Thursday, March 28, 2013

Providential Encouragement In the Atonement

THERE ARE MANY fulfillments of prophecy and Old Testament types imbedded in Christ's passion.
Our Substitute
They are remarkable, and they are designed to encourage us, to convince us that  Golgotha was an event orchestrated and planned by divine providence. Let me explain.

First, Jesus died on the Passover. Jesus died on Friday, the sixth day of the Jewish week. This was no accident, and it was important. The Passover received its name from the fact that the Angel of Death "passed over" all the Jewish families that put their trust in God their Savior. Waiting for liberation from Egyptian bondage, God informed the Jewish slaves that he was going to kill the firstborn of every family. He would make one exception. Every family that slaughtered a lamb, smeared its blood over their door post, roasted it, and ate it communally would be spared. The death of the Lamb, symbolized by the blood, would substitute for the firstborn, and the Angel of Death would "passover" their house. God saved the firstborn of every Jewish family that obeyed this instruction. Those who didn't experienced the death of their firstborn.

All of this foreshadowed the true Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29) who would also shed his blood on the Passover. He is the true Lamb that saves all who put their trust in Him. When someone believes the gospel they figuratively apply Christ's blood to their heart by faith. The Angel of Death also passes over them, the death of God's Lamb being their substitute.

That is why Jesus died on the Jewish feast of Passover. He wanted us to make this connection. He is the true Lamb to which the Passover points.

In addition Jesus died on the Friday, the sixth day of the week. This was another important pointer. Their were six days of creation. On the sixth day God finished his work of creation. "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). On the seventh day he rested.

In the same way, God finished the work of Redemption on the Friday, the sixth day of the week. You can almost hear him whispering in the background, "And behold it was VERY good." As at Creation, on the seventh day (Saturday) God rested. God redeemed us this way to impress us with the exquisite perfections of his providence. Everything is and was under his control. Every detail of Christ's atonement speaks this message to us.

Third, Jesus hung on the cross exactly six hours. Six is the number for man. God created man on the sixth day. God labored for six days to create. In the same way, his Son labored on the cross for six hours to make atonement.

Last, Jesus arose on the first day of the week. In modernity Sunday is the last day of the week. But in the Jewish calendar it was and is the first day of the week. Jesus resurrection on the first day proclaims this message: Just as God began creation on the first day of the week, so Christ has risen to begin the New Creation on the first day.

Why does this matter? The odds of Jesus dying on the Passover were 1 out of 365. The odds of him dying on the sixth day of the week and rising on the first are very small. The odds of him hanging on the cross for exactly six hours is even smaller.

What should we conclude? God has everything under control. There are no accidents. God wants us to read these signs, believe the gospel, and live by faith. So, as we experience Holy Week be encouraged by the details of Christ's Passion and what it says to us.


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