Foundtional Framework 68 - The Cross/Altar of Christ

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The earthly life of Jesus Christ is nothing short of remarkable and we only have a fraction of all that He did and said as recorded in the Word of God. But we have no reason to feel short-changed, for what we have is more than enough Light. It proves His claims, vindicates His Person, leads men and women to salvation, and heartens the child of God to pursue Him in living a holy life. The fulfillment of prophecy alone in Jesus’ earthly life is enough to stagger the mind of the most educated man, seeing that the time gap between the foretelling of an event and the actual occurrence of the event in His earthly life is 400 years in the least to some 1500 years at the most. The following is a list of forty-five of the most significant messianic prophecies that were fulfilled during the first advent of Christ as recorded by Mark Hitchcock.

1.    He was born of a woman (see Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4).

2.    He was a descendant of Abraham (see Genesis 12:3, 7; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16).

3.    He was of the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:10; Hebrew 7:14; Revelation 5:5).

4.    He was of the house or family of David (see 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Luke 1:31-33; Romans 1:3).

5.    He was born of a virgin (see Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:22-23)

6.    He was called Immanuel (see Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).

7.    He had a forerunner (see Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Mathew 3:1-3; Luke 1:76-78).

8.    He was born in Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6; Luke 2:4-6).

9.    He was worshipped by wise men and given gifts (see Psalm 72:10-11; Isaiah 60:3, 6, 9; Matthew 2:11).

10.  He was in Egypt for a season (see Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15).

11.  His birthplace was a place where infants were slaughtered (see Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18).

12.  He was zealous for the Father (see Psalm 69:9; John 2:17; John 6:37-40).

13.  He was filled with God’s Spirit (see Isaiah 11:2; Luke 4:18-19).

14.  He was a mighty healer (see Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1; Matthew 8:16-17).

15.  He ministered to the Gentiles (see Isaiah 9:1-2; 42:1-3; Matthew 4:13-16; 12:17-21).

16.  He spoke in parables (see Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:10-15).

17.  He was rejected by the Jewish people (see Psalm 69:8; Isaiah 53:3; John 1:11; 7:5).

18.  He made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (see Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-5).

19.  He was praised by little children (see Psalm 8:2; Matthew 21:16).

20.  He was the rejected cornerstone (see Psalm 118:22-23; Matthew 21:42).

21.  His miracles were not believed (see Isaiah 53:1; John 12:37-38).

22.  He was betrayed by His friend for thirty pieces of silver (see Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 25:14-16, 21-25).

23.  He was a Man of Sorrows (see Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:37-38).

24.  He was forsaken by His disciples (see Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31, 56).

25.  He was beaten and spit upon (see Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67; 27:26).

26.  His betrayal money was used to purchase a potter’s field (see Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 27:9-10).

27.  He was executed by means of piercing His hands and feet (see Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34, 37).

28.  He was crucified between criminals (see Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38).

29.  He was given vinegar to drink (see Psalm 69:21; Matthew 27:34).

30.  His garments were divided, and soldiers gambled for them (see Psalm 22:18; Luke 23:34).

31.  He was surrounded and ridiculed by enemies (see Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-44).

32.  He was thirsty on the cross (see Psalm 22:15; John 19:28).

33.  He commended His spirit to the Father (see Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46).

34.  He uttered a forsaken cry on the cross (see Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46).

35.  He committed Himself to God (see Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46).

36.  He was hated without a cause (see Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).

37.  People shook their heads as they saw Him on the cross (see Psalm 109:25; Matthew 27:39).

38.  He was silent before His accusers (see Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12).

39.  His bones were not broken (see Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20; John 19:33-36).

40.  He was stared at in death (see Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 27:36; John 19:37).

41.  He was buried with the rich (see Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).

42.  He was raised from the dead (see Psalm 16:10; Matthew 28:2-7).

43.  He was and is a High Priest greater than Aaron (see Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:4-6).

44.  He ascended to glory (see Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:8).

45.  He was and is seated at the right hand of the Father (see Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 10:12-13).[1]

In this list, we will quickly notice that #22-41 involve His betrayal, crucifixion, and death. One’s personal study of the above references would certainly be humbling and fruitful, yet it is what was accomplished IN the event of Jesus’ death that unifies the Scriptures and proclaims the heart of God for His fallen creation. 

In the cross, God is talking to mankind, displaying the atrocities of sin, the debt incurred, the payment demanded, and the necessary Provision graciously supplied. In every way, the cross of Jesus Christshould incite a sober sense of helplessness, an otherwise-untapped appreciation, and an instant swell of humility.

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa 45:22). It is with this verse that the whole process of the Foundational Framework began. It resonates straight from His heart, demonstraing the call of God Himself to the human race. We are often wandering, listless, and needy, yet wanting and scheming and lustful, all of which blind us from our bankrupt condition and separated status from the Almighty. 

God’s love for the world is still complete, unending, and unwavering despite our prideful justifications for our sin. The actual event of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ tells the story of God’s relationship with mankind in communicating a picture, a sacrifice, and a testimony. Herein lies the grand marker of all history and existence stretching to the farthest reaches of the universe. 

The cross is the centerpiece of all time, space, and existence. 
In the cross, God speaks.

A Picture

The prophet Isaiah writes, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa 53:4-6). 

The cross is a vivid and horrifying picture of our iniquity. We are told that He was chastened for our “well-being” (v.5b). This word means“completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.”[2]This line asserts the idea of substitution. The chastening of a child is for the correction of wrong done and for the future hope that their choices will be different. What would a father want more for their child than to live a peaceful, sound, and complete life? (See 1 Tim 2:1,2). This “chastening” fell upon Another, though it was to be administered in full force to us. Was it not OUR griefs (v.4a), OUR sorrows (v.4b), OUR transgressions (v.5a), OUR iniquities (v.5b), OUR going astray (v.6a), OUR turning to OUR own way (v.6b), and OUR iniquity (v.6c) that demands a recompense? And yet He steps into OUR place, receiving OUR punishment.  

The Savior was “struck down” (“smitten” in v.4d) by God with our transgressions being the cause for His judgment. The word “iniquity” in v.6 is translated consistently as such in the major English translations with the exception of the NLT, which uses “sins.” This Hebrew word encompasses the idea of guilt, and the punishment that is due for being guilty. 

God is righteous. No one can argue, for the basis of such an argument would need to supply a righteous standard than is greater than that of God Himself. No, God IS righteous, so we cannot presume that sins are simply passed over without Him taking notice.

Clearly, Isaiah is finding fault in those who have “gone astray” like sheep, having “turned to his own way” (v.6). Each of these descriptions point to the human propensity for selfish and sinful things. At the core, it is always a matter that originates in the heart, is fueled by our pride (ego), and seen in our daily living. Warren Wiersbe captures the thought in mind, writing “we are sinners by choiceand by nature. Like sheep, we are born with a nature that prompts us to go astray; and, like sheep, we foolishly decide to go our own way. By nature, we are born children of wrath (Eph. 2:3); and bychoice, we become children of disobedience (2:2).”[3]Whether in position or practice, we are emphatically stained with sinfulness.

This points us to an earlier truth depicted in the book of Leviticus.

In Leviticus 16, we find the requirements for Israel in offering an atonement for the sins of the people. While the whole chapter should be studied in great detail, some pertinent points in relation to the cross of Jesus Christ give us a greater comprehension of the picture of man’s sin that God was painting. In 16:2-3, we see that Aaron could not simply walk into the Holy of Holies without bringing what was required. Most significant is the bull that was needed to enter the presence of God (Lev 16:3, 6). This bull was sacrificed for the personal sins of the priest who would offer the sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the people. 

This fact is reinforced in Leviticus 16:11“Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself.” The need for Aaron’s atonement is mentioned twice in this verse, magnifying the sin of the priest and the need for atonement which would bring him back into a clean state before the Lord. While a thorough cleansing and a change of garments was also required to enter YHWH’s presence (Lev 16:4), it is the need for atonement that truly cleansed Aaron so that he could perform the necessary duties in bringing blood to the mercy seat for the atonement of the people. 

Sin is so thorough and so wretched that even the one serving as the intercessor, and making the offering for sins between YHWH and Israel, needed atonement. This is not so with Jesus. Hebrews 7:26-27tells us that “it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for allwhen He offered up Himself” (emphasis added). The sinlessness of Jesus makes Him a better priest who offers the necessary requirements for our atonement. 

In Leviticus 16:29there is a direct command as to when and how this “Day of Atonement” is to be observed. What is striking is the Lord’s pronouncement that “you shall humble your souls and not do any work.” This point is not simply about rest for the individual, but signifies that any work done would be in complete contradiction to the work that was being preformed on their behalf with the sacrifice of the lamb (Lev 16:9). YHWH understands man’s inherent propensity to justify himself, fix his own wrongs, and supply for his own needs. But when it comes to the matter of sin, which has greatly separated man from his Creator, God will have none of it. 

The works of man are not, and never will be, sufficient to atone for his sin. Robert Lightner captures this egotistical drive, writing “man has sought to make himself acceptable to God in a thousand different ways, but it still cannot be done. The ladder of human works is well-worn but too short. No man has or ever will reach God’s presence by climbing its rungs. Every such attempt, however small or large, is evidence that the condemned sinner does not really believe he stands condemned.”[4]

Did you catch that last part? The very idea that man can reconcile his relationship to God through “trying harder” or “doing better” is an admission that his condemnation before YHWH is merely partial or simply defective, rather than total and complete. 

At this point we must ask, “What does atonementmean?” The word “atonement” iskipperin Hebrew and would be most commonly understood today in relation to the Jewish observance of Yom Kippur being the “Day of Atonement.” Kipperis used 16 times in Leviticus 16 alone. It means “1. cover over, pacify, propitiate, 2. cover over, atone for sin, 3. cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites.”[5]
Notice that in each definition supplied, the concept of “cover over” is first, serving to remove the barrier that sin creates between God and man. 

Previously in Lesson 11, we saw a simple chart that helped us understand the facets of atonement. 

Substitution- Something living dies in place of the guilty party.
Propitiation- The offering satisfies the demands of a holy God.
Forgiveness- The debt has been met and is no longer an issue.

The picture painted before us in Scripture is that sin requires death and necessitates atonement so that man can stand in right relationship with YHWH God. This atonement was only found in the offering of another, for man can never atone for his own sin. 

A Sacrifice

In his book on the Tabernacle, M.R. DeHaan writes, “The altar is the Cross, the starting point of our experience of salvation.”[6]Many have viewed the cross as an execution device, and while it is very much that, there is something more taking place than just torture and death. The shedding of blood, Divine Blood, is being administered due to the sins of the world. The author of Hebrews tells us that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22b). This brings us back to the concept of atonement as stressed in Leviticus 16.

Why blood? What was significant about the necessity for blood in relation to sin? Again, this is a foundational truth first seen in Genesis 4:10where YHWH tells Cain, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.” In Genesis 9:4we find, “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood,” showing us that the life of a creature is found in the blood of a creature. In Leviticus 17:11we read, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” The Hebrew word for “life” is literally translated “soul,” which can be verified in all of the major passages that speak of one’s blood as being their “life” (See Deut 12:23). 

If we go further along to Leviticus 17:14, we read “For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life.” DeWitt explains, “Since the blood is the literal vehicle of all life, whether animal or man, only it could adequately typify life, and give full meaning to God’s provision for the expiation of our sins, as well as the efficacy of Christ’s blood.”[7]Therefore, it is Christ’s perfect, law-abiding, God-honoring earthly life that is given as a sacrifice for the sins of the world; sins that He did not commit.

The conclusion may be that the demand for blood by a holy God is repulsive, abhorrent, and vile. But is this not what our sin is unto God? Nothing in sin is worthy, precious, or valuable. Nothing of sin is condoned. All sin is a personal offense to the Lord of glory, for it creates a thick-walled isolation between the Creator and His uniquely-designed creature. Thus, it is bright, red blood being presented before Him that demolishes the barriers that sin creates. We are told this fact in Ephesians 2:14-16. It states:

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividingwall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two (Jew and Gentile) into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (emphasis added).

The blood of Jesus is the remedy for sin. Death, and this being the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, is the penalty for sin. It is the consequence for rebellion against God. D.L. Moody gives an illustration of the importance of this consequence:

“Suppose there was a law that man should not steal, but no penalty was attached to stealing; some man would have my pocketbook before dinner. If I threatened to have him arrested, he would snap his fingers in my face. He would not fear the law, if there was no penalty. It is not the law that people are afraid of; it is the penalty attached.

Do you suppose God has made a law without a penalty. What an absurd thing it would be! Now, the penalty for sin is death: ‘the soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ I must die, or get somebody to die for me. If the Bible doesn’t teach that, it doesn’t teach anything. And that is where the atonement of Jesus Christ comes in.”[8]

Atonement is truly a God-send, placing all of the deserved punishment on Another so that the guilty may be absolved of all wrongdoing.

A Testimony 

There is an inseparable link between the grace of God and the love of God. Both are what He is, and both are demonstrated in the cross. With the death of Jesus, we find an undeserved Provision (grace) anda visual depiction of the lengths to which God would go to reconcile His creatures to Himself.  

The manifestation of the Creator’s love for His creatures is shown in the death of Jesus Christ in place of the world, though they are fully culpable for their wrongdoing. This incredible transference (known as “imputation”) has been referenced through this series, and for each of these significant statements, we should ponder and worship the Most High God and His infinite mercy in providing a Savior for an ill-deserving people.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Pet 2:21-24).

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18).

The cross of Jesus Christ is a testimony of God’s love for people even to the point of great personal cost. Jesus Christ is the substitute for our sins taking upon Himself the death that we all deserve. He loves us and He wants to be with us. Does that sink in? He loves you and me totally and sufficiently. 

Only the perfect life of His Son could overcome the separating effects that sin had caused in the Garden of Eden. And now God’s precious and costly gift in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ stands as the means of providing it freely to everyone who has ever lived, for every sin, including yours and mine, having been dismissed from our accounts permanently. Let’s turn to Jesus’ words on the cross.

Seconds before Jesus took His last breath, He was offered sour wine. Looking to John 19:28and seeing that this is a fulfillment of Psalm 69:21, Jesus took the wine. While He had refused a drink that acted as a sedative earlier (Matt 27:34), He now accepted this drink to quench His thirst so that He could declare that the debt incurred before God had been settle and satisfied. In John’s Gospel, we read, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). 

“It is finished.” This Greek word means, “to complete an activity or process, bring to an end, finish, complete,”[9]and was found to be the stamp of a satisfactory payment rendered on many sales receipts. It has been noted that the “perfect tense denotes the certainty of the fact.”[10]Some render this “paid in full,” having nothing left required or expected. No more lambs, no more blood, no more need or want. 

Jesus has finished the work that He was sent to do; to give His life, dying on the altar of the cross, as the Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world (John 1:29). 

We must remember, no one took His life from Him. No one forced their will against His and caused Him to submit to these unjust proceedings. Jesus tells us in John 10:17-18“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it  again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” This shows His willingness to die; His willingness to be the atonement on our behalf.


In the cross, through the selfless giving of His Life, Jesus, God in the flesh, communicates:

A pictureof what the sin of mankind looks like in God’s eyes and the “covering” that we desperately needed;

A sacrificeof perfect blood that contains the very life of God in the Person of Jesus Christ, dying as our New Testament lamb;

A testimonyof the ever-abounding and unceasing love of God for His creatures, supplying the very means of rectifying all offenses that we have created. 

“In no way can the love of God be so clearly, beautifully and convincingly set forth as in the fact that God makes plain to the sinner his condition and peril, and then shows him the way of escape, having, in His great mercy, Himself provided it at infinite cost. Now, at this point the Gospel comes in as indeed good news, showing God’s love for the sinner.”[11]

[1]Mark Hitchcock, The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2012), p. 31-33.

[2]Brown, Driver, Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 1022.

[3]Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Comforted, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), p. 138.

[4]Robert P. Lightner, Christ: His Cross, His Church, His Crown (Taos, NM: Dispensational Publishing House, 2018), p. 90.

[5]Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), p. 497.

[6]M.R. DeHaan, The Tabernacle (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), p. 9.

[7]Roy Lee DeWitt, Teaching from the Tabernacle(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990), p. 126.

[8]D. L. Moody, Anecdotes, Incidents, and Illustrations(Chicago; New York; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell, 1898), p. 78–79.

[9]BDAG, p. 997.

[10]Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow Michael Kroll, eds., KJV Bible Commentary(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1994), p. 2121.

[11]Evangelist L. W. Munhall, The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth, vol. 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005), p. 161.