- Matthew 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2, 24, 31, 45; 26:51-56
- Mark 8:31; 9:9-11, 31-32, 10:32-34; 14:27, 43-50; 15:27-28
- Luke 9:21-22, 44-45; 17:24-25; 18:31-34; 22:37; 24:1-8, 13-27, 44-48
- John 18:31-32; 19:24, 28
Jesus described his death, at the hands of sinful men, as that which was written in the scriptures and the prophets.
- Matthew 26:24: Mark 14:21
- Matthew 26:31, Mark 14:27
- Matthew 26:51-56; Mark 14:48-50
- Mark 15:27-28
- Luke 18:31-33; 22:37; 24:25-27, 44-49
- John 19:28, 37
Jesus also described his death and resurrection as the sign of his Messiah-ship.
- John 2:18-22; John 8:28-29
- Matthew 12:38-40; Matthew 16:1-4Luke 11:29-30
- Luke 11:29-20
In the book of Acts, the apostles and others describe the death of Jesus as condemnation from sinful men.
- Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-18; 4:10-11, 20, 23- 28; 5:30-32; 7:52; 10:36-43
- The apostles who walked with Jesus in the flesh were ordained as eye witnesses of the ministry, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus.
- 1 John 1:1-2
- 1 Peter 1:16-18
- Luke 24:48
- Acts 1:8; 2:32; 3:14-15; 4:33; 5:31-33; 10:39
The apostle Paul also believed that Jesus had suffered condemnation from sinful men.
- Acts 13:26-41; 17:2-3; 26:21-23
- 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
The Bible refers to Jesus as the stone the builders rejected.
- Matthew 21:33-42
- Psalm 11:22-23
- Isaiah 28:16
- Acts 4:10-12
- Romans 9:30-31
- 1 Peter 2:4-9
Those who hated Jesus sought to kill him from the beginning.
- John 5; 16-18; 7:1, 6-8, 30; 8:20, 37; 10:39; 11:47-57
- Matthew 21:45-46; 26:14-16
- Mark 11:18; 12:12; 14:1, 11
- Luke 19:47; 20:19; 22:2, 6
They hated Jesus without a cause.
- John 15:22-25
They hated Jesus because they rejected the ONE who sent him.
- They rejected the works of God which Jesus did. (John 5:20, 36-38; 7:7; 9:3; 10:25- 32, 37, 38; 14:10, 11, 12; 15:24)
- The works which the Father sent Jesus to accomplish was the proof that he is the Son of God. (John 9:1-5; 10:24-33, 37-38; 14:10-12; 15:24)
They wanted to kill Jesus for various reasons.
- Because Jesus said God is his Father (John 5:18).
- Because Jesus healed on the Sabbath (John 5:16-18; 7:19-24).
- Because they were not keeping the Law of Moses (John 7:19).
- Because the words of Jesus had no place in their hearts (John 8:37-45; 12:47-50; 15:22-25; 18:23, 37).
- Because of the truth which Jesus spoke from the Father (John 8:40).
It became public knowledge that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus.
- John 7:25
The Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being a sinner.
- John 9:24
The Jewish leaders agreed that if anyone confessed Jesus is the Messiah, they would be expelled from the Synagogue.
- John 9:22
They desired to kill Lazarus also because of those who believed in Jesus after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.
- John 12:10-12
They had tried to stone Jesus on multiple occasions.
- John 8:59
- John 10:30-31,33
They called a council and decided to carry out their plot on the Passover.
- John 11:47-57
After they begin plotting to arrest Jesus, the leading priests and the Pharisees publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.
- John 11:57
Jesus was betrayed into their hands by Judas the traitor.
- Matthew 17:22; 20:18; 26:2, 21-24, 45-50
- Mark 14:18, 21,41-42
- Luke 22:2-4
- John 13:18, 21; 19:11
- Psalm 41:9
They were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ.
- The conspiracy against Jesus was against God and Jesus.
- Acts 4:24-28
- Psalm 2:1-12
They lied and falsely accused him.
- Matthew 26:59-61
- Mark 14:55-59
They condemned him to death because they condemned him of blasphemy.
- Mark 14:60- 64
They were envious of him.
- Matthew 27:17-19
- Mark 15:9-11
Pilate sought to release Jesus, yet they insisted on putting him to death.
- John 19:12
- Acts 3:13
- Matthew 27:24
They crucified him by wicked hands.
- Acts 2:22-24
They denied the holy and just One and killed the Prince of life.
- Acts 3:13-15
They murdered him.
- Acts 7:51-52
- 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
Jesus endured the hostility of sinners and their reproaches towards God fell on him.
- Romans 15:1-3
- Hebrews 12:2-3
- For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, the reproaches of those that reproached you fell on me (Rom.15:3, NKJV; cf. Ps.69:9, Ps.22:6-7).
- Jesus bore the reproaches of man against God at the cross. The crucified Lord – in one image – symbolized and symbolizes both the summation of all the sins and enmity of man against God … and the glorious fullness of all the love and compassion of God for mankind (Norman McIlwain).
They found no cause of death in him but still desired for him to be slain.
- Acts 13:27-30
They condemned him without a fair trial.
- Acts 8:33
- Isaiah 53: 8
Jesus suffered wrongfully at their hands.
- 1 Peter 2:19-24
- In 1 Peter 2, the apostle Peter (who learned firsthand from Jesus what had happened at the cross) says that Jesus suffered wrongfully. The apostle Peter goes on to tell us that Jesus committed Himself to the ONE who judges righteously (a reference to God the righteous Judge). Peter makes these statements in view of the cross saying, Jesus bore our sins in His body.
- For this is thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:19-24
- Notice that the apostle Peter says that Jesus (in view of His suffering death) is our example of how we are to endure when we suffer wrongfully. According to Peter, Jesus bore our sins as one who suffered wrongly and who committed himself to the Him who judges righteously.
They brutally assaulted him.
- Luke 18:31-33
They incited the mob to cry, “Crucify him!”
- Matthew 27:20-26
- Mark 15:11-14
- Luke 23:10-23
- Acts 3:13-19
Judas, the traitor, was more remorseful than they were.
- Matthew 27:3-4
God was not orchestrating the evil schemes carried out against Jesus. Satan was the one behind their evil plotting.
- Luke 22:52-53
- 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
- God delivered Jesus over to be crucified by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God. Jesus was given the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again: He gave himself for us as the ransom for our sins.
- I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:11-18)
Their hearts were filled with evil by the prince of this world.
- John 13:26-28
- Luke 22:1-4, 45-54
They were blind to God’s judgment for their rejection of Jesus.
- John 9:35-41; 12:23-41; 15:22-25; Acts 13:38-41
- See also Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:23-28; Romans 11:8; and 2 Corinthians 3:14-15.
- Their rejection of Jesus brought condemnation on them.
JESUS DIED A MARTYR’S DEATH
Like many of the righteous men who came before him, Jesus died as a martyr, yet he alone is the Messiah, and the Redeemer. Only his precious blood can save us from our sins.
The rejection of Jesus by those who condemned him was the culmination of the rejection of the prophets and righteous men God had sent to their ancestors. They became guilty of the blood of all the righteous and the prophets of God by their rejection of Jesus.
- Luke 11:46-52
- Matthew 23:29-39
In the gospels, Jesus likened his own death to those who had died before him for the glory of God. In Matthew 17:12-13, Jesus likened his death to that of John the Baptist:
But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. LIKEWISE shall ALSO the Son of man SUFFER OF THEM. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist was not condemned by God, but was a martyr who died for the glory of God.
Jesus also describes his death as a martyr in the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 21:33-43. In Verses 34- 39 we read the following.
And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them HIS SON, saying, they will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, THIS IS THE HEIR; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
As we can see in this parable, the Lord of the vineyard was not the one condemning his Son. Instead, it was the husbandmen who mistreated and killed the Son. They did to the Son as they had done to the other servants who were sent before him. This is the narrative according to Jesus and his apostles with regards to the nature of Christ’s sufferings. Jesus died at the hands of sinful men who unjustly condemned him: He was condemned by men, not condemned by God.
As we continue reading this parable, Jesus says the following:
When THE LORD therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, he will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, did ye never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? (Matthew 21:40-42)
The significance of Jesus as the Stone which the builders rejected and the ONE God has chosen is abundantly clear throughout the gospels and the book of Acts.
Jesus never once attributed the things he suffered in death to the justice or wrath of God, or as condemnation from God. He always attributed things he suffered in his death to the hands of sinful men.
Likewise, in the book of Acts, the apostles never interpret the death of Jesus as condemnation levied against Jesus from God. The apostles always held the people responsible for Christ’s death. Conversely, they attribute the resurrection to God in opposition to what the people had done in condemning and crucifying Jesus.
The message preached by the apostle Peter on Pentecost, was that Christ, whom the people had condemned, had been raised from the dead and enthroned at the right hand of God. By this message, Peter exhorted the people of Israel to repent and to believe all that the prophets had foretold of the Messiah.
Stephen, who was not an apostle, testified of the death and resurrection of Jesus while on trial before the Sanhedrin. Stephen did not preach that Jesus had been condemned by God. Instead, Stephen held the Jewish leaders responsible saying to those who were about to stone him that they had been betrayers and murders of Jesus, the Just One.
Their forefathers had persecuted the prophets who had showed beforehand the coming of Christ, and they had followed in their footsteps by their rejection of Christ. Stephen says that what they did to Jesus was that of resisting the Holy Ghost!
Because of his bold testimony for Jesus, Stephen was murdered by those to whom he testified of Christ. Stephen was martyred (Acts 7:52).
Following in Christ’s footsteps, Stephen laid down his life for the glory of God. Stephen was not condemned by God, but rather was a chosen vessel who suffered martyrdom for the gospel and for the glory of Christ.
It is in this way -martyrdom – Jesus suffered and died. The nature of sufferings of Christ, according to the will of God, should be understood in the same way in which we understand others, who according to the will of God, suffered for glory of God.
Job and Paul are also examples. Both suffered for the glory of God, but it was not God opposing and afflicting them. Yet in their sufferings they were completely in the will of God and the purposes of God were accomplished through them. Likewise, it was the will of God for Christ to suffer for us to redeem us with his precious blood.
Isaiah the prophet had testified that Jesus would suffer an unjust death and this is exactly the same scripture that Philip began with when he preached Christ to the Eunuch in Acts 8: “In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”
- He was humiliated and received no justice …(NLT)
- In his humiliation he was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied him …(Amplified Bible)
- In his humiliation justice was denied him …(Holman Christian Standard Bible)
In 1 Peter 2, the apostle Peter says the same thing when he tells us that Jesus suffered wrongfully and committed himself to the HIM who judges righteously.
When did the the ONE who judges righteously intervene? He intervene IN THE RESURRECTION!
God exalted his Son in righteousness in the resurrection, and delivered unto him the Kingdom. The stone the builders rejected is the precious corner stone which God has chosen. Now all men are commanded to repent and serve him!
Jesus laid down his life according to the will of God, dying unjustly at the hands of sinful men, to redeem us with his precious blood. In his resurrection, God overturned the verdict of sinful men by raising Jesus from the dead and exalting him at the highest place of honor.
It is in this way that scriptures, such as Isaiah 53:10: it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief, were fulfilled. Not by God personally afflicting him from Heaven, but by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God, he was bruised and put to grief for us.
The message preached by the apostle Peter on Pentecost, was that Christ, whom the people had condemned, had been raised from the dead and enthroned at the right hand of God. By this message, Peter exhorted the people of Israel to repent and to believe all that the prophets had foretold of the Messiah.
Christ died an unjust death at the hands of sinful men, and was vindicated in his resurrection and exaltation at the right hand of God.
THE VINDICATION OF JESUS
Jesus tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). Death is the judgment or the condemning sentence for sin. Jesus having no sin, willfully laid down his life as the sacrifice for our sins so that we might be redeemed to God
In this way – as a sacrifice and an offering – Jesus experienced God’s judgment for us, for his death serves as payment for our sins. According to be book of Hebrews, it behooved Jesus to be made like his brethren in all things and for this reason he suffered and tasted death for every man.
However, in the resurrection, God demonstrated his righteousness on behalf of Jesus by raising him from the dead and exalting him at his own right hand.
Consequently, all who trust in Jesus, whom God vindicated and exalted, will be justified from their sins through him. This is the manner in which God overthrew the sentence of death and the power of darkness which held humanity in bondage because of sin.
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. ~ Colossians 2:15
AUTHORITY TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE AND TAKE IT UP AGAIN
Jesus was entrusted with complete authority from God the Father.
- John 5:20-30
- Matthew 11:27
- John 13:3-4
The Father gave Jesus the authority to judge and he gave Jesus authority over all things. In John 12 Jesus declares that his death and resurrection would mean judgment upon both the world and the prince of this world.
- John 12:31
- John 16:33
The Father gave Jesus the command to lay down his life and to take it up again.
- John 10:14-18
- John 14:28-31
Those who crucified Jesus could not take His life until Christ laid it down.
- John 2:18-22; 5:35; 10:17-18; 11:25; 13:1-4; 14:28-31; 17:1-2
- Hebrews 2:5-17
Judas could not carry out the betrayal until Jesus gave him permission to do so.
- John 13:27
They could not arrest him without His permission.
- John 18:3-12
Jesus could have saved Himself from the cross. Instead, He chose to die to fulfill the scriptures.
- Matthew 26:51-57
Death had no power to hold Jesus.
- Acts 2:23-24
Jesus gave Himself for us in surrendered obedience to the will of God. Jesus was given both the commandment and the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again.
- John 10:14-18
- John 14:28-31
JESUS GLORIFIED THE FATHER BY LAYING DOWN HIS LIFE
When Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He fulfilled the scripture which says; Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt’ (Matthew 12:5 TNLT).
The Pharisees then declared; “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (John 12:19, TNLT).
Jesus was in complete control for the Father had placed all authority into his hands (John 13:1-4).
Instead of making himself King for his own glory, he chose to lay down his life for the glory of God by giving us an example to follow. He did not exalt himself to be King but instead surrendered his life to the will of his Father to be the offering for our sins. He gave his life as a ransom for many and by giving his life for us he glorified God (John 13:31-32). He is the Servant-King.
In sacrificial love, Jesus bore witness to the truth and laid down his life so that the world would know that he loves the Father.
- John 14:29-31
- John 18:37
Jesus glorified God by giving his life as a ransom for our sins.
- John 13:31-32
The gospel repeatedly describes his death as his departure and his going to the Father.
- John 13:1, 3; 16:5-7, 10, and 28
Jesus described the laying down of His life as that of a corn of wheat falling into the ground and dying, which afterwards brings forth a great harvest.
- John 12:24
Jesus never failed to show the world who the Father really is. He did this in everything he said and did including his death (John 13:32). All the works which Jesus did, he did in the name of his Father (John 10:25) and just prior to laying down his life he had prayed, “Father, glorify thy name.” In response to this prayer, the Father answered: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” (John 12:28)
By this, the Father was speaking of the works he had already done through his Son and the work he was about to accomplish through his death and resurrection.
Jesus had said to those Jews who wanted to kill him from the beginning, “when you have lifted up the Son of Man (on the cross) you will know that I AM HE” (John 8:28-29). His death and resurrection was the final and greatest statement that he is indeed the Messiah, the Son of God. Everything Jesus did, he learned from the Father and when he laid down his life, he gave it as the good Shepherd giving his life for the sheep; this too he had learned from his Father!
Jesus laid down his life because of his love for us (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16) and death could not hold him because he is the resurrection and the life (John 11). He gave his life to redeem us with his precious blood and he conquered death in his resurrection.
Jesus laid down his life for His friends.
- John 15:13
Jesus is our example of how we should lay down our lives for the brethren.
- 1 John 3:16
Jesus laid down his life for the sheep because he knew the Father (John 10:11, 15, 17-18) and was taught so by the Father (John 10:17-18; 13:1-3; 14:29-31) and he did only what he saw His Father do (John 5:19). The commandment – to lay down His life and take it up again – he received from the Father (John 10:18).
In John 10:17 Jesus says, Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. In his death for you, Jesus did what he had learned from the Father, he gave himself in true sacrificial love!
Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. (1 Peter 2; 24-25)
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Isaiah 53 reveals the suffering of God’s righteous servant, who would be despised and rejected by men.
The key verses in Isaiah 53 are as follows:
- Verse 3, He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
- Verse 4, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
- Verse 6, All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
- Verse 10, Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Not listed above is verse 8: He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Verse 8 is a pivotal verse in rightly understanding the nature of the sufferings of Christ. Verse 8 reveals that Jesus suffered unjustly in his crucifixion.
- Other translations render Isaiah 53:8 as follows:
- Unjustly condemned, he was led away… (New Living Translation).
- By oppression and judgment he was taken away… (Amplified Bible).
- He was condemned to death without a fair trial… (Contemporary English Version).
- Isaiah 53:8 is quoted in Acts 8:33: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth. Other translations render Acts 8:33 as follows:
- He was humiliated and received no justice … (NLT).
- In his humiliation he was taken away by distressing and oppressive judgment and justice was denied him … (Amplified Bible).
- In his humiliation justice was denied Him … (Holman Christian Standard Bible).
Jesus did indeed suffer unjustly in his crucifixion, yet it was the will of God that it be so.
In Acts 4, the gathering together of the kings of the earth and the rulers was against the Lord, and against his Christ, and is said to be according to that which the Lord’s hand and counsel predetermined to be done. (Acts 4:26-28)
When Christ was condemned unjustly, the people were gathered against God and Jesus, “the Lord and his Christ.”
If we know that according to the hand and foreknowledge of God, the people were gathered together against God and Christ, we can conclude that God was not the one opposing his Son by personally condemning him from Heaven by pouring out his wrath. God was in Christ, reconciling the world when Jesus was crucified. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
Hebrews 2:9 tell us by the grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man, and Hebrews 9:14 tells us Christ offered Himself without spot to God through the eternal Spirit.
At the cross, God was not the one opposing and condemning Jesus. God was the one strengthening him and enabling him to endure the sufferings of the cross.
It is as a martyr giving his life for others that Christ suffered and died, and it is in this way that statements such as in Isaiah 53:6 “…the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” and in Isaiah 53:10 “…it pleased the Lord to bruise him: he hath put him to grief…” were fulfilled. Not by God personally afflicting Jesus from Heaven, but by the surrendered obedience of Jesus to the will of God.
Notice the following from Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. but God raised him from the dead… (Acts 13:27-30).
Notice that Paul says, “They fulfilled the scriptures by condemning him,” and in opposition to what they had done, “God raised him from the dead.”
According to Romans 15:3, the reproaches of the people towards God were levied against Jesus: Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, the reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Jesus was God in the flesh dying for His people, and their hatred and rebellion against God was levied against Jesus and in that place he responded with forgiveness.
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)
The author of Hebrews tells us to keep “looking to Jesus who endured such opposition from men, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (see Hebrews 12:2)
The shame Jesus endured was humiliation which came from men who hated and opposed God. The Son of God was placed on public display in the most humiliating fashion wherein he was mocked and ridiculed by those who despised both he and his and Father: God.
He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, they hated me without a cause. (John 15:23-25)
The hatred of the people towards Christ which drove them to crucify him, was hatred towards God. Yet, it was the counsel of God to overthrow their hatred in their worldly wisdom through the sufferings of Christ at the cross. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-7)
MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
The words “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me,” come from the first verse of Psalm 22. The Jews who were acquainted with the Torah, and who would have recognized these words would have immediately thought of Psalm 22 in its entirety.
The words which Jesus quoted from Psalm 22:1 should not be used as a proof-text that Jesus had been rejected by God. On the contrary, Jesus is the one whom he claimed to be: the Messiah, the Son of God. Psalm 22 is a vivid portrait of the suffering Messiah at the hands of men.
Within the time frame of Jesus citing Psalm 22:1, we read of two significant things which are recorded in the gospel accounts.
- The Centurion Soldier concluded that Jesus was the Son of God.
- Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 are the two places in the New Testament where Psalm 22:1 is recorded. In both instances the scriptures record the response of the Centurion Soldier who heard Jesus cry out these words. His conclusion was “truly this man was the Son of God.”And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?…And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. (see Mark 15:34-39)
- What persuaded the Centurion Soldier that Jesus is the Son of God? If God had abandoned Jesus, this would have only reinforced what the Jews already thought. It would have proved he was not the Messiah. Yet if his death on the cross did indeed prove that he is the Son of God as Jesus said it would (John 8:28-29), then the words Jesus recited from Psalm 22 must have been a part of the undeniable evidence that Jesus is God’s Son.
- The veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:51)
God was with Jesus during his sufferings.
- God did not hide His face from him. (Psalm 22:24)
- He was heard. (Hebrews 5:7-9)
- Jesus said, I am not alone because the Father is with me. (John 16:28-32)
- Jesus said, the Father has not left me alone. (John 8:28-29)
- He is near who justifies me. (Isaiah 50:5-9)
- By the grace of God he tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)
- God was in Christ reconciling the world. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
- Through the eternal Spirit Jesus offered himself to God (Hebrews 9:14)
- Jesus shed his blood as an unblemished lamb. (1 Peter 1:18-20)
- The death of Jesus was a sweet fragrance to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
The words – “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” – are only one of several statements made by Jesus from the cross.
- Jesus spoke words of forgiveness. (Luke 23:34)
- Jesus spoke words of provision. (John 19:27)
- Jesus spoke words of eternal life. (Matthew 15:46)
- Jesus spoke words from the scriptures. (John 19:28-30; Matthew 15:46)
- Jesus spoke words of trust in God. (Luke 23:46)
Things we should consider.
- Jesus was delivered to the cross, not from the cross.
- It was the will of God for Jesus to lay down His life and to take it up again.
- God did not intervene to rescue Jesus from the agony of the Cross.
- Jesus was protected from those who wanted to destroy Him until the time came that He should lay down His life. (John 7:30)
- Jesus endured the full weight of the grief of the soul who feels abandoned by God, Jesus was made perfect, as high priest, by the things he suffered. He is our faithful high priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15-16; 5:7-8).
- The sense of abandonment experienced by Christ was provisional not relational. God withdraw his protective hand when the time came for Jesus to lay down his life. In this way, Jesus was delivered over to death by God as our sacrifice. Jesus was not relationally separated from God.
- Finally, it must not be overlooked that the words “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me,” speak to the truth of why Jesus had to die: our sins have separated us from God. The paradox is that Christ died for the sins which have estranged us to God, though he himself was never separated from God. His holy sacrifice serves as payment for our sins.
Jesus had said to those Jews who wanted to kill him from the beginning, “when you have lifted up the Son of Man (on the cross) you will know that I AM He” (John 8:28-29).
PSALM 22 – OUTLINED
PSALM 22:1-5, THE PERCEPTION: FORSAKEN BY GOD
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
PSALM 22:6-8, THE REALITY: DESPISED BY THE PEOPLE
But I am a worm (scarlet, red), and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
PSALM 22:9-11, THE MESSIAH’S HOPE IN GOD
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
PSALM 22:12-21, MESSIAH’S PRAYER
Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.
PSALM 22:22-31, MESSIAH’S TRIUMPH AND PRAISE
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.
DID JESUS DIE SPIRITUALLY?
The Bible says, “Jesus bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)
The lacerations that came from the beating Jesus endured, the nails that pierced his hands and feet, the crown of thorns placed on his head, and the spear driven into his side; was the punishment he endured for our sins. This punishment was inflicted on Jesus by the hands of sinful men, and this is the revelation that comes forth in the New Testament.
Peter does not say, “Jesus bore our sins in his spirit,” but rather, “in his body.”
Within the context of Peter’s description of Jesus bearing our sins, he tells us that Jesus suffered wrongfully while entrusting himself to God who judges righteously. Peter says this within the context of Jesus bearing our sins in his body on the tree (the cross).
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.(1 Peter 2:19-24)
Someone once said me, “It was not merely the stripes of men that Jesus endured.” The same person also told me “we should not hone it down to only the human aspects of the events.” These statements were made contending that there was an unseen exchange between God and Jesus, whereby Jesus was being punished by God in a way that was not visible by the things he was outwardly suffering at the cross.
Yet, according to the apostle Peter the bearing of our sins happened at the cross when Jesus suffered at the hands of sinful men, and by those stripes – the ones Jesus bore in his body on the cross – we are healed.
According to Jesus, the apostles, and the angel at the empty tomb, the things which the prophets foretold about the crucifixion of Jesus are those things which actually played out, on the ground, in the flesh, at the cross.
The Bible does not teach that there was a behind the scene exchange, which happened in the spirit realm wherein God was personally afflicting Jesus apart from those things he visibly suffering in his flesh (in his body) at the cross.
Verses such as Galatians 3:13 are sometimes used to support the conclusion that God, behind the scene or in the spirit realm, condemned Jesus because the physical sufferings of Christ were somehow not enough. Statements such as, Christ was made to be a curse for us, are often extracted from their contextual setting and used as a proof –text to support such views.
Those who teach such things often present the cross in a manner as if what actually happened to Jesus in the flesh wasn’t sufficient, and therefore some other kind of torture was needed. Such as God punishing Jesus in his spirit by pouring out his wrath.
However, Paul’s qualifies his declaration that Christ was made a curse for us by saying “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: FOR IT IS WRITTEN, Cursed is every one that HANGETH ON A TREE.”
According to Paul, Christ was made a curse for us in the manner in which he was suffered physically. Paul tells the Galatians, Christ was made a curse by hanging on a tree. Not by some exchange between God and Christ behind the scene.
Under the Law, it was the corpses of those who had already been executed, then hanged on a tree, which were cursed. In Galatians 3:1, the apostle Paul says, “Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross.”
Notice that Paul appeals to the Galatians according to that which actually happened, out in the open, at the cross, and not by some behind the scenes exchange.
The crucified body of Jesus Christ is the emblem of our redemption from sin, and through his slain body, which was hanged on a tree, we are free from the curse of the Law. The writer of Hebrews says we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all (see Hebrews 10:5-10).
When men teach that something more than the physical sufferings of Christ was needed for our redemption, it only leaves endless trail of theories which cannot be plainly seen within the scriptures. It leaves a trail theories such as the following:
- Jesus suffered under the wrath of God.
- Jesus was treated as a sinner by God.
- Jesus died spiritually.
- Jesus had to suffer in Hell to pay the penalty for our sins.
- Jesus had to be born again in hell.
However, the Bible teaches none of these. Our salvation is simply by the death and resurrection of the Son of God, and our redemption is through his slain body and shed Blood.
When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment in His flesh which the Law demanded by hanging on a tree. He did this to bring an end to the Law, to redeem those under the Law, and enable the blessing of Abraham to come on the Gentiles.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).
May we learn what it truly means to glory in the cross.
THE BODY OF JESUS WAS THE OFFERING FOR OUR SINS
Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any men eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:51-57)
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39)
And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Colossians 1:20-22)
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. (Romans 8:3)
- In the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh is literally translated, by a sacrifice for sin condemned sin in the flesh.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:14-16)
- Note – Angels are spirits: And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire (Hebrews 1:7).
- Jesus took upon flesh and blood, redeem us by his shed blood through the offering of his sinless body. After his resurrection he appeared to his disciples and said: Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:5-10)
Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:18-22)
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:18)
Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. (1 Peter 4:1)
There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. (Matthew 26:7-13)
- Mark 14:8 says: She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-27)
The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born. And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. (Mark 12:21-24)
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said. (John 2:19-22)
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:23-27)
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-22)
THE BODY OF THE LORD
Romans 8:3 says Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh, not in sinful flesh. Jesus is the Son of God. He took on flesh and blood. He did not have sinful flesh, just as Adam did not have sinful flesh before he sinned.
According the the new testament, the body of Jesus is the offering for our sins (Hebrews 10:10). Jesus said that he would give his flesh for the life of the world. ~ John 6:51-57
Under the old testament the sacrifices which foreshadowed Jesus had to be unblemished and holy.
Jesus redeemed us with his precious blood as of a lamb with out spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:18-20). If Jesus’ body had not been holy and without sin, his blood could not have been holy. The blood of Jesus is holy because Jesus’ body was holy and because he was and is holy.
This is exactly why Jesus’ body did not decay in the tomb. The apostle Peter, referring to the body of Jesus in the tomb, said that death could not hold Jesus because God would not allow his holy one to see corruption (Acts 2:27). Again, this is a reference to the body of Jesus in the tomb.
Jesus’ body was the fulfillment of the unleavened bread which was to be eaten by the people of Israel as they were saved by the blood of the lamb. ~ Exodus 12At the last supper, Jesus said to his disciples: “this is my body broken for you, and this is my blood shed for you.” ~ Luke 22:19-20
This memorial known as holy communion was give to us as an ordinance to observe until the coming of the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul told the Corinthians that some of them were sick and some of them had died because they did not discern the body of the Lord. They were approaching the Lord’s table irreverently.
Just as Jesus’ spiritual body (the church) is called to be holy, so his physical body was and is holy. Jesus was without sin in every respect.
Any concept that claims that Jesus had sin in his body goes completely against the whole counsel of scripture and is based totally on an very flawed understanding the scriptures. Jesus is, was, and always will be holy.
DID JESUS SUFFER IN HELL?
Jesus came in the flesh and redeemed us with his precious blood through the offering of his body for our sins. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said the following:
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. (Luke 24:39)
The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus took on flesh and blood to redeem us.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:14-16)
Notice in contrast to the nature of angels, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus took on the seed of Abraham. What is the nature of Angels in contrast to the seed of Abraham?
And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire (Hebrews 1:7).
Angels are spirits. Jesus came in the flesh through the seed of Abraham.
And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)
The words, justified in the spirit, in 1 Timothy 3:16 (above) actually mean – vindicated, or declared righteous in the spirit.
Jesus was condemned unjustly in the flesh when he suffered at the hands of sinful men. Yet, he was vindicated in the spirit in his resurrection from the dead and exaltation at the right hand of God.
The vindication of Jesus through his resurrection and exaltation comes through strongly in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14-36. It is from the context of this sermon that the words “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” and “his soul was not left in hell” is sometimes extracted and used to advocate that Jesus suffered in hell.
However, the context to which these words belong has to do with the death, burial, resurrection, & exaltation of Jesus Christ. In Acts 2, the apostle Peter is
quoting from Psalm 16:8-11 and proving to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah.
I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou with not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:8-11)
In Psalm 16:10, the Hebrew word sheol is translated as hell. Throughout the Old Testament, Sheol is translated in three ways:
Both the wicked and the righteous go to sheol – the grave – when they die.
- Jacob said,”For I will go down into sheol – the grave – unto my son in mourning (Gen 37:35). Consider also Job 17:13.
In the New Testament, hell is translated from three Greek words.
- Tartaroo, (translated once) the place of the wicked dead, the place of outer darkness.
- Gehenna, (translated 12 times) the place of future torment, the lake of fire, i.e. hell fire.
- Hades (translated 10 times) the grave, or the abode of the dead, the place of departed souls.
We must not think of hades as the plot of land in which a body is buried, but the separation of the soul from the body.
The apostle Paul uses the word Hades in 1 Corinthians 15:55 in reference to the grave. “O death, where is thy sting? O GRAVEwhere is thy victory?”
Paul’s word’s above also support the truth of a physical resurrection of the righteous at the coming of Jesus and not a mystical resurrection as some think as already happened.
In Acts 2:27 & 31 the Greek word Hades is used.
Consider the following:
- There is no mention of suffering in hell, in the place of torment, in Psalm 16 or Acts 2.
- The sentence structure of both Psalm 16 and Acts 2 infers hope and victory.
- Therefore did my heart rejoice (Acts 2:26)
- My tongue was glad (Acts 2:26)
- Moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope (Acts 2:26)
- Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Acts 2:27)
- Neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption (Acts 2:27)
- Thou hast made known to me the ways of life (Acts 2:28)
- Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance (Acts 2;28)
The sentence structure in Acts 2:26-27 and 2:30-31 infers victory over death by means of the resurrection. Jesus was dead and his soul was not left in the abode of the dead because God raised him up again.
In Peter’s sermon, his emphasis is that the body of Jesus saw no corruption because God raised him from the dead. This is why Peter makes it clear that when David said these words he wasn’t referring to himself but to Jesus instead.
Men and brethren let me speak freely unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption… For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:29-36)
Notice that Peter interprets the words regarding the soul of Christ not being left in hell as victory over the grave and not as torture in the regions of the damned.
Notice the text very closely again.
“Men and brethren let me speak freely unto you of the patriarch David that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.”
“He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption… For David is not ascended into the heavens…”
Peter tells the people that these words were not referring to David but to Jesus.
Now think about that for a moment.
Do you think that those who were acquainted with this prophecy of scripture and thought it referred to David, thought David as suffering in the torments of Hell? Certainly not!
Why then should we think this of Christ?
Peter interprets the phrase “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” as the fulfillment of God’s promise to David that from among his descendants according to the flesh, God would raise up Christ to set on his throne forever.
Acts 13:34-36 uses similar language.
And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, thou shalt not suffer thine holy one to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
The phrase, thou will not leave my soul in hell, belongs to the promise that the Messiah’s body would not decay in the gave. This is the sure mercies God promised to David concerning Christ whom he raised from the dead. It was not God’s promise that Jesus would need to suffer the torments of eternal damnation to redeem us.
Those who teach that Jesus suffered in hell will sometimes teach that Jesus died two deaths: a physical death and a spiritual death. Yet the Bible expounds only on the physical death of Jesus. The New Testament gives no clear indisputable evidence that Christ suffered in hell or that he died twice – physically and spiritually.
If Jesus would have died in his spirit and suffered in hell, the New Testament writers would have laid it out in plain view for all to see and there would be no need to piece-mill a couple of random scriptures together to prove such a doctrine.
The New Testament gives indisputable evidence of the physical sufferings of Christ on the cross and redemption by his blood. The physical sufferings of Christ on the Cross and the purpose for his shed blood are clearly stated throughout the New Testament.
His Body was broken for us:
- 1 Peter 2:24; John 6:51-57; Ephesians 2:13-18; Colossians 1:20-22; Luke 24:36-40; Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:9-17; Hebrews 10:5-10, 18-22; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 4:1; Matthew 26:7-13; 14:8; Luke 22:19-20; John 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 11:23-27).
His Blood was shed for us:
- Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Pet 1:19; Col 1:20; Hebrews 9:22; 10:18-22; Romans 5:9
Jesus died on the cross for our sins!
JESUS BORE OUR SINS
As already noted, the apostle Peter tells us that Jesus is our example of suffering wrongfully and that he committed himself to God who judges righteously. Peter tells us this within context of Christ bearing our sins (see 1 Peter 2:19-25).
Isaiah 53:12 says, He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The Hebrew word for bare in Isaiah 53:12 is, naw-saw, and is translated as forgiveness in its various forms on multiple occasions in the old testament. For instance, it is translated as, forgiving, in Exodus 34.
- And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7)
Naw-saw is also translated as forgive, forgiven, and forgavest in Psalm 25:16-18 and Psalm 32:1 & 5.
- Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16-18)
- Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile… I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalm 32:1, 2, & 5)
In Romans 4 Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2 (referenced above) in view of the forgiveness and righteousness which comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
The Hebrews word, naw-saw, translated as, bare, in Isaiah 53:12 appears in 610 passages of scripture in the old testament and is referenced a total of 653 times.
Here are some examples of how it is used elsewhere in the old testament:
- And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. (Genesis 7:17)
- And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. (Exodus 10:19)
- Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. (Exodus 19:4)
- And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (Exodus 25:14)
- Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. (Deuteronomy 1:8-13)
- The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. (Deuteronomy 1:30-33)
- Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (Isaiah 1:13-14)
- Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:9-11)
- Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:3-4)
- I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:7-9)
In Isaiah 53:4, the Hebrew word, naw-saw, is rendered as: borne.
- Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
In Matthew 8:16-17, Matthew interprets Isaiah 53:4 in view of healing and deliverance.
- When the evening was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
According to Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4, Jesus took the people’s infirmities and bare their sicknesses, but not by becoming afflicted and sick: by becoming a substitute with the sicknesses and infirmities of the people transferred to Him.
Instead, Jesus took the infirmities and bare the sicknesses of the people by delivering them from demons and healing them.
From Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4 we can see Matthew understood the words of Isaiah in view the antidote which was healing and deliverance.
In the same way, Jesus bore our sins by giving himself as an unblemished sacrifice so that we could be cleansed from our sins by his precious blood and made alive with him through his resurrection from the dead.
It is in view of the salvation which Jesus obtained for us through the laying down of his life that we should understand what it means that he bore our sins.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, the Greek word for bare is, anaphero, and it means to take up, bear, bring, (carry, lead) up, offer (up). It is used 9 other times in the New Testament in 8 different verses.
- Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
- And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart. (Matthew 17:1)
- Mark also referencing the ascent up the Mount of transfiguration says: leadeth them up. (see Mark 9:2)
- And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (Luke 25:51)
- In Hebrews 7:27 and 9:28 it is used to describe Jesus giving his life as an offering for our sins:
- Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
- So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
- In Hebrews 13:15 it is used as a reference to the sacrifices of praise which we offer to God: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
- In James 2:21 it is used as a reference to Abraham offering up of Isaac as a burnt offering on the altar of sacrifice: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
- And finally, in 1 Peter 2:5 it is a reference to the spiritual sacrifices which we offer to God: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
As we can see the word bare has nothing to do with substitution or replacement. It has to with lifting up, offering up, ascending. Note also that in 1 Peter 2:5 it is used in conjunction with the spiritual sacrifices which God accepts from those who worship and serve him through Jesus Christ.
In that Jesus bore our sins, he offered up Himself to take away our sins and through the precious blood he shed on the cross, our sins are remitted. Jesus did not become a guilty substitute or replacement, rejected by God in our place. Jesus gave himself as a holy and pure offering, accepted by God for us, and by His precious blood we have redemption.
THE DIVINE FIRE
At the inauguration of the service of the tabernacle of Moses, God demonstrated his acceptance of the offerings which foreshadowed Christ by consuming the sacrifices by fire from his holy presence.
And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and THE GLORY OF THE LORD APPEARED unto all the people. AND THERE CAME A FIRE OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD, and CONSUMED upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:22-24)
The fire which consumed the sacrifices came from the presence of God from within the holy of holies. This demonstration of God’s glory was repeated at the dedication of the temple which Solomon built, except this time the fire came down from Heaven.
Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, THE FIRE CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, and CONSUMED the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE HOUSE. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because THE GLORY OF THE LORD HAD FILLED THE LORD’S HOUSE. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (2 Chronicles 7:1-3)
In both cases, in the tabernacle of Moses and in the temple of Solomon, God’s glory was manifested as he accepted the sacrifices which foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.
Throughout the old testament, the sacrifices which were a type of Christ were offered to God as a sweet fragrance and were accepted by God. They were never rejected by God.
These sacrifices were holy and they were to be accepted on the behalf of the people (Lev 22:20, 21, 25, 27). By virtue of these offerings, the people were sanctified and made holy in the sight of the Lord.
Ephesians 1:6 tells us, “we have been accepted in the beloved,” but how? Does God accept us because he rejected Jesus when he died on the cross? NO! Absolutely not.
We are accepted in the beloved because of God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus for us.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God FOR CHRIST’S SAKE HATH FORGIVEN YOU. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath GIVEN HIMSELF FOR US AN OFFERING AND A SACRIFICE TO GOD FOR A SWEET SMELLING SAVOR. (Ephesians 4:32-52)
Jesus Christ died as an unblemished lamb whose blood is pure and holy; and because he is holy and accepted by God, we are sanctified and accepted by God in him.
Had God condemned Jesus by treating him as a condemned sinner under his wrath, Jesus would not have been a sweet fragrant sacrifice and offering to God.
Whenever God’s wrath was revealed under the law, he would not accept the sacrifices and offerings as a sweet aroma (Leviticus 26:31, Jeremiah 14:11-12). Yet, when God’s people returned to him in repentance, God accepted both them and their atonement sacrifices as a sweet fragrance (Ezekiel 20:40-41).
Christ gave himself for our sins as a sweet fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, and for his sake we are cleansed by his blood.
When God consumed the sacrifices at the dedication of the tabernacle under Moses, divine fire burned upon the altar. Earlier in Leviticus 6, God had instructed Moses concerning the fire upon the altar, saying, “it shall not be put out” and “it shall never be put out” (see Leviticus 6:9-13).
This is significant because of the important role which the brazen altar of sacrifice had in connection to the golden altar of incense within the holy place.
In scripture, the incense from the golden altar is associated prayer (Revelation 8:3). By all evidence the burning of the incense upon the golden altar must have been accomplished with the divine fire from the brazen altar.
In Leviticus 10, not long after God had consumed the sacrifices with the divine fire from his presence, Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu, took it upon themselves to offer incense with strange fire. When they did this, divine fire once again came from the presence of the Lord, but this time, it devoured the two sons of Aaron and they died under the judgment of God.
This all foreshadowed Christ, who is man’s only approach to God. All other ways lead to God’s judgment. Through Christ alone we are enabled to approach and stand in the presence of a holy God. Jesus gave himself for us as a sweet smelling savor to God (Ephesians 5:2) and it is through him alone that the divine presence of God burns within our hearts.
It is our responsibility to keep stirred, the gifting of God in our lives.
THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight… (Colossians 1:20-22)
The cross of Christ was foreshadowed throughout the old testament by the altars upon which the sacrifices offered to God were presented. These sacrificial altars give a progressive revelation of the cross of Christ.
Before the law was given by Moses and before there was ever a tabernacle or a temple, the altar of sacrifice served as the place where the Patriarchs worshipped God.
- Noah built an altar (Genesis 8:20)
- Abraham built an altar (Genesis 12:7, 8; 13:4, 22:9)
- Isaac built an altar (Genesis 26:25)
- Jacob built an altar (Genesis 33:20; 35:1,3,7)
When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle so that he could dwell among his people, he commanded that an altar be made with acacia wood and overlaid brass. This altar within the tabernacle was known as:
- the Brazen altar
- the altar for burnt offering
- the altar of the Lord
The purpose of the brazen altar was for the offerings and sacrifices. There were 5 types of offering and sacrifices.
- the burnt offering
- the meat offering
- the peace offering
- the sin offering
- the trespass offering
These all foreshadowed Christ, and were to be offered as a sweet fragrance to God and were accepted by him to make atonement. Throughout the old testament, the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were accepted and not rejected. Those offerings which were rejected did not make atonement.
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be ACCEPTED for him TO MAKE ATONEMENT for him. (Leviticus 1:4)
And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day, it shall NOT be accepted , neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity. (Leviticus 7:18)
Rejected sacrifices and offerings did not make atonement. Those which were accepted as a sweet savor did!
The Bible teaches that Jesus gave himself for us as a sweet savor, or sweet fragrance to God.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. (Ephesians 5:2)
All the sacrifice which were offered on the brazen alter for atonement were to be a sweet savor to foreshadow Christ who God would accept for us as the offering for our sins.
The brazen altar, which was a type of the cross of Christ, had to be consecrated by the blood of the sin offering before it had any power for service. It had no power to sanctify without the blood. It was consecrated to God by the blood of the sin offering before it placed into service.
At the consecration of the priests, Moses killed the sin offering and applied the blood to the horns of the altar to purify it (Exodus 29:12, 36-37; Leviticus 8:15). In scripture, horns are symbolic of power (Habakkuk 3:4). The blood of the sin offering applied to the horns at the time of it’s consecration, was a type of the blood of Christ as the power of the cross.
After the blood was applied to the horns, the remainder of the blood was then poured out at the bottom of the altar to sanctify it so that reconciliation could be made upon it. The blood sanctified the altar making it a a most holy altar.
Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy. (Exodus 29:37)
Most holy is the same language used to describe the inner most part of the tabernacle where the glory of God rested on the mercy seat.
When Jesus died on the cross, the cross was set apart as most holy to God for every man, for it was there that Jesus died as a sacrifice to redeem us with his precious blood.
WE HAVE AN ALTAR, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. (Hebrews 13:10-12)
Because of his blood that was shed upon cross, the cross has the power to make us holy, unblameable, and unreprovable in God’s sight.
Throughout the old testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness.
On the Day of Atonement, atonement made for the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:5, 7, 15, 33). Atonement was also made for the priesthood (Leviticus 16:3, 6, 11-14, 33), the golden altar of incense (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:18, 19, 20, 33), the most holy place (Leviticus 16:16, 17, 20, 33), and for the entire tabernacle (Leviticus 16: 16, 20, 33).
Atonement was made for all that pertained to man’s approach to God, and God’s dwelling among his people.
Much of Hebrews 9 and 10 is written with the Day of Atonement in view. By drawing attention to the contrast between the temporary and the eternal, these chapters show how Jesus fulfilled the things foreshadowed on the Day of Atonement.
- The eternal value of the work of Christ is compared to temporary service which was only a foreshadowing of Christ. (Hebrews 9:7-12)
- Cleansing for the conscience by the blood of Christ is compared with outward ritual cleansing in the flesh. (Hebrews 9:12-12; 10:1-22)
- Jesus our great high priest is compared with the fading ministry of the high priest and priests under the law. (Hebrews 9:7-12; 21-24; 19-22)
Whereas Passover foreshadowed Christ as the Lamb of God, the Day of Atonement foreshadowed the entrance by Christ as our high priest into the presence of God. The entrance of the high priest into the most holy place was representative of Christ’s entrance into God’s presence for us as our great high priest. (Hebrews 9:8-14; 23-28; 10:19 -22)
Only on the Day of Atonement could the high priest, under the law, enter into the most holy place and sprinkle the atoning blood upon the mercy seat in the presence of God.
The Mercy seat was the lid or covering of the Ark of the Covenant, and is so named because it was here that the atonement blood was sprinkled annually in the presence of God to atone for the sins of Israel. It was the only seat within the tabernacle and represented the throne of God in the midst of his people. It was to be approached only on the Day of Atonement, and only by the high priest, but never without the atoning blood.
As Andrew Murray points out, the Day of Atonement was the one day of the year that Israel’s faith was actively focused on the most holy place. It was the one day of the year that what had happened at the altar of sacrifice had to be trusted by faith as being complete and secured within the most holy place. By faith the Israelites were to trust the high priest to carry out his intercessory ministry in the presence of God, and trust that atonement had been made upon the mercy seat.
So it is with us. We look to Jesus, the one who died on the cross and rose again and we trust by faith, that in the presence of God, he lives for us to make intercession whereby he is able to save us completely.
By virtue of his own blood, Jesus entered into the very presence of God for us to consecrate the new and living way to God. The new and living way is through a pure conscience that has been purified by the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of God. (Hebrews 9:12-14; 10:19-22)
The blood of animals, which were offered according to the Law, had no power to purify man’s conscience in the sight of God. Since those sacrifices could not take away sin they brought no pleasure to God (Hebrews 9:9; 10:1-4). However, the blood of Jesus pleases God because his blood cleanses our conscience from sin (Hebrews 7:11,12,19; Hebrews 9:7, 12-14, 22; Hebrews 10:1,2,10,14,17-19,22; Hebrews 12:24).
THE SWEET SAVOR OF CHRIST
For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Sometimes 2 Corinthians 5:21 gets interpreted as saying: “Jesus became sin with our sinfulness.” Notice, however, that this is not what the text says.
If Christ was made sin with our sinfulness, if he had become the object of God’s wrath, and had been rejected by God as a imputed guilty substitute, how then would he have been a holy offering, accepted as a sweet savor, and well pleasing to God? How would God have been in Christ reconciling the world (2 Corinthians 5:19), if God indeed separated himself from Christ because he was made sin with our sinfulness?
As already referenced, the old testament offerings which made atonement for sins were offered to God as a sweet fragrance and they were accepted by God. They were never rejected by God to make atonement.
We must understand that the atonement sacrifices foreshadowed God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus as a sweet aroma on our behalf when he gave himself for our sins.
Had God condemned Jesus by treating him as a guilty sinner under his wrath, Jesus would not have been a sweet fragrant sacrifice and offering to God.
Whenever God’s wrath was revealed under the law, he would not accept the atonement sacrifices and offerings as a sweet aroma (Leviticus 26:31, Jeremiah 14:11-12). Yet, when God’s people returned to him in repentance, God accepted both them and their atonement sacrifices as a sweet fragrance (Ezekiel 20:40-41).
- Jesus was a sweet savor sacrifice and offering (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
- Jesus was without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19; 2;22-23; Hebrews 9:14).
- Jesus had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:14-15; Hebrews 7:26).
- Jesus was obedient to the will of God (Philippians 2:6-8).
- The Bible does not teach that Jesus laid aside his deity when He came into this world. The Bible teaches that Jesus (being deity) was clothed with humanity and took the form or position of a servant though He was Lord of all. The King of glory came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He did not come to be served though He was worthy of this privilege. It was His divine prerogatives that He laid aside and not His divine nature. He took the form of a servant.
- Jesus was righteous (Romans 5:17-19; Isaiah 53:12; 1 Peter 2:18).
- Jesus was accepted by God (Psalm 22:24; 1 Peter 2:4-9).
- Jesus was pleasing to God (Matthew 12:18-21; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:17-18; 14:28-31; 15:13-25; John 8:28-29).
- Jesus is the worthy Lamb of God (Revelation 5:1-14).
- He is our Passover who was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
JESUS OUR SIN OFFERING
If Jesus did not become sin with our sinfulness, then how should we understand Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” ?
The word sin with regards to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the old testament concept of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were offered to make atonement for sin. As already covered, the word atonement in the old testament was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness. This is the context which surrounds Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians. 5
Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins and that is how we are reconciled to God, not by becoming our literal sin. The blood of Jesus has virtue to cleanses our sins and because Jesus was and is holy, having no sin.
Jesus was holy before the cross, he was holy while on the cross, and he remains holy after the cross.
The word “sin” in 2 Corinthians 5:21 comes from the Greek word “hamartia” and is rendered as either “sin” or “sin offering” depending on the context.
Throughout the old testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word, chattath. Chattath is translated as sin offering 118 times and translated as sin, 168 times.
The septuagint, which translated the old testament into Greek, uses the word “hamartia” in Isaiah 53:10 – “…thou shalt make his soul an OFFERING FOR SIN.”
In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews uses this word: In burnt offerings and SACRIFICES FOR SIN thou hast had no pleasure.
The word “sacrifices” were added by the translators of the KJV for clarity. Literally, Hebrews 10:6 reads: In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.
However, we know that the author is not referring to literal sin, but to the sin offerings instead. We know this because of the context and we know this because Hebrews 10:6 is a quote from Psalm 40:6 which says: Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
The same Greek word “hamartia” used in Isaiah 53:10 and Hebrews 10:6 for “sin offering” is also used in 2 Corinthians 5:21, where it states that Jesus was made to be “sin” for us, i.e., “a sin offering.”
Under the old testament, the sin offerings which were offered for atonement, and were a foreshadow of Christ were to be holy offerings: Likewise this is the law of the trespass offering: it is MOST HOLY… As the sin offering is, so is the trespass offering: there is one law for them ~ Leviticus 7:1, 7
It should also be of importance to us that the apostle Paul was a Jew who had come to know Christ. The things which Paul taught about Jesus were rooted in his scholarly understanding of the scriptures. Paul most assuredly would have thought through the scriptures as a Jewish scholar and would have understood Christ’s death and resurrection in view of what was written in the scriptures. ~ see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Paul certainly would not have taught contrary to the old testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul would have spoken of Christ‘s death in view of the precedent set forth within the sacrificial system because those sacrifices foreshadowed Christ. Jesus is our Redeemer and he died for our sins as one who was and is pure and holy.
There is no precedent in scripture which would indicate that the offerings for sin were made sinful with the sins of the people. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy to the Lord.
Leviticus 6:25 says, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, this is the law of THE SIN OFFERING: In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD: IT IS MOST HOLY.
Leviticus 22:21 tells us that the sacrifice has to be perfect in order to be accepted.
Christ was perfect. He was without sin, having no spot or blemish in him. It is as a perfect and holy sacrifice offered to God for our sins, and accepted by God, that Jesus reconciled us to God.
Jesus Christ died as an unblemished lamb whose blood is pure and holy. The scripture says we were not redeemed with corruptible things, instead we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as from a lamb without spot or blemish ~ 1 Peter 1:18-19. The teaching of the Bible is that our redemption is by virtue of the Blood of Jesus.
Jesus is, was, and always will be holy, pure, and just. The Apostle Peter declared that he is the holy and just one which the people rejected ~ Acts 3:14. Peter also declared that he is the prince of life and that the grave could not hold him because God would not allow his holy one to see corruption. ~ See Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15
The Bible tells us that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ~ Hebrews 10:5-10. It was in his body that he bore our sins (1 Peter 2:24) and it was his flesh that he gave for the life of the world (John 6:51) so that he could redeem us by His blood ~ Ephesians 1:7.
OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST
Listed below are some of the old testament sacrifices which foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.
- The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Genesis 3:21; Revelation 13:8).
- The more excellent sacrifice (Genesis 4:1-10; Hebrews 11:4).
- The sweet smelling savor offered by Noah: providing mercy, favor and covenant (Genesis 8:20-22: 9:1, 8-17).
- Abraham’s burnt offering which the Lord provided (Genesis 22:1-13).
- The Passover, by which the children of Israel were delivered from bondage and slavery(Ex 12; Numbers 9:1-14; 2 Chronicles 30:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7).
- The burnt offering; wholly consecrated for to the Lord for us (Leviticus 1).
- The meat offering; holy and perfect and without sin (Leviticus 2).
- The peace offering; the free gift of grace to be received with thanksgiving (Leviticus 3; Colossians 1:20-22).
- The sin offering; He bore the sins of the world (Leviticus 4; 1 Corinthians 5:21).
- The trespass offering: He paid the price for all the trespasses of the child of God (Leviticus 5&6; 1 John 1:7-9).
- The continual burnt offering: our once for all sacrifice, eternal and everlasting (Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 6:9-13).
- The fire that must never go out: burning continually upon the upon the coals of our heart (Leviticus 6).
- The consecration ram: His blood is applied to the priest for hearing, service, and fellowship (Exodus 29; Leviticus 8).
- The drink offering who poured out His life for us all (Exodus 29; Isa 53:12; Ps 22:14).
- The cleanser of the Levites in purifying us for service (Numbers 8).
- The perpetual truth in the daily ministrations: the continual burnt offering ever rising to the Father, the lamp in the tabernacle always giving light, and the incense ever rising in the prayers of those who seek God with the whole heart (Hebrews 10:11; Exodus 29:38-42; Ex 30:7-9).
- The cleanser of the leper: He restores the outcast to fellowship (Leviticus 14-15).
- Salvation to the Gentiles: Rahab’s true token (Joshua 2:12-21).
- The glorious sound of the ram’s horn: This was heard before the shout that knocked down flat the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6).
- The burnt offering offered by Gideon: Gideon received insight from the Lord (Judges 6).
- Hanna’s peace offering vow (1 Samuel 1-2).
- Samuel’s burnt offering, God thundered upon the Philistines (1 Samuel 7).
- The ram that was offered: out of His horns Samuel poured the anointing oil upon David to be King (1 Samuel 16:1-13).
- The burnt offering offered by David, which atoned for sin and stopped the plague (2 Samuel 24:18-25; 1 Chronicles 21-22; 1 Chronicles 21:26).
- Solomon’s burnt offering by which Solomon sought God and asked for wisdom which truly is the principle thing (2 Chronicles 1:1-12).
- The offering at the dedication of the tabernacle and the temple causing the house to be filled with the Glory of God (Leviticus 9:22-24; 1.Kings 8:62-64; 2 Chronicles 7:1-2).
- Elijah’s burnt offering triumphing over all our enemies (1 Kings 18:21-46).
- Jehoshaphat’s meat offering: the one who sanctifies (2 Kings 2:30).
- Job’s burnt offering: He turns captivity through intercession (Job 42:7-17).
- Jonah’s thanksgiving (peace) offering: Jonah gave thanks by faith from the belly of the whale (Jonah 2; Ho 14:2; 1 Kings 8:38-39; Mt 12:40-41; Ps 16:9-11; Acts 2:25-28).
- The peace offering, by whom we give thanks as in the case of Hezekiah ((Ps 103:1-5; Ps 116:12-19; 2 Chronicles 32:24-26).
PROPITIATION OR EXPIATION ?
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)
The word propitiation in Romans 3:25 in the King James Version, comes from the Greek word, hilasterion, which can be translated as propitiation or expiation.
Among the ancient Greeks, propitiation was the act of appeasing their pagan gods because there was no natural disposition of good will in them. The pagans would make offerings to appease or satisfy their gods in an effort to earn their favor. Unfortunately, this concept is often employed by those who view the cross as the place of God’s wrath towards Jesus as a guilty substitute.
Conversely, expiation has to do with atonement and reconciliation. Atonement and reconciliation more accurately describes the biblical view of God and the nature of the sacrifice of Jesus.
The following examples of other translations of Romans 3:25 give more insight into the biblical view.
• (TNLT) For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood…
• (NIV) God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith…
• (CEV) God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life’s blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God…
• (WYC) Whom God ordained forgiver [Whom God purposed an helper], by faith in his blood…
• (YLT) whom God did set forth a mercy seat, through the faith in his blood…
• (LEB) whom God made publicly available as the mercy seat through faith in his blood…
Under the old testament, expiation (atonement) was made annually on the mercy seat with the blood of the sin offering. According to the ancient scholars of the Septuagint, the biblical view of the atonement at the mercy seat is the concept that is being alluded to in Romans 3:25.
The Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek translation of the old testament. The Septuagint translates the old testament Hebrew word for mercy seat “kapporeth” as “hilasterion.”
In the King James Version of the Bible, the Greek word hilasterion, is translated in view of God’s mercy and compassion in every place it appears in the new testament.
In Hebrews 9:5, hilasterion is used to translated the words “mercy seat.”
1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10 the word translated propitiation is a slightly different Greek word from hilasterion (used in Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5) however it is from the same family of words and carries the same fundamental idea.
In 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:9-10, the word propitiation is used by the King James translators in view of God’s love, and not in view of God’s wrath.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS: and he is THE PROPITIATION for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2)
In this was manifested THE LOVE OF GOD toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. HEREIN IS LOVE, not that we loved God, but
It should be noted that in 1 John 2:1-2, Jesus Christ THE RIGHTEOUS ONE is our propitiation and not Jesus Christ the one unrighteous and guilty one under God’s wrath.
The use of the word propitiation (in its various forms) is employed at least eight times throughout the new testament. Romans 3:25 is one of the eight. The other seven employ the use of the concept of atonement, reconciliation, love, and/or mercy. Never once in any of these seven other places is it used to convey the idea of wrath.
Reconciliation through sacrificial love and atonement is consistent with the surrounding context of Romans 3:25. Appeasement through wrath is not. The mercy seat was the place of reconciliation. It was the place of redemption expressed in mercy, not the place of retribution and anger.
Appeasement is neither taught by the new testament nor is it foreshadowed under the old. The worship of the one true God is nothing like that of pagan religions. The two are diametrically opposed to one another. Appeasement belongs to pagan worship, but expiation which is atonement or reconciliation through grace, belongs to the truth of the one true God.
The fundamental problem with appeasement theology is that it miss characterizes the character and nature of God. Appeasement is an act directed toward God in an effort to change him; to turn Him from wrath or anger. Expiation or atonement is an act by God directed towards man to show mercy and grace. The Bible never says that God was reconciled to man; instead it is always man who is reconciled to God because of God’s mercy and grace.
CONTRASTING PROPITIATION AND BIBLICAL ATONEMENT
• Propitiation is reconciliation based on appeasement
• Atonement is reconciliation based on the good will of the grace of God
• Propitiation indicates that there has been a change in God’s attitude towards sinful men.
• Atonement indicates that there has been a change in the repentant sinner towards God.
• Propitiation indicates that God has been reconciled to man
• Atonement indicates that man has been reconciled to God
• Propitiation indicated that the cross was reactive
• Atonement indicates that the cross was provisional
• Propitiation indicates that the cross was punitive
• Atonement indicates that the cross was redemptive
• Propitiation indicates that God cannot forgive of His own free will without retribution.
• Atonement indicates that God forgives freely because of His grace
• Propitiation indicates that the cross is the place of substitution and exchange.
• Atonement indicates that the cross is the place of sacrifice and offering
• Propitiation indicates that Jesus was rejected by God for our sake
• Atonement indicates that Jesus was accepted by God for our sake.
• Propitiation indicates that an offended God sent his Son to die on the cross
• Atonement indicated that a loving God sent his Son to die on the cross
• Propitiation indicates the Greek ‘pagan view’ of worship
• Atonement indicates the Biblical view of Atonement.
A SACRIFICE AND AN OFFERING
The Bible refers to the death of Jesus as a sacrifice.
- 1 Corinthians 5:7
- Ephesians 5:2
- Hebrews 7:26-27; 8:3; 9:8-9, 23-28; 10:12 and 26
The Bible also refers to the death of Jesus as an offering.
- Ephesians 5:2
- Hebrews 7:26-27; 9:11-14, 28; 10:9-14
The Bible never uses the word “substitution” or any word which is synonymous with substitution to describe the death of Jesus.
The word substitution has the following definitions:
- The act, process, or result of substituting one thing for another.
- Replacement of one mathematical entity by another of equal value.
God gave His Son Jesus as the ransom price for our sins, not as a replacement of equal value.
We were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus.
- 1 Peter 1:18-20
- The word “precious” means costly, valuable, honorable, dear, and rare.
- In 2 Samuel 24:18-25 King David was instructed by God through the prophet Gad “to rear an altar to the Lord” in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. This was to make atonement for his sin, and for the plague that his sin had caused. When Araunah freely offered him the threshing floor, the oxen for the sacrifice, and the materials of wood for the altar, David declined and said, “Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at A PRICE: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that WHICH COST ME NOTHING.”
God paid a steep price – a ransom price – for our redemption. He did not send a replacement so as to make an exchange. He sent His only begotten Son to purchase our redemption with his precious blood.
- Acts 20:28
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 7:23
- Revelation 5:9
Jesus is the gift of God
- John 3:16-17; 4:10
- Romans 5:6-8, 15-18; 6:23; 8:32
- Ephesians 2; 4-8
- Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 4:9-10
Jesus was a man approved of God, and holy and just in his sight, therefore the pains of death had no power hold him. (Acts 2:24)
Only in respect of his giving to God what we could not – a holy and righteous life – should we think of his death on the cross as a substitution.
Conversely, the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) advocates that Jesus Christ, God’s son, became the object of God’s wrath because God’s wrath had to first be satisfied before God can truly forgive the sinner.
Such theories put God in need of reconciliation rather than man.
In scripture, it is the unrepentant sinner who incurs God’s wrath, not the repentant sinner. According to the Bible, God’s delights in showing mercy and forgiveness, even to the ungodly.
As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11).
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
Those who teach according to the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement often over look important passages in the Bible, passages such as Stephen’s statement to the religious leaders of Israel, saying they had been the betrayers and murderers of Jesus (Acts 7:52).
If the crucifixion of Jesus was indeed a murder, then how was God’s wrath satisfied and his justice served?
According to the prophet Isaiah, Jesus was deprived of justice from the time of his arrest until he died on the cross. Only in the resurrection was God’s true justice demonstrated towards Jesus.
Those who killed Jesus did so because they hated him without a cause (John 15:24-25) and when they condemned him they were gathered against God in Heaven and against Jesus.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. (Acts 4:26-27)
Acts 4:26-27 (mentioned above) is taken from Psalm 2. According to Psalm 2, it is those who were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ who are under the wrath of God. The words of the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 agree with this.
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: WHO BOTH KILLED THE LORD JESUS, AND THEIR OWN PROPHETS, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the WRATH is come upon them to the uttermost.
It wasn’t the wrath of God which was levied against Jesus in his death: it was the wrath of sinful men as stated in Psalm 2 and Acts 4.
Why did THE HEATHEN RAGE and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
Christ was vindicated in His resurrection when God raised him from the dead and exalted him at his own right hand. This is why the apostles, throughout the book of Acts, lay blame for the death of Jesus on the people, yet the resurrection they attribute to God in opposition to what the people had done in condemning and crucifying Jesus.
RECONCILIATION RATHER THAN APPEASEMENT
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (John 8:10-11).
- Why didn’t Jesus punish this woman?
- Why didn’t Jesus condemn someone for this woman’s sin?
- How could Jesus truly forgive this woman without first satisfying his wrath against her sin?
The fundamental problem with the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) is that its definition of the character of God is not the character of God revealed in Christ.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus we have multiple accounts of people who were forgiven of their sins, such as the man with the Palsy (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17 -32) and the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36- 50).
Furthermore, Jesus taught his disciples to pray for forgiveness within the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:4) and Jesus taught his disciples to forgive others as well ( Luke 11:4; Matthew 18:21-22).
Knowing that Jesus both forgave and taught forgiveness without satisfying wrath ought to be enough to challenge us to rethink any concept of PSA.
Having examples of Jesus freely forgiving sins before his death on the cross, along with his teachings that we are to forgive others, begs the question, “What is difference between the forgiveness given before the cross by Jesus and the forgiveness that comes through his death on the cross?
One obviously deals with the personal offenses of those who came seeking forgiveness. The other has a much grander application as it is freely offered to all.
In short, the forgiveness obtained at the cross has to do with redemption and deliverance from the power which held us captive as we were dead in our sins.
Paul describes death as the condemnation or judgment which came on all men through Adam. Through his death on the cross, Christ ransomed us from the sentence of death and through his resurrection we have been give new life in him, which is eternal life.
Through the blood of Jesus we have the remission of our sins. This is more that forgiveness, though it includes forgiveness. Through remitting our sins, God has overturned the sentence of death which came on all through Adam’s disobedience and we are justified from all charges against us. Death no longer has any hold on the one who has faith in Jesus.
In Christ we are not only victorious over sin, but we are victorious over the power of death. In Christ we have been given life, the hope of resurrection at his coming, and life in the world to come!
Throughout the book of Acts the apostles emphasized the resurrection of Jesus as the hope given in fulfillment of God’s promises in the Messiah. For example, in Acts 4:1-2 the scriptures tell us, “the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, arrested Peter and John because they were grieved that they taught the people and preached THROUGH JESUS the resurrection from the dead.”
The New Living Translation says, “…Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead.”
Young’s Literal Translation says they were; “…teaching the people, and preaching in Jesus the rising again out of the dead…”
Throughout the book of Acts the resurrection of Jesus was preached by the apostles as the declaration that Jesus is the Christ and as the precedence for the resurrection of the dead.
Those who reduce the resurrection to a spiritual or mystical resurrection veer from the teachings of scripture. Jesus is the first-fruits of the resurrection and those who trust in him have the hope of resurrection and immortality when the Lord comes again!
Through the disobedience of the first man Adam, futility and death has affected us all. Through Jesus Christ, the last Adam, life in resurrection power has come to all who believe.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The resurrection is victory over death and though we have life in Christ now, we know that when Christ comes we will experience the fullness of our redemption when death is swallowed up in victory.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
Our bodies belong to God just as much as our soul and spirit do, and God will complete the process of redeeming the entire purchased possession (the whole man –spirit, soul, and body) when our bodies put on immortality.
Throughout the New Testament, the scriptures do not expressively say “your spirit” or “your soul” is the temple of God, but rather “your body” is the temple of the God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
Our body was purchased with a price (1 Corinthians 6:13 b-20) and we wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 6; 14-20; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
When God sent Jesus to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, Jesus taught them that God was their Father. We know this because we have many examples of Christ teaching the people to trust their Father in Heaven. God was their Father via covenant because they were the children of Abraham.
Throughout the gospel records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we never read of Jesus presenting the gospel to the common people in a penal substitutionary manner. Jesus did not preach to the people that they were worthless or depraved sinners whose sins had offended God or that God was too holy to be approached by them.
Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. He was God with and among the people. In the person of Jesus Christ, God himself had come to sinful man!
Now please don’t misunderstand this, the common people certainly were sinners and in were need of forgiveness and reconciliation. They were as sheep that had gone astray and they needed God’s mercy. The gospel message which Jesus brought to them was not the message of an offended God who needed to satisfy his wrath. It was the message of a fathering God who desired their forgiveness, healing, and redemption.
God sent Jesus to save and deliver all who would trust in him. This is why Peter says that the word which God sent to the children of Israel came through Jesus Christ as he preached peace to them (See Acts 10:36). Jesus’ message was full of the hope of salvation. It was the message of peace with God and was full of the mercy, compassion, and forgiveness that the people needed.
On the contrary, it was the religious leaders who were oppressing the people with the Law rather than liberating them who were the ones with whom God was dissatisfied.
The spiritual leadership in Israel had gone so far away from the heart of God and instead of ministering compassionately to relieve the oppress and doing justly, they used the Law of Moses to their own advantage to burden God’s heritage and this was not pleasing to God.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, he did not come burdening the people. Instead, he brought the Kingdom message of redemption and set many free from oppression. This of course infuriated the hard hearted Jewish leaders. Christ was everything they were not, and they hated him because they hated the true God who had sent him.
Jesus had come to do the will of his Father and to finish his work. Jesus did exactly those things which He saw His Father do. Those who believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, were made partakers of his kingdom. Those who rejected him and refused to repent were condemned.
It is very important to understand that reconciliation and forgiveness is never the result of God satisfying his wrath. Reconciliation and forgiveness is the result of God’s mercy, and when God demonstrates his mercy, he turns away from his wrath. Psalms 85:1-4 says the following:
Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.
Notice that the scripture reference above ends by saying “’TURN US,’O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.” It is when WE TURN to the Lord in repentance that God’s anger and displeasure are turned away.
Imagine the godliness person you can think of. You would probably describe them as loving, or kind, or patient. You probably wouldn’t describe them as wrathful or angry. Yet, if you really spent a lot of time with them you’d probably see them get angry at some point, especially at injustice. So it is with God. Love, mercy, grace, kindness, patience and all the wonderful expressions of His goodness is His fundamental disposition. Yet he does get angry when there is an unrepentant love for sin, rebellion against the truth, worship of false gods, etc. To imply that God is half loving and half wrathful as some do is very misleading. Reconciliation and forgiveness is never the result of God satisfying his wrath. Reconciliation and forgiveness is the result of God’s mercy and when God demonstrates his mercy he turns away from his wrath.
The theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement sets forth a very un-biblical view of the wrath of God. The wrath of God is a Bible truth and one that we should take very seriously but one we must also understand correctly.
The Bible reveals that there are specific things which cause the wrath of God to come and the Bible reveals that there are specific things which cause the wrath of God to be turned away.
Throughout the scriptures, the wrath of God comes because of such things as unbelief, rebellion, and loving sin, rejecting the truth, worshipping false gods, and forgetting God. On the other hand, the wrath of God is turned away by things such as obedience, intercession, atonement, zeal for righteousness, the fear of the Lord, and repentance.
The death of Jesus did not satisfy God’s wrath. It turned it away.
BIBLICAL REASONS WHY THE WRATH OF GOD COMES
- Unbelief (John 3:36; Hebrews 3:7-19; Deuteronomy 9-11; Psalm 78:17-33)
- Rebellion (Hebrews 3:7-19; Romans 1:18-32; 2:5,8; Leviticus 10; Numbers 11:32-34; Deuteronomy 9-11; Psalm 78:17-33; Joshua 22:20; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; 1 Samuel 28:18; Kings 22:13-17)
- Loving sin (John 3:17-21; Romans 1:18-32; 2 Peter 2:15; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6)
- Rejecting the truth (Romans 1:18-32; 2:5, 8; Deuteronomy 10; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33)
- Worshipping false gods (Romans 1:18-32; Deuteronomy 29; Numbers 11:32-34; Psalm 78:17-33; Kings 22:13-17; Kings 23:1-27)
- Forgetting God (Deuteronomy 6:10-15; 8:10-20; Romans 1:18-32)
BIBLICAL REASONS WHY THE WRATH OF GOD IS TURNED AWAY
- Obedience (Deuteronomy 10-11)
- Intercession (Isaiah 53, Exodus 32:7-14, Numbers 21:5-9; John 3:14-17; Deuteronomy 9)
- Atonement (Romans 3:25; 5:6-11; Numbers 16:46; Numbers 18:1-5; Numbers 25:11)
- Zeal for God (Numbers 25)
- The fear of the Lord (Jeremiah 32:40)
- Repentance (Acts 13:39-41; Kings 22:18-20; Kings 23:1-27)
LOVE, MERCY, AND GRACE
There is no – out in the open language – in the New Testament which clearly tells us that God poured out His wrath on Jesus. Yet, there is an abundance of scripture in the New Testament which reveals – out in the open – that God’s disposition in giving His Son was love, grace, and mercy towards sinners.
Christ died as evidence of God’s love for us.
- John 3:14-17
- 1 John 3;16; 4:9-11
- Romans 5:6-11; 8:32-39
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
- Ephesians 1:3-7; 2:1-8; 4:32-5:1-2; 5:25
- 1 Timothy 1:9-16
- Titus 3:4-7
- Revelation 1:5
Christ died because of God’s grace towards us.
- John 1: 1-17
- Acts 15:11; 20:24, 32
- Romans 3:21-26; 4:3-5; 4:16; 5:1-2, 15-21; 6:1-23
- Galatians 1:6-9
- Ephesians 1: 3-9; 2:1-8
- Titus 3:4-7
- Hebrews 2:9
- 1 Peter 1:8-13
Christ died because of God’s mercy towards us.
- Matthew 9:13; 12:7
- Luke 1:50; 54, 67-80
- Romans 11:25-36; 15:1-12
- Ephesians 2:1-8
- 1Timothy 1:9-16
- Hebrews 2:17
- Hebrews 8:12
- Titus 3:4-7
- 1 Peter 1:2-3; 2:3-10
REDEMPTIVE, NOT PUNITIVE
The cross was redemptive from God, not putative from God.
Reconciliation is restoration. It is defined as “to change from enemies to friends.” The scriptures reveal that God reconciled us for the following reasons:
- Because of His love for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9-10; Ephesians 1:4-5; Jeremiah 31:3)
- Because of His good pleasure (Ephesians 1:9-11; Luke 2:14; 12:32; Hebrews 13:20, 21)
- To fulfill his plan and purpose (Ephesians 1;4,9-10; 2:10; 3:1-11; 1Peter 1:2, 18-20; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Romans 8:29).
The Biblical view of reconciliation as it pertains to the sacrifice of Jesus speaks of that which God of his own initiative and from his own loving and gracious disposition has taken action to accomplish. It is God who has reconciled us to himself.
- Romans 5:6-10
- 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
- Colossians 1:20-22
The Bible teaches that we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. It does not teach that God was reconciled to us nor does it teach that He was conciliated.
To conciliate is the act of stopping someone from being angry or discontented. It is to placate, pacify, or appease one who has been offended. The sacrifice of Jesus was not for this purpose because Jesus did not give Himself to bring God into a favorable disposition towards us. Instead, Jesus gave His life to save us from our sins because God, who is love, sent him to do just that!
THE REMISSION OF SINS
God has always been as merciful and forgiving God, for by his own nature he is love. The difference, however, in the old and new covenant is that the blood by which the covenant was established.
The forgiveness we have received through the blood of Jesus is not a temporary atonement. The freedom that we receive through the blood of Christ is the remission of our sins.
Remission is the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty. Through the blood of Jesus, the indebtedness for our sins and the sins of all have been canceled! However, it must be appropriated by faith.
Listed below are some of the important truths taught by scripture regarding the remission of our sins in contrast to the old testament atonement.
- It was impossible for the blood of animals – offered under the law – to cleanse man’s conscience from sin and guilt. (Hebrews 9:9; 10:1-5, 11)
- The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience from guilt. (1 John 1:7,9; Hebrews 7:19; 9:9, 13-14, 22; 10:1-2, 14, 19-22; 12:23)
- The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with. (Hebrews 10:1-6)
- Jesus does not need to offer himself for our sins over and over again. Jesus’ one sacrifice provides cleansing for sins forever. (Hebrews 7:25-28; 10: 5-22)
- The priests, under the Law, who offered the sacrifices on the behalf of the people could not abide continually in the presence of God (Hebrews 9:6-8), neither could they continue in their priestly ministry indefinitely because they were subject to death. Therefore there were many priests who succeeded one another (Hebrews 7:19-23). Under that system of worship, man was separated from God because the way into God’s presence was not yet opened (Hebrews 9:6-10). The Law could only give a foreshadowing of good things to come – an illustration of something better that itself (Hebrews 10:1-5).
- Christ is our great high priest. In and through him, the good things which the law could only foreshadow have become reality. Unlike the entrance of the priests under the old testament who served in a temporary tabernacle, Jesus has entered a greater and more perfect tabernacle. Christ entered the tabernacle of God in Heaven (Hebrews 9:12). Jesus did not enter this tabernacle with the blood of animals, but with his own blood, securing our permanent redemption. (Hebrews 9:12-14, 24-28; 10:10-14)
- Under the law, the offerings of sacrificial animals could only provide ceremonial cleansing from impurity. However, the Blood of Jesus Christ purifies our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. (Hebrews 9:6-14)
- Under the old covenant, the priests stood and ministered before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, and those sacrifices could never take away sins. Jesus Christ, our high priest, offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, forever. He then sat down at the right hand of God, reigning as King till all his enemies are made his footstool. His one offering is the perfect sacrifice for all people forever. Now we can enter boldly into the Most Holy Place (the presence of God) because of the blood of Jesus. Jesus has consecrated this new and living way to God for us. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we now can draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (see Hebrews chapters 7-10)
THE BLOOD JESUS SPEAKS BETTER THINGS THAN ABEL’S
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
What is the significance of the speaking of the blood of Jesus in contrast to that Abel’s?
We know that when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain, God vindicated Abel by judging Cain. God confronted Cain saying: “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10)
Was it that Abel’s blood cried our for vengeance, but the blood of Jesus cries our for mercy? I think it’s more than that – much more.
First, consider that the Biblical account of the murder of Abel by Cain does not make the claim that Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance. We are only told that God said “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”
Though a couple of modern translations of Hebrews 12:24 givea commentary that Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance, there is nothing concrete in the Biblical narrative to conclude this definitively.
We know from the new testament that Stephen, as he was being murdered, prayed for God’s mercy and not judgment for his executors.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:59-60)
As he was dying, Stephen prayed for God’s forgiveness for those who were putting him to death. Therefore, if Abel’s blood did indeed cry out for vengeance, we could conclude that Stephen’s death speaks better things than Abel’s as well.
I think we miss something very valuable when we come to the conclusion that the contrast being made by the author of Hebrews is one of mercy and vengeance when he says Jesus’ blood speaks better things than Abel’s.
What is it that we are missing? What possibly could the writer of Hebrews be telling us?
Consider Hebrews 11:4:
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
When we consider the context of Genesis 4, we find that Cain killed Abel over an offering, because God accepted Abel’s gift and rejected Cain’s
The writer of Hebrews tells us that, by Abel’s gift to God, he obtained witness that he was righteous, and by it – by virtue of his gift to God – he being dead, yet speaks.
God’s judgment on Cain was more than vengeance for a wrong doing. God was vindicating Abel’s righteousness and the gift he had offered to God, which was a type of the sacrifice of Jesus. Consider how much more God vindicates the righteousness of his Son Jesus, and the gift he gave to God when he died for our sins.
In contrast to Abel, the writer of Hebrews tells us it is the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than Abel’s.
The words the blood of sprinkling is a reference to theapplication of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Christ’s shed blood has power in heaven where is was sprinkled in the presence of God, and in the heart (the conscience) for cleansing of sin.
Hebrews draws heavily on the priesthood and the sacrificial system of the old testament to explain the work of Christ. Under the old testament, God spoke directly to Moses (the mediator between God and Israel) from above the blood sprinkled mercy seat (Exodus 25: 22; Numbers 7:89).
The mercy seat was the covering of the ark of the covenant, and the place where the shed blood of the sin offerings for atonement was sprinkled annually to make atonement for Israel. Once a year, the high priest would enter into the most holy place and sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat in the presence of God.
This was a type of the work of Christ who, consecrated for usthe new and living way to God, when through the blood he shed at the cross, entered into the presence of God having obtained our eternal redemption for us.
From there, Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us, and from there he cleanses our hearts through the sprinkling of his blood by the power of Holy Spirit.
Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:6-14)
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
The one whose heart has been sprinkled (or cleansed) with of the blood of Jesus Christ will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit bearing witness from God and from Christ.
The Holy Spirit bears witness to our cleansed conscience as he gives testimony to Christ and his finished work. This brings about a nearness to God from the heart and causes us to havethe full assurance of faith.
The power of Christ’s blood so completely purges the conscience through it’s sprinkling that the sense of guilt and demerit are completely removed. And through the Holy Spirit the justifying voice of mercy and grace speaks within the depths of our hearts.
Through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit testifies to our conscience of Jesus’ complete victory over sin and imparts to us the victory of Christ.
Christ’s blood speaks better things than that of Abel’s, whose more excellent sacrifice than Cain’s, was only a foreshadowing of HIM who was to come.
In righteousness, Jesus gave the ultimate gift to God for us all, and through the offering of himself he brings us near to God. That is why his shed blood, sprinkled, (i.e., applied), in the presence of God and in our hearts, speaks better things than that of Abel’s!
CHRIST ENTHRONED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
According to Jesus, his death on the cross would be followed by his entering into his glory:
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was…Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:5, 24)
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? (Luke 24:26)
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. (Acts 3:13)
Jesus is glorified at the right hand of God!
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, before the birth of Jesus, he said the following concerning Jesus, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER DAVID“. (Luke 1:32)
After his death on the cross, God raised Jesus from the dead and exalted him at his own right hand in fulfillment of his promise to David that the Messiah would reign upon his throne.
David’s reign as King was a physical type of the reign of Jesus Christ as the eternal King of glory.
In Acts 2, Peter interprets the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God as the FULFILLMENT of the scriptures that the Messiah would reign from the throne of David. Notice carefully how Peter articulates this:
Therefore BEING A PROPHET, AND KNOWING that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, HE WOULD RAISE UP CHRIST TO SIT ON HIS THRONE; HE SEEING THIS BEFORE SPAKE OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD EXALTED, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE THY FOES THY FOOTSTOOL. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD AND CHRIST (Acts 2:30-36).
In the texts above, Peter is quoting David from Psalm 110 when he says, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”
FIRST, notice the words “the Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand…”
Peter quotes this in reference to David as a prophet knowing that God would raise up the Messiah to sit on his (David’s) throne. So as a prophet, foreseeing the enthronement of the Messiah on his (David’s) throne, David said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, SIT ON MY RIGHT HAND.” As a prophet, David foresaw by the Spirit of God that the promise of the Messiah reigning on his throne would not be an earthly enthronement, but a heavenly one at the right hand of God.
In the gospels, Jesus said: “David himself, SPEAKING BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”‘ (Mark 12:36). See also Matthew 22:41-45.
SECONDLY, notice the next part of the text that Peter quotes from David: “till I make your enemies your footstool.”
These very same words are employed by the author of Hebrews in describing the enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:13; 10:13) and in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 the apostle Paul applies them to the exalted Jesus as well.
Also Psalm 110 is the Psalm which testifies that the Messiah would be a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek (v.4). The author of Hebrews expounds on this and tells us that Jesus, the exalted King at the right hand of God, is also our great high priest FOREVER after the order of Melchizedek.
The historical Melchizedek (Genesis 14) prefigured Christ as a King and Priest, and not a priest only. Under the Law of Moses one could not be a King and a priest. The priests came only from the tribe of Levi and the Kings were descendants of David from the tribe of Judah.
The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus, being from the tribe of Judah (the tribe of King David), is qualified to be a priest. He is qualified because His priestly ministry is not earthy (Hebrews 8:4), but heavenly, at the right hand of God where He is enthroned as King. (Hebrews 8:1-3)
THIRDLY, Notice that David specifically identifies the Messiah as his Lord: “The Lord said to MY LORD…”
In Acts 2 Peter says, “Therefore let ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and Christ” (v.36).
Peter doesn’t tell the people of Israel that Jesus will be Lord when he one day returns. Peter declares that Jesus is Lord and Messiah now at the right hand of God. The gospel which was preached to house of Israel by the apostles was not a gospel of a futuristic enthronement of the Messiah, but rather the declaration of His exaltation NOW!
Jesus is exalted as Lord at the right hand of God: “Wherefore GOD ALSO HATH HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father”. (Philippians 2:9-11)
In Acts 7, Stephen, in his declaration of the gospel as he stood trial before the Sanhedrin, testified of Jesus saying the following: “David desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built him a house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, HEAVEN IS MY THRONE, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:46-50).
The ideology that the fulfillment of God’s promise to David regarding the enthronement of the Messiah, is still something in waiting, is contrary to the scriptures, for Jesus is enthroned NOW in fulfillment of God’s promises to David!
When he had by himself purged our sins, (He) sat down on THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH… (See Hebrews 1:3).
But unto the Son he saith, THY THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)
I (Paul) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and SET HIM AT HIS OWN RIGHT HAND IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:17-23)
Notice that Paul says in Ephesians 1 (referenced above), Christ is already enthroned in Heaven above everything in this world and in the world to come, having all things under His feet.
Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God is not a temporary enthronement as he awaits the lesser one in Jerusalem, Israel. Rather, Jesus entered into His glory after His resurrection (Luke 24:26; John 17:5, 24; Acts 2:33; 3:13) and was enthroned at the right hand of God, where the New Jerusalem is – the true Holy City of God. From there, Christ will reign forever!
When Christ returns He is not taking a lesser throne. He reigns forever, being highly exalted at the right hand of God, and in THAT power, authority, and glory, He will come again!
The Stone the builders rejected is the Cornerstone whom God has chosen.
You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them (1 Peter 2:4-8)
Jesus is the corner stone which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones. These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.
- John 2:19-20
- Matthew 21:42
- Acts 4:11
- 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17
- 1 Corinthians 6:19
- 2 Corinthians 6:16
- Ephesians 2:12-22
- 1 Peter 2:5
Under the Law, Jerusalem in Israel was the place of worship, but in John 4:21, Jesus made it clear that the time was then near when those who worship God would no longer worship in a physical location within Israel, but true worshipers would worship God in the Spirit and in truth.
In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul spells this out when he says, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)
CLEANSED FROM DEAD WORKS
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14).
The dead works mentioned in Hebrews 9:14 is not a reference to such things as helping the poor, taking care of the elderly, showing brotherly kindness, etc. These are good works and demonstrations of godliness. The “dead works,” contextually speaking, refers to those things which pertain to the old system (the tabernacle/temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifices) which had been made obsolete at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews.
Because of persecution, the temptation was present to abandon the true faith in Christ and revert back to Judaism which was now a dead religion. Though once ordained by God to serve the purpose of foreshadowing Christ, that system of worship under the Old Testament had now given way to a new and better covenant, a covenant established by the blood of Jesus.
Through the Blood of Jesus sin has been completely dealt with and there is no longer any need for those things which had no power to take away sin. Those “carnal ordinances” such as the levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices with the sanctuary and everything that pertained to them have no value in purifying the conscience before God. They were only a shadow for a set time until Christ came and brought eternal redemption through His blood.
Jesus our Great High Priest in the Heavens is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High and through His blood we are liberated to serve the Living God without any those restrictions which were imposed on those who were under the first Testament.
Those “carnal ordinances” which were imposed on them were a constant reminder that sin had not been dealt with and that the way into the holy presence of God had not yet been manifested. Therefore there was no boldness to enter God’s presence with a pure conscience through those things which are now dead works because that covenant has been fulfilled and it’s rites have been made obsolete.
Through the Blood of Jesus Christ we are cleansed from such “dead works” so that we may now serve the Living God, in the Spirit of Christ, with a pure conscience.
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices,that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:1-14).
ONCE FOR ALL
The author of Hebrews places emphasis on the “finished work” of Christ and refers to it as “once and for all.” Does this mean that those who have been saved can’t err from the truth and be entangled again in sin? Not exactly, for the Book of Hebrews would then contradict its own exhortation?
Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all reference(s) is in regards to superiority of the New Covenant in contrast to the Old, and the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement under the Law which was merely as shadow of things to come .
Notice the following from Hebrews 7:25-28.
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing HE EVER LIVETH to make intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the heavens; Who NEEDETH NOT DAILY, as those high priests, TO OFFER UP SACRIFICE, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for THIS HE DID ONCE, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is CONSECRATED FOR EVERMORE.
Notice also the following from Hebrews 10:10-12.
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL. And every priest STANDETH DAILY ministering and OFFERING OFTENTIMES the same sacrifices, which CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY SINS: But this man, after he had offered ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOREVER, sat down on the right hand of God.
The blood of animals could not purify man’s conscience in the sight of God and those offerings were not sufficient to provide lasting atonement for all sin, therefore atonement had to be made annually for the nation and daily for individuals. Furthermore, those sacrifices could not take away sin and cleanse the conscience from guilt. Jesus’ sacrifice, however, provided atonement once and for all. His sacrifice is perfect and avails forever.
Again, Christ’s sacrifice being “once for all” does not mean that God can’t see our sins. It does not mean that we do not need to repent when we know we have sinned. It simply means that there is no longer any need for offerings for sins. Jesus’ sacrifice will cleanse us and keep on cleaning us when we sin if we continue in faith towards Christ.
Jesus is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (He is both priest and King seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High). There will never, ever, be a need for another sacrifice or another priest. In fact, the Book of Hebrews tells us that if we go on sinning (living in sin and rejecting Jesus) after we have received the knowledge of the truth there is no more offering for sin.
Jesus’ ministry as our priest is unlike those who were ordained under the Law, “He does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this first for their own sins and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this ONCE FOR ALL when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people’s sins (Hebrews 7:27).
A GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE
According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of a better and more perfect tabernacle than the one made human hands under the law. The better and more perfect tabernacle is eternal in the heavens where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High. Jesus is the minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.
The priests who served under the Law, served in a system of worship that was only a copy and a shadow of the real one in heaven. This is why God said to Moses as he was getting ready to build the tabernacle, “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
The writer of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest since there are already priests who offer gifts (sacrifices) according to the Law. At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the temple service and animal sacrifices were still functioning. That all ended in 67-70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.
Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood. He is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.
There are some who suggest that Jesus is coming again to reign in a man made temple with animal sacrifices. Yet the book of Hebrews tells us that the system of worship which employed animal sacrifices was only a copy until the time of reformation. The old has faded away and Christ has been appointed high priest over the true tabernacle of God in the heavens.
Those who teach that Jesus will return to bring back the defunct system of the levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices based their interpretation on Ezekiel’s temple vision in Ezekiel 40 – 48. However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin offering and are said to be for atonement (Ez 45:17 see also Ez 42:13 and 45:23).
Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses which was only a type and a shadow. Therefore Ezekiel’s vision cannot refer to literal animal sacrifices in the Kingdom of Christ.
If Ezekiel’s vision applies to the millennium (a debatable topic) it certainly would not be predicting a return to animal sacrifices because that would go contrary to the whole counsel of scripture. It would mean a return to the shadow once the fulfillment has come.
The sacrificial system which employed animal sacrifices foreshadowed Christ until he came and fulfilled all that was written of him. To suggest that we will return to the levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices is to suggest that we are returning to the old system that has been made obsolete. It also suggests a return to sacrifices for sins that could never take away sins after Christ has put away sin by the offering of Himself.
According to the scriptures, animal sacrifices were never desired by God and they never brought Him any pleasure. They were only given as a type and a shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns in all of his glory we will not be living in a Kingdom with types and shadows. We will be living in a Kingdom where the fullness of the light of the glory of God abounds.
When Jesus returns, he will come in all of his majesty, honor, and glory. According to the scriptures, the coming of Jesus is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior. We will see him face to face, and we will be like him for we will see him as he is. The scriptures also tell us we will appear with him in glory (1 John 3:1-3, Phil 3:21, 1 Cor 13, Colossians 3:4).
Why would anyone be compelled to think that the glorious return of Christ will usher in a reinstatement of an obsolete system of worship which employed the offering of animal sacrifices? It is because of the lack of revelation of Jesus Christ!
It is not good idea to interpret scripture which was visionary in nature under the Old Testament with interpretive claims that are contrary to the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament writers are the authoritative interpreters of the old testament scriptures as they pertain to Jesus Christ. The ideology of a return to that which was only a foreshadowing of Christ now that Christ has come is a contrary to new testament doctrine.
Many of the old testament prophecies are symbolic of a greater truth. We have an example of this in Acts 15 when James says the following:
“And to this agree the words of the prophets; AS IT IS WRITTEN. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”
If James had not said this, someone could build a doctrine that the literal tent in which David placed the Ark of the Covenant would be rebuilt and we will worship the Lord there, or the literal Kingdom of David would be restored. Instead, James applies this particular old testament prophecy as being fulfilled in the salvation of the Gentiles.
It is so important to interpret the old testament scriptures in view of the revelation of Jesus Christ given to us by the new testament writers.
The old testament sacrifices were only types and shadows pointing to a greater truth. The greater truth has been revealed and we are not going back to the shadow. We are not going back to animal sacrifices which never please God. It is Christ in whom God is pleased. He is our sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:1-14).
The writer of Hebrews tells us that as long as the first tabernacle/temple was standing wherein were offered animal sacrifices, the Holy Ghost was signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifested (Hebrews 9:8).
Those things which Ezekiel saw were based solely on the pattern given to Moses, and was only a figure or a foreshadowing of something much greater. Christ has entered that which is greater. With his own Blood he entered once and for all into the holy place of the greater and more perfect tabernacle (in the Heavens) and has obtained eternal redemption for us!
CONCERNING EZEKIEL”S TEMPLE
The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was, because of the sins of Israel and their priests.
Ezekiel was a priest by blood linage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. In this temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins.
According to the new testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18).
Is a temple in which the presence of God cannot be approached consistent with the finished work of Jesus Christ? Certainly not! Yet, this is exactly the temple you have in Ezekiel – a temple which erects a separating barrier between God and his people.
In Ezekiel’s temple vision, the Levite priests bear the shame of their sins for leading the people of Israel into iniquity. They are still appointed to serve, but cannot approach God’s presence in the temple. Only the descendants of Zadok are able to come near to the Lord.
Does physical linage matter in the kingdom of God? According to Jesus it doesn’t (see John 3). Yet, those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple is a millennial temple advocate a return to the importance of physical linage even though Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:5-7)
So if this is the millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium where the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. The Levites bear the shame of their sin for a 1000 years and God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. Furthermore, the Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sin.
In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The new testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14).
“‘THE LEVITES WHO WENT FAR FROM ME WHEN ISRAEL WENT ASTRAY AND WANDERED FROM ME after their idols MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN. They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. BUT BECAUSE THEY SERVED THEM IN THE PRESENCE OF THEIR IDOLS AND MADE THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL FALL INTO SIN, THEREFORE I HAVE SWORN WITH UPLIFTED HAND THEY MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN, declares the Sovereign Lord. THEY ARE NOT TO COME NEAR TO SERVE ME AS PRIESTS or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; THEY MUST BEAR THE SHAME OF THEIR DETESTABLE PRACTICES. And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done in it. “‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple Vision).
And upon that day shall THE PRINCE prepare FOR HIMSELF and for ALL THE PEOPLE of the land a bullock FOR A SIN OFFERING. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple vision).
JESUS, OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST
By all evidence, the book of Hebrews was written before the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. We know this because the writer of Hebrews makes reference to the temple service, the priests, and the sacrifices in the present tense. In the present tense, he makes a comparison regarding the superiority of Jesus’ ministry in the heavens (in the greater and more perfect tabernacle) to that which was on earth (which only served as a shadow and an example) to point men to Christ.
He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest since there are already priests who offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law. Even though that priesthood which had been ordained by the law was still functioning in the temple it had been made completely ineffective by Christ’s work on earth at the cross, and by his ministry in the heavens as our high priest.
Jesus’ ministry as high priest is not through the Law and when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the priesthood which was by the Law and already made ineffective, became completely inoperative.
THE LAW OF A CARNAL COMMANDMENT
According to the Law of Moses, only the descendants of Aaron from the tribe of Levi were commanded and permitted to serve as priests. Jesus, our great high priest, was not a descendant of Levi. He was from the tribe of Judah and of the house of David instead, and there is no place in all the Torah (the Law of Moses) where Moses spoke anything about a priest coming from the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:12-14).
The author of Hebrews refers to the Law’s instructions for appointing priests as, the law of a carnal commandment, and tells us that this command has been annulled because it was weak and unprofitable (Hebrews 7:18). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the changing of the priesthood has necessitated a change of the Law as well (Hebrews 7:12) .
Without its priesthood, the Law of Moses is not functional because the priesthood was given to serve as the mediation between God and the people who were under the Law. Therefore, without its priesthood, the Law has no one to serve as its mediator to make intercession for the sins of the people.
The command given by the Law with regards to its priests required a continuous succession of priests who succeeded one another because those priests were all subject to death. This is why the writer of Hebrews says, “the Law made nothing perfect but the bringing in of a better hope did, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19-23)
The priesthood which was ordained by the Law could not make anything perfect and therefore it had no power to bring men near to God. Those who served as priests under that administration were men with infirmities, meaning, they were all under the power of sin and subject to death like everyone else.
They were appointed by a carnal commandment (Hebrews 7:16), which employed carnal ordinances (Hebrews 9:10), and as long as that priesthood was in force, the true Holiest of all was not yet open (Hebrews 9:8).
JESUS OUR APPOINTED PRIEST
Unlike those priests who were appointed by the Law, Jesus will continue forever as our high priest because he has been appointed as priest forever with an irrevocable oath from God who raised him from the dead. The author of Hebrews tells us Jesus has an unchangeable priesthood which will go on forever without ceasing.
The scriptures reveal that God has repented (changed his mind) at times in his dealings with man (see Exodus 32:11-14; 1 Samuel 15:10-11; Psalms 106:45). God’s character does not change, but he has reversed what he was going do and has expressed regret at times in various Biblical accounts.
However he has promised that he will never change his mind concerning Jesus as our great high priest of the New Covenant. Jesus is God’s guarantee to us that he will never repent, i.e., change his mind. It is by this oath that Jesus was made the guarantee of a better testament. Jesus is our eternal hope!
CHRIST IS A PRIEST FOR EVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
In expounding on the ministry of Jesus as our high priest, the writer of Hebrews makes several appeals to the Messianic prophecy that Jesus is made a priest after the order of Melchizedek and not after Aaron.
Christ was called of God as was Aaron (Hebrews 10:4-6, 10). Yet his priesthood is not after the order or rank of Aaron’s (Hebrews 7:11).
Christ’s priesthood is after the order of Melchisedek which does not necessarily mean that Melchisedek foreshadowed Christ, but simply that the priesthood of Christ in comparison to Aaron’s is of a different rank.
There are many ways in which Aaron and his descendants under the Levitical priesthood foreshadowed the ministry of Christ and this is expounded especially in the 9th chapter of Hebrews. Yet it is Melchisedek’s priesthood which is similar to Christ’s in it’s order (it’s structure).
If we refer to Melchisedek as a type of Christ we must remember that it is the structure, rank, or order of Melchisedek’s priesthood to which we are referring and not his work as a priest.
Melchisedek’s priesthood is similar to Christ’s in that he was both a king and a priest and scripture records nothing regarding his predecessors or successors. So while the priesthood of Aaron typified the work of Christ, the priesthood of Melchisedek was structured like Christ’s. This is the contrast that is being made by the author of Hebrews with regards to the priesthood of the enthroned Christ and Aaron under the Law.
Beyond the book of Hebrews, there are only four verses throughout the entirely of the scriptures which reference Melchizedek. They are Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4.
The writer of Hebrews mentions the name of Melchizedek nine times throughout his epistle. Only two of those references, where the name of Melchizedek is mentioned, concern the historical figure who met Abram (Abraham) after the slaughter of the Kings. The other seven are references expounding on Jesus’ eternal priesthood in contrast to the priests under the law. The emphasis of Hebrews, with regards to the mentioning of Melchizedek, is to reveal the superiority of Christ’s priesthood to those priests who served under the law.
The last mention of Melchisedek by the author of Hebrews is found in chapter seven. At the beginning of chapter eight he sums up everything he has said thus far concerning Jesus our Great High Priest by telling us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. (Hebrews 8:1)
Melchizedek was a king and a priest, and not a priest only. This is something that was not permitted under the Law of Moses. Jesus our great high priest is both king and priest. Unlike those priests under the Law whose work was never finished, Jesus’ has finished his work and is seated as the king of glory at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high.
THREE WAYS MELCHISEDEK IS MENTIONED IN SCRIPTURE
Ruth Lasalle Specter points out the thee ways in which Melchisedek is mentioned in scripture – (1) in history (2) in prophecy (3) in doctrine.
1. IN HISTORY (Genesis 14:17-23)
(a). He is the first mentioned priest in scripture.
(b). He appears more than 400 years before the law was given.
(c). He appears 1000 years before the Messianic prophecy of Christ.
(d). There are other priests mentioned in scripture before the Levitical priesthood was established: (1) The priest of Midian is mentioned in Exodus 2:16. (2) Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On (Genesis 41:50). (3) There were Egyptian priests under the rule of Pharaoh (Genesis 47:22, 26).
2. IN PROPHECY
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).
3. IN DOCTRINE IN THE BOOK OF HEBREWS
(a). His name is mentioned 9 times in Hebrews.
(b). His name means “King of Righteousness.”
(c). He was as a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ.
WHO WAS MELCHISEDEK?
Melchisedek was a real person who was both a King and a priest. He was the King of Salem which is ancient Jerusalem in the land of Canaan (Psalm 76:2). Salem means Peace, and comes from the word Shalom.
When Melchisedek met Abram the Hebrew, as he is referred to in Genesis 14:13, the nation of Israel did not yet exist and Abraham did not yet have a child.
Melchizedek’s subjects were evidently Gentiles because Israel did not yet exist and there is no evidence suggesting that the inhabitants of Salem, where Melchisedek ruled, were in any way in covenant with the God of Abraham.
(a). Abraham had not yet been justified by faith.
(b). Abraham was childless.
(c). There was no covenant of circumcision as of yet.
Melchisedek met Abraham at the same time that the king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham. Unlike the other divine encounters which Abraham had, there is nothing in the context of Genesis 14 that would lead us to believe that Melchisedek was a pre-incarnation of Jesus.
At other times when God or angels visited Abraham, Abraham built altars and worshipped God. This did not occur when Melchisedek met him.
Abram (Abraham) left his homeland of Haran and went into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4). Later, Abram was living in the land of Canaan and Lot was in Sodom when both the king of Sodom and Melchisedek came to meet Abram after he and his servants defeated the kings who had plundered Sodom.
WHY DID ABRAHAM PAY TITHES TO MELCHISEDEK?
Abraham’s tithe was an ancient Arab custom. You may find it surprising to know that tithing did not originate with the nation of Israel. Paying a tenth from the spoil of war (to the reigning or ruling king) was a customary practice in Abraham’s day. Abraham’s tithe was a special one time tithe-tax from the spoils of war.
Under the Arab custom, the spoil-tithe tax was ten percent of the spoil. However under the Mosaic Law, the spoil-tithe tax which came from the spoils of war was only one percent and was given to the Levites, and one tenth of that one percent, was given to the priests (information courtesy of Russell Earl Kelley. See also Numbers 31:27-30).
Abraham did not give Melchisedek a tenth of his own personal wealth. In fact there is no record that Abraham gave Melchisedek anything from his personal possessions. At other times when God appeared to Abraham, Abraham offered sacrifice to God from His substance (Genesis 12:7-8; 13:14-18).
MELCHISEDEK WAS NOT GOD OR CHRIST
God does not mediate as a priest for himself. Every priest is taken from among men and ordained for men. (Hebrews 5:1).
MELCHISEDEK was not Christ before His incarnation, there was only one incarnation of the Son of God. Before His incarnation, Christ was “yet to come.”
- (b) The Law of Moses is said to have been added till the seed, who is Christ, was to come. (Galatians 3:24)
- (a) Adam (as the first man) is said to be the figure of Him that was to come. (Romans 5:14)
- (c) When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law… (Galatians 4:4).
- The scriptures do not support multiple incarnations of the Son of God.
Christ, who is divine, is qualified to be our great high priest because he clothed himself with humanity.
- He was tempted as a man.
- He suffered as a man.
- He is acquainted with our infirmities as a man.
- He offered prayers as a man.
- He was perfected as a man.
- He made reconciliation for our sins as a man.
Jesus did not lay aside his deity when he came into this world. Jesus, being deity, was clothed with humanity and took the form or position of a servant though He was Lord of all. The king of glory came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. He did not come to be served though he was worthy of this privilege.
As our great high priest, Jesus is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and he knows firsthand the pain that all of us face at different times in our lives. He knows firsthand the pain of being rejected because he suffered for us being rejected by his people. Yet, he trusted in God and committed himself to the One who judges righteously. According to the scripture he is our example in suffering wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19-25). After he had suffered unjustly at the hands of sinful men, he was vindicated by God when he raised him from the dead and gave him the highest place of honor. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a faithful high priest in the person of Jesus, and in Jesus, God has become personally acquainted with all of our sufferings.
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (Hebrews 7:3)
It is the writer of Hebrews, not the Genesis account, who makes this startling statement. Genesis is a book heavy on genealogical records. Yet there is none given for the historical Melchisedek. He mysteriously appears on the scene and is gone after three short verses.
Genesis never says Melchisedek had no ancestry or descendants, but the absence of the mention of these is by divine design and the writer of Hebrews draws on this to elaborate on the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The absence of any genealogical record makes Melchisedek’s priesthood like unto Christ’s in structure. Christ was made a priest not through his genealogical ancestry, but by an oath from God instead.
The writer of Hebrews is not telling us that Melchisedek had no ancestry or descendants, but rather that he was a priest apart from these.
Consider the following points:
- Ester 2:17 says, “She had neither father nor mother…”
- “Without”, does not mean Melchisedek had no parents or descendants.The Greek word for “without” means “apart from”, or “separate from.” Melchisedek was a priest in scripture “apart from” his ancestry and descendants.
- In this manner Melchisedek prefigured Christ’s priesthood with regards to rank or structure. Christ was made priest apart from his pedigree in the flesh.
- It cannot be true that Melchisedek was a divine figure, i.e. Christ incarnate in the Old Testament, for then Christ would have been a priest before Aaron and there would have been no need for the Levitical priesthood to foreshadow the work of Christ, which was at that time, still to come.
- Neither can it be correct to say that Melchisedek was Christ incarnate under the Old Testament because he was without ancestry or descendants for Christ has ancestry according to the flesh.
MADE LIKE THE SON OF GOD, ABIDETH A PRIEST FOREVER (HEBREWS 7:3)
Melchisedek was not the Son of God. The scripture says, “he was made like unto the Son of God”, similar in rank. It is important to notice that the author of Hebrews does not say the Son of God was made like unto Melchizedek, but rather, Melchizedek was made like unto the Son of God.
…made like unto… (similar to, or a resemblance of…)
It is significant that the author of Hebrews says “the Son of God”rather than “the Son of man” when speaking of Jesus’ Priesthood. Both titles (Son of God and Son of Man) are employed throughout scripture in reference to Jesus, but in reference to Jesus as high priest, the name, Son of God, is specifically referenced.
Jesus’ priesthood is predicated in his being the Son of God. Notice the following scriptures.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.(Hebrews 4:14)
So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. (Hebrews 5:5)
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. (Hebrews 7:3)
For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. (Hebrews 7:28)
AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK
After the order of… i.e., “after the similitude of”, or “similar to”… (Hebrews 7:15).
Jesus is not a Melchizedek priest with a Melchizedek priesthood. He is no one’s successor and there will be no one succeeding him. He stands alone as the One God called to be our exalted and enthroned priest at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Melchizedek was a king and priest whom God caused to come on the scene in history and recorded within the pages of scripture as a revelation of the order of Christ’s priesthood.
Jesus is our King – Priest. His work is finished and he is exalted forever. The focus is Jesus, and not Melchizedek.