THE CROSS OF CHRIST

JESUS IS THE GIFT OF GOD

Jesus is the gift of God to us, as well as the gift to God for us, for he gave himself to God as a holy sacrifice when he offered his holy life on the altar of the cross as the offering for our sins.

Under the Old Testament, the sacrifices which were offered on the altar as types and shadows, were called “offerings” and “oblations,” and they are so called some 40 times in the book of Leviticus alone.

These two words come from the same Hebrew word, kor-bawn, meaning a sacrificial present brought near to the altar. The sacrifices which were brought to the altar, were to be presented as “sacrificial presents” or “gifts.”

In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews uses the word, gift, on multiple occasions to refer to these.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins… ~ Hebrews 5:1

For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. ~ Hebrews 8:3

In Hebrews 11:4, the author of Hebrews refers to the more excellent sacrifice offered by Abel as a “gift.”

After God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, he commanded Moses to build a tabernacle so that he could live among his people (Exodus 25:8). Upon the completion of the building of the tabernacle, both the priests and the tabernacle, were consecrated to the Lord for service.

At the inauguration of the service of the tabernacle, God demonstrated his acceptance of the offerings (the gifts) 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

This fire which consumed the sacrifices came from the presence of God from within the inner most section of the tabernacle: the holiest of all. 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 as gifts, the sacrifices which foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.

A SWEET SAVOR

Throughout the Old Testament the sacrifices which were types of Christ, and offered as gifts to God, were offered as a sweet fragrance, and accepted by God. They were never rejected by God.

These sacrifices were holy and they were accepted on the behalf of the people (Leviticus 22:20, 21, 25, 27). By virtue of these offerings, the people were sanctified and made holy in the sight of the Lord.

In Philippians 4,  Paul draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he speaks of the gift of support which the Philippians sent to his aid: But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.~ Philippians 4:18

In 2 Corinthians, Paul again draws on the language of the sweet savor offerings when he says the following: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest THE SAVOR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE by us in every place. For we are unto God A SWEET SAVOR OF CHRIST, in them that are saved, and in them that perish… ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

In both cases (Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2) Paul appeals to the language of found in the Old Testament which described the atonement sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ.

No one reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would think the expression “sweet savor” had any other meaning than that which is pleasing to God. In fact, Paul uses the words “well pleasing” in his Philippians 4 description.

When Christ died on the cross, he paid the ransom for us with his holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave himself was a sweet savor offering: well pleasing to God!

This is why holy communion is so important and powerful. It is a memorial of the death of our Lord, for through Jesus’s sacrifice we are consecrated to God and made holy.

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- 5-2

God accepts us because he accepted, not rejected, Jesus, when he died on the cross for our sins.

REJECTED SACRIFICES DID NOT MAKE ATONEMENT

Had God rejected Jesus on the cross, we would still be in our sins!

Throughout the Old Testament the offerings which foreshadowed Jesus were accepted to make atonement. 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!

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

CHRIST OUR SIN OFFERING

What about 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.

Doesn’t this text teach that Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness and thereby rejected by God in our place?

Not exactly.

Paul’s reference to Christ being made sin for us is derived from the Old Testament concept of the sin offerings. The sin offerings were holy sacrifices and were offered to make atonement for sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement 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.

Literally, Paul is telling us that Christ was made to be the offering for our sins, and that is how we are reconciled to God. Christ was made to be our sin offering not our literal sin.

Throughout the Old Testament the words sin and sin offering are translated from the same Hebrew word chattath, which is translated as sin offering 118 times, and as sin 168 times.

In Hebrews 10:6, the writer of Hebrews speaks of sacrifices for sin. The words “sacrifices for” were added by the translators of the King James Version for clarity. Literally, Hebrews 10:6 says: In burnt offerings and sin thou hast had no pleasure.

However, we know that the author of Hebrews is not referring to 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 the following:

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 throughout the New Testament for sin is used in Hebrews 10:6 to reference the sin offerings, and this is exactly how Paul employs the same word in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

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 scripture. 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 the scriptures.

Consider Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

3 I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES…~ 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Paul certainly understood Christ’s death in view of the Old Testament scriptures and did not teach contrary to the Old Testament’s motif when he speaks of Christ dying for our sins. Paul spoke 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 pure and holy.

The belief that Christ was made sin with our sinfulness is common within the teachings that Christ was rejected and condemned by God as a sinner dying under the wrath of God. If Christ had been made sin with our sinfulness, if he became the object of God’s wrath, and was rejected by God in our place as some teach, how then was he a holy offering? How was accepted as a sweet savor well pleasing to God? How was God in Christ reconciling the world (2 Corinthians 5:19) if God indeed separated himself from Christ because he was made sin with our sinfulness?

JESUS WAS HOLY WHEN HE DIED

There is no precedent in Old Testament with regards to the sin offerings, which supports the theology that Jesus became sinful when he died on the cross.

The offerings for sin, which foreshadowed Jesus’ death, were not made sinful with the sins of the people, and consequently rejected by God. Instead they were to be offered as unblemished sacrifices which were holy gifts to the Lord and they were accepted by God as a sweet fragrance.

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 6:25

The sin offering was to be killed as a Most Holy offering.

This was a foreshadowing of Jesus, who died, not as one who had been made sin with our sinfulness, but made a sin offering instead: a Most Holy offering to the Lord.

When Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “Christ was made to be sin for us,” he is not teaching that Christ metamorphosed into something unholy. Rather, he is echoing the truth of scripture: Christ was made a sin offering for us. The teaching of the Bible is that we were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus as of a lamb without spot or blemish. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-19

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. ~ Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15

Jesus redeemed us to God by his own blood when he gave himself (his holy life) as a gift to God to make atonement or reconciliation for our sins.

THE CROSS, A MOST HOLY ALTAR 

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

When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle so he could dwell among his people, he commanded that AN ALTAR of sacrifice be made with acacia wood and overlaid brass.

This altar was known as: the brazen altar, the altar for burnt offering, and the altar of the Lord. It was here, ON THIS ALTAR, that the sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ were to be offered.

  • the burnt offering
  • the meat offering
  • the peace offering
  • the sin offering
  • the trespass offering

These were to be offered on the altar as a sweet fragrance to the Lord, and were to be offered for atonement so that the people would be accepted by God. The first three (burnt, meat, and peace offerings) were voluntary offerings, and the last two (the sin and trespass offerings) were compulsory offerings.

Each had a prophetic foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus. For example, the burnt offerings were to be “wholly offered.” This foreshadowed Jesus being wholly given to the will of God when he died for our sins. Jesus held nothing back when God laid it upon him to give his life as the offering for our sins. Jesus gave himself fully to God for us.

On the other hand, the sin offering was to be killed at the altar. The inward parts (the fat, including all the fat around the internal organs, the two kidneys and the fat around them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver) was to be severed from the carcass and offered on the altar as a sweet savor (a pleasing aroma) to the Lord.

Yet, unlike the burnt offering which was “wholly” burnt on the altar, the carcass of the sin offering was to be taken outside the camp and burned in a clean place there. Only the inward parts were burned on the altar.

There is a twofold significance here: First the inward parts of the sin offering were offered on the altar as a sweet savor to the Lord (Leviticus 4:31). This was a foreshadowing Christ who had no sin. Jesus was totally pure from within. Secondly, the author of Hebrews appeals to burning of the carcass of the sin offering in Hebrews 13.

10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest FOR SIN, are BURNED WITHOUT THE CAMP.

12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

3 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. ~ Hebrews 13:10-13

The word “without” in the reference above means outside.

Jesus died for the sins of everyone, even those outside of the camp of Israel. The message of the gospel did not stay within the camp, it was carried outside the camp to the whole world.

All the sacrifices which were offered on the brazen altar were to be offered as gifts for a sweet savor to bring God pleasure. This typified Christ in whom God was pleased, and in whom God would accept for us, granting us forgiveness from our sins.

When God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle, the brazen altar had to be consecrated by the blood of the sin offering before it could be placed into service. It had no power to sanctify without first being the sanctified by the blood of the sin offering.

When the priests were initially consecrated for the service of the priesthood, the brazen altar was also consecrated for service.

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 was a type of the blood of Christ: THE POWER OF THE CROSS! The cross has power because of the blood Jesus shed.

After the blood was applied to the horns of the brazen altar, Moses poured the remainder of the blood 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 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, and because of his blood, the cross has the power to make us holy in the sight of God.

JESUS BORE OUR SINS (Part One)

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

The New Testament Greek word for bare is “anaphero” and it means to take up, bear, bring, (carry, lead) up, offer (up).

It is used a total of 9 times in the New Testament in 9 different verses.

In Matthew 17:1 it is used to describe Jesus leading three of his disciples as they ascended up the Mount of transfiguration: And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and BRINGETH THEM UP into an high mountain apart.

Mark 9:2 also referencing the ascent up the Mount of Transfiguration says, “LEADETH THEM UP.”

In Luke 24:51 it is used to describe Jesus’ ascension after his resurrection: And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and CARRIED UP into heaven.

Now stop and think about it for a moment. The same Greek word used in 1 Peter 2:24 which says, Jesus bare our sins, is the same Greek word used to describe his ascension into Heaven.

This is interesting in view of the burnt offerings which were offered on the altar of sacrifice in the Old Testament. The words “burnt offering” come from the Hebrew word “o-law” meaning “ascending.” The burnt offerings were to be wholly offered to the Lord as a sweet fragrance ascending to God. 

After Jesus had offered Himself as a sweet savor offering for our sins, he ascended to the Father and was given the highest place of honor, at the right hand of God. The death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus were all foreshadowed by the offerings which were offered as sweet savor ascending to God.

In Hebrews 7:27 and 9:28 the Greek “anaphero” translated bare, is used to describe Jesus giving His life as the 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. ~ Hebrews 7:27

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. ~ Hebrews 9:28

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?

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 to with lifting up, offering up, and ascending. In 1 Peter 2:5 (mentioned above) it is used in conjunction with the spiritual sacrifices which God accepts from believers through Jesus Christ.

While the ideology is pervasive that God accepts us because he rejected Jesus, the teaching of scripture is that God accepted Christ, and in Christ he has accepted us.

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace… ~ Ephesians 1:5-7

JESUS BORE OUR SINS (Part Two)

Isaiah the prophet foretold of Jesus bearing our sins in Isaiah 53:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. ~ Isaiah 53:4

He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. ~ Isaiah 53:12

The word, borne, in verse 4, and the word, bare, in verse 12, come from same Hebrew word “naw-saw,” which is translated as forgiveness in its various forms on multiple occasions in the Old Testament.

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. In Romans 4 Paul quotes from Psalm 32, when he says, Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are FORGIVEN, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. ~ Romans 4:6-8

The Hebrew word, naw-saw, appears in 610 passages of scripture in the Old Testament and is referenced a total of 653 times. Besides FORGIVENESS, it is used to convey the thought of lifting, carrying, removing, etc.

In Genesis 7:17 it is used to describe the lifting of Noah’s Ark by the flood waters: 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.

In Exodus 10:19 it refers to the forceful wind the Lord sent to remove the Locus out of Egypt: 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

In Exodus 19:4 it is used to describe God’s power by which he delivered the Israelites out of Egypt: 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

In Exodus 25:14, it used to describe how the Ark of the covenant was to be lifted and carried: 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

Also, consider the following from Isaiah 63:

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 the New Testament, Matthew interprets the words of Isaiah 53:4 – Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows – 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. ~ Matthew 8:16-17

According to Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah 53:4, Jesus took the people’s infirmities and bare their sicknesses, not by becoming afflicted and sick, but by delivering those who were possessed with demons and healing those who were sick.

From Matthew’s interpretation, we can see that Matthew understood the words of Isaiah 53:4 in view the antidote which was healing and deliverance. In Matthew’s interpretation, we have a Biblical precedence for the correct interpretation of Isaiah’s use of the word “naw-saw,” translated as “bare.”

Jesus bore our sins by offering himself as an unblemished and holy sacrificial offering to God, so that we could be cleansed from our sins by his precious blood.

THE BODY OF JESUS: THE OFFERING FOR OUR SINS

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

The lacerations which came from the beating Jesus endured, the nails that pierced his hands and feet, the crown of thrones 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 on the cross, he tells us that Jesus suffered wrongfully while entrusting himself to God who judges righteously.

Someone once said me, “It was not merely the stripes of men that Jesus endured.” This 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 which Jesus bore in his body, while on the cross, we are healed.

According to Jesus, the apostles, the angel at the empty tomb, and the whole of the New Testament, 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 thing he was visibly suffering in his flesh at the cross.

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 Pete 4:1

The ideology that God, behind the scene, or in the spirit realm, condemned Jesus because something more than the physical sufferings of Christ was needed, is a very pervasive but unscriptural ideology. Those who hold to such views often appeal to verses such as Galatians 3:13 to support their theology.

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…~ Galatians 3:13

Notice that Paul’s qualifies his declaration that Christ was made a curse for us by saying, 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 executed, which was crucifixion. Paul tells the Galatians, Christ was made a curse by hanging on a tree, and not by a behind the scenes exchange between God and Christ.

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 a behind the scenes exchange.

The crucified body of Jesus Christ is the emblem of our redemption, and through his slain body, which was hanged on a tree, he absorbed the curse of the Law so that we might be redeemed by his blood.

The writer of Hebrews tells us we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. ~ see Hebrews 10:5-10

When the ideology is advocated 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:

  • Jesus suffered under the wrath of God.
  • Jesus was treated as a sinner by God.
  • Jesus died spiritually.
  • Jesus suffered in Hell to pay the penalty for our sins.

However, the Bible teaches none of these. Our salvation was accomplished by the physical death and bodily resurrection of the Son of God, and by his own blood, Jesus secured our redemption.

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, and to redeem those under the Law, so that the blessing of Abraham to come on the Gentiles, through faith.

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.

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.

14 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;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 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, Hebrews tells us that Jesus took on the seed of Abraham. What is the nature of Angels? The answer is found in chapter 1, where the writer of Hebrews says: And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. ~ verse 7

Angels are spirits. In contrast, Jesus came in the flesh as 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 in the spirit,” or “declared righteous.”  Jesus was condemned unjustly in the flesh when he suffered at the hands of sinful men. Yet, he was vindicated in the spirit through his resurrection from the dead, and his 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 is the death, burial, resurrection, & exaltation of Jesus Christ. In Acts 2, the apostle Peter is quoting from Psalm 16:8-11and 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.

10 For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

In Psalm 16:10, the Hebrew word sheol is translated as hell.  Throughout the old testament, sheol is translated in three ways: 1. the grave, 2. hell, and 3. pit. 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.” ~ Genesis 37:35. Consider also Job 17:13: If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

In the New Testament hell is translated from three Greek words.

  1. Tartaroo, (translated once) the place of the wicked dead, the place of outer darkness.
  1. Gehenna, (translated 12 times) the place of future torment, the lake of fire, i.e. hell fire.
  1. Hades (translated 10 times) the grave, or the abode of the dead, the place of departed souls.

The apostle Paul uses the word hades in reference to the grave, over which believers will have victory at the coming of the Lord.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:22

Paul’s word’s above also support the truth of a physical resurrection of the righteous at the coming of Jesus and not a spiritual (mystical) resurrection in 70 AD as taught in full preterism.

In Acts 2:27 & 31 the Greek word hades is used as a reference to the grave and not a reference to suffering torment in the regions of the damned.

Consider the following:

  1. There is no mention of suffering in hell (i.e., in the place of torment) in Psalm 16 or Acts 2.
  1. The sentence structure 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. Literally, the scripture is saying:   My flesh shall rest in hope, because you will not leave (abandon) my soul in hell (to the power of the grave).

In Peter’s sermon, his emphasis is that the body of Jesus did not decay 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.

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 this 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, rather than torture in the regions of the damned.

Peter tells the people that these words were not referring to David but to Jesus. Now think about it. Do you think that those who were acquainted with this prophecy of scripture and thought it referred to David viewed 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 (the Messiah) to set on his throne forever.

In Paul’s sermon in Acts 13, we find 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 . ~ Acts 13:34-36

The phrase “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell” belongs to the promise that the Messiah’s body would not decay in the grave. This is the sure mercies which 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 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 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 1:20Hebrews 9:22; 10:18-22; Romans 5:9

Jesus died on the cross for our sins!

FAITH IN THE BLOOD OF JESUS

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 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;

26 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 does not mean appeasement, and has nothing to do with God pouring out wrath on Jesus at the cross.

The word propitiation, comes from the Greek word “hilasterion,” which is employed by the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) for the mercy seat. Also in Hebrews 9:5 it is translated as mercy seat in the King James Version.

A close observation of the context of Romans 3:25 shows that the word “hilasterion” is used in conjunction with our faith in the blood of Jesus, meaning that what ever “hilasterion” refers to, it refers to who Jesus is to us through our faith in his blood.

The expression “faith in his blood” is therefore the determining factor in each of our lives as to whether or not Jesus is our “hilasterion.” For God has set forth Jesus to be a “hilasterion” (atonement, reconciliation, mercy seat) through faith in his blood.

While some claim Romans 3:25 proves that God poured out his wrath on Jesus, the context is not about what God did to Jesus, but what God has made Jesus to be, according to his grace, in the lives of all who have faith in his blood.

Christ is the atoning sacrifice, the mercy seat, or the provision of God’s forgiving mercy to all who have faith in his blood. Appeasement, on the other hand, is a concept which comes from the worship of pagan gods, because there was no natural disposition of good will in them.

Appeasement is not taught in 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.

THE BLOOD OF JESUS AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD

In the Bible God is revealed as a holy God, and all who enter into his presence must be clean.  In the old testament, God gave Israel the tabernacle to sanctify the people so that he could dwell among them.

In Exodus 25, God said to Moses, “let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” This was a type of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle which Jesus entered in the Heavens, when through his own blood, he entered into the presence of God for us, to make intercession for us.

Under the Law, the tabernacle and all that was in it had to be first purified by the atoning blood before it could be put into service for the Living God to dwell among his people.

On the annual day of atonement, the tabernacle and everything that pertained to it, had to be purified again with the atoning blood because of the sins of the people. All that was associated with the presence of God had to be holy and purified by blood.

This was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do to bring us near to God. The writer of Hebrews tells us the following in Hebrews 9:21-24.

Moreover he (Moses) sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…

After he shed his blood on the cross as payment for our sins, Jesus entered into the very presence of God for us with his own blood to purify for us access to God so that we may live in his presence.

This is why the author of Hebrews tells us: to enter with boldness into the holiest (the presence of God) 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

NOT WITHOUT BLOOD

Under the Law, love held man back from entering God’s presence.

Only the high priest could enter the presence of God, and only on the Day of Atonement, and only with the blood of sacrificial animals that could not take away sin. Those sacrifices were only a foreshadowing of the glorious redemption that God had not yet (at that time) fully revealed.

The high priest was commanded to enter but, not without blood.

When Jesus offered himself for us, God unveiled the glorious and hidden plan of redemption. Through his own blood, shed at the cross, Jesus entered into the presence of God having obtained our eternal redemption for us.

Jesus, our great High Priest, entered the presence of God for us, but unlike the priests under the Law who could not abide permanently in the presence of God, Jesus abides there forever to make intercession for us.

Because of Jesus, we too are invited in. We are told to come boldly by his blood, by the new and living way, which Jesus has consecrated for us.

The message of the old covenant was that only the high priest may come into God’s presence, and only for a short time, and only once a year, and NOT WITHOUT BLOOD.

The message of the new covenant is COME BOLDLY BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS! For we have been redeemed!

THE HIGH PRIEST, THE HOLY GARMENTS,AND THE PRESENCE OF GOD 

A traditional error states that on the Day of Atonement the high priest entered the holy of holies with a rope tied around him in case he were to die in the presence of God.

According to this teaching, the people would understand that the high priest had fallen dead because they would cease to hear the bells on the robe of the high priest and therefore they could retrieve his dead body with the rope tied around him without having to go into the holy of holies.

This has been taught by many ministers, but it is entirely unscriptural. It is an extra Biblical rabbinical teaching, and found nowhere in scripture.

Exodus 28 gives a detailed description of the priestly garments worn by Aaron the high priest in the DAILY MINISTRATION of the service of the tabernacle. These garments consisted of the ephod, the curious girdle of the ephod, the breastplate of judgment, the robe (all blue) of the ephod, the mitre (bonnet) with the plate of gold, the linen coat, and the line breaches.

The purpose of the priestly garments is listed in Exodus 28:1-2. They were worn so that the high priest could (1) minister to the Lord in the priest’s office and (2) for glory and beauty.

These priestly garments were worn in the daily ministration by the high priest and it was the ephod (the blue robe) which had THE BELLS and the pomegranates on the hem of it.

When the high priest ministered in the holy place (not the holy of holies) the bells with the pomegranates would make a pleasant sound and the priest was heard as he carried on his service in the holy place. However, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest wore only the linen garments into the holy of holies, and not the full attire of his beautiful priestly garments (Leviticus 16:4). There were no bells or pomegranates on the linen garments which were the innermost garments.

As the high priest laid aside his beautiful garments and wore only linen garments into the presence of God, so Christ left the glory of heaven and came to earth. He laid aside his heavenly majesty (not his divine nature) and clothed himself with human weakness, as he took on the likeness of men (John 17:1-5; Hebrews 2:9-17; Philippians 2; Isaiah 53 ). In the flesh, the Lord of glory made atonement (reconciliation) for our sins to bring us to God!

GOD CONSUMES THE SACRIFICES

As previously covered, 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 with divine fire from His Holy presence (Leviticus 9:22-24).

This 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 (2 Chronicles 7:1).

When God consumed the sacrifices at the dedication of the Tabernacle under Moses, there was lit upon the altar – a divine fire. This was the fire of which God had instructed Moses saying, “it shall not be put out” and “it shall never be put out.” ~ 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). The burning of the incense upon the golden altar was evidently from the divine fire taken from the brazen altar.

In Leviticus 10, not long after God had consumed the sacrifices with 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.

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. Through Him alone we have access with confidence, and in Him our prayers becomes as sweet incense.

All other approaches are “strange fire” and will incur God’s wrath.

JESUS PLEASED GOD, NOT APPEASED GOD

When we consider the many examples of sacrifices (foreshadowing Jesus) which were offered to God throughout the Old Testament, we find that those sacrifices were always offered to be a sweet aroma, well pleasing to God, and in no way were they associated with his anger or wrath.

Consider the following example from the book of Genesis.

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

21 And THE LORD SMELLED A SWEET SAVOR; and THE LORD SAID IN HIS HEART, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. ~ Genesis 8:20-21

Noah’s burnt offering was the first act of worship in the new world after the flood. Noah’s offering was so pleasing to God that God SAID IN HIS HEART “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake…”

Why was this offering of Noah so powerful, that it could move God to make such a vow in his heart? It was because this offering was a foreshadowing of Jesus. Throughout the book of Leviticus, the offerings offered on the altar of sacrifice are repeatedly offered as a sweet savor to the Lord, just as Noah’s offering was.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.

If Noah’s burnt offering was this pleasing to God, that he would say in his heart, “I will not again…” Think how much more pleasing the offering of Jesus was, when as a sweet savor offering he lovingly sacrificed his life for our sins.

Another example of the sacrifices foreshadowing Christ can be seen in the feast of the first fruits.

9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, AND SHALL REAP THE HARVEST THEREOF, then ye shall bring a sheaf of THE FIRSTFRUITS of your harvest unto the priest:

11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, TO BE ACCEPTED FOR YOU: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf AN HE LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.

13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, AN OFFERING MADE BY FIRE UNTO THE LORD FOR A SWEET SAVOUR: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.

14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. ~ Leviticus 23:9-14

These were the offerings that the Israelites were to offer to the Lord at the time of the feast of the first-fruits. First fruits was a foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul says: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept (those who are dead).” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20

During the feast of firstfruits, the Israelites were to offer

1. The sheaf of the firstfruits to the Lord “to be accepted” for them. Notice the language: the first-fruits was not rejected in their place, it was instead, an offering that was accepted for them.

2. A male LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us Jesus redeemed us with his precious blood as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

3. A meat offering which is said to be “an offering made by fire to the Lord for a sweet savor.” The meat offerings (AKA grain offerings) were symbolic of Jesus’ perfect humanity. Jesus had no sin in him and according to the Bible, we are sanctified by the offering of THE BODY of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:10.

Jesus gave his body (the body by which he was made in the likeness of men) as the offering for our sins. In John 6 Jesus says, I am that BREAD OF LIFE. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is THE BREAD which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I AM THE LIVING BREAD which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and THE BREAD THAT I WILL GIVE IS MY FLESH, which I will give for the life of the world. ~ John 6:48-51

  • Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection who was ACCEPTED for us.
  • Jesus is the unblemished lamb who redeemed us with his precious blood.
  • Jesus is the sweet savor offering (pleasing to God) who sanctified us through the offering of his body. He is the living bread from heaven that gives us eternal life.

The Old Testament is full of examples of sacrifices which foreshadowed Jesus, and by these examples, we can come to a fuller understanding of  Jesus as our sacrifice.

He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Genesis 3:21; Revelation 13:8).

He is the more excellent sacrifice offered by Abel (Genesis 4:1-10; Hebrews 11:4).

He is the sweet smelling savor offered by Noah: providing mercy, favor and covenant (Genesis 8:20-22: 9:1, 8-17).

He is Abraham’s burnt offering, which the Lord provided (Genesis 22:1-13).

He is the Passover who redeems us. ~ Exodus 12; Numbers 9:1-14; 2 Chronicles 30:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7

He is the burnt offering: wholly consecrated for to the Lord for us. ~ Leviticus 1

He is the meat offering; holy, perfect, and without sin. ~ Leviticus 2

He is the peace offering: the free gift of grace to be received with thanksgiving. ~ Leviticus 3; Colossians 1:20-22

He is the sin offering: the one who bore the sins of the world. ~ Leviticus 4; 1 Corinthians 5:21

He is the trespass offering: He paid the price for all the trespasses of the child of God. ~ Leviticus 5&6; 1 John 1:7-9

He is the continual burnt offering: our once for all sacrifice, eternal and everlasting. ~ Exodus 29:38-42; Leviticus 6:9-13

He is the fire that must never go out: burning continually upon the upon the coals of our heart. ~ Leviticus 6

He is the consecration ram: His blood is applied to the holy priesthood for hearing, service, and fellowship. ~ Exodus 29; Leviticus 8

He is the drink offering who poured out His life for us all. ~ Exodus 29; Isa 53:12; Ps 22:14

He is the cleanser of the Levites in purifying us for service. ~ Numbers 8

He is the cleanser of the leper: He restores the outcast to fellowship. ~ Leviticus 14-15

He is salvation to the Gentiles: Rahab’s true token. ~ Joshua 2:12-21

He is the glorious sound of the ram’s horn: This was heard before the shout that knocked down flat the walls of Jericho. ~ Joshua 6

He is the burnt offering offered by Gideon: Gideon received insight from the Lord. ~ Judges 6

He is the peace offering: Hanna’s vow was answered. ~ 1 Samuel 1-2

He the burnt offering offered by Samuel: God thundered upon the Philistines. ~ 1 Samuel 7

He is the ram that was offered: out of His horns Samuel poured the anointing oil upon David to be King. ~ 1 Samuel 16:1-13

He is 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

He is Solomon’s burnt offering by which Solomon sought God and asked for wisdom which truly is the principle thing. ~ 2 Chronicles 1:1-12

He is 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

He is Elijah’s burnt offering triumphing over all our enemies. ~ 1Kings 18:21-46

He is Jehoshaphat’s meat offering: the one who sanctifies. ~ 2 Kings 2:30

He is Job’s burnt offering: He turns captivity through intercession. ~ Job 42:7-17

He is 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

He is 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

Many have described the death of Christ as anything but well pleasing to God, making claims such as “God poured out his wrath on Jesus” or “God treated Jesus like a sinner” or “God rejected Jesus in our place.”

The problem with this assessment is that it turns God against his dying Son, rather than God being pleased by the unselfish obedience of his Son who gave his life for us.

When Christ died on the cross, he wasn’t “role playing” in our place. He was paying a ransom, and he did this with his sinless and holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. In this manner, Christ died for us, and PLEASED God, not appeased God, for Jesus was a SWEET SMELLING SAVOR to God FOR US.

Under the Law, the sacrifices that were “rejected” did not make atonement. Those that were accepted did, for they were offered as a sweet savor to God, bringing pleasure to him because they foreshadowed God’s Son in whom he is “well pleased!”

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- 5-2

THE BLOOD OF 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?

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)

Is the author of Hebrews emphasizing that Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance, but the blood of Jesus cries out 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 give a 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 blood (or death) speaks better things than Abel’s as well, for Stephen prayed for mercy for his murderers.

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 the application of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Christ’s shed blood has power in heaven where it was sprinkled in the presence of God for us, and it has power in our heart, cleansing our conscience from all 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 us the 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 reformationBut 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 have the 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!

THE GOSPEL AND THE WRATH OF GOD

One very well known minister has made the following statement:

Jesus forever changed the way God relates to mankind. Sure, there are scriptural examples of God’s catastrophic judgment on sin. But God’s greatest act of judgment was when He placed all of His wrath for our sins upon Jesus. This forever satisfied God’s wrath. Since that time, God hasn’t been judging our sins (2 Cor. 5:19)

The New Testament, however, does not teach that God poured out all his wrath on Jesus. Nor does the Bible teach that God will no longer judge sin.

Biblically, 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. Consider the following from Psalms 85:

Lord, thou hast been favorable 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. ~ Psalm 85:1-4 

One of the many problems with the “atonement – through- appeasement” view of the cross is that it is 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, 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.

First, it is vital that we understand that God is not angry with his people who love him, nor is God angry with those in bondage to sin, who desire freedom from their sins. However, God does get angry with the ungodly who are unrepentant because they love their sin.

Consider the words of John the Baptist: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. ~ John 3:36

The words of John the Baptist belong to the same context in which we find the words of Jesus: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

When we consider the words of Jesus within of context of John 3, we learn that God’s love in the giving of his Son is his provision to save people from his judgment against ungodliness, which does indeed provoke his wrath.

Consider with me the following from verses 14-15:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:14-15

Now consider the old testament account from which Jesus references:

5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

8 And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. ~ Numbers 21:5-9

The serpent of brass which God commanded Moses to make was the atoning provision to save the people from the judgment which God had sent. Notice that the text says: And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. ~ v.6

According to Jesus, this was a type of how God would deliver us from our sins, and it was an Old Testament foreshadowing of how God would display his love for us in Jesus Christ.

Sinful man is under the judgment of God for his sins, but God sent his son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all who will repent and turn to him, and this is how God so loved the world: He gave his only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Remember, Jesus likened believing on him to the children of Israel who were saved from death by looking at the serpent of brass:  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Now consider verses 17 – 21:

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. ~ John 3:16 – 21

This is the context to which the words of John the Baptist in verse 36 belong: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

God gave his Son to bestow his love on all who would humbly turn from their sins, with the condition, that the recipients of his love turn from their sins.

Those who refuse to turn from their sins by rejecting the precious gift of God, given through the offering of his Son, have consequently rejected the love of God. Therefore, they are condemned, and are under God’s wrath.

This will become clearer as we continue.

GOD’S WRATH AND THE UNREPENTANT

Whether we like it or not, there are people throughout the world who hate God because they love their sins. God’s love is extended to them, calling them to repentance. Yet, if they persist in their rebellion against God, refusing to humble themselves, they will be judged and damned in their sins. In this way, they are under the wrath of God.

The New Testament teaches that God has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man he has appointed: Jesus Christ. ~ Acts 17:31

In Romans 2, Paul says that those who despise God’s goodness, which would lead them to repentance, are storing up wrath against the Day of wrath and of the righteousness Judgment of God. ~ Romans 2:1-6

God has given his Son as the witness of himself, and in his Son, God offers forgiveness, grace, and mercy, to all people. Those who believe God’s witness, in his Son, receive life everlasting.

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. ~ 1 John 5:9-13

He who rejects the Son of God, rejects the love, mercy, and grace God has offered, and as the apostle John says, God hath made him a liar.

God is holy, and he is just to be displeased and even angry with those who refuse to humble themselves before him so that they may receive mercy and grace.

On the day of judgement, those who have rejected God’s love will have no intercessor and no advocate to defend them. They will stand before a holy and righteous God with all their sins exposed before him. They will be judged for their sins because of their defiance of his goodness, and because they rejection of the love God offered them through Jesus.

As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians, “…they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” ~ 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12

For them, there will be no forgiveness when they stand before God. They will be judged, not by God’s compassion, but by God’s wrath. This is why Paul tells the Corinthians, Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11). If no one were under the wrath of God, as some teach, Paul would have never said this to the Corinthians.

Neither would he have told the Thessalonians that the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus, and who were hindering his ministry to the Gentiles, were under God’s wrath. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Think about it. Paul believed the hostile Jews who put Jesus to death and who continued in their hostility by opposing the gospel, were under the wrath of God. Paul says this in his first letter to the Thessalonians, in the New Testament, after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Yet there are modern day teachers who claim that no one is under God’s wrath. They make such claims because of their theological views that God poured out all his wrath on Jesus.

The Bible does not teach this!

Furthermore, if no one is under the wrath of God, Paul would have never instructed believers not to take vengeance because God says he will repay and vengeance belongs to the him. ~ Romans 12:19

If no one is under the wrath of God, as these as some teachers claim, Paul would not have said, we who follow Jesus are not appointed to wrath at the coming of the Lord, but those who refuse to obey the gospel are under the wrath of God when Christ comes. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

If no one is under the wrath of God, the author of Hebrews would never have said that those who turn away from the Lord have nothing to look forward to except for a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. ~ Hebrews 10:27

The author of Hebrews tells us: For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ~ Hebrews 10:30-31

WHY DO THE HEATHEN RAGE?

According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus endured hostility from sinners when he died on the cross (Hebrews 12:2-3), and he endured such hostility by the grace of God. ~ Hebrews 2:9

Paul tells us in Romans, the reproaches of those who reproached (or defamed) God, fell upon Jesus. ~ Romans 15:3

The condemnation Jesus endured was from sinful men, and it was sinful man’s opposition against God. This is exactly why the disciples prayed in Acts 4: The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his Christ. ~ Acts 4:26

“The Lord and his Christ” is a reference to God and Jesus. When Christ was crucified, the people were gathered together against God and Jesus.

Within the context of Acts 4:26 (mentioned above) the disciples of the Lord made appeal to Psalm 2, which clearly reveals that Jesus was condemned, not by the wrath of God, but by the wrath of sinful men instead: why do THE HEATHEN RAGE and the people imagine vain thing.

Heathen raging, is an expression of the heathen’s wrath. Jesus died under the wrath of heathen, and not the wrath of a holy God. The hatred and opposition from sinful men, who condemned Jesus to death, was hatred and opposition against God who had sent Jesus. This is what the four gospels and the book of Acts repeatedly give witness to.

According to Jesus, God was with him when he gave his life (John 8:29; 16:28-32) and this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said.

The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.

I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.

Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. ~ Isaiah 50:5-9

UNJUSTLY CONDEMNED

Neither Jesus, nor any of his followers in scripture ever preached that Jesus died under the wrath of God. They always attributed the death of Christ to the hands of sinful men, and they preached the resurrection as God’s righteous vindication of His Son, Jesus.

As Jesus prepared his disciples for the things he was to suffer in his death, he told his disciples that he would suffer at the hands of men.

  • 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

In the book of Acts, the declaration of the gospel by the apostles was that Jesus had suffered an unjust death at the hands of sinful men. ~ Acts 2:22-24, 36; 3:13-18; 4:10-11, 20, 23- 28; 5:30-32; 7:52; 10:36-43

In Acts 7, Stephen asserted that Jesus had been murdered. Stephen declared this to those who were about to stone him, saying to them that they had been “the betrayers and murderers of Jesus.” ~ Acts 7:52

According to the apostle Peter, the sufferings Jesus endured serves as our example of how we are to respond when we suffer wrongfully.

19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.  

20 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.

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps:  

22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

24 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.

25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. ~ 1 Peter 2:19-25

Notice that in view of Jesus suffering for us, Peter says that Jesus committed himself to God who judges righteously, setting an example that we should follow when we suffer wrongfully. Peter would not have said this if Jesus had suffered under God’s righteous wrath.

According to the prophet Isaiah, and Philip preaching to the Eunuch in the book of Acts, Jesus was deprived of justice from the time of his arrest until his death on the cross. ~ Isaiah 53:8, 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. ~ Acts 8:33

Other translations say the following:

  • 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)

Acts 8:33 is a quote from Isaiah 53:8: 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.

Other translations say the following:

  • 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).

HATED WITHOUT A CAUSE

When Jesus was alone with his disciples just prior to his trial and crucifixion, he addressed the hatred of the religious Jews and their leaders who were against Him.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin. 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 15:18-25

In John 8:23 Jesus had referred to the religious Jews who opposed him as worldly: “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” Jesus uses the same description in his private conversation with his disciples (mentioned above) as a reference to his accusers.

The rejection that Jesus endured from men, which ultimately resulted in his death, was the people’s rejection of God who had sent him. Jesus interprets the scripture, “they hated me without a cause” as hatred aimed at both he and his Father, God. Jesus also tells his disciples that they too would be rejected by the world because the world had first rejected Him.

This is consistent with the words prayed by the church in Acts 4:

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, 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 HIS CHRIST. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were GATHERED TOGETHER, For TO DO whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. ~ Acts 4:25-28

These words in Acts 4 are taken from Psalm 2.

The prophet Isaiah said, 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. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: YET WE ESTEEMED HIM STRICKEN, SMITTTEN OF GOD, AND AFFLICTED. ~ Isaiah 53:3-4

The phrase “we esteemed Him smitten of God and afflicted” is contextually a reference to the perception and not the reality, for it was sinful men and not God who unjustly condemned Jesus and who wounded Him.

The wounds which scared His back were caused by men. The nails which pierced His hands and feet came from the condemnation of men. The crown of thorns was placed there by men. It was men who hanged Him on the tree.

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

The predetermined counsel of God was that Jesus die for our sins and this was fulfilled by what actually happened at the cross when Jesus died at the hands of sinful men.

Romans 15:3 says, “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. The reproaches of the people towards God (their hatred and rebellion against God) were 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.” ~ Hebrews 12:2

The shame Jesus endured was humiliation which came from men who hated and opposed God. The son of God was publically humiliated, mocked, and ridiculed by those who despised both he and his and Father, God.

Christ did not suffer under the wrath of God. He suffered under the unjust condemnation and wrath from men who hated Him without a cause.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

Immediately following His words in John 15:18-25 Jesus says the following:

But I will send you the Advocate —the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry. ~ John 15:18-27

The world hates Jesus and the world hates God who sent Him. The world will therefore hate us who belong to Him. When Jesus departed and returned to the Father He did not abandon His followers as orphans in this world. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower them.

The promised Holy Spirit gives us the power to bear witness of the truth in Jesus Christ in the midst of a very dark world. We are called to be salt and light so that the Holy Spirit may bring conviction upon sinners and draw men unto repentance.

THE CROSS AND THE WISDOM OF GOD 

In their hatred and rebellion against God and Christ, those who condemned Jesus  to death, fulfilled the hidden plan of God by crucifying his beloved Son: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:19  

The New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians 3:19b says “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”

This is exactly what happen when they crucified Jesus. God demonstrated his love for humanity, through the hands of those who hated him and opposed him. God literally turned their actions up on its head and fulfilled his purpose to save all who would believe. He did this through the crucified Messiah!

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The death of Christ was predetermined by God and those who crucified Jesus, unknowingly accomplishing that which God had ordained. Peter preaching to his Jewish brethren declared, brethren, I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. ~ Acts 3:17-18

Paul says something similar in Acts 13:

27 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.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

30 But God raised him from the dead… ~ Acts 13:27-30

THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED

JESUS’ DESCRIPTION OF HIS DEATH

And he said unto them, these are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. ~ Luke 24:44-48 

Before his crucifixion, Jesus had begun to prepare his disciples for the things he would soon suffer at the hands of sinful men. At Caesarea Philippi, the very same place where Jesus asked his disciples “who do you say that I am?” Jesus began to speak to his disciples about the things he would suffer and the resurrection that would follow.

From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. ~ Matthew 16:21

Soon afterwards, Jesus was transfigured on the mountain known as the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James, and John witnessed as Moses and Elijah appeared in a cloud of glory with Jesus and spoke with him of his soon coming death which was to take place in Jerusalem. ~ Luke 9:31

After this, Jesus and those with him made their way down the mountain. As they journeyed, Jesus said to them, “the Son of Man is going to suffer and be put at naught as it was written of him.” Jesus repeatedly appealed to the scriptures when speaking of his death.

When they arrived at the foot of the mountain, they were met by a crowd of people, along with nine anxious disciples who had tried to cast out an evil spirit from the epileptic boy, but to no avail. When Jesus saw what was happening, he had compassion and cast out the demon and presented the young man back to his father.

As the crowd rejoiced, and the disciples wondered why they could not set the boy free, Jesus turned to them and said, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.  ~ Luke 9:44

The disciples did not yet understand what Christ was teaching them, yet they were being prepared because Jesus knew the time was approaching when he would offer his life for the sin of the world. Luke tells us “It came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” ~ Luke 9:51

Not long afterwards, while in Galilee, Jesus again rehearsed to his disciples how he was going to suffer. Matthew tells us, “while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.” ~ Matthew 17:22-23

Still, the disciples did not yet comprehend these things. It wasn’t until after Jesus had risen from the dead and opened their understanding to the scriptures that they fully understood.

Nonetheless, Jesus was preparing them because they were going to be eye witnesses of the fulfillment of the scriptures concerning the Messiah, and they would testify of him with boldness in the power of the Holy Spirit.

As they made their way towards Jerusalem, Jesus again pulled his disciples aside and rehearsed to them what he was about to suffer.

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” ~ Matthew 20:17-19 NKJV

Luke gives us a little different insight: He took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken. ~ Luke 18:31-34

Notice that the things the Jesus endured from the hands of men is described by Jesus as the accomplishment, or fulfillment of all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man.

REMEMBER WHAT HE SAID

In Luke 24:1-8, we read of certain women who came to the empty tomb on the day that Jesus was raised from the dead. They were greeted by an angel of the Lord, who said the following to them:

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spoke unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. ~ Luke 24:6-8 

When the angel of the Lord said this to the women, the Bible says, “they remembered his words.”

Later, in Luke 24:13 -31, we read of two disciples of Jesus who traveled along the road to Emmaus. As they walked and talked together, they spoke of “all these things which had happened.”

As these two disciples discussed what had happened, a stranger suddenly came along for the journey. They had no idea their new traveling companion was none other than Jesus himself. The Bible says, their eyes were kept from recognizing him. ~ Luke 24:16

Jesus then asked them what they were having such an intense discussion about. One of them whose name was Cleopas answered Jesus and said, “Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem and have not known the things which have happened in these days?” 

Jesus responded, “what things?”

Then they said to Jesus, “concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.” ~ Luke 24: 19-21

Notice that, these things, of which these two disciples were speaking includes the betrayal and trial along with the crucifixion. It was now the third day since the Jesus had been betrayed.

As they proceeded to tell Jesus all that had happened to him and how they had hoped that he would have been the one who would have redeemed Israel, they still had no clue it was Jesus with whom they were talking. They even told him that they had heard reports of his resurrection, yet they were still in disbelief. Luke continues the narrative of Jesus’ response to their report of his death and resurrection.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. ~ Luke 24:25-27 

Notice how Jesus describes these things which they had witnessed as being that which all the prophets had spoken concerning his death. The context of this passage shows that Jesus revealed nothing other than that his sufferings, beginning with the betrayal by Judas into the hands of men and their condemnation of him,  was the fulfillment of all that the scriptures had foretold of His death.

Jesus expounded to them in the scriptures the things relating to his sufferings and the glory that was to follow. Jesus literally schooled these two disciples on the meaning of the scriptures beginning with Moses and continued through all writings of the prophets to show them that what they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of the scriptures.

THE GOSPEL THE APOSTLES PREACHED 

The Lord’s disciples were his personally appointed apostles, and they preached the cross throughout the book of Acts exactly as they had been taught by Jesus, that what they had witnessed was the fulfillment of the scriptures.

As we read through the book of Acts, we see that the apostles laid the blame for the death of Jesus upon the people of Israel. As the apostles preached the gospel, their message was filled with overtones of  look at what you have done to Him and repent.”

Consider the words of Peter in Acts 2:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. ~ Acts 2:23-24

Later, in verse thirty-six, Peter says, “… let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” ~ Acts 2:36

In Acts 3, after the lame man was healed at the gate called Beautiful, a crowd quickly assembled around Peter and John. The people were amazed at what had happened because the man had been lame his entire life, more than 40 years. Peter quickly defused any attention towards him and John and preached the following to the people.

12 … Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

13 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.

14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. ~ Acts 3: 12b-19

The remainder of Peter’s sermon is recorded in verses 20-26, but from the verses above one can clearly see that Peter blames the people and not God for the death of Jesus.

As we read into chapter four, we see that Peter’s boldness for Jesus invoked trouble from the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees. Peter and John were taken into custody because these leaders were angered that they had taught and preached about the resurrection of Jesus which resulted in approximately 5,000 people being saved.

The next day, Peter and John were placed on trial before the High Priest and were asked, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Peter’s response is worth examining because it again reveals how the apostles understood the cross and resurrection of Jesus:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucifiedwhom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. ~ Acts 4:8-12 

Notice that Peter again directs the responsibility for the death of Jesus towards those who rejected him. He then attributes the resurrection to God showing how God had overturned what the people had done in condemning Jesus. God had raised him from the dead. Peter speaks of Jesus as the stone which his audience at that time had rejected and says the stone which they had rejected is the stone which has becomes the cornerstone of God’s house!

Peter would later write about this in his first epistle.

You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by 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 himBut 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.” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-8 TNLT

Peter is telling us the same thing in his first epistle as he preached to the religious leaders in Acts 4. Jesus is the Stone whom the people rejected. Not the one God rejected. In his death, Jesus suffered unjustly at the hands of sinful men, and in his resurrection he was vindicated by the justice of God, for God exalted him to the highest place of honor at his own right hand.

After being threatened by the council and let go, Peter and John returned to the other believers. The Bible says they reported to them all that the chief priests, and the elders had said to them. After hearing this, the whole crowd of believers began to lift up their voices in unity to God in prayer. Among other things their prayer contained the following words.

24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. ~ Acts 4:24-28 

Here we can see the disciples declared that it was not only Jesus that the people opposed but God as well. Those who condemned Jesus to death were gathered against the Lord and against his Christ.

The Lord and his Christ is a reference to God and his Son Jesus!

In John 15 Jesus had taught his disciples that the world hated him because it hated his Father in Heaven and interprets the scripture, they hated me without a cause,” as hatred aimed at both he and his Father, God. Consequently the world would hate them as well.

This is what we are seeing in Acts 4 as well as the entirety of the book of Acts. The unrepentant religious hierarchy within Jewry were hell bent on silencing the testimony of Christ being witnessed by the apostles.

Yet, the power of the Holy Spirit could not be quenched, for Christ had overcome this world and was now the exalted King seated at the Father’s right hand. Christ’s gospel is unstoppable by the kingdoms of this World for it is not preached in man’s strength but in God’s, for the Kingdom of God is not in word but in power. (see 1 Corinthians 4:20).

After the company of believers in Acts 4 prayed, God shook the building and filled them all with the Holy Ghost.

God answered their prayer and did many signs and wonders among the people through the hands of the apostles. This caused quite a stir with the high priest and those with him. The Bible says they were filled with considerable resentment toward the followers of Jesus. Once again they tried to stop the work of the Holy Ghost, but this is how Peter and the other apostles answered them:

29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.

31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. ~ Acts 5:29-32

The apostles not only blamed them again for the crucifixion of Jesus, but they declared that God, in opposition to what they had done, had raised Jesus from the dead. They made it clear they had been witnesses of all this themselves as well as the Holy Spirit.

This declaration by Peter and the apostles was met with such resistance by the high priest and his associates that they wanted the apostles dead just as they had wanted Jesus dead. Acts 5:33 says, “When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.”

It wasn’t the apostles only whom they wanted to stop. It was the work of the Holy Spirit through the apostles that they were opposing.

We can see this in the case of Stephen. Stephen was not an apostle, but a faithful disciple and deacon in the church. Stephen had been chosen as a deacon because he was of an honest report, and he was full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. In Acts 6:8 we are told that “Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.”

Yet there were some Jews from the Synagogue who stirred up debate with Stephen but when they could not stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke, they persuaded some men to lie about him. They accused Stephen of speaking blasphemous against Moses and God. This resulted in stirring up more trouble with the people, the elders, and the teachers of religious law.

They then came and arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council and they publicly accused him falsely. It was in this setting that Stephen preached his last sermon before dying as a martyr for the Lord Jesus after being stoned to death by his accusers.

Yet, we need to ask, what exactly made them so angry? What did Stephen preach that so infuriated them that caused them to stone him to death?

Stephen testified of the long history of Israel’s continued rejection of God and Israel’s rejection of those whom God sent to them, which culminated in their rejection of Jesus.

51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers… ~ Acts 7:51-52

Stephen says to those who were about to stone him that they were betrayers and murders of Jesus, the Just One. Their fathers had persecuted the prophets who had showed beforehand his coming, and they had followed in their footsteps by their rejection of Christ. Stephen actually says that what they did to Jesus was that of resisting the Holy Ghost!

In Luke 11:46-52, Jesus had said to the leaders of the Jewish people that by their rejection of him they would be accounted as guilty of the blood of all the prophets from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah and by resisting Stephen’s preaching about Jesus, those who killed Stephen had also fallen into the same category because they too were resisting the Holy Ghost.

This is a major theme that runs consistently throughout the New Testament. God sent Christ to turn the hearts of his people back to him. Those who repented received the remission of their sins through the Messiah who died for them and rose again. Those who refused to repent were condemned by their rejection of Jesus.

In Acts 13, the Apostle Paul also preached this same Gospel when he said, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work, which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”

These words by Paul refer to the resurrection of Christ as the work of God which the scriptures foretold God was going to do. Here is the context of Paul’s message:

26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.

27 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.

28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.

30 But God raised him from the dead:

31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.

32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,

33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

34 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.

35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

36 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:

37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.

38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;

41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ Acts 13:26-46

The apostles always preached the resurrection of Jesus as the work of God in contrast to what sinful men had done to Jesus. It was this testimony that the Holy Ghost affirmed with signs, wonders, and miracles.

In Acts 8, Philip the evangelist preached Christ to a high ranking Ethiopian. The Bible tells us that he was a eunuch and had great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians. He had oversight of all her treasure, and he had come to Jerusalem to worship God. On his way home he was reading from the prophet Isaiah as he sat on his chariot. The Spirit of the Lord spoke to Philip and said, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” Philip ran to him, and heard him reading from Isaiah and asked him, do you understand what you are reading? See verses 29 and 30.

The Eunuch replied, How can I, except some man should guide me? He then urged Philip to come up into the chariot and sit with him. The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”  See verse 31-33.

It was this place in scripture that Philip began to declare to him about Jesus. What’s significant here is the phrase, In his humiliation his judgment was taken away, is a reference to the unjust treatment that Jesus endured.

Here is what some other translations of Acts 8:33 says,

  • 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)

Now, here is what some other translations of Isaiah 53:8 says, which is the verse quoted in Acts 8:33:

  • 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)

Later, in Acts 10 when Peter was sent to the house of Cornelius, the message was the same. Peter preach about Jesus and said the following:

39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:

40 Him God raised up the third day and shewed him openly;

41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.

43 To him give all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. ~ Acts 10:39-43

Throughout Acts, regardless of the messenger, whether Peter an original apostle, or Stephen a deacon, or Philip the evangelist, or Paul who was an apostle to the Gentiles, the message is consistently the same. Jesus died an unjust death at the hands of sinful men and was vindicated when he was raised from the dead and exalted at the Father’s right hand.

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 blood of prophets whom God sent 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.

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 the builders rejected and the ONE God has chosen is abundantly clear throughout the gospels, the book of Acts, and the entirety of the New Testament.

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 the 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.

Therefore, 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 to build his house and kingdom. 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.

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 would have recognized these words and would have immediately thought of Psalm 22 in its entirety.

These words have often been used to support position that Jesus was abandoned by the Father at the cross. However, if God had abandoned Jesus, this would have only justified the condemnation of the religious Jewish leaders who led the charge in condemning Jesus to death. It would have proven he was not the Messiah.

This is an important point because Jesus made the claim that his death on the cross would prove he is the Son of God (John 8:28-29). If his death on the cross did indeed prove that he is the Son of God, then the words he recited from Psalm 22 must have been a part of this undeniable evidence.

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, according to Mark’s gospel was truly this man was the Son of God.” (see Mark 15:34-39)

What was it that persuaded the Centurion Soldier that Jesus was the Son of God?

Consider the following which scriptural evidence that God was indeed present with Jesus as he was dying on the cross:

  • GOD DID NOT HIDE HIS FACE FROM HIM, AND HEARD HIM: 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. ~ Psalm 22:24
  • HE WAS HEARD Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him. ~ Hebrews 5:7-9
  • I AM NOT ALONE BECAUSE THE FATHER IS WITH ME: I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. John 16:28-32
  • THE FATHER HAS NOT LEFT ME ALONE: Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. ~ John 8:28-29
  • HE IS NEAR WHO JUSTIFIES ME: The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For THE LORD GOD WILL HELP ME; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. HE IS NEAR THAT JUSTIFIETH ME; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. BEHOLD THE LORD GOD WILL HELP ME; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. Isaiah 50:5-9 
  • BY THE GRACE OF GOD HE TASTED DEATH FOR EVERY MAN: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he BY THE GRACE OF GOD should taste death for every man. ~ Hebrews 2:9
  • GOD WAS IN CHRIST RECONCILING THE WORLD Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that GOD WAS IN CHRIST,  reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-19
  • THROUGH THE ETERNAL SPIRIT JESUS OFFERED HIMSELF TO GOD: 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
  • JESUS SHED HIS BLOOD AS AN UNBLEMISHED LAMB: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20
  • THE DEATH OF JESUS WAS A SWEET FRAGRANCE TO GOD: Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. ~ Ephesians 5:2
  • JESUS WAS HOLY WHEN HE DIED: Peter declared that Jesus 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. ~ Acts 2:24, 27; 3:15

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: Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. ~ Luke 23:34
  • JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF PROVISION: Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. ~ John 19:27
  • JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE:And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. ~ Luke 23:39-43
  • JESUS SPOKE WORDS FROM THE SCRIPTURES: After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (John 19:28-30). 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 15:46
  • JESUS SPOKE WORDS OF TRUST IN GOD: And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. ~ Luke 23:46

Consider the following:

1. Jesus was delivered to the cross, not from the cross.

2. It was the will of God for Jesus to lay down His life and to take it up again.

3. God did not intervene to rescue Jesus from the agony of the Cross.

4. Jesus was protected from those who wanted to destroy Him until the time came that He should lay down His life. ~ John 7:30

5. Jesus endured the grief of human suffering for he is a High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

6. 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 sense he was delivered over to death by God as our sacrifice. Jesus was not relationally separated from God.

AUTHORITY TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE & 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, he 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 gospels 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 the religious 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 may take it again. In his death for us, 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

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’ 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

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!

A GREATER AND MORE PERFECT TABERNACLE

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands, in contrast to the one God instructed Moses to build.

At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the temple service was still functioning. We can conclude this based on the indicators within the epistle. The writer of Hebrews makes reference to the temple service, the priests, and the sacrifices in the present tense and draws a clear distinction between these and the superior ministry of Jesus the heavens.

He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law. Even though the priesthood which had been ordained by the law was still functioning in the then presently standing 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.

The temple service was soon to cease functioning entirely when Jerusalem was besieged and the temple destroyed by the Romans in 67-70 A.D.

The book of Hebrews gives us undeniable clarity regarding the distinction between the old and the new. Yet there are some who persist in teaching that there will be a return to animal sacrifices during the millennial reign of Christ, even though such actions would have been considered apostate at the time of the writing of Hebrews, and are referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, and according to Hebrews 9:14, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from dead works.

Because of persecution, the temptation was present to abandon the true faith in Christ and revert back to the temple worship, 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 established by the blood of Jesus.

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 of the carnal ordinances which were imposed on those who were under the first Testament.

However, there are many who teach that when Christ returns, there will also be a return to the offering of animal sacrifices for a thousand years. This assumption is based on Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40 – 48). Advocates of this theological view interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal future temple.

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 and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23

REASONS WHY ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM IS       PROBLEMATIC FOR CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE 

Listed below are some objections to the theological view of animal sacrifices in the millennium. 

1. A return to animal sacrifice would be apostate.

A return to animal sacrifices after coming to the knowledge of Christ was considered apostate at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, from which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

Why would God reinstate the very things from which the writer of Hebrews says the blood of Christ has cleansed us?

2. The sacrifices of animals were carnal ordinances administered by a priesthood which has been annulled. ~ Hebrews 7:16-19; 9:10

The author of Hebrews expounds on the ministry of Jesus as High Priest in contrast to the priests who served under the law. He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices. Jesus has been appointed priest forever and is mediator of an everlasting covenant which was established by his blood.

3. The sacrifice of animals could not open the way into the true holiest of all. 

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... ~ Hebrews 9:6-8

4. Animal sacrifices were imposed on the people until the time of reformation (until Christ came and secured our permanent redemption).

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 conscienceWhich stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. ~ Hebrews 9:9-10

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~Hebrews 7:19

5. Animals sacrifices served only as a shadow of good things which were yet to come and could not take away sins. ~ Hebrews 9:6-9; 10:1-4

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4 

6. Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses.  

A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that his vision was predicated on the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and in accordance with the instructions given in the Law regarding the service therein.

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands.

It is in this tabernacle – in the Heavens – that Christ is enthroned as King and mediates as High Priest of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews tells us: For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~ Hebrews 7: 18-19

The commandment referenced here, which has been annulled, is the command regarding the priesthood by which animal sacrifices were offered – this includes all the details regarding the priests and the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision. 

7. The priesthood of Jesus will never include animal sacrifices.

The author of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Jesus was made priest by the call of God and not by the Law. Animal sacrifices were offered by those priests who were ordained by the Law, but Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry by which he is the mediator of a better testament.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are.

Interpreting Ezekiel’s temple vision as a millennial temple is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament which reveals that Jesus has an eternal priesthood. The sons of Zadok, were of the tribe of Levi just as the sons of Aaron were, and in Ezekiel’s temple vision they are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. They also wear the same priestly garments instructed for the priests in the law of Moses. The sons of Zadok are required to follow the same regulations which were given to the sons of Aaron.

Again, it is important to emphasize that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this priesthood has been annulled!

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that believers in Christ Jesus are the holy priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:5, and are called a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Revelation 1:6, and 5:9 in the KJV says “kings and priests” but a more accurate rendering is a “kingdom of priests.” Those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus are the kingdom of priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God well pleasing through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:5-9

9. God never desired animal sacrifices. ~ Isaiah 1:11-14; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; Micah 6:7-8; Psalm 51:18-19; Hebrews 4:10-9

Animal sacrifices gave God no pleasure because those sacrifices had no power to take away sins. On the contrary, they were a continual reminder of sin: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:3-4

The theology of a return to animal sacrifices would constitute a return to that which never truly pleased God and which God never truly desired. God’s desire is found in Jesus for Jesus fulfilled all the will of God by his perfect submission and obedience to God.

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

Jesus came as it was written of him in the volume of the book. The volume of the book is a reference to the testimony of Jesus within the scriptures. Ezekiel is a part of this witness. The temple which Ezekiel saw was given to provoke the generation of the Exiles to whom Ezekiel was a prophet and priest. It wasn’t something which was predicted some 2500 – 3000 years or more, into the future. The details in Ezekiel’s temple vision serve only as a type and shadow with regards to Christ. 

The theology of animal sacrifices in the millennium does not testify of Jesus. According to the actual details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there would be a building again of those things Christ destroyed if the priesthood according to the law with animal sacrifices were reinstated.

10. A temple that would have been but never was. 

Ezekiel was a priest by blood lineage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. ~ Ezekiel 43:10, 11

If Ezekiel’s temple would have been built it would have been a testament that Israel could overcome sin apart from the mediation of Jesus Christ, for it was the temple God would have given them to serve him forever! Israel would have served God, but in their own strength, because in this temple, they would have continued to be separated from the holy presence of God, of which the Jesus blood has now given us access.

And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquitiesand let them measure the patternAnd if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-12

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. Had Israel met the conditions which God set forth, the temple described in Ezekiel’s vision would have been forever, and not for a thousand years. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-10

11. God’s presence would be separated from his people. 

In Ezekiel’s 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

12. Why?

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices would be offered in the millennium. Some proponents of animal sacrifices in the millennium claim they will only be offered as a memorial, even though Ezekiel makes no such claim. In the temple vision given to Ezekiel, the sacrifices are offered for the same purpose for which they were given in the book of Leviticus: for sanctification, reconciliation, and purity.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennial, we have a millennium without the cross of Christ, without the blood of Christ, without the intercessory ministry of Jesus our Great High Priest, and without the message of the gospel.

Remember, Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are. That one statement alone should end all debate on this topic!

One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium to protect God’s glory in the temple. Yet, the New Testament teaches us that God’s glory is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person. Paul tells us in Colossians that all the fullness of the Godhead is present in Jesus.

Some claim that the sacrifices will be reinstituted as object lessons to teach the people living in the millennium what Christ has done in his death.  This rationale fails miserably when we consider that for 2000 years the gospel of Christ has been sufficient for leading men to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is a yet future and a literal temple, actually read the details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision.

13. Physical circumcision would be a necessity for relationship with God. 

Ezekiel’s temple is one in which physical circumcision is required to approach God ~ Ezekiel 44:9.

This is problematic, because Paul tells us: in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love ~ Galatians 5:6.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

Paul says there is no bond or free, nor male or female, in the same line of thought as neither Jew nor Greek. The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction with regards to all of these. Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a future millennial temple, we will have a millennial in which women do not have the same covenant status as men.

According to the apostle Paul, the old covenant which employed the temple service, the Levitical priesthood, and animal sacrifices, has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction regarding covenant status has been annulled. In Christ all the children of God are ONE!

14. The middle wall of partition would be erected.

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles (the circumcision and the uncircumcision), is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this middle wall of partition. If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a literal temple pertaining to the future, we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ, and the middle wall of partition which Christ remove by his death has been erected.

If this is so, then the finished work of Christ will be invalidated in the millennium. Paul says in Galatians, “if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” A millennium with animal sacrifices would be a transgression against the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

15. Christ and his finished work would be undermined.

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium in which (1) the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. (2) The Levites bare the shame of their sin for a 1000 years, (3) God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. (4) Being accepted by the Lord will be dependent on the burnt offerings offered by the priests.(5) Being reconciled to God depends on animal sacrifices – thus the altar on which animal sacrifices would to be offered becomes the source of reconciliation rather than the cross on which Christ died for our sins. (6) The Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sins.

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

16. God’s resting place is not in man made temples.

In scripture, the temple which Solomon built was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and Herod’s temple, which was the one standing in the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Both of these were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. Even though this is revealed in the scripture, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, then occupied by the glory of God at the coming of Jesus.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the cornerstone 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.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) 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 LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true Temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament: 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.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone, of the true temple of God which is the body of Christ, and the New Testament is embedded with this truth.

All man-made structures (the tabernacle and the temples) in scripture, whether literally or in vision form, were only types and shadows of the true which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that while the first “man made” tabernacle was standing, the Holy Spirit was testifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.  Jesus has entered and consecrated the true holiest of all in the Heavens and we are invited to come boldly into the presence of God by his blood.

The permanent resting place for the God’s presence among his people is not found in a man made structure, but in a circumcised heart. Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: 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? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51
 
The scriptures tells us that after the new heavens and new earth come, new Jerusalem will descend from above and in the New Heavens and New Earth there shall be no temple – this is a reference to man made structures. 
 
There is no harmony with the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ and the ideology of another man-made Temple with animal sacrifices, which also would include atonement sacrifices. 
 
Jesus is the foundation stone of the true Temple which God is building with living stones (believers in Jesus Christ) and it is this Temple that God himself inhabits by his Spirit. 

Listed below are some of the important truths taught by scripture regarding the remission of our sins in contrast to the old testament atonement.

ONCE FOR ALL

The author of Hebrews places emphasis on the finished work of Christ and refers to it as once and for all.

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:

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 needth 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. ~ Hebrews 7:25-28 

Notice also the following from Hebrews 10:

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. ~ Hebrews 10:10-12

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.

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 our sins (Hebrews 7:27).

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).

  1. IN PROPHECY

The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).

  1. 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.

  1. He was tempted as a man.
  2. He suffered as a man.
  3. He is acquainted with our infirmities as a man.
  4. He offered prayers as a man.
  5. He was perfected as a man.
  6. 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 ANCESTRY

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.
_________________________________________

ADDITIONS

THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED

In the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus describes His death as condemnation from sinful men.

  • 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 also 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

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 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 had 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).

Reasons they wanted to kill Jesus

  • Because Jesus said God was 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 His word had no place in them (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 (believed) the 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 Jesus and His Father in heaven.
  • Acts 4:24-28
  • Psalm 2:1-12

They lied and falsely accused Him.

  • Matthew 26:59-61
  • Mark 14:55-59

They were envious of Him.

  • Matthew 27:17-19
  • Mark 15:9-11

Pilate sought for 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, NKJ; 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 – In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.
  • In his humiliation his judgment was taken away … (KJV).
  • 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).

Acts 8:33 is a quote from Isaiah 53:8.

  • Isaiah 53: 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.
  • 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).

Jesus suffered wrongfully at their hands.

  • 1Peter 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 RIGHEOUSLY (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 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 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 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 Jesus committed himself to the ONE 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 then 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 to be 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 evil hearts were filled with evil by the prince of this world.

  • John 13:26-28
  • Luke 22:1-4, 45-54

Their rejection of Jesus 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 prophets of God by their rejection of Jesus.

  • Luke 11:46-52
  • Matthew 23:31-39
  • Jesus died as a martyr, like many of the righteous men who came before Him, yet He alone is the Messiah, the Redeemer.

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.

ATONEMENT 

Throughout the Old Testament the word atonement was used to convey the idea of reconciliation, sanctification, consecration, and forgiveness.

On the Day of Atonement, not only was atonement made for the sins of the people but atonement was also made for the Priesthood and for the golden altar of incense and for the Holy of Holies and for the entire tabernacle.

  • Atonement for the people (Leviticus 16:5, 7, 15, 33
  • Atonement for the Priesthood (Leviticus 16:3,6,11-14, 33)
  • Atonement for the Golden Altar (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:18, 19, 20, 33)
  • Atonement for the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:16, 17, 20, 33)
  • Atonement for the entire Tabernacle (Leviticus 16: 16, 20, 33)

Atonement was made for these to sanctify them and to consecrate them to God and to make reconciliation so God’s presence could dwell in the midst of His people in the Tabernacle.

Much of Hebrews 9 and10 is written with the Day of Atonement in view. By drawing attention to the contrast between the temporary and eternal, these chapters show how Jesus fulfilled the things foreshadowed in 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 the Passover was symbolic of Christ as the Lamb of God and His death on the cross, the Day Atonement was symbolic of the entrance by Christ as our High Priest into the presence of God. The entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies was representative of what Christ would do to bring us near to God (Hebrews 9:8-14; 23-28; 10:19 -22).

The Mercy seat was “the place of atonement” and specifically speaking, the Mercy Seat is where the shed blood was sprinkled in the presence of God for atonement. This made reconciliation for the sins of the people and sanctified all the dedicated things, purifying them from the sins of the people.

  • 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 through the Spirit of God. (Hebrews 9:12-14; 10:19-22)
  • The blood of animals could not please God because the blood of animals had now power to cleanse our conscience from sin (Hebrews 9:9; 10:1-4).
  • 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).

Throughout the Old Testament, atonement never foreshadowed appeasement or any act whereby God would demonstrate His wrath towards Christ as a substitute. Christ died as a sacrifice who gave himself as a sweet savor offering to God for us.

  • Throughout the Old Testament scriptures, the offerings which were offered to God were to be a sweet fragrance to be accepted by Him. Never were the offerings “rejected by God” to make atonement.
  • They were to be offered as a sweet smelling fragrance to be accepted by Him. When the offerings were rejected by God there was no atonement.
  • There is no precedence in scripture that suggest that God turned His back on Jesus and rejected Him in our place. On the contrary, God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus as a sweet aroma on our behalf when He gave Himself as the offering and sacrifice for our sins, and for His sake (alone) God has forgiven us (see Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
  • God specifically said through Moses that when His anger was against His people, He would not accept the sweet fragrance from their sacrifices and offerings.
  • God’s wrath and His acceptance of the sweet savor offerings never mix throughout the scriptures.
  • The atonement sacrifices throughout the Old Testament, which foreshadowed Christ, were never condemned or rejected by God. There is not one example of God “rejecting” or “condemning” any atonement sacrifice so that the people could receive forgiveness. The sacrifices made atonement (forgiveness and reconciliation) because they were accepted by God.

The O.T. sacrifices had to be perfect, unblemished and without spot, and they were accepted by God rather than condemned by Him. They were accepted as a sweet savor and this is how atonement was made. There are many examples throughout the Old Testament of God accepting the sacrifices as a sweet fragrance.

  • Jesus was accepted by God for us, not condemned by Him in our place. He is our atoning sacrifice, not our guilty substitute.
  • When God’s wrath was revealed, He would not accept the Sweet Savor of the offerings (Leviticus 26:31, Jeremiah 14:11-12). Yet, when God’s people returned to him in repentance, God accepted both them and the Sweet Savor of their sacrifice and offerings (Ezekiel 20:40-41).
  • The sacrifices were not substitutions which were rejected by God in place of the people. The sacrifices were holy offerings which were “accepted” on 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” and Colossians 1:20-22 teaches tells us Jesus reconciled us through the Blood of His cross to present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his (God’s) sight.
  • Again, the sacrifices were never condemned substitutes. They were accepted offerings which sanctified the people and made them holy.

The Mercy seat bears its name because of the display of God’s mercy that was demonstrated by the annual sprinkling of the sacrificial blood. 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 by the High Priest but not without the atoning blood. 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 Holy of Holies. By faith they trusted the High Priest to carry out His intercessory ministry in the presence of God and 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 and by His own Blood keeping us in right standing with God.

JESUS IS THE GIFT OF GOD

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  ~ ROMANS 8:32

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. ~ JOHN 3:16-17

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ~ ROMANS 5:6-8

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 that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. ~  1JOHN 4:9-10

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God… ~ EPHESIANS 2:4-8

But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  ~ TITUS 3:4-7

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 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. ~  1 CORINTHIANS 5:18-21

But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. ~ ROMANS 4:24-25

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. ~ JOHN 4:10

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. ~ ROMANS 5:15-18

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ ROMANS 6:23

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. ~ EPHESIANS 2:8

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

At the cross God demonstrated his love towards sinners and not his displeasure. At the cross it was God’s mercy and not his wrath that was on display.

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth (demonstrated) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. ~ Romans 5:6-11

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 that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another (1 John 4:9-11, see also verses 12-21).

Hereby perceive we THE LOVE OF GOD, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16).

But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:4-8).

The Amplified Bible translation of Ephesians 2:4 says, “But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us…”

God satisfied His love, not His wrath, when Christ died for our sins.

God did not send His Son to change Himself. God sent His son to change us by demonstrating His love, mercy, and grace through Jesus Christ. The Bible never says that God was reconciled to sinners but that sinners were reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them…”

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 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 man: 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 hasttaken 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, 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.

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)
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