Understanding Salvation

Pictures of Propitiation

New-Year resolutions often fail, because we make and carry them out in our own strength. They show the weakness of mere will-power and good intentions, without the grace (strength) of God. Instead at the opening of the Year: “Let us therefore COME BOLDLY to the THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (well-timed help)” (Hebrews 4:16). As believers in Christ we can have confidence because it is no longer a THRONE of JUDGEMENT but a THRONE OF GRACE. How can this be?

The answer is contained in the word PROPITIATION - the satisfaction of God’s justice and wrath upon sin though the sacrifice of Christ for us, so that He is now free to forgive, show mercy and bestow all the blessings of grace upon us.

Let us now look at 2 Pictures of Propitiation

1. The Day of Atonement The most important item in the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant. It was a wooden chest covered with gold. On top was a lid of gold, called the Mercy Seat. It was the earthly Throne of God, surrounded by the golden cherubim. God sat on this Throne in His Shekinah Glory. Within the Ark under the Seat was the 10 Commandments representing the Law of God broken by man. God looks down from the Throne and sees man’s sin. His holiness means He is angry with that sin, and His justice requires it must be judged and punished, resulting in destruction for the people. This would make it a throne of judgement.

But God made provision for it to be transformed into a Throne of Grace.
On the Day of Atonement the High-Priest sacrificed a male, innocent, perfect (unblemished) animal and brought the blood into the Holy-of-Holies and sprinkled it on the Seat. The blood represents the perfect blood of Jesus Christ, who died in our place, taking God’s judgement upon our sin that we deserved. When it was sprinkled on the Seat, God now looked down and saw the Blood that spoke forgiveness: ‘the price is paid.’ Justice was satisfied and God was Propitiated - that is: His righteous anger is now turned away from us because it was fully poured out upon the substitutionary sacrifice (Christ). So now, He is free to (justly) pour out His mercy and grace (every blessing) upon us. Hence the Seat can now be called the Mercy Seat (literally: ‘the place of Propitiation’), and it is a Throne of Grace which we can approach boldly in Jesus Christ (with no fear of condemnation) to receive mercy.

Grace now radiates from the throne by the Holy-Spirit. Once a year the High-Priest made this atonement for the sins of Israel (it was only effective for a year, for mere animal blood could not atone, it was only a picture), but now Jesus, our High-Priest has made atonement once and for all with His own Blood (effective for all time).

2. Noah’s Flood. God was angry at the evil filling the earth and decided to judge it by a Flood of water from above. But in His mercy He first provided a way of salvation: the Ark- a picture of Christ. It took time for Noah (a type of believers) to build the Ark. Likewise it took God 4000 years to prepare the way for God’s Ark (Christ) to be manifested.

Noah preached the Gospel was to all: (1) God’s Judgement on sin was coming down but (2) God has provided salvation in the Ark (Jesus Christ).

All who believed went into the Ark and were saved from the judgement. The waters of judgement fell upon all, but those in the Ark went into a new life, for it provided safety from God’s wrath. It provided Atonement (Covering) for them. The Ark was water-proofed and covered with pitch (a red-resin). The word ‘Pitch’ means ‘Covering’ or ‘Atonement’ (Gen 6:14). It is the first time the word ‘Atonement’ is used in the Bible and it is a picture of Christ and His Atonement. The wooden Ark with its covering of pitch speaks of His humanity covered in Blood. God’s wrath is upon the whole sinful human race but He has provided a ‘judgement-proof’ place of safety, sealed by Blood. Those who believe the Gospel are put into Christ, and are covered by His Blood; they come under His Atonement. The Ark (covered by pitch) took the full force of the judgement instead of those within. Likewise Christ, covered by Blood, bore the full force of God’s wrath on our sin. In Christ, we are covered by the Blood, and so are saved from God’s judgement.

When the Ark rested on the land they walked into a new earth and a new life (picture of resurrection). God’s wrath was satisfied, so that now He was free to be abundantly merciful and gracious to man. He enacted this by entering into a NEW EVERLASTING COVENANT of Grace with Noah, where He promised to never destroy the world by a Flood again.

The sign of this New Covenant and new relationship of God with man (based on the Propitiation accomplished by the Ark through the Flood was the RAINBOW:

“God said: "This is the SIGN of the (everlasting) COVENANT which I make between Me and you...for perpetual generations: I set MY RAINBOW in the cloud and it shall be for the SIGN of the COVENANT between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the RAINBOW shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My COVENANT (of mercy) between Me and you...the waters (of judgement) shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The RAINBOW shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the EVERLASTING COVENANT between God and every
living creature...on the earth." And God said to Noah, "This is the SIGN of the COVENANT which I have established between Me and all flesh on the earth" (Genesis 9:12-17).

Likewise, when Jesus rose from the dead having accomplished propitiation for our sins, He mediated a New Covenant of grace, mercy and forgiveness with believers through (based upon) His Blood, and the sign before God is again a rainbow as we shall see.

In Isaiah 53 and 54 we see this prophesied:

(1) Propitiation: “Surely He (the Messiah, Jesus) has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

(2) The resulting everlasting New-Covenant: "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," says the LORD, your Redeemer.”

God’s wrath has been permanently turned away from us because of the atoning work of the Redeemer (the Lord Himself!) in chapter53. Now we are in the eternal life and grace of God.

“For this is like the waters of Noah to Me (this establishes and proves that the events of Noah’s Flood form a Type or Picture of the Propitiation of Christ). For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed" says the LORD, who has mercy on you” (Isaiah 54:7-10).

This is a prophecy of the everlasting New-Covenant of mercy, grace and forgiveness based on the sacrifice of Christ for us (bearing our sin and judgement).

This is why the Throne is a Throne of Grace not Judgement and that we can come boldly to it to receive mercy and help at any time. Let’s now look at the Throne in Heaven as it is today for confirmation of this:

“I (the apostle John) looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a Throne set in heaven, and One sat on the Throne. And He who sat there was like:
(1) a JASPER (transparent DIAMOND) and
(2) a SARDIUS stone (RED) in appearance and
(3) there was a RAINBOW around the Throne, in appearance like an EMERALD (GREEN)” (Revelation 4:1-3).

With all the glory, energy and light shining around the Throne he found it hard
to describe. The best way he could describe God was as precious sparkling stones, shining with God’s glory. Two were on the Throne (‘the Throne of God and the Lamb’ -Rev 22:1), and the third surrounded the Throne as an emerald Rainbow. This is a wonderful representation of the Trinity:

The pure white (holy) DIAMOND shining with the glory of God represents GOD, the FATHER.

The blood red sparkling SARDIUS stone represents GOD, the SON, the sacrificial Lamb slain.

The green EMERALD RAINBOW, is GOD, the HOLY-SPIRIT, Who is not on the Throne but is centred on it and radiates out from it. This Rainbow forms a complete circle signifying God’s eternal covenant of love and grace towards man, based on the propitiation of Christ (natural rainbows are also full circles when seen from high up- from God’s viewpoint). Green is the colour of grace and life. The many colours show the multi-faceted grace of Christ (healing, victory, joy, love, wisdom, peace..) given to us in the Holy-Spirit.

So we see the Throne in Heaven is a Throne of Grace. The Rainbow’s 7 primary colours are the perfection of holiness (God’s character) given to us in the Covenant, as revealed in the 7 Covenant (‘I Am’) Names of the Lord. Thus the Spirit radiates
out from the Father and Son as the Spirit of Grace.

God’s glory originates in the pure white love and holiness of the Father (the Diamond), but if it came to us direct, it would destroy us. So, it comes through the Son, filtered through the red blood of the Lamb (propitiation), radiating out to us from the Throne in the Holy-Spirit in the many different colours of grace. This is the true Rainbow of which Noah’s was just a shadow.

Now God’s Water (Rain) from Heaven does not represent judgement, but His life-giving Word (Is 55). A Rainbow (the Spirit of Grace) is brought forth from the white light of the Sun (the Father) shining through Rain (the Word/Son).

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