My Lent Words 5: Blotted out

Maha is translated variously as ‘blots out’, ‘wipes out’ and ‘sweeps away’. Forgiveness and the taking away of sin is something that flows from God’s inner quality.

‘I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’ (Isaiah 43:25)

But the same word has a different feel elsewhere. Through his prophets God promised to clean up Jerusalem like someone washing the dishes and leaving them to drain. It is more like ‘blotting up’ than ‘blotting out’.

‘I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes out a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.’ (2 Kings 21:13b)

‘I have swept away your offences like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.’ (Isaiah 44:22)

David uses the same word when he asks God to be harsh with his enemies. In this example to blot out is to erase, as pencil writing is erased from a page.

‘May they be blotted out of the book of life and not listed with the righteous.’ (Psalm 69:28)


The literal translation of a Greek word Paul sometimes chose to use in this context is ‘wiping out’.

He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations…’ (Colossians 2:14)

Think – sinfulness is as nothing to God. He has soaked it up. It is lost in his infinite compassion and sacrifice.

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