When we consider the world, we may be led to mistakenly believe that we can sin with impunity. However, sin without consequence does not exist. It may appear that ungodly people prosper more than the godly. They seem to be blessed in all areas of their lives, but if you look deeper, you will often find emptiness, heartache and depression. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be unique to unbelievers, we find the same pain amongst believers. This pain in both groups is eased with obsessions or addictions: work, ministry, prescription drugs, alcohol, co-dependent relationships, sex or thrills.
We said that sin without punishment does not exist, but we don’t always see this punishment. How are we to understand this? The form punishment takes on is not always what we may expect. Very often our sin will have consequences in the lives of our children. We may also live with the consequences of our parents’ or grandparents’ sin. Let’s look at some examples from scripture. David’s sin had consequences in the lives of his children. Solomon allowing his wives to participate in idolatry caused the dividing of the kingdom during his son’s reign, and Jeroboam leading the nation into idolatry resulted in exile.
The iniquity of the fathers
This is no mystery, YHVH tells us that the iniquity of the fathers will be visited on the children to the third and fourth generation.
18 ‘YHVH is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.’
YHVH will not “clear the guilty,” “naqah” in Hebrew, means he will not let the guilty go unpunished.
5927 נָקָה (nā·qā(h)): v.; ≡ Str 5352; TWOT 1412
1. LN 38.1–38.13
(qal) go unpunished, be pardoned, i.e., not receive a just punishment, implying pardon or innocence (Jer 49:12a+);
(nif) released, go unpunished (Pr 6:29);
(piel) leave unpunished (Ex 34:7; Nu 14:18; Job 10:14; Jer 30:11; 46:28; Na 1:3+); 3
“Iniquity” was translated from the Hebrew word “awon”
6411 עָוֹן (ʿā·wōn): n.masc.; ≡ Str 5771; TWOT 1577a
1. LN 88.289–88.318 sin, wickedness, iniquity, i.e., wrongdoing, with a focus of liability or guilt for this wrong incurred (Ex 34:7);
2. LN 88.289–88.318 guilt, i.e., a judicial state of being liable for a wrong done, and so receive a punishment or judicial sentence (1Sa 20:8);
3. LN 38.1–38.13 punishment, i.e., justly inflict pain or damage to an object as a consequence of the object’s state of guilt or liability (Ge 4:13; 19:15), note: for another interp in Hos 10:10 Q, see 6412; note: for NIV text in 2Sa 16:12, see 6715; note: for MT text in Ps 73:7; Zec 5:6 see 65243
Iniquity is liability or guilt, a judicial state of being liable for a wrong done. This liability attaches as a spiritual marker to our DNA and is transferred from generation to generation unless it is fulfilled or repented of. This can and has been proven through the study of epigenetics. Satan is a legalist and this marker gives him a right to afflict that individual and subsequent generations. This iniquity can take on various forms. It may manifest as either sin patterns within a family, or curses. The sin patterns can usually be identified as the three roots of the tree of idolatry: sexual iniquity, bloodshed or occultic involvement.
Usually, iniquity is incurred through idolatry. Idolatry is the tree and it has three roots: sexual immorality, occultic involvement and bloodshed. We read more about this in Romans 1.
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible Elohim for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore Elohim gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of Elohim for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Any form of idolatry will cause YHVH to give us over to the lusts of our hearts to impurity. Paul is speaking to Gentile believers here, believers who have fallen back to the lusts of their hearts. When we read further from verse 26 to 32, we see these roots listed. So, if we can identify sexual sin, occultic involvement or bloodshed in our family line, we know there has been idolatry practised and we need to repent of it on behalf of our forefathers. If we do not deal with this iniquity, it will be passed on to our children.
I was thinking of the life of David to test if this was true. We find Rahab who was a Canaanite in his genealogy. Canaanites practised idolatry. Could it be that this iniquity was passed on to her and Salmone’s line later causing David to be tempted in the area of sexual iniquity? I am not stating this as fact, but it could be.
The way we understand it is that when this marker is present in a person, that person can be tempted more in a certain area. He will have a choice to stand or to fall. However, in the case of a curse that was transferred, there is no choice. Did you know that the iniquity in your family line may be the cause of your child being molested or bullied? When this happens to your child, you may wonder why. It is because of this iniquity that was transferred to them. They didn’t cause or chose this.
The spiritual marker of iniquity remains in you if you do not repent of it and satan will lead you away from YHVH, causing brokenness, that can prevent you from having an intimate relationship with YHVH and other people as a result of this. YHVH allows this, for He is a just Elohim.
The point is no sin is without consequence. We may think we are getting away with it, but it is not so.
21 Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished, But the descendants of the righteous will be delivered.
Hope in Y’shua
According to this verse in Proverbs, there is hope, for the descendants of the righteous will be delivered. Through Y’shua, we and our descendants can be free from this bondage. Through the appointed time of Yom kippurim, we learn more about this.
YHVH gave His appointed times for a reason. These appointed times are prophetic pictures of His plan of redemption. Every appointed time teaches us about a facet of YHVH’s plan of redemption. It is a plan within a greater plan. To each of us as individuals, on a micro level, it shows us our journey of deliverance, sanctification and restoration. Passover pictures our deliverance from the slavery of sin, The feast of unleavened bread, our need for sanctification, First fruits shows us our hope of eternal life. Y’shua was the first fruit of the dead. Shavuot pictures our journey of sanctification: learning, studying YHVH’s word and His guidance through His Spirit. Yom T’ruah is a picture of YHVH calling us to Him, to have a closer relationship with Him. Yom Kippurim pictures atonement and freedom from iniquity, but also of judgment. Sukkot is a picture of restoration, oneness with YHVH.
On a macro level, it is His entire plan of redemption for all. His nation, but also those who choose to add themselves to His people. We have written more about this here. It pictures His first and second coming, His judgement and restoration.
Let’s look in more detail at Yom Kippurim.
Yom Kippurim, atonement for iniquity
When we read the book of Leviticus from the beginning, we find detailed instructions regarding the sacrifices YHVH required. The tabernacle was just finished and Aaron and his sons were consecrated as priests. This took seven days, and on the 8th day, more sacrifices were brought and the glory of YHVH appeared to the people, fire came from before YHVH and the burnt offerings were consumed. Everybody must have been in awe. Nadab and Abihu, no less, I am sure. However, instead of holding to YHVH’s instructions, they brought strange fire before YHVH and were consumed.
Just after their death, YHVH prohibited Aaron and his sons from drinking wine or strong drink when they come into the tent of meeting, so they would not die. YHVH also gave detailed instructions regarding what is considered clean and unclean and more detail regarding coming into His presence.
1 Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of YHVH and died. 2 YHVH said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.
These instructions culminate in the commandments for the Day of Atonement. Two goats were chosen. One was offered as a sin offering and on the other, the iniquities of the people were placed and it was sent into the wilderness.
Leviticus 16:7–107 “He shall take the two goats and present them before YHVH at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8 “Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for YHVH and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 “Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for YHVH fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 “But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before YHVH, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.
Two things stand out here, the goat to be sent into the wilderness as a scapegoat was selected by lot and the iniquities of the people were placed on this goat before he was taken into the wilderness by a man who stood in readiness.
20 “When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. 21 “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. 22 “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
Aaron laid 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. The word translated as “iniquity” is “awon” in Hebrew. This is the same word that is used in Numbers 14:18, we quoted earlier regarding the iniquity of the fathers.
Let us look further into the purpose of the goat of Azazel.
The goat of Azazel
One of the biggest mysteries of the Yom Kippurim service is the goat for Azazel. Let’s look again at what was commanded.
7 “He shall take the two goats and present them before YHVH at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 8“Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for YHVH and the other lot for Azazel (or goat of removal or scapegoat). 9 “Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for YHVH fell, and make it a sin offering. 10“But the goat on which the lot for Azazel fell shall be presented alive before YHVH, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as Azazel (or the scapegoat).
21 “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. 22 “The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
“The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp.
We have two identical goats being used in the service of Yom Kippurim. The High Priest decides the fate of each of the two goats by casting the lot. One of these goats will become a sin offering before YHVH. The other goat will take the iniquities of the people to a solitary land, the wilderness. In these Scriptures, there is no instruction for the second goat to be killed, but during the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, this goat was thrown off a cliff to ensure that it does not return with the iniquities of the people.
What is the purpose and significance of all of this?
The answer to this lies in the concept of ‘holy space.’ According to the Scriptures, we see clearly that YHVH distinguishes between holy (set apart) and unholy (common) space2. YHVH will only dwell in holy space, He will not dwell in unholy space. We see this confirmed in the instructions that YHVH gave during the exodus from Egypt. YHVH was very clear in His instructions as to how the camp was to be kept holy. There were specific rules governing the sanitary aspects and also where the sin offerings were to be burnt.
12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14 “Since YHVH your Elohim walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.
“But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.
From these verses, we see that YHVH saw the camp as a place where He walks. Thus the camp had to be holy if they wanted YHVH to walk in the midst of them and protect them from their enemies. While they were within the camp and the camp was being kept holy, they were being protected by YHVH. In our investigation of the Essenes (Who were the Essenes?) we had noted their high standards of purity that applied to the camp, including Jerusalem. They saw Jerusalem as the ‘holy space ‘ where YHVH dwelt and did not allow any toilets or mikveh to be built inside the city. It was specifically the verse in Deuteronomy that made them build their toilets outside the gate to the city.
Outside the camp was the place where the demons and other gods ruled. Outside the camp is the defiled land. As in this article of ours, it is clear that there reside unclean spirits in defiled land. In this verse in Zechariah, it is evident that there exists a correlation between a land (space), the idols and the unclean spirits that reside there.
2 “It will come about in that day,” declares YHVH of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will no longer be remembered; and I will also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land.
We know that the people of Israel still offered to these idols during the exodus. We learn this from the prophet Amos.
25 “Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? 26 “You also carried along Sikkuth your king and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves. 27 “Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus,” says YHVH, whose name is Elohim of hosts.
Stephen also referred to these verses from the Septuagint as part of his defence as it is recorded in Acts 7:42-43. This implies that the Israelites were trying to serve other gods at the same time. They worshipped YHVH the way He wanted to be worshipped in the camp, and then also found ways to keep the idols happy.
This allows us to look at the goat for Azazel in a different way.
What we see with this ritual is that the iniquity of the people is put on a goat, and the iniquity is sent into the space of the idols, or other gods (for more on this topic see our Introduction to the Spiritual Realm article) where it should be. Just like the excrement or the remains of the sin offering makes the camp unholy, so do the iniquities of the people. This goat is not killed, as YHVH tells us not to offer to idols (or other gods.)
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, YHVH your Elohim, am a jealous Elohim, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
The only offer that is being made here is the other goat that is brought as a sin offering to YHVH.
The principle that is shown here is that we need to get iniquity out of our communities if we want YHVH to walk with us, deliver us and defeat our enemies. Iniquity causes defilement and as a result of its separation. It separates us from YHVH and prevent us from having the relationship He desires to have with us.
This includes the spiritual battles that we need to fight on an ongoing basis. Paul uses the same principle more than once in his writings.
1 Corinthians 5:1–5
1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife. 2 You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. 3 For I, on my part, though absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. 4 In the name of our Master Y”Shua, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Master Y’Shua, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Master Y’Shua.
1 Timothy 1:20
Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.
We see that Paul has no problem with sending people away and in the process hand them over to satan. This is Paul’s way of stating that they should be removed from the holy space (the community of believers) and sent to the space where the other gods rule.
We also see that directly after being baptized, Y’Shua was led into the wilderness by the Ruach. Physically, the wilderness was most likely the Judean desert, but spiritually, this was the place where Y’Shua was confronted by satan. Here, the wilderness could also have symbolized the unholy space where satan ruled. This is where Y’shua was tempted by satan. Once again, when leaving the holy space where YHVH rules, the temptation to sin becomes more. The same applies to us. If we leave the space that is clean and set apart, we face more temptations and the chance for sin increases. If we stay in a holy space, YHVH walks with us. We need to make an effort to get sin and iniquity out of our lives, the same way the two goats did it for the people of Israel on Yom Kippurim.
The scapegoat, a prophetic picture of what Y’shua came to do
The scapegoat of Yom Kippurim is a picture of what Y’shua came to do for us. It was prophesied by Isaiah:
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But YHVH has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
It is recorded in Jewish history that a piece of crimson cloth was tied to the goat of Azazel and a piece to the temple door. After the scapegoat was led into the wilderness, the cloth turned white. This miracle showed the people that YHVH accepted their atonement.
There were changes in the casting of the lot and the cloth didn’t change colour after Y’shua’s death and resurrection. Here is a quote that describes these changes.
The first of these miracles concerns a random choosing of the “lot” which was cast on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The lot chosen determined which of two goats would be “for the Lord” and which goat would be the “Azazel” or “scapegoat.” During the two hundred years before 30 CE, when the High Priest picked one of two stones, again this selection was governed by chance, and each year the priest would select a black stone as often as a white stone. But for forty years in a row, beginning in 30 CE, the High Priest always picked the black stone! The odds against this happening are astronomical (2 to the 40th power). In other words, the chances of this occurring are 1 in approximately 5,479,548,800 or about 5.5 billion to one! By comparison, your chances of winning your local state or municipal-run cash Lottery would be much more favorable!
The lot for Azazel, the black stone, contrary to all the laws of chance, came up 40 times in a row from 30 to 70 AD! This was considered a dire event and signified something had fundamentally changed in this Yom Kippur ritual. This casting of lots is also accompanied by yet another miracle which is described next.
The second miracle concerns the crimson strip or cloth tied to the Azazel goat. A portion of this red cloth was also removed from the goat and tied to the Temple door. Each year the red cloth on the Temple door turned white as if to signify the atonement of another Yom Kippur was acceptable to the Lord. This annual event happened until 30 CE when the cloth then remained crimson each year to the time of the Temple’s destruction. This undoubtedly caused much stir and consternation among the Jews. This traditional practice is linked to Israel confessing its sins and ceremonially placing this nation’s sin upon the Azazel goat. The sin was then removed by this goat’s death. Sin was represented by the red color of the cloth (the color of blood). But the cloth remained crimson that is, Israel’s sins were not being pardoned and “made white.”
As God told Israel through Isaiah the prophet:
”Come, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet [crimson], they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as [white] wool” (Isaiah 1:18).4
It was also recorded in the Talmud
The Rabbis taught that forty years prior to the destruction of the Temple the lot did not come up in the [high priest’s] right hand nor did the tongue of scarlet wool become white…
(Talmud, Tractate Yoma 39b)
This confirms that the scapegoat was a prophetic picture of what Y’shua came to do. Through His death and resurrection, He appropriated the gift of freedom to us. Freedom from captivity. Iniquity causes us to be captives. Through Y’shua, we have the ability to become free, but we have to deal with these things. It doesn’t all happen automatically. We have to repent on behalf of our forefathers in order for us to be free. satan is a legalist and he will continue to afflict us as long as the doors are left open.
A great example that illustrates that we have a part to play is when the prison doors were opened for Peter (Acts 12:67-11) and later for Paul and Silas ( Acts16: 25-28). The doors were opened and their chains and stocks were loosened, but they still had to walk out of that prison. He didn’t transport them back to where they were prior to being in prison. They were led out of the prison. They had to do the walking.
7 And behold, an angel of YHVH suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9 And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that YHVH has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to Elohim, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”
As believers in Y’shua, we are like Paul and Silas, Y’shua opened the prison doors and unfastened the chains. We need to accept this gift and walk out of prison. We have to appropriate the gift of freedom we are given through Y’shua. He came to set the captives free. Once free, we are to make sure we remain in the holy space of YHVH, else we will be tempted and may fall and end up putting ourselves and our descendants back into captivity.
How do we do this?
Search for yourself for patterns of sin within your family line, it may help you identify the iniquity of your fathers and give you an opportunity to deal with it. We need to find the root cause of sin patterns or curses. There is a course available that can help you with this. Journey2freedom by Amanda Buys of www.kanaanministries.org. Many people have worked through this and have seen a major positive impact in their lives.
The appointed time of Yom Kippurim is a solemn day of fasting. A Sabbath day, a day to humble our souls before YHVH. This day is the day the iniquity of the people was taken into the wilderness. A goat was chosen by lot to be the scapegoat, in Hebrew “Azazel.” Aaron was to lay his hands on the head of this goat while confessing the iniquity of the people. This goat is then led into the wilderness, into the territory of the other gods and demons.
This goat is a prophetic picture of what Y’shua came to do. He came to set us free from the captivity of iniquity. Through His death and resurrection, He gave us the gift of freedom. We have to receive this gift and then we will be free. We are to repent of our iniquity and the iniquity of our fathers and through Y’shua’s blood, we will receive forgiveness and be free.
1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus
2. Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition, pp. 276–277). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
3. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
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