Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 26 ¶10-17 (30 min.)
“The sins of you people . . . will be made white just like snow”
10. When Jehovah forgives our sins, why should we not feel that we bear the stain of such sins for the rest of our life?
10 Have you ever tried to remove a stain from a light-colored garment? Perhaps despite your best efforts, the stain remained visible. Notice how Jehovah describes his capacity for forgiveness: “Though the sins of you people should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow; though they should be red like crimson cloth, they will become even like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) The word “scarlet” denotes a bright red color. “Crimson” was one of the deep colors of dyed material. (Nahum 2:3) We can never through our own efforts remove the stain of sin. But Jehovah can take sins that are like scarlet and crimson and make them white like snow or undyed wool. When Jehovah forgives our sins, we need not feel that we bear the stain of such sins for the rest of our life.
Isaiah 1:18 “Come, now, and let us set matters straight between us,” says Jehovah. “Though your sins are like scarlet,They will be made as white as snow;Though they are as red as crimson cloth,They will become like wool.
Nahum 2:3 3 The shields of his mighty men are dyed red,His warriors are dressed in crimson. The iron fittings of his war chariots flash like fireIn the day he prepares for battle,And the juniper spears are brandished.
11. In what sense does Jehovah throw our sins behind his back?
11 In a moving song of gratitude that Hezekiah composed after he was spared from a deadly sickness, he said to Jehovah: “You have thrown behind your back all my sins.” (Isaiah 38:17) Jehovah is here portrayed as taking the sins of a repentant wrongdoer and throwing them behind Him where He neither sees them nor takes notice of them anymore. According to one source, the idea conveyed may be expressed: “You have made [my sins] as if they had not happened.” Is that not reassuring?
Isaiah 38:17 Look! Instead of peace, I had great bitterness;But in your fondness for me,You preserved me from the pit of destruction. You have thrown all my sins behind your back.
12. How does the prophet Micah indicate that when Jehovah forgives, He removes our sins permanently?
12 In a promise of restoration, the prophet Micah expressed his conviction that Jehovah would forgive his repentant people: “Who is a God like you, . . . passing over transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? . . . And you will throw into the depths of the sea all their sins.” (Micah 7:18, 19) Imagine what those words meant to those living in Bible times. Was there any chance of retrieving something that had been hurled “into the depths of the sea”? Micah’s words thus indicate that when Jehovah forgives, he removes our sins permanently.
Micah 7:18, 19 Who is a God like you,Pardoning error and passing over the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? He will not hold onto his anger forever,For he delights in loyal love. 19 He will again show us mercy; he will conquer our errors. You will throw all their sins into the depths of the sea.
13. What is the meaning of Jesus’ words “Forgive us our debts”?
13 Jesus drew on the relationship between creditors and debtors to illustrate Jehovah’s forgiveness. Jesus urged us to pray: “Forgive us our debts.” (Matthew 6:12) Jesus thus likened sins to debts. (Luke 11:4) When we sin, we become “debtors” to Jehovah. Regarding the meaning of the Greek verb translated “forgive,” one reference work says: “To let go, give up, a debt, by not demanding it.” In a sense, when Jehovah forgives, he cancels the debt that would otherwise be charged against our account. Repentant sinners can thus take comfort. Jehovah will never demand payment for a debt he has canceled!—Psalm 32:1, 2.
Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is in debt to us; and do not bring us into temptation.’”
Psalm 32:1, 2 Happy is the one whose transgression is pardoned, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy is the man whom Jehovah does not charge with guilt,In whose spirit there is no deceit.
14. The phrase “get your sins blotted out” evokes what mental image?
14 Jehovah’s forgiveness is further described at Acts 3:19: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out.” That last phrase translates a Greek verb that can mean “to wipe out, . . . cancel or destroy.” According to some scholars, the image expressed is that of erasing handwriting. How was this possible? The ink commonly used in ancient times was made of a mixture that included carbon, gum, and water. Soon after working with such ink, a person could take a wet sponge and wipe the writing away. Therein is a beautiful picture of Jehovah’s mercy. When he forgives our sins, it is as though he takes a sponge and wipes them away.
Acts 3:19 “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, so that seasons of refreshing may come from Jehovah himself
Jehovah wants us to know that he is “ready to forgive”
15. What does Jehovah want us to know about him?
15 When we reflect on these varied word pictures, is it not clear that Jehovah wants us to know that he is truly ready to forgive our sins as long as he finds us sincerely repentant? We need not fear that he will hold such sins against us in the future. This is shown by something else that the Bible reveals about Jehovah’s great mercy: When he forgives, he forgets.
“Their Sin I Shall Remember No More”
16, 17. When the Bible says that Jehovah forgets our sins, what does it mean, and why do you so answer?
16 Jehovah promised regarding those in the new covenant: “I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34) Does this mean that when Jehovah forgives he is unable to recall sins anymore? That could hardly be the case. The Bible tells us of the sins of many individuals whom Jehovah forgave, including David. (2 Samuel 11:1-17; 12:13) Jehovah is obviously still aware of the errors they committed. The record of their sins, as well as that of their repentance and forgiveness by God, has been preserved for our benefit. (Romans 15:4) What, then, does the Bible mean when it says that Jehovah does not “remember” the sins of those whom he forgives?
Jeremiah 31:34 “And they will no longer teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know Jehovah!’ for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them,” declares Jehovah. “For I will forgive their error, and I will no longer remember their sin.”
2 Samuel 11:1-17 At the start of the year, at the time when kings go on campaigns, David sent Joʹab and his servants and the entire army of Israel to bring the Amʹmon•ites to ruin, and they besieged Rabʹbah, while David stayed in Jerusalem. 2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the rooftop of the king’s house. From the rooftop he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful. 3 David sent someone to inquire about the woman, and he reported: “Is this not Bath-sheʹba the daughter of E•liʹam and the wife of U•riʹah the Hitʹtite?” 4 Then David sent messengers to bring her. So she came in to him, and he lay down with her. (This happened while she was purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Afterward, she returned to her house. 5 The woman became pregnant, and she sent a message to David: “I am pregnant.” 6 At this David sent a message to Joʹab: “Send to me U•riʹah the Hitʹtite.” So Joʹab sent U•riʹah to David. 7 When U•riʹah came to him, David asked him how Joʹab was getting along, how the troops were getting along, and how the war was going. 8 David then said to U•riʹah: “Go down to your house and relax.” When U•riʹah left the king’s house, the king’s courtesy gift was sent after him. 9 However, U•riʹah slept at the entrance of the king’s house with all the other servants of his lord, and he did not go down to his own house. 10 So David was told: “U•riʹah did not go down to his own house.” At that David said to U•riʹah: “Have you not just returned from a journey? Why did you not go down to your own house?” 11 U•riʹah replied to David: “The Ark and Israel and Judah are dwelling in temporary shelters, and my lord Joʹab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field. So should I go into my own house to eat and drink and lie down with my wife? As surely as you live and are alive, I will not do this thing!” 12 Then David said to U•riʹah: “Stay here also today, and tomorrow I will send you away.” So U•riʹah stayed in Jerusalem on that day and the following day. 13 David then sent for him to come and eat and drink with him, and he got him drunk. But in the evening, he went out to sleep on his bed with the servants of his lord, and he did not go down to his house. 14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joʹab and sent it by the hand of U•riʹah. 15 He wrote in the letter: “Put U•riʹah in the front lines where the fighting is fiercest. Then retreat from behind him, so that he will be struck down and die.” 16 Joʹab had been carefully watching the city, and he stationed U•riʹah where he knew there were mighty warriors. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joʹab, some of David’s servants fell, and U•riʹah the Hitʹtite was among those who died.
2 Samuel 12:13 David then said to Nathan: “I have sinned against Jehovah.” Nathan replied to David: “Jehovah, in turn, forgives your sin. You will not die.
Romans 15:4 For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.
17 The Hebrew verb rendered “I shall remember” implies more than simply to recall the past. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament notes that it includes “the additional implication of taking appropriate action.” So in this sense, to “remember” sin involves taking action against sinners. (Hosea 9:9) But when God says “their sin I shall remember no more,” he is assuring us that once he forgives repentant sinners, he will not at some future time act against them because of those sins. (Ezekiel 18:21, 22) Jehovah thus forgets in the sense that he does not bring our sins up again and again in order to accuse or punish us over and over. Is it not comforting to know that our God forgives and forgets?
Hosea 9:9 9 They have sunk deep into ruin, as in the days of Gibʹe•ah. He will remember their error and punish their sins.
Ezekiel 18:21, 22 “‘Now if someone wicked turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps my statutes and does what is just and righteous, he will surely keep living. He will not die. 22 None of the transgressions that he has committed will be held against him. He will keep living for doing what is righteous.’
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