I am sorry. This is not Good News. In fact it is very bad news because it means you (and me too because I have the same problem) do not have righteousness. Righteousness is so important because this is the foundation of what will make The Kingdom of God a Paradise. It will be the rightness of our dealings with each other (no lying, stealing, murder, idolatry etc) and proper worship of Allah that will bring Paradise. This is why Righteousness is needed for entry into The Holy Kingdom as Dawood shows in the Zabur. Only the sort of people described like this will enter into the Holy Kingdom and that is why it will be Paradise.
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken. (Psalm 15:1-5)
But since you (and I) are not always like this, because we do not always keep the Commandments we sin. So what is sin? A verse from the book just after the Taurat in the Old Testament gives a picture that has helped me understand this better. The verse says
Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. (Judges 20:16)
This verse describes soldiers who were experts at using slingshots and would never miss. As I explained in ‘In what languages were the Books of the Bible written’, the Taurat and Old Testament were written by the prophets in Hebrew. The word in Hebrew translated ‘miss‘ above is יַחֲטִֽא׃ (pronounced Khaw-taw). This same Hebrew word is also translated to sin across most of the Taurat. For example, this same Hebrew word is ‘sin’ when Joseph, sold as a slave to Egypt, would not commit adultery with his master’s wife, even though she begged him (also recounted in Qur’an in Surat 12:22-29 – Joseph). He said to her:
No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9)
And just after the giving of the Ten Commandments the Taurat says:
Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Exodus 20:20)
In both these places it is the same Hebrew word יַחֲטִֽא׃ that is translated ‘sin’. It is exactly the same word for ‘miss’ with soldiers that sling stones at targets as in these verses which means ‘sin’ when dealing with people’s treatments of each other. Allah has given us a wonderful picture to help us understand what ‘sin’ is. The soldier takes a stone and slings it to hit the target. If it misses it has failed his purpose. In the same way, Allah has made us to hit the target about how we worship Him and how we treat others. To ‘sin’ is to miss this purpose, or target, that Allah intends for us. That is the situation we find ourselves in when we do not keep all the commandments – we have missed Allah’s intention for us.
Death – The consequence of sin in Taurat
So what was the result of this? We saw the first hint of this in the Sign of Adam. When Adam disobeyed (only once!) Allah made him mortal. In other words he would now die. This continued with the Sign of Noah. Allah judged the people with death in the flood. And it continued with the Sign of Lut where the judgment again was death. The son of Ibrahim was supposed to die in sacrifice. The tenth plague of Passover was death of the firstborn. This trend now is further established when Allah spoke to Musa (PBUH). We see that just before Allah Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on Tablets, He commanded the following:
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. (Exodus 19:10-12)
This pattern continues throughout the Taurat. Later, the Israelites had not obeyed Allah fully (They sinned) but had approached His sanctuary. Notice here their worry when they found out the consequences.
The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?” (Numbers 17:12-13)
Harun (also called Aaron – PBUH), the brother of Musa (PBUH), himself had sons who died because they approached The Most Holy Place of Allah with sin.
The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. (Leviticus 16:1-2)
So Harun (PBUH) was instructed in the proper way for himself to approach this place. And Allah instructed him as a priest with:
I (i.e. Allah) am giving you (i.e. Aaron) the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death. (Numbers 18:7)
Later some daughters who had no brothers approached Musa (PBUH) for land inheritance. Why had their father died?
“Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons.” (Numbers 27:3)
So there was a universal pattern established, summarized at the end of the Taurat with
…each will die for their own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16b)
Allah was teaching the Israelites (and us) that the result of sin is death.
The Mercy of Allah
But what about the Mercy of Allah. Was that in evidence anywhere then? And can we learn from it? Yes! And Yes! It is important for us who have sin and lack righteousness to pay attention to this Mercy. It was already in a number of the earlier Signs. Now it will be more clearly seen in the Sign of Harun – One Cow and Two Goats.