Savior of His People
The following is an enhanced transcript of the TheoTalk episode with the same title.
Why is it we’re so enamored with stories? Whether it’s a good book or classic movie, why are we attracted to stories? Especially stories of personal and/or communal redemption?
I think it’s because those stories reflect the story we find ourselves in. The story of the God who was there before there was anything else; who created us in his image to flourish in a right relationship with him — as Adam and Eve did in Eden, until they rebelled against God and plunged themselves and us, their descendants, under the curse of sin, so that neither we nor our world are what we were meant to be. Deep down, each of knows this is true; that we are all in desperate need of redemption: the rescue and restoration only God’s Messiah can bring.
Last time, we saw that God’s Messiah (Christ) is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, who came to be both savior to a fallen world and king over God’s kingdom he came to restore. In this lesson, we’ll consider how Jesus is savior to a fallen world — the one who came to save his people from their sins and thereby reconnect us with the God who made us for himself.
To do that, we’ll return to the Old Testament, where we find types or pictures, as well as flat out predictions of what the Christ would do to save his people from their sins. One such picture is in Exodus 12, which takes place some 400 years after Israel entered Egypt, having been enslaved there almost the entire time, until God sent Moses to deliver them out of slavery, into the land God promised their father, Abraham.
The trouble is, the Israelites were no more worthy of a relationship with the holy God than the Egyptians, which meant, to redeem his people out of Egypt, God would have to provide a way for their sins be forgiven. We see in Exodus 12:3-14, God provided the Passover Lamb. God says to Israel,
3”…every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers houses, a lamb for a household, your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old and you shall keep it until the 14th day of this month when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it… For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt… I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are and when I see the blood I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:3-14, ESV)
Notice how God allowed the blood (death) of the Passover lamb(s) to substitute for the death the people deserved for their rebellion against him. This notion of substitutionary sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is found through out the Old Testament, specifically in a second type or picture of what the Christ would do to save his people from their sins; namely, the old covenant sacrificial system God gave to Moses before Israel entered the promised land. This system included many sacrifices, but the climactic sacrifice took place on “the day of atonement,” which we read about in Leviticus 16:15-16, ESV:
15 Then he [the priest] shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. (comments added in brackets]
Mercy means not getting the judgment we deserve. Here God extends mercy to his people by not giving them the judgment they deserve for their sins, by allowing the blood of the goat, this spotless animal to take their place.
16 Thus he shall make atonement for the holy place because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions.
In other words, and this is important, the atoning blood of the spotless goat would allow the people to approach the Holy God.
It’s important to understand that both The Passover and The Day of Atonement point to the final Lamb of God who would once-and-for-all take away the sins of the world (John 1:29), that is, to Jesus Christ. We’ll talk in a future lesson about why only the man, Jesus Christ could pay for our sins. For now, understand that Jesus, the final lamb of God, came to be what the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, referred to as God’s suffering servant who would, “…make many to be accounted righteous for he shall bear their iniquities.”
(Isaiah 53:11b, ESV)
Of course, Jesus bore our iniquities at the cross after declaring he had come for this purpose (John 12:27). More specifically, Jesus said over and again that he, “the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise again” (Luke 24:7), because that’s how he would save His people from their sins — that all who trust in Him would be forgiven for their sins and reconciled to the Holy God.
Is that true of you today? Have you trusted Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world to take away your sin, so that you stand forgiven before the holy God, in a restored relationship with him? I thank God the moment I trusted Christ as my Savior, I was forever reconciled to the God who made me for himself. And because of what Jesus has done for me, I’ve been enjoying a relationship with God ever since.
In the next lesson, we’ll talk about the fact that Jesus didn’t only come to be our savior, but to be king over God’s kingdom he came to restore. In the process, we’ll discover that he is a good king, completely worthy of our trust.