Why is it important that the messiah should be born a man? Why should the Lord be raised bodily from the dead? What great importance is attached to the body, as the Messiah could have manifested Himself in a spiritual body as the Church is, without incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension?
What is the necessity for the establishment of the priesthood in God’s plan for mankind and what are its’ implications for man’s salvation? At what point did God establish the eternal priesthood of Melchizedek, as Genesis did not record its’ creation and what prompted the setting up of the Aaronic order?
These are the questions this paper addresses. The issue of blood sacrifice as atonement and why God’s Messiah was sent in the physical will be addressed to show that it has always been God’s will from before the world was made that Jesus would be born, persecuted, crucified, buried, and He would physically rise up again and ascend to Heaven as mankind’s God given Saviour.
This paper will also analyse the principle of God’s covenants in order to establish the superiority of the New, or Messianic Covenant and its effect on the future state of believers, and the importance of the priesthood of Melchizedek in this covenant.
In Genesis chapter 1 verse 26, we are told of God creating Man, in His own image and according to His likeness. We are told that man was God’s chosen instrument of dominion over the earth and all things physical (Gen. 1: 28 – 30), and God said all that He had made was good. (vs 31). Because of naivety, and curiosity, man was deceived into disobeying God’s covenant condition given in Gen 2:17, man fell from grace and become estranged from God. The consequence was a curse upon man, woman and the serpent, which was satan’s instrument of deception.
Within the ambit of God’s judgment on fallen Adam, He also gave hope for salvation through the seed of woman (Gen. 3: 15b). This “seed” gives evidence, that the serpent (devil) could only be overcome through man in the flesh born after the likeness of Adam. It was all in fulfilling God’s eternal purpose in glorifying Himself through Man’s creation (Rom 8:28 – 30)
When God pronounced death as consequence for disobedience to Adam (Gen. 2:17) it took effect through a substitute death of an animal (Gen.3:21) whose skin covered temporarily for Adam’s disobedience From this pattern God established sacrificial offering as atonement for personal and ancestral sin (Gen. 4:4, 8:20, Leviticus 5:17 – 19). However, the Bible tells us that if a man commits abomination, then by His own blood shall he pay for it (Numbers 35:33). Therefore as sin came to the world through one man, then ultimately only man can atone for such sins. (Romans 5:18 & 19). God’s mercies endure forever, however He is also a God of justice and every sin must be judged. By the inherited sin of Adam, all mankind inherited sin (Exodus 20:5).
Since the time of Adam, and as ordained in the Sinaitic covenant (Exodus 24:12) God allowed another substitute for man. This substitute was an animal without blemish. This atonement was done daily by the Levitical priesthood created under the same covenant. The Aaronic priesthood were sinners representing sinners. Their sacrifices only served as covering for sin but could not cleanse the conscience of the sin committed.
God purposed to finally put to rest, the problem of sin, by having someone born in His image and likeness, as Adam was, to receive the punishment for sin and to once and all for purge sin away from man’s conscience and bring relationship between God and man again (2Cor. 5:19). The problem was there was no man born without blemish; for all have sinned (Rom 3:23). But God in His fore – ordination of Christ as the one who would represent man in judgement (Gen. 3:15b) and redemption (Isaiah 53 : 5 &10), as the Bible tells us that God had chosen the “seed” of woman that would come out of the descendants of Abraham (Gen 22: 18) and specifically through the household of Jesse, king David’s father (Isaiah 11).
This “seed” would bruise the head of satan and set us free. For this reason, the seed without blemish could only come by divine arrangement. Since sin is inherited from the male lineage, as the head of a marital union, the God chosen Messiah could only be conceived divinely, so that He could be qualified to take the place of man in the judgement of God, releasing mankind from God’s curse (Luke 1:31 – 35&77).
To achieve this plan of salvation, God ordained a High Priest in heaven, as early as when Adam had fallen under the curse, and the entire priesthood, as soon as Jesus presented the perfect blood, without which believers would not have been able to be consecrated into the “Royal Priesthood”.
The Order of Melchizedek was God’s heavenly programme, copied on earth through the Order of Aaron and consummated again in heaven when the blood of sanctification by a perfect lamb was made available by the death on the cross, of the Messiah.
God’s prepared body
God originally made Adam, with the intention that He would live eternally in his body, which was a glorified type of body. Therefore the corruption of the body, which became liable to sickness and death is related to the consequence of the fall. The kind of body that could live in a glorified form had to be established through another man, acceptable to God, to begin a new covenant of creation. (2 Cor 5:17). Therefore to come before God again, in heaven, we must be able to revert back to the original body of Adam before its fallen state. This body of ours in this state was not fit for the Son of God to dwell in, thus God begat Him divinely in Mary’s womb without the physical involvement of a man. Jews believed that a contaminated body can contaminate the soul (Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, Cecil Roth, 1962) hence the need for a virgin birth. Scriptural evidence is given that Jesus, in the flesh, is called the heavenly Man rather than man of dust (1Cor 15:49). The kind of body required to enter heaven had to have this nature, without the contamination of dust (1Cor 15:50).
Christ’s body is unique in the purpose for which God prepared it. Since God could have organized man’s salvation without the incarnation of Christ, and the death and resultant resurrection, it means that the body had a unique place in God’s purpose. It is for this reason that Christ declared “Wherefore when He (Christ) came into the world, He said; Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, But a body you have prepared for me…. Then I said Behold, I have come – in the volume of the book it is written of me – to do your will, O God”
From this statement we can infer that Christ’s incarnation had a 3 – fold application.
To preach directly to the people God’s word by God Himself (John 1:1&14) Psalm 40:9, Luke 4:18)
To personally bear the sin of men and to die in our place and purchase redemption for those who believe (John 1:12 & 29)
To resurrect from death, thereby over coming the power of death and hell (Luke 24:7, 1Cor 15: 20-21) giving such power to those who come to Him.
In Hebrews 10:5 we see the necessity of the body of Christ in the statement, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire”. Meaning that, the ordinances of the Law of Moses were insufficient for salvation. God expressly states that laws given to Moses were not preventing Israel from living in sin (Isaiah 1:13). Instead God seeks righteousness (v:17). God prepared a body that could do away with animal offerings.
The word “prepared” in the original Greek is Katartidzo, which literally translated as “prepare perfectly” (Concise Greek – English Dictionary of the New Testament., U.B.S., 1971) Therefore, the Lord Jesus was able to retain the original identity as God’s express image (Col. 1: 15) which Adam in the un-fallen state had.
In this perfect God-Man person, Jesus, God was able to perfect His plans for mankind’s salvation. Jesus would become the Redeemer, in His own body bearing our sins on the cross, reconciling us to God in the body of His flesh. The body of Jesus was supernaturally conceived, developed in the womb naturally and yet without blemish. Jesus birth and life was in confirmation of pre-destination or election, due to God’s covenants. Abraham’s seed was part of God’s covenant, people born according to such covenants (Jeremiah, Isaac, Samson, Jesus) are not born according to passions of the flesh or carnal plans but according to divine covenant (Gen. 17:20& 21, Gal. 4: 22&23)
PERFECT PREPARATION: (Katardidzo)
One of the uniqueness of Jesus’ prepared body was that it not only had to have no inherited sin, it also had to be incorruptible. Jesus was tempted even as Adam and Eve were (Matt. 4: 1-11), but He was tempted apart from sin (Heb 4:15). James’ epistle tell us that when we are tempted, It comes from within (James 1:13-16), But Jesus, who is God’s Word could not be tempted from within. The devil could not find anything as a leverage (John 14:30) so he had to tempt Jesus from outside, with the 3 categories of temptations
Lust of the flesh (Turn stone to bread)
Lust of the Eyes (Offered the world if Jesus would worship)
Pride of life (Ask Jesus to show His power)
Jesus could not be defiled with sin. Jesus’ body did not have the root of sin in Him, and more importantly, the word was in Him so as to block the passage of sin (Psalm 119:11)
Hebrews 4:15 tell us that Jesus was tempted in all points as any other human, though not from His own lusts, but as an external test. All these showed that Jesus was completely pure, without blemish and perfect for God’s purpose, for if He had being born according to the flesh He would have had inherited lusts which would lead to sins even if at the thought level. This is why Job said “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? No one” (Job 14:4). Bilbad the Shuhite put it in another way, “How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman?” But scripture reveal to us further that before conception the angel of God said to Mary “that holy one which is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). It is therefore evident that God’s saviour could not come without embodiment. And because He is God, He could not be embodied except in an incorruptible body. Such a body, to be human, must be born of woman but to be sinless cannot be man – begotten. All of these conditions were fulfilled at Jesus’ incarnation, with God’s prepared body.
WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD
“Without shedding of blood there is no remission (of sins)” (Hebrews 9:22)
God’s activities in preparing a body for Christ, was to fulfill His divine purpose. This is related to the whole issue of salvation from the power of sin. Jesus severally also referred to His body as “This temple” (John 2:19). Even though the church is referred to as the “body of Christ” we know that Jesus has His own glorified body which was taken up (Luke 24:51) There is a purpose for which Jesus had to resurrect in a bodily form, since He could have dwelt in His disciples through His spiritual body. Paul tells us that there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body (1Cor. 15:44).
Jesus Christ still had a major role to perform after his death and resurrection. It was for this purpose that his body was prepared according to divine plan, to be perfect. He had preached His Gospel, He had given His physical life as sin offering, so, like the Levitical High Priest, He also had to personally present the blood offering before God in the heavenly sanctuary. To do this, he had to still have a human, albeit glorified body (Hebrew 10:12)
Christ is our ordained High Priest in the eternal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, and His priesthood supplants the Aaronic order (Heb 8:13). When God gave Moses the commandment to build the tabernacle in which the various religious ordinances were to be performed so that God could dwell among the Israelites, it was designed after the heavenly sanctuary (Ex. 25:8-9). It was a copy and indeed the inferior. The God-ordained rituals and ordinances of the Mosaic Law were temporary activities shadowing the reality in heaven. They were a shadow of things to come, which reality belongs to Jesus Christ (Col 2:17)
The blood symbolizing the sin – offering of the lamb/bull sacrificed under the Aaronic priesthood on the day of Atonement had to be carried to the Holiest of Holies, before God’s very presence. This was done by the High Priest. When the blood sacrifices were offered in the Tabernacle, an innocent goat had to be put to death. However, the sacrifice of an animal was insufficient to purge man’s sin, it only provided a covering. God’s justice provides that a man’s life blood alone can atone for a man’s offence. It is not possible for the blood of goats or bulls or any inferior creature to atone for human sins (Heb 10:4)
Jesus, by His embodiment, was perfectly suited to satisfy God’s prerogative of justice. Jesus was offered as the “Lamb of God” (John 1: 29). He offered up Himself (Heb 9:14) and is also the High Priest who abides forever (Heb 7:23 & 24). He personally presented the blood as proof of His having sacrificed Himself as Man. He entered into the heavenly sanctuary and there offered once for all proof that the penalty of our sins had been paid.
The foundation for Christ’s offering His body in laid in the following scriptures.
The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given if to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood which makes an atonement for the soul.
Without shedding of blood is no remission
For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold….. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figure of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us through his (body)…… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
THE SUPERIORITY OF GOD’S PREPARED BODY
From the aforementioned reasons we summarily come to the understanding that Christ became the acceptable substitute for Adam in God’s divine justice. Christ was slain to receive power (Rev. 5:17) that had hitherto been given to Adam (Gen 1;26-28) but was lost. Christ, in fulfilling God’s will (John 3:16) received full authority to appropriate the Kingdom’s of the world (Rev. 11:15) that were in bondage under Satan. In so doing Christ established His superiority over every other Biblical figures in History and in times to come. His superiority is affirmed by the following facts;
He is the son of God (John 1:14)
He is the express image of God (Col 1:15)
He is the instrument of God’s creation of all (Col 1: 16)
He is proclaimed as God by the father Himself (Heb. 1:8)
Angels worship Him (Rev. 19;10)
He is the High Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary (Heb. 8:2)
He gives a superior rest to believers (Matt: 11:28-29)
Christ’s sacrifice gives permanent salvation (John 8:36)
His was the perfect body, without blemish (Heb.(:14)
Jesus Christ, in giving His body, reclaimed the dominion granted to man, which puts Him as head of all creation as God intended. Because of His sacrifice, God gave Him prominence over all celestial beings (Matt:28:16 ) proving His superiority over all.
God’s eternal purpose was fulfilled when He sent His only begotten Son, to come and redeem man, by offering His body so that His life which is in the blood can be presented to assuage God’s demand for justice for sins committed. He became the perfect man, divinely acceptable as a sacrifice. He became the perfect High priest, able to come into God’s presence in Heaven in the body of a man, in order to offer up His blood to atone for every believer. Christ was sent in God’s specially prepared body, to fulfill all the ordinances of God because He is so much more perfect, over all the prophets, Judges and Kings of Israel and over the Church and heavenly beings (Phil. 2:9).
God achieved all of these great things for believers by establishing covenants, and a priesthood, which ensures that man fulfills the terms of the covenants. It is in a study of these covenants that we will establish God’s programme of salvation, starting from the Adamic Covenant to the Millenium Covenant. We will see that in-between God’s covenant with Adam and the Messianic Covenant, there was the establishment of the Melchizedechian Covenant, which was fulfilled in the shedding of Christ’ blood and His ascension to heaven to present the blood in the heavenly sanctuary.
(c) George H. Ashiru
Standard Jewish Encyclopedia Cecil Roth, 1962
Concise Greek – English Dictionary of the N.T. UBS, 1971
The Seed of The Woman, Arthur Constance
The seed of the woman, Arthur Constance bibliography