Yeshua’s Atonement

There is a danger of having no regard for Yeshua’s identity or for His atonement. The danger is eventually being cast into the lake of fire. Very few really want to go there.

To capture both of the concepts of regarding Yeshua’s identity and His atonement, let’s look at Colossians 1:13-23 while taking a few tangents along the way.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He (the Father) has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Yeshua), 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

What exactly is the power of darkness that the Father has delivered us from? Ephesians 2:2 indicates it’s this world; more specifically, it the prince of the power of the air which is a spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Acts 26:18 refers to it as the power of Satan. When we serve the power of the world, we have no regard for Yeshua; but, we can change our minds. As we start to have regard for (respectfully fear) who Yeshua is and what He has done for us, and begin to obey His commandments (repent), we are ushered into Yeshua’s kingdom.

This deliverance from bondage to sin was not possible without redemption; a price had to be paid for our iniquities. The Greek word for redemption is apolutrosis; it means liberation that was obtained by a paid ransom. In this case, the ransom was paid with Yeshua’s blood.

Yeshua was also a propitiation; that’s something that is used to make someone less angry with us when we’ve offended them. First John 2:2 says that the Messiah was the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins and for the whole world. First John 4:10 says that God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins because of His love for us. We need to be extremely grateful He was willing to do this for us. We need to love Him since He first loved us and we need to demonstrate that by obeying His commandments.

The Father has accepted Yeshua’s offering as a ransom for our redemption and as a propitiation for our sins. Once atonement (reconciliation) was made by Yeshua, God responded by forgiving our sins. We still need to make reparations when applicable because that’s our part of the atonement process. The Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis; it means to release or pardon.  That’s what we need to do when we forgive others; this is part of the reconciliation process.

Some people may wonder why Yeshua’s death was even necessary. We must understand Isaiah 59:2. It says, But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” Sin separates us from God; this is not a New Testament concept. Originally, this verse referred to God’s people in Isaiah’s day but it applies to us as well because according to Romans 3:23, no one is without sin. Our sins don’t go away just because we start obeying God’s commandments. We need to have those sins removed or at least covered in order for reconciliation to take place. The latter was what the Levitical offerings were for; they also pointed to Yeshua who would be the Passover Lamb that would continually take away (present participle) the sin of the world (John 1:29). It is probably true to say that the reason the Levitical offerings will be made during the millennial reign of Messiah is to look back in gratefulness for the atonement Messiah made for us.

During Messiah’s millennial reign, Satan will be a prisoner in the abyss; his final destruction will come much later. Unfortunately, the Levitical offerings did not stop the power of the devil which is still at work in this world today. Hebrews 2:14-18 explains: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Yeshua) Himself likewise shared in the same [by taking on human flesh], that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren [by taking on human flesh], that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” When propitiation was made, God’s anger was appeased. Yeshua’s death makes it possible for Satan to eventually be destroyed. We are still waiting for all of Yeshua’s enemies, including death, to be put under His feet. A spiritual battle is still being waged in the spiritual and physical realms; meanwhile, Yeshua is in heaven officiating as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

No ordinary man could pay the ransom for our redemption and be the propitiation for our iniquities; all mankind is sinful and is not qualified to do these things. Only Yeshua’s blood was suitable for atonement because He was without sin or blemish (Hebrews 4:15). He had to be without sin because all animal sacrifices had to be without blemish; offerings with blemishes were an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 17:1).

Isaiah 53:6-9 prophesied: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [Yehovah] has laid on Him [Yeshua] the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death.” This verse shows us that it was God’s plan for Yeshua to be a substitutionary sacrifice long before Yeshua was born. When the time came, He did not defend Himself. He was scourged, spit on, and mocked. A crown of thorns was forced down on his head. He was nailed to a tree; once He died, His body was thrust through with a spear so that blood and water poured to the ground at the base of the tree. He died with robbers, but was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

Yeshua was slain from the foundation of the world in the heavenly realm. I believe atonement was accomplished there for all mankind.  Although His blood was not applied to the actual earthly altar when He died on the cross, the Levitical patterns He fulfilled in the earthly realm still have significance. We need time and insight to understand all of these things better.

Yeshua fulfilled the typology of the Levitical offerings which atone and/or cleanse those who trust in Him:

  • Passover Lamb
  • Sin Offering
  • Guilt Offering
  • Burnt Offering
  • Peace Offering
  • Grain Offering
  • Red Heifer
  • Birds of the Purification Ritual
  • Offerings of the Day of Atonements

Many people will say that Yehovah did not really delight in the sacrificial system that He had established. Their thinking is based on Isaiah 1:11. It says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.” Their thinking is warped because they fail to see the context found in Isaiah 1:1-20. The sacrifices, incense, and sacred assemblies/feasts of God’s people troubled Him because of the peoples’ iniquities. Yehovah wanted to hide His eyes from them and not listen to them. He told them to cleanse themselves spiritually; He wanted them to stop doing evil; rebuke the oppressor; learn to do good; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow; and seek justice. These represent the weightier matters of Torah.

The Levitical offerings were part of God’s plan, but they had to be accompanied by repentance; and reparations were expected to accompany the guilt offerings. Today, we must repent (turn back to and obey God’s commandments), offer appropriate reparations for our trespasses, and trust in the atonement that Yeshua’s offering provided.

Some people may wonder if there is any other evidence in the Tanach that suggests the Messiah would provide atonement for His people. I believe so! Daniel 9:24 is known as the prophecy of the 70 weeks (shavuiym). It is a prophecy of the coming of Messiah the Prince. One of the things He was supposed to do was make reconciliation for iniquity; blood atonement is the only way to do that. Yeshua offered expiation (made atonement) by offering His lifeblood for us; His blood was shed on the Preparation Day of the Passover in a couple of ways:

  • John 19:1-2 – when Yeshua was scourged, and when a crown of thorns was put on His head.
  • John 19:34 – when blood and water flowed from Yeshua’s body when a soldier pierced His side with a spear.

Typologically speaking, the offering of Isaac by Abraham also pictured the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua. In addition, Elijah’s battle of the bulls on Mount Carmel was also a veiled indication of Yeshua’s death. Yeshua was represented by the bull which was killed by the priests of Baal, but whose flesh was not consumed. The bull which was killed, cut up by Elijah, and consumed by Yehovah’s fire, was a picture of the Beast of Revelation being killed and cast into the lake of fire. This dual action is typical of the typological significance of the various Levitical offerings.  The account of Phineas in Numbers 25 is also a shadow of the results of Yeshua’s stonement: the new covenant (covenant of peace), Yeshua’s everlasting priesthood, and being thrust through by spear in order to stop the power of death.

I can’t stress enough that blood atonement was the primary way to appease the Father because this was the method that Yehovah set forth from the beginning. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” This is evident as early as in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal and used the skins as a covering for Adam and Eve. After that, we see evidence in Scripture of using offerings before approaching God long before the book of Leviticus was written.

Yehovah accepted blood as an atonement for sin because of His grace (chesed). Proverbs 16:6 says, “In mercy (chesed) and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” Once atonement/appeasement is made (kaphar), we must not use it as a license to continue to sin. We must have regard for Yeshua and do our best to be obedient to God’s commandments.

Now that we’ve looked at atonement, let’s go back to our passage in Colossians 1 to take a closer look at who Yeshua is. Verse 15 says, “He (Yeshua) is the image of the invisible God (the Father), the firstborn over all creation.” Here we see the pre-existence of Yeshua; He existed before His human birth.

Verse 16 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (see also Philip. 2:13). 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Yeshua pre-existed creation; He had the authority to create everything including powers with various kinds of authority. Everything was created for His pleasure.

How would you feel if what you created did not bring you the pleasure you intended? To bring it closer to home, how do you feel when your rebellious teenagers are disrespectful and have no regard for you? You probably desire them to be more like they were when they were younger; they were probably more obedient then, and had love and respect for you.  Imagine how Yeshua feels about us.

Verse 18: And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (proteuo = the first place). Considering what Yeshua has done for us, He deserves the preeminence! Love and respect should come with that!

Verse 19: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood (atonement) of His cross.” Yeshua’s fleshly body was like a full body suit that the Father could inhabit and use to interact with creation. It was a way He could reach out and say, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword (Isaiah 1:18-20).” Don’t you want to say this to your rebellious teenagers so they might choose to be reconciled to you? This is how God feels. He’s gone the extra mile to make reconciliation happen by providing atonement for sin.

Verse 21-23: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (atoned) 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”  Yeshua’s goal is for us to be reconciled with the Father so He can present us as an offering without blemish to the Father. The circumstances we face in our life are another means by which God is perfecting us; this is separate from salvation.

As we walk the path set before us, we need to yield to the will of the Father; be faithful; stand firm in the Word of God; and never commit apostasy. We need to always have regard for Yeshua, for who He was, is, and will be. We must not continue to sin in an effort to make grace abound; it’s not going to happen. Instead, we need to walk in newness of life so we can be made perfect.

Will you do that?

My blessing for you: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

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Numbering the People

When people begin to read the book of Numbers, they tend to skip all of the information regarding the numbering of the people. Like genealogies, most tend to think numbering people is boring. We need to put that mentality on hold for a bit and pay attention. In addition, we should understand there were different reasons for each census mentioned in the beginning of Numbers and not forget that the Lord gave Moses a very important rule regarding a census.

Exodus 30:11-15 explains, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. 13 This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the Lord. 14 Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the Lord.”

If you recall, King David commanded a census to be taken in 2 Samuel 24. Note in this situation that 2 Samuel indicates it was the Lord who moved David to count Israel because He was angry with Israel. At the same time, 1 Chronicles 21 says the Adversary (Satan) stood up against Israel and moved David to take this census. I believe both are accurate because the Lord can accomplish whatever He desires through any instrument including Satan.

When Joab completed taking this particular census, he reported to David that there were 800,000 people in Israel and 500,000 in Judah. That was a total of 1,300,000 swordsmen. Most would wonder why it was wrong for David to take this census. It was most likely that David sinned not only by following Satan’s lead to take a census but mainly by not collecting any ransom money along with the census. This is assumed since there is no mention of its collection taking place.

David was given a choice between 3 punishments and chose the one that would show the Lord’s mercy — a 3 day plague. Shortly after the judgment of the Lord began, David asked the Lord to let his sin be against him and his father’s house and to spare the remaining people because at that point, 70,000 people had died as a result of the terrible plague. David went to Araunah and paid him 50 shekels of silver for his threshing floor and oxen and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord so the plague would be withdrawn from the people.

Now let’s get back to the first census in the book of Numbers. It was taken of the entire assembly for military service and included those who were 20 years old. It did not include the Levites who were over the tabernacle of testimony, its equipment and everything else connected with it. The total for this census was 603,550. What happened to the money collected for this census?

Exodus 38:25-28 says, “And the silver from those who were numbered of the congregation was one hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary: 26 a bekah for each man (that is, half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone included in the numbering from twenty years old and above, for six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty men. 27 And from the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil: one hundred sockets from the hundred talents, one talent for each socket. 28 Then from the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, overlaid their capitals, and made bands for them.” It is clear from these verses that the money was used to make parts of the tabernacle.

The next census involved the firstborn males. The Levites were taken in place of the firstborn males from the other tribes. Originally, the Lord claimed these firstborn males for Himself when He killed the firstborn male Egyptian men and animals. The Lord later chose the Levites to replace them since they rallied around Moses and killed those who were involved in the sin of the golden calf (Exodus 32:26-29).

First, a census was taken of all males in the tribe of Levi by clans and families. There were 7,500 from the family of Gershom, 8,600 from the family of Kohath (a footnote from the NKJV says some manuscripts of the Septuagint read 8,300), and 6,200 from the family of Merari– a total of 22,000 who were one month old and over (Num. 3:39). Actually, there had to be 8,300 from Kohath since adding the family totals would equal 22,300 if the number 8,600 was used.

Second, a census was taken of all the firstborn males in the remainder of the multitude (non-Levites) who were a month old and over. These totaled 22,273. Since there was a shortage of 273 Levites for every firstborn male who was one month old and over in the rest of the tribes, redemption money had to be collected from the firstborn of the people of Israel. Five shekels were collected from 273 firstborn males –a total of 1,365 shekels to redeem those firstborn who had not been redeemed by the number of Levites. In addition, all of the firstborn of the Levites’ livestock were taken in place of those of the rest of the tribes.

Third, a census was taken of all males between the ages of 30-50 years old in the tribes of Levi by clans and families (the sons of Kohath, Gershon, and Merari). These people would be involved in the service or ministry of the tabernacle. Each of these 3 groups had certain duties they were responsible for. There were 2,750 from the sons of Kohath, 2,630 from the sons of Gershon, and 3,200 from the sons of Merari—a total of 8,580.

After the plague at Baal of Peor (Acacia Grove), a census was taken of everyone 20 years old and older (Num.20).  This was before the people entered the Promised Land.  There were 43,730 from the tribe of Reuben.  There were 22,200 Simeonites.  There were 40,500 from the tribe of Gad. There were 76,500 from the tribe of Judah.  There were 64,300 from the tribe of Issachar. There were 60,500 Zebulunites.  There were 52,700 from the families of Manasseh and 32,500 from the sons of Ephraim.  There were 45,600 from the tribe of Benjamin.  The Danites totaled 64,400 and there were 53,400 from the tribe of Asher.  The sons of Naphtali totaled 45,400.  All of the children of Israel were 601,730.  Once these people entered the Promised Land, the land was divided by lot among the tribes of Israel.  Following this, each tribe divided their inheritance of land in proportion to the number of people in each tribe.

All of these numbers might not seem very important to us but they are to the Lord. You see, every shepherd knows how many sheep he has. If one ends up missing, he searches for it until he finds it (Matt. 18:12). Numbers were important to the tribes as well. Whenever a battle took place, the leaders of Israel could check their numbers and names afterward to see if anyone was unaccounted for.

During the final 7 years before Christ returns, the Lord will know how many people on earth are His. The Lord will use Israel’s enemies (locusts, grasshoppers, shearer-worms, and cutter-worms) to destroy the land, to cause His people to repent, and return to Him before the Day of the Lord.

God’s intention is the eventual restoration of the land of Israel (Joel 2:25, Rev. 9:3).  The land will be eventually be divided according to the borders defined in Ezekiel 48.  Before that takes place, it will be Satan’s desire to possess the Antichrist and receive the worship that only God deserves while destroying God’s people at the same time. Notice that even though it doesn’t seem like it, the Lord allows Satan to think he is in control when it is really the Lord who is omnipotent and accomplishing His purposes.

During the final tribulation, there will be 144,000 servants of God who will be sealed—that’s 12,000 each from the tribes of Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, and Benjamin. Some believe the tribe of Dan won’t be among them because it will side with the Antichrist and Ephraim may be part of Joseph’s or among the numerous Gentiles that will stand before the throne shouting “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:4-10)

I’m sure the Lord will be pleased with each member of this multitude who He knows by name because He redeemed every single one of them. In fact, all of their sins were placed against Jesus and He covered them with His precious blood.

God’s people must come out of Babylon the Great so the final 7 plagues will not fall on them but only on those who practice lawlessness! (Rev. 18:4) Remember, if you want to avoid the plagues, you need to be redeemed! This is the pattern that was laid out in Exodus 30.

Finally, don’t forget that just as the redemption money collected with the census was used in the building of the tabernacle, those who are redeemed by the Bride price are living stones because 1 Peter 2:4-5 tells us: “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

May the Name of the Lord be praised!!

It’s Really Physical and Spiritual

Many people see Christianity as a religious belief system or something strictly spiritual.  It’s really a marriage relationship between man and God.  God offers mankind a choice — either blessing and life for obedience or cursing and death for disobedience.  Everyone makes a choice between life and death by what they do whether they realize it or not.

Man is to demonstrate his love for God by obeying God’s commands, statutes, and ordinances in the physical realm.  These physical commands, statutes, and ordinances are often related to or represent spiritual things.  For example:

  • Physical circumcision removes the physical foreskin of the flesh but circumcision of the heart is a spiritual circumcision which removes the spiritual fleshly nature.
  • The Levitical Sacrifices atoned sin and guilt of trespasses while representing the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus for those who will believe in Him, the purification of the righteous, the consummation of the wicked by fire, the robes of righteousness for God’s people, and the peace that will eventually be experienced in the kingdom of God.
  • Ritual immersion was to remove various forms of ritual uncleanness.
  • Baptism pictures the death of the old man and resurrection to walk in newness of life.
  • Forbidden mixtures teach us that Christians are not to be in relationships with non-believers that would cause us to live more like the world and not as God would have us to live.
  • Celebrating the feasts of the Lord celebrates the steps of God’s plan of redemption for mankind.
  • The Lord’s Supper causes us to remember the bride price Jesus paid when He died on the cross and that He will return for His bride when the Father says the time is right.
  • Observing the weekly Sabbath is a type of the rest we will experience during the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus reigns in Jerusalem.

Deuteronomy 4:6 says, “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”  NKJV

Most men do not consider God’s laws to be wise today but foolish.  They fail to understand that obedience to God’s laws brings peace and harmony between God and men.  If man could understand the meaning of God’s laws, they would also be able to stand in awe of the work of Jesus Christ and see the complexity of the interwoven types and shadows found in God’s word.

Do you think Christianity:

  • Is just a spiritual belief system or experience?
  • Requires obedience to God’s commandments?
  • Is something else?

Why?