History of Redemption: Blog Post 26
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned - every one - to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV
PROPITIATION - properly signifies the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift. (The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition)
Propitiation is a word that I did not hear until I was well into my walk with Christ. In fact, it is a word that was not even mentioned in the first bible I ever read (the NIV). It was not until I was given an ESV bible that I came upon this word. The NIV translates this word as “atoning sacrifice”. I confess that I am not a biblical scholar, I am just a man who loves God’s word. However, the translation as “propitiation” seems to give a bit more depth to the passages that use this greek word (hilasterion or hilasmos).
This week, as I meditated on the above passage from Isaiah, I realized that these words in Isaiah were in fact a description of Jesus Christ as our propitiation. This is how Christ removed the wrath of God from us, by being “wounded for our transgression ... crushed for our iniquities”. Truly he bore the “chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed”. How amazing is our God, that He would send His son to take upon Himself the punishment for OUR sins, to satisfy the wrath of God against the sin of man, that we may now stand in the presence of His holiness, as Christ’s righteousness is now imputed to us! In the words of a friend, “it seems too good to be true”. It is too good .... and it is true. “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
It is not only amazing to me that God would save us as He has done, but that He also would proclaim hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born into flesh that THIS was in fact His plan for our salvation! Since reading a bit more about this great word, I have discovered that this same word also refers to the atoning sacrifice made by the high priest as he would sprinkle the blood of atonement upon the Mercy Seat of the ark. If you have ever wondered whether it was a waste of your time to read through those sections of the Old Testament that go into such wonderful detail about the ark and the tabernacle, let me tell you now, it is not. When we place the truth about what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross next to the system of sacrifice that God established long before the time of Christ’s death upon that cross, we realize that Christ was in fact the perfect, final, and glorious fulfillment of that sacrificial system. It was the blood of Jesus sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat that allowed Him to be the propitiation for our sins, and thereby to satisfy the wrath of a holy and just God. Once and for all. Truly we rejoice in the words of Christ Himself, “It is finished” (John 19:30).
“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).