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 upon the altar 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 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. Reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would not lead anyone to 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 cros, he paid the ransom for us with his holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. This was a sweet savor, an offering well pleasing to God! 

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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 under the Law. Those which were accepted as a sweet savor did! Likewise, Christ, whose death was foreshadowed by those sacrifices, was accepted and not rejected by God.

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 suffer 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.

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 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.

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 despised 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 reject 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 their rejection of the love he offered them in Jesus.

For them, there will 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 because of their theological claims that God poured out all his wrath on Jesus.

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 from sinful men, was sinful man’s opposition against God. This is exactly why the disciples prayed in Acts 4 saying: 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).

Jesus tells his disciples that they too would be rejected by the world because the world had first rejected Him.

In John 8:23 Jesus had referred to the religious Jews – those who opposed Him – as “worldly.” “Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of THIS WORLD; I am not of this world.”

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.

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” (see Hebrews 12:2).

The shame Jesus endured was humiliation which came from men who hated and opposed God. The son of God was placed on public display in the most humiliating fashion wherein He was mocked and ridiculed by those who despised both He and His and Father; God.

Christ did not die under the judgment of God, nor did He suffer under the wrath of God. Jesus 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 because their opposition to God. When Jesus departed and returned to the Father He did not abandon His followers as orphans. He sent the Holy Spirit to empower them in a world opposed to God.

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 John 15, Jesus interpreted the hatred aimed at him by the religious Jews and their leaders, as hatred towards both he and his Father.

22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

24 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.

25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. ~ John 15:22-25

In the preceding verses, Jesus refers to them as “the world.” This is the same language Jesus used in John 8 in his altercation with the Jews who wanted to kill him.

23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. ~ John 8:23-24

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 what happen when they crucified Jesus.

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 where 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 his sufferings, beginning with the betrayal by Judas into the hands of men and their condemnation of him as 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 APOSTLES DOCTRINE 

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

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of a better and more perfect tabernacle, in contrast to the one made human hands under the law. This better and more perfect tabernacle is eternal in the heavens where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.

Jesus is called the minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man.

The priests who served under the Law, served in a system of worship that was only a copy and a shadow of the real one in heaven.

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 of the true Tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.  The writer of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest since there are already priests who offer gifts (sacrifices) according to the Law.

At the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, the temple service was still functioning, but ceased to function in 67-70 A.D. when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.

Jesus, our great High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood. He is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

There are some who suggest that Jesus is coming again to reign in a manmade temple with animal sacrifices. Yet the book of Hebrews tells us that the system of worship which employed animal sacrifices was only a copy until the time of reformation. The old has faded away and Christ has been appointed high priest over the true tabernacle of God in the heavens. Jesus is coming again, but not to oversee animal sacrifices as some have taught,

Those who teach that Jesus will return to bring back the defunct system of the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices based their interpretation of Ezekiel’s temple vision in Ezekiel 40 – 48. However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin offering and are said to be for atonement (Ez 45:17 see also Ez 42:13 and 45:23).

Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses which was only a type and a shadow. Therefore, Ezekiel’s vision cannot refer to literal animal sacrifices in the Kingdom of Christ.

If Ezekiel’s vision applies to the millennium (a debatable topic) it certainly would not be predicting a return to animal sacrifices because that would go contrary to the whole counsel of scripture. It would mean a return to the shadow once the fulfillment has come.

The sacrificial system which employed animal sacrifices foreshadowed Christ’s death on the cross until he came and fulfilled all that was written of him. To suggest that we will return to the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices is to suggest that we are returning to the old system that has been made obsolete. It also suggests a return to sacrifices for sins that could never take away sins after Christ has put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

According to the scriptures, animal sacrifices were never desired by God and they never brought Him any pleasure. They were only given as a type and a shadow of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christ returns in all of his glory we will not be living in a Kingdom with types and shadows. We will be living in a Kingdom where the fullness of the light of the glory of God abounds. 

When Jesus returns, he will come in all of his majesty, honor, and glory: the coming of Jesus is the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior. We will see him face to face, and we will be like him for we will see him as he is. The scriptures also tell us we will appear with him in glory. ~ 1 John 3:1-3, Phil 3:21, 1 Cor 13, Colossians 3:4

Why would anyone be compelled to think that the glorious return of Christ will usher in a reinstatement of an obsolete system of worship which employed the offering of animal sacrifices? It is because of the lack of revelation of Jesus Christ!

It is never a good idea to interpret scripture which was visionary in nature under the Old Testament with interpretive claims that are contrary to the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament writers are the authoritative interpreters of the old testament scriptures as they pertain to Jesus Christ. The ideology of a return to that which was only a foreshadowing of Christ now that Christ has come is a contrary to New Testament doctrine.

Many of the old testament prophecies are symbolic of a greater truth. We have an example of this in Acts 15 when James says the following:

And to this agree the words of the prophets; AS IT IS WRITTEN. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: that the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.”

If James had not said this, someone could build a doctrine that the literal tent in which David placed the Ark of the Covenant would be rebuilt and we will worship the Lord there, or the literal Kingdom of David would be restored. Instead, James applies this Old Testament prophecy to the salvation of the Gentiles.

It is so important to interpret the Old Testament scriptures in view of the revelation of Jesus Christ given to us by the New Testament writers.

The Old Testament sacrifices were only types and shadows pointing to a greater truth. The greater truth has been revealed and we are not going back to the shadow. We are not going back to animal sacrifices which never truly please God. It is Christ in whom God is pleased as the sacrifice for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:1-14

Finally, the writer of Hebrews tells us that as long as the first tabernacle/temple was standing the Holy Ghost was signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet manifested. ~ Hebrews 9:8

Those things which Ezekiel saw were based solely on the pattern given to Moses, and was only a figure or a foreshadowing of something much greater. Christ has entered that which is greater. With his own Blood he entered once and for all into the holy place of the greater and more perfect tabernacle (in the Heavens) and has obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:12

CONCERNING EZEKIEL”S TEMPLE

The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was, because of the sins of Israel and their priests.

Ezekiel was a priest by blood linage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. In this temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins.

According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18

Is a temple in which the presence of God cannot be approached consistent with the finished work of Jesus Christ? Certainly, not! Yet, this is exactly the temple you have in Ezekiel – a temple which erects a separating barrier between God and his people.

In Ezekiel’s temple vision, the Levite priests bear the shame of their sins for leading the people of Israel into iniquity. They are still appointed to serve, but cannot approach God’s presence in the temple. Only the descendants of Zadok are able to come near to the Lord.

Does physical linage matter in the kingdom of God? According to Jesus it doesn’t (see John 3). Yet, those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple is a millennial temple advocate a return to the importance of physical linage even though Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” ~ John 3:5-7

If this is the millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium where the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. The Levites bear the shame of their sin for a 1000 years and God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. Furthermore, the Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sin.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly, not! The new testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins.1 ~  Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14

“‘THE LEVITES WHO WENT FAR FROM ME WHEN ISRAEL WENT ASTRAY AND WANDERED FROM ME after their idols MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN. They may serve in my sanctuary, having charge of the gates of the temple and serving in it; they may slaughter the burnt offerings and sacrifices for the people and stand before the people and serve them. BUT BECAUSE THEY SERVED THEM IN THE PRESENCE OF THEIR IDOLS AND MADE THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL FALL INTO SIN, THEREFORE I HAVE SWORN WITH UPLIFTED HAND THEY MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR SIN, declares the Sovereign Lord. THEY ARE NOT TO COME NEAR TO SERVE ME AS PRIESTS or come near any of my holy things or my most holy offerings; THEY MUST BEAR THE SHAME OF THEIR DETESTABLE PRACTICES. And I will appoint them to guard the temple for all the work that is to be done in it. “‘But the Levitical priests, who are descendants of Zadok and who guarded my sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from me, are to come near to minister before me; they are to stand before me to offer sacrifices of fat and blood, declares the Sovereign Lord. They alone are to enter my sanctuary; they alone are to come near my table to minister before me and serve me as guards. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple Vision).

And upon that day shall THE PRINCE prepare FOR HIMSELF and for ALL THE PEOPLE of the land a bullock FOR A SIN OFFERING. (Quote from Ezekiel’s temple vision).

ONCE FOR ALL

The author of Hebrews places emphasis on the finished work of Christ and refers to it as once and for all. Does this mean that those who have been saved can’t err from the truth and be entangled again in sin?  Not exactly, for the book of Hebrews would then contradict its own exhortations?

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 NEEDETH NOT DAILY, as those high priests, TO OFFER UP SACRIFICE, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for THIS HE DID ONCE, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is CONSECRATED FOR EVERMORE. ~ 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).

CLEANSED FROM DEAD WORKS

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? ~ Hebrews 9:14 

The dead works mentioned in Hebrews 9:14 is not a reference to such things as helping the poor, taking care of the elderly, showing brotherly kindness, etc. These are good works and demonstrations of godliness. The “dead works,” contextually speaking, refers to those things which pertain to the old system (the tabernacle/temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifices) which had been made obsolete at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews.

Because of persecution, the temptation was present to abandon the true faith in Christ and revert back to Judaism which was now a dead religion. Though once ordained by God to serve the purpose of foreshadowing Christ, that system of worship under the Old Testament had now given way to a new and better covenant established by the blood of Jesus.

Through the Blood of Jesus sin has been completely dealt with and there is no longer any need for those things which had no power to take away sin. The carnal ordinances administered by the old priesthood with animal sacrifices in a earthly sanctuary could not purify man’s conscience in the sight of God. They were only a shadow for a set time until Christ came and brought eternal redemption through his blood.

Jesus our Great High Priest in the Heavens is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High and through his blood we are liberated to serve the Living God without any the restrictions which were imposed on those who were under the first Testament.

The carnal ordinances which were imposed on them were a constant reminder that sin had not been dealt with and that the way into the holy presence of God had not yet been manifested. Therefore there was no boldness to enter God’s presence with a pure conscience, by those the things which are now dead works. The Old Covenant and it’s rites have been made obsolete.

Through the Blood of Jesus Christ we are cleansed from such dead works so that we may now serve the Living God, in the Spirit of Christ, with a pure conscience.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices,that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:1-14).

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.

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