Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;(Romans 3:24-25)
How can fallen, sinful, rebellious man ever be reconciled to the Infinite, personal and Holy God ? The solution to the problem as described by the apostle Paul cannot possibly come from man himself. All have sinned and are coming short of the glory of God.
The gospel is that God himself, has given us a way to be “in the right” with Him, a way which is consistent with His Holy and Righteous character.The Redemption that God has affected is in Christ Jesus!
Redemption is a term that means liberation by purchase. It usually referred to ransom, or to the liberation of slaves by purchase, or payment of debt. In the law of Moses , if any could not pay their bills they would be sold into servitude until the debt was paid off. However it could be that a relative could step forth in love, to redeem the debtor.
If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.(Leviticus 25:25)
By our sins, we had sold ourselves into bondage, and ultimately into final judgment. The only one who had never sinned, has come forth as our kinsman (God has become a man), and made himself responsible for our debts- by dying on the cross in our place.
God has set forth Jesus to be a propitiation…Jesus died in public, at a crossroads, in a place multilingual, and so cosmopolitan that the placard above his head, describing him as Rex Iudea, ie King of the Jews, was written in three languages.God is showing us something!
God is holding out Jesus, for all to see and believe , as the Propitiation... that is as the Satisfaction offering. The offering of Jesus is the only offering ever made that has satisfied God’s offended righteousness and justice. The cross has met the demands of God’s broken law and answered all of the claims against us.
This is the thinking behind the Word propitiation.It presupposes the wrath Paul warned of, but such an offering is the satisfaction of that wrath. Jesus is the place where the wrath of God has been appeased.
God has set Jesus forth to be the Mercy Seat.The tabernacle and temple as ordained by God, had much furniture but the central piece was the Holy Ark of the covenant, placed in the Holy of Holies. The ark contained three testimonies against sinful man,(including Israel).
* The Tables of the Law– an obvious testimony against us, for we have all broken it.
* A pot of Manna– this too is a testimony against humanity, for Israel (a microcosm of the human race) complained against God’s gracious provision, and grew to hate manna. Who of us isn’t guilty of this?
* Aaron’s Rod that budded– This is a testimony against our rebellion, we reject God directly but also by rebelling against God’s appointed leadership.
These were the contents of the Holy Ark, the very throne of God. They were a continual testimony to God against Israel, and humanity. But the Lid of the Ark covered these things- this was the throne seat of God on earth! The lid was called the mercy seat.
And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.Exodus 25:16-19
It was on the mercy seat, that blood was sprinkled , a transaction that allowed Israel to commune with God from year to year in spite of her sins. Someone innocent died, the blood, signifying the life of the innocent for the guilty in the economy of God.
Only at the mercy seat of God, could God be communed with, and that only through the blood of sacrifice. Read what happened when the curious Israelites removed the lid of the seat, just to see what was inside! Thousands died, because there was no covering , Kipporah- nothing between the people and their own sins!
And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.(Exodus 25:22-23)
There will I meet thee…For God can only be approached and known and loved through the mercy seat, the place where te Manna,Rod, and broken law have been answered by the blood of an innocent sacrifice. The new mercy seat is a person, God will accept any sinner who comes to Him through the crucified one.
God is holding Jesus forth… the cross is a sign to the world, it is a placard, a bill board that shouts out- that GOD IS RIGHTEOUS, see how he has dealt with our sins? GOD IS LOVE, do you see the length he went to save us? MAN IS FALLEN- can you see the end of sin? The God hatred that man is capable of? MAN IS PRECIOUS- See how I am willing to pay the price for fellowship with man?
In closing a song writer has written it perhaps best-
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died; my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood. See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.