Eat This ‘Roll Forward’

Maybe you’ve heard it taught before – the doctrine that all of the sins of Israel were not forgiven by God; but “rolled forward” to the cross.

Where did that teaching come from?

As nearly as I can tell, it didn’t come from scripture. I can’t find the term “roll forward” or “rolled forward” in the Bible at all.

I think the closest you’ll come to it is Hebrews 10:3-4:

But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

And as for the part of the teaching that says the sins of the people of Israel were not forgiven … well, I have a problem with that because scripture has a problem with it.

In Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31 and 35; 5:10, 16, 18, and Numbers 15:25-28. Unintentional and accidental sins could be forgiven. Sins that weren’t understood to be sins could be forgiven.

And in Leviticus 6:7 and 19:22. Sins that restitution was made for could be forgiven.

And in Numbers 14:19-20. Some sins prayed about by the leader of the people could be – and were – forgiven.

And in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Isaiah 33:15-24, God promised forgiveness for sins when penitence was shown.

And in Psalm 51:1-9, and 130:4; and Isaiah 43:25; and Micah 7:18, where God’s forgiving nature is recognized and praised.

How is that possible, if Hebrews 10:3-4 is true?

Because of the context of those verses – the surrounding chapter, Hebrews 10.

Only the blood of Christ – His sacrifice; His death; His burial; His resurrection – can bring about forgiveness of sins.

So one can only conclude that the power of His blood is as potent when “rolled back” through time all the way to Eden as it is “rolled forward” through time to its end. One can only determine that the blood of bulls and goats was powerless to do anything – except to serve as an “annual reminder of sins” – including any presumed “rolling forward” of sins from one era to another. God had no delight in it.

Now I realize that this is an inconvenient fact – a bitter-in-the-stomach roll – for those who would completely separate the Old Covenant from the New, and who maintain that there was a different kind of God in the Old Testament from the kind of God we find in the New, and who insist that what we do now in obedience is the only way anyone can or ever could achieve forgiveness.

Well, too-bad-and-have-a-Pepto-Bismol. Nobody achieves God’s forgiveness. Not by righteous acts of obedience, whether animal sacrifice or penitence or confession or even baptism. Nothing we can do, apart from the power of the blood of Christ, can save us or anyone who has ever lived. We accept that by obedience, just as those long before us accepted God’s grace and forgiveness by obedience. It’s not like any of us has done any heavy lifting in removing that burden – not even accepting relief from it by living lives of gratitude for the atonement that was made.

It isn’t our obedience that saves us. It’s His. We just have to accept that.

Christ Himself made the sacrifice. Only He could. Only He did.

That’s just the kind of God He is.

And He does not change:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

So I don’t think we have to worry about the eternal destiny of those under the Old Covenant. Guilt was never “rolled forward.”

Forgiveness “rolled back.”

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2 thoughts on “Eat This ‘Roll Forward’

  1. Great post. That idea of “rolling forward” those OT-era sins never set well with me. I was never comfortable with the idea that OT “forgiveness” was not forgiveness at all. More recently, I’ve heard some hybrid of the sins-rolled-forward and forgiveness-rolled-back idea. But nothing put quite so plainly as this. Thanks….

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