Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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July 7, 1998
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October 8, 2013
Was Jesus Really Forsaken As He Died On The Cross?, Messianic Prophecies In Psalm 22 And Isaiah 53, We Have No Hope Without Christ Who Is Our Blessed Hope, By His Stripes We Are Healed, Christ's Sufferings And Our Weak Body Of Flesh, A Temporary Victory For The Wicked, Does God Turn Away Due To Pain Or To Weep?, Queen Esther's Lament For Her People, Jeremiah Was A Weeping Prophet, Jesus Weeps And Raises Lazarus From The Dead, God Turns Away His Face In His Anger, Unbelieving Jews Turned Their Faces Away From Jesus, God Sometimes Refuses To Listen To Our Prayers, Without Faith It Is Impossible To Please God, David Pleas Before The Lord, When God Hides His Face, Curses Or Blessings, The Lord Curses Adam And Eve Due To Their Sin
This series began with a question regarding whether or not there might be times when God cannot look upon evil. The case cited was that of Jesus on the Cross. In an effort to explain that God did not really forsake His Son as He hung dying on a Roman Cross, some Bible students have suggested that when the Lord cried out "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" -- see Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 -- it was not because He was actually doubting His Father's presence; rather it was because He simply wanted to make it known to the people who were present at the foot of His Cross, that He was fulfilling the following Scripture that is found at the beginning of Psalm Twenty-Two:
"[To the chief Musician upon Aijeleth Shahar, A Psalm of David.] My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?"
Psalms 22:1, KJV
While that is one possible explanation, I tend to view the Crucifixion event -- and Jesus' words -- differently. Allow me to inform you that the original Hebrew word that has been translated in the previous verse from Psalm 22 as "forsaken" is "azab". According to the Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Hebrew Aramaic English Lexicon, this word means to leave or leave behind, forsake, depart, let alone, abandon or desert. The meaning of this Hebrew word is rather clear. Thus, in my opinion, there is no doubt that this is precisely what Jesus meant. Perhaps during His greatest moment of suffering, God the Father actually allowed His Son to indeed think that He had been abandoned. In order for Jesus to become the Perfect Sacrifice for sin, perhaps it was necessary for Him to feel the full weight of what it means to be a condemned sinner who has been totally abandoned by God, and who is without hope in this world. As if to confirm my thoughts, I was reminded of the following verse which I shared with you at the end of part three:
"For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer."
Isaiah 54:7-8, KJV
As you can see, the verse states in part "For a small moment have I forsaken thee." The reason why I find this significant is because this chapter is a continuation of Isaiah 53, which as many of my readers will no doubt know, vividly describes the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, just like Psalm 22. In other words, both chapters contain Messianic Prophecies about Jesus Christ. Regarding sinners who are without hope in the world, consider what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Christian brethren at Ephesus, and how he describes them as "having no hope, and without God in the world", before they came to Jesus Christ:
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, HAVING NO HOPE, AND WITHOUT GOD IN THE WORLD: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
Ephesians 2:11-13, KJV
This issue regarding hope forms an integral part of Paul's writings, and can also be seen in the Epistles of Peter and John as well. Whereas those people who do not know Christ are indeed hopeless, over and over again Paul emphasizes that not only should we be filled with hope, but that we belong to the God of hope. Furthermore, our blessed hope is the redemption of our bodies through our faith in Jesus Christ. Consider the following verses and be inspired:
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."
Romans 8:18-25, KJV
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."
Romans 15:13, KJV
"For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith."
Galatians 5:5, KJV
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,"
Ephesians 1:17-18, KJV
"For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Colossians 1:19-27, KJV
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;"
1 Timothy 1:1, KJV
"Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;"
Titus 1:1-2, KJV
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Titus 2:11-13, KJV
"That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
Titus 3:7, KJV
"And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
Hebrews 3:5-6, KJV
"And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end . . . That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;"
Hebrews 6:11, 18-19, KJV
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time . . . Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
1 Peter 1:3-5, 13, 21, KJV
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
1 John 3:2-3, KJV
Returning to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, in addition to the clear meaning of the Hebrew word "azab", if we stop to consider for a moment what intense pain Jesus must have no doubt endured prior to His horrific Death, it seems even more plausible that He may have felt temporarily abandoned by His Father. After all, Jesus was whipped until His back was probably a raw mess. If you are wondering why tradition holds that He was beaten thirty-nine times -- even though the Gospels do not say this explicitly -- then consider the following verses:
"If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee."
Deuteronomy 25:1-3, KJV
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5, KJV
"Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified."
Matthew 27:26, KJV
"And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified."
Mark 15:15, KJV
"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him."
John 19:1, KJV
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
1 Peter 2:24, KJV
"Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one."
2 Corinthians 11:24, KJV
As you can see, according to the Mosaic Law, a man could be beaten no more than a total of forty times. The Apostle Paul notes that he was beaten five times with "forty stripes save one", meaning that Paul was beaten thirty-nine times on each of the five occasions. However, please carefully notice that this was a Jewish form of punishment, and not a Roman custom. Thus, in actuality, we really don't know how many times Jesus may have been scourged by Pilate's soldiers.
In addition to being buffeted, spat upon and scourged, the Gospels tell us that a crown of thorns pierced Jesus' head. After carrying the beam of His Cross for some distance, His hands and feet were pierced in a very excruciating manner. His body had been hanging for hours, stretched out in an unnatural manner upon the Cross making breathing difficult. Jesus was no doubt hot, tired, thirsty, and very near death. In short, the Lord was probably at the weakest moment of His entire human existence. While in His heart and spirit Jesus knew who He was, where He had come from, and where He was going, in my opinion, it just seems possible that in that final hour of agony, He may have been overcome by His flesh, so that He cried out with that famous statement "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Consider the following verses which seem to support this idea:
"And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
Luke 22:41-44, KJV
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Matthew 26:41, KJV
"Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour."
John 4:6, KJV
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Hebrews 4:15, KJV
In the eyes of His unbelieving Jewish enemies, and perhaps in the eyes of Satan himself, as Jesus hung on that Cross, slowly dying for the sins of the world, it must have seemed like their moment of victory. In their foolish pride, they probably erroneously assumed that they had silenced the Son of God once and for all. Satan too must have thought that he had dealt a death blow to God's plans. However, in actuality, we know that he had done the exact opposite. It was the very wrath of the corrupt Jewish religionists, and the wrath of Satan himself, which has resulted in the highest praise, the greatest hope, and the greatest victory this world will ever know. As the Patriarch Job wrote in the verses below, while they boasted of their deeds, the victory of the wicked was indeed short, and they perished long ago:
"Knowest thou not this of old, since man was placed upon earth, That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? Though his excellency mount up to the heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds; Yet he shall perish for ever like his own dung: they which have seen him shall say, Where is he? He shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found: yea, he shall be chased away as a vision of the night. The eye also which saw him shall see him no more; neither shall his place any more behold him."
Job 20:4-9, KJV
As the sky over Jerusalem grew dark that "tragic" day, I believe that God the Father may have temporarily turned away His face from His Son, not because He was truly abandoning or forsaking Him, but possibly because He simply could not endure to see the suffering of His beloved Son at the hands of the wicked unbelieving Jews who were making Jesus suffer such an agonizing and humiliating death. I am reminded of the words spoken by Queen Esther after she was informed of the evil plot which Haman had planned against her people:
"For how can I endure to see the evil that shall come unto my people? or how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?"
Esther 8:6, KJV
In similar fashion, the Prophet Jeremiah has been dubbed by some people as the "weeping prophet" because he wept for his stubborn people, the Jews, who felt the Wrath of God under the powerful hand of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, as we see by the following verses:
"Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people. Mine eye trickleth down, and ceaseth not, without any intermission, Till the LORD look down, and behold from heaven. Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city."
Lamentations 3:48-51, KJV
Thus, it is possible that in the final hour, God may have turned away His face because He could not endure to watch His Son suffer on the Cross for the sins of an undeserving world.
Another possibility is that God may have turned away to weep because of their lack of faith in His Son. You may recall that when Jesus saw the unbelief of the Jews, He likewise wept just prior to raising Lazarus from the dead. Some people have suggested that the Lord wept because He loved Lazarus so much. While this may possibly be true, I really don't believe that this was the case, because Jesus already knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Therefore, it does not make much sense that He would weep over Lazarus. Thus, I believe that it was primarily their lack of faith which may have saddened Jesus the most. Consider the following verses:
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
John 11:33-40, KJV
Based upon other Scriptures, another strong possibility is that God was really turning away His face from the sins of the people in anger and in disgust, and not away from His own Son who He loved dearly. The Lord was totally outraged by the sins and hard-heartedness of the unbelieving Jews. Is it possible then that God the Father turned His face away from the Jews, just as they had turned their faces away from His Son in disbelief? As I mentioned earlier, Isaiah 53 is a powerful prophetic chapter which concerns the sufferings of Jesus Christ. In this chapter we find the following verse which describes how the unbelieving Jews turned their faces away from Jesus:
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3, KJV
Throughout the Old Testament we find Scriptures which support the view regarding God turning away from His people in anger. For example, in the case of the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon's Temple by the military forces of Nebuchadnezzar, the Prophet Jeremiah informs us that in His anger, the Lord ignored their pleas. He was not even interested in hearing their prayers because He was so upset with them. Consider the following verses:
"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee."
Jeremiah 7:16, KJV
"Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble."
Jeremiah 11:14, KJV
"Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good."
Jeremiah 14:10-11, KJV
"We have transgressed and have rebelled: thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through."
Lamentations 3:42-44, KJV
"Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods."
Deuteronomy 31:17-18, KJV
"And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith."
Deuteronomy 32:20, KJV
"When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:"
Job 34:29, KJV
"But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
Isaiah 59:2, KJV
"Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings."
Micah 3:4, KJV
"Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."
John 9:31, KJV
To have the Lord turn His face against us is definitely a very serious matter. It is a sure indication that we have truly displeased Him in a very major way. In like manner, our own natural children know that when we don't even want to look at them, or have them in the same room as us, that they have passed the point of no return in their testing of our patience.
Please notice that in the previous set of verses, part of the reason why Moses says that the Lord is going to turn His face away from the children of Israel, is because of their lack of faith. Moses writes "children in whom is no faith." As we saw earlier, the unbelieving Jews lacked faith at the time that Jesus was crucified as well. Furthermore, we know that without faith, it is impossible to please God, as we can determine by the following verse:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Hebrews 11:6, KJV
Despite the fact that King David was a man after God's own heart, he also felt abandoned by the Lord as a result of his own sins. His wonderful Psalms are full of pleas before the Lord. Consider the following examples:
[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?"
Psalms 13:1, KJV
"Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation."
Psalms 27:9, KJV
"LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled."
Psalms 30:7, KJV
"And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily."
Psalms 69:17, KJV
"Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily."
Psalms 102:2, KJV
"Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit."
Psalms 143:7, KJV
It should be evident to you by now that when God hides His face in the Bible, it is usually symbolic of His abandoning His people and leaving them to their own evil devices while He chastises them. On the other hand, when the Lord does not hide His face from us, depending on our personal standing with Him, it usually means one of two things. Either He is about to curse us in some way, or bless us in some way. As I point out in the article entitled "The Salvation of Animals: Fact or Fiction?", in the case of Adam and Eve, we know that when they chose to transgress God's Word by partaking of the forbidden fruit -- which exposed their lack of respect and love for the Lord -- the situation deteriorated quickly. In the following verses, we find the First Pair trying to hide themselves from the face of the Lord:
"And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."
Genesis 3:8-10, KJV
When Adam and Eve again encountered the Lord sometime after their rebellion, He pronounced a variety of curses against everyone concerned. He cursed Satan so that he was forced to crawl upon the ground. He made Eve submissive to Adam and told her that she would bring forth children in sorrow. He informed them that there would be enmity between Eve's seed and the serpent's seed. He told Adam that he would have to sweat and toil to bring forth his own food from the ground which was also cursed. Last of all, the Lord drove them out of the Garden of Eden completely. After wicked Cain slew his righteous brother Abel, part of Cain's curse was also that God would turn His face against him for evil, as we see by this verse:
"Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me."
Genesis 4:14, KJV
Please go to part five for the conclusion of this series.
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