The God-Forsaken God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

As millions study about the death and resurrection of Jesus this week, I feel impressed to share an article I wrote several years ago.

Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?

My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”

It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

Glimpses of the Cross Day 8: Accursed of God

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.  And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.   Joshua 10:25-26   

 By hanging these five kings on five trees, Joshua was saying that they had their opportunity to accept Israel’s God, but they rejected Him, so it was good-bye to life forever. This is the death Jesus tasted for us. He did not taste the death of the righteous as He did not save us from the death of the righteous. He saved us from the death of the wicked, therefore He tasted the death of the wicked. Jesus faced the death of the wicked which meant facing total oblivion Obadiah 1:16.      

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for every man.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

If Jesus was only tasting the first death, with the hope of salvation, then why does everyone still taste that death themselves? Jesus did not save us from that death. We still experience that death ourselves. Jesus and Paul always refer to the first death, with the hope of salvation as sleep. See 1 Thessalonians 4. 1 Corinthians 15 John 11.  Paul does not say in Hebrews 2:9 that Jesus tasted sleep. This time Paul says “death” – meaning He felt accursed by God, like the five kings in Joshua 10. 

 “Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Desire of Ages, Page 753.

Glimpse of the Cross Day 6; The God-Abandoned God

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring” Psalms 22:1 

Jesus had always called God His Father. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” “I always do those things that please my Father.” “I and my Father are one.” Yet when Jesus was on the cross, being treated as we deserve, He could not call God His Father, and so He cried out “My God,  Why has Thou forsaken me?”

Could this be what made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice? Many  think of the physical torture Jesus endured while on the cross, but many have suffered physically just as much. As a matter of fact, if you asked a cancer victim if they would like another year of chemo or six hours on a cross, they will choose the cross over chemo! What made Jesus’ death the ultimate sacrifice goes a lot deeper than the physical pain. He died a death no one has ever died yet.  John Huss sang hymns of praise while he was burning at the stake. If Huss could sing as he died for his faith, why wasn’t Jesus singing songs as He died? Why was He instead crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Because Jesus died a totally different death than Huss or anyone else has ever died. Huss died knowing he was accepted of the Father, but Jesus suffered God-abandonment for us so we could be saved.

The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. -Desire of Ages, Page 753

Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed.  -Desire of Ages, Page 25. 

Garments of Grace; A Brand Plucked From The Fire

I am writing today from beautiful Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

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On my current vacation to my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a couple of things made me think of this week’s SS lesson  memory verse. “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment” (Zechariah 3:4

When I fly I love to have the window seat. I have flown a hundred times, and each time we taxi down the runway and takeoff, while other seasoned passengers read their magazines or lull off to sleep, I am looking out the window thinking “man this is cool!” I never cease to be amazed by the wonders of aviation. Each flight is as exciting to me as my very first one. I love looking down from above and recognizing places and streets on the ground. Sometimes though when we are coming into a city to land, even a city I am very familiar with, it takes a while for me to recognize the highways and streets, especially if I don’t know which direction we are entering the city from.  I do remember my first flight over Chicago, I saw Wrigley Field, and was so moved by the historical masterpiece that when I got home, I planned a road trip with my friend Tom, to go back and see it. So I don’t think the lady really understood what a sacrifice she was asking me to make, when she asked  if her little boy could have my window seat. I boarded the American Airlines jet in DFW to make the final leg of my journey to Tulsa. I headed to seat 30F. A window seat I had reserved months in advance. When I got to my seat, the young mother in the isle seat, asked if her little boy, about 5 could have the window seat. I complied. After all, I have flown a hundred times before, but I was looking forward to seeing my favorite city of Dallas from the sky again. Who can say “no” to a cute little kid? So the mother moved over a seat, letting her son take the window seat, and I took the isle seat.

Not long after take- off, the little boy closes the window and falls asleep! I started to ask the mother if we could change seats since the boy was not looking out the window any way. I did not. I just sat there and thought, how could the mother ask me to give up something the boy did not even really appreciate or was not using. She obviously did not appreciate my sacrifice. Then I thought of all the sacrifices God has made for me. Do I appreciate them all? Do I use all the gifts God has given me? God has given me some wonderful experiences that should strengthen my faith, but do I sometimes doubt? Then I am just casting those experiences aside, like the boy seemed to be casting my window seat aside. God has promised me strength in time of temptation. Do I sometimes cast those promises aside for the sake of sin? God has given His life for millions to be saved, but will they accept and appreciate that sacrifice? This made my little sacrifice seem so tiny. After all, I would not have seen anything I had not seen before.

 

Soon we landed in Tulsa. I walked outside of the Tulsa International airport, into the city of Tulsa, and suddenly it was like I had never been gone. I have always found that amazing. I have not lived in my hometown for about 18 years now. I visit about once a year. This last time, though it has been more like a year and a half. Still, when I get back home everything is familiar again. It is like I have never been gone. My favorite restaurant, Chimis, is right there at 15th and Peoria where it has always been. My school has changed since I attended 27 years ago but the neighborhood looks the same. So does my old church, though the sanctuary has been remodeled over the last 45 years, and there are a few new smiling faces. Still, its home. It is familiar, and no matter how far I have travelled, and no matter how long I have been gone, the moment I get back, and see my family and friends, it is like I never left. I wonder, when I sin, and ask Jesus’ forgiveness, and He wipes away my sin, and gives me that robe of righteousness that He sacrificed so much to give me, does He look at me as if I had never sinned? Even after I have wandered away so far and for so long, when He welcomes me home, is it as though I had never been gone? Yes. I think so!