Great was the sorrow that filled the hearts of Adam and Eve as they realized the consequences of their transgression. The broken law of God demanded the life of the sinner and the justice and righteousness of Jehovah could not be altered.
Before their fall Adam and Eve possessed noble powers and well-balanced minds. They were in full harmony with their Creator. They had pure thoughts and holy aims. But through sin their powers became perverted and selfishness took the place of love. Their natures became so weakened that it was impossible for them, in their own strength, to resist the power of evil. In mercy God did not leave them in this miserable state, without any hope! A wonderful plan was devised by which man could be saved from eternal death. This plan is so amazing that man will never be able to understand its fullness, although it will be his study through the endless ages of eternity.
Our previous lesson showed that God gave a promise to the fallen pair, and He instructed them about His great plan of salvation.
God’s Love Revealed
The character of God was proclaimed to Moses on Mount Sinai: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will be no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6,7.
It was impossible for God to clear the guilty. Yet, His heart of mercy and love could not let man die without hope of restoration to his original state. How was this possible?
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalms 85:10.
This is the essence of the plan of salvation! The penalty for sin, which is death, had to be paid, therefore a substitute had to take the place of man in order to secure his salvation.
The Son of God, by whom man was created, offered Himself as the sacrifice for the guilty race. None but He could pay the price for our salvation. Fallen man could not satisfy the divine requirement, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:20.
No person can atone for another, or for themselves. Each must die for their own sins. No angel could become a substitute. Although the unfallen angels are sinless they too are but created beings. Only the Creator of man could repurchase man. No other could equal the price nor meet the demand to redeem the lost.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
The Desire of All Nations
From the time of man’s fall the promise of the Redeemer was repeated over and over in prophecies, laws and ordinances. All pointed to the Savior’s coming and maintained man’s hopes bright with expectation.
“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.
Every name or title of the Savior inspired hope in God’s promise. Immanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21.
The name Jesus is the dearest name, by which the Savior of the world is known, for it contains the precious promise of deliverance from our fallen sinful nature.
The unfallen angels share man’s interest in the plan of redemption. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” Hebrews 1:14.
The heavenly angels find their joy in giving love and tireless watch care to souls that are fallen in sin. They move upon the human spirit to bring men into a closer fellowship with Christ than even they themselves can know.
“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:10.
Light in the Darkness
The patriarchs and prophets firmly believed the truth of the atonement (or death of Christ as a ransom) for man. Abel, Adama’s son, understood the meaning of the sacrificial lamb, as a type of the “Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world”. “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering.” Genesis 4:4.
Abraham showed that he understood the nature of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” Genesis 22:13.
The sacrificial animals were only types, or a representation, of the true Sacrifice which was yet to come: “But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he said, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me), to do thy will O God.” Hebrews 10:3-7.
The prophet Daniel foretold the time when the Messiah was to be anointed. This was fulfilled at Christ’s baptism, at the commencement of His ministry. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the streets shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” Daniel 9:25.
In prophecy, a day represents a year. See Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. Daniel’s prophecy gives a period of seven weeks plus sixty-two weeks, a total of sixty-nine weeks. Starting from the time of the issuing of the commandment to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem, (which had been destroyed by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar 70 years before), to the completion of the building was to take seven weeks. Then another sixty-two weeks would bring us to the time of Christ’s baptism
The historic commandment to rebuild Jerusalem was given by king Artaxerxes of the Medes in the year 457 BC. Ezra 7:11-26. Therefore, seven weeks, (or forty nine days = forty nine years) brings us to 408 BC, exactly the date when the rebuilding of Jerusalem was completed. Taking the remaining sixty two weeks (or 434 days = 434 years) brings us to the exact date of Christ’s baptism: AD 27. This was Christ’s anointing with the Holy Spirit. See Luke 3:21,22 and Acts 10:38.
Micah foretold the place of his birth: “But thou, Beth-le-hem Ephrata, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2.
The scriptures indicate that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, the city of David: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.” Matthew 2:1.
It is estimated that there are 35 specific prophecies of the betrayal, trial, death, burial and resurrection of Christ. All were fulfilled in 72 hours!
The Price of Our Redemption
Isaiah gives a vivid description of the cruel torture and shameful death of Christ more than seven hundred years before it occurred! Prophecy recorded so moving a description, so accurate in every detail, that one could almost believe that Isaiah was an eyewitness of the sufferings of Christ.
“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. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, and was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 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. 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. 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.” Isaiah 53:3-8.
In Psalms we read of the manner of His death: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” Psalms 22:15,16.
After enduring hours of excruciating pain on the cross in the heat of the day, with parched tongue Jesus said: “I thirst” John 19:28. Cruel hands had driven the nails through the hands and feet of the Son of man, then lifted up the cross, and allowed it to fall with a sickening thump into the hole prepared for it; thus further tearing the wounds in His hands and feet! Prior to His crucifixion He was dragged from one judgment hall to another, cruelly beaten, mocked and scourged. Thus He partook of the death of the common criminal by the cruel means of crucifixion.
What a spectacle! The innocent Lamb of God tortured to death! Dear friend, that is the price He paid for you. In order that you might live, He voluntarily took your place, and died for you.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20.
So great is God’s love for fallen man, that He permitted His Son to come and meet life’s peril as every human being must face it. The human father yearns over his son. The earthly parent longs to shield his child and hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a greater conflict and a more fearful risk, our Almighty God risked His only begotten Son to save us!
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.” I Peter 1:18,19.
“The precious blood of Christâ€ is the price paid for our redemption. The whole treasure of heaven was poured out in that one Gift. What a price! Every one who avails themselves of God’s free gift of salvation through His Son, now doubly belongs to Him, first by creation and second by redemption. Such a one will exclaim with the apostle John, as he contemplates the Gift of God: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” I John 3:1.
What did Christ gain by His death? We read in the Scriptures that the way to salvation is narrow, the gate strait and that there are but few who find it. The question may be asked: Was it worth all that much? Just what did the Savior achieve by His sacrifice?
By obeying the devil, man had lost the dominion over this world given him at creation (Genesis 1:26), but through the death and resurrection of Christ the first dominion was regained. God’s authority was restored.
“And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion: the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” Micah 4:8.
The world, lost in sin, and thus brought into enmity with God was, through Christ, reconciled to God. II Corinthians 5:19.
On the cross, Christ obtained the victory over the devil, and henceforth we should regard Satan as a conquered foe.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him, that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.
Jesus was willing to pay the price of our salvation with His own blood and by faith He saw the reward: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and poured out his soul unto death: and he shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong: because he hath numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:11,12.
Christ obtained for us a perfect and complete salvation.
“Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:8,9.
The Savior will be perfectly satisfied when the redeemed of all ages stand before Him in His glorious kingdom. The plan of salvation will then be complete and peace and harmony will exist throughout God’s universe, forever.