The Lord’s Prayer has interesting parallels to the themes of the day of Atonement. This is especially true when it comes to ‘forgive us our debts.’ Often we think of these debts as ‘sins’ — missing the mark or sins of commission. But it also has the sense of not having fulfilled a duty — sins of omission. We owe God for those times when we failed to do our duty, and yet, he is faithful to forgive these debts. But there is a caveat. He says he will forgive our debts to the degree that we are willing to forgive the debts of others. As his children, God is asking us to let go of the wrongs we have suffered, the debts that have not been paid to us, and the resentments we might be harbouring due to unfulfilled duties that we are owed.
This ties in directly with Atonement and the message of the Jubilee. God’s people as inheritors of God’s land were to establish a system of debt relief every seven years culminating in the 50th year Jubilee which began on the day of Atonement. This was not only a year of release of debt but one of returning to their tribal and family inheritance. This physical means of maintaining a just and equitable society and eliminating intergenerational poverty has its spiritual parallels.
As individuals or nations we can come before our Creator and in humility ask that our debts – our misdeeds of omission or commission – be eliminated by Christ’s sacrifice. But the caveat is that we must love one another and be willing to forgive others as we have been forgiven. How well are we doing in this God-given duty?
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