4. CHRIST IS OUR KINSMAN-REDEEMER
By Felix Ngunjiri Gichuri
“God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21)
Life on Earth Before Entry of Sin
In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth and He created man to be the “god” of this world because man was made in exact likeness of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” He gave him full authority over the earth and over everything that moves on the face of the earth with His word “and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (Gen 1:26 God created the man to be in exact likeness of Him, with immense power and authority over everything that creeps on the face of this earth. Man was created to be like God so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Adam was given the powers and dominion that God had and Adam then became the king of this world. Everything that moves on the face of this earth was subject to Adam.
Many years later, God again demonstrated His delegation of authority to man when He transferred His powers to His servant Moses so that Moses was made god to the king of Egypt. “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land” (Exod 7:1-2 [KJV]). When God delegates His power to His servants, He wants them to have authority and dominion over everything that moves on the face of the earth. “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it” (Gen 2:15 [NET2]). God did not need to exercise His power on earth as He had transferred all those powers to the man He had created. God wanted the man he had created to be in charge of this earth with power and authority to dress the earth, control movement of everything that moves or grows, tame and name the animals.
“And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:18-25 [KJV].)
Adam and Eve Focused on God Daily
Adam and Eve focused their mind, body and soul onto God, thirsting for Him. After God created man, He breathed into him His Spirit and man became a spirit being. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). A living soul, a spirit being did man become, able to connect with the Spirit of God during worship. When your spirit contacts God’s Spirit, you have tapped into all sources of knowledge, wisdom, power and the glory of God. For “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). God installed in us all the spiritual ingredients that are required for us to have faith in Him. God created in man the spiritual infrastructure that will enable us to have faith in God. He has created in us a thirst for Him, a vacuum in our hearts that can only be filled by a superior being whom all human beings refer to as God. He created in us the thirst for God so that we are able to seek and trust in Him. The vacuum here in this psalm expresses an emptiness of the human soul, an emptiness that can only be filled by an intimate relationship with God. One can somehow conclude that when you focus on God, the spirit of God envelops you and the glory of God comes upon you, making you guiltless and innocent, perfect and presentable before God and giving you power and authority on earth. Their life was about standing in the presence of God daily worshipping and adoring Him for His greatness goodness and for having created them, and thanking Him for giving them good health, power and authority over everything that moves on the face of the earth.
The First Commandment
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:15 [KJV])
Adam was given all the trees to eat as food except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He was forbidden from eating it lest he will surely die. I tend to think that he was denied the tree that would give him knowledge of good and knowledge of evil. “The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. The LORD God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen 2:8-9 [HCSB]) “The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.” (Gen 2:15 [HCSB])
Adam was given power and authority by God Himself to be watching over the garden and be the steward in charge of managing the extensive garden that stretched from the Euphrates river to Ethiopia (Gen. 2:13-14) The word of God tells us from the above scripture that God put Adam the man he had created in the garden and He caused to grow in the middle of the garden the tree of life. Being a hardworking man who did not have a wife to cook for him, he tended the trees in the garden faithfully and it can be assumed that he enjoyed eating the fruits of all the trees in the garden including the tree of life that God had strategically placed in the centre of the garden to make it possible for him to be eating it daily, if not hourly so as to get life and all that appertains to life e.g. good health, life itself, strength, joy, peace, prosperity, blessings, God’s favour and mercy and the grace of God. Adam was careful not to go anywhere near the tree that God forbid him to eat and actually warned him that if he ate, he would die. God used soft words when advising Adam that “You may freely eat any tree of the garden” suggesting to Adam that he can decide out of the free will God had given them, to eat or not to eat all the other trees in the garden but when referring to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God used very strong words of command that “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Although Adam had not known what it meant to die, he assumed that death meant being stopped from eating the tree of life.
What Adam avoided before he was deceived by his wife Eve is what many of us crave for nowadays. Searching for knowledge about devil worship, witchcraft, illuminati, pornography, magic and all the other immoral searches that are prefixed by ‘how to’. The search for good and evil might progress into the depths of evil himself until you find that you have slid down the slope and you have gone too far into the world of evil, the kingdom of darkness. You only have yourself to blame for your curiosity that people say killed the cat.
And during all that time, Adam continued to enjoy eating all the fruits of the trees in the garden and eating the trees in the garden except the forbidden tree. He must have avoided going near that forbidden tree for fear of being enticed into eating it for its fruits were pleasant to look at. Maybe he feared that if he allowed his gaze to linger on them longer, he might start lusting after them and end up eating the forbidden fruit and die. Adam reasoned that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil must have been a bad tree in the eyes of God for him to be warned so strongly against eating it and he realized that eating it would surely offend God. That bad tree must have contained the knowledge of the good and evil things of life and the evil that is associated with the good things of life e.g. death, pleasures of life, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, the pride of life and all manner of evil like curses, sicknesses, misfortunes, accidents and other damnable things. Adam told himself that he does not need the knowledge of good and evil provided by the bad tree for he was satisfied with the good he was receiving from the tree of life. Furthermore, why bother with knowledge of evil? Does one need the knowledge of what goes on in brothels, drug dens, red districts or terrorist’s dens? As the saying goes, ‘if you play close to the fire, it is too easy to get burned.’ The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague. Adam sinned against God with the full understanding, or were they blinded by the lust of their eyes or the lust of their flesh which enticed them, of the consequences of death upon eating the forbidden tree. The devil knew the consequences and was expecting them to fall down dead so that there would be no human race to compete with for control of the world.
2. THE DEVIL ENTERS ONTO THE STAGE AND IMMEDIATELY PLANS MAN’S DOWNFALL
The devil had planned to be like God and failed. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13,14). There was War in heaven and the devil was cast out of heaven into the earth. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev 12:7-9 [KJV]). The devil wanted man to enter into condemnation the same way he was condemned for the Bible says that “the prince of this world has been judged and condemned” (John 16:12).
How Eve fell into satan’s deception
Satan used a systematic approach to undermine God’s commandment and trick Adam and Eve into sin. The Bible says that “Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’? ” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” (Gen 3:1-7 [HCSB])
First, the serpent questioned the Word of God. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
As Eve responded to this question, she misquoted God’s command.
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
When we compare her statement with Gen. 2: 16-17, we see she didn’t specify which tree was off limits, and she added that even touching it would cause death. This may be subtle, but reminds us that accurately understanding the Word of God is an important defense against the crafty lies of Satan.
Next we see Satan denying the Word of God and the consequences of sin. He then goes on to replace the Word of God with his own lies.
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
By denying the Word of God, Satan challenged the very character of God and tricked Eve to think that God was holding back blessing. Although Eve was pure and innocent, she desired to have a deeper understanding of good and evil. Instead of trusting that God was protecting her, she sought to take a short cut and gain this “special wisdom” on her own.
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Once Satan removed the consequence of sin, the opportunity to gain wisdom seemed very attractive. Scripture tells us in Psalm 111 and twice in Proverbs (1:7, 9:10) (also known as the book of wisdom) that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This type of fear means a reverent obedience to God simply because of who He is. Truly understanding the identity and nature of God leads us to trust and obey Him.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” – Psalm 111:10
Adam, who was with her, was guilty of disobeying God’s command as well. Whether or not Eve heard this commandment directly from God, it was Adam’s responsibility to protect his wife and remind her of God’s Word.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matt. 4), Satan attacked Him in a very similar way. First Satan appealed to Jesus’ physical hunger and challenged Him to turn rocks into bread. Then he claimed that there would be no consequences for disobeying God. Finally, Satan tried to get Jesus to reject the Father’s will and bow to him in exchange for worldly power and authority.
With each temptation, Jesus responded with scripture that accurately refuted Satan’s temptation and reinforced the proper will and character of the Father. This is a model for us to successfully overcome Satan’s temptations. And it means that we must know God’s Word and use it to encourage ourselves in times of temptation. Hide God’s word in your heart like David who said that “Your word O Lord I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)
God expects us to withstand temptation. It’s important to recognize that while trials and temptations are similar, there is a fundamental difference in the motivation. God tests and allows trials for us to grow, to discover our weaknesses and to seek Him for strength. Satan tempts us with the goal to destroy us. God never tempts us, (James 1:13) and God will never allow us to be tempted in a way that that is beyond our ability to endure and escape.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)
God has revealed Himself and His nature through His Word. To know God’s Word is to know God. When we understand God’s love and promises for us, we know that He does not withhold any good thing (Psalm 84:11) and He has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11). Therefore, we can trust Him to provide what we need. If He has told us not to do something, we must also trust that He is protecting us, no matter what Satan tells us.
8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
The consequences were great. Instead of walking with God and being in His presence, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. They were separated by guilt and the sin they had committed. While they may not have suffered immediate physical death, they were now slowly moving toward that inevitable death.
Eve spent less time with God and more time with the devil
Eve spent quite some time with the devil and she provided less time for a conversation with God. Eve did what many of us do. We spend a lot of time meditating about evil and sex, lusting after women, watching dirty videos and listening to dirty talk and dirty jokes in our places of work and in social places. It is like we have fellowship with the world more than fellowship with God.
Paul told the Corinthians that “I wish that you should not have fellowship with devils. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils: you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.” (1Cor 10:20-21 [KJV]) “Do not yoke yourself together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV) Was Eve feeding from the enemy camp or was she cheering both teams? Was she praising God when she was in His presence while doubting Him in her heart while agreeing with everything the devil told her, and then engaging in backbiting and doubting God?
Eve Stopped Focusing on God
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2 ESV Eve walked in the counsel of the wicked and was unable to delight in the law of the Lord. Instead of delighting in the law of the Lord and meditating upon it day and night, maybe she was lusting for the fruit day and night. David said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). Evidently, Eve had either refused to “store up” God’s Word in her heart or neglected renewing her mind with the Word of God (Romans 12:2). All indications are that the love of God dropped out of Eve’s heart. That was why she fell into sin. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15). Eve stopped loving God. John also said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
The moment Eve stopped focusing on God, she looked around and liked what she saw
They started admiring the beauty of the land, the trees of the garden and the animals that God had created. Their desire for God waned and they started desiring the beautiful things of the world. Eve stopped adoring God and started desiring the forbidden tree.
One wonders how a spirit filled woman who was married to the most handsome man that was created by God, a woman who used to talk with God and hear his footsteps, a woman who had power and authority over every creature that creeps of moves on the face of the earth (or maybe all animals were subject to her orders and they could help her travel to all parts of the extensive Garden of Eden that stretched from Euphrates to Ethiopia) could stop adoring God and start desiring the forbidden tree while she had unfettered access to all other trees on earth including the tree of life that was in the centre of the garden. When you remove your focus from God and you are drawn away from looking unto God by your own selfish desires (lusts), your eyes will be directed to earthly pleasures and beauty of this world and by extension you will start focusing on the devil himself. That is what happened to Eve. She started desiring the things that are beautiful to look at like the fruits of the forbidden tree of knowledge of good and evil. Lucifer, who is Satan was the anointed cherub, perfect in beauty (Ezekiel 28;12-17), “Satan has transformed himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), i.e. ‘cloaked as an angel of light’, or as a wolf in sheep’s clothing’. The forbidden fruit that enticed Eve was beautiful to look at (Gen.3:6). That beauty that is associated with the devil may have attracted the woman and she started passing more frequently near the forbidden tree that made her to salivate, desire to pluck it and the desire to eat it as it was mouthwatering, very enticing and beautiful to look at. She started moving alone away from her husband so that she would have a chance to talk with the devil who was most of the time near the tree disguised as a serpent. In the Garden of Eden, the devil came in the form of a serpent to Adam and Eve (Genesis 3).
The tree had what curiosity looks for: knowledge of good and evil. The dictionary definition says that curiosity is a strong desire to something: whether the thing is good or bad. He was warned against desiring to eat its fruits because after eating its fruits he would have knowledge of good and evil.
Later on when he told his wife Eve that he was warned against desiring the fruit, the dynamics of curiosity started working in her. Curiosity comes in two flavors: the first flavour is a feeling of deprivation: a strong but unsatisfied need to know especially if the object is far from reach or there is a law prohibiting access to the object of desire. The second flavour is an intense interest to get what seems so close to getting: seeking information that’s motivated by anticipated pleasure. If the object of desire is within touching distance or there is prolonged look at the object of desire, the interest in the object progresses to craving. These two flavors reflect the changing balance of “wanting” (what we need) versus “liking” (what we enjoy).
Eve became preoccupied and obsessed with one tree, the forbidden tree
She became so preoccupied with one tree (that was forbidden for them to eat) in their garden paradise that she couldn’t see the forest of trees in the whole world given to them to eat and enjoy.
Whatever the deception the devil used to succeed in getting Eve to fall as she did; it was practically down to one thing. She lusted after the forbidden fruit in her heart continually.
One can stretch his or her imagination by thinking that maybe Eve may have been daily eyeing that tree that would make her be like God if she would eat it. But she did not find courage to touch, pluck and eat the forbidden fruit until the devil came in the form of serpent and deceived her and tempted her to sin against God. Nobody is immune to temptations. All Satan needs is an object of desire other than God and the stretch of your imagination. The worldly objects of desire are lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life.
The reason for concluding this way is due to the revelation James gave in James 1:14 which says that “But every person is tempted to sin when he is drawn away, enticed (to lead on by exciting or arousing hope or desire as a fish is enticed by the bait) by his own evil desire (lust, passions and cravings)” (James 1:14 AMP). Eve lusted. The devil only used what Eve craved for. It may have been persistent deception or seduction by the devil daily or hourly, but it eventually worked. Eve’s mind was gradually filled, possibly daily, with the lust the devil was presenting her: the promises, the benefits and the power to be gained by being like God.
The temptation to eat the forbidden tree was irresistible and they ate it
The temptation was so irresistible that Eve believed the devil’s lie that convinced her to doubt God who had warned them that if they ate the forbidden fruit, they would die. “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” (Gen 3:1-7 [HCSB])
“Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14 GNB).
In essence, Eve (and then later on Adam) chose to feed their lusts with thoughts of evil and for the things of the world because their love for God had diminished. They disobeyed God and sin entered in their lives and they remembered what God had told them would happen if they had sinned against God. God had told them that “in the day that you shall eat the tree thereof, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Sin means death “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23 [KJV]).
Adam did not fully comprehend the seriousness of his sin or the result of disobedience. God had told him not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and said, “for in the day that thou eats thereof, thou shall surely die” Genesis 2:17. But Adam had never seen death and did not clearly understand what death was all about. But when he saw the first sacrificial lamb lying still before him, its life blood oozing out, death suddenly took on a new and deeper meaning. He began to understand that his salvation was in some way connected with the death of the lamb, that if the lamb had not died, he would have been the one to die, and thus be without any hope for the future, without God, lost. He owed his life to the death of the lamb, and with the instruction given to him, by faith he saw in the lamb lying dead at his feet (the first Lamb to be slain during the foundation of the world) a symbol of “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
3. GOD PLANNED TO REDEEM MAN BACK AFTER HE WAS FELLED BY SIN
Disobedience was the cause of all the misery that had come to our first parents. They had forsaken God and chosen another master. They had eaten of the forbidden fruit. “And now,” said God, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. Therefore the Lord God drove man out of the Garden of Eden” Genesis 3:22-24. Through God’s perfect revelation we can know that in eternity past, God was planning a future eternity with a people redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Pet 1:20).
God looked through eternity into time and purposed to redeem man. Ephes. 1:4 says “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” 1 Peter 1:19-20 supports the idea that before the foundation of the world, the decision was made for Jesus, the spotless lamb to be slain. It says, “but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.  For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (NASB)
Originally it was God’s intention that man should have free communion with his Maker. This was the plan He wanted to carry out in the Garden of Eden. But sin changed the original design of God. Man sinned, and God sent him forth from the garden. He was now separated from God by the sin he committed. Prophet Isaiah said that “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa 59:1-2 [KJV]).
God’s plan of having fellowship with the man He had created could not be altered by sin and He wondered why He should not go out and live with them? And so in the fullness of time God sent word to His people: “Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. Wonderful love! God could not bear to be separated from His own, and so His love devised a plan whereby He might live among them! He would go with them on their journeys to and fro in the wilderness, and at last lead them into the Promised Land. God would be with His people again. True, there was a separating wall then, for God dwelt in the sanctuary, and man could not approach Him directly. But God is as near as sin will permit. He is “among” His people. In the New Testament we are told, “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” Matthew 1:23). But Israel needed to be taught lessons of reverence and holiness. They needed to learn that without holiness no man can see God. (Hebrews 12:14) It was to teach them that God commanded them to make Him a sanctuary that He might dwell among them. God did not leave them in this condition. Even as in the Garden of Eden the slain lamb prefigured Christ, so now through sacrifices and the ministration of blood, God taught them that He had provided a way of escape. God told the Israelites that “When anyone is guilty in any of these ways, he must confess in what way he has sinned and, as a penalty for the sin he has committed, he must bring to the LORD a female lamb or goat from the flock as a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement (kāpar) for him for his sin.” (Leviticus 5:5-6) In fact, the author of Hebrews rightly declares, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4), for the “lesser” animal cannot really substitute for the “greater” human being. Man needs someone greater than himself to actually atone for and do away with sin. “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man Jesus, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Heb 10:11-13 [KJV])
There is a real sense in which God used the sacrificial system to teach the Jews lessons about sin, holiness, confession, forgiveness, sin’s costliness, and sin’s horror. God, in his mercy, allows these sacrifices to purge their sins, but the only fully adequate sacrifice for sin is still to come. That is the context from which John the Baptist speaks when he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is greater than our analogies, of course. But there is a sense in which the analogy of the sacrificial Lamb fits Jesus accurately, since he, as Son of God and Son of Man is the only One perfect, sinless and great enough to actually atone for sin and, at the same time, represent and substitute for all men in this atonement — once and for all.
Abraham understood this when the ram caught in the thicket was accepted in, the place of his son. Doubtless he had not fully grasped the significance of his own answer when Isaac inquired of him, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Genesis 22:7. To this Abraham had answered, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb.” Verse 8. When the knife was raised, God said, “Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him.” Verse 12. As Abraham looked about him he saw a ram caught in a thicket, “and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Verse 13. Of this Christ says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56. In the ram caught in the thicket, which died instead of his son, Abraham saw Christ. He rejoiced and was glad.
The lesson which Abraham had learned, God was now about to teach Israel. Through the slain lamb; through the bullock, the ram, the he-goat, the turtledoves, the pigeons; through the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar of burnt offering, upon the altar of incense, toward the veil, or upon the ark; through the teaching and mediation of the priesthood, Israel was to learn how to approach God. They were not to be left in hopelessness as they faced the condemnation of God’s holy law. There was a way of escape. The Lamb of God would die for them. Through faith in His blood they might enter into communion with God. Through the mediation of the priest they might vicariously enter the sanctuary, and might, in the person of the high priest, even appear in the very audience chamber of the Most High. To the faithful in Israel this prefigured the time when God’s people will with boldness “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:19.
All this God wanted to teach Israel through the sacrificial system. To them it was the way of salvation. It gave them hope and courage. Though the law of God, the Ten Commandments, condemned them because of their sins, the fact that the Lamb of God was to die for them gave them hope. The sacrificial system constituted the gospel for Israel. It pointed the way to communion and fellowship with God.
Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” How could Jesus have been slain from the creation of, or foundation of, the world? God exists outside of time. Yes, He interacts with His creatures in time, now, and through the person of Jesus when He walked the earth. But, God is separate from us, completely different from us. Some philosophers have said that God lives in an eternal now, meaning there’s not really a yesterday, today and tomorrow for God. The idea is that, God is able to look down, as if He were above it, on time, and the events in time. God sees it all at once. Of course, in our view, and our understanding, we’re restricted by before, during and after – linear time. You have to be born before you can live and then die. But if God knows and responds to our life in time, and interacts with time, from His position in eternity, we can just begin to grasp, if not fully understand, how He can foresee the response of His free creatures to His love. We can begin to grasp how He can foresee the fall, our sin, and He can foresee the need for our redemption. In that way, Jesus is slain from the foundation of the world. What it means is that, before there was time, before we existed, He had already put in place the plan for our redemption. We see this stated in a different way in 1 Peter: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21 (NIV)
First, Jesus is the Maker of the Universe. John 1:1-3 (NIV) says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” The Word referred to here is Jesus. Jesus was with God in the beginning, an affirmation of two of the three persons of the Trinity. The Word was God, John tells us. That’s an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Then, in verse 3, it tells us that “through Him all things were made.” This verse reveals to us that Jesus was God’s agent in creation. Jesus, who was there in the beginning before time began, before the foundation of the world, is the One about whom John says, “without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John also tells us later in John chapter 1 that “the Word became flesh.” Of course, we understand that Jesus is the Word. He’s the Word become flesh. He’s fully human. He’s fully man, even as He’s fully God. Humanity was lost in sin and there was no way of rescuing man from the bondage of sin. Jesus in heaven being fully God decided to come down to earth and rescue or redeem man back to the Father. He had to come and be one of us, our kin. a kinsman redeemer to redeem man or buy us back to Himself. The concept of a kinsman-redeemer comes out of the book of Leviticus. “If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property, their nearest relative is to come and redeem what they have sold” (Leviticus 25:25). By definition, a kinsman-redeemer was someone who redeemed what was lost. This could be the other persons’ property, their freedom, or even their name. The kinsman might also be called upon to exact revenge on someone who may have killed their relative. In short, the kinsman was a rescuer and restorer. You can see what a kinsman-redeemer is by looking at the story of Ruth and Boaz. In case you are not familiar with the story, here is a very abridged version. Naomi is Ruth’s mother-in-law. Both her husband and two sons die. This left Naomi and her two daughters-in-law as widows. There were few things worse in those days then being a widow with no sons. To be in this position meant loss of income and support, loss of possession and ultimately loss of property. In short, they were desperate and destitute. The only hope they had was for someone to see their plight and be willing to pay the price of redemption. This would prevent them from losing everything. That redeemer who came to redeem them was Boaz, a type of Jesus. In Philippians we see the willingness of Jesus to become our redeemer. “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8). Jesus gave up his life as a sacrifice of his own free will. No one twisted his arm to do it – he was willing to be obedient and see this process all the way through to the end.
Jesus Was Able to Redeem
Having the willingness as we said earlier means nothing if you did not have the ability to redeem. Thankfully for us this was not the case. The death and obedience of Jesus was everything that was needed to bring about our redemption. “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).
Jesus Paid the Complete Price for Our Sin
“He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds” (Titus 2:14).
So as man, Jesus was made a curse that was for man so that He could take away the curse on man and place it on His body on the cross. This is affirmed clearly in Galatians. Galatians 3:13 (NIV) “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Jesus redeemed us by becoming a curse for us on the cross. That was the price Jesus had to pay to redeem us back to Himself. This is a strong declaration of substitutionary redemption or atonement. Jesus was our substitute. Jesus took the penalty of all guilty lawbreakers on Himself: death. So, when the Jews condemned Jesus to die by the cross for framed up charges, “the curse of the Law” was transferred from sinners, that’s us, to Jesus Christ the sinless One and in exchange, He gave us the blessing that was due to Him as a result of His obedience to the Father. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3:13-14 [KJV])
1 Peter 3:18 (NIV) says that “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” So, the sinless One, as a man, delivered us from the curse by taking it on Himself. He did that when He offered Himself to be slaughtered on our behalf by being crucified on the cross and He died the death that was predestined for us due to our disobedience and He bought us at the cost of His own shed blood. So He paid the price of our disobedience with His own life. 1 Corinthians 7:23 (NASB77) says that “You were bought with a price;” We also see how Jesus came as the ransom to set us free from this law, and the penalty that breaking it inevitably brought.
Hebrews 9:11-15 (NIV) says that “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance–now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
Jesus overcame sin and death for us. After Jesus completed His restoration work on the cross, like God He sat down because everything was done. Redemption had been accomplished. Sins had been forgiven. The Sabbath Rest that God originally started in the garden had been restored ( Hebrews 4:1-11). In other words, Jesus rested because there was nothing left to do. Now He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool. The book of Hebrews opens with this very idea, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3 ). Evidence that this is currently the case is that the universe is held into place by His powerful Word. Jesus is the glue that is holding everything together and this testifies to the fact that Jesus is seated in heaven at the Father’s right hand. This is good news for us because it means that His one sacrifice, in contrast to the law’s many sacrifices, worked. We who believe in Him, by this single offering are completely cleansed, perfected, consecrated and made holy once for all. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:1-2 [KJV]) Just like Jesus, we can enter into the rest that God desires for His people. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Rev 2:7 [KJV]) And those who shall overcome the devil here on earth shall dwell in paradise with God and the Lamb of God (Christ) forever and ever.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev 22:1-5 [KJV])