- Secret of atonement
- Jesus’ life gets on value
- Life or death
- Adam and Jesus – similar to one another
- Authorised to be the Redeemer
- Redeemed from the bondage of death
- Baptism – act of righteousness
- Value of the ransom
- Hope hidden in death
- Living sacrifice
- Israel and Jesus – Sons of God
- Redemption of Isaac
- Redemption of Israel
- Baptism to death
- Son of God – died once and for all
- Ransom – the expression of love
This article aims to reveal mysteries about Jesus that may be coming to light for the first time. It has been foretold that many will be searching and that the knowledge of God’s plan of salvation will increase in the last days. (Daniel 12: 4)
The lineage of Jesus testifies that he is the descendant of David and his royal lineage. This is one of many reasons to regard Jesus as a human being. By his birth from a woman, Jesus had to share the same destiny under which all humans found themselves because of Adam’s sin. It is understood that a sinner is everyone who sins against the laws of God. However, a person is not forced to be a sinner because he or she can strive to be obedient and blameless. Nevertheless, the sons of man ( sons of Adam) are considered sinners from the moment of their conception, because they are born under the penalty of Adam, even though they have not sinned personally. It was the same with Jesus ( Joshua).
The very term ‘son of man’, which Jesus constantly used for himself, indicates that his genetic origin is from a man, as it was the origin of all humans who descended from Adam. How, then, could he be the source of the atonement by which Adam’s offspring were to be redeemed if, at his birth, he was in the same position as other people, born under the penalty of death? This is a complex and crucial question that does indeed have a Bible-based answer. However, many have not asked this question or even considered it because they have failed to view Jesus as a real human. They couldn’t even ask a question like this. Hence it implies that they didn’t even look for an answer. That is why the truth is still hidden from them.
Many members of Christian communities have been taught that a mortal man, born of a woman, cannot redeem other sinful men from sin and death, let alone be the mediator of life. That is why they believe that only God or some deity from Heaven, holy and perfect, can do it. In order to become a human being, that deity had to cease existing, and appear in the human form by becoming part of the fertilised egg-cell. The fertilised egg-cell had to be supposedly devoid of sin, in order to produce a child separated from sinful humanity. That sounds inspirational, but if there was no need for it, then it would have never occurred to God.
By the divine principle, people could not be punished for Adam’s sin. However, they had to bear the consequences of their father’s wrong decision. They were distanced from eternal life, as they found themselves outside of Eden and in the “power of death”, that has become the master of their body. Man was supposed to live in a paradise on the basis of their union with God. They were to get a glorious body over which death would have no power. However, it would be possible only through Adam, who was to be the foundation of a perfect world. Without this foundation, that is, without Adam, it was impossible to gain access to eternal life and have a glorious body. Hence, people found themselves in the bondage of their own body, ruled by death, from which they could not escape. This is because they died with Adam, who could not be resurrected and be given life.
ADAM <death> WORLD
Death was not intended for humans, so we perceive death as having sinned ourselves. God handed us over to death until the legal reasons for its annulment were removed. During this period, the hope was given to humankind, that from among them would emerge the One who would take the place of Adam and tread on the serpent’s head, thus freeing all men from the bondage to the ruler of the world, who has the “authority over death” (Genesis 3:15; Hebrews 2:14).
In all likelihood, no man, at his own initiative, could take Adam’s place and assume his duty, because they were all in bondage, burdened with Adam’s sin, which fell on all of his descendants. How then could Jesus, as his descendant, replace Adam, if he was born in sinful state, like all humans? How could Jesus redeem us from the bondage of death if he himself needed atonement from that bondage? This question actually implies the answer.
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JESUS’ LIFE GETS ON VALUE
At the very beginning, God promised to put an end to the existence of the Ruler and the Cause of death by means of the ‘offspring of the woman’. This means that he had planned to place one representative of the offspring in Adam’s place. No man by himself could take the place of Adam and be the redeemer of the world. That is why God did something in Jesus’ case that increased the value of his life to a degree higher that any man has ever had. God had him:
- created in the womb of his mother
- enrolled in the book of life
- anointed and filled with the holy spirit
- sanctified and separated from sinners
- redeemed from the penalty of death
- enabled to have “life in himself”
- made a covenant with him for the kingdom
- made Christ and Lord
- appointed king and priest
- appointed the firstborn Son
- made perfect
It was God who did all this. Hence, Jesus, as a human being, had a lot to do with the things related to heaven. This fact had influenced the way Jesus talked and explained things. However, many did not even try to understand him right. Instead, they turned that man of God into a heavenly deity. However, all of the features mentioned above made Jesus, as a human, an adequate replacement for Adam. God himself made his life so precious that he could have the value that was appropriate to redeem mankind from the bondage of death. Jesus, by submitting himself to the will of God, contributed to that value.
Some of the features mentioned above God applied for other chosen servants, ‘sons of man’, especially those whom he had sanctified by the holy spirit from their conception. Even the very conception of some occurred in a supernatural way. However, among these features are those which God applied only in Jesus’ case, in order to separate Jesus from sinful humanity and to enable him to become their redeemer. God did so by:
- redeeming Jesus from the slavery of death
- enabling Jesus to have “life within himself”
- making him perfect
These three features were to be first attained by Jesus, for he is the ‘path’ that has to be followed by all men in order to be saved. God has arranged some legal frameworks in order to first single out, and then sanctify one man, Jesus. He was to take Adam’s place and assume his role in relation to the humankind.
Man alone cannot do anything of lasting value, let alone redeem men from sin and death. But even with God’s help, one can only achieve it with authorisation from God. God’s righteous principles have to be followed. However, in order to enable the atonement, there was no need for a perfect celestial being to be born in human form. It was not necessary to step out of human frames, and say that only by a perfect celestial being could death be nullified and the right to eternal life that Adam lost, be granted to obedient mankind. But the question is, to what extent was Adam perfect? Was Adam given everlasting life from the moment of his creation?
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LIFE OR DEATH
Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that Adam lost perfect human life both for himself and for his offspring, and that only someone who had a perfect life could pay the ransom. By “perfect life,” they mean eternal life without sickness, old age, and death (“What does the Bible really teach,” p. 47). But is that what the Bible teaches? It is true that Adam was created as the perfect being, but nowhere does it say that he was automatically created in an incorruptible body over which decay and death had no power. The Bible contains some facts that are not directly written but can be discerned. For example, Adam, Jesus and all of us should have been subject to the same principle of life, which says:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” (Romans 6:23)
This principle applies only within the law of life and the covenant between God and man. Under these provisions Adam could
- be punished by death or
- get the gift of eternal life.
Eternal life was to be a gift and, as such, it was to be given to a human only after that human had accepted and valued its worth more than anything else. Such a person would then have a special reason to love his Creator back, by obeying the law of life.
Adam did not seek to be created. Hence, life itself was not a gift but something that determines a living being. He could not have received the gift of eternal life if he had not exist as a living being in the first place, could he? In order to receive this gift, he had first to be alive and aware of what he was going to receive as a gift. For instance, if you were born as a male or a female, then it is implied that you are who you are, and you cannot view it as a gift you have received. Therefore, you cannot express gratitude for it. You will reciprocate love for other things that add something to your existence and not because you are male or female. Being alive is integral to every living creature. However, eternal life is a gift.
The most valuable gift is never given in advance, to buy one’s friendship or to bribe someone, but only after one develops friendship, respect and trust with that person. Besides, when something is given as a gift, then it should no longer be taken away. The donor may first allow the person to possess it for a while, in order to show their appreciation and responsibility. Only later, once the donor becomes convinced that the person is worthy of lasting friendship, can he / she firmly decide to give that person that most valuable gift into lasting possession.
God could only show his love through the most precious gift that man did not possess but had to receive. If he had eternal life at creation, then everything else would be less valuable than that. Hence, God would not be able to offer Adam something more valuable than what man himself already had when he was created. Then it would turn out that eternal life should have been taken for granted, and that Eve would be the most valuable gift God gave Adam. Then what would Eve get as most valuable gift, if she already had eternal life and a husband at the time of creation? Perhaps the Garden of Eden would be most valuable gift to her, because she already owned everything else. In any case, eternal life would not be a gift but something that were implied.
Eternal life was supposed to be the seal of their perfection, so they were to receive it as a gift to lasting inheritance only after they showed loyalty to God’s laws of life. Therefore, they were brought to Eden, where they were given access to the eternal life. Only then did they get “life in themselves” by means of the holy spirit. Thus, they were assured that they would not die as long as they had access to the tree of life. But they had not yet received eternal life into permanent possession because of the conditions they had to meet. Therefore, when Adam was created as a living being with divine qualities, then his Creator wanted to show his love for him by the gift of eternal life. This means that Adam was created as a mortal being. It was to be expected that man would return an even greater love to their Creator because of this gift. How, then, could he have been punished by death, if he was a mortal being in the first place? Let’s allow the Bible to explain it to us.
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ADAM AND JESUS – SIMILAR TO ONE ANOTHER
Adam was mortal, but perfect being. His body and spirit had the potential to attain the divine measure of perfection for which he was created. This measure of perfection was the eternal life or immortality he would get as a gift. However, he never reached that measure because he stumbled and fell, well before God could confirm that perfection in him. Hence, eternal life could not be confirmed in him, even though he did gain access to the tree of life. But Jesus did not fall. After his resurrection he was “made perfect” because, while suffering and enduring to death, he preserved the life which he had received by the holy spirit when he was anointed (Heb 5: 9). All this was meant to happen, because it was written:
“Did not Christ have to endure all this and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:26)
“ In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 2:10)
“When he was made perfect, he became the Bringer of eternal salvation to all who obey him …” (Hebrews 5: 9)
Since he became perfect in the true sense only after the resurrection, then we cannot take that later image as a measure of the value in which he was similar to Adam, but that image of perfection he had before, that is, before his death. How can we know to what extent Jesus’ perfection matched the measure of Adam’s perfection? We can be guided by the fact that:
“Adam… a model (figure, likeness) to him (Adam) who was to come.” (Romans 5:14)
Therefore, we need to look at Adam through Jesus, and Jesus through Adam, because they are like one another from the beginning of their very existence, especially from the moment when Adam was brought to Eden, and when Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit.
When we observe Adam through Jesus, we will easily realise that he was not created with the eternal “life in himself”. He was physically no more perfect than his sons Cain and Abel, who were born after his sin. He was physically created according to the image Jesus had at birth. Namely, Jesus was created in the womb as a mortal, being subject to the “law of matter”. It was said of Jesus that he, until his death:
- lived in a corruptible body (Acts 13:34)
- was in the power of death (Romans 6:9)
Thus, Adam was, like Jesus, created in the dominion of death and corruption, like all other perfect living creatures on Earth. This is something that many ignore. Many associate mortality with the imperfection, that is, the error or stain of sin, even though it is the perfect “law of matter” by which all material beings are created. When God created all animal species, he said that He created everything perfectly, even though they were, by “law of matter”, subject to decay and death. So it was with the creation of the perfect man. Eternal life was to be a gift, enabling the humans to sustain and use that perfection to the glory of God.
Though living in a mortal body, a human can be perfect to the extent corresponding to the purpose of his life. He can have a perfect body without flaws and physical defects, until it reaches the point when the ageing of the body begins. By then, he can develop spiritual, emotional and intellectual perfection. Even if he does not attain the highest degree, he is perfect as a man, as he has the predisposition and the potential to perfect these divine qualities as long as he lives. E.g. Some gifted children, by the age of ten, already participate in college education and are quite different from others, while other children have this intellectual potential by which they can acquire knowledge to a lesser extent. However, this does not mean that they are not perfect simply because they do not have a high IQ. They would be imperfect only if they remained at the child’s level due to mental illness.
We do not know what IQ Jesus had, but in spiritual development he went to a degree that was ahead of others, and in that he differed from most but not all, because such people have always existed.
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour of God and men.” (Luke 2:52)
That is why, in wisdom and other qualities, he was not too different from other people because he was human himself. But people are also made to differ in gifts and abilities so they can work together and use their and others’ gifts for joint projects. So, in some things, Jesus was also different from others but had the potential for all divine attributes just like Adam.
Although Adam and Jesus were mortals, death and corruption could not immediately take control of them, since such a condition manifests itself in the flesh only at the highest point of one’s life force. Some say a man dies as soon as he is born, which is incorrect. He begins to die only when he reaches full physical maturity. In fact, death can take control of them only at a later stage of life. This means that God made a covenant with Adam and with Jesus at a time when death could not yet take power over their bodies.
We get a clear picture of Adam when we look at him through Jesus. Likewise, we will get a clear picture of Jesus if we view him through Adam while he was in Eden when the law of life and of death was still in effect. Only then did Adam…
- enter into the covenant with God
- receive the status of God’s firstborn Son
- gain access to the tree of life
- get authorised as the mediator of life
By the act of creation, Adam was the son of God. Nevertheless, he could not bear responsibility for his Father and his descendants until his Father made a covenant with him. Upon entering Eden, he consciously accepted the covenant with his Father (God), by which he was granted the status ( the name, authority) of the firstborn Son of God, and the authority to access the tree of life.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2: 15-17)
The Father first brought Adam to Eden, where was the tree of life. Thus, he was given the opportunity and honour to have “(eternal) life in himself”, which was a step towards ultimate perfection. This means that Jesus, as the second Adam, consciously entered into covenant with the Father and by the act of anointing, gained access to eternal life. He confirmed this by saying:
“My father made a covenant with me…” (Luke 22:29)
“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself .” (John 5:26)
Jesus was given the status of the firstborn Son by covenant with God, and he emphasised it in this verse. Namely, the Jews knew that the Scriptures also called them “sons of God” (Moses 14: 1). All humans have corruptible “life in themselves”, but then only Jesus, like Adam, the Son of God, was given to have ‘(eternal) life in himself’. What did it mean? Was Jesus immortal because he had “eternal life in himself”? Does this mean that Jesus could not grow old and die by natural death? That cannot be said because we saw that he was in the power of death and decay until the resurrection. Was it possible that he had been mortal if he had ‘eternal life in him’? Obviously, it was possible. We can confirm this by Jesus’ own words:
” Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6: 53, 54)
Mortal people were said these words. By the holy spirit, they could ‘have eternal life in themselves’ even then. Nevertheless, they could grow old and die. Jesus had in mind the value of his body and blood by which men would be redeemed and set free from the death penalty. Only those who faithfully accepted his sacrifice could through him, as the mediator, receive “eternal life in themselves” form God, by the holy spirit. However, that did not mean that they could no longer die or that they had already received eternal life as a gift in lasting inheritance. That ‘life’ could not be immediately confirmed in them. They were to wait for the kingdom of God. Many have grown old and died. It might even happen that a person loses that “life in himself” before the life had been confirmed in him. That happened to Adam. Apostle John, who wrote down the words of Jesus quoted above, said the following:
“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” (1 John 3:15)
Accordingly, those who were redeemed from death after Jesus’ resurrection and gained access to eternal life, like Jesus and Adam, ‘had life in themselves’ that they needed to preserve. However, they were still mortals. Therefore, they
- were not exempt from death that was a result of the “law of decay”, but
- were freed from the slavery to death, that ensued from punishment.
When God awarded Adam and Jesus the honour of having ‘eternal life in themselves’, it still did not invalidate the life they had under the natural law of death. They received this ‘eternal life in themselves’ directly from God and not through a mediator. They were both equal in status and responsibility. At the same time, they both we differentiated from other people. Others could not have been redeemed nor access eternal life until the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was, much like Adam, given access to eternal life and was made perfect before everybody else. He was to be the mediator between God, as Giver of life, and men, as the recipient of life.
This is important to keep in mind when we talk about Adam who, upon entering Eden, gained access to the ‘tree of life’ in order to have life within himself. Although he was a physically and spiritually perfect being, he was not yet made perfectly perfect in a sense that would fit the image of God in the matter of immortality, and he could only do so if eternal life was sealed or confirmed in him.
Just as both Adam and Jesus were to die by the authority of death only after reaching the physical maturity conditioned by the law of death, by the authority of life they should begin to live eternally only after attaining and confirming the divine maturity conditioned by the law of life. Then man would have authority over death. So after Adam’s entry into Eden, where he had access to eternal life and after Jesus’ anointing by the holy spirit, when he was given the opportunity to have life in himself, both were:
- in the power of death and decay that could not immediately take power over them and their bodies and
- in the power of life and incorruptibility that could not immediately take power over them.
This means that they were still mortals in the transitional period of trial. However, by the holy spirit, they had in themselves the guarantee of an indestructible life, which, as a gift of God, should at some point take power over their bodies. Just as believers received a guarantee from Jesus that they would “never die”, so did the two of them, who were supposed to be mediators of life only if they fully submitted to God and his standard of life (John 11:26). Only then could they be perfect in the full sense of the word, because life and incorruptibility would take power over their bodies and then fully fit the purpose of their existence.
When Adam, as a mortal, was told that he was going to die on that day, then it meant that he would be separated from eternal life on that day and that the law of death would take power over his body. It was a punishment for sin against a person who was given a guarantee of life. Otherwise, it could mean that he would never die because, because of his obedience to the provisions of the law, life would take power over him, which in fact happened, but only with the second Adam who received that gift of life into a lasting inheritance.
Interestingly, after sin was done, Adam could have been given eternal life as a permanent gift only if he could go to the tree of life. God said:
“Lest now (man) lend a hand, pick from the tree of life and eat and live forever! Therefore, the LORD God cast him out of the garden of Eden.” (Genesis 3:22 ,23)
Namely, if God allowed Adam to taste the fruit of ‘life’ after transgression, then God’s ‘YES’ (you will die) would become ‘NO’ (you will not die), so it would be an act of forgiveness. The temptation would no longer be necessary so that eternal life would be automatically confirmed. But God did not allow it because it would undermine His justice and the principles of eternal life.
Hence, we can conclude that Adam did not lose the ‘perfect eternal life’ because he did not even receive it as a gift into lasting inheritance. Adam lost the right to such a life. Therefore, in exchange for Adam, God could use a mortal man born of a woman. However, it could only be one who would be free of condemnation and put in Adam’s place to gain the right to such a ‘perfect life’ by his obedience. It means that Jesus was like Adam in the period before he was resurrected into immortal (eternal) life. Unlike Adam, Jesus first had to die. His life, as a righteous man, had the redemptive value at the moment of his death. God had it at his disposal to reconcile the world with him through Jesus.
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AUTHORISED TO BE THE REDEEMER
Some believe that God never authorised human sacrifices, so God did not sacrifice Jesus for the atonement of mankind. But what does the Bible say? It is true that God condemned the actions of some peoples who offered and sacrificed their children and other humans to their false gods. He even forbade the sacrifice of humans (Deuteronomy 12:31; Jeremiah 32:35). Did such a ban mean that Jesus should not have been sacrificed? Consider that God commanded ‘do not kill’ but on the other hand sought a ‘life for life’ which included the death penalty (murder). So some things need to be analysed in order to properly look at God and His commandments. God is against the sacrifice of men and children, because in such rituals they are sacrificed to the false gods, and against their will. But on the other hand, everything that a person does for God and his neighbour involves a certain kind of sacrifice that he does voluntarily. Man is willing to give his life for others in crucial situations, so that God could use that kind of self-sacrificing love as the highest value of life that can be the benchmark by which we can appreciate and accept what Jesus has done for us. That is why God’s prohibition of human sacrifices does not call into question Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice, behind which was the plan of salvation.
Jesus became spiritually perfect insofar as God made his life worthy because of his obedience to the law of life, so he could cover for:
- inherited state of punishment and
- the sin of all humans
because it says:
“For the law of that spirit that gives life in union with Christ Jesus freed you from
- the law of sin and
- the law of death” (Romans 8: 2)
This does not mean that none of the other people (sons of God) could attain that spiritual perfection that God could use for ransom, but
- none of them made a covenant with God for that purpose.
Many faithful God’s servants died for God by martyrdom, but God did not use their death to cover the sins of other people and free them from the bondage of death because
- they did not receive ‘life in themselves’ but died in Adam.
There were such people (sons of God) who would willingly and completely submit to God and give their lives for others both before and after Jesus. One of these said:
“… full of love for you, we were ready to give you … our life, because we loved you” (1 Thessalonians 2: 8)
This was what God expected of Jesus, but unlike him, none of the self-sacrificing people
- were predetermined and authorised to lay down his life for others.
Only with the chosen man did God intend to make a new covenant and through him to invite all men to that covenant. That is why only Jesus could say about his own life:
“I have authority ( from God) to lay it down …” (John 10:17, 18)
Jesus could have been perfectly blameless, but he could not lay down his life for others of his own volition. He had to be predetermined and chosen among all humans in order to prove, as their representative, that any man could be impeccably obedient to God. Therefore, one of such sons of God should be empowered by God to perform the act of reconciling God to man, so that God’s choice is also valid. :
“So it does not depend on one who has desire or on one who strives, but on God …” (Romans 9:16).
The plan of salvation depended on God. He set the prerequisites that were to be fulfilled by one man. God made His demands before him, as He set them before Adam. It would make no sense to require such from divine being who would only play the role of an obedient man, because then this “course” would include both a heavenly preexistence and an earthly temptation under the law of life and death. Such a ‘course’ could be presented only to the heavenly angels who have sinned and who were to take the course of salvation, following the example of that being, and to keep that supposed course (angel – man – angel). But this is not what the Bible says.
Considering the facts by which Adam and Jesus could be likened to each other in everything, then Jesus did not need to be an immortal heavenly being to fit the image of Adam, because only as a mortal man, empowered by God, could he fit that image the first man he shared the same status with because they were both
- created by God
- entered into a covenant with God
- got eternal life in themselves
- received the status of the firstborn Son of God
- took all the people on themselves
- set for the fathers of the world
Only under these conditions would the righteousness and obedience of Jesus be enabled redeem other people and cover up the sin that was the consequence of their inability to access the eternal life. In order for his righteousness to be used to bring people back to the law of life, God had to authorise this man and to assign him a place that belonged to Adam. To put him in that position, he had to do something else to make him perfect for the role.
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REDEEMED FROM THE BONDAGE OF DEATH
Jesus was not supposed to be born accidentally like other people, nor was he to be chosen during his lifetime, but was predetermined to be born into a chosen people, tribe, and family. Likewise, before him, some of the other sons of God were appointed to another role assigned to them by God before their birth. But Jesus’ role was the most exalted, and included his death by which he was to redeem all men. But the question arises – how could he have been an acceptable propitiatory sacrifice if he too had been part of Adam’s offspring who had fallen under the condemnation of death before their birth?
One of the conditions we mentioned was that Jesus, as a mortal man, had to
- gain access to eternal life and have eternal “life in himself”.
This condition was fulfilled by God who made a covenant with Jesus. But in order for Jesus to have eternal life in himself, God had to do something else that would put him in the same position as Adam before he was legally separated from eternal life. We saw that the righteous were given ‘eternal life in themselves’ only after they were redeemed by the death of Jesus, since they were no longer under the condemnation. This meant that Jesus was first supposed
- to be redeemed from the bondage of death.
But how? We know how we are redeemed and at what price. That is why we are interested in when, in what way, and at what price was Jesus redeemed. What does the Bible reveal about this? Let us take a look.
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BAPTISM – ACT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Every man born of a woman is a sinner in the flesh because he does not have the divine glory of eternal life in his body. This is the key reason why no human could be a redeemer even though he may be willing to give his life for others out of love. Hereby we are referring only to those people who were recorded in God’s ‘book of life’ because they had a special status that they needed to keep. They should not have sinned against God because he said to Moses:
“Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32:33)
God could have inscribed every godly and righteous man in the Book of life. It seems that the Israelites were redeemed and introduced into the ‘book of life’ by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob even before they were born and consecrated with the blood of the covenant. Only a sin similar to Adam’s could be the reason for deletion from the Book of life. Jesus was also introduced to the Book of life, but as a genetic descendant of Adam, he was under condemnation that affected all humans. However, as God redeemed the Israelites from the world and inscribed them into the Book of life, at the appointed time He did even more when Jesus
- was redeemed from death and
- was given ‘life in himself’.
How do we know that? The angel Gabriel told his mother Mary who was to become pregnant by the holy spirit:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore also that which is born shall be holy, and shall be called the Son of God. ”(Luke 1:35)
From birth, Jesus was destined to be holy (separated from sinners) because God, by his holy spirit, was to redeem him from sinful humanity and call him his Son. Previously, God had anointed, sanctified, and appointed some of His chosen ones, but Jesus was by then the only and first earthly ‘Son’ redeemed from death and given “life in himself”. He had to become ‘first’ in all things, and in this way alone could he be the first in the resurrection to eternal life (Colossians 1:18; 1 Peter 1:21). Namely, had he not been redeemed and given life in himself, he would not have been able to be resurrected into eternal life.
Just as all people took over Adam’s punishment at their conception, God could make legal arrangements for Jesus to be redeemed from punishment at his conception. Thus, he would be in the same position as Adam when created, without condemnation. However, he needed to know in advance what it meant to be redeemed and at what cost. So he had to become a mature person, or ‘become a man’ who, like Adam, would be aware of the reason why God created him and brought him into existence. Having learned this, he had to faithfully accept the atonement. This was confirmed at the moment when Jesus came to be baptised in water to demonstrate that he surrendered himself to the will of God. He told John that he had come to be baptised because it was necessary …
“to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15)
The very thought of atonement is related to divine righteousness. Because of it the world was subject to the penalty of death. The atonement could also take place by this justice. The atonement involves a certain price that should be paid as a corresponding ransom.
Jesus was not baptised to repent of any sin against the law of God. He did not need repentance and deliverance from the sin, because he had successfully fought against it. However, Jesus needed deliverance from the slavery to death in order to take on Adam’s role, in accordance with God’s will. Therefore, when he came out of the water, in order to live according to the will of God, he prayed to God, who on that occasion anointed him and sanctified the holy spirit. Consequently he heard the voice of God:
“You are my beloved Son; I have approved you.” (Mark 1:11)
This was the moment when Jesus was ‘called the Son of God’ because he thereby received the ‘name’ or authority of God’s representative and was sanctified to be ‘holy’ (separated from sinners). At that moment, he fully suited his role as a redeemer who could fulfil the will of God because by this act, baptism in water and spirit, (as we did after him) Jesus was
- redeemed from the slavery of death and
- given “life in himself”.
Thus, he was made perfect for his role. Next, he needed to confirm it by his obedience. By this act, Jesus received the testimony that he is no longer counted among sinners, that is, those under penalty. Let me explain at what cost this atonement could be brought into effect and why it was necessary for Jesus to be set free from punishment, by the water and the holy spirit.
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VALUE OF THE RANSOM
The sin committed by Adam was not inherent to him alone, because it can be done by any man who is in covenant with God. Such mortal sin cannot be forgiven and must be punished by erasure from the Book of life. However, Adam’s condemnation did not affect only him, but all of his descendants as well, even before they were born, including the promised offspring of Abraham, and thereby Jesus himself.
Even if they have not been personally condemned, people are subject to death because of the law of decay. However, there is a difference that the condemnation implies. We have seen that the “law of matter” was perfect in itself, because by that law, God created a world of living beings here on Earth that were perfect. Nevertheless, they were subject to decay and death. If God had decreed, after Adam’s sin, that Adam’s children were to be born and die according to this natural law, then it would not be a punishment but a natural condition inherent in material beings. In that case they would have been entitled to demand access to eternal life from God, as was obtained by Adam. The punishment was manifested by the fact that the condemnation of Adam sealed that mortal state with separation from eternal life until the second Adam appeared.
Even though the righteous were enrolled in the Book of life, it did not mean that they were given the gift of life. It was only the first step towards a life that had to be first confirmed in second Adam. Being punished is the same as being a sinner, so it can be said that, according to Adam, we have been “declared sinners” from birth, when we have not yet been made aware of what is a mortal sin. In effect, the effect of Adam’s punishment passes on to humans at the moment of conception, but not according to genes, but according to God’s legal provision, because the people who were to live according to Adam died with his sin along with him. Therefore, Jesus should have been legally redeemed from that punishment.
In legal terms, this happened before the birth of the world when God gave Adam’s unborn children over
- into slavery to death.
Therefore, Jesus, who was not yet born, could then
- be redeemed from the slavery of death.
We can say freely that ‘in God’, that is, in God’s plan, before the foundation of the world, Jesus
- was redeemed
- got life in himself
- died as the ‘Lamb of God’ and
- received the glory of eternal life.
So he prayed to God:
” Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (John 17: 5)
Although he had this glory of eternal life in God before the foundation of the world, he was to receive it only at a certain moment. Thus, redemption before the beginning of the world existed as the only righteous option, which was apparently paid only after Jesus entered the world scene as the Anointed One. Namely, it was only after the world came into existence by Adam that death came on the scene as a condemnation to which all people were subjected. So, the ransom was also prepared for the One who was to be anointed and who was to enter the scene by his baptism. That is when the ransom became activated. Let’s see what the condemnation of Adam’s offspring implied. When I say ‘implied’ then I mean that some things in the Bible are not directly written, as in the case of Adam, but are hidden in God’s principles, laws, and righteous standards by which he acted in some similar situations.
At first glance, people would say that it is not fair for Adam’s children to be punished even though they are not guilty of the sin that Adam committed. In essence, they are not punished, but only suffer the consequences of a state of affairs that ends in death. Obviously, God has decided to do so according to the principles of righteousness. God’s decision had thus determined:
- the value of Adam’s responsibility to his descendants
- the value that Adam’s innocent descendants had in themselves
People were not destined to die, but Adam sacrificed his children for his selfish interests. Nevertheless, God considered their innocent death worth the sacrifice they had to endure because of Adam. Therefore, their death by the condemnation of the first Adam has one deeper reason because the death of no one, and especially the death of the righteous, can be in vain. It has a value that Adam’s punishment could not undo, so God had the right to use that value to create the second Adam. That is why people are dying for Adam. However, they also die for the second Adam, who was to redeem them. Hence, their death has a value. Even the death of an innocent animal had a value that was used for redemption:
“Don’t two sparrows sell for one coin? so that neither of them can fall to the ground without your father. And the hair on your head is all counted. Fear not therefore; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10: 29-31)
In these words, Jesus considered only those sparrows who fell as a “victim” or “sacrifice” due to circumstances determined by human and God’s standards. Humans fall as ‘victims’, too. The very fact that God decreed that they must taste death testifies that they fall victim of circumstances in connection with Adam and with God’s righteous standards. Such sacrifice contains an inherent value. Thus, their death cannot undo that value. Moreover, it increases the value, especially when we know that God “loved the world” (John 3:16). Jesus emphasised this when he said:
“… that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me… because you loved me before the foundation of the world. ” (John 17: 23,24)
Just as God loved Jesus before the foundation of the world, so He loved the world before it came into existence.
JESUS <=> WORLD
We can say that the ‘world’ had the same value to God as did Jesus. One reason is that the righteous, who are recorded in the Book of life, are part of this world, so Paul says of himself and of other faithful persons:
“… as he (God)chose us in him, (and loved) before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favour of his will.” (Ephesians 1: 4, 5)
Like Jesus, neither did we did exist before the foundation of the world. However, even back then we were redeemed and given the right to be called sons of God, like Jesus was. But the very act of adoption occurs during baptism when we are, like Jesus:
- redeemed from death
- given life in ourselves
We had that value to God before the world came into existence. Therefore, the value the world contained could only be manifested when it was used for a specific purpose. Only then did the world manifest its value. But the fact is that the world loses value because of its own sins. Apparently, however, the value of all the righteous who have been subject to the same penalty of death against their will was deemed sufficient by God:
“Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of those who are faithful.” (Psalm 116: 15)
We have seen that both the righteous and Jesus himself were been predetermined (destined) by God. Hence, their death has a value greater than the death of all the unrighteous, but only when placed within the covenant with God by which they receive the value and status of ‘sacrifice’ for God.
God has delivered men into the bondage of death, but not into the bondage of sin (John 8:34; Rom. 6: 6). Humans could not free themselves from the bondage of death without the mediation of the second Adam. As for the bondage of sin, humans deliver themselves into it, thereby losing their value. God knew that humans, condemned to death, and aware of the transience of life, would neglect the divine qualities and, like Adam, allow selfish interests to prevail. Hence, they would end up sinning against God and men. Before he could redeem them from death by the second Adam, he needed to redeem them from sin. Thus, they would have gained the value necessary for the liberation of the One who would take over Adam’s role. God could not expect that from all people, so he chose in advance a nation that was supposed to be a ‘living sacrifice’ and take responsibility for God’s plan of salvation of the entire world.
Until an adequate substitution was made for Adam, God forgave people their sins. We have to take this into account because God has placed everything in legal terms before it all took place on the global scene. In fact, even before they were born, all people died in Adam when he sinned. And even before they had died, God, redeemed one among them and appointed him a sacrificial lamb even before he was born. That’s why there was a ‘Book of life’ …
“of the lamb that was slaughtered from the beginning of the world.” (Revelation 13: 8)
God leaves nothing to chance when it comes to the eternal happiness of his creatures. He determined some events in order to accomplish his plan and said:
“From the beginning, I announce the end, since ancient times I announce what has not been done. I say, “My plan will come to pass, and I will do whatever I want.” (Isaiah 46:10)
He invokes what lies in the future as if it had already happened in the past. But before the predetermined reality came into being, God made the preparations leading up to that end through covenants with the chosen individuals and the chosen nation. Finally, the messianic sacrificial Lamb replaced the literal lamb whose blood had only temporary value.
That is why the beginning of the story of our ascension through Jesus’ glorious role of the ‘Lamb of God’ is based on historical events related to Israel, the Son of God, from the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, ie from the creation of Israel, its conception, birth, atonement, sanctification, and life under the covenant and the Law until its rebirth under the new covenant.
By God’s righteous provision, Jesus acquired the status of a Redeemer. He experienced everything as did Israel, the Son of God. He could only obtain the status of the Redeemer by being born within God’s chosen people, that was redeemed and recorded in God’s Book of life. All other nations, tribes, and families were required to enrol in this book by them and by their Chief Advocate. Therefore, I invite you to consider these historical events with me in order to discover in them what was hidden until the appearance of the man who was made the Redeemer.
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HOPE CONCEALED IN DEATH
Before the world came into existence through Adam, God had taken righteousness into account. Even before their birth, all humans were committed to the slavery of death. Their death sentence carried a value God had at his disposal to complete his plan with man. The death penalty was executed under the “Law of decay”, which was to take power over the body and give it over to death and destruction. Even our suffering from illness and old age within this punishment has its value. Therefore, by God’s allowing of human suffering, the world did not lose its value because it will gain much more than it currently loses.
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
The world died in Adam by God’s righteous decree because God Himself subjected them to that death for their eternal good. In what sense? Paul understood this and said:
“for creation was made subject to futility (death and corruption), not of its own accord but because of the one (God) who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8: 20, 21)
‘Subject to futility’> ‘subject to hope’> ‘liberation from slavery’
As we can see, God subjected Adam’s offspring to futility, that is, death and decay, against their will and without their guilt, not for this world to disappear forever, but for the hope of deliverance that ensues from such death. It’s like someone telling you:
“I gave you over to death in order to keep you alive”
This statement is implied by what we can discern from the context: The hope of life is based on the death to which they are subjected. Obviously, their suffering and death carries a redeeming value that gives hope that the very suffering and death would be the basis of deliverance from death itself. Of course, the world could not redeem itself by its own death. However, their death, represented by the death of the righteous individuals, subjected to death by God, could redeem One among them, chosen by God. There was one condition, though. They should consciously die for themselves as a ‘sacrifice to God’ ‘who was to use their ‘sacrifice’ for this purpose. For this to be legally regulated, there had to be a covenant with people who had to be aware of their role and the purpose of their existence. Obviously, this could not be achieved with all the people of the world (nations, tribes and languages). Nevertheless, it was not a problem to God because he planned to place the burden of that responsibility on only one chosen nation that had to represent the whole world.
Righteousness and sinfulness can only be expressed in the context of a covenant and a law. Hence, God decreed that his Chosen Ones existed within the framework of a chosen nation. Under the covenant, he nation would be sanctified by the covering of their sins by means of blood sacrifices. Thus that nation comprised the value of the whole world. They were predetermined and taken from the world from which they were redeemed and inscribed into the Book of life. We will see how God did that and why.
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God never demanded a literal sacrificial death from his servants, but a willingness to be ‘living sacrifice, pleasing to God’, that is, to consciously die for themselves and to live for Him, to be what they were created for. What was required of them was later also required of Christians:
“Therefore, brethren, I earnestly beseech you with the compassion of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing God, to serve God …” (Romans 12: 1).
“… For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body! ”(1 Corinthians 6:20)
The sons of Israel, as adopted sons of God, were redeemed and inscribed in the Book of life. God gave them the Law and commandments they accepted at the cost of their lives:
” Taking the book of the covenant, he (Moses) read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will hear and do.”” (Exodus 24: 7)
God accepted their willingness, which had the value of a blood sacrifice, and replaced their sacrifice with the blood sacrifice of a lamb or another animal. We’ll talk about that later.
The God could simply have delivered Jesus from judgement without any ransom, but justice would not have been satisfied. Because of the divine justice that was to be the foundation of human society, Jesus could only be set free at a certain cost. This was the principle of divine righteousness. When we consider God’s way of doing things, we will see that before the birth of the Chosen man, God had to offer a certain ransom price for his chosen covenant people, Israel, whom he considered his firstborn Son (see Exodus 4:22).
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ISRAEL AND JESUS – SONS OF GOD
Just as we can look at Jesus through the image of Adam, so we can look at Jesus through the image of Israel – the Son of God. Only in this way will we find out what is hidden and what only the holy spirit can reveal. For Israel and for Jesus, his principal representatives, God could say the same thing:
“Israel is my firstborn Son” (Exodus 4:22)
“Jesus is my firstborn Son” (Heb. 1: 5; Luke 9:35; Ps. 89:27)
Both Sons were part of Adam’s sinful offspring and needed to be redeemed for the right price and used for a specific purpose in order to save the world because:
“Salvation comes from the Jews (that is, from Israel).” (John 4:22)
and from Jesus Christ the “Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)
Israel had its value, which required a ransom price. This is evident in the situation when Israel (the Son of God) was in bondage to other nations.
“For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour (and redeemer). For thy ransom I give Egypt, instead of you I give Kush and Sheba. Because you are precious in my eyes, you are valuable and I love you. Therefore, I give people for you and for your people for your life.” (Isaiah 43: 3,4; 44:24)
We see that in this case God redeemed his firstborn Son, Israel, out of Babylonian slavery. Instead of him, who was redeemed from slavery, God gave other nations into slavery of the Persian Empire. That was the appropriate price for the ransom. The first impression we have is that ungodly people from these pagan nations had no value and therefore could not be the price at which God would redeem his people. However, the very act of atonement at the price Israel had indicated that this was not true. God took their worth into account because he knew that among the present-day wicked people there were many who would die for themselves in order to live for God in the coming Kingdom.
God could have easily delivered his people at no cost, but by his righteous principles, he wanted to express their value that God intended to use to bless all nations. So these same nations who were delivered into slavery and death in order for Israel to be freed from slavery were eventually to be blessed by Israel (Abraham’s offspring). So those who were taken as ransom for Israel eventually had to be redeemed through Israel in order to be blessed.
By this same principle, God could have delivered Adam’s children into the slavery of death in order to use their death through Abraham’s chosen offspring to redeem the chosen man from the slavery of death, after which they would all be redeemed and given life. Only in this case can we see the hope in death that God provided when He subjected humans to the slavery of death. Thus it would actually mean
- “I will deliver them to death so that they would live”
Therefore, when we consider God’s relationship with Israel, we then see that He gave sinful people to redeem His firstborn Son, Israel. It means that the lives of these Gentile nations had a certain price and value in the eyes of God because they suffered the punishment of Adam. In addition, many of them will have attained righteousness in the kingdom of God, and God counted that into their value. Even before this atonement and deliverance from the enemy’s hand, God acquired Israel as his own children before they were created as a people by redeeming them from Egyptian slavery with the death of the firstborns, so the psalmist could say:
“Remember the congregation that you have acquired from the old, which you have redeemed for the people of your heritage…!” (Psalm 74: 2)
In order to redeem his people, another nation had to die in such a way that the death of the firstborn signified the death of the whole nation. The Bible says:
“To him that smote Egypt in their first-born;
For his lovingkindness endureth for ever” (Psalm 136: 10, ASV)
- By the death of Egyptian firstborns – Egypt dies
- By the death of Israel’s firstborns (by the lamb) – Israel gets redeemed
By the death of one nation, another one is redeemed from death the by the salvation of their firstborn from death by the blood of the Passover lamb. It was as if Israel had been redeemed by the death of all the firstborn; only that these firstborns were saved through the replacement blood that represented their death. Thus, through the blood of the lamb, God took this people for a specific purpose by its firstborns. Namely, God had announced in advance the creation of a nation with the role of mediator through whom all nations would be blessed. So he said to Abraham:
“I will greatly multiply thy seed, that it may be as a star in heaven (…), and all your people on earth shall be blessed in thy seed, when thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17, 18).
And now one important question: How is it possible for God to bless all nations through Abraham’s offspring if we know two facts:
- that this offspring is sinful and mortal
- that the blessing involves eternal life
How can the value of the lives of sinful and mortal people allow eternal blessings to all other people? This was possible as in the case of Jesus, because God had them:
- enrolled in the Book of life
- created (born by woman)
- separated from other (sinful) nations
- made a covenant with them
- anointed with the holy spirit
- become his firstborn Son
All of this has given special value to Israel as a chosen people. Behind them stood God (Heaven) Himself, and therefore they were God’s (heavenly) people.They were not to be born as perfect humans or appear as incarnate heavenly creatures in order to be the blessing to other nations. They only had to show holiness and obedience to God and in accordance with the decrees of covenant with God be appointed a royal priesthood. That is why Jesus, who descended from them, was just a human like his brothers.
The Israelites, like Adam and Jesus, had to know why they were created and what was expected of them by the covenants because it was not only about their eternal good but the eternal good of the whole world. That is why it was important for Jesus to be sent only to Israel to prepare them for this dedicated role. Israel, as we have seen, is an advocate for the whole world. That is why Jesus was not sent to any nation from the world, but only to Israel. But it’s the same as being sent to the whole world, so we read:
“I was sent to none but the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
“For I say that Christ became the servant of the circumcised, to confirm the truthfulness of God and the faithfulness of the promise which God gave to their fathers.” (Romans 15: 8)
Although Jesus was sent to the Israelites, he was sent to the ‘world’ by them, because they represented that ‘world’
Israel <=> world
Israel had a representative and mediating role because God was supposed to bless the whole world through them, so in that sense it can be said:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
Paul says that by Jesus ‘all Israel will be saved’ and by them the whole world (Romans 11:26). So their existence did not happen by accident. They were even made like Jesus by the ransom sacrifice in order to be the ransom (atonement) sacrifice God needed in his plan of salvation. Let’s see how.
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REDEMPTION OF ISAAC
In order to create all the prerequisites for the atonement of mankind from sin and death through one man, God has taken some important steps to redeem that man from the world, but through Israel, who was designated and dedicated to the role of the redemptive ‘sacrifice’. God first chose Abraham to make a covenant based on the promise of his offspring through which all nations would be blessed. In order for this covenant to be effective, God required Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, through whom the promised offspring was to come (Genesis 22: 1,2). This request implied a legal effect, because with that request all Abraham’s offspring, which had to come after Isaac, had been killed and sacrificed. If Isaac’s death had occurred, none of them would have been born, not even Jesus. They would have died with Isaac and the world could not be blessed. However, God eventually prevented Abraham from sacrificing his son, and instead prepared a ram, that was apparently found there for a reason.
“Abraham went, took a ram, and offered it as a burnt offering instead of his son.” (Genesis 22:13)
Instead of Isaac’s death, the blood of the sacrificed animal, which had a ransom value, was shed in exchange. Let’s look at what was behind that exchange and that act of ransom.
When God blessed Sarah, the aged barren woman, and by his creative spirit enabled her to give birth to Isaac, he said to Abraham:
“I will bless her (Sarah) and give you a son from her. I will bless her, and nations will arise from her, and kings of the nations will descend from her.” (Genesis 17: 15, 16)
God stood behind the conception of Isaac that was caused by God in a supernatural way. Therefore he could later rightly say that he conceived and bore Israel through Sarah and that ‘Israel’ is his firstborn son (Psalm 100: 3; Isaiah 43: 7; 51 : 2; Hebrews 11: 11,12). That is why they could be called ‘sons of God’, because God created them and gave birth to them by a woman named Sarah. It was a typology of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was similarly born by a woman, as promised, and appointed as the firstborn. The request of Isaac’s death was understandable, because God had to adopt Israel. Then why did the God deliver Isaac from death if he intended to sacrifice him? Some will say that in doing so, he tempted the faith of Abraham that he was to show according to God’s promise. That’s right. Abraham did show faith. But we what did God demonstrate and what did he accomplish?
In addition to establishing his covenant with Abraham by blood, God purchased Isaac by the substitute sacrifice and appointed him as His Son, and thus Abraham’s offspring from which Israel, the Son of God, was born. This atonement was made by the replacement blood of the sacrificed animal, thereby giving Abraham’s offspring the status of the ‘sacrifice’ that they took upon themselves before the birth of Abraham. Accordingly, God showed that Isaac was to be a ‘sacrifice for God’. When we first see Isaac at the altar and then the substitute sacrifice, then Isaac was identified with that ‘sacrifice’.
- Isaac – a sacrifice for God
- ram – the sacrifice instead of Isaac, that redeemed Abraham’s offspring from death
- Abraham’s offspring – assumes the role of a ransom sacrifice
By replacing his sacrifice with another sacrifice that had redeemed Isaac from death, God showed Abraham that his whole offspring, by means of Isaac, should also have been in the place of that ‘sacrifice’ that carried a certain value. The secret of atonement is hidden here. The aim was to redeem, by the offspring of Abraham, his chief descendant through whom all nations will be blessed. Namely, if the world was sentenced to death by Adam according to the justice of God before the world came into existence, then Israel was, by God’s justice, also ascribed the sacrificial (redemptive) death sentence by Isaac before Israel came into existence.
Since in the blood of animals contained only corruptible life, then it had the same redemptive value as the blood of a man that contained only a corruptible life.
- Life in this sense is a force that revives the body and keeps it alive. Humans and animals have the same life force.
- blood = life
Therefore, it was not necessary for God to require the literal sacrifice of a human when it could be replaced by the sacrifice of the animal. The animal would be sacrificed, and by that sacrifice man would die to himself and belong to God. Such a sacrifice could only be used for a specific purpose, depending on the value God had set for it.
With this blood (which contained life as a ransom value), Abraham’s unborn offspring, along with Jesus, was redeemed by the Promised Isaac, who died and belonged to God thereafter. Hence, by God’s decree, they died in Isaac and received life as his children by that ransom. God redeemed them by the ‘blood’ that represented Isaac’s life so that the Israelites (the sons of Israel) and Jesus himself owed their existence to God and God could use them for a specific purpose. That’s why these words were true for them:
“None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom. 14: 7, 8)
Being born in advance according to the promise, they had to be aware of why God created them and ‘given birth’ to them and why He redeemed them from the people by the blood of the covenant, just as Adam and Jesus had to be aware of their representative and mediating role.
There is something else involved in this event with Isaac. We have seen that everything was outlined before the creation of the world, even the way Jesus would be redeemed from death. The price of his atonement was to be the death of all of Adam’s descendants. However, this death fell on them as Adam’s punishment, not as a sacrifice for God. Therefore, a, institute was made by the Abrahamic Covenant, whereby a chosen people would be redeemed from sin (through sacrifices) and appointed an advocate of the world. Thereby, they would be achieving the value of the entire world and, in that capacity, taking on the role of a ‘sacrifice for God’ with which he could dispose.
This was done by means of Isaac, by whom God sacrificed Abraham’s offspring, and in particular, that offspring through which all nations were to be blessed. In doing so, God equated the value of the whole world in Adam with the value of one nation in Isaac, who was willing to be a ‘sacrifice for God’. It was precisely their death in Isaac which, according to that covenant, was valued as a ransom, and as such it could be used to redeem one man who had previously been separated from among his brothers. That is why all those who were sacrificed with Isaac to God belonged to God from their birth. Hence God would first redeem them for himself, and then submit them to the sacrifice by which he was to redeem his Chosen one.
It was during this time period (from Isaac until the expiration of the appointed time) that Abraham’s offspring should be created and sanctified in order to take on a role in God’s plan of salvation. As we know, Isaac was not literally sacrificed nor was his offspring, but they were nevertheless designated as a ‘sacrifice’ that had to be paid for a specific purpose.
In order to make this sacrifice for God, they had to be born spiritually under the covenant and be sanctified as a ‘living sacrifice’ because only then would it have legal value. Before his spiritual birth, Israel was born by Jacob and raised in Egypt by his 12 sons, until it was time for the boys to become mature for their role. So God said:
“When Israel was a boy, I loved him, and from Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11: 1)
After leaving Egypt, they were sanctified and admitted into the covenant with God in the wilderness. Consider that the sacrifice of Jesus redeemed only sinners who were under the covenant and delivered them from the death penalty while others remained condemned (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). This means that only those who were under covenant could serve as the ransom price for Jesus. That is why God singled out one nation whom he redeemed and sanctified. As such, they had the value of the entire world, so their sacrificial death to which they were subordinate could serve as a atonement value for Jesus. This means that all the children of Israel were dying as a sacrifice, giving ‘their bodies to the sacrifice of a living and pleasing God’. However, God went a step further so that all of Israel gained in added value because a certain portion of the children of Israel were separated, from whom He sought additional conditions. Let’s see how it was done.
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REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL
According to his plan, after the creation and birth of Israel (the Son of God), God had to first redeem the whole nation, in order to prepare them as a sacrifice. This was done when they were leaving Egypt.
” The Lord spoke to Moses and said: Consecrate to me every firstborn; whatever opens the womb among the Israelites, whether of human being or beast, belongs to me.’ (…), the Lord killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, the firstborn of human being and beast alike. That is why I sacrifice to the Lord every male that opens the womb, and why I ransom every firstborn of my sons (by a lamb).” (Exodus 13: 1, 2, 13, 15)
Firstborns are the foundation of every nation. God could have simply said that he would protect all the firstborn of Israel simply because they were Abraham’s descendants by Isaac and Jacob. However, God related the value of their lives to the value of the lives of all the children of Israel and all the people. So they had to die for themselves and be dedicated to God, but by the replacement blood of the lamb.
Isaac was replaced by a ‘ram’ (adult male sheep) and his children were replaced by a ‘lamb’. The firstborn lamb was sacred and intended for sacrifice (Exodus 13: 2; Numbers 18:17). The Passover lamb was considered by God to be “his sacrifice” (Exodus 23:18; 34:25). This is because, in the place of that lamb, there should have been the firstborns who belonged to him when he took them to himself before they were born. Namely, they were destined for sacrifice together with Isaac. Therefore, every firstborn was born and consecrated as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ that had a ransom value.
God sought the sacrificial sacrifice and the blood (life) of the lamb that would replace the firstborn. Thus the entire nation that has since belonged to God as His people was to be redeemed by the firstborns.
“Remember the congregation that you have acquired from the old, which you have redeemed for the people of your heritage…!” (Psalm 74: 2)
This means that the death (life in blood) of the lamb that replaced the firstborns could redeem the whole nation. Since the lamb has replaced the firstborns, then they should have been in the place of that lamb, so we can consider them the ‘lamb of God’ sacrificed for the redemption of Israel. Thus, all Israel is identified with the firstborns.
Firstborns <=> (Israel = world)
Namely, the death of the lamb resulted in the symbolic death of the firstborns. By this act of atonement, the firstborns belonged to God who prepared this substitute for their lives. Thus, as a nation, Israel was born in one day by the firstborns and officially became the “Firstborn Son of God” (the Lamb of God), by which all nations would be redeemed and blessed. In order to retain the status of God’s ‘firstborn’ Son (Numbers 3:13), each firstborn was to be consecrated to God from then on. Among those firstborns was Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God’ who was consecrated to God immediately after birth (Luke 2:23).
We noted in the verse mentioned above ( Exodus 13:15) that God said that every firstborn should have been sacrificed to God. However, in order not to be physically sacrificed, every firstborn should have been redeemed by a substitute sacrifice, like in the case of Isaac. This is because the unborn firstborns, who represented Israel before God, were sacrificed in advance by the blood of the lamb. At their birth they already belonged to God, who had the right to ask of them to serve him in the temple as a ‘living sacrifice’ in order to redeem their sons from the sin with the substitute blood, and not their own.
Because of this, all the children of Israel were to serve in the temple, but they were redeemed with their firstborn. The firstborns were supposed to serve as priests and the other sons as servants of the temple, but were replaced by the Levites. All the children of Israel were to pay a tax as ransom for themselves.
“When you take a census of the Israelites who are to be enrolled, each one, as he is enrolled, shall give the Lord a ransom for his life (…) When you receive this ransom money from the Israelites, you shall donate it to the service of the tent of meeting, that there it may be a reminder of the Israelites before the Lord of the ransom paid for their lives.” (Exodus 30: 12, 16)
We note here that the ransom price of the children of Israel went in favor of the service in the tabernacle, so that price represented themselves as a ‘sacrifice’ to God. And Jesus paid that tax (Matthew 17: 24-27). Next we see that all Israelites had to be aware that this ‘sacrifice’ of their sons was used to ‘redeem the lives’ of the entire nation. This means that all of them, as a nation, should have been in the place of that ‘sacrifice’. That is exactly what they were, by means of the Levites who took their ‘sacrifice’ upon themselves. Although the sons of Israel were redeemed from service in the temple, all of them, as ‘living sacrifices’, were to be subject to covenants and laws. Eventually, their physical death was precious because they were dying for God. Therefore, they had to be part of Abraham’s offspring and of the nation God had redeemed from the world for this holy purpose. In order to be ‘holy’ they had to maintain their status as the ‘sacrifice’ by means of the substitutionary sacrifices that covered for their sins.
God decreed that the Levites (the saints) would instead bear that ‘sacrifice’ by sanctifying themselves for God and for the people. However, that did not mean that the Israelites were freed from their status of the ‘sacrifice’. The Levites (saints) merely represented the people, and through them, the whole nation was sacrificed to God. In turn, God could use that sacrifice of “spiritual Israel” (because not all Israel was really Israel) to redeem one man whom he had made his Firstborn Son.
Levites <=> Firstborns = [(Israel = world)]
To be holy means to be separated from the world and to belong to God. That is why the Israelites were redeemed at a certain price as a people represented by the ‘saints’. These ‘saints’ were redeemed from a sanctified people and made their vow to God.
“ Gather my loyal ones (saints) to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalm 50: 5)
This refers to the elect who, with the king and high priest, formed that ‘royal priesthood’ which, according to the first covenant, still did not receive the seal of perfection. Namely, they were under condemnation from which they could be freed only by one among them who would be sacrificed. Only then, after being “redeemed” by the blood of Jesus and receiving “life in themselves” by the holy spirit, could they form “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” with Jesus (1 Peter 2: 9). This ‘priesthood’ is an integral part of the ‘holy people’ by which all nations would be blessed in the coming ‘kingdom of Jesus Christ’.
It means that the Israelites, as Abraham’s offspring, who were recorded in the Book of life, should have been ‘the firstfruits’, or the first ones, who in Christ, by the holy spirit
- became redeemed from death
- got life in themselves
- were made perfect
We can say freely that the blessing of life comes to other nations through born-again Israelites, but in the way of being represented by one man who served as a real human sacrifice for them. By this sacrifice, they were all redeemed as ‘firstfruits’ and as such could be of greater value than people from other nations.
It is implied that not only those who descended from Abraham in the flesh were eligible for the work of God, but only those who complied with the requirements of the covenant. Obviously, God created all the circumstances to be able to have the representatives of the world within them, who by being obedient to God’s righteous standards died for themselves and lived as a “living sacrifice, pleasing to God”.
By their representatives, the Israelites therefore lived and died as the ‘sacrifice’ in Isaac that carried a ransom value. Their death was not used to redeem the entire world, but only one man. They were dying in Isaac by the substitution sacrifice as the firstborn Son of God. Jesus, who was appointed to be the Son of God, was also redeemed by the death of this Son (Israel) by the firstborns.
Israel, Son of God ⇔ Jesus, Son of God
God used Isaac’s symbolic death, by the temporary blood, to kill and make Abraham’s offspring his own children. Isaac came into the world by promise. The literal sacrificial death of the man who also came by promise made it possible for God to permanently redeem Abraham’s offspring so they would become his children. Their sin was permanently covered by that sacrifice. Hence, the eternal life. as a gift from God was made possible first to them, and then to all who were born of God by the holy spirit. To be born of God, one had to be redeemed from the death penalty. Jesus was redeemed by the death of ‘all’ who were made a ‘living sacrifice’. In turn, all of them were redeemed by Jesus’ sacrificial death, as he died instead of them.
Just as Isaac’s symbolic death served to kill God through temporary blood and redeem Abraham’s offspring for his children, because Isaac came into the world by promise, so the literal sacrificial death of the man who came by promise made it possible for God to have Abraham’s offspring atonement for his children, whose sin was permanently covered by that sacrifice, so that eternal life as a gift from God was made possible first to them, and after them to all who are born of God by the holy spirit. To be born of God, one had to be redeemed from the death penalty. Jesus was redeemed after the death of ‘all’ who were made a ‘sacrifice alive’, all of them after his sacrificial death with which he died instead of all.
All that was said concerning Israel, the Son of God, indicated the need for the literal sacrifice of one chosen firstborn, redeemed from the world and appointed as the “Lamb (Son of God) who takes away the sins of the world.” In this capacity, he was to permanently redeem all people by his death, first the consecrated firstborns, and then, by means of them, all the seed of Abraham, through which all nations would be blessed. In this way, God would, through Christ (the Anointed One, the Son of God), free all the family communities of his consecrated people Israel and all those people from other nations who would join them from the slavery of death. This is exactly what happened because it was written:
” He delivered (redeemed) us from the power of darkness (death) and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13)
“You have approached… the assembly of the firstborns… and God… and Jesus… and the blood of sprinkling…” (Heb. 12: 22 ,23)
It is possible to assume that God intended to select 144,000 from Israel, and thereby from the world. By obeying God’s righteous standards, they would, like Jesus, meet God’s requirements. He would thus accept their death as the sacrifice needed for atonement.
” I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites.” (Rev. 7: 4)
” They (144,000) have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.” (Rev. 14: 4)
Because they were redeemed from Israel as ‘firstborns’, and thus from the world, they are appropriately said to represent Israel and the whole world, and that by the wisdom of God, their death provided God with a sufficient price to redeem Jesus.
144000 <=> Firstborns = [(Israel = world)]
Within this number are mainly those who were predetermined and dedicated to the work of God throughout human history and the history of the people of God. Most of them experienced martyrdom.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they gave. (…) And every one of them was given white robes, and they were told to stand still for a little while, until the number of their comrades and their brethren, who should be slain as they were, was over. ”(Rev. 6: 9-11)
“Therefore the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them. Some will be killed and driven away, so that the blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation. ”(Luke 11: 49,50)
We see that they are ‘to be killed’, which alludes to the sacrificial death which has its value. Jesus himself also had to be killed for the atonement price he had in himself. That is why they all enter the ‘number’ of those who are ‘killed because of the word of God’ like Jesus. Hence, they will have the honour of governing and ruling the world with Jesus. When Jesus says that only ‘some’ will be killed, then those who were not killed also died as the ‘sacrifice’ because they, like Jesus, were ready for such a death.
Namely, Israel had two groups of people within itself. Some struggled to meet the requirements of the covenant with God while others deviated from it. It is a matter of physical and spiritual Israel.
“Jehovah called me while I was in my mother’s womb. … And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel (whom I have chosen), and I will show my beauty to you.” (…) And now Jehovah, the one who shaped me in the womb to be his servant, tells me to bring him back to Jacob, for Israel to gather to him. (Isaiah 49: 1-3; 43:10)
Spiritual Israel was that servant of God, identified with Zion, who often endured the tribulations from fleshly Israel. However, Jehovah gave them the strength and help to fulfil their role, especially to return the Israelites to their God, because they, together with sinners, endured the righteous wrath of God and all the evil that Israel did because of their sins (Isaiah 41: 8-10; 43:10).
“Remember this, Jacob, and you, Israel, for you are my servant! I created you. You are my servant. Israel, I will not forget you! I will erase your transgressions, and it will be as if the cloud hid them, and sins, as if the clouds hid them. Come back to me, for I will redeem you!” (Isaiah 44: 21,22)
“Fear not, O worm of Jacob, O people of Israel! I will help you, “says Jehovah, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:14)
By the term, ‘worm’ God emphasized their status as a servant who humbly serves God regardless of the contempt of others, and that contempt often came from the fleshly Israelites (the world).
“And I am a worm, not a man, a derision to men and contempt for the people (Israel).” (Psalm 22: 6)
It was those who were despised in the people and who represented the people of God that were that truly the spiritual Israel, the Son of God. The spirit of God encouraged them to care spiritually for the people. Although we only know of some prophets in the Bible, there were many more of them. There are “the sons of the prophets” whose names are not mentioned and those who supported the prophets. From generation to generation, they stood for God’s justice and witness for Jehovah. However, they experienced from their people (the world) what Jesus, the Servant, and the Son of God, later experienced. Hypocritical teachers and priests who rose above the people took over their positions. Jesus exposed them to be the ones who killed the prophets while also touring the land and sea to convert other nations to their faith (Matthew 23:15, 29-32). These hypocrites were posing before the people to be that Servant. However, to the true servant of God, they did terrible things. That is what happened to real servants of God:
“… They were tormented for not accepting to be freed from any ransom, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others were tempted by mockery and flogging and even shackles and dungeons. They were stoned, tempted, sawed, slaughtered with the sword, walked in sheep and goat skins, were in need, in distress, abused. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts, mountains, caves, and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 13: 35-38)
Although the prophet Isaiah wrote a great deal about them, we will highlight only some of the links that were later fulfilled on Jesus because he could not avoid what happened to the servant of God (spiritual Israel). Although there were many who represented this Servant, they all suffered for the sins of the people, bearing their guilt. What they have experienced through the centuries individually is described as having been experienced by one Servant. The prophet Isaiah, as a servant of God, also eventually endured the martyrdom by the hands of his people. However, before he died, he placed himself in the position of the people and wrote the following about that Servant:
- Despised and shunned by humans
- pain and illness he met
- we turned our heads not to look at his face
- he carried our sickness,
- he took our pain upon himself
- for our transgression he was pierced
- for our sins he was crushed
- The punishment was on him for the sake of our peace,
- because of his wounds our healing came
- Jehovah made the sin of us all come upon him
- He was being oppressed, and he let the pain hurt him and he did not open his mouth
- They took him like a lamb for slaughter and he did not open his mouth
- He was deprived of just judgement, and therefore removed
- For he was cut off from the land of the living.
- Because of the transgression of my people, blow was given to him
- they assigned him a grave among the wicked and the rich
- he did no evil, neither was there deceit in his mouth
- was counted among the offenders advocated for offenders
- he poured out his soul into death
- he bore the sin of many
Following this description, the prophet points out to the outcome that God will attain through his Servant:
“And it was Jehovah’s pleasure to crush him; he made him sick. If you give, O God, his soul as a sacrifice for guilt, he will see his offspring; Because of the suffering of his soul, he will see the fruits of his toil and be pleased with them. By knowledge my righteous servant will give righteousness to many, and he will take their transgressions upon himself. Therefore, I will give him his portion as with many, and he will share his spoils with the mighty.” (Isaiah 53)
This Servant has the right to rule with Christ and share the spoils with the mighty. What many of them experienced, as true spiritual Israel, was fulfilled by only one man whose death and resurrection to life enabled the glory of eternal life to all who endured suffering and death for the sake of God. Namely, all that the members of spiritual Israel, the Servant of God, had experienced over the centuries, had to be fulfilled again at the moment when brought into existence the man whom He had foretold and appointed as His distinguished Servant and firstborn Son. Matthew used the description of the Servant on Jesus in one situation and wrote:
“And he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all the sick, that it might be fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, saying, He hath taken our infirmities, and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8: 16,17)
The apostle Peter wrote similarly:
“He carried our sins in his body to the pillar, so that we might forsake our sins and live for righteousness. “By his wounds you were healed.” For you were like sheep of wanderers, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. “(1 Peter 2: 24,25)
By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all faithful members of God’s people (“the small flock”) died with the Messianic ‘lamb’ in 33 A. D, so that by their symbolic resurrection in Christ the new people Israel, the Son of God, who was represented by the ‘assembly of the firstborn’, was born again.
In order for one of the Israelites to approach God’s restored nation, he had to be baptized and born again, and all members of other nations (other sheep) could be admitted to the “pen” by birth in the holy spirit (John 10:16). As they enter the pen, God classifies them as tribes, as they attach them to one of Israel’s 12 olive branches as ‘twigs’. In this way, people from other nations, together with the Israelites, will approach the throne of God on which Jesus will sit. It will especially happen on holidays in honour of Jehovah and Christ, as they enter Jerusalem to meet Jesus, passing through one of the 12 gates carrying the names of the tribes of Israel led by the 12 apostles (see Romans 11: 17; Revelation 21: 10-14).
When Jesus chose his apostles and empowered them by the holy spirit as his representatives, they were thus made the firstborns, as were the seventy other prophets he sent into the world with the good news. They also represented this Servant, so Jesus announced that they would experience similar troubles and death. They represented all the families of the chosen ‘little flock’ of Israelites who were to form the new nation and also all the prophets from the foundation of the world. Jesus (the Lamb of God) was sanctified and sacrificed instead of all of them so that the new assembly of Israel (Son) of God was founded on the apostles and prophets, and the very cornerstone was Christ Jesus.
Hence, the Kingdom of God be founded on the apostles and all the firstborns instead of whom Christ died. Just as the Levites represented all the firstborns of the tribes of Israel, and thus the entire nation, so will the 144,000 firstborns, separated from the 12 tribes of Israel, represent all of Israel of God, who will be joined by all the nations of the world. Jesus’ literal human sacrifice enabled the new nation a permanent right to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Page 14 of 16
BAPTISM INTO DEATH
The way God brought Israel into existence, redeemed him and made him his firstborn Son is the principle according to which he brought one of the Israelites into existence as their representative and redeemed him and made him his firstborn Son.
We saw that it was done legally before the world was established, and it was confirmed …
- at the moment of his baptism in water and in the holy spirit
At that moment God redeemed Jesus and selected him from Israel, and thereby also from the world that was in bondage to sin and death. Following Jesus’ example, other people are redeemed from death the moment they are baptised in water. Consequently they receive “life in themselves” by the holy spirit as a guarantee of eternal life.
Before we were given life by the holy spirit, we were baptized in water for the forgiveness of our sins. We laid our hands on Jesus, because by the water in which he was baptized, he took us upon himself and died with us. It is like the act of laying a hand on the head of a Lamb that died with our sin. Then we too died with Christ and our sin.
With the death of Jesus, the second Adam who took over the world, the world died in him and not in the first Adam, so that the sentence was modified to life. In Adam, people were dying without the possibility of resurrecting and receiving life. But Jesus took over their death so that they died with him and rose with him into eternal life.
- People die in Adam, so they cannot resurrect in him because he was condemned to death
- People die in Jesus (Adam) and are resurrected with him because he was resurrected into eternal life
To take over our sins, Jesus had to be redeemed from the world, and that world was represented by the chosen nation of Israel. The moment Jesus, the Son of God, died, Israel, the Son of God, died with him. This means that at a certain point in history, one nation was redeemed from the world, recorded in the Book of life, and assumed the role of the world, whose death by the elect was given the value of the ‘sacrifice’ by which Jesus was redeemed. As was said of Israel, his firstborn Son, so could God say of Jesus:
“Because you are precious in my eyes, you are valuable and I love you. Therefore, I give people for you and nations for your life.” (Isaiah 43: 4)
God did not need to send someone from heaven to earth, a creature that was beyond condemnation, but simply determined at a certain cost to redeem one man and thus enable him to contain the value of all humans.
The world – committed to the slavery of death
Israel – redeemed from the world (representative of the worl)
firstborns – redeemed from Israel (representatives of Israel and the world)
144000 – Redeemed and made firstborns (representatives of the firstborns> Israel> World)
Jesus Christ – redeemed and made firstborn (representative of the firstborns> Israel> of the world)
We see that 144,000 elect have been identified with Jesus.
JESUS ⇔ 144000 (redeemed from the world) ⇔ WORLD
Jesus was redeemed from this world as well as the 144,000. The 144,000 chosen ones were selected from the Book of life. God made sure they had the value of the whole world. By this value Jesus was redeemed from death and, having that increased value, died instead of all in order for God to redeem the world for himself . That is why Jesus represents the whole world before God by the value the world had in the number of chosen representatives.
World – Died with Adam
Israel, the Son of God – redeemed from the world – inscribed in the Book of life
Jesus, the Son of God – redeemed from Israel (the world) – received eternal life
World – Redeemed by Jesus, the Second Adam
Page 15 of 16
SON OF GOD – DIED ONCE AND FOR ALL
At the moment when Israel was sanctified and anointed with the blood of the covenant by Moses, the chosen nation consciously took upon themselves the world that was to be blessed by them and their representative (greater Moses). Moses, like Isaac, was to be a sacrifice because the covenant with God could not be valid while the mediator was still alive.
” For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.” (Heb 9: 16,17)
The sacrificial blood of Moses was replaced by the blood of the animal. This is what he said of this replacement blood that represented his life:
“This is the blood of the covenant by which God hath bound you.” (Heb 9:20)
However, the blood of Jesus could not be substituted. Thus, the new covenant was final and lasting.
“For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Heb. 9:15)
Redemption from death is only possible with the release from the transgression committed under the first covenant, which means that only the chosen Israelites were redeemed by Jesus’ death. The other nations were not under this covenant. Their transgressions were covered by entering into the new covenant made with the house of Israel, from which a call was made to other nations.
While they were under the former covenant, the Israelites covered their transgressions by animal sacrifices. However, what was true of Moses, the leader (king), was also true of Aaron, the high priest who also should have died as a sacrifice, but not as a mediator of the covenant but as a sacrifice for the sin of the whole people. Namely, he, as the foremost firstborn in terms of holiness and sin, had the value of the entire nation, so that his death could cover the sin of the whole people. Instead of dying for the people, at God’s request, he had to redeem himself and the people year by year with a substitutionary sacrifice. This was done until the last high priest appeared.
“ But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:11, 12)
“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10)
Jesus, as a high priest, was not to die by the substitutionary sacrifice, hence he died once and for all.
As we considered the historical background, we saw that Israel, the Son of God, through his representatives, had gone through what Jesus, the Son of God, had to go through. Namely, God brought his Son, Israel, into existence, so that through him, as Abraham’s offspring, all nations might be blessed. Likewise, God brought Jesus into existence to represent Israel, die for Israel and redeem them from death. Only thus, by Jesus and Israel would the whole world be blessed.
- The death of Isaac, the beloved son by a substitutionary sacrifice, was supposed to enable for all his descendants to die with him. From then on they would owe their life to God in order to belong to him as his children.
- The death of the firstborns of Israel by the substitutionary sacrifice was to set the foundations of the people of God on the principles of the birthright so that they would all become heirs by means of their firstborns, upon whom theocracy would be formed.
- The death of a leader or king by a substitutionary sacrifice made it possible to establish the covenant and obtain all the blessings based on the rights and responsibilities introduced by the Law.
- The death of the high priest by the substitutionary sacrifice resulted in sins being covered and all debts discharged.
Hence, the Israelites lived and died as a ‘sacrifice’ that carried a ransom value. Their death was not used to redeem the world, but only one man. They were dying in God by a substitutionary sacrifice as the firstborn Son of God. By the death of that Son, Israel, Jesus was redeemed and was appointed to be the Son of God. Thus, the value of the whole world was reduced to one man whose human sacrifice has replaced the animal sacrifice. Hence, this arrangement was confirmed to times indefinite.
- Trough Jesus Christ (greater Isaac) as the beloved Son, all who wish to belong to God as his children died and were resurrected.
- Trough Jesus Christ, as the prominent Firstborn Son of God, all the firstborns who have become the foundation of God’s nation died and were resurrected
- A new covenant was established through Jesus Christ as king
- The ransom was given by Jesus Christ as the high priest to cover sins permanently and open the way to life.
In order to make Jesus the leading advocate of salvation, God made a “covenant for the kingdom” with him with new provisions, among which He abolished animal sacrifices, and this implied Jesus’ death. Jesus voluntarily accepted this role and took upon himself the sins of all people who, by baptism, are willing to put their hand on his head, that is, on the head of the Lamb (Son) of God.
The Israelites were first baptized in the name of Moses, who led them through the water. This water meant death for the Egyptians and for the Israelites it meant life. At that moment the Israelites died for themselves. God entrusted them with the responsibility for the whole world that was to be saved through them. In the same way Jesus took over the world and their sins that were cleansed by the water of their baptism into His death, which is also their death. Thus God accepts their death by which he redeemed Jesus.
At the moment of Jesus’ baptism, all who were to be baptised into Christ’s death were actually baptised as well. All of them, even before the foundation of the world, were counted as the atoning sacrifice represented by the ‘firstborns’ of Israel (the world). All of them, by Jesus’ submersion in water, already died to themselves. Similarly, by their death he was already redeemed. Thus their physical death received the atonement value just as Jesus’ did. The apostle Paul said that we are…
“United with him in a death similar to his own” (Romans 6: 5)
None of us can bear resemblance to Jesus’ death by which he redeemed the world, but the similarity is that both his and our death have the value of atonement that God uses to carry out his plan of salvation. That’s why Paul said that …
“… it is appointed for men to die once …” (Heb. 9:27)
It seems that, by God’s righteous provision, we all must die. That does not mean that we will all be waiting for the resurrection in the grave, though. When Paul says that the living will be transformed in the blink of an eye, then that includes death, which is likely to be instantaneous (1 Co 15: 51-53). They could simply fall asleep and wake up instantly as if nothing had happened. Even those who have been dead for centuries will have that feeling. In any case, death has its value when we die, in accordance with the will of God, with Christ and for Christ. Although Jesus is redeemed by our representatives who represent the world, each of us as an individual must die through baptism as a ‘living sacrifice’, which was included in the value of the ransom before the world was born. That is the only way we can be redeemed from death and live according to Jesus’ sacrifice. And those who did not die as a sacrifice, after resurrection, must first die to themselves and as a ‘living sacrifice’ submit to the will of God. Consequently, they will be redeemed from the bondage of death, and receive “life in themselves” that will be confirmed in a way that they will experience death through transformation from death and corruption to life and perfection (Romans 6: 3-5).
By baptism in water, each person takes the path that ends in death in which our faith is involved. Baptism has its beginning and end. Even though he was baptised in water, Jesus said that he must be baptised with the baptism assigned to him so that death is the end of baptism or confirmation of that death in water with which God had already taken into account. God considered our death in faith so precious that he could use it to redeem one man. With this ransom, Jesus was given a life in himself that he preserved until the end. His death could redeem humans from the bondage of death because he was destined to be the first to defeat death in his body.
By the death of Jesus, the second Adam, who took over the world, the world died in him and not in the first Adam, so that the death sentence was reversed to life. In Adam, people were dying without the possibility of resurrecting and receiving life. But Jesus took over their death so that they died with him and were resurrected with him into eternal life.
“So we were buried with him by our baptism into his death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, we may also live a new life.” (Romans 6: 3,4)
“… because you are buried with him in his baptism, and in fellowship with him you are also raised because of your faith in the effective power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)
“We know that we have passed from death to life…” (1 John 3:14)
These verses describe the moment of atonement and obtaining the pledge of life. The first to experience that were faithful members of God’s chosen people, Israel. Given that at that particular moment in history, many in Israel became separated from God because of their sins, God sent John to return Israel to God through baptism, so that they would continue to be a “living sacrifice, pleasing to God.” In so doing, they confirmed their baptism into death by Moses by baptism in water. It is possible that the two witnesses (prophets) who will be sent close to the end of this world will ask the Israelites (scattered throughout the world) to return to their God and to be baptised into the greater Moses, Jesus Christ, in order that all Israel may be saved through them. It is assumed that many nations in Europe originated from the lose ten tribes of Israel. In any case, God knows His own. Only then will they attach themselves as broken branches to their natural, but restored, ‘olive’. These two prophets will be the last to be killed for the word of God. It is possible that, on the third day, all 144,000 who will take over the kingdom of the world with Jesus will be glorified with them as representatives.
Page 16 of 16
RANSOM – THE EXPRESSION OF LOVE
Let us consider that the life of Jesus was valued as the life of all sinful and mortal people because God loved them to the same extent. God predetermined Jesus’ value by giving all men into the slavery of death by Adam, even though he loved them, which means that their death carried hope in itself. That is why, before any of them was born by Adam, all humans were already enslaved to death so that after their death one of them would be freed from the slavery to death. Next, the life of that one man freed from the bondage of death was worth all the people who remained in that bondage.
Although such a man could carry the value of the life of all these people, he could have the value of atonement only if he was sentenced to death for a sin for which he was not guilty and thus died as a righteous man who automatically took over all people, their sin, suffering and sickness, motivated by compassion that led him to live and die for them. Thus, an unjust punishment on the part of the people was to fall on Jesus even though he was not personally guilty, thus nullifying their sentence that they got from Adam, for which they were not personally guilty.
Just as people did not deserve to die for one man’s transgression, so they did not deserve to live because of one man’s righteousness. In fact, these two men are set up by God as the foundations of humanity and as the holders of responsibility for all people. Because of the condemnation of one man, men were declared offenders over whom death reigned, and due to the justification of one man they were declared righteous so that they could live.
“ Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ” (Romans 5: 18-21)
Adam was supposed to be the mediator of life. however, he became
- the mediator of death that people did not deserve (God’s punishment)
That is why Jesus (the second Adam) was to become
- the mediator of life that people cannot deserve (God’s gift)
Adam sold his children into the slavery of death at the cost of his life. Hence, their death would have the reciprocal value of his life. They all count as one Adam. With the death of one, they all died. This implies that their death, when given the value of sacrifice, could be used for the life of one because they all represent one Adam.
ADAM ~ (the world) ~ JESUS
The world rose above Adam’s mortal sin by the righteous people and gained the value that Adam lost. God obviously could have used their common death to give life to only one of them.
Through him, as a second Adam, God could have brought into existence some other people born through him by a woman. But that would mean eternal death for Adam’s children. But we saw that their death, to which they were subjected, carried hope for them. Therefore, the second Adam, with the value of the life he received by their death, should not have lived and created other people by birth as the first Adam. Instead, by his death he was supposed to redeem Adam’s existing children and appropriate them to himself and to God so thew would be freed from the bondage of death.
- The first Adam sacrificed other humans for himself
- Second Adam sacrificed himself for other humans
In order to sacrifice himself for others, Jesus needed to have a fine motivation, which was the love that God had shown to him. We also respond in the same way to such love as Paul explained:
“Namely, the love of Christ drives us, because we have concluded this: one man died for all, and so all died; he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was resurrected.” (2 Cor. 5: 14,15)
Just as the love of Christ drives us all because of the ransom with which we were redeemed from death, so Jesus showed love to all men because it was motivated by God’s act of love through the ransom by which he was first one to be redeemed from death, because only in this way could he receive eternal life in himself and never die. Knowing everything that was involved in his life, Jesus could eventually say to God as the psalmist:
“In your hand I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me, Jehovah, the God of truth.” (Psalm 31: 5)
Since he was redeemed from death at his baptism, he knew that his sacrificial death was not eternal. Hence, he delivered his spirit into God’s hands with the hope of the resurrection of life and the glory of eternal life he had in God before the foundation of the world (Luke 23:46). He knew that his life had the value of all the people for whom he received ‘eternal life in himself’. Thus he could carry a ransom value that could cover for the whole world. He carried the destiny of the whole world on his shoulders because he was authorised by God to have “life in himself” that he would mediate to others. Consequently, Jesus said:
“ Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father (who redeemed me and gave me life), so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. (because God will redeem him through me and give him life)” (John 6:57).
From that moment of baptism, when God redeemed him from death and gave him life, Jesus was placed in a position of savior with whom no other human being could be measured, for whom the principle applies:
“Trust not in princes, in a man from whom there is no salvation! If a spirit comes out of him, he returns to his land and all his thoughts perish.” (Psalm 146: 3,4)
God did so much for Jesus because only Jesus’ death as a righteous man, who fulfilled the requirements of the Law, could redeem people from the condition in which they suffered the consequences of Adam’s sin and lead them to a acceptable position before God and gain access to eternal life by Jesus.
His obedience to God’s righteous standards made his life and his blood perfect and precious. As such, he was fully in tune with the image of Adam at the moment when he was created by God. Hence God, who redeemed him, had the value of Jesus’ dedicated life at his disposal. Jesus was fully aware of this. So he came to be baptised in order that justice might be fulfilled in him, because by that justice he was redeemed from death. His ‘sacrifice’ had no substitute, because God did not intend to redeem him with the substitute blood of the lamb. At one point, he even asked for that sacrificial sacrifice, as God had given it for Isaac, to avoid suffering martyrdom. Nevertheless, he was still willing to drink that ‘cup’ to the bottom. Jesus knew that another part of justice would thus be fulfilled, in order that by his death, the ransom of the world from the slavery of death would be made possible. He had to die a sacrificial death because only in this way could he defeat death. Therefore, the worth of his life through such a death could have covered for all sinful people who were under condemnation. Thus, by means of Jesus, who was rewarded with eternal life because of his perfect obedience to the Law, God opened the way of life to all those who had unhindered access to God, the source of life, through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Since he was under the covenant by which he received the pledge of eternal life and kept it until the end, then his blood contained a life not nullified by sin, as was in the case of Adam. Hence, his blood had the value of eternal life with which he was resurrected. He walked the path toward eternal life, but he did not give that life to himself, nor could he personally have given it to others. He was made perfect by God in this regard, and was resurrected into eternal (immortal) life. God appointed Him as the mediator so that all others would receive life through Him and not from Him. The ransom was merely to abolish the penalty of sin. Consequently, life is a gift from God through Jesus Christ. Jesus thus had the right to say to God of himself as a prominent ‘son of man’:
” just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.” (John 17: 2)
Jesus’ death redeemed us from the bondage of death as punishment, but not from the natural law of death so that the righteous continue to die as the unjust do. The law of death is inherently acceptable in the material world and under that law were both Adam and Jesus. Although we are freed from the slavery of death as punishment, we still live under the law of death, but we have unhindered access to eternal life by the holy spirit as Jesus had, so death cannot separate us from God – the source of life. All this was accomplished by the literal sacrifice of a consecrated man who was appointed redeemer. In order for God to make him so, he had to, according to the Covenant regulations
- redeem him from death
- give him “life in himself”
- make him perfect
By means of Jesus, God has accomplished the first two things in us as well. We are still waiting for eternal life to be confirmed in us, to we would be made perfect.
Jesus is therefore our agent and mediator of life. It is now a legal framework in which we can hope for eternal life because we are redeemed from sin and the punishment that hung over our lives. This is a happy ending to the story about our world which experienced its fall by the first Adam and consequently rose by the Second Adam.
Note: Reading this article probably gave you a fresh and deeper meaning to everything you read in the Bible. It might be a good idea to re-read it because you now have new insights that will thus be easier to understand. Since you know in advance what is being said here, you will be able to more easily relate to and make connections with other biblical facts and paragraphs that further illustrate God’s plan of salvation.