9 And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth."
A question was recently presented to me re in regards to the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and the issue of God’s looking upon us or not. i.e. His countenance turned toward us, or turned away from us. The immensity of this subject soon became apparent as I began to study it.I would like to first start with this quote from Dr. John Piper:
“Beware of the pleasant view of God that He is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept cost the agony of Calvary. Forgiveness cost God the cross of Jesus before He could forgive sin, and remain a holy God. The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive, because it would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the atonement of Jesus’ shed blood.”
John Piper (From: God is the Gospel)
In conjunction with this quote we have this rather alarming passage where Joshua speaks to the people. He had just declared “as for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and the people responded that they would also serve the Lord. This is Joshua’s response to their declaration;
19 But Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins."
What he said here is true. No one is able to serve the Lord, that is of their own power and will. God is holy and jealous. If they err in their service He will not forgive their sins nor their transgressions. This supports the quote from Piper. God is perfection and His perfection is the standard in all things. Now thanks be to God for giving us Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the Lamb that was slain and who is foreknown from before the foundation of the world. God foreknew the need for the shed blood of the lamb before He even began to create this universe.
17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot, 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
The righteous wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb, and only those who do so can enter the New Jerusalem. The blood washes clean, it doesn’t even leave a “bloodstain”. The robes of the righteous are made white when washed in His blood. This is an important point.
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14 I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
14Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
A blood-washed garment is a requirement for entering the New Jerusalem.
11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
I will leave this for a moment and go to the issue of God’s face, looking, or not looking, upon us. Here are 3 passages among many that deal with this:
22 I will turn my face from them, and they shall profane my treasured place. Robbers shall enter and profane it.
Ezekiel was giving this word from God to Israel.
9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!
Here David is asking the Lord not to hide His face from Him, this actually is preceded by his declaration in verse 8;
8 You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."
So David is seeking God’s face, but he also is aware that if God chooses to hide His face from us, all such seeking is in vain. Ezekiel’s prophecy shows us that God did turn His face away from them, and He had done this not just once, but several times as they were always lapsing into the sin of idolatry. There was a constant cycle of obedience and disobedience throughout the history of Israel. God was constantly turning His face from them, but promising to turn back to them if they would repent. Repentance under the Mosaic Covenant required man to turn back to God but also required God to turn His face back towards men. There had to be a permanent solution to this. David foresaw this;
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
An amazing revelation was given to David which led to this prayer; that God could hide His face from David’s sins, but not hide His face from David. All of his iniquities were to be blotted out, i.e. as if they never existed. God cannot tolerate sin in any way. However a way had to be made for Him to “look upon” the sinner. How was this made possible?
22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
God gave the Law at Sinai to Moses along with the directions concerning the appropriate blood sacrifices for the covering of their sins. This blood sacrifice covered sins, but did not “remove” them.The sacrifices had to be offered in a yearly cycle. This was God's grace to those who lived under the Mosaic Covenant.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
As Paul would later write:
10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
The Law and the ceremonial ordinances point the way to the fulfillment of all things in Christ, which would include the need for the shedding of blood. Even the Passover account, which has men applying the blood to their homes, and the destroyer passing over every house where God sees the blood, points forward to Christ as fulfillment.( Exodus 12:13)
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
God had a better way which was to come:
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
By the shedding of His blood as the Lamb who is the final sacrifice, Christ fulfilled the righteous requirement of the Law.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16 "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Christ entered into the holy of holies in heaven itself as the great, and last high priest, with His own blood, as the great, and last, sacrifice. He then sat down at the Father’s right hand awaiting the day when He will return.
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Christ is head over His Body, the church, which of course would be us and all who are His. This is taken literally. We are His actual body, but here is even more:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Because we are His body, we are seated with Him right now in heavenly places.So now the Father can look upon me and not see my iniquities, He sees His Son in whom we are placed. Our transgressions and iniquities are washed clean in the blood, which He himself brought into the holy of holies. They are gone forever. We are perfected for all time and there no longer remains any sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of sins. The blood washes white as snow.
18 "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
I believe that the blood-washed robes are made from lamb’s wool. The scarlet garment has become white as snow. The blood washes away the stain of sin revealing the robe of wool. (Rev 7:14)
29For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
The Father now looks upon His obedient Son, who is also High Priest, and King of kings,He doesn’t even see the blood, as He did on the doorposts at Passover.That blood was applied by men. Christ as High Priest sprinkles His own blood.His sacrifice is done once, for all time. I had referenced Revelation 7 earlier which says; "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”Our robes are washed WHITE, by the blood. Even the blood is not visible. It doesn’t just cover, it “takes away” the stain of sin, and leaves no stain of its’ own.
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
We are in Christ. He sees all of His sons and daughters in and through His Son.
3 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! (Also verses 7 and 19)
God’s face shines upon, i.e. illuminates whatever He looks upon.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We who are restored in this manner, (that is, those who walk in the light), are walking before the face of God. That place is where we confess our sins and the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood is evident. All sins are forgiven and washed away.They do not exist, as nothing unrighteous or impure can exist in His sight/light.
13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Christ is the light of God’s face. There was a time when The Father could not look upon us, who were once dead in our sins. This also meant that we were not able look upon Him.
9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?
Now the Father looks upon us through His Son and we look upon the Father in the same manner.The light of God's face,i.e. Christ the light, is now the eternal propitiation.
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." (Hebrews 10:17 and Jeremiah 31:34)
The blood of Christ is so effective in its’ work that the Father no longer remembers our sins.
15 Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, 16 who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted.
The shed blood of the Lamb of God is the way by which God will forever look upon us and we upon Him.
1 To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm; A Song; May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah!
Soli Deo Gloria!