I am extremely displeased when people talk about the wrath of God or how, “the word propitiation refers to the fist of the Father, striking the Son….” or anything else that presents Jesus as a being, completely separate from His Father, a Father who is allegedly abusive and violent. That’s just wrong, unbiblical, and evil. I’ve said many times before, this really is a hill I will die on.
So, so many people are separated from God because they have heard these half-truths, these false personifications, these misunderstandings, and internalized them. The God they reject is actually made in the image of their rage filled alcoholic father, their violent mother, or any other angry, out of control person they’ve ever had the misfortune of being exposed to.
They perceive that false image of God and quite rightly recoil in horror. Not only will I not follow such a “god,” I refuse to believe he exists. Maybe that is completely illogical, but it is moral. Such a “god” should not be followed. Our innate morality written on the tablet of our heart, is designed to revoke the authority, even to revoke the very existence of that which we believe is evil.
So the first verse that is really important to hang onto is John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1, they are One. Jesus is God in human form, fully human, fully Divine. God came to Earth on a rescue mission and laid down His life like a soldier might throw himself over a land mine to save his brothers, or a husband might step between his wife and a mugger, or perhaps like a father might drown while rescuing his son. It was an act of great sacrificial love, not an act of cosmic child abuse. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
The next verse that is really important is Matthew 3:17, “and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
God is steadfast, unchanging, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is not praising “His beloved Son in whom he is well pleased” one minute, and pouring out His wrath upon Him in the next moment.
Psalm 22 is also a verse that applies here. On the cross Jesus says, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” From that one line many people falsely extrapolate that God abandoned Jesus, that He was forsaken, that God was so disgusted with Him, He left Him to die alone.
The thing is, Jesus quoted the Bible all the time and it is a very prophetic book. It speaks of the coming Messiah over and over again. So, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is actually the first verse of Psalm 22, a Psalm that ends with, “They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!”
The sky has already darkened at this point, the temple curtain has already been torn, and Jesus is declaring His victory, repeating the words of prophecy. He is not lamenting His feelings of abandonment. He cannot be abandoned, because He and the Father are One.
We who live today are, “a people yet unborn and He has done it!” Rejoice!
There really is a, “Light so lovely, that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” One the hardest things to do however, is to convince people that God loves them, that God so loved the world that He basically gave Himself, that the world through Him might be saved.
God does not “hate our sin,” He hates the separation from Him that our sin causes. Jesus came to reconcile us to Himself, to end the separation, to bridge the gap, to tear down the curtain.
We could do a word search of “propitiation,” we could speak of the origins, of the Ark of the Covenant, of the cherubim guarding the yet empty throne upon it, guarding “the mercy seat.” Those verses are prophetic in their own right, they speak of the coming of Jesus, of how He shall be seated in victory upon that throne, and bridge the gap as our propitiation, our mercy seat, our cover. “Propitiation” is not the angry fist of God nor is it sacrificing our children to a violent volcano “god” in a Pagan ritual. Jesus is our propitiation, our cover, our mercy seat, our torn veil, the Ark of the Covenant revealed to us, and He is now seated in victory.
He is not a victim, He actually chose to lay down His life for us. He wanted to save us, He desired to do it. In Matthew 26:53 He tells us quite clearly, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” He had a choice. He chose to save us.
We could do a word search, we could read the Bible, we could post scripture, but at the end of the day I know this issue is actually a heart problem, a spiritual issue, and it’s just not the kind of thing that can be healed with facts and figures. It is our heart that gets it wrong, it is a relationship fracture, a disconnect that causes us to recreate God in our own image, or worse, in the image of those who cause us to recoil.
Jesus really is, “a Light so lovely that we want to know the source of Him with all our hearts.” He and the Father are One, He and the Holy Spirit are One, and it is a relationship we are invited into. The bible speaks often of being IN, as in, “is Christ IN you, are you IN Christ.” It is an invitation to come to Him, to come into Him, and it requires a decision made from your heart.