I’ve been working my way through a new book by N. T. Wright called The Day the Revolution Began, and I have a lot to tell you. This is the second post containing some of what I have learned. You can read the first post here. I hope you gain as much as I have.
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Sin is, as I asserted last week, not simply the breaking of God’s laws, but it is the worship of created things rather than the Creator. Sin is the turning over of our God-given power to those created things.
The cross is the rescue of God’s people, but not from His own wrath. Jesus’s death is not a man throwing Himself between an angry, righteous God and His people.
There is no wrathful God demanding blood.
Looking back at the Old Testament sacrificial system, the death of the animal was not the point. The actual killing of the animal was not even done on the altar as it was in most pagan religions in that day. The cutting of the animal’s throat was only the way to release the life of the animal, its blood, which was then used to cleanse the worshipers and the sacred place in which God was to meet them.
The coming together of heaven and earth is a dangerous occurrence. This cleansing by blood enabled “the all-holy God to meet with his people without disastrous results.”
This meeting happened on the mercy seat.
The same word used to describe Jesus in Romans 3.
The place where God meets with His people who are covered by blood.
Back to the idea of death being a punishment dealt by a just and angry God, the only time a ceremony under the Old Testament system involves an animal having sins confessed over its head, the “scapegoat” is explicitly not killed, but is driven out into the wilderness.
It is exiled.
Which is precisely the result of Sin.
From Adam and Eve being exiled from the garden to Israel being exiled to Babylon to the ultimate exile of death, exile from the presence of God is the natural consequence of worshiping the created thing rather than the Creator.
The natural consequence, not the angry punishment.
We need a rescue, yes, but not from the wrath of God. We need a rescue from our own exile.
We need, in short, an Exodus.
In Jesus, on the cross, we find not a wrathful God demanding blood, but a covenantal God taking the force of sin on Himself.
All quotes are from The Day the Revolution Began by N. T. Wright
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