A Ransom For All

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"There is...one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

This passage of Scripture from the 1st Epistle of Paul to Timothy, chapter 2, verses 5 & 6, confronts us with the idea that if one gave Himself a ransom for all, then all were in need of ransom. But what is ransom and why should all need it?

The dictionary gives the meaning of ransom as:- "the price paid for redemption from captivity or punishment: release from captivity, atonement, expiation: v.t. to redeem from captivity, punishment, or ownership; "Shak." to set free for a price."

To illustrate the meaning we could not, find more fitting words than those used by Dr Thomas in his book "Eureka" vol.1, page 20. The doctor writes as follows:-

"Paul reminds the saints in Rome that they were all the servants of sin once; but thanks God in their behalf that they had been freed from sin, and were now the servants of righteousness, "having obeyed from the heart a form of teaching... into which they were delivered" (Romans 6:17). They obeyed a form of teaching which emancipated, liberated, or set them free from the lordship of Sin. This was Paul's mission...to invite men to change of masters. He addressed himself to free men and slaves, all of whom, whatever their political or social position, were in bondage to the devil or sin. He did not invite slaves to abscond from their fleshly owners; on the contrary, he told men to remain in the several callings of life in which they were when they first heard the truth. "Let every man," he says, "abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a slave? Care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather." As if he had said, "Social or political liberty is a small matter in view of what men are called, or invited to, by the Gospel of the Kingdom. My mission is to open men's eyes, to turn them from darkness (of mind) to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among the sanctified by faith (which leads) into Jesus." (Acts 26:18).

He invited Sin's servants to become Jehovah's servants upon the principle of purchase that in addressing those who had abandoned the synagogue and temple for the house of Christ, he says to them, "Ye are bought with a price." They were "not their own," being bought bodily and spiritually; "therefore," said he, "glorify God with your body and with your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 7:23; 6:19; 7:20). When a man's body and spirit become another's property, all property in himself is surrendered to the purchaser. All that he used to call his before he was sold, is transferred to his owner; and, if allowed to retain it, he must use it as the steward of his lord. Redemption is release for a ransom. All who become God's servants are therefore released from a former lord by purchase. The purchaser is Jehovah; and the price or ransom paid, the precious blood of the flesh through which the Anointing Spirit was manifested. It is therefore styled, "the precious blood of Christ;" as it is written in the words of Peter to his brethren, saying, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conduct paternally delivered; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and blemish" (1 Peter 1:18). If this Christ-Lamb had not been slain, the fifth and sixth verses of the first chapter of the Apocalypse could not have been written.

Satan took the price of release. In the day of his power he valued the blood at thirty pieces of silver. In this was fulfilled the saying of the prophet, "They weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver and cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was priced at of them" (Zechariah 11:12,13), The life being purchased for this amount of blood-money, Satan nailed the Christ-Lamb to the tree, and poured out his life with a spear. Jesus entered no protest against this arrangement. On the contrary, he lovingly laid down his life for the sake of those who had died under the Law of Moses, walking in the steps of Abraham's faith; and for them also, who should afterwards become Abraham's children by adoption through himself. With the first class, as a man, he had no personal acquaintance; with the last, comprehending multitudes of his contemporaries, his acquaintance cost him his life."

Rather a long quotation to illustrate the meaning of the word ransom, but we have not seen any other statement which so comprehensively shows how we are ransomed, or "set free for a price." For our part we have now to show what sort of bondage we find ourselves in, for in the main men and women do not consider themselves in any sort of bondage, we in this country having emancipated ourselves from serfdom many centuries ago, and the world around being generally regarded as peopled by free men.

It will be readily admitted that we are all bondservants of corruption; there is no one who can say with truth "My life is my own; I can retain it indefinitely and shall not see death." The Bible teaching is very emphatic on the mortality of man; it speaks of all flesh as being like the grass that withereth. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4). "Man hath no pre-eminence above a beast, as one dieth, so dieth the other" (Ecclesiastes 3:19). No man "can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him that he should still live for ever."

The Scriptures are thus opposed to the teachings of certain Egyptian, Grecian and other philosophers regarding the immortality of the soul, declaring that "God only hath immortality."

In very simple language the first chapters of Genesis tell us how man failed in his probation, and of his subsequent removal from the Paradise of God wherein was the Tree of Life. We note from Genesis 1:27 that man was made in the image of God, with just this difference that, whereas "God is Spirit" (John 4:24) man was made of the dust of the ground (earthy), hence his name Adam, meaning Red earth.

We may surmise that it was in the purpose of God to promote man to something better than his earthy nature if he had successfully passed his period of probation. But the Divine plan was, and is, "first that which is natural and then that which is spiritual." The wisdom of this order is seen when we try to contemplate what the outcome would have been if man had been made in the same nature as angels (to die no more) and then had failed to keep the commandment under which he was placed.

In fulfilling one of the chief purposes or objects of his creation, that of being fruitful, multiplying and replenishing the earth (Genesis 1; Mark 10) he was obeying God's command; if we say that man was created immortal, and then failed in his probation, the result of obedience to this command would have been a race of immortal sinners - truly a state of chaos.

Only in the mental sphere did man differ from the rest of the living creatures which God had made; He was given a reasoning mind and equipped with this he was able to have fellowship with God in the garden of Eden and could thus be placed under a simple law by which the character of the new-made man could be tested. Character of course being the only unknown quantity of his nature, for physically, like all the rest of creation he was declared to be very good (Genesis 1:31).

The commandment Adam received before he was joined by his help-meet, Eve, was "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16,17). Before we leave this passage we must point out that the marginal alternative of verse 17, "Dying thou shalt die," in no way minimizes the penalty for the transgression, nor does it in any way qualify its manner of infliction. It is an idiom of the Hebrew language, which uses many such expressions as for example, "eating thou shalt eat," "drinking thou shalt drink," meaning simply "Thou shalt certainly eat," and "thou shall certainly drink." The penalty therefore for infringement of the law was death on the day of transgression. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."

If, as many people imagine, the punishment for Adam's sin was natural death, the death he and all his descendants die normally at the end of their lives, there would appear to be no point in God using the same threat again to any other of Adam's race, seeing they would die naturally in any case. Yet in the 20th chapter of Genesis there is a record of the use of identical words by God to Abimelech. They are in the 7th verse and read, "Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, (dying thou shalt die) thou, and all that are thine." Abimelech certainly did not think that this meant that he would die eventually at the end of his natural life, but that he would come to an untimely end.

The issue before Adam was perfectly clear therefore. He knew good by all he experienced: created a little lower than the angles. (Psalm 8) he had dominion over all the rest of the living creatures, and lived in a paradise planted by God and had access to the Tree of Life. To partake of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would in ordinary circumstances have brought to Adam the evil of an untimely death.

Now as we have seen the commandment was given to Adam before he was joined by Eve in the garden but as subsequent events prove, she was aware of the commandment. To disprove the idea held by some, that the result of their sin had anything to do with their sex relationship and was the so-called Original Sin, we quote the words of Adam when Eve was first presented to him, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:23,24. We would further remind the reader that God Himself said in His blessing to the man and the woman, as recorded in the 1st chapter of Genesis, "God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it..." This was the object of their creation; male and female, as in the case of all other created things. Jesus also endorsed these words when He said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh." Mark 10:6-8.

They were created male and female, flesh and blood, and told to multiply and replenish the earth. "He (God) hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth." Acts 17:26. And be it known, flesh and blood, though created by the Eternal One, is not of angelic nature, nor is it Divine nature. Paul reminds us of this when he writes in the 15th chapter of the 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, at verse 50, "This I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Very clearly then do we see that the life of the first created pair depended absolutely upon their obedience to God's commandment. In their day it was "Do this and thou shalt surely die," just as in our day the rule is, "do this and thou shalt live (eternally)." If the story of the fall be carefully studied it will be seen that there were extenuating circumstances in Adam's case. Eve had already fallen a victim when Adam came into the way of temptation through her.

We accept a literal meaning of the words recording these events although a figurative interpretation can be placed upon the words used and the action taken by God as a consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve.

For instance, we believe that there was a literal Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil," and that there was a literal serpent who noticed the beauty of its fruit, and not being himself a moral agent, wondered why Adam and Eve did not partake of its fruit notwithstanding God's ban upon so doing. The facts are that they partook of the forbidden tree, were troubled by their conscience and endeavoured to clothe themselves and hide from God's presence. The record says "their eyes were opened" which of course can only mean the eyes of their minds. They now realized their mistake and could no longer stand unabashed in their innocence like the animals, without any sense of shame, before their Creator as hitherto they had done. Conscience now of evil as well as good they considered some parts of the body which Paul said "God had set as it pleased Him," as "uncomely." (1 Corinthians 12:18-26). But their effort to clothe themselves and to hide from God were both futile and soon they were arraigned before the Lord God to give an account of their actions. Then God, after the inquiry, proceeds to tell them the consequences of their sin in the order of their coming into effect, and it is here we notice figurative language used as well as literal. Firstly to the serpent He says, "Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:14,15).

Literally the serpent is cursed above all other beasts and whatever way it proceeded before, the serpent does now go on its belly. But serpents do not in our day eat dust, so here we must look for a figurative meaning. It is easy to find such a meaning. The serpent was to become a symbol or personification of sin. By sin, or transgression of law Adam, failing in his probation, returns to dust, thus becoming the serpent's meat; the victim of sin. So then as long as 'sin' lives, man returns to dust. But there is an end to the life of the serpent, or sin, because of the enmity between the serpent and the woman and particularly between their respective seeds. The serpent, or sin, brings forth as its seed death (James 1:15) while the seed of the woman who gives the fatal wound in the head, although Himself being wounded for our transgressions, is spoken of as "our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath abolished death and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10).

Secondly, "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Everything in this sentence can be taken literally. The woman would indeed bring forth her children in sorrow, realising that by her own weakness in yielding to the serpent's suggestion instead of serving God, her children would be denied that fellowship with God which existed in the Garden of Eden. Her conception was indeed multiplied. There is no record of Adam having any other wife yet he lived 800 years after the birth of his third son, Seth, and begat sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:4).

Thirdly, "Unto Adam God said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Genesis 3:17-19).

This of course was not death on the day of transgression. What then had intervened to alter the purpose of God? Those great attributes of the Almighty, Love and Mercy were exercised in order the He might be the Saviour of the world (1 Timothy 4:10). His purpose was not to be set aside forever; there was yet to be a death "for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament" (Hebrews 9:15). God so loved the world that He was willing to provide a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Adam's position vividly recalls the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 130:3,4; "If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that thou mayest be feared." We think there was forgiveness in Adam's case although he had to suffer certain consequences of his disobedience. First the ground was cursed for his sake; he would no longer have God to plant a garden for him but would have to fend for himself against thorns and thistles. He had failed to earn a title to Divine Nature and now natural decay would overtake him like all the rest of created things and he would return to dust, for "man hath no pre-eminence over a beast, as one dieth so dieth the other...all go to one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." (Ecclesiastes 3:19,20).

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake" may also have a figurative meaning. He was taken from the ground and himself brought forth such men as Cain whose characters, causing so much sorrow, could be regarded as thorns and thistles, yet while this may be so, we have stated there was also a literal application.

Following upon the statement of God to Adam there are two remarkable verses in this 3rd chapter of Genesis. Hitherto the help-meet of Adam had been referred to as "the woman" and in verse 20 we read "and Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." It is highly significant that following upon the statement of God to Adam (the sentence which is regarded by many Bible students as the point at which Adam began to die on a false idea of the meaning of the Hebrew idiom Dying thou shalt die, that Adam should call his wife by a name meaning 'life' as being the mother of all living when as yet she had no child.

It is possible from the word spoken by God regarding the seed of the woman that Adam foresaw that one who would be born of the woman that mankind might have life, and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10). The next verse suggests that this is not an unreasonable conjecture - "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21).

In their nakedness they had attempted to clothe themselves but their fig-leaf covering was apparently unsatisfactory to God. Thus in this first record of man's need of clothing we find God Himself provided the means and thereby established a principle. To make coats of skins one or more animals must be slain the life would be poured out and this being done on behalf of Adam and Eve, the animal thus sacrificed would become man's substitute and it's death would be a death for sin (man's sin), for it is written "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).

The New Testament in several places teaches that to be clothed with garments provided by God is equivalent to having one's sins covered or forgiven. In the parable of the Marriage Feast (Matthew 22) the man not having put on the Wedding Garment and being without excuse for his omission, is cast into outer darkness. He had not availed himself of the covering provided by the King for those called to the Kingdom (or Marriage). The Laodiceans had by their neglect of the Truth's requirements become amongst other things, naked and were counselled to buy "gold tried in the fire... and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear" (Revelation 3:17,18).

Adam and Eve therefore being clothed by God at the expense of the life of an animal (or animals) were forgiven their sin, but the death of a lamb was only a token payment of the penalty. They had forfeited their lives by their disobedience but a life in their nature must in due time, pay the penalty on their behalf "for it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4). If the animal sacrifices under the Law of Moses pointed forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, surely this cover provided in Eden was also a type of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (John 1:29). We note that according to the terms of the commandment given to Adam, he ought to have died on the day of his transgression, but his life was spared and a substitute provided by God was sacrificed on his behalf. This violent or judicial death was the death that came by sin, but natural death was also a consequence of sin in that the man, Adam and his wife. Eve were now turned out of the garden of Eden and Cherubim were placed at the door to bar the way to the Tree of Life "lest he put forth his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat and live for ever" (Genesis 3:22,24).

It is surely evident from this that there was no change in the constitution of our first parents due to their disobedience, as some have taught; there is no evidence whatsoever in the Divine record of an "implantation of the physical law of decay;" neither is there mention of any element in the fruit of the Tree which was poisonous to their systems, introducing corruptibility or mortality into their nature. They were created in a nature which was corruptible; of the earth, earthy; not of Divine nature, and being kept therefore from the Tree of Life, that nature took the course of all flesh which is death by physical exhaustion.

It was to be the work of the second man, the last Adam (I Corinthians 15:45-47) to approach the Tree of life, and to taste death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). There can be no doubt that animal sacrifices from this time were used as an approach to God. It is a Scriptural teaching that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and blood is accepted on the altar as an atonement for the soul, or life. Thus in pouring out the blood of an animal man acknowledged that his life was forfeited by sin, for the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:20). We think then that it is perfectly clear that death, whether we regard the sacrificial death of animals whose blood is poured out to make reconciliation for mankind, or the natural death that has come upon mankind, came because of Adam's transgression of Divine Law. He was driven out of Eden "...lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life...and live for ever." So it is then "by one man's offence (that) death reigned" (Romans 5:17) and it is "by one man's disobedience (that) many were made (or constituted) sinners" (Romans 5:19). Why? Because Adam is typical of all mankind; he is a true representative of the race of which he is the progenitor as it is written in Romans 5:14; "the figure of him that was to come." We can see the justice and mercy of God in this when we realize that, on the other hand, it is by the obedience (and love) of One that many are similarly constituted righteous (Romans 5; 19).

On this principle there is no need for each individual sinner to provide his own Saviour or to offer an animal in sacrifice for his sin as there is a way or means of association with the sacrifice of that Man who has "offered one sacrifice for sins for ever" (Hebrews 10:12).

There can be no doubt that God had foreseen the possibility and had prepared for Adam's fall. He was made in a nature which was corruptible, so that in the event of failure in his probation he could be kept from the Tree of Life and his flesh allowed, like the grass, to wither and die in God's own time (1 Peter 1:24). Had he been successful in his probation then he could by Divine operation, be born again, or re-created, for except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Jesus taught plainly that human nature is not Divine nature when He said "that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit (John 3:6).

We see then how utterly helpless man was in his fallen state being as Paul declares in Romans 5 "without strength." This of course is to be understood as referring to his inability to redeem himself from the position of estrangement from his God in which he found himself as a result of his transgression of the Law of his Maker. God only could provide the means of ransom. His immutable Law could not be set aside and so His love is commended to us in that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).

The position in which Adam found himself after transgression is similar to that of all his descendants who are born of the lust or will of the flesh, although in their case through no fault of their own. Born outside the Paradise of God mankind is denied that fellowship with his God which existed before the fall. They are regarded in Scripture as "all under sin" (Romans 3). All have come short of the glory of God, which of course is an eternal glory; but there are individual members of the human race who have by faith and obedience and through God's mercy established a title to the glory that shall be revealed.

It may be interesting at this point to consider one or two members of this class. The first to be mentioned in the Bible is Abel (Genesis 4:4). He brought the firstlings of his flock and offered such in sacrifice to his God Jehovah. He evidently had learned the lesson that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus speaks of him as "righteous Abel" and Paul, in Hebrews 9 says that he offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. Now there were only two sources from which Abel could have learned the lesson of Sacrifice; the knowledge came to him either through his parents, Adam and Eve or it came direct from God Himself. In either case it would show that God still took an interest in the eternal welfare of His creatures notwithstanding the estrangement caused by sin. Indeed we might safely assume that Adam and Eve were again on probation for eternal life but this time under the redemption typified by the cover that God had provided for them, which denoted the necessity of the shedding of blood - the pouring out of the life.

God has offered salvation to sinners who have committed many offences, not just one as in Adam's case.

God was prepared to accept the person of Cain, whose birth is regarded by some as being the result of the sin of the first parents. Those who hold this view do not realize that it was because he slew his brother and because he rejected God's terms of acceptance that he was of that "Evil One," and not because of his birth. When Cain made a sacrifice of the fruit of the ground which was not acceptable to his Maker, the Lord God said to him, "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door" (Genesis 4:7). The word translated "sin" here (Hebrew, chattath) means a sin-offering - the means of reconciliation was there at hand, an animal lay at the door of the fold and might have been taken and offered in sacrifice- Having rejected this means of reconciliation even when he had not "done well," Cain could truly be said to be of that Evil One, a servant of Sin instead of a servant of God.

A few generations from Adam brings us to another character who like Abel found favour with God. We refer to Enoch who is one of those of whom Scripture record says that he "walked with God" (Genesis 5:22-24). Now one of the inspired writers informs us that "two cannot walk together except they be agreed," so we must conclude that some measure of reconciliation had been effected between God and this man whose character so pleased God that he was preserved and spared that death which is the common lot of all mankind. The lack of Scriptural information prevents further comment on the character of Enoch, except to say that he was a prophet who spoke of the return of the Lord (see Jude verse 14).

The great grandson of Enoch was also one who found favour in the eyes of Jehovah (Genesis 6:8); the Divine record says that "Noah was a Just man and perfect in his generations." We notice in the 6th chapter of Genesis that "God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth... for the earth is filled with violence" (Genesis 6:12,13). In view of the previous statement we must conclude that those referred to as "all flesh" who had corrupted God's way upon the earth Noah and his sons were excluded. Similarly the statement in Romans 2, where the Apostle charges both Jews and Greeks with being under sin, asserting that "there is none righteous," must be understood to allow of exceptions, and it must be given a general application especially in view of the Apostle's subsequent remarks concerning Abraham, of whom he says that "his faith was counted unto him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3).

We must take heed to the Apostle's exhortation for he reminds the believers that they are no longer under Sin's jurisdiction; they can no longer "serve sin," having died to sin symbolically in the waters of baptism; and he says in Romans 6:18, "being made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Noah then being a just and perfect man and having faith in God's word, expressed his obedience thereto by making the Ark as God had commanded. By his action in thus preparing against the "wrath to come" he became a preacher of righteousness and by his faith "condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith" (Hebrews 11:7). The first thing Noah did on emerging safely from the Ark was to offer up one of all clean animals and fowl as a burnt offering unto Jehovah.

Animal sacrifices found their place also in the life of Abraham on that memorable day when God made a covenant with him; Abraham was commanded to take certain animals and birds and divide in the midst the animals only (Genesis 15:10). These are the words then recorded; "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abraham; and lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And He (God) said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And... thou shalt be buried in a good old age."

We have often wondered what this "horror of great darkness" prefigured in this incident that happened to Abraham. It has been thought that the sleep of death was indicated before Abraham should inherit the promises. Perhaps so but why a "horror of darkness" in death which is referred to by God at this time as a "going to his father's in peace"? We suggest this horror of darkness prefigured two things; first, it prefigured the children of Israel in their Egyptian bondage, and second, it indicated the darkness in which the nations walk before they see the "Great Light."

The children of Israel during their bondage in Egypt were strangers in a strange land, without God, without a leader; slaves of the lowest order and almost without hope of deliverance, but God raised them up a Deliverer in the person of Moses, who was a type of their Messiah (Christ) being one of the people himself yet providentially not himself in the same bondage. He came with signs and wonders to reveal the purpose of the Great "I am" with the people whom He was to redeem, or buy back unto Himself.

It was not without the shedding of blood that the redemption of the people from the house of bondage was to be accomplished. A lamb without spot or blemish was to be sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the door posts of their houses. This was the sign whereby the people of God would be known. The people of the sprinkled blood could not acceptably serve Jehovah in the land of Egypt. No man can serve two masters and so they were brought forth by the hand of Moses to be a peculiar people unto the Lord their God; they were separated from their former taskmasters and from all other peoples in order that "Him only should they serve" who was their God.

This separation was accomplished in several stages (as with the people of God in this age), they received their call while still in bondage and would witness some of the judgments poured out on the nation that refused to let them go. Their obedience and faith was tested in the instructions concerning, and the observance of the Passover; but they did not reach the Promised Land until after their baptism in the Red Sea (I Corinthians 10:2) and forty years pilgrimage in the wilderness. The land of darkness was then altogether behind them; the God-given illumination beheld by Abram in the vision denoting the end of the sojourn in bondage (Genesis 15:17) reads, "and it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." In Exodus 13:21 we read, "And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night,"

At the end of their period of bondage God provided the light to lead them by day or night to bring them into the land of promise. How much was actually revealed to Abram in the vision he had while watching the slain animals we do not know, but Abram had asked "Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" and this we presume was the answer; sacrifice, horror of darkness and a burning lamp. Now as Jesus is the Minister of the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the fathers (Romans 15:8), and as He Himself said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad," we can only presume that Abraham was acquainted by this means of the purpose of Jesus Christ as the Light of the World and the Lamb of God.

In the Epistle to the Galatians we learn that "the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen (or nations) through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying. In thee shall all nations be blessed." Now as most people acquainted with the Scriptures will admit, the Gospel is the Good News concerning the Kingdom of God. Paul, reminding the Corinthians how he preached unto them the Gospel goes on to say, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." Here we have the first principles of Christian doctrine which must certainly have been known to Abraham, viz., the death for sin, and the resurrection of the dead (without the hope of which faith is vain) his future inheritance of the land of promise (in other words the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth.)

Abraham was willing to offer up Isaac his son in the assured belief that God was able to raise him again from death (Hebrews 11:19).

Now there could be no resurrection from the dead to immortality until He come who is the "Resurrection and the Life." The life of mankind, forfeited by sin in Eden, must be atoned for by one not himself a transgressor (or legally sin's servant) in order to merit resurrection. It was in the mind and purpose of God to raise up a Second Man, or second Adam who would be able to do what was beyond the power of the first Adam to do after he had sinned; that is, to pay the penalty incurred by sin and yet retain his right to the "Tree of Life."

We have seen that the penalty Adam incurred by sin was death on the day of transgression but this penalty (a judicially inflicted death) was not inflicted on Adam but on the animal slain in substitution to provide a covering of skin. To have carried out the requirements of the law would have meant an interruption in the Divine plan of creation; for God declares through the prophet Isaiah that He created the earth, not in vain, but to be inhabited (Isaiah 45). This surely was implied in the commandment to the newly created pair in Genesis 1. "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." If our first parents had been created immortal, as some affirm, this command to be fruitful and multiply would hardly have been necessary for surely the earth would soon be replenished if none of the population ever died; but as we are assured in 1 Corinthians 15, "there is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" and of course the natural comes first, out of which, if a successful probation is run, must come the spiritual. Had Adam been successful in his first probation God would probably have conferred upon him a change of nature. He would then, like the last Adam, have become a quickening spirit, and there would be no necessity for another to be raised up to become the First-born of a New Creation and the Everlasting Father. Seeing then that these titles and others of similar import, converge on the Lord Jesus Christ, it will now be seen in some measure how He merits them.

The opening verses of the New Testament speak of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. We see at once that He was born according to the flesh in a line of men who had covenants, or were in covenant relationship with the Great Creator. Naturally so for both covenants were concerned with Jesus. Since the time of Adam there has been no Tree of Life to attract mankind, but God eventually planted a vineyard from which He looked for justice and righteousness (Isaiah 5). In the main He failed to get these fruits but the vineyard (Israel) did bring forth by God's planting the True Vine, the Son of God, the Owner of the vineyard as the prophets declared should happen. We must never forget that while Jesus was the Son of Man He was also the Son of God and as such He obtains by inheritance a more excellent name than even angels (Hebrews 3:4,5).

This fact is often overlooked by one section of Bible readers and in the interests of truth we must have a look at some of their reasoning on this matter. This is one of their assertions:

"The flesh is invariably regarded as unclean. It is therefore written, 'How can he be clean that is born of a woman?' (Job 25). 'Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one' (Job 14) and, 'What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in His saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight' (Job 15:14,15)"

After these quotations the writer goes on to speak of Jesus thus:

"His body was as unclean as the bodies of those for whom He died, for He was born of a woman and not one can bring a clean body out of a defiled body for 'that' says Jesus 'which is born of the flesh is flesh.'"

It will be readily noticed that most of these quotations are from the book of Job and are by different speakers — Bildad, Job, and Eliphaz. Not one of these in their arguments against each other could be taken as being divinely inspired. Their "darkening of counsel by words without knowledge" was repudiated by Jehovah (Job 38:1,2). Whereupon Job said "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:6) and his three companions are commanded to offer up seven bullocks and seven rams for a burnt offering, making use of Job as their priest. But Job had spoken more rightly than his fellows and so to be perfectly fair we must examine the words that he uttered. Here are his words, Job 14:4; "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one."

Now does this suggest that all flesh is invariably regarded unclean? Not if we must follow the reasoning of Scripture, for was it not the purpose of God (who of course could do the thing in question) to claim for Himself the children of Israel in Himself? Was not one of the purposes of the Law to teach Israel to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean, including "clean and unclean men and women"? (Leviticus 7:19; Numbers 9:9-13; 19:19); and how very plain is the way to attain this cleanness with which the Scriptures are concerned, rather than a physical one. Here it is, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto, according to Thy word" (Psalm 119:9). "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the Law of the Lord" (Psalm 119:1). "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Psalm 19:7). This is how the legally unclean may be cleansed.

The suggestion we are considering is that Jesus was unclean because He was born of a woman and because He was flesh and blood. We have just shown that the cleansing process is by taking heed to God's word. That word He has sanctified above His Name. Let us consult that Word for information concerning Christ's coming in the flesh. We read in John 1:14, "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." There is not the slightest suggestion of defilement in that statement. It is just the contrary and is quite in keeping with all Scripture teaching that anything used specifically for God's purpose is set apart, or sanctified; hence the Glory, Grace and Truth of God's own Son, notwithstanding His having come in the flesh (though not born of the will of the flesh). He was Holy, Harmless, Undefiled, and Separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26) doing always the things that pleased the Father. He was the Holy Child Jesus (Luke 1:35; Acts 4:27 & 30).

These testimonies do not mean that Jesus was removed from all temptation. He had the lusts, or desires of the flesh common to all men, but in His case lust was not allowed to conceive and bring forth sin; therefore it could be said with truth, He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Now we admit that a man born of two human beings, born of a woman and of a man would be regarded by God as being unclean, i.e. legally unclean, being Sin's bond-servant; Jesus was not in this category, He was not born of a human pair; God was His Father, not man. We are as Paul says in Ephesians 2;1-3. "Dead in trespasses and sins and are children of disobedience." This of course refers to the time when we were in the position described in verses 11 and 12 as aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But so far we have considered the cases of persons who were inside the covenant fold.

Mary the mother of Jesus was not only one of the covenant race but was also in the royal line with which God had a special covenant. She is described as the handmaid of the Lord and the woman whom all generations would call blessed,

If any reader still holds the view that Jesus was an unclean person by being born of Mary we remind him of what Paul says of a child born of a union where one was definitely an unbeliever; "the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14). Again the Holy Spirit to Peter; "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common, or unclean" even though it be a Gentile, as Cornelius (Acts 10).

Jesus in His ministry referred to the writings of Moses and other Old Testament worthies as the "word of God which cannot be broken" and we shall see by their teaching on Ransom, or Redemption how it is necessary that the Redeemer must Himself be free to pay the price of ransom. We can see the idea at a glance when we recall the old time custom of capturing a wealthy man and holding him a prisoner until a ransom be paid.

A similar system applied in the case of an Israelite who having fallen upon bad times sold either his inheritance or even himself into bondage. In the case of his inheritance, a possession of land, a ransom could be arranged at any time by a kinsman of the unfortunate one, though in the case of any land it could not be sold for ever and if not redeemed must go back to the original owner at the Jubilee year. So in Leviticus 25, verses 24 & 25 we read, "And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land. If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possessions and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold."

Reading in the same chapter verses 47 to 49 are the words; "and if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: after that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: either his uncle or his uncle's son may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him: or if he be able, he may redeem himself" (See also Ruth 4).

With the lessons of the Old Testament then as a background we begin to see how we may have redemption in Christ Jesus. Adam, by disobeying the law became a servant of Sin and as the Representative Head of his race, sold himself and all with him into the bond-service of Sin, "therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto condemnation" (Romans 5:18).

But the Judgment was suspended in Adam's case so that the Love of God and His mercy might abound, (This may sound strange to those who believe that natural death is the Judgment that came upon Adam but there is a vast difference between "in the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 5) and dying more than 900 years later, after begetting many sons and daughters).

Paul says in Hebrews 9:27; "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this (when the death state ends in resurrection) the judgment," Jesus of course is the appointed Judge of all human kind (John 5:26-29). Even the angels who kept not their first estate are reserved unto the day of Judgment (2 Peter 2:4; Jude verse 6; 1 Corinthians 6:3)

The offering of the blood of animals as a sacrifice to God was a continual reminder that the life of mankind had been forfeited by sin. Adam was a son of God by creation (Luke 3:38) and the right of redemption being held by a near kinsman, only another Son of God could fitly be the Redeemer. So in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons (Galatians 4:4,5). Jesus came as He declared, to "give His life a ransom for many." It was not demanded of Him, but He and the Father were at one in the reconciliation of the word, therefore He willingly laid down His life for the Life of the world, the Life of the sheep. "No man" He declared, "taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (John 10:18).

So on Calvary the debt incurred in Eden and constantly recurring in the lives of the sons of Adam since that time, was paid off for all time. By the Grace of God Jesus tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). He came that we might have life. Yes, that is what mankind forfeits by sin; the wages of sin is death.

But the death of Jesus not only ensured the life of the world (John 6:51) but He came that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10), even eternal life. As we have stated before, in order that Jesus could lay down His life for His friends and still justify a resurrection from the dead, it was necessary that He be free from every taint of sin. Although descended from Adam on the maternal side, we see how by His divine begettal He received life direct from the Source of all life, God Himself, and all scriptural testimony on the subject shows inheritance was always reckoned through the male line. He was therefore free from every condemnation having by inheritance obtained a name "more excellent than the angels" in fact there is no other name given under heaven whereby we might be saved (Acts 4:12). Jesus never became a servant of sin because He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, so God anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows. Therefore He could truly say "Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever commiteth sin is the servant of sin, and the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).

This freedom held out to believers by Jesus Christ is freedom from the bondage of sin. The sixth chapter of Romans, verses 6 and 7 reads as follows; "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin" J.N.Darby, in his new translation of the Bible comments on these verses as follows: "'serve' here means to serve as bondmen. 'Free' is ambiguous. It is justified, cleared, discharged from sin, note not sins."

Yes, that conforms clearly with the teachings of Romans 5 and 6. It is the one sin of Adam that has brought the sentence on all men, and it is the one righteous act of Jesus in crucifixion that has obliterated this sin of the world. How clearly shines the love and mercy of God in the Gospel in including us all in the one sin of Adam so that we can all share in the One Redemption instead of each needing an individual Saviour.

There is indeed a Ransom for all but the great question is will all respond? We know that in the days of slavery there were those who did not desire freedom; they loved their masters and decided to remain with them. Similarly in Divine things there are many who of their own choice still serve the "body of sin" sometimes called the old man, the adversary and the devil, which of course is an expression personifying transgression of the law.

These transgressors have not died to sin in the waters of baptism as prescribed by Paul in Roman 6 neither have they been begotten again by the Word of God, the incorruptible seed, but the invitation is still open to them; "He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved." The whole earth is yet to be filled with God's glory as He has declared through the mouth of the prophets. We can by faith and obedience belong to this new world order or we can reject the invitation at our peril for it is written "He that despised Moses" law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"

The choice is ours; "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.

Herbert Taberner

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