Thursday, June 25, 2015

Peace Through Death

God’s promise to His People

God gave his people a promise, and for five hundred years and more it was unfulfilled.  People from the nations around would mock the God of the Jews, for he promised them a great kingdom, a peace for his people, but it was not fulfilled.
·         God promised that a land would be given to his people. (Ezekiel 36:24)
·         God promised that he would bring a new king. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
·         God promised that the new king would bring justice to everyone who lived in the land. (Isaiah 11:1-5)
·         God promised that people would be healed of their illnesses. (Ezekiel 34:4; Deuteronomy 7:15)
·         God promised that his people would be forgiven of their sins. (Ezekiel 36:25)
·         God promised that all oppressors would be judged. (Psalm 82)
·         God promised that the people would have his Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
·         God promised that the power of the nations would be destroyed by his new kingdom. (Daniel 2:44)
·         God promised that those of his people who had died would be resurrected. (Daniel 12:2-3)
·         God promised that there would be a time of peace. (Isaiah 11:6-10)
Yet for more than five hundred years after the promises were made, they were not fulfilled.  And God’s people were so focused away from devotion to God, that it looked like they would never be fulfilled.

Jesus—Devoted to Fulfilling God’s Promise

Jesus desired to see God’s promises fulfilled.  During his time on earth, he prayed daily for the promises of God to become reality on earth.  He insisted that God move—for God’s own glory and reputation.
So Jesus was appointed by God to be the “point man” of the fulfillment of God’s promises.  He commanded the healing of God on the sick, and they were healed.  He commanded the exile of oppressive, judging spirits, and they were gone.  He proclaimed the forgiveness of those devoted to God, and they were forgiven.  He taught mercy and justice, and false prophets were rebuked. 

The Final Requirement

But Jesus knew that to establish all the promises of God in a new kingdom, it would require more than healings and teachings.  It required the creation of a new contract, a new people.  To accomplish a new people, a new kingdom established by God required something different than most kingdoms to be established.  To do this, Jesus needed to die. If Jesus did not die, then the kingdom, the fulfillment of God’s promises, could never have been accomplished. 
There were four reasons the holy one of God, the one especially selected by the Father to be the righteous ruler, had to die:

1.      Jesus’ death proved he was a righteous king.
The kingdom of God could only come when a king had been proven to be righteous.  Proof of righteousness, the living out of God’s will, could only be done in the midst of testing.  Thus, Jesus proved that he was just, merciful and righteous by dying the death of the guilty when he was innocent. (Mark 14:36; Hebrews 5:7-8)

2.      Jesus’ death displayed the unworthiness of the current rulers.
The kingdom of God could only be established when the unrighteous rulers of God’s people were deposed.  Jesus proved that the rulers were unrighteous by allowing himself to be sentenced as a rebel, when he was one who waited on God’s will.  Because God saw his innocence, he destroyed those who killed him and refused to repent for it. (Mark 12:1-11; Acts 3:13-21)

3.      Jesus’ death was the necessary sacrifice to establish a covenant.
In the ancient world, a legal covenant could only be established when a sacrifice was made to confirm it.  Thus, the kingdom of God could only begin when a blood sacrifice was made to create the covenant on which the kingdom was based.  The kingdom was ratified by Jesus’ sacrifice, which was perfect and blameless and according to God’s will. (Mark 14:24; Hebrews 9:18-26)

4.      Jesus’ death was the necessary price to free God’s people from oppression.
The kingdom of God could only come when God’s people could be delivered from exile.  Jesus died, allowing himself to be exalted to the right hand of God, and so made himself a mediator for the people of God, asking for their forgiveness.  Jesus also showed that those who showed enduring faith as he did on the cross are the righteous people of God who deserve to be in God’s kingdom. (Mark 10:45; Hebrews 2:14-15)

The Resurrection of Jesus

However, it was not enough that Jesus died.  Jesus died to do all that he could to establish God’s kingdom. But the rest was up to the Father.  God raised Jesus from the dead to prove that the kingdom was established and that the kingdom of God was established.  Jesus really did fulfill the promises God through his death.  (Romans 1:1-4) Now God’s people are forgiven by Jesus’ blood—if only they would repent and accept him as their Lord. (Acts 3:19) The Spirit can truly be given to God’s people, because through Jesus’ death there is a people who can receive the Spirit.  Healing and freedom from oppression can be given to many because God’s blessing flows to God’s people through Jesus.  And we know that we can gain resurrection because if we have the faith of Jesus, then we will gain the reward that Jesus received—eternal life. (John 6:47)

Jesus was worthy to be king through his death.  God sealed his approval of Jesus through the resurrection.  And now we can be free from oppression to be purely devoted to God.

“To this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”  (Romans 14:9)

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