And if a person sins unintentionally … the priest shall make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before the Lord, to make atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. (Numbers 15:27-28)
This verse is among several which acknowledges that we, as His people, will commit sins in ignorance as opposed to willful defiance. Things like the sin of the Golden Calf are willful and deliberate but, at other times, we do things wrong not realizing it is breaking one of His laws. Not only are we ignorant of its illegality but are probably not aware that it can have a negative effect on the entire community. In such a case, certain sacrifices and offerings could be presented whereby the whole community would be forgiven.
As believers in Messiah, it is sometimes difficult for us to relate to this concept but consider this statement — “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Recall the circumstances that prompted this statement: Messiah was hanging on a tree between two thieves, placed there willfully by those who hated Him. Yet, His prayer suggests that they did this not truly realizing what they were doing. Moreover, Paul raises the point that if the leaders of this world had realized what they were doing, they would not have “crucified the LORD of Glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8). In short, their sin was, to some degree at least, one of ignorance.
Maybe that is hard for us to comprehend but we must also consider this: He prayed that the Father would not hold them liable for what they did. If they were doing it in ignorance, then if effect, He became the national sacrifice offered unto the LORD for the sin committed in ignorance. Not only that but, if the Son prayed for the Father to forgive, should we think that the Father ignored that prayer? Or do we believe He honored it and forgave them? If His sacrifice is powerful enough to reach unto our day and relieve us of the guilt of our sin, can we say that it was not powerful enough to forgive that generation of theirs? And so, let us close with this thought: there truly is power in the Blood of the Lamb.
Blessings and Shalom,