It was said: unforgiveness caused the holy altar in the Jerusalem Temple to weep. Why? Unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness, from an intentional act or something unintentional, separates; it divides.
The altar is the place where sacrifice was offered. One word for sacrifice קָרְבָּן/qārbān, means to draw near, and is from a root meaning to approach or be near to; it is also the root of cherub. The altar is where man approached God; and then, from a place of His forgiveness, he would then reconnect to man. Drawing near to God will inevitably draw us nearer to others.
The first sacrifice listed in Leviticus 1 is the עֹלָה קָרְבָּנוֹ, the Burnt Offering, or raising up and near to sacrifice. It was a total offering to God, representing the worshipper giving himself totally to God (Ro. 12:1); but it could not be given while in unforgiveness. As one draws near, and the other divides.
In that divide we dwell alone, giving not to God or others, but only to ourselves; as we cultivate the fruit of unforgiveness in our lives. The heart principle of godly sacrifice was giving our best to God, not ourselves. When we give we draw close. When we give the best of ourselves, we then invest ourselves, our lives, not in ourselves, but God.
In Genesis 2:18, the Torah says:
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים, לֹא-טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ
“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.”
When we are alone, in unforgiveness, we give to ourselves, and only ourselves. In fact, we take, rather than give. Isolation breaks us down, drives us inward, not outward.
Messiah Yeshua/Jesus taught:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
Additionally, at the conclusion of the parable of the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:21-35): “So also My heavenly Father will do to you, unless each of you, from your hearts, forgives his brother” (Matt. 18:35). Note the word “torture” in verse 34, not that God Himself will torture us; but rather, we will actually become our own torturers. Allowing torment to reside in our hearts and minds.
Why would He not forgive us in our unforgiveness towards others? We can answer this in many valid ways, but it is simple: unforgiveness not only divides us from those we are not forgiving, it separates us from Him. We turn, as it were, not to Him, but away from Him. We can rationalize unforgiveness in many ways, but in the end, extending forgiveness is not for them but for us. They may not want it, ask for it, or know they need it; but the act of forgiveness releases us from holding a debt that accrues bitterness, resentment, anger, and hatred. Yes, there is no condemnation for those in Christ (Ro. 8:1), but neither would we be living rightly by the Spirit of God in Christ while walking in unforgiveness!
If the sages conceived of the altar crying due to unforgiveness, how much more does our Father in heaven weep at unforgiveness? How much more does He agonize over our separations?
There is so much unforgiveness in the world; and surprisingly, it is rampant in the congregation of God as well. No matter the reason, it is not good for man to be alone; but especially alone in unforgiveness. It’s time we trust in the grace that God has extended in forgiveness, and experience the power of the Gospel in our lives once again. We must learn to place our hurt, and the cause of it, upon Messiah, whereby we draw close to Him and every promise found in Him (II Cor. 1:20). He gave us the example, while nailed to the cross, bloodied and beaten: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Yes, we are not that strong, and we are not Him; BUT, we are in Him, therefore, we can, we will, and we must. Yet, it takes humility. Listen to Peter’s words:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (I Pet. 5:6-7).
Be well. Shalom.