[Papercut Press Publishing] 1998-01-17 - The Atonement in the Old Testament

The Comprehensive Study Series, Part 21

Man was created in the image of God, and placed in the garden of Eden in a perfect environment. All things were ideal. The animals were in perfect submission to him. He was master of all he surveyed. Had he not sinned, he could have lived on indefinitely. It is possible that had man remained in fellowship with his Maker, his physical and mental nature that developed in his natural body would have been transformed into a glorified state without suffering pain and death. .

I Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

The above verse clarifies that because there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.The following two verses give us a glimpse of the transformation which could have taken place:

I Corinthians 15:45-46 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual.

Man's disobedience while under the control of Satan changed the entire picture. Sin existed prior to this time. It entered the world, contaminating the earth and everything in it. The nature of animals changed from the of harmless creatures to viscous and blood-thirsty beasts. Man's nature was corrupted. This corrupting power entered into every fiber of man's being.His spiritual powers were weakened. He withdrew from God and became disposed to evil. The result of sin was death.

Satan is the one who brought this terrible change into the world and all that is in it. According to II Corinthians 4:4 he is called "the god of this world". Jesus calls him the "prince of this world" in John 12:31. He was the highest and most powerful being God had created. When man sinned, his dominion over the earth was forfeited to Satan and so all things have been held in his grip for millennia. No created being dared to challenge Satan. Jude chapter 9 states even Michael the Archangel when contending with Satan; he asked the Lord to rebuke him. How could the Almighty wrest the universe, especially man, out of the death grip of Satan? If power only was involved the Almighty certainly had that. He is all powerful, but according to the scriptures other issues and factors are involved and must be considered.

Psalm 8 clearly indicates Gods intention to pay man a visit.

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

Psalm 8:1-9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. 6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! (KJV)

David recognized the existence of God and saw His glory manifested and declared in the heavenly bodies. He stood silently gazing upon the glories of heavens. The Holy Spirit flashed across his mind, the thought that God is more concerned about man than he is about the whole material universe. The Lord Jesus confirmed this when he said "a man has profited nothing should he gain the whole world and lose his own soul".

Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Why would God give such detailed attention to his disobedient creatures? The reason is clear. Because he made man a little lower than himself and yet crowned him with glory and honor. Man will yet have dominion over the works of his hands. This prediction has not yet been fulfilled, but God will accomplish it at the time of the visit announced in Psalm 8:4. We see that he intends to reinstate man to the position of power and authority in the earth from which he fell. Man has yet to be crowned with glory and honor and given the dominion for which God created him. Verses six and seven of Psalm eight show this fact in a prophetic, perfect state. The entire Psalm is a clear prediction that the Lord will come and reinstate man, placing him over all of earth's creatures. This high position was part of Gods original plan, but it was perverted by Satan through man's disobedience.

The Reasons for the Atonement

Why is the atonement necessary? Cannot God in His grace, love and mercy forgive man for his trespasses, knowing he is weak, and ultimately take all men to heaven with Him The scriptures tell us this :

Psalm 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Cannot God do whatsoever He chooses? We must bear the following things in mind as we think upon such questions.

1. The Moral Character of God .Among Gods attributes are truth, love and holiness. Because of His righteous nature He cannot through omniscient and omnipotent countenance, sin. His love provides the means for satisfying his holiness through substitionary atonement. Based upon this provision He can be just. At the same time He can and does justify the ungodly who return to Him in repentance and faith by accepting His provision. God's holiness demands expiation for man's sin and unrighteousness.

2. God's Moral Government God created all angels and men, giving them the power of freedom of choice. The Almighty deals with them to the degree that they exercise their own free will. To deal with them in any other way would be to destroy the agency of free will. Although man has sinned and is deep in wickedness, God still respects man's freedom of choice, using moral suasion without forcing man's will, in an effort to lead him into repentance and faith.The righteous government of God requires that He deal with His creatures on a moral, ethical and spiritual basis.

3. Breaking Satan's grip upon man and the universe: Satan became and remains the "god", " the magistrate of this world", " the prince of the powers of the air", "the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience". To rescue man from Satan's domain and power, the Lord had to act upon His moral principles. We shall see that the power of Satan's grip could only be broken by blood atonement, the only means of satisfying the demands of God's holiness. By no other means could the defeat of Satan be accomplished.

This topic of the atonement is fascinating. In order to do it justice, over the next few weeks we will be looking at the Atonement in a deeper way than perhaps many of you have before. We will cover the Atonement in the Old Testament and finish the series with the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

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May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth by His holy Spirit, bless you and keep you, as we are one day nearer to the prayerful peace of Jerusalem, Amen. In His Service