According to the Hebrew Scriptures humans are unable to ransom their lives since they are incapable of offering the payment that God demands to spare them from death and destruction:
"Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit." Psalm 49:7-9
This, perhaps, accounts for Elihus claims that man is in need of God sending a messenger who would mediate on his behalf by offering the ransom which God requires for his redemption:
"Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light." Job 33:19-28
The word for angel, malak, simply means messenger (*) and doesnt necessarily refer to a created spirit being from heaven. The word can also refer to human messengers or to God himself functioning in the role of a messenger.
The word for ransom comes from the Hebrew kopher, which is related to kaphar (*), with the idea being that mediation must be based on atonement just as Elihu correctly concluded.
Interestingly, Job believed that the day would come in which God would resurrect him from the dead and that he would behold the face of his Redeemer:
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" Job 19:25-27
Job wasnt the only one to believe that he would one day behold the face of God since David was also convinced of this truth:
"I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence/face (paniym) there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:8-11
"As for me, I shall behold your face/presence (paniym) in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness." Psalm 17:15
More on this point shortly.
According to the Holy Scriptures atonement is based on the shedding of blood which represents the life of the victim that was put to death on behalf of the guilty:
"If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." Leviticus 17:10-11
"Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Hebrews 9:22
The Bible says that the penalty of sin is death:
"Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die." Ezekiel 18:4, 20
"For the wages of sin is death " Romans 6:23
This explains why animals were put to death since they were taking the punishment that the guilty deserved. Yet these sacrifices could only offer temporary satisfaction and did not permanently appease God since they were limited and finite in value. This accounts for why they had to be offered over and over again.
Not surprisingly, the Hebrew Scriptures state that Yahweh God is mans Redeemer:
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy," Psalm 103:2-4
"O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities." Psalm 130:7-8
"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: For your sake I send to Babylon and bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice." Isaiah 43:14
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." Isaiah 44:6
The OT further teaches that Yahweh makes atonement and provides the ransom for sin, otherwise a person will not be forgiven and must therefore be punished:
"‘Atone for Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.’ And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them." Deuteronomy 21:8
"For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good LORD atone/make atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.’" 2 Chronicles 30:18-19
"Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me." Psalm 49:14-15
"Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hears prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you ATONE for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;" Psalm 65:1-5
"They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, ATONED for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again." Psalm 78:35-39
"Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and ATONE for our sins, for your name's sake!" Psalm 79:8-9
"Yet you, O LORD, know all their plotting to kill me. Do not atone for their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger." Jeremiah 18:23
"For thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God." Ezekiel 16:59-61
What all of these verses indicate is that Yahweh God provides the ransom which would completely satisfy his justice and holiness so that he could pardon and redeem sinners from judgment and wrath. The reason why Yahweh will do this, and not another, is because he alone is capable of paying the ransom price that his justice demands.
This further implies that if God were to send a messenger to mediate he would have to be God since there is no one besides him who is capable of making a satisfactory payment.
Astonishingly, the NT ascribes all of these functions to the Lord Jesus Christ!
For instance, Jesus is the Redeemer/Savior of the world, the Divine Angel/Messenger whom God sent forth to save people from their sins:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18
"They said to the woman, It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world." John 4:42
"God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." Acts 5:31
"The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." 1 Timothy 1:15
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world." 1 John 4:9, 14
Moreover, not only does Christ save his people from sin,
"She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)." Matthew 1:21-23
He also heals their physical diseases:
"And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven. Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone? And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Rise, take up your bed and walk"? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sinshe said to the paralytic I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home. And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!" Mark 2:5-12
In this pericope Jesus:
"then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways ( for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind)," 1 Kings 8:39
"And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever." 1 Chronicles 28:9
Jesus is also the One who mediates for man and ransoms him from death by making atonement:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:14-15
"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:14
As if this wasnt astonishing enough, Jesus will one day raise the dead to life and it will be his face that they will all see:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment." John 5:25, 28-29
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:1, 6-8
"And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming Beloved, we are Gods children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure." 1 John 2:28, 3:2-3
Thus, God did what Elihu suggested by sending forth his holy and blessed Son, the Lord Jesus, to mediate for sinners and to offer his own life as a ransom for sin.
To summarize the data from the NT we learned that:
These factors conclusively demonstrate that Jesus is more than a man since the Scriptures are quite emphatic that a mere human being cannot offer a ransom which would completely satisfy God. Jesus must therefore be fully Divine in order for him to be able to carry out the very tasks which the OT ascribes to Yahweh.
"Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to him, Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:25-27
Come Lord Jesus and redeem your elect from the wrath and destruction to come. Amen.
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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