Propitiation – Lesson 1

Friday, April 12th, 2013


Why Jesus had to go to the cross?  Is there no other way for God to reconcile man to Himself.  After the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist at the River Jordan, the work on the cross is called “ propitiation.”  Do not be perturbed by this word.  It’s a beautiful word which means to turn away wrath by the satisfaction of violated justice.  Christ act of propitiation has removed the barrier of God’s offended character.  It is because when Jesus hung on the cross, He bore the compounded fury of God’s just wrath against the sins of mankind which He received through His baptism by John the Baptist at the River Jordan. 


Justness of God

It’s amazing many believers who are saying, “oh, if we teach propitiation as a removal of God’s wrath, we are contributing to the idea of a petty God who simply has to be appeased in order to be happy.” So, because they only want to think about a God of love, they try to do away with the fact that the Bible deals in depth with the truth of God’s just wrath against sin.  In the OT alone, God’s wrath against sin is mentioned 585 times.  In the NT, there are several emphasis on this matter found in John 3:36, Rom 9:22, Eph 5:6 and Col 3:6.



There are 2 points that emphasizes propitiation in Rom 3:25-26.  First, the Bible says Christ died to satisfy the offended righteousness and justice of God and to turn away wrath from those who believe in Him.  Secondly, this passage displays propitiation to show the whole world that God’s offended character had been conciliated by Jesus baptism and death.  As such, God had a perfect right to declare righteous all who would believe in His Son’s substitutionary death on their behalf.


The Tabernacle

Perhaps the clearest example in the Bible as to what propitiation means is found in its OT.  The Greek word for propitiation is hilasterion.  This is the same word for the OT Hebrew word, mercy seat.  This was the place where God came down to meet with men through the intercession of their high priest.  It was the place where men came to meet God and have their sins forgiven through the system of animal sacrifice which God had instructed Moses to institute.

Everything about this tabernacle and its articles of furniture was intended to portray in a temporal way what God would one day do permanently. The animal sacrifices were valid until God would one day provide the lamb of His choosing.  That “Lamb “ was His Son, Jesus.  As John the Baptist said of Jesus when he saw Him coming toward him, “Look! Here comes the Lamb of God Who will take away the sins of the world.  John 1:29.


The Furniture

There were number of pieces of important furniture in the two rooms in the tabernacle which the priestly tribe of Levi use in the daily intercession for the people.  The most important article in the entire tabernacle was located in the inner room called the Holy of Holies.  This was the room where God’s presence dwelled on earth and it was the place of propitiation for God.  The central object in the room was a rather small acacia wood box, covered with gold.  God had given Moses the exact instruction on how to make this Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 25.  Everything about this focal piece of furniture was symbolic of the Person and work of God’s coming Lamb, Jesus Christ.  The wood represented His humanity, the gold His deity.  The top or lid of this Ark was a solid gold and became known as the mercy seat which the NT word hilasterion describes as the place of propitiation.  Under this mercy seat, in the Ark itself, were three peculiar items described for us in Hebrew 9:1-6.  The manna, man’s rejection of God’s earthly provision, Aaron’s rod, man rejection of God’s leadership and the tablets of the Law, man rejection of God’s holiness.


The Shadow

The Ark of the Covenant was located in the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the tabernacle.  Only one man in all the world was allowed in that chamber, the high priest of Israel, and he, only once a year on the day of atonement.  On that day he would take the blood of an animal sacrifice and sprinkle it on the top of the mercy seat.  Until the blood of the animal was sprinkled on the mercy seat, this throne of God depicted a place of judgement.  However, covered by the blood once a year, it became a throne of mercy or mercy seat.  God could now sit upon this throne and show the facet of His character called mercy because His righteousness and justice were completely satisfied by the blood sacrifice which He had ordained.


The Reality

Every function and symbol of the tabernacle worship found its deepest fulfillment in the life, baptism, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Only God could so perfectly plan such a detailed and minute correlation between the shadow and its ultimate reality.  The importance of this statement is overwhelming.  Jesus, as our High Priest, actually entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven with the blood of an innocent sacrifice, HIS OWN BLOOD thus obtaining for us an eternal redemption.

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