Please dont let that title scare you off. That is a
beautiful and profound word.
Christs death turns away the wrath of God. The apostle Paul
said Christ is our propitiation. He is a propitiatory sacrifice. It refers to what Christ
did on our behalf before God.
We are justified as a gift by His grace through the
redemption, which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His
blood through faith (Romans 3:24-25).
God gave His Son as the means of the propitiation, and He
Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of
the whole world (1 John 2:2). In this is love, not that we loved God, but that
He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John
4:10). A. T. Robertson said, God could not let sin go as if a mere slip. God
demanded the atonement and provided it. It was by the grace of God He might
taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9).
The word propitiate in its classical form was used of the
act of appeasing the Greek gods by a sacrifice, of rendering them favorable toward the
worshipper. The sacrifice was offered by the pagan worshiper to buy off the anger of the
god and buy his love. Note very carefully that this idea is not brought over into the New
Testament. The LORD God does not need to be appeased nor is His love for sale.
In the New Testament it refers to the act of getting rid of sin which
has come between God and man. The word hilasterion
is used in the Greek translation of Leviticus 16:14 to refer to the golden cover on top of
the Ark of the Covenant. In the Ark, below this lid, were placed the tablets of stone upon
which were written the Ten Commandments, which Israel had violated. On the Day of
Atonement before the Ark stood the High Priest representing the people who had sinned.
When the sacrificial blood is sprinkled on this cover, it ceases to be a place of judgment
and becomes a place of mercy. The blood comes between the violated law and the violators,
the people. The blood of Jesus satisfies the just requirements of Gods holy law
which mankind broke, pays the penalty for man, and thus removes that which had separated
between a holy God and sinful man, sin, its guilt and penalty. This is far removed from
the pagan idea of propitiation. Jesus Christ is Gods High Priest who was both the
Mercy Seat and the Sacrifice, which transforms the former from a judgment seat to one
where mercy is offered a sinner on the basis of justice satisfied.
Bengel observed that God, 'placed before the eyes of
all unlike the ark of the covenant which was veiled and approached only by the high
The LORD God set forth His Son, the Lord Jesus, as the One who would
be the satisfaction for our sins. Because God is satisfied with the payment of the sin
debt, His wrath is turned aside, away from the believing sinner. Christ absorbed the wrath
of God on our behalf. He bore our punishment as our substitute.
When God looked down upon the sacrifice He judged man guilty, the
payment was paid in full, and in His righteousness could therefore acquit the believing
sinner who put His trust in the Lamb of God. That mercy seat is the place were God met man
in His grace since the sacrifice turned away the wrath of God because His righteousness
was satisfied. The guilty sinner is spared because of the death of Christ in our place.
When God looks down upon the believing sinner He sees not our sins and guilt, but the
blood of Jesus. He is our expiatory sacrifice that satisfied the righteousness of God. His
death paid our debt in full and a holy God was satisfied.
All of the lambs in the sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to
Gods perfect Lamb who would wholly remove our death penalty.
How do we know this is all true? We know we can trust God because a
holy and righteous God tore the veil in the temple from top to the bottom. The moment
Christ died it was like God the Father reached in and took hold of His outer garment and
tore it from the top to the bottom in His mourning for His only Son. God tore the veil in
two to open the way into His presence for all who believe on His Son as their sinless
sacrifice who died as their propitiation. Bloody sacrifices came to an end in the temple
because the death of Christ alone met all the holy demands of a thrice-holy God.
Have you placed your trust in Gods Lamb?
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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