The World’s Trouble: Chapter 13

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: - Hebrews 9:27

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
– Hebrews 9:27

Chapter 13

On April 4, 2010, a 300,000 ton oil tanker carrying crude oil, worth $170 million, from Iraq en route to Louisiana was hijacked in the Indian Ocean about 690 miles north of the Somali coast. Somali pirates held the tanker and the 24 crewmen hostage for 217 days while release terms were negotiated. The pirates initially demanded $20 million for the release, but settled for about $9 million. On November 6, 2010, the tanker and crew were released after the payment had been airdropped. The cargo and crew were intact and unharmed.

Five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos were captive for about seven months. The price, or the cost, of their freedom was about $9 million. We typically refer to that price as the ransom. If we talk about a ransom today, we usually think of it as the price paid to release hostages or prisoners of war. In books and movies we are used to phrases such as, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists, hijackers, kidnappers, etc.” The reality is quite different and sometimes such ransoms are paid.

The ransom of hostages is an example of an illegal cause of ransom and one where we typically view the victims as innocents being used as pawns. Biblical law speaks of other types of legal ransom. In the Bible, the ransom is a redemption price that is paid in order to free a captive slave or to deliver a convicted lawbreaker from a stricter penalty of sin. In some capital cases it was possible to ransom the guilty from the death penalty (Exodus 21:30). The ransom applied to various situations in the Old Testament, but the common link is that ransom refers to the redemption price that is paid.

Romans 6:23 states, “the wages of sin is death.” Our sins have broken God’s law and received a death sentence penalty. We live and breathe with condemnation over us (John 3:36). Further, we live in what Jesus described as slavery to sin. “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34). We are born into bondage to sin and owe a debt we must pay with our lives in death.

God has provided for release from bondage and canceling the condemnation against us. The terms are non-negotiable. The price of redemption could only be paid in one way and only one price was acceptable.

The Old Testament law taught the necessity of a blood sacrifice to forgive sins, “and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). The Old Testament law had a system of offerings and sacrifices for the purging of sins. But, the writer of Hebrews recognized that system was only a shadow of what was to come (Hebrews 10:1-4). The repetitive cycle of sacrifices for sins required by the law shows that those same sacrifices didn’t actually pay for sins. The blood of animals is insufficient to pay for the sins of people (Hebrews 10:4).

If we are talking about our own bank accounts, $9 million is a lot of money, and maybe more than most of us can imagine. If we are talking about the wealth of a nation or the wealth of the entire world, it is a trifling amount. If we piled up the wealth of the world to pay the ransom for our soul, it would not be enough.

They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.
– Psalm 49:6-10

The psalmist wrote of the fact that riches cannot ransom a soul from the grave. Many have confidence in their riches (Psalm 49:11), but fail to understand that death is a boundary their money cannot cross (Psalm 49:17). They will live in luxury, but die just like a beast in the field. This is the ultimate foolishness (Psalm 49:12-14). The psalmist would point us to true wisdom that is hope in God who “will redeem my soul from the power of the grave” (Psalm 49:15).

So what is the acceptable ransom price and to whom is it paid? The writer of Hebrews showed the blood of animals was not enough, but he also wrote that blood was the “shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). The price is blood, but not that of animals. The only blood price accepted is the blood of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14). Jesus testified before his death, he had come “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Peter later wrote of redemption that it did not come through things like “silver and gold,” but “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). The cost of redemption was the blood of the sinless Son of God.

We are left with the question: Who received the ransom payment? Some think Satan had to paid. Satan, or the Devil, and his army of pirate demons do participate in the captivity of human beings. He roams freely throughout the world, terrorizing and deceiving the nations to enslave them and blind them to the glorious freedom in Jesus Christ through his blood (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 2 Timothy 2:26).

God does not negotiate with terrorist hijackers. Jesus Christ came to “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan was not paid. He will be judged (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10).

It is not Satan’s wrath we most need delivered from. We need delivered from the wrath of God who can condemn us eternally to the lake of fire (Matthew 10:28; Romans 2:2; Revelation 14:7). It is God we have sinned against and fallen short of his glory (Romans 3:23). Christ paid the ransom price of his own blood for the redemption of all who believe in him to God (Ephesians 5:1; Hebrews 9:14). Jesus testified that he willingly paid this price (John 10:18).

217 days is a long time to be every moment in danger of dying, hoping the hijackers demands will be met. A swat team might be sent to free the captives, but some could also die in the crossfire. Instead, $9 million was airdropped and the ship was on its way with all on board accounted for. We are born into sin and captivity. We live every moment of our lives under condemnation and in danger of dying in that condemnation, which puts us into eternal punishment for our sins. Eternity is infinitely longer than 217 days without any hope or possibility of deliverance. All our money, or all the money in the world, cannot save us. The price is infinitely higher than that, but Jesus Christ came into the world and died to pay that price no one else could. Our redemption is secured through faith in him apart from any contribution of our own.

This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.

If you wish to read all the chapters in order you may do so here.

The World’s Trouble: Chapter 12

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: - Hebrews 9:27

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
– Hebrews 9:27

Chapter 12

Chapter 4 began with a brief statement of the case of Adolf Eichmann. He was executed by hanging on June 1, 1962 for the murder of millions of Jews more than twenty years prior. Eichmann was Hilter’s lieutenant and recognized architect of “The Final Solution,” which was a plan to rid Europe of all Jews. In chapter 4 we were primarily concerned with the consequences of sin and how a day of reckoning is coming for us, just as it did for Eichmann, and will come in the future before God in final judgment. Let’s think about Eichmann’s case from a different perspective for a few moments.

Eichmann’s life was taken by the state of Israel for crimes perpetrated against Jewish people. He was responsible for the torture and death of millions of Jews and so his life was forfeit. Few would argue that his death was unjust. He deserved death for what he had done, but was his death equitable? He was responsible in the deaths of millions and he could only die once. Of course, capital punishment is the strongest sentence a human court can give, so there was nothing more that could be done to him. However, did his death really pay the debt he amassed in Jewish blood? Though perhaps there was satisfaction that justice had been done, were the surviving families in any way repaid or restored what they had suffered and lost? Did Eichmann’s death replace the life of even one Jew? No, it did not.

God’s law teaches that righteousness requires payments and restitution of damages that are equitable. These payments represent a sort of exchange designed to set things to rights once again. If one man stole from another, he had to replace what he stole, or pay the fair value of it in money, plus extra. Of course, with God’s law, capital punishment was the highest punishment that could be given. Life for life and blood for blood. All human laws should be just in this way in order to be just at all. But, human laws are limited and all such repayments and restitutions are limited.

Let’s illustrate the limitations. Say you have a car and sell it to someone else. This is an exchange and it can be equitable. You sell the car and the buyer purchases the car by giving you a fair market value for the car in cash. An exchange has taken place that was just and equitable, and everyone is satisfied. Let’s now suppose a different exchange. Say you are driving on the road and an oncoming car is driven by a drunk driver who runs into you. Your car is totaled and you are injured, becoming a quadriplegic and spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. Charges are filed against the drunk driver. He loses his license and goes to jail. You are awarded damages, receiving millions of dollars. An exchange has taken place to the fullest extent of the law, yet even if your award was billions of dollars and his penalty execution, are you really restored? Has he made a payment that truly satisfies the damage that was done? No he hasn’t and he cannot. A debt has incurred that cannot be repaid with any amount of money or blood.

When we sin, we incur debt against God. God’s wrath is holy and righteous, and is revealed against all sin. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). Paul proceeds in the next couple of chapters in Romans to show that all men are sinners and all men are under the just wrath of God. This is the same whether they are Jews trying to keep God’s law or Gentiles living without God’s law (Romans 2:1-3:20). Sin brings the wrath of God that culminates in eternal damnation (Romans 6:23; John 3:36). Our offense against God is so great that nothing short of the full measure of his wrath can satisfy it.

Paul has explained this in the first three chapters of Romans and also explained that keeping the Old Testament law, even if that were possible, is not sufficient to satisfy God’s wrath. How can God’s wrath be satisfied? There is only one answer to that question. Near the end of chapter 3, Paul explains how God’s wrath is satisfied.

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; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
– Romans 3:24-26

Notice the word propitiation. The word is not commonly used today. It comes from a Latin word meaning “made favorable.” The word coveys the idea of appeasing wrath and restoring favor. Let’s follow Paul’s argument. Justified means to be declared righteous, or declared not guilty. Paul writes a man is “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28), and justification is “freely by his [God’s] grace” (Romans 3:24, clarification added). Paul means that a man cannot earn justification. He has earned the wrath of God, but he has no means to satisfy that wrath and be reconciled to God’s favor.

Paul further explains that justification is “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). The word for redemption means a ransom payment. One illustration of this word would be the paying of the ransom to free a slave. If a man was enslaved without any means of obtaining freedom and another would come along and pay for his freedom, that price paid was the ransom price, or the redemption. Paul specifies the ransom price paid for justification is “his blood” (Romans 3:25), meaning the blood shed by Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sins. His blood is sufficient to purchase the “remission of sins” (Romans 3:25). In legal terms, remission means the cancelling of a debt or charge against someone. The blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient to pay our sin debt in full, and therefore appease the wrath of God against us and reconcile us to God’s favor. In other words, his death is a propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2).

I have used some examples of sinners, such as Adolf Eichmann and Osama Bin Laden, because their crimes are on such a large scale it’s easy for us to think of them as guilty and deserving punishment. Even if you’re convinced they deserved to pay for their crimes, do you think their deaths were a sufficient payment? We are limited. After we have executed a high criminal, there’s nothing else we can do. One man’s life hardly seems an adequate payment for the deaths of thousands and even millions. Yet, the Bible teaches we are no less guilty than Eichmann and our blood is no more sufficient than his to pay for our sins against God. This is why we need an atonement that propitiates God’s wrath against us. Eichmann’s death is not the end. He will face God in judgment one day and will pay the price for his sin for all eternity along with everyone whose sins are not covered by Jesus’ blood (Revelation 20:11-15).

This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.

If you wish to read all the chapters in order you may do so here.

The World’s Trouble: Chapter 10

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: - Hebrews 9:27

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
– Hebrews 9:27

Chapter 10

Have you ever had a dream or a thought where something happened in a certain way and then later it did happen? Many people have had intuitive moments like that. Some try to turn it into a career. And I must say, there is money to be made in the world through that sort of thing and there is a long, storied history of people doing that.

So if I have a thought that something is going to happen and it happens, does that make me a prophet? No, it doesn’t. One reason why is because for every instance I could tell you about where I thought something was going to happen and it did, I could tell you of dozens of times where I thought something was going to happen and it didn’t. The biblical requirement for a prophet was 100% accuracy with no margin for error. That fact alone informs us there are no prophets today.

The ending of prophecy is a worthwhile study, but beyond our purposes here. I want to tell you about prophecies of the atonement in this chapter. First, who was a prophet by biblical standard? When we understand that, we understand what a biblical prophecy is, and then we can consider some specific prophecies.

Two primary passages in the law give the biblical requirements for a prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 & 18:18-22). One reason these were given was so Israel could evaluate and authenticate a man’s prophetic ministry. They were also commanded to stone those who were found to be false prophets and put to the sword those prophets who led the people into the worship of any other god.  The requirements presuppose liars, hucksters, and charlatans. From these two passages we draw at least four important requirements.

  1. The man had to be called and sent by God (Deuteronomy 18:18, 20).
  2. The man had to receive revelation from God the people were required to obey (Deuteronomy 18:18-20).
  3. The prophecy had to be consistent with Scripture (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Isaiah 8:20).
  4. The prophecy had to come to pass as it was prophesied (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

There were always those claiming to be prophets who did not meet these requirements and God promised to judge them (Jeremiah 14:14-15). We also have a specific example in a false prophet name Hananiah (Jeremiah 28:15-17). A true prophet was a mouthpiece for God. He spoke the words God gave him and those words were authoritative as if God had spoken them directly from heaven to the people.

A prophecy is God’s word by Scripture. That word sometimes included revelation of something God purposed to do beforehand. For example, there was a time when the king of Syria came with his army and besieged and surrounded the city of Samaria in Israel. There began to be a shortage of food that grew so severe two women fought over eating their own sons. Elisha was a prophet who was in the city and he relayed the word God had revealed to him.

Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.

– 2 Kings 7:1

So God revealed to Elisha that the next day there would be plenty of food. Many were skeptical how that could be true, especially since the army of Syrians was still outside the city. But that night God made the Syrians so afraid that they fled and left their camp behind them (2 Kings 7:5-8). The people in the city found out and went out and plundered the deserted camp and had plenty just as the prophet had prophesied (2 Kings 7:18). So, had Elisha’s prophecy not come true, he should have been stoned to death as a false prophet who falsely claimed to speak for God.

There are many prophecies recorded in the Bible and we can’t cover all of them. We have been considering the atonement, or covering for sin and I want to consider a few prophecies about the atonement. Before God covered Adam and Eve in the garden, he revealed to them that they needed a Savior who would destroy their enemy and deliver them from the death they were cursed with. He revealed to them that the Savior would be the “seed” of the woman (Genesis 3:15). The Savior would be born of a woman.

Many, many years later, God spoke through his prophet Isaiah. Isaiah prophesied that the long-expected seed would be born of a virgin.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

– Isaiah 7:14

About 700 years after Isaiah prophesied this, a son was indeed born of a virgin in Bethlehem in Judah of Israel. Jesus was born, the long-awaited Savior and seed of the woman.

But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

– Matthew 1:20-25

The angel of the Lord revealed to Mary that her son would indeed be the promised Messiah.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

– Luke 1:30-35

There are hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah in Scripture. Jesus fulfilled most of them and the rest he will fulfill when he comes again. He fulfilled prophecies in the circumstances of his birth, family lineage, the things he said and taught, the working of signs and wonders, and in his death and resurrection.

The death of Jesus was not some unfortunate event that otherwise stopped a promising career. Jesus himself testified that he came into the world to die (John 10:11, 14-18; 12:27). Jesus prophesied about his own death and foretold how it would fulfill the prophecies of Scripture.

The he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.

– Luke 18:31-33

After Jesus was resurrected to life, he confirmed that his death and resurrection were according to prophecy.

Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

– Luke 24:26

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise form the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

– Luke 24:44-47

His death was purposeful and planned by God (Acts 2:23-24; 4:26-28). Different prophecies in the Old Testament refer to his death, but the most extensive and plain single passage is Isaiah chapter 53. That particular chapter is in a section of Isaiah’s prophecy about the Servant of Yahweh (Jehovah) whom God would send. The chapters leading up to 53 color a picture of the Servant’s work that includes suffering and rejection and even death by chapter 53.

Chapter 53, with verse numbers, is included below for you to read and refer to as I finish this chapter.

  1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
  2. For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
  3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  1. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
  2. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
  3. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
  1. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
  2. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
  3. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
  1. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
  2. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
  3. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

– Isaiah 53:1-12

The chapter has 12 verses in our English Bibles. The verses divide into four groups of three verses each like a poem of four stanzas. Verses 1-3 refer to his coming into the world. These verses foretell him being despised and rejected because of his lowliness. The “we” in verse 3 is the Jewish people of Israel. They confess their rejection of him because they thought him of no worth.

Verses 4-6 speak of his suffering in two ways. First, he would suffer the consequences of sin as a man. He would bear grief and carry sorrows. Second, he would bear the just punishment for sins as a sacrifice. He was wounded, bruised, and chastised for transgressions and iniquities. Again Israel confesses they rejected him because they thought his suffering was punishment from God due him, but they are also confessing that it wasn’t for his sins but for “our” sins he was put to death. These verses also speak of the purpose of his bearing sins for healing and for peace, to make atonement.

Verses 7-9 speak of his death and his burial. His death would be a voluntary death where he fully submitted to suffering. He was the lamb that was slaughtered. Verse 9 is a remarkable prophecy about his grave being with the rich. Criminals that were executed by crucifixion were not given an honorable burial but rather dumped in a mass grave like garbage or the carcass of a dead animal. Being subject to such a death made the burial of Jesus in honor among the rich a most unlikely happening. However, this is exactly what happened when Joseph of Arimathaea, a rich man, sought the body of Jesus and buried him in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-60).

Verses 10-12 give God’s estimation of his anointed Servant’s work. God is pleased in every sense and particularly judicially. These verses point to his life after his death and his just reward for his suffering. He will justify many and inherit the kingdom prophesied before. He will make atonement for his people in his death. This is what Jesus has done as was prophesied before.

In the next chapter, I want to break the atonement down into four parts and consider them.

This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.

If you wish to read all the chapters in order you may do so here.

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