Category Archives: Story of Sin 1-10

Theology of Sin

The Story of Sin: Part X A Bride’s Devastating Fall From Grace!

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part X…A Bride’s Devastating Fall From Grace!
By Joseph M. Cross


“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season.
But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame,
And they became as detestable as that which they loved.” Hosea 9:10.The Story of Sin Continues…

 We last left Sin’s story, suggesting that when the father of the John the Baptist, Zacharias, prophetically proclaims:
“…And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,
Because of the tender mercy of our God…” Luke 1:76-78…
in essence, through one’s relationship with the Messiah, as will be made clear later, Zacharias is not only forecasting every human being’s invitation to be forgiven his sins and therefore, his eternal salvation, but there is also a strong hint of the forgiveness of Judah’s long term national sins, and therefore also, her deliverance from foreign domination–in this case, from the mighty Roman Empire.  
And once again, why is all this so important?
Because after having been so extravagantly rich in God for a millennium and a half, including:

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The Story of Sin: Part IX…The Joy Embedded in Zacharias’ Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part IX…Why the Heavy Payment for Israel’s Sins, and thus the Joy and Expectation Embedded in Zacharias’ Prophecy?  
By Joseph M. Cross

Eventually Israel would divide and fall. 
After four hundred years of a very up and down loose-knit confederation of tribes, led at times by various righteous savior-leaders, such as Gideon, Samson and Deborah, will God rise up to rescue Israel from her enemies. Then, around 1000 B.C., Israel would finally ask for a king of her own. The irony of their request was that Israel had the greatest monarch any nation could ask for–God himself was her protector and Sovereign. But just as other nations had a real live flesh and blood king, Israel wanted one too–a flesh and blood representative of God to keep her in line.Reluctantly, and knowing that not even a real, live flesh and blood king would keep her faithful to her treaty obligations, God did give Israel a king—Saul. But when Saul disobeyed God, God had the prophet Samuel anoint a new king-in waiting, a man that, despite his many flaws, Scripture describes as being a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:4). After David’s son, the great King Solomon passes on, tragically Israel divides into two nations (around 900 B.C.). The ten northern tribes retain the name Israel, while the two southern tribes take the name of the larger tribe, Judah.In over two hundred years as a nation, Israel will not crown one righteous king…zero for twenty. Finally, in the late eighth century, God unleashes his curses and a great and fierce super-power from the region of the northeastern Fertile Crescent, Assyria, besieged and conquered Israel. Her inhabitants are carried off and mixed with other conquered peoples, and Israel is no more.

At the same time, as described in Isaiah 37-38, in one night, God miraculously delivers King Hezekiah and Judah from the massive Assyrian army. In fact, Assyria never recovers from her massive, mortal wounds suffered in her blind attempt to besiege God’s city, people and king. A century later, Assyria will be conquered by the next Middle Eastern super-power, the Babylonians. But it was during these days of both God’s divine judgment and deliverance (700+ B.C.) that Isaiah, as well as, other Old Covenant or Testament prophets, inspired by God, were uttering their now famous prophecies concerning not only both Israel and Judah’s future demise, but their future forgiveness and restoration.

Ultimately, unlike her sister nation, Israel, which crowned not one righteous king even over two hundred years of existence, Judah, on the other hand will crown more righteous kings than unrighteous kings. However, she will have both, and the unrighteous will truly be unrighteous, leading Judah into incredible depths of sin, including the acceptance of the sacrificing of her children to foreign gods (See Lev. 20:2-5; 18:21; Deut. 12:31; 18:10; 2 Kings 3:27; 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; Ps. 106:35ff; Is. 57:5; Jer. 7:31; 19:4-5; 32:35; Ezk. 16:20ff; 20:26, 31; Hos. 13:2), as well as, engaging in male-shrine prostitution in order to please her many gods (Lev. 18:22; Deut. 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46). And although she will outlast her sister nation Israel, by more than a century, she too, a Spiritual, legal and moral failure, will be besieged and conquered by the mighty Babylonians (@600 B.C).

Not all, but many of her most prominent families, including prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, will be carried off to Babylon as exiles. And for seventy years, a righteous and just God will take back what had been legally stolen from him. According to the Mosaic Law, every seven years, Israel was to rest her Land and thus allow God to provide for her in that year. These were to be called Sabbath years, or years of rest. For almost five hundred years, Israel and Judah had failed to honor the Sabbath year, thus seventy unobserved Sabbath years had accumulated on God’s divine books. In the end, God took back every one of them. Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VIII The Covenant, Blessings and Curses

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VIII…The Covenant…Blessings and Curses…
By Joseph M. Cross

In the previous chapters, I have alluded to the fact that I suspect there was something much more going on within: 1) Zacharias’ prophetic utterance of his son John’s future role in preparing the way for the LORD (Luke 1:77), 2) the angel’s command to Joseph to name the son his betrothed Mary is about to bear–YAH-Saves because he will save the people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), 3) thirty years afterwards, John’s preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4), 4) both gospel-writers Matthew and Mark’s explicit and implicit identification of John as both the OT prophets Malachi and Isaiah’s messenger, Elijah and voice (Mal. 3:1; 4:5-6; Is. 40:3ff) who will prepare the way for the LORD’s coming and deliverance via the people’s forgiveness of their sins and finally, 5) Isaiah’s future prophecy of comfort to Jerusalem to begin with…

“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
double for all her sins.”
Isaiah 40:1-2.

So what do I think extra is going on here? What were Jerusalem’s sins, and why had she paid double for all her sins? Well to answer these questions and more, we have to go back further in time, further back than Jesus’ day 2,000 years ago and further back than Isaiah’s day, 2,700 plus years ago. In fact, we need to momentarily go back to the beginning…to the time of Israel’s early fathers or patriarchs, 4,000 years ago plus… Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VII The Son Fulfills the Father’s Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VII: The Son Fulfills the Father’s Prophecy:
Preaching the Knowledge of Salvation by the Forgiveness of Sins…
By Joseph M. Cross

It’s been perhaps thirty years since the angel first told Joseph that Mary was pregnant with a child conceived by the Spirit of God and that when the child is born Joseph is to name the child YAH-Saves because he will save the people from their sins. Just weeks before this announcement, the angel Gabriel had told a priest named Zacharias that incredibly his elderly wife, Elizabeth, who happened to be an older cousin of Mary, was also pregnant and that the child she would bear would fulfill certain OT prophecies pertaining to the Lord’s deliverance and salvation (from sin). When Zacharias questioned Gabriel how this could be, Zacharias’ voice was stricken. Finally, when his son, John, was born, Zacharias’ silence was broken and, inspired by God, he uttered this prophecy concerning his son John:

“And you, child (John the Baptist), will be called the prophet of the Most High (God); For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS (Mal 3:1; Is. 40:3); to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”

Now thirty years later, Zacharias’ son, John, has grown up, and he is fulfilling the prophecy uttered by his father.

Here is the Gospel of Mark’s account:

Mark 1:1 (Also see Matt. 3:1ff) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:


(In setting up the opening scene of Mark’s gospel concerning the life, person and purpose of YAH-Saves, Mark quotes, just in more detail, the two OT passages that John’s father Zacharias’ was referencing in his prophecy concerning John’s birth thirty years earlier…Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Christ’s apostle, Matthew, quoting just Isaiah 40, goes further in his gospel of Christ’s life to tie the seven hundred year old plus prophecy to John the Baptist:

Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’”

These two prophesies now set the stage for Mark’s narrative of Jesus’ life, beginning with the messenger who will prepare the way for the Lord …) Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part VI Zacharias’ Prophecy

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Part VI: Zacharias’ Prophecy…
The Knowledge of Salvation by Forgiveness of Sins…
By Joseph M. Cross


While my previous gleanings were certainly rich, because I had not looked up every reference to sin and unrighteousness or hamartia and adikia in the New Testament myself, I was still curious. What would I find if I looked up every reference for sin and unrighteousness?

I couldn’t resist, but it was no small task. When one includes the verbs, adjectives, adverbs and other noun forms of each word group, there are well over three hundred references (250 references of the hamartia word group and around 75 references of the adikia word group) to examine, but despite the seemingly daunting task, I decided to plow through each and every reference in its context.

I should have seen it all to begin with, and perhaps, I had before, but nothing near to the extent of what I saw when I decided to examine the New Testament through these contextual lenses of hamartia and adikia. The results were astonishing, and once again, my curiosity was incredibly rewarded.

Zacharias’ Prophecy: The Knowledge of Salvation by the Forgiveness of Sins…

Allow me to walk you back through a portion of my journey so that you can see what I had NOT seen, but should have seen CLEARLY before.

Zacharias’ Prophecy…

My initial curiosity began with the angel’s command to Joseph concerning the child Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit in Matt. 1:21…You shall name him Jesus (Yah-Saves) for he shall save the people from their sins.

I really had not fully appreciated the next critical NT reference to Sin until I had first read the fruit of others’ labor, as well as, examined the over 300 references of Sin. For me, it was like rewatching a film’s introduction, after having seen the entire film. One sees the beginning of the film in an entirely different light…in the context of everything that is about to follow. That’s what happened for me, particularly with this next passage. I missed its significance the first time; I did not the second time. The next references to “sin” occurs in the sister passage to Matthew 1’s birth narrative–Luke 1.

The setting is – as he was serving in the Herodian Temple there in Jerusalem, John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was visited by the angel Gabriel and was told that his elderly wife, Elizabeth, was indeed pregnant with a son. When Zacharias questioned how this could be, Zacharias’ voice was divinely silenced for the entire length of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Then, when John was born, Zacharias’ tongue was finally loosened. Inspired by God’s Spirit, Zacharias utters the following doxology.  Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Part V Overview: Forgiveness’ Passion Revealed

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin… Part V:
An Overview of My Studies…
Forgiveness’ Passion Revealed…
By Joseph M. Cross


My Labors So Far…

Part I: My Story of Sin Begins with my Curiosity over a line in the traditional biblical Christmas Story…”You shall name him Jesus because he will save the people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21.

Parts II-IV: My curiosity with the meaning of “sin” next lead me to what others said about the term.

Part A…Looking Back at What Others Have Said about Sin…

Below are 12 key points concerning the development of the term sin within the Ancient Greek, Hebrew and Jewish traditions (Sin; NIDNTT)…

• 2 principles from the Greeks;
• 6 from the LXX or the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT;
• 3 from post-exilic Jewish times and
• 1 concerning Jesus’ initial actions…

This is about as simple as I can make it: Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Parts III-IV Oversin/Yah-Saves a Friend to Sinners

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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
Parts III-IV
By Joseph M. Cross

Part III: Oversin: The Jewish Concept of Sin Takes an Odd, but Predictable Turn…

11) After Israel (or Judah’s) Babylonian exile (seventy years) for having miserably failed in her attempts to deal with her own sin, a Jewish remnant returns to a discarded, abandoned homeland in hopes of rebuilding their nation. And while Judah will begin to rebuild her temple and, a century later, her broken-down city walls, her struggle with sin, aided by rabbis, teachers or legal experts, takes on an interesting, and yet predictable twist. In order to keep Judah from becoming unfaithful to the Law again, and thereby, once again suffering the devastating consequences that she had already suffered at the hands of invading superpowers, the Law and compliance with the Law goes into a kind of super-legalistic hyper-drive. In addition, since no one but the religious lawyers or legal experts can keep up with all the laws, and the laws around the laws, religious hypocrisy also explodes. It’s not what’s real that counts, but only what appear to be real. Finally, Spirituality or religious purity is determined not by one’s righteous, moral actions or convictions, but by whom one associates with. Thus hanging with an unclean Gentile or a non-pious Jew, who hangs around with unclean Gentiles, makes one morally “unclean” and thus, a “sinner.”

12) Added to the ritualistic sacrifices in dealing with sin are now good works and suffering, including martyrdom.

13) In addition, the rabbis taught that the Messiah (the Anointed One), or King David’s promised and belated heir, would come and eradicate all sin.

Part IV: Yah-Saves Becomes a Friend to “Sinners.” Continue reading

The Story of Sin: Parts I-II The Start/Hebrew Concept of Sin


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© 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
The Story of Sin…
By Joseph M. Cross

Part I: It Started with a Christmas Curiosity…

It started with a Christmas curiosity of mine concerning the interpretation of a very familiar biblical passage—one that many of us have heard read or referenced many times in our lives, especially at Christmas time. The passage contained a dream to a very troubled man—Joseph, the fiancé of Mary. In the dream, the angel tells Joseph not to divorce Mary because she is now pregnant. She has done nothing wrong. The child is God’s, conceived by the Holy Spirit. When he is born, the boy is to be named Jesus (Greek or Yeshua in Hebrew, which means Yah or Yahweh [I AM] Saves), because he will save the people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).

At first glance, the meaning of this very familiar passage seems so obvious. Jesus died for our sins…if we believe in him, our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life with him (John 3). And that’s what I assumed, or have always assumed. And I still believe that’s partly what this angelic message comes to mean. At the same time, I have now discovered that there are some incredibly, rich and meaningful layers to this understanding.

It all started when I decided to explore the biblical meaning of sin. I mean who doesn’t know what sin is. Every child who has spent some time in Sunday school can tell you what sin is. It’s when you do wrong. Bad things. When you disobey your parents or teachers. And yet I was still curious. If Jesus is supposed to save the people from these things called sins, then it might be important to go back and see just what the Scriptures meant by this thing that Jesus was supposed to save us from, as well as, the importance of his name in the first place.
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