I grew up hearing the phrase “rolled forward.” Imagine my surprise when I checked half a dozen translations and could not find that phrase in any of them. Because we understand that “the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin,” someone created this phrase to try to explain how sin was dealt with under the Old Covenant. Why do we do that when the scriptures explain things plainly enough?
Thus shall he do with the bullock; as he did with the bullock of the sin-offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven, Lev 4:20.
And all the fat thereof shall he burn upon the altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin, and he shall be forgiven, 4:26.
And the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto Jehovah; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven, 4:31.
And the priest shall make atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven, 4:35.
And he shall offer the second for a burnt-offering, according to the ordinance; and the priest shall make atonement for him as concerning his sin which he hath sinned, and he shall be forgiven, 5:10.
And the priest shall make atonement for him as touching his sin that he hath sinned in any of these things, and he shall be forgiven, 5:13
And the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass-offering, and he shall be forgiven, 5:16.
And the priest shall make atonement for him concerning the thing wherein he erred unwittingly and knew it not, and he shall be forgiven, 5:18.
Funny how I grew up thinking the word “forgiven” was found nowhere in the Old Testament. Guess what? I found it well over a dozen times before I decided that was enough for me to understand that those people were forgiven, just not forgiven the way we are. They understood that, too, without someone thinking he had to improve on God’s words with a manmade phrase.
For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. Else would they not have ceased to be offered?... But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance made of sins year by year, Heb 10:1-3.
Those worshippers understood that forgiveness in their time would not last forever, that every year God would once again remember them. And not only did he remember the sins of the past year for which they had offered sacrifices, he also remembered the year before that, and the year before that, and the years and years before that. Every year that weight grew heavier and heavier on every soul.
That made the promise of the New Covenant much more precious. Behold, the days come, says Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people… for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more. Jer 31:31-34.
Now forgiveness would include forgetting. That weight of guilt would be lifted forever. If there were no other spiritual blessing under the New Covenant, that one alone would make serving God worthwhile. How often do we completely miss the importance of that blessing by refusing to use the words the Holy Spirit did?
It is not that we cannot comprehend an Old Covenant forgiveness that does not forget. We have a habit of practicing that very thing. We practice Old Covenant forgiveness when we say we forgive yet every time a certain person’s name comes up we say things like, “I’ll never forget what he did to me.” The remembrance of their sins against us gives us away.
Jesus told his disciples they were to expect the same forgiveness from God that they gave to others. His blood of the New Covenant has power beyond the power those Old Covenant people experienced. But New Covenant forgiveness only works on us when we practice New Covenant forgiveness to others.
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Col 3:12,13.