Hebrews 10:12, “[Christ] offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins…”
During the evenings this week I’ve been preparing a message for this coming Sunday on the topic of “seeing Jesus in the Old Testament.” The strategy I plan to use to help people “see Jesus” in the first 2/3 of scripture is drawn from Romans 3:23-26. In those verses Paul explains that one of the accomplishments of Christ’s wrath-absorbing death is to display God’s perfect righteousness to the world.
How does that work? Because, Paul says, by forbearing to pour out the full punishment that sin deserves on sinners immediately after they’ve sinned, God brings His own righteousness into question.
So, for instance, when David commits adultery with Bathsheba and then has her husband murdered, and then writes Psalm 51 and is forgiven by God (who “puts away” David’s sin, 2 Sam 12:13)….that seems to show God to be unjust. How can He simply “put away” David’s sin? How can He grant the prayers of Psalm 51 without belittling the worth of His Name and His image?
That is where the cross comes in. The righteousness of God means that He WILL order reality to harmonize with the beauty of His name….and this righteous means that he WILL justly condemn all that opposes His name (i.e., sin and sinners). But, as Paul explains in Romans 3:25-26, God puts the Beloved Son forward as a wrath-absorbing sacrifice who bears in Himself the full penalty for ever sin that God has or will ever “put away.”
When Jesus is lifted up on the cross, all the rebellion of all God’s people from all ages is united to the person of the Son (1 Peter 2:24), and then all the hellstorm of all the just wrath deserved by all that rebellion is perfectly poured out and forever extinguished in His desolation. The temporal damnation of the incarnate Son sends shockwaves of redemption backward to Eden and forward to the New Jerusalem, perfectly satisfying the holiness of God and proving Him to be the one who–in justice–justifies the one who has faith in Christ.
So, how does this help us see Jesus in the OT? Well, it means that every time we see the full penalty for sin withheld, we are seeing the effects of the cross…In the garden when our Parent’s lives are spared, in Egypt when Abraham’s disbelief is pardoned, at the Red Sea when a grumbling people are preserved, in the wilderness when a remnant is saved, on the roof top when the king is ensnared, in Babylon when resurrection hope sustains a people slain by exile–in all of these we hear the echoes of the desolate “Eloi, Eloi…” they are not forsaken because He will be….the full penalty for their sin is withheld because He will swallow it into Himself….wherever we see divine forbearance, we see Christ…..
And really, that must be extended to our lives as well….why was I not immediately condemned for that envious desire? For that fit of anger? For that biting word? Why have I not yet been damned? Because my Lord and my God was.
Christian, we wake up each day on the path to life rather than in the throes of eternal death only because Jesus endured hell for us on the cross…..and, I need to say, if we are not trusting in Christ….we have no reason to trust that our hell was paid out on Calvary…rather, God’s perfect justice will fall like a hammer on us at the Judgment and in the Lake of Fire….may that not be the fate of any reading these words!