Genesis 42 by Robert Dean
Series:Genesis (2003)
Duration:59 mins 29 secs

Confession in the OT. Genesis 42


1 John 2:2 NASB "and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…" and there we have the preposition PERI [peri] which is a substitutionary preposition; it is a real substitution. He satisfied the righteousness and justice of God for everybody "…and not for ours only, but also for {those of} the whole world." It is a universal propitiation. God's justice is satisfied by Jesus Christ's death for everyone. That means the price for sin, even post-salvation, sin is paid for.


What is interesting is that the verse that comes right before that is one where John says, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin." The point is, just because you confess your sin and get forgiveness doesn't mean it is okay to sin. There is a place in the Christian life where we are supposed to deal with sin, not in terms of confession but in terms of not making those choices so that we can stay in fellowship, abide in Christ, continue walking by the Spirit, and grow. The problem that some people have is that they think all they need to do is confess, confess, confess; and there have been some who have reacted to that and come up with false solutions. John's solution is, if you do sin (you ought not) "…we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." God is a realist. He recognizes that we are going to sin because we still have the sin nature, and He has provided a grace solution. He is not sinking at sin; he is not minimizing the sin; He is not condoning the sin, but He has provided a recovery solution, the confession of sin: the admission or acknowledgment of wrongdoing. It is not just listing the sins, it is a personal admission of wrongdoing.


Leviticus 5:5 NASB "So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess [yadah] that in which he has sinned." The previous verses in the chapter give a list of legal infractions. If one of them was committed then that person had to go and have ceremonial cleansing, bring a guilt offering into the temple, sacrifice it, and confess what he had done. Notice that touching an unclean thing was not a sin, it was a ceremonial violation. What God is showing here is that when you touched something dead (death comes from sin) God is reminding that anything involved with sin separates from God. This is why when a woman gave birth, seven days later she had to go and bring a sacrifice in the temple for cleansing. It is was not a sin to give birth but pain was multiplied in childbirth, so anything associated with the curse of sin was a basis for these ceremonial distinctions and there had to be ceremonial cleansing. Notice there is no mention of repentance or remorse.


The result of confession: Leviticus 5:13 NASB "So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin which he has committed from one of these, and it will be forgiven him; then {the rest} shall become the priest's, like the grain offering." That word for sin has to do with violating the law but if the requisite guilt offering was brought then it would be forgiven.


The next to look at has to do with the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 16:21 NASB "Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send {it} away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who {stands} in readiness." Aaron had to choose two goats, one of which would be for the Lord and would be killed, and the other one would be a scapegoat. This is the greatest picture that we have in the Old Testament of what confession is. The other offerings are related to salvation but the scapegoat offering has to do with confession. He has already done this in the offering that was for the Lord, v. 18. The sins were put on that goat which was then sacrificed, and that is a picture of the payment price for that sin. Then in verse 21 with the other goat, the sins are named, he admits, confesses all the sains of Israel for the past year, and then he takes that goat, takes it out into the wilderness and lets it go. The picture is that once you confess your sins God separates those sins from you as far as the east is from the west, and they are completely forgotten and removed; they are no longer an issue. The goat bears the sin as a substitute for the nation, but how does confession operate here? There is no sack cloth and ashes, no mourning, no grieving, no wailing, no emotion, no remorse, no repentance; there is simply the admission of guilt. The sins are put on the goat which is led out into the wilderness and the sin is gone. This lays the foundation for understanding and forgiveness in the Mosaic law and for the Old Testament. Everything else that we face from this point on has to take into account that this particular sacrifice on the Day of Atonement pictures what happens at confession.


Numbers 5:7 NASB "then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong and add to it one-fifth of it, and give {it} to him whom he has wronged." This has to do with sin against another person, that when you offend someone, do something against them, then the individual who has committed the sin shall confess that sin. Note that there is no mention here that he has to feel sorry about the fact that he did the sin. He just admits that he did it, and he has to make restitution. That indicates two separate acts. One is the admission and one is something consequent to that, making the restitution. They are not identical. The confession is not incomplete without the restitution. Fulfilling the law would be incomplete, but there are two separate acts. One is the confession, the second is the restitution. He is not going to fulfil the law unless he does both of those things, but they are not the same thing. Restitution isn't part of the confession, it is a separate act.


Leviticus 26 is a crucial passage. There are several prayers of confession later on in the Old Testament but they are grounded on this passage in Leviticus 26, the chapter where we find the five stages or cycles of discipline, ending with the most severe case where the Jews would be taken out of the land promised them because they were not worthy to stay there. They would be blessed in the land if they were obedient; if they disobeyed they would be dispersed. In verse 40 we have the resolution.

Leviticus 26:40-42 NASB "If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me—I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land." Note: There is no "if," no conditional particle in the Hebrew. There is no temporal particle in the Hebrew. This is a statement of future fact using the future imperfect tense in the Hebrew. Verse 40 starts with the waw consecutive, which is the conjunction "and." It is to be translated, "And they shall confess"—it is a clear statement of fact that when the Lord takes them out of the land and they have gone through all of this discipline they will confess. It is prophetic, a definite statement that in the future they will confess—" their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers…"—Daniel is going to read this and will confess the sins of the nation in Daniel 9 and he uses the same verbiage, recognizing that God is the enemy of Israel in their carnality—"then at last shall their obdurate heart humble itself and they shall make restitution…" That is exactly what happened. When Israel went out under the fifth cycle of discipline they had to make restitution for those seventy sabbatical years they had violated. There is a definite promise there that they will confess their iniquity. Notice there is no mention of remorse there, or repentance; it is simply the admission of guilt if you take the word at its core value.

What we will see is that when we get to Daniel chapter nine, and when we look at Ezra chapter ten, where we have these two prayers of confession in the Old Testament, they are very grieved. They put on sackcloth and ashes and they wailed because the Jews are very demonstrative people, it hurt them to get kicked out of Jerusalem and they are mourning the fact that they disobeyed God and lost the land. It is extremely emotional. The point is that it is not wrong for them to be emotional, what is wrong is when emotion is thought to impress God. Emotion is not what brings about the forgiveness. Emotion may or may not be there but it is not what is efficacious. What is efficacious is confessing the sin, and that is what is stated in Leviticus 26:40-42.

If we want to understand what confession prayer is then let's see how a confession prayer is made in Scripture. Is this a prayer of repentance in the sense that we are never going to do this [the sin] again?  Is this a prayer where there is a lot of remorse in order to impress God with the genuineness and sincerity of the confession? There is remorse there but it is not to impress God with the genuineness of the confession. As we look at Daniel 9, Daniel is aware of the prophecy in Jeremiah 25:11, 12 that God is going to discipline the nation for a period of seventy years. He realizes that time is about up because he knows the chronology.

Daniel 9:1, 2 NASB "In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was {revealed as} the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, {namely,} seventy years."

Daniel 9:3 NASB "So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek {Him by} prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes." The whole thing with sackcloth and ashes was that it was a sign of mourning. When they were sorrowful and grieving this is how the Jews culturally expressed it. They were demonstrating what was going on in their souls, the sorrow that was there and the grief.

Daniel 9:4 NASB "prayed to the LORD my God and confessed [yadah] and said, "Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments…" So this is confession to God and he is immediately going back to the covenants. This prayer is totally based on Leviticus 26. "… we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances." That is the confession. He is stating exactly what Israel did in terms of violating the covenant.

Daniel 9:6-8, 11-13 NASB "Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, our princes, our fathers and all the people of the land. "Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day--to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You…. "Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done {anything} like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth."

Note verse 13 "…yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth." The word "turn" is the Hebrew word shub, which is sometimes translated "repent." In the Greek Septuagint it was EPISTREPHO [e)pistrefw] which means you are going in one direction and turn in another direction. But this is separate from the confession. The confession had to be made but then they also had to turn from their ways of wrongdoing. If they confessed there would be a restoration of fellowship but there would not be a return to the land unless they quit doing what they were doing which was wrong. They had to move from being disobedient to being obedient, otherwise God is not going to take them back into the land. That is the point: confession simply restores that relationship with our Father. That is not a growth issue; that is a relational issue. Repentance has to do with changing our behaviour so that we are growing in the Christian life. It doesn't just happen. God the Holy Spirit doesn't just zap you; you walk by the Spirit but He doesn't take over your volition, He doesn't make the decisions for you. We have to make decisions to apply the Word and not do the things that we want to do, but we do that in the power of God the Holy Spirit.

Daniel's confession is the admission of their wrongdoing. Then he calls upon God to treat them in grace. There is not mention of repentance in the sense that I need to repent in order to get forgiven. Confession is what brought about the forgiveness; repentance had to do with the fact that they are not going to get the blessing unless they are obedient.