Forgiven in the Old Testament

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Were People Forgiven in the Old Testament? 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 18, In the year of our Lord, 2013



  1. Years ago, I visited a congregation where I used to preach. 
    1. The new preacher there at the time,
    2. confronted me in the parking lot,
      1. wanting to know who gave the congregation the idea
      2. that people in the Old Testament were forgiven.
        1. Then he asked me if I believed people in the Old Testament were forgiven.
        2. I said, Yes.
          1. He wagged his head in disgust and
          2. walked away without hearing anything else from me.
  2. What do you believe? 
    1. Do you believe people in the Old Testament were forgiven of their sins?
    2. If you believe they were not forgiven, have you considered the implications?


  1. If God Did Not Forgive the Sins of Old Testament Saints 
    1. Did God lie to people to whom He indicated that He had forgiven them?
    2. If God did not forgive them, did they enter heaven with sin?
    3. God clearly indicated He did forgive their sins:
      1. Exo 34.6–7
      2. Lev 4.20, 26 (similar passages appear throughout Leviticus)
      3. Num 14.19
      4. Num 15.25
      5. 2Sa 12.13
      6. Psa 32.5
      7. Psa 103.1–3
      8. Isa 38.17
      9. Mic 7.19
      10. And many, many others!
  2. Why do some people believe Old Testament people were not forgiven? 
    1. A false interpretation of Hebrews 10.1–4.
    2. What does this passage teach and not teach?
      1. It teaches a reminder of annual sins, but not sins of a lifetime.
      2. Their sins were forgiven, but not based on the blood of animals.
      3. Their sins were forgiven, but there was an annual reminder of them.
  3. If God forgave the sins of Old Testament people, how or why did He do that before Jesus died on the cross? 
    1. The blood of Jesus makes forgiveness of sins possible, that is,
      1. when a person complies with God’s will,
      2. He forgives that person’s sins based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
    2. How could the people previous to Jesus be forgiven based on His blood?
      1. Hebrews 9.15
      2. The blood flowed both directions,
        1. for the people after the cross, and
        2. for the people before the cross.
          1. In other words, God knew what He would do in Christ, and
          2. based on that yet to be event,
            1. He forgave people.
            2. He did not deceive them,
            3. telling them they were forgiven when in fact they were not.