Forgive us our debts
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (Leviticus 17:11). What a mystical verse! Much is spoken about blood atonement in Scriptures. We are even told of the voice of the blood of Mashiach speaking a better word than that of the blood of martyred Abel’s crying to God from the ground (Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24).
Much has been lost in our understanding of Scriptures, some due to translations (which can never be perfect), but mostly due to our failure to acknowledge the Semitic culture of their linguistic dynamics. The issue we have here is with the word ‘atonement’. The word ‘atonement’ is very important in the Sacred Texts. It’s what they are all about, so we surely must make an effort to understand this word properly according to its own cultural context, values, and merits.
The origins of the word ‘atonement’ is the Hebrew root word ‘kaphar’ from which we derive the words ‘lid’, ‘cover’, and ‘covering’. The word ‘kapporeth’ for the golden lid of the Ark covered by the wings of the cherubs and called in English ‘mercy seat’ has the same etymological root (Exodus 25:17). ‘Kippur; for 'Yom Kippur' or the 'Day of Atonement' (Leviticus 23:27) is also a derivatives of ‘kaphar’. What does 'kaphar' mean then? A way to explain the use of this word is by of analogy with a credit card . Let’s say that like many of us, you have contracted a very large balance on your credit card and you are unable to pay it. You risk losing your credit, even losing your car, or your house, until a generous soul comes around and say, don’t worry; I’ll ‘cover’ your credit card balance; (wouldn't that be nice!).
It is not that the balance never existed or that it has been deleted from the records, it is only that it has been covered. The credit card company then doesn’t look anymore at your failure to pay your debts (which is a biblical command), but at the covering that expunged it. Even Matthew quotes the Master on the forgiveness of sin using financial terminology, he says, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:12).
Indeed, because of sin, we have a bad credit rating; we have even lost all credit in the sight of the Father. He is ready the yank the rug from under us but Someone comes to the rescue and covers the balance of our sins. It is not like we never sinned, but all the Father sees now is the covered balance by Yeshua. King David related to this principle as a shield. Here are a few of his statements, But you, O Adonai, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. For you bless the righteous, O Adonai; you cover him with favor as with a shield. My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart (Psalms 3:3; 5:12; 7:10).
As Ruth by kinsman redeemer Boaz, may you be ‘covered’ (atoned) under the ‘wings’ of Yeshua the Messiah (Ruth 3:9).