Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
Note:The text for the “Is the Bible True?” article is included at the bottom of the transcript for Lesson #132.
© Charles A. Clough 1999
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Chapter 4: The Death of the King
Lesson 130 – Death of Christ: Justice–Old Testament View of the Linkage to Messiah
21 Oct 1999
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
What I’d like to do is have a little bit of an intro again. Hebrews 11:3 is a basic promise of Scripture, and I’d like to have you work on some diagrams of this. I really urge you, because in light of the framework you’ll see why as we work through week by week, why this verse is such a good promise. There are a lot of promises, Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.” 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon Him because He cares for you.” You need to be in the habit of at least knowing a certain minimum set of these promises because life is swift, quick, and often doesn’t give you much time to think through responses. These are sort of spiritual tools that are in the Scriptures that can be used. The Holy Spirit can use these, but in order for Him to use them we have to have them in our hearts, and we have to have them logged away somewhere.
Hebrews 11:3 is a promise that digs very deeply into the world system, and is very foundational. I would recommend that if you are interested in memorizing it to write out your own expanded translation of this verse. If you look at it in whatever translation you have, remember it’s got two parts to it. It says “By faith we understand that the ages,” or the worlds, “were prepared by the word of God,” and we said that the word “word” is not logos, like it would be in John, this is the word rhema, and this refers to a word, but in the sense of it being spoken. For example, rhema in the plural in the Greek is used in the New Testament for such things as “these are the sayings of the prophet” So-and-So. That’d be the rhema, it’s translated “sayings,” not “writings,” but “sayings.” So the emphasis is on the speech. I think it’s deliberately put here “By faith we understand the worlds prepared by the speech of God,” the spoken Word of God, because what do we read in Genesis 1? God speaks things into existence. We can’t do that. If we have a thought in our minds and we think about it, we plan it, and we build it, but we never speak something into existence, other than a sermon or something like that.
I encourage you to write it out, in whatever way you want to memorize it, King James, modern translations or your own thing, but the sense of the verse is that “By faith we understand that the worlds” and the ages, the word “worlds” there means the ages of history, “were prepared by the spoken word of God, so that,” and there’s a purpose clause here, “so that what is seen,” what we observe, “did not come out of things which are visible,” or things which are apparent. So in another sense this verse is teaching us the insufficiency of natural causes. That’s a fundamental point, because pagan thought always insists on the sufficiency of natural causes, the sufficiency of what man and his modeling can comprehend; that’s sufficient to explain all things. This verse says no it isn’t, the things which we observe in our lifetime, the events that happen to us day by day do not arise out of things that we can measure, feel, touch, taste, etc.
Said another way, as we go through time, viewed from the standpoint of the natural mind there are surprise effects. So what I want you to do on your paper is take some circumstance, it may be a situation at work or a family problem, a financial thing you’re thinking about, a career change or something, but just kind of write yourself a short description of that, a couple words just to remind you what that circumstance is.
I want to show you a little paper exercise here on applying this verse. Let’s say it’s a situation involving something at work, a work situation. Put it in the box. That’s the problem. That’s the situation that you find yourself in. To illustrate our normal tendency, put an arrow pointing to the box, and on the tail end of that arrow, if you were a natural man thinking apart from the Scriptures, write what would you say brought that situation about? My boss. The business climate. The financial state of the company. But something caused this; just think of some natural causes out there that people normally attribute this kind of situation to. Think for a moment and scribble a few things down, what thinking like a natural person, what would you say caused that situation, what brought it about? Okay, that’s the normal situation. That’s how we normally analyze life. We have this situation, here’s the cause. Put a bracket over both the box and the causes. Above the bracket put “God says.” What we’ve done here is we’ve encapsulated both the problems and these causes underneath God saying, God speaking. God guiding history so He is the Lord and He is the God, this is how this comes about. This summarizes the theology of Hebrews 11:3.
Let’s go further in Hebrews 11 and we’ll get an example of a model of how someone applied this in an everyday situation. We’re just going to do a quick look at the application of this kind of thinking by one of the great families of Scripture. Verse 23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” You remember the story, this was in the time of the Exodus, Moses’ dad and mom recognized something about this baby. It’s very interesting; this is mentioned three times in Scripture. Whatever this baby, when Moses was a little baby born he had a peculiar look about him that was strikingly attractive. Babies are always attractive to their parents, but the point here is that it’s mentioned three times, Exodus 2:2, and Stephen mentions it again in Acts 7:20. So when the Holy Spirit points it out three times, it’s worth mentioning. Something physically appeared with this child, and it says “By faith …they,” the parents, “saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”
Let’s diagram it the same way we just did Hebrews 11:3. Here’s the situation for Moses’ parents. They have this baby, it’s a male baby, and what was the rule in that situation? The official bureaucracy of the totalitarian government decreed genocide to eliminate and control the Jewish population. This was the law; the law said that this male baby had to be executed. The situation is not only just the baby, but now we’ve got a policy, a genocidal policy, plus there’s this what we’ll call a marker, some feature about that baby that the Holy Spirit used to prick their conscience into the fact that even if the other babies get killed, this baby’s got to be saved. So something, and the Scriptures don’t elaborate what it was, but Moses’ dad and mom saw something about this child. Naturally speaking this is just normal family life; marriage and family produce children. That’s the natural cause situation. We have politics produce the policy. That’s the natural order of events; those are the causes behind this particular situation.
What did they see? They were able to conceive of Jehovah God as being in control of the conception, the pregnancy and the political environment. How else by faith would they have been not afraid of the edict of the Pharaoh? This guy is the dictator of a totalitarian power, not just “a” totalitarian power but Egypt was the super power of the time, a real super power. So here’s this little helpless man and his wife, slaves to the state, they see this baby, they realize the natural way of thinking, but they realize something else. They realize that God exists and has a plan for history. So what they have done is they have taken the framework, we’ll just review that briefly. They’ve taken the framework; they’ve realized the story of the creation, the fall, the flood and the covenant. They understand that God is God, man is made in the image of God, and man is made to rule nature. They understand that evil and suffering started. They understand that God is a God who judges and saves, illustrated in the flood. They understand that God set up civilization after the flood with a covenant and contractual basis to history, but most of all, because as they go forward in history, they understand something else, that God called Abraham.
Their Bible stopped, they didn’t know about the Exodus and Sinai; their Bible stopped right there, that was the last chapter in their Bible. So they had five basic events, and they had all that doctrinal truth that they learned, passed on father to son, father to son, father to son, taught by the priests, taught through the family of Abraham, and they were taught that God had a purpose for Abraham. What was that purpose? God promised a land, a seed and he’d be a worldwide blessing. So they knew the Noahic Covenant, they knew the Abrahamic Covenant, and they just concluded that there was a future to the Jews. The elementary deduction here, if Abraham’s promise is going to come true, could the Egyptian totalitarian policies eliminate the Jewish population? No they couldn’t. So they knew immediately that there was something that was illegitimate about Pharaoh’s claim, the government made this claim and they said well, we know that God is going to do something for the Jews, and apparently there was something about this baby that led them to believe that this baby is going to be instrumental in all this.
So that led them, in the last part of verse 23 to an act that we today would call civil disobedience. There was a civil act of biblical civil disobedience; they did not fear the Pharaoh. He said they were supposed to do a certain thing and they said we’re not going to do it, sorry! They did it by faith because they had grasped this frame of reference. It gets back to the same situation in the drawing that we used all the time, when a situation develops the trick is to encapsulate it within the doctrinal truths of the Word of God, so that the controlling frame of reference for digesting and coping with that thing is God’s mind as known through Scripture. We think God’s thoughts after Him, and that’s the battle. 95% of the battle in the Christian life is not with other people. 95% of the Christian life battle comes out right here. It’s in our thought pattern. So that’s the struggle.
That’s why as we work through this framework it’s not just some theory thing, here was a case where the family had a very good… it wasn’t that they tried hard, they didn’t like Pharaoh, it was by faith that they disobeyed Pharaoh. By faith! Because they were convinced of the Word of God, and they faith-rested in His Word. If they had to disobey the government, hey, we have to disobey the government. Sorry but that’s what the Word of God says. So they were led to do this. That’s not saying that every act of civil disobedience is blessed by God. It’s just saying that in this situation that extreme measure was legitimate.
We want to go on further in the frame of reference; we’re going to start with our notes on the death of Jesus Christ. On page 73 I want to direct your attention to the quote by Dr. Leon Morris. He has an interesting quote here. He wrote a book, a very famous book, on the cross of Christ and Christianity theology and beliefs. Follow with me as I read this quote, it’s a neat summary of things.
“The cross dominates the New Testament. Notice how naturally it is referred to as summing up the content of Christianity. ‘We preach Christ crucified’ (1 Corinthians 1:23); ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (1 Corinthians 2:2); ‘I delivered unto you first of all…how that Christ died for our sin’ (1 Corinthians 15:3); ‘far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14). The Gospel is ‘the word of the cross’ (1 Corinthians 1:18). The enemies of Christianity are ‘the enemies of the cross of Christ (Philippians 3:18). Baptism is baptism into Christ’s death (Romans 6:3), and it is not without interest that, while Christ did not enjoin His followers to commemorate His birth, or any event in His life, He did call on them to remember His death.’
The point Morris is saying is this third event, we dealt with the birth of Christ, the life of Christ; the death of Christ is very central, so we want to pay careful attention to this. In the Q&A one person was asking about blood sacrifice and animal sacrifice, etc. so I decided I would change the notes from what I had in the original edition, and I want you to follow on page 73, I’m going to kind of read through these notes because I want to make some points about them, then we’ll go to some verses of Scripture.
“The Event of Christ’s Death: Why did the Messiah die? Did He have to, or was it a tragic accident? Or, does the death show that Jesus really wasn’t the Messiah after all?” Do you know why that’s a legitimate question? What was it about the way that Jesus died that would have raised this question in the minds of Jews? Think about how He died. He didn’t die by an accident; He didn’t die in battle. How did He die? He died as a criminal. He died through the mechanism of the government’s execution. It was the manner of this that provoked … this is a controversial issue. We see the cross so often, we get so used to it, we can’t place what it must have been like in the first century to people to whom it was something radically new. Here was the founder of their religion, this carpenter who was publicly executed for crimes against the state, and He’s the founder of your religion? You’ve got to be kidding; an executed criminal is the founder of a religion? That’s what it means to carry the cross of Christ. It was embarrassment in one sense. Would you like to be identified, in the normal sense of the word, with somebody that screwed up so bad they got arrested and executed for a crime, and you’re going to be His follower? That’s exactly the situation of every first century believer. It’s not to us, but we’re Monday morning quarterbacks here, we judge the game after it’s all over. But these guys are playing down on the field and this is the way it appeared to them.
“Was His death meant to be merely inspirational, or did it actually accomplish something before God concerning our salvation? These are questions the New Testament authors go to great lengths to answer. Their writings explain the event of Christ’s death as the fulfillment of Old Testament revelation concerning God’s holiness and man’s sin.” This is an important sentence because we’re going to dwell on this. Remember each of these events, His birth, His life, if you think back when we covered these topics I said what was the problem with the birth of Christ? Why did that stick in people’s craw, about the virgin birth? It was that people had a deformed and perverted view of God and man. Because they had a perverted view of God and man, they couldn’t grasp what this virgin birth thing was all about. Then we got to the life of Christ, and it was a revelational thing, He revealed God, and people stumbled all over that, and New Testament scholars teaching in our universities still stumble over that. In fact in a few weeks we’ll take a pause and go over the article that appeared last week in U.S. News and World Report, the title on the magazine on the newsstand was “Is the Bible True?” I want to show you how much you’ve really picked up here because we’re going to answer that article, and I want to take you through the process of engaging that sort of an assault on our faith. I’m thinking it through in a relaxed way, it doesn’t require a lot of muscle, we’ve already gone through most of the stuff that we need, we just have to learn how to take the tools and work the problem. [Note: The text from this article is available at the end of the transcript for Lesson #132.]
But in this case, like those other two cases, there’s a critical central truth that’s screwed up, that’s perverted. In the case of the death of Christ, the crux of the whole discussion rotates around one basic issue. What does justice mean? Biblically speaking, what is justice all about, because if we’re not clear on this, we’re going to perceive the execution of Jesus Christ in terms of the normal person on the street at the time? He was a criminal, sorry, He got what He deserved.
“They presuppose a view of justice,” and you may want to underline the next phrase, “that originates in the holiness of God,” it doesn’t originate in the legislature of man. It originates in the holiness of God, “a view of justice that today has almost totally disappeared from human consciousness.” In a secularized society this view of justice is totally obsolete; it’s ridiculed, laughed at, if it’s ever even remembered. I bet you could go out on the street and take a survey, you’d have to think about how to construct the survey, but you could construct some sort of a quantitative measure and ask people for their views of justice, and I will bet you could go to a thousand people and maybe three or four of them would come close to the biblical view, including lawyers and people that work in the judicial system. So we want to go through this, and that’s why I’m going to spend a lot of time working through these passages of Scripture, because we want to get straight in our heads what justice is all about. Then we can understand the cross. We can’t understand the cross if we don’t understand justice. The cross has justice in mind; it is the most fantastic revelation of justice in the history of the universe. But woe to us to understand what’s going on if we can’t understand what justice is all about to start with.
We want to look at the Old Testament idea of justice, page 74 of the notes; the next part is going to be the application of justice and the linkage between the justice and the Messiah. So here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to start with the Old Testament view of justice. Then later we’re going to tie this in and link it to the Messiah and His relationship to justice. We want to start by noticing something. Let’s go to Genesis 3, right after the fall occurred, and put ourselves in our imagination, in our mind’s eye, let’s travel back to the garden and think of ourselves as observers to this process. Genesis 3:21, “And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.” What had to happen before God got the skin? He had to kill an animal, and He made, actually the Hebrew word is skin or leather, He made leather…, the first leather jacket that was ever made was made by God. An animal had to die here.
Had Adam and Eve ever seen death? No. They evidently were close to the animal kingdom because what do we know about Eve? When an animal started talking to her she carried on a conversation, so men and animals were pretty close. There is some residue of that in the animal kingdom today. This is why we have animals, we call them pets. People bond with their pets. My boy is a veterinarian, he bonded with his dog, he just had to put his dog down because he had cancer and it’s a big emotional thing, even though he’s a veterinarian; it’s his dog, he bonded with this dog over many, many years, they went through all kinds of life’s experiences together. So this is trauma for him, but he’ll be a good veterinarian because he understands how people bond with their pets, it helps him to understand when he’s working on their pets.
Animals and men will bond, and when Adam and Eve saw this horrible thing happen, maybe God showed it to them, maybe He didn’t, but let’s imagine that they had to stand there and watch God in a carnate form, He walked in the garden, He had some sort of a body there, He grabs this animal, kills it, blood comes out all over the place, a big mess, rips off the skin, works with the pieces of this animal carcass and hands it to them, drip, drip, drip. This is a bloody mess here. This is what the Bible is talking about. Now you can’t tell me that Adam and Eve who were just created in a perfect environment weren’t slightly shocked by this thing that went on here. And if PETA was around, whatever the pet animal rights group is they’d freak out at this happening.
The whole point is that the animal … did the animal sin? No. How’d the animal get involved in this thing? Let’s imagine us as observers to this event. We know God is loving, we know He’s just; we’re very thankful that He called to us after we sinned and asked us where we were, because we were hiding. He had to initiate to us, that’s grace; He had to call us to Himself, and we thought everything was cool and then He turns around and He kills this animal. And we have to watch this bloody mess; we have to see an animal writhe in death, not a pleasant scene. Then He hands us this tunic and we have to wear it. And every time we wear it, every time we put the leather tunic on, what do we remember? Where it came from. So we have death on our mind every time we put our coat on. This is the picture.
Now turn to Genesis 4:3-5, the two brothers, sons of Adam and Eve. “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.  And Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;  But for Cain and for his offering he had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” In the Bible categories if we remember from the creation narrative there’s a word for life, it equals nephesh. Plants do not have nephesh, only animals have nephesh. And when God asks us to come into His presence, He asks us, in the Old Testament to bring a sacrifice, a nephesh. He’s not going to accept anything else, and if we had time we could go to Jude 11 and what is apostate religion called? The way of Cain. [“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”] Do you know what that means, “the way of Cain?” Bloodless religion.
Let’s do a little cataloging in our minds here. Bloodless religion. What’s bloodless religion? Any religion that seeks to come to God apart from an atoning blood sacrifice. This is controversial. If our generation preached a clear gospel, which it doesn’t, we wouldn’t have people coming to Jesus because they don’t feel good, and Jesus is going to make you whole psychologically. Jesus is going to hold your hand, and Jesus is going to make you feel better; Jesus is going to get your girlfriend back, Jesus is going to make you wealthy and all 1,008 apostate reasons for accepting Jesus Christ. There’s only one reason why we come to Jesus Christ, it’s because of the blood atonement and the cross; that’s the core of the gospel.
What this means to the unbeliever is “this bloody religion”. That expression has been used forever; you never hear it today because there’s not enough authentic Gospel preaching to have an authentic reaction. But where the gospel is preached in its New Testament power, where the blood atonement and all the sacrifice, all this stuff goes on, people will be repulsed. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t open their hearts to what this whole thing is all about people will be repulsed; how dare you talk about all this bloody religion? We want to talk about good works, we want to talk about the nice things of life, and you’re bringing in all this blood stuff. Sorry, I didn’t write this. That’s what this book says.
Let’s follow it further. Go to Genesis 8:20, the days of the flood. All the earth was flooded, the human race was basically annihilated, and what we live in today called planet earth, if we had a time machine and could go back to the planet earth as it looked before the flood and as planet earth looks like now, we would probably think they are two different planets. They are probably that much different. Genesis 8 is the origin of what we call civilization. We don’t have enough data to describe what the pre-antediluvian society looked like, apparently pretty weird by our standards. But what we call civilization began here, not Africa, it began at Ararat.
This civilization was founded contractually on the basis of the Noahic Covenant. What was the first act of worship at the beginning of civilization, an act of worship viewed and observed by the forerunners of every nature, culture and people group? Every race, every people group, every linguistic subset of the human race is represented here in Noah and his family. Genesis 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.” Blood! Destruction! And a person who’s first coming to the Scriptures can be shocked by this. What the heck did the birds do? They sat in their cages, they accompanied this family all through the flood, and the thanks they get is these human beings will kill them. What’s the deal here, where’s justice here?
Verse 21, “And the LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.” So here God is appeased. What kind of a God do you Christians have in the Bible that is appeased by this bloody mess? What kind of a God are you talking about? You’ve got to feel this from the text and sense this, because if you do you’re locking in to the truth. But if you think in terms of just nice sterile bloodless good works, you’re not getting it… you’re not getting it!
Let’s go further. Somehow we’ve got to deal with bloody religion, or shall we say more properly, blood atonement for sin. We want to think about this. Why is this a theme from the very first act of the fountainhead of the human race, the very first act of civilization, this emphasis on blood sacrifice? It raises an issue and the issue is going to be the issue of justice. Somehow this blood atonement for sin satisfies God’s justice. So let’s see if we can understand God’s justice. The first truth about God’s justice, on page 74 I give some verse references. We want to go to Numbers 5, we’re going to go to the Mosaic Law Code to see if we can get a sense of defining how the Bible approaches justice versus how we today approach justice.
Numbers 5:5-10, this is the law code given through Moses by God to the nation Israel. Let’s make some observations. I want you to think as we read through these verses, if the next assignment was: as a result of these verses tell me what’s the underlying idea about the source of justice in these verses. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty,  then he shall confess his sins which he has committed, and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong, and add to it one-fifth of it, and give it to him whom he has wronged.  ‘But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution which is made for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, besides the ram of atonement, by which atonement is made for him.  Also every contribution pertaining to all the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, which they offer to the priest, shall be his.  So every man’s holy gifts shall be his; whatever any man gives to the priest, it becomes his.  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,” etc.
In verses 5-10 how is the sin addressed? Against whom is the sin? It looks like it’s against the person, the victim of the crime. But it’s introduced in verse 6 by what? Before we get to talking about the victim of the crime, whose been wronged before we get to the victim? The Lord. What does it say in verse 6, “When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD,” observe that, just an observation.
Turn to Leviticus 5:14, it’s a little clearer here. “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  If a person acts unfaithfully and sins unintentionally against the LORD’s holy things, then he shall bring his guilt offering to the LORD: a ram without defect from the flock according to your valuation in silver by shekels, in terms of the shekel of the sanctuary, for a guilt offering.  And he shall make restitution for that which he has sinned against the holy thing, and shall add to it a fifth part of it, and give it to the priest. The priest shall then make atonement for him with the ram of the guilt offering, and it shall be forgiven him.  Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty, and shall bear his punishment.” [18 “He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him.”] In verse 19, “It is a guilt offering; he was certainly guilty before the LORD.”
Continuing in Leviticus 6:1, “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  ‘When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companions,  or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do;  Then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery, or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him, or the lost thing which he found,  or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full, and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering.  Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the LORD, a ram from the flock without defect, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering,  And the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD: and he shall be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.” It describes the specifics of the criminal code.
What is the preface in all these passages? Before you get into the details of the code, who is the sin against? Yahweh. Because who gave the code? When a person goes in a courtroom today, let’s say here’s the victim, and the criminal has hurt this victim, how is the case presented in court? It’s so and so against whom? The victim? It’s not presented that way in court. It’s presented against the State. Why is that? Why isn’t it presented against the victim; the victim is the guy that got it, how come the victim is not the one that defines what the sin is? Answer: the lawmaker! If crime is a violation of a law, then the crime is against who made the law. If the law wasn’t there, by definition it’s not a crime. We say well it’s wrong. Yes it is, but from the standpoint of law it isn’t. It’s a crime because this victim, there’s a rule that the State makes and that law has been transgressed, so it’s a case of this criminal against the law, not against the victim.
Where did that idea get started? Right here. What was the legislative arm in Israel? Three functions of government, legislative, judicial and executive. Who was the executive in Israel? Moses and the elders, the leaders. Who were the judges? The elder councils that they had. Where was the legislature? Mount Sinai. So God was the legislative function. Now in place of the state what do we have in the Old Testament? Jehovah, God gave the law, therefore when there’s a transgression, who is it against? It was against the lawgiver, the lawmaker. That’s why in the Old Testament we have God as the source of law and the one who is sinned against.
For a very personal and practical application of this, turn to Psalm 51:4, David’s famous sin. This ought to act as our guideline when we confess our sins. We’re coming to the first principle of Old Testament justice. In Old Testament justice, the sin is against God, not man, because man didn’t define it, it was against God. That’s why in Psalm 51 there’s this problematic verse. I mean David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then he knocked off her husband. We’ve got a little problem here, we’ve got adultery and we’ve got murder. But when David confesses, what does he say? “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,” that doesn’t mean David is insensitive to the victim, but what he’s saying is that when I think of my sin, I think of it vertically, I think of it in terms of the God who established right and wrong. So, “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge.” It’s a conviction borne of a conscience sensitized to God and what attribute of God is this? It’s His holiness. He’s love, He’s justice, etc., this is His holiness, His righteousness, His justice, that core of attributes. It’s because God is who He is that He has this standard.
The second principle in Old Testament justice is found in Exodus 22, so turn back into the law code. This is a whole marvelous study, for modern people. I know going into these books is about as thrilling to some people as reading the obituaries, but the point is that these passages in the Mosaic Law Code really do have a lot of depth and meaning to them. It’s too bad we’re just not taught this; particularly it’s too bad we’re not taught this in school, because the Mosaic Law Code is the fountain of western law. It’s so funny, we’re so worried about the Ten Commandments being in places, where do you think is the basis of the British Common Law? Where do you suppose that came from? It came out of Rome the secularist says… [blank spot] … contribution to Christian in western civilization that codified a lot of these laws. But if you look at the law, here are some specific casuistic sections in the law code of ancient Israel. Watch how they dealt with crime.
Exodus 22:1, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.  If the thief is caught while breaking in, and is struck so that the dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account.  But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.  If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.  If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed and bare and lets his animal loose so that it graces in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.  If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing rain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution.”
[7, “If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double.  If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property.  For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.  If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking,  an oath before the LORD shall be made by the two of them, that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution,  But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner.  If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces.  And if a man borrows anything form his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution.  If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.”]
What is the key word that you see repeated here over and over, verse after verse? Restitution. So somehow this concept is wed to the idea of justice in the Scripture—restitution. Restitution means trying to restore the damage done to the godly order. God has created a certain order. Crime violates that order. And that order has to be healed and repaired. The justice that you observe in this Mosaic Law Code goes to great lengths to repair damage at exactly the point where the damage was done. We’re far from that in our society. In our society we throw somebody in jail, but this doesn’t really help the victim. What it does is it’s a graduate course in crime, because when they get out, now they’ve got their PhD, now they can do it better next time. By the way, they had other ways of handling violent crime in the Old Testament, because they handled it real well, they had public executions.
The idea we’re trying to get across here is there’s a restitutionary component to justice. Let’s put these two ideas together and see what we come up with. Point three, law of the Old Testament says that sin or injustice is against God; that means God is the standard of justice. It’s His nature that is the standard of justice. Men’s law may reflect that standard or may not. Secondly, God isn’t satisfied with leaving debris around, He wants the situation repaired. That is why when God allows history to go on, as we’ve said, we’ve shown this slide on evil over and over, why do we say that God is not going to let history go on forever but that He is going to separate good and evil. He is going to restore at least the goodness. For the creature who refuses to deal with the original issue, and what was the original issue, we just said it is sin against God. So the creature who is never willing to go back to the source of the problem, which is rebellion against God, and deal with that issue, then he becomes debris, eternal garbage. But for those creatures called by grace who respond to God’s call, good, restoration, God restores things.
The problem, however, is that when we get to this point of justice, sin against God, restitution, we put these two things together and now what we conclude is … conclusion, that justice demands restitution for the ruined life. Adam and Eve, when they sinned, they died. Now if God is going to restore it, that life that is lost has to be restored; that’s restitution. But the problem is, point four, that the source of the restitution can no longer be the person who’s lost his life, he doesn’t have a life to give. These criminals in Exodus 22, the guy who is the thief has to go out and work and pay it back, he has to pay back the damages. That’s why there are five oxen instead of one. Why is it compounded? Because the guy lost his oxen to start with, then he lost the productivity of the oxen, and he lost a lot of other things. What they’re doing is they’re compounding the damages and that has to be restored. The problem is we are sinners, we have lost our life through sin, and our life is not ours. Whose is it? It’s God’s, He was the one that gave it to us. So here we are, we’re damaged, our life has been lost, it’s His life that we’ve screwed up, and He wants some restitution. Excuse me, hey, pay up! Well, how do I pay up? That’s the origin of the religion of Cain or the religion of Abel. The conclusion here is that the restitution must have an external source. This is the heart of what’s coming up in the blood atonement. You’ve got to get this background right.
It’s God’s holiness that demands restitution, the restitution has to come from a source somewhere, it can’t come from us because we’ve lost it, so it has to come from a source external to us. This was the lesson that God was teaching Adam and Even in the garden. You say how so? How so was, and here we get into animal sacrifice. Why do we have bloody mess in the Old Testament? Animals are nephesh, that is, they are life, that’s the Hebrew word that equals life. Man has nephesh. What’s the difference between nephesh animal and nephesh man? The Bible gives a distinction. Nephesh man is made in God’s image, so our life is qualitatively different from the animals. But that is not to say that the animals don’t have analogous souls to ours; it’s not made in God’s image, I mean, your dog doesn’t have devotions in the morning. But the dog or cat or pet or whatever, is a form of life, it’s a form of nephesh, and it’s close enough to us, instead of your flower pot, the nephesh in the animal is close enough that we can partially bond with it, and we can understand something. This is why people have pets, there’s an attraction there. What’s the attraction? Because there’s an analogue nephesh going on, we can bond with that a little bit. The animals are nephesh which means now they are models of human life, and we just quote that, not complete, not made in God’s image, but they’re close enough, they’ closer than daisies and tulips, to human life. Therefore God picks out animals to be the revelatory objects to teach us something.
Turn to Genesis 9 and we go back and cover a point about the beginning of our civilization and animals. Originally in the garden man was a vegetarian. In Genesis 9 we are authorized meat in the diet. To us, who don’t live on farms—we live in the city—the bloodiness of animal slaughter is not an immediate experience. It’s all neatly packaged in the supermarket shelf. So most of us go all through life and we never encounter the violence and the death of getting meat to eat. But in Genesis 9 there was a little ceremony that had to be done, so if you hunted an animal there had to be almost like a ceremony done about it. Verse 3 says, “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.  Only” there’s a restriction now, “only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.  And surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it.” What does that mean? It means the blood has to be drained from the carcass before eating can occur.
Why do you suppose that is? Later on in the Levitical law code there’s a word that says the life is in the blood, the nephesh is identified with the blood. This little act of draining the blood out of the carcass is a pause that number one, the only reason why I get that right is God gave it to me, I’ve killed a creature of God and there was a price, this creature is valuable. It’s almost like an emblem of the fact that I owe God something for this, I pay Him back by draining the blood on the ground. This animal was valuable in God’s sight, and it’s lost its life because of me. So all of our civilization, when it shifted from a vegetarian diet to meat in the diet, what that communicates to us if we think biblically is that we physically exist only because of substitutionary death. Think about it. We’re sitting here surviving on the basis of substitutionary death for us. Nephesh has been spilled for us into the ground in order that we can breathe, and we can eat, and live.
But this came down in the Old Testament to the fact that animals would be killed, not just for meat, but they would be killed for sin. By the way, while we’re at this point in verse 4, “you shall not eat the flesh with its life, that is, its blood,” can you think of a New Testament reversal of that truth taught by Jesus. You shall eat My flesh and you will eat My blood, because in Jesus the life is completely given to us. This is kind of a restraint in verse 4, in one sense it’s teaching the value of the animal that lost its life, but it’s also teaching a restriction, we do not have the right to total life of those animals. They are God’s gifts and we can partake of some of it, but He says part of that is mine, and I’m just giving you a little bit of this. When My Son comes I’ll give you all of it, but not the animals.
To show that the Old Testament saints were sensitive and a problem with this bonding with the animals, and yet had to be killed and slice their throats and bleed them, turn to the story in 2 Samuel 12. All this is background to the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s why all these details are here. The cross has to be explained in context, it’s always the context that counts. In 2 Samuel 12 Nathan comes to David and tells him the story. “Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said, ‘There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.  The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.  But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children.” What’s that animal, that little ewe doing? It’s bonding with that family. “It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him.  Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.  Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man….” We know the rest of the story.
The point I’m making about this story is that the Old Testament people were very sensitive to the fact that they cared for their animals. The slaughter house religion did not breed in them a callousness toward animal life. Instead it bred a sensitivity, because there’s something abnormal about this. Remember, again we go back to this, there’s something abnormal about the fallen universe. This good/evil mix, the deepest parts of our soul tells us this is kind of abnormal. Animal death is abnormal, we sense that it’s abnormal, and that’s why when the animal bonds with us we don’t want to give it up. There’s something enduring about that. It tugs at our soul; that’s normal. It’s abnormal, but it’s a way the Old Testament has of looking at this to prove that in the Old Testament this was a poignant moment. They didn’t slaughter animals because they liked to see blood. They didn’t slaughter animals because they liked the noise. It didn’t give them … PETA has this idea that in the Old Testament these people didn’t care, they were testosterone rich kind of thing, that’s why they did all this. No, if you want a testosterone man what do you call 2 Samuel 12, this guy had so much testosterone he committed adultery with a guy’s wife.
So here’s a guy who is a man’s man, and he has this sensitivity to animals. Why? Because he’s made in God’s image and the animals have nephesh and a bonding can occur. Therefore the animal becomes a revelatory source to solve this problem about justice. God is saying it’s going to be, I’m going to give it to you, I’m going to give it to you but it’s going to cost, and I want you to feel the pain, so animal after animal after animal after animal has got to lose his life, lose his life, lose his life, and you’ve got to sit there and watch it and watch it and watch it until it clicks up here that your sin one day will be resolved, but only because somebody external to you paid for what you’ve done. This is why, we won’t have time tonight because we’ve run out of time, but please look at Hebrews 9:6-14, that whole passage, read that because there’s where the great truth is made that all of the blood, all of the animal sacrifice in the Old Testament were not efficacious. Well then what function did they do if they didn’t take away sin? They prepared men through three dimensional modeling of what atonement was going to be like. They prepared us for the cross of Christ.
Tonight we started into the third event in Christ’s life, the death of Christ. We’re going to work our way through the Old Testament background, hopefully we started tonight, getting a little context, so we won’t just take the cross, you know, the cross is just nice religious language, it has this rich background, and it’s rooted into the very structure of creation itself. Any questions?
Question asked, something about the issue of God’s wrath: Clough replies: Because the wrath is a subset of His holiness, it’s not essential. His holiness was always there, and I think you get a glimpse of His abiding holiness by the fact that every report we have in Scripture where people have seen God or seen the throne, it is shocking, it’s like high voltage, and the seraphim in Isaiah 6, who stand in God’s presence all the time, hide their faces. Come on, these are sinless beings, so there’s this radiant holiness from God’s throne and it’s so great that this is why there’s this search in the book of Revelation among the creatures, the Lamb has come, oh, whew, the Lamb is here, because it resolves this almost unapproachableness of the Father with all of His holiness.
The wrath of God is like the grace of God, grace is kind of a sub working, a subset or working out of His love. Like, when we get done here with the blood atonement, the great verse of Scripture everybody knows, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” that can become so trivialized because we repeat it so often, but when you think that after centuries of having these Old Testament saints sit there and have to kill these animals, what must have been going through their minds. First of all, besides that, the animals were costly, these sacrifices weren’t cheap. You know how much meat costs in the grocery store, well you can imagine how much it was to bring your four-legged living creature in there and have this priest kill it, with you there, watching it all. Then watching them do this a thousand times, it was a stinking bloody mess. The worship of the Old Testament was not some beautiful appearing cathedral thing; it was really kind of an ugly mess, and over centuries of time made men sort of repulsed. There must have been a repulsion of seeing this happen over and over, why do we have to do this? And then the reflection, you would think, as the Holy Spirit deep in their heart, you know, is my sin really this bad that it takes this to cure it, what is the deal here?
All those questions had to go through their minds; they had to struggle with this. That’s God’s three dimensions, you know, He put them through a living drama of these blood sacrifices, over and over and over again, hopefully so that He prepared the nation so when the Messiah was going to do the cross work for us, and actually do the work and not just reveal pieces of it, they’d get it. When Jesus started His career, remember the prophet that introduced him, what did he call Jesus? “The Lamb of God.” John the Baptist pre-saw what was happening, he had an idea what was going to go on or he wouldn’t have called Him “The Lamb of God.” He wasn’t talking about lambs that we see, cuddly little things that people hold. He meant “Lamb of God” in the sense that this guy is our sacrifice, He’s going to die and He’s going to what these other lambs have never been able to do. But it’s going to be a bloody mess. So then when we say “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” the sense of what God did for us is felt, somewhat, by putting ourselves in the position of 2 Samuel 12 of having this poor man with his little pet lamb…
I remember my son, a veterinarian, one of the heartache things he had one day, he was in the clinic and this old man came in, he lived alone, his wife had died, he was a widower, and he had a pet rabbit, and his rabbit was sick, had cancer and all kinds of problems, and Eric tried to heal it but he had to put it down, sorry, this animal is dying, I can squirt it full of chemo and it’ll last for two or three more days, but that’s all. This guy just breaks out in this horrendous weeping in telling Eric about how he sits every night watching television with his pet rabbit sitting here, and it meant that much to him, now it’s gone. And that wrenching from death, that’s the feeling that God took pains in the Old Testament to reveal so that when we say that He “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” we have some idea of what it means. It’s not a religious slogan, God Gave His only begotten Son and He went through that wrenching. However this can be … that the self-sufficient omnipotent God can in some way experience this grievous loss of His Son?
In fact, the very term “the only begotten son,” do you know where that comes up in the Scripture historically? Where that term, “the only begotten son” gets started is with Abraham and Isaac, and you remember that story. Here’s a guy that has to slit his own son’s throat. Where’s the sacrifice? God’s going to provide it. He’s going to have to hurry up. It gets to this point, and here’s this son that he and his wife have waited for for years, it was miraculous, and then God tells him to kill him, sacrifice him! Then when God directs Abraham to finally take that knife, bind Isaac, he says “take your only begotten son,” that’s where the term starts.
What I’m trying to show you is these terms in the New Testament that we meet with and just kind of go on, they’re loaded, if you take time to pause and digest the preparation of the centuries of the Old Testament revelation, so that when those terms are used, “the only begotten son,” “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” that He intends for us to comprehend more about what that simple verse means, all the impact of it. That’s what this stuff is all about. People miss the point and say, “What are all these stories about in the Old Testament?” You’ve got to back to the frame of reference; the frame of reference tells you what the stories are about. They’re all linked together; there’s a reason for every single one of them.
Question asked, something about it says the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him ... it doesn’t seem it was the first time he had seen Him. Also says something about Mary and Elizabeth growing up together, being cousins were close … then says something else about John the Baptist: Clough says: probably not but … Same guy interrupts and says something else. Some woman says something. Guy says something, woman says something, finally Clough says: I’d have to check that text about the exact chronology because sometimes the Bible is topical, and it’s like a news story, it’ll read this and then it repeats the cycle. But be careful in concluding that because they were cousins they necessarily lived close together. There are several hints in the Scripture that that probably wasn’t true, at least as they grew older. John was an ascetic, and Jesus wasn’t, Jesus was very sociable. And later there’s kind of a quipping narrative half-way through Jesus’ ministry when he comments on John. The people are complaining about John, the people are complaining about Jesus, people always have to complain; we’re all complainers by nature. You know, we’ve got to fuss at this pastor and fuss at that pastor, this guy doesn’t do this, this guy doesn’t do that. So Jesus said hey, you complained about John because he’s an ascetic, he doesn’t go to your parties, you don’t like him because he doesn’t go to your parties, I go to your parties and now you’re fussing at Me because I go to the parties. What’s the matter with you people, you got a problem? If you follow that little dialogue it’s like Jesus and John knew each other, were related, but I don’t see them as bosom buddies.
Same guy says something else: Clough replies: John was a prophet, and frankly speaking, we don’t know, scholars have spent all their lives exegeting prophetic portions of Scripture; the Psalms, there are Psalms written that we don’t understand how did David write this? Psalm 2 that we went through, what was the process that these men used to write Scripture? Did they see visions? How did John know that He was “the Lamb of God?” Was it because he sat down and thought it through and reasoned it out, or did it come to him? He knew Jesus, he probably heard of the stories of His virgin birth, Jesus was special, but we have to be careful because we’re reading after the fact. The ball game is over and we’re critiquing the coach’s views. We weren’t playing then, so that’s why it behooves us when read particularly the gospels that we transport ourselves back in time and pretend for the moment that we’re reading those pages that we don’t know the rest of the New Testament, that we don’t know about the ascension, that we don’t even know about the crucifixion. All we know is we have these fragmented pieces of prophecy in our Old Testament, we know those. We know God has a plan, so this man Jesus, He had a peculiar birth, but a peculiar birth didn’t necessarily prove His deity. It just proved that He was somebody special. So I would imagine that in his generation it was particularly difficult … it wasn’t an easy process to perceive who Jesus really was.
You want to watch that, if we read all four Gospels and we wrote down what characterizes the three synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, and then read the fourth Gospel, you’d see a distinct difference between how those Gospels are written, the three over here and the one over here. College professors like to say see, there’s different conflicting traditions in the church. No, that wasn’t conflicting traditions in the church; it was just that Jesus had so many facets to His personality it took four people to perceive it all. John, when he starts his Gospel, what does he say of Jesus? He says we perceived in Him the Shekinah glory, the Word of God dwelt among us and we beheld His glory. But when you read John’s Gospel there’s not one report of the Mount of Transfiguration, there’s not a report of the particularly spectacular manifestations of His glory. I’m just thinking in terms of the Mount of Transfiguration experience that so impressed the synoptic writers. John’s approach is rather he saw the glory every day. The other guys saw the glory when it was physically obvious, but John knew Jesus so well, he was so close to Jesus, not John the Baptist, John the Apostle, that he saw the glory of God all the time in Jesus.
And the way he handles that wedding feast, He’s intimate to what went on in that back room; you can tell. And who told John about what Nicodemus said? Nicodemus came to Jesus by night; he didn’t come to John and Jesus by night. So you can tell Jesus shared a lot with John, so much so, that if you read John 3 I challenge anyone in this room to tell me where in that chapter Jesus stops talking and John the writer stops. It’s a good mental exercise; read John 3, it starts out with Jesus talking, Jesus talking, Jesus talking, Jesus talking, it ends up a commentary by the Apostle John. Tell me where it transitioned. It’s amazing, you can’t tell where it transitions. So false professors have said, “See, that shows you that it was a Johannine version of Jesus. And the Synoptics, they have a different Jesus, you know, four Jesuses.”
The issue is that John was the youngest. He was the last apostle to die, so John was probably a teenager when this was going on. This is just a theory but I think it’s interesting. A well-known Greek professor who was studying the New Testament text very carefully has mentioned this. It’s just his theory, just a suggestion, that because John was a teenager and so young, teenagers want models, and often times they’ll get them with rap music and the rest of this stuff. We have a school teacher in our congregation who was saying if you have one cut-up kid in a teenage class, all the rest will mimic him. John apparently picked up the way of saying things from Jesus, so John not only was close to Jesus, but when he went to teach that simple straightforward teaching was probably much closer to the way the real Jesus taught than the synoptic reports. The synoptic reports quote Jesus but we have to be careful, they may be quoting Him like the newspaper quotes somebody saying, Well the mayor said today blah, blah, blah, and it’s often an indirect quotation. Unfortunately in the Greek you can’t tell a direct quotation from an indirect quotation. If you forgot your English grammar a direct quotation is, John said (quote) “I am going to the store.” (end quote). An indirect quotation is John said that he was going to the store. That’s an indirect quote. It’s hard in the Greek because there are no quotation marks. So the issue that this man raised is probably the way Jesus spoke was the way John writes, which is kind of interesting. There are all the human sides of this thing.
The thing we want to understand in summary is as we look at Jesus walking to His death, we want to realize that it was all in the mind of God from eternity that this Messiah had to be the external source of our so-great salvation, and all the other religions of the world, you can go to Moslems, you can go to the Hindus, you can go to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, you can go to the cults, and you centralize and ask this central question: how do we deal with our sin? There’s no answer. Be good. That wasn’t my question; my question was how do we deal with sin? They can’t deal with it because they haven’t defined it properly. What did we just do tonight? Sin is violation of God’s holiness. So because they have a sloppy definition of sin they have a sloppy definition of salvation. And that distinguishes cults from genuine orthodox Christianity. We may have our differences in the Christian camp between the Reformed people and the Wesleyan tradition, and this and that, but one thing we agree on, and that’s what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus died for sin, and He had to, and there’s no way to approach God apart from Jesus when He says “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He’s not trying to be a nasty person, He’s simply saying you can’t come to God except through the cross.
Next week we’ll continue, the notes will tie this with the Messiah. If you get a chance to read the October 25, 1999 issue of U.S. News and World Report, the one that says “Is the Bible True,” it’s blasted all over the cover, read it because I want to spend an evening going through that, pretending that somebody has said that to you, and they drop that bomb in your lap and now you’ve got to answer, so how would you do that. I’m not going to tell you exactly, you have your own style of responding to that, but I hope to at least show you how you can use the framework in that practical situation.