a memorial thereof, and burn it on the altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord: it is a sin offering.

13and the priest shall make an atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in one of these, and it shall be forgiven him: and the remnant shall be the priest's, as a meat offering.

14and the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

15if a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord; then he shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks, with thy estimation by shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering:

16and he shall make amends for the harm that he hath done in the holy thing, and shall add the fifth part thereto, and give it unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him.

17and if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

18and he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and wist it not, and it shall be forgiven him.

19it is a trespass offering: he hath certainly trespassed against the Lord." [00:06:34]

In this chapter, we have the laws concerning sin offerings

In this chapter, we have the laws concerning sin offerings. In the Bible, sin is not defined as going against our conscience or against the laws of the community, but against the laws of God. Sin is the transgression of the Law we are told in 1 John 3:4 –of God’s Law, whether it is done deliberately or not. As Lang said, “One of the plainest teachings of the sin offering is that everything opposed to the revealed will of God is sin, whether done with the purpose of transgressing it or not.” In verses 14-19, and chapter 6:1-7, we have the trespass offerings. These are all laws. But they are also, Calvin said, in some sense, sacraments. There is a promise of grace and mercy in their observance. And we would have to say whether or not they were sacraments, there is a sacramental character to them and to the administration of justice. Hence, when a man transgresses God’s Law then makes restitution; there is forgiveness and grace, so that the administration of justice is called a ministry in scripture. Because, while it is not a sacrament in the strict sense of the word, it is sacramental in character. Hence, when a man transgresses the law, he is putting himself beyond grace for the time. Where men are faithful from first to last, God’s grace and God’s blessings are on them and on their land.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 tell us this powerfully. In verse 1, we have the case of a man who is adjured to testify in a court of law, to testify to what he has seen. Perhaps in the course of testifying, he has a lapse of memory. Perhaps under fear and being a bit of, ah, nervous on the witness stand, he forgets key facts. He must therefore make restitution to God and to man. This also tells us what the Bible means when twice in the Ten Commandments we are given laws concerning witnessing. We are not to take the name of God in vain. That has primary reference to testimony in a court of law, and that we are not to bear false witness. The purpose of speech is to further God’s order, God’s truth, God’s justice, not to destroy it.

In verses 2 and 3, we have the accidental defilement for men or animals. We can eat forbidden foods not knowing that there is something forbidden in the food that someone is serving us. [00:10:39]

God’s law stresses physical and mental cleanness

God’s law stresses physical and mental cleanness. As God’s image-bearers, we are separated and holy. It is not an accident that when people are in rebellion against God, they also abandon physical and mental holiness, cleanliness. Certainly with the hippy movement there was an affinity for dirt in every sense of the word. In fact, bathing was ridiculed as a bourgeois habit.

Verse 4 deals with all idle oaths which are declared sinful. Speech must further communication, not confusion. Two of the three sins cited in verses 1 – 4 have to do with speech and with oaths. In all three instances, normally, the sinner alone knows that he has sinned. His duty, then, is restitution, not silence. His silence has social as well as personal consequences.

In verse 6, the sin offering is called also a trespass offering, so that the two kinds are virtually equated. The word used in fact for trespass means ‘guilty.’ The root of the word has to do with the idea of restitution and has close affinities to our English word ‘reparation.’ R.J. Thompson has commented on this fact, stating, “All that can certainly be said is that sins against the neighbor are more prominent in the Hassam, and those against God in the {?}. The Hassam therefore requires a monetary compensation in addition to the sacrifice. The value of the misappropriation plus a fifth is to be repaid to the wronged neighbor, or if he or his representatives is not available, to the priest. The sacrificial victim in the guilt offering, usually a ram, also becomes the priest’s, and after the regular blood and fat ritual, could be eaten by the priests as most holy. The same provision applies to the sin offerings of the ruler and the common man. But in these cases the blood is put on the horns of the altar. [00:13:34]

The trespass offering in verses ...

The trespass offering in verses 14-15 is concerning defrauding God. In verse 15, it deals with eating the first fruits with belongs to God, and also sheering the firstborn sheep accidentally. In Deuteronomy 15 and 19 we also have comments on this. God’s property rights in our possession cannot be violated by us. We are His and all that we have are His. The holy things of the Lord cannot be touched without guilt. As C.D. Ginsburg commented, the reference in verse 15 is to “inadvertently keeping back the things which belong to the sanctuary and to the service of the Lord, as for instance, the tithes, the first fruits, not consecrating or redeeming the first born.” Trespass offerings are thus concerned first with fraud toward God and second, fraud toward man. The ritual required is first the presentation of the sacrifice to the priest, then second restitution, plus an added fifth to the wronged party, and third, the priest offers the sacrifice to make atonement. This is the ritual as it deals with the offering to God. There is the other side, the human side—reparation or restitution. Since all sin is against God, however, the atonement is to Him.

In all bloody sacrifices, the worshiper identified himself with the animal, placing his hands upon it because it is his substitute. This was and aspect of the first fruits service also. There was a confession of God’s mercy and of his grace and we have this ritual and we read, “and the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God, and thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, a Syrian ready to perish was my father and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty and populous. So reads Deuteronomy 25:4, 6 [Deuteronomy 26:4, 5</audiopointer>, the preface to a long confession of God’s deliverance and salvation. [00:16:40]

In the bloody sacrifices, the emphasis was on the confession

In the bloody sacrifices, the emphasis was on the confession of sin. This was the origin of the confessional system. But it’s a sad fact that all branches of Christendom overlook this fact which was once well known. It tells us something of the narrow tunnel vision of the commentators that this fact is noted. They seem to feel that the distance between the Church and Israel is too great. For example, the Catholic Encyclopedia traces confession only to the New Testament and discusses it under the title of Penance, which is different. It describes it first as a virtue, second as a sacrament of the new law, third as a canonical punishment inflicted in line of the rules of the early Church, and fourth, a work of satisfaction enjoined upon the recipient of the sacrament. There is an element here of restitution of course, but it has drifted from the Old Testament moorings. The Protestant Dictionary of 1904 is largely Anglican and its main emphasis in discussing confession {?} is to deny the Catholic position. So its position however, is essentially negative. The writer of that article, M.E.W. Johnson, however, refers briefly and only in passing to the Old Testament and he recognizes its origins in Leviticus. “With regard to the question of divine command we do not fear to examine scripture.” (An odd statement by the way, ‘we do not fear to examine scripture.’) “In the Old Testament, Leviticus 5:5, 6 and Numbers 6 and 7 are quoted upon Rome’s side.” (Not on the side of truth, of course.) “But upon comparing these together it is clear that what is spoken of is public confession to the Lord, not private to a priest.” This is a sad fact. What concerned Johnson was the distance the Church of England practiced from Rome, not to understand what the Bible teaches from beginning to end. Johnson only mentions Leviticus because it specifically requires confession. He does not develop the implications of Leviticus for us today. [00:19:38]

McClintock and Strong, in discussing confession, and

McClintock and Strong, in discussing confession, and oracular confession, neglect the Law entirely, although under penance they cite some precedence in the synagogue—they’re the only ones to recognize that it had been an ancient practice. “Penance in the Christian church is an initiation of the discipline of the Jewish synagogue, or rather; it is a continuation of the same institution. Excommunication in a Christian church is essentially the same as expulsion from the synagogue of the Jews. And the penances of the offenders required for his restoration to his former condition were not materially different in the Jewish and Christian churches.” Thus there is a recognition that his was ancient practice, but an unwillingness to deal with the fact that this was taken over from Old Testament practice and continued.

There were variations in practice in the early church and in the synagogue. We won’t go into this. The sad fact is that both Catholics and Protestants have been more concerned with Church practice than God’s Law. There has been a greater faithfulness to the Biblical practice of confession, as well as greater abuses on the Catholic side. The Bible required that restitution and confession be tied together. A man could not make restitution without first confessing his sins. These were done in Leviticus in a public place, but not a public audience; they were done to God before the priest, plus restitution then to God and to man preceding it. [00:21:59]

The healing of man and society is a necessity in every

The healing of man and society is a necessity in every culture. Order has to be restored. The Bible from beginning to end speaks of confession and restitution. It is set forth as a religious requirement. And confession without the atonement preceding it and apart from restitution is meaningless. In Protestant circles where counseling, pastoral counseling and confession occurs, restitution is left out at least 99 out of 100 times. This reduces it to emptiness. It turns it in fact, into blasphemy.

We should remember that it was the church of our Lord’s day which crucified Christ. It is very easy to call attention to the many errors of the Scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees. But it is also important to remember that the religious leaders then included many men like Gamaliel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea. There is no reason not to believe that there were many men like them. We know that when Gamaliel made his argument in behalf of the apostles, he carried the day, which indicated that even on the Sanhedrin there were many such men. And yet, this was the Sanhedrin that not too long before had crucified Christ. What was wrong then? The greatest evil of this men was a misplaced emphasis. The gathering which planned the death of our Lord recognized this power. They said, John 11:47, “This man doeth many miracles.” However, Christ’s power was likely to create social disturbances, they said, which would arouse Rome’s anger; “and the Romans should come and take away both our place and nation.” Hence the decision made by the high priest that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not. [00:24:58]

Misplaced emphasis

Misplaced emphasis. All too commonly the church in our time equates the life of faith with the life of the church. However much such an equation may be desired by many, it is not a reality, nor can the life of faith be limited to the life of the church. Such a belief is an example of misplaced emphasis. There is no faith in the church unless it is manifest in the daily lives of people outside the church.

Atonement, confession and restitution this chapter tells us, are necessary to the life of any and every society. They provide deliverance from sin, death, and the past. The past is a necessary part of our lives. Unless the past becomes a corpse tied to our bodies that we drag around, we must have atonement. The past then is important in that it provides us with the tools for defining things with a direction. Definition is definition by the past—by past performance, past history and the like. Men are hired in terms of their references, a file on their past. Definition is very much thus an historical thing.

Dealing with the past at times can be amusing. Some years ago, I know a man who bought a ranch in a particular county that was known as the Old Wilson Ranch, because the Wilsons had owned that for a generation or two or more. When he bought it as a young man, it was known as the Old Wilson Ranch--all the years that he had it. He had only daughters, and none of his sons-in-law were interested in ranching, so finally, well up in his 70s coming, close to 80 with no sons or grandsons interested in ranching, he sold it. And he moved to the county seat. Now, to his disgust, the place came to be known as the Old Lang Ranch, after him. It was again defined in terms of the past, in terms of him, after he left it. [00:28:02]

Now, that is a trifling, but vivid example I think

Now, that is a trifling, but vivid example I think, of definition by the past. Whether we like it or not, the past frames our days in a multitude of forms, and all this may be good, it may be harmless, or it may be disastrous, as when generals fight new wars in terms of old and obsolete ways. Definition by the past is most deadly in a society with sin and without atonement. That is why scripture places so much attention and emphasis, and Leviticus is the book that does it, on atonement, confession, restitution and then freedom, so that the past becomes a blessing and strength, and not a dead corpse tied to us.

A culture which is simply the outcroppings of sin rather than of Christian faith will be past-bound rather than future-directed in terms of the strength of the past. A past-bound society sees no consequence and therefore stumbles into decay and death. Our problem today in Washington is that nobody learns anything from the past. It is past-bound, for the past is a body of death rather than knowledge, something to be learned from and to build upon. Peter summarizes the attitude of all such as being all things continue as they were from the beginning of the Creation. Peter says those who are sinners and are past-bound do not think things will ever change; they’ll go on being the same. Men then cannot visualize judgment. A past-bound society cannot cope with the present and the future because it is governed by its past. The past-bound persons and societies carry a sense of guilt or else a sense of self-pity if they believe life has been unfair to them. And this can overtake the greatest of men. This was part of Augustine’s problem in his old age. He was too wedded to Rome. {?} the presbyter viewed the fall of Rome more hopefully and powerfully. Lives and thoughts of past-bound people are often tied up with self-justification and they cannot confront the problems of the present. Scripture forbids long-term debt. There must be a release after six years. We are not allowed to be past-bound. We cannot limit our future by eating into it by debt. The standard, where possible should be no debt at all, but where necessary, short-term debts only. Paying off debts--that’s a form of confessions, so to speak, whereby you rid yourself of the burden of the past. [00:00:00]

And what have we substituted for the Biblical confession

And what have we substituted for the Biblical confession to God, Biblical standard of debt? Why, we’ve substituted psychotherapy. Psychotherapy was designed by Freud to replace the confessional system. But it is deadly because Freud said there is no true healing in psychotherapy, and it is a mistake, he said, to expect it. There is only understanding of what makes us tick. This means then, that psychotherapy has no social effects. There is no restitution. And as a result, when a rapist is sent to a rehabilitation center, he is only made to understand what makes him tick, not that what he has done is morally wrong. Should we be surprised that they are freed then only to continue with their evil?

To be debt-free, the Bible tells us thus is comparable to atonement, confession and restitution. It is a release from our past into the freedom to live in the present and the future. Since all these sacrifices required restitution, they were forms of restoring order and also freedom. Sin is declared by our Lord as slavery. “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (or slave) of sin.” Scripture identifies debt also as slavery. Thus, sin and debt are seen as leading to slavery and death, according to Proverbs 8:36, whereby atonement, confession, and restitution free us for life.

Churches by limiting the scope of scripture have failed to proclaim the fullness of our Gospel and the richness of our freedom in Christ. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. This freedom has relevance, implications, and impact in every area of life and thought. Let us pray. [00:34:33]

Oh, Lord our God, deliver us from the burden of the

Oh, Lord our God, deliver us from the burden of the past, and make it instead by Thy grace and mercy a strength to us. Grant that in the coming times already around us of judgment we learn thereby and learn therefrom and become more than conquerors through Christ, our Lord and our Savior. In His name we pray, amen.

Are there any questions?


[Audience] I think the fact that we’ve grown away from confession has practically destroyed our system of justice. Most criminals when they’re arrested want to confess. And when the court ruled that such confessions were not admissible evidence, that changed the whole thing around. The other point is that in courts, in criminal cases, the victims are not brought into the trial. The damage that they do, the damage that the guilty do is never connected to any individuals. It’s even listed as a damage against the State…

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] …not listed as damages against the victims. So the victims have no role in our system of justice beyond the fact that, ah, they’ve reported somebody did something to them. So here you have the negation of confession by official fiat and you have the elimination of the victim which eliminates, in effect, the principle of ‘what are you going to restore’ restitution. And the combination is choking people to death because I see ramifications all through our society. Nobody admits an error. Nobody admits a mistake…

[Rushdoony] mm-hm

[Audience] …I used to try to get a large company I was associated with to say in their annual report that, although we had certain successes in the course of a year, we also had certain difficulties, and that was always cut out. They would only give a report of the accomplishments and never of the tribulations, which of course, uh, gave people and gives people the idea that you function through automatic success. All you do is push a button. And that’s, that’s also part of the inability to confess reality. [00:37:26]

[Rushdoony] Every word of what you said, Otto, is exceedingl

[Rushdoony] Every word of what you said, Otto, is exceedingly important and totally right. The Bible does not permit conviction by confession, but it, ah, requires when a confession is made that there be an investigation to see if it is a true confession. And it feels that the criminal should confess for his own welfare.

Now, with all the hedges we’ve placed around confession it’s very difficult to use a confession in a case. It can be thrown out very readily by a defense attorney. And the results have been deadly for our system of justice. There are, ah, so many ways in which our justice system has been altered. One of the great legal revolutions of course, was precisely what you cited. When the old system whereby in any action it was, let us say Jane Doe vs. So-and-So the criminal, the person against whom the crime was committed in the name of God, prosecuting through the courts such-and-such a person. That recognized that the crime was against the person and against God. Now God and the person are left out. And we’ve had some case, for example, two or three that have been in the papers of late, whereby the State has settled a serious offense against individuals without even consulting the person, who did not want any surrender to the individual or any plea bargaining. So we’ve said it doesn’t matter what the person did to you.


[Audience] I have two things. First of all, I would add to Otto’s comments that although the corporations do not confess their wrongs to their shareholders, they confess them to the federal government in their income tax statements. You’ve got to read those K Forms; that’s where they’re making confessions. [laughter] Secondary, I wanted to ask, {?} the first few verses of Leviticus it states four offenses which are committed by an individual, supposedly unintentionally. Would you say that those offenses are considered equal before God because they require the exact same sacrifice in the following verses? [00:40:26]

[Rushdoony] Yes

[Rushdoony] Yes. Yes. God doesn’t allow our judgment of them to govern our assessment of them. His assessment must govern, so He says they are equal. The same sacrifice for them all.

Well, our time is just about up. Let us bow our heads now in prayer.

Oh Lord our God, Thy Word is truth. And Thy Word is life unto us. Grant that Thy Word again govern the hearts of men and the counsels of State, that we may again be a free people. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:41:27]

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