National and Personal redemption, both are required

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repent“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.”(Eze 18:20)

The Apostle Paul also teaches that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)

Each of us is responsible for him or herself in the sense that we are to repent of our own sins when we become aware of it. However, there is something to be said about national repentance and redemption. There is much proof of this in Scripture. How are we to understand and apply this in our lives?

The false doctrine of replacement theology

National redemption has for the most part been ignored by most. Replacement theology, for example, has made it unnecessary. According to this doctrine, the church replaced Israel, and has become spiritual Israel. Each individual makes up the church and we, therefore, only have to focus on our own redemption.

Replacement theology denies the spiritual importance of physical Israel to YHVH forever. 2

This doctrine states that YHVH has rejected physical Israel. We need to determine from Scripture if YHVH has indeed rejected His people. In the Epistle to the Romans, we read the following:

Romans 11:1–2
1 I say then, Elohim has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 Elohim has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with Elohim against Israel?

The eternal covenant

YHVH has made a covenant with His people, and a covenant is forever. YHVH will never break His covenant. When you read Leviticus 26, you will understand that covenantal unfaithfulness will result in punishment. Severe punishment, if Israel remains unfaithful they will go into captivity. However, YHVH also states that He will not break His covenant with them.

Leviticus 26:44–45
44 ‘Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am YHVH their Elohim. 45 ‘But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their Elohim. I am YHVH.’ ”

We have written a more detailed article on this, please read it if you want to gain more understanding Breaking the Covenant – Covenants Part 2.

Just think about it. YHVH knows the end from the beginning. He is not surprised by our behavior at all. He had a perfect plan from the beginning. YHVH didn’t have to review and change His plan when Israel made a golden calf, or any other time the Israelites were unfaithful to Him. He also did not and will not break His covenant ever. He said so in His Word. The covenant He made is an eternal covenant and is still in effect. The conditions of the covenant that was made at Sinai is that His people are to be obedient to His commandments. Disobedience equals covenant unfaithfulness and covenant unfaithfulness results in curses. These curses as stipulated in Leviticus 26, are punishments to get His unfaithful people to return to Him. YHVH wants us to return to Him.

You may wonder why we say YHVH wants “us” to return to Him if He made the covenant with Israel. Is this not also a form of replacement theology? No, allow us to explain. When Israel was delivered from slavery, a mixed multitude went with them.

Exodus 12:38
38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.

Mixed multitude can be translated as foreign people. Some of the Egyptians and other foreign people who were slaves with the Israelites, went with them. A few verses on, we read that YHVH gave one law for the native and the stranger who sojourns with him.

Exodus 12:49
49 “The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

YHVH did not distinguish between these people, he didn’t give them two sets of instructions. All the same to everyone. These people became an indistinguishable part of Israel. It is the same with us, we, as either scattered Israelites or gentile believers become part of Israel, YHVH’s nation, when we believe in Him.

Galatians 3:28–29
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Y’shua. 29 And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Here is an article written about our identity in Messiah. Who is Israel and why you would want to be a part of Israel. As you see from this, we did not replace Israel in any way, instead when we become believers, we become a part of Israel. This implies that what was instructed for Israel to do, also applies to us.

Now that we understand our identity, and we know that YHVH has not and never will break His covenant with Israel, we can look further into personal and corporate redemption.

Redemption in the Bible is a complex concept. In the book “Dictionary from the Jewish Christian Dialogue, expanded edition”, ISBN 080913582-5, S. Daniel Breslauer wrote about the Jewish view of redemption. The Jewish view of redemption is twofold. One part is concerned with the individual and another focussed on the nation.

He states that covenantal promises focus on communal prosperity rather than the individual. Here are a few ideas on redemption based on Jewish thought.

This double approach to deliverance found in the Bible was reaffirmed in rabbinic Judaism. The Shema—a central liturgical unit made up of selections from Deuteronomy and Numbers—includes, first, divine promises directed to the individual and then immediately afterward the communal expectation of redemption and the divine requirements for it….

….While redemption is a future, undisclosed hope, salvation is a gift made immediately accessible in the present.

The highest merit a person can acquire depends on the movements of faith, not on quantitative accumulation of deeds. Judaism posits a subtle connection between personal salvation and national redemption. Transformed human beings do become the basis for God’s gracious redeeming act.

….Personal acceptance of religious responsibility becomes the prerequisite for God’s redemption of the entire national body. The Jew does not earn either salvation or redemption, but Jewish deeds are understood as the preparation for each. Torah prepares an individual to turn in faith to God; the turning of individuals to God prepares the way for God’s gracious act of redemption.

Christians need to realize that Judaism stresses deeds as means to faith, not as substitutes for it. Salvation is made possible because God graciously gave a Torah in which opportunities for a faithful turning to God are numerous.

There is much truth in this.

Individual redemption

Redemption starts with the individual. This redemption is often referred to as salvation. Each of us has to make the choice to either live for YHVH or for the world. There is no in-between. YHVH does not like lukewarm.

Revelation 3:15–18
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

This is about living righteously according to YHVH’s truth. The theological Dictionary of the New Testament has this written about being lukewarm.

The point is that the gospel calls for unconditional self-offering to the Lord who even now knocks at the door. A commitment that is rendered lukewarm by secular concerns is worse, and harder to overcome, than complete alienation. 3

This individual redemption or salvation is through faith in Y’shua and it is a lifelong process. But it goes further. No individual lives in a cocoon. We are part of a believing community or a body.

The iniquity of the fathers

In Scripture, we very often read about what would happen to the nation if they were either faithful or unfaithful to YHVH. We read specifically about blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 28 and in Leviticus 26. The message is clear, when the nation was faithful the blessings will come into effect, but when the nation was unfaithful the curses would come into effect. These blessings and curses are directly connected to the covenant YHVH has with Israel. You can read more about the nature of this covenant in the article What exactly is the Sinai Covenant ?. This covenant takes the form of a suzerain treaty with special rules, blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience attached to it. The special rules are YHVH’s commandments and keeping these commandments is covenant faithfulness which will result in blessing.

Covenant unfaithfulness, on the other hand is breaking the rules and is also referred to as the iniquity of the fathers. There are a few references in scripture to the iniquity of the fathers and how YHVH would visit this iniquity on their children to the third and fourth generation. We need to understand what it means when it is written that YHVH will visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generation and also what it means to show lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love YHVH and keep His commandments.

Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children

The first reference of visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children is found in Exodus.

Exodus 20:5–6
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.

Numbers 14:18
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.’

Jeremiah 32:18
18 who shows lovingkindness to thousands, but repays the iniquity of fathers into the bosom of their children after them, O great and mighty Elohim. YHVH of hosts is His name;

Deuteronomy 7:9
9 “Know therefore that YHVH your Elohim, He is Elohim, the faithful Elohim, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Before we proceed, we need to understand what the words hate, love and iniquity mean in this context.

The word hate in the Bible does not always refer to the emotion of hate as we know it. It more specifically means to reject, to disregard or to choose or prefer something or someone else. To love on the other hand is to prefer or to choose. This helps us already to understand this better. Here is a bit more on the meaning of the word “iniquity.


˓awon (עָוֹן, 5771), “iniquity; guilt; punishment.” This noun, which appears 231 times in the Tanach, is limited to Hebrew and biblical Aramaic. The prophetic and poetic books employ ˓awon with frequency. The Pentateuch as a whole employs the word about 50 times. In addition to these, the historical books infrequently use ˓awon. The first use of ˓awon comes from Cain’s lips, where the word takes the special meaning of “punishment”: “And Cain said unto YHVH, My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Gen. 4:13).

The most basic meaning of ˓awon is “iniquity.” The word signifies an offense, intentional or not, against YHVH’s law. This meaning is also most basic to the word chatta˒t, “sin,” in the Tanach, and for this reason the words chatta˒t and ˓awon are virtually synonymous; “Lo, this [the live coal] hath touched thy [Isaiah’s] lips; and thine iniquity [˓awon] is taken away, and thy sin [chatta˒t] purged” (Isa. 6:7).

“Iniquity” as an offense to YHVH’s holiness is punishable.

The usage of ˓awon includes the whole area of sin, judgment, and “punishment” for sin. The Tanach teaches that YHVH’s forgiveness of “iniquity” extends to the actual sin, the guilt of sin, YHVH’s judgment upon that sin, and YHVH’s punishment of the sin. “Blessed is the man unto whom YHVH imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Ps. 32:2).

In the Septuagint the word has the following renderings: adikia (“wrongdoing; unrighteousness; wickedness”); hamartia (“sin; error”); and anomia (“lawlessness”). In the English versions the translation “iniquity” is fairly uniform.4

From this, we learn that iniquity not only refers to sin, but also to judgement and punishment. The sin is lawlessness, unrighteousness or covenant unfaithfulness. What is interesting to me is that when the nation repents of covenant unfaithfulness, not only the sin is taken away, but also the punishment. They will be restored.

Leviticus 26:40–42
40 ‘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— 41 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, 42 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.

Jeremiah 3:12–13
12 “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares YHVH; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares YHVH; ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against YHVH your Elohim And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares YHVH.

Now we know that covenant unfaithfulness results in punishment. This punishment continues through the third and fourth generation of those who do not choose YHVH. However, true repentance from the heart will change this and cause restoration. With this restoration comes the potential for blessing to the thousandth generation.

The question now is can we repent of the iniquity of our fathers? The answer is yes. This is called intersession. It can also be referred to as standing in the gap.

Standing in the gap

Ezekiel 22:29–31
29 “The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice. 30 “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 “Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares YHVH Elohim.

Here is another example from Scripture:

Psalm 106:23
23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, Had not Moses His chosen one stood in the breach before Him, To turn away His wrath from destroying them.

Here is more detail on this incident:

When Israel rebelled against YHVH for the tenth time, He wanted to make an end of them as a nation. Moses pleaded on behalf of them; he stood in the breach.

Numbers 14:18
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 relented and did not destroy them, but they were punished. This punishment affected not only themselves, but also their children.

Numbers 14:33
33 ‘Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.

The children were affected by this punishment, but they got through it alive and went into the land.

When we intercede on behalf of the nation, there is a chance of YHVH relenting from His wrath. He will not break His covenant with His people. However, He will punish the nation, but He will keep a remnant safe.

When I read this passage in Jeremiah, I realized that there will be a time that no amount of intercession will be keeping the judgment away. It has happened before and can happen again.

Jeremiah 15:1–8
1 Then YHVH said to me, “Even though Moses and Samuel were to stand before Me, My heart would not be with this people; send them away from My presence and let them go! 2 “And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then you are to tell them, ‘Thus says YHVH: “Those destined for death, to death; And those destined for the sword, to the sword; And those destined for famine, to famine; And those destined for captivity, to captivity.” ’

3 “I will appoint over them four kinds of doom,” declares YHVH: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag off, and the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. 4 “I will make them an object of horror among all the kingdoms of the earth because of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah, the king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem.

5 “Indeed, who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem, Or who will mourn for you, Or who will turn aside to ask about your welfare? 6 “You who have forsaken Me,” declares YHVH, “You keep going backward. So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting!

7 “I will winnow them with a winnowing fork At the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy My people; They did not repent of their ways. 8 “Their widows will be more numerous before Me Than the sand of the seas; I will bring against them, against the mother of a young man, A destroyer at noonday; I will suddenly bring down on her Anguish and dismay.

So, how are we to understand all this?


Personal redemption and national redemption are different. Personal redemption is also referred to as salvation and is through faith in Y’shua. We as believers, who have salvation, are to be obedient to YHVH’s commandments. This is because we are as believers part of Israel and YHVH has a covenant with Israel. This obedience is called covenantal faithfulness. Covenantal faithfulness is both personal and national. Disobedience of the individual may only affect the individual or the nation. Achan taking of the things under the ban affected the nation, himself and his family.

National disobedience or covenantal unfaithfulness will affect the nation and even the righteous person. Just consider the holocaust as an example, many people who died were faithful believers in YHVH. It did not change the outcome for many of them, however, it did for some. Corrie Ten Boom is a good example, she lost her father, sister and brother in the concentration camps, but remained faithful. She was miraculously released and continued to work for YHVH until her death. YHVH used her amazingly.

The righteous suffer with the unrighteous. When we consider the world we live in, this is quite evident. We have governments over us that are not interested in doing YHVH’s will. Our righteousness will not change this because the nation is unfaithful to YHVH. We can only pray and plead on behalf of these people and ourselves as we have the government we deserve.

There will always be a righteous remnant, YHVH has promised this. We are to live our lives in such a way that we would “qualify” to be a part of this remnant.

Matthew 3:8–10
8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones Elohim is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

We are to bear the fruit in keeping with repentance. This fruit is obedience to YHVH’s commandments. We are to be lights in order to draw others to YHVH and we are to intercede like Moses, Daniel and Nehemiah did. Go and read Danniel 9 and Nehemiah 1 and you will understand what we are to do. May YHVH bless you as you seek to do His will.


  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.
  3. Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (p. 297). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
  4. Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W. (1996). Vol. 1: Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (121–122). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

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