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August 25, 2010

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Q/A Topics:
Why did Jesus have to Die?

READER QUESTION:
A few days ago my youngest son (he is 10) asked me why Jesus had to die on the cross.

I explained carefully all the things about our sinfulness, the fact that our sin stood between us and God, about Jesus overcoming death with his resurrection, our need to repent, the washing away of our sins by the blood of Jesus.

But then I realised I cannot answer is WHY did he have to DIE? Given that for God, physical death is nothing. a) He is spirit and b) He created everything so physical death is under His control and easy to overcome. We could all die, the entire world population, and He could just snap His fingers and raise us all to life again - and will indeed do that at the resurrection at His coming.

I thought back to the OT days when the Jews had to offer burnt sacrifices and wondered again, WHY? Does the Bible tell us anywhere why God requires death and sacrifice to wipe out sin?

I am probably missing something basic here, I know, but my brain is grappling with the underlying requirement of death and sacrifice. Is it symbolic only? The dying to the old sinful life? It can't be symbolic only because baptism would suffice then. So why death? And why such a cruel death (the crucifixion)?

VW ANSWER:
Because -God- MADE THE RULES and promised...

    "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die the death." (Ge2:17)

    "the soul who sins shall die" (Ezk18:4,20)

God created/made everything....including the -rules- by which everything was to function. I think even a child understands how, if you play a game, the game is governed by rules. If you break a rule, there is a penalty. Well...the penalty for sin is death. That's how God set things up.

Supposing we use the example of a court of law, the person has sped and gone through the red light. There is a 'fine' that is owed. It must be paid. The judicial system doesn't care whether the money the guilty party pays is their 'own' money, or if somebody slips the money to them, as long as the money is -paid-. In the most simplistic of terms, Jesus dying on the cross is like that person who slips the money to the guilty person so they can pay the fine. It was not their own money, but the traffic ticket was -paid-. In the same way, Jesus died IN PLACE OF the sinner...thus the expression "substitutionary atonement".

In the OT, until Jesus would come along, all those animal sacrifices were like IOUs. The debt was still owed, because ...

    "..it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins... For the Law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of those things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect." (Heb10:4,1)
-Man- had sinned...a -man- needed to pay the penalty. The payment needed to be IN KIND. So when Jesus (the "Man") (Jn19:5) died, all those (symbolic animal) IOUs were paid. He "fulfilled" the Law. (Mt5:17, Heb7:27, 9:12)

The "first man Adam" was a "living soul", from the earth. The "last Adam" gave spiritual life, from Heaven. (1Co15:45-49)

In our human state, we may not fully -understand- it. But we must -believe- it. The person in court may not understand 'where' the money came from, but he "receives" it. (Jn1:12)

Sure....God could 'snap' His fingers and not send anybody to the Lake of Fire. He could snap His fingers and say, 'that thing about -dying- for sin? I was just joking' But if He did so, He would cease to be "holy". And, why did He not just make the angels and humans automatons, without free-will? What sort of glory would that be for Himself? For the creation to worship Him -freely-, having weighed the options, is -true- worship. Of course, if they rebel, they pay the consequences.

Of course, if the scoffers wish to argue about how "unfair" it is that humanity is -born- into sin, no choice on their part (I didn't ask to be born! Is45:10)....well....God provided the redemption, didn't He, through Jesus Christ. There -is- an alternative to Eternal Punishment. All a person needs do is to -receive- Him. Simple as that!

The "simplicity that is in Christ" (2Co11:3)

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Saturday Resurrection?

READER QUESTION:
I recently read one of your emails or articles talking about your Thursday crucifixion / Sunday Resurrection theory.

I also read another account recently, which presented a Wednesday crucifixion / Saturday resurrection. That article, in part, is based on the idea that the English rendering "first day of the week" (references listed below)[vw: but not included here; it was a long list] is actually properly rendered "first of the Sabbaths" or "one of the Sabbaths". The Greek seems to support "first", "one", and "Sabbaths", rather than "day" and "week". Note that while Online Bible shows Strongs 4521 as singular "Sabbath", in the Greek, it's plural.

I've noticed with the VW-edition you've gone with the more traditional "first day of the week". Why do most English translations render it this way (Young's Literal is the only one that I've found that doesn't).

When you get the chance, I'd appreciate your feedback on this. Seems convincing: [www.link]

VW ANSWER:
Sigh! I get so tired of all these experts all over who "twist" (2Pt3:16) the meaning of Scripture to promote their agendas. This author quotes the 'traditions' of the Talmud, Mishnah, etc. How reliable were all those famous rabbis? Jesus had this to say to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by reason of your tradition?" (Mt15:3) And yet, those and their successors are the ones who wrote what today's scholars wax eloquent with long words and fancy charts about.

This business of "first of the week" or "one of the sabbaths" is the same. If you look up "week" in the dictionary, it says, "a seven-day calendar period". At creation God made the earth and all things connected to it. On the "seventh day" God rested. Contrary to this author, God did not "institute at creation" that it was to be a day of "worship". That did not happen until Israel, Moses and the Law. And when we get past Israel, Paul (a Jewish pharisee) exhorts his gentile readers to not let themselves be bullied about these things....

    "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths," (Col2:16)
The expression "one of the sabbaths" is not the way it is being described by the author. It is not, eeny meeny miny moe, this one? this one? or that one? One of these many/various ones. No. It is more like the creation account. The evening and the morning: Day one....Day two....Day three. (Gen1:5,8,12, etc) It could just as easily say "#1 of the sabbaths" And in this case, "sabbath" would mean the same thing as "week"....a "seven day period". (that's why it's plural...there are 7 day[s] between sabbaths...in a 7-day week) Although, originally, in the OT sabbath means "rest". From regular use, it -came- to also be known as a week of seven days. But when God instituted the "sabbath", it was "a rest", on the "seventh day" (Ex16:23,26) The sabbath was NOT the "first day". The sabbath was on the "seventh day". According to our gregorian calendars, Saturday. Thus, to say "#1 of the sabbaths" would be like us saying "#1 of the week". What is #1 of the week? Of "seven" is not "one" the "first"? (Sunday) If there are "seven"... of -anything-, a person does not call the 7th the "first". Unless it is a "countdown" (to zero), there is no instance in our 'normal' understandings that makes "7" the "first". If there are 7, 1 is the first. #1 of seven, is one....not seven.

I know there are various writings at the website. Have you seen this one? [link] While Hunt has doctrinal issues regarding repentance and the literalness of hell, when he does research, his research is excellent. He establishes a Thursday crucifixion. (be sure to read down to "forget good friday")

If we properly understand that the sabbath was on the 7th day of the week, Saturday, there is a Jewish 'festive'/prophetic reason, then, why the resurrection was on Sunday. (And as others taunt: it has nothing to do with the Catholic church or Constantine) One of the verses the author quotes.

    "he shall wave the sheaf before Jehovah, to be accepted for you; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it....

    "And when you have counted for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, the day that you bring the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath; and you shall offer a new grain offering unto Jehovah." (Lev23:11,15-16)

The day "after" the sabbath, the firstfruits is waved. And then 50 days, the day "after the seventh sabbath"

Jesus in His resurrection is called "Christ the firstfruits"

    "For as in Adam everyone dies, even so in Christ everyone shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christís at His coming." (1Co15:22-23....written by a pharisee who would have known Jewish tradition)
The sheaf of the grain-offering was waved on the day 'after' the sabbath (Sunday), even back in the OT (centuries before Rome ever existed, or there was a Gregorian calendar that labeled the first day as "Sunday" six centuries later) And Jesus the "firstfruit" of the resurrection rose the day 'after' the sabbath....Sunday. The Law was based on sabbath. But Jesus came to mediate the "new covenant" of "better things" (Heb12:24) "grace and truth" (Jn1:17)

Even figuratively, if the Law led to death (Rom7:5), how would Jesus' resurrection, the thing that even the early church era sadducees rebelled against, because that's what the church proclaimed (Ac4:1-2), have been symbolically something to look forward to, if it was still based in the sabbath, the 'last' of the days. His resurrection gives hope of Eternal Life. It is a new covenant, on a new day.

If all we have is Jesus' -death-, that is nothing. Sure, the debt for sin is paid. But SO WHAT? The people who died are still dead. Jesus is dead. In effect: God is powerless, and the serpent 'won'! The thing of triumph is that Jesus did NOT -remain- dead, but ROSE AGAIN! and is "seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the Heavens" (Heb8:1) Thus, leading the way (Heb2:13) for our resurrection, and on to Eternal Life. (1Co15:55-57, Rom6:8-10, Job19:25-26, Mt28:6, Mk16:6, Re5:12, 1Co15:23)

And the passages are easy to understand... "after the sabbath, as the first day of the [week (of 7 days)/sabbaths] began to dawn. (Mt28:1)

If a person doesn't try to manipulate the language to make it say something it doesn't, considering that our Gregorian calendar didn't yet exist when the events happened when these accounts were written, in terminology that they used in those days, and trying to make "7" equal "1", then it's a no-brainer.

You know... like lying politicians, on impeachment trial for their misdeeds, who wrangle about "what the meaning of -is- is"!

They didn't -call- it "Sunday" then; but according to the calendar we use today, that's what it was. The "first" of the seven days, that they called "sabbaths", but we call a "week", is the day -after- the sabbath, which we call, "Sunday". God said, "Let there be light" (Gen1:3) on Sunday.

But the Jews of Jesus' day rejected Him and asked for His crucifixion. Through the years they have banned the reading of Isaiah ch53 that describes Jesus' suffering. And even today, they refuse to speak of "God", calling Him instead, HaShem (the name), and of Jesus, "this man". (Heb7:4, 10:12) And so, along with rejecting Messiah, they also explain away His Resurrection Day.

But "THIS MAN, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God," (Heb10:12)

Amen!

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