While there is a lot in the Old Testament about God forgiving Israel, I was surprised that I could not locate a single verse directing the Israelites to forgive one another.
Yes, there is a lot about Israel’s responsibility to care for the alien and even their enemies. For example:
· “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.” (Exodus 23:4-5; ESV)
· “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)
However, not a word about forgiving one another as God had forgiven them! How amazing! It is as if God purposely left this essential provision out. But why? Perhaps because the basis of forgiveness - the Savior – had not yet been revealed, and that forgiveness was being reserved so that the Messiah would receive all the glory.
Indeed, in contrast with the Old, the New Testament glories in forgiveness – the forgiveness of God towards humanity and how it should trickle down to our neighbors.
To God Be the Glory!