What is "sin with uplifted hand"? - October 2021

by Pastor Pete Panitzke on October 21, 2021

In today's devotion, (watch it here) I share with you one of the most frightening sections of the Bible: Numbers 15:27-36. The LORD gives a command about sin with uplifted hand. That phrase is translated "defiant sin" or "deliberate sin" in English translations (find all English translations compared here). 

What is so frightening about this section of Old Testament laws about animal sacrifices? There is no sacrifice to atone for defiant sin!

Our New Testament lesson (Hebrews 10:11-31)  
sounds that same warning. "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." 

If this is true, how can any of us be saved? Who of us hasn't sinned "with uplifted hand"? This is why Paul cries out, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24) 

Immediately Paul gives the answer: "Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" 

It is amazing grace that God confronts us in our rebellion and leads us to repent. In repentance, our sins "with uplifted hand" become "unintentional," sins that we do not want to do. In repentance, we turn back to the only Sacrifice for sins there is. 

King David's prayer in Psalm 19 becomes our own:

Who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.

Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

This is the background for the familiar passage, "Let us encourage one another not to give up meeting together..." (Hebrews 10:25). We need all the help we can get from fellow Christians to turn us back to Jesus.

That is illustrated in our Old Testament reading (find Jeremiah 14-15 here)The prophet calls the nation back from defiant sin, but even the prophet needs the LORD to call him to repentance. 

Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. In-person or online, we need fellow Christians to speak truth into our lives. 


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