Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah . . . has conquered . . . Revelation 5:5
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Galatians 6:14
You have been very angry with your Anointed One. Psalm 89:38
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2
Let the motto upon your whole ministry be - "Christ is All!" - Cotton Mather

Friday, February 2, 2024

The Bible Says The Father Turned His Face Away From Jesus On The Cross

I had said in my alarm, "I am cut off from your sight." Psalm 31:22
O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? Psalm 88:14

Sadly, in recent years, I've seen a denial of these glorious words of the song "How Deep The Father's Love For Us":

How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory. (Stuart Townend)

Critics wrongly argue that the Father didn't turn His face away. Let me use Jesus' words: You are wrong, and you don't know the Scriptures. Have you not read Psalm 31, Psalms 88 and 89, and all the Psalms?

If the Father didn't turn His face away from Jesus on the cross, then we are dead in our sins and without hope in the world, and the Father will turn His face away from us in hell for all eternity. Our only hope is that the Father did turn His face away from Jesus on that cross so that He will never turn His face away from us forever in His presence where there's fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore!

Yes, the Father never stopped loving His Son on the cross. Yes, the Father was well pleased with Jesus on the cross. Yes, there was no break-up in the the eternal intratrinitarian relationship of the Father and the Son. But because Jesus, in His office as Mediator, was made sin on the cross - because all of His people's sins were imputed to Him on that cross, the Father turned His face away and crushed His Son so that His people will never be crushed. This is the heart of the Gospel!

The Psalms Are About Jesus

All of Scripture everywhere deals only with Christ. Martin Luther

Bruce Waltke and Fred Zaspel write about how the Psalms are about Jesus Christ:

The Psalms are about Jesus. The significance of this royal orientation goes further as we seek to understand the psalms in canonical perspective. We have it on Jesus’s authority (Luke 24:44) that the psalms are about him. Some of the psalms are more directly predictive, such as Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. In others David stands as a “type” or picture of Christ and is prospective of him in more subtle ways.

Commenting on how Psalm 89 is about Jesus Christ, Ligon Duncan writes:

The New Testament, on nearly every page, teaches that Jesus is the true and better David, the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant and the restorer of David's throne. Consider, for instance, Peter's sermon at Pentecost:

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know - this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,

"I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence." 

Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Acts 2:22-32

As Peter explains, the psalms chronicling the suffering of David and his children are fully realized in the sufferings of Christ. David's flesh did, in fact, see corruption - he is, after all, still dead in his tomb. So, Peter reasons, this psalm must refer to David's greater son! Where did he get this idea? From the Lord Jesus himself. When Christ encountered the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection, he bemoaned that they did not see  in the Old Testament the many evidences that Christ would undergo death and exile to restore what Adam and Israel had lost:

And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27

The suffering of David and the people of Israel - rejection, curse, and judgment - were ultimately and consummately experienced by David's greater son, the servant of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Jesus experienced Psalm 89:38-45. And by that suffering Jesus restored the throne of David and saved the people of God . . . Psalm 89 gives us hope ultimately because it points us to the one who endured a suffering far beyond anything we will ever know. He was mocked and shamed and forsaken of God, so that we might be God's precious inheritance into eternity. (Pages 48-52)

Chad Bird writes:

Are All 150 Psalms about Jesus? The psalms are the prayerbook and hymnbook of Jesus. About half of them were written by David, and others by Solomon, Moses, or the sons of Korah. The coauthor behind all 150, however, is our Lord. What does this mean? Does it mean that they were inspired by the Spirit of Jesus? Yes, for “all Scripture is breathed out [θεόπνευστος] by God,” (2 Tim. 3:16). That Greek word, θεόπνευστος (theopneuotos) was translated by the Latin Vulgate as “inspiro,” whence we get our word “inspire,” literally, “to breathe into.” But that’s not all Christ’s authorship of the psalms means, for all Scripture is God-breathed. What makes the psalms unique? All the psalms are by Jesus and about Jesus, in one way or another. St. Augustine gives a helpful way to think about this with the analogy of a head and body. Here’s how it works. My head cannot act apart from my body, nor my body from my head. This is true, but certain actions are particularly head-actions or body-actions. For instance, I run with my body, but my head is involved. And I see with my eyes in my head and think with the brain in my head, but my body is also involved. My feet take me to where I can see a canyon or forest. My hand feeds my mouth so I can concentrate on thinking instead of my hunger pains. So it is with the psalms. Some of the psalms are more particularly about the head, that is, Christ. Psalm 2 is about his sonship and messiahship. Psalm 16 about his resurrection. Psalm 22 about his crucifixion and resurrection. But even in these psalms, the body—that is, the church—is involved. For instance, Psalm 2 is primarily about our Lord, but we body of believers are referenced in vs. 12 as those who are “blessed” because we “take refuge in him.” Other psalms are more particularly about the body of believers. Psalm 13 is the brief lament of those who are suffering, then vindicated. Yet the lovingkindness and salvation for which we thank God in vs. 5 is wrapped up in the Messiah, our head. Psalm 23 is our confession as the sheep of the Messiah, those who are kept safe in his body. Yet the Messiah, our head, is our Shepherd-King whose rod and staff comfort us. So it is with all the psalms. Sometimes they are more focused on Christ the head, or are his very words spoken (e.g., Ps. 22). At other times, the psalm is more focused on the body. And at still other times, both are the same. For instance, is Psalm 88 the prayer of a deeply troubled and suffering believer or group of believers? Or is Psalm 88 the lament of Jesus on Good Friday as he sinks into the darkness of death? Yes. It is both, for Christ as The Man subsumes all humanity into himself. His speech becomes ours and ours his. As you pray the psalms, bear this in mind. These 150 ancient poems and prayers are the treasure of the Spirit, in which he enriches us through the Son of God, who comes to reconcile us to the Father and to teach us to pray . . . Which OT book is quoted more in the NT than any other? Psalms. Which OT verse is quoted more in the NT than any other? Psalm 110:1. Which OT book did Jesus quote when he was being crucified? Psalms. Why are the psalms the heart of Scripture? Because, as Martin Franzmann said, "Theology is doxology. Theology must sing." It cannot remain mute words inside a book, but it leaps off the printed page, exits the mouth, and fills the air with a holy sound. In the psalms we sing with Jesus, and Jesus sings with us, in a hymn to the Father through the Spirit, amidst a choir of saints and angels. Here are God's words to us that become our words back to God. The psalms are verbal tears for the suffering, a steady hand to the wavering, a beating heart to the dying. No other biblical book was on the lips of Jesus as he was about to die. Let them ever be on our lips as well, for they are the songs of heaven on earth. (See also: Every Psalm Is The Prayer Of Jesus)

Jesus is not only the Suffering Servant, He's the Suffering Psalmist: ". . . everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Luke 24:44

Psalm 31 

Like Jesus quoted from Psalm 22 on the cross: "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?!", when He died, He also quoted Psalm 31:5: "Into your hands I commit my spirit"

Later in Psalm 31:22, we read: "In my alarm I said, 'I am cut off from your sight!'" This also describes what Jesus faced on the cross. The Father did turn His face away from His Son on the cross, so that He will never turn His face away from all who repent and believe in Him! And just like in Psalm 22 (Psalm 22:24: he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.), Psalm 31 ends in triumph, pointing us to the resurrection (Psalm 31:22: But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help.). God finally did hear Jesus' cry - and answered! His face was no longer hidden from His Son! He raised Him up!

As Herman Bavinck wrote, the resurrection is the Father's "Amen!" to Jesus' "It is finished!"

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Psalm 88

I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your anger lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves . . . Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? . . . I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your anger has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. Psalm 88:5-7, 14-16

And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself . . . Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead . . . . Luke 24:25-27, 44-46

Christ Jesus Prayed This Psalm Meditation
The Psalms Point To Him, For He’s Their Foundation
He Cries Out “My LORD! My God! My Salvation!”
“Take This Cup Away! Full Of Fury Damnation!”
He’s Troubled As Death Draws Near In Vexation
He Has No Strength As He Falls In Prostration
In Darkness He Hangs For The Full Duration
Bearing God’s Wrath As Our Propitiation
His Soul’s Cast Away In Hell Devastation
God’s Face Turned Away In Full Condemnation
Cut Off In The Grave, He’s Dead Life’s Cessation
His Companions Are Gone, He’s Alone In Damnation
Yet Wonders Are Worked For The Dead Incarnation
The Departed Do Rise Up And Praise Adoration
Your Steadfast Love Is Declared Our Salvation
For Jesus Did Rise For Our Justification
And Now He’s Forever Our Preoccupation
Our Holy Fascination Who Causes Intoxication
More Than Anything Else In All Of Creation!

In his commentary on the Psalms, Bruce K. Waltke writes on Psalm 88:

Heman foreshadows the “Man of Sorrows” (Isa 53:3; see references to Mark 14–15 below). The psalm rightly belongs in the Good Friday liturgy and shows us God’s unconventional love.

In his commentary on the Psalms, James Hamilton gives a helpful summary of Psalm 88: 

Heman the Ezrahite prays to the Lord in Ps 88 as he endures God's wrath, as he suffers alienation and abandonment, as he endures the rising waters and the breaking waves of God's punishment. Through all of this, he maintains that Yahweh is his God, the God of his salvation. He further recognizes that God is everything he declared himself to be in Exod 34:6-7. The Lord's lovingkindness has not ceased, nor has the Lord's faithfulness come to an end. He still does wonders, and he is still righteous. Heman cries out for deliverance, that he might continue to enjoy God and praise him in this life.

The pattern of Heman's experience was fulfilled in the one who was forsaken that his people might be comforted, who was made a curse that his people might be blessed, who bore the sins of his people in his body on the tree, who was baptized in the waters of wrath that his people might rise with him to newness of life, who suffered outside the camp to open the way to the holy places. (Page 130). 

Daniel Fletcher writes:

. . . the psalmist's experience in Ps 88 and that of Jesus is an example of biblical typology. Because the entire book of Psalms testifies to Jesus, namely his sufferings (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47), the words of lamentation of the psalmist point to Christ, culminating in his passion experience. The psalmist had his own experience of suffering as the historical analysis indicates, but Jesus also had his own experience that both echoes and exceeds that of the psalmist, as the antitype exceeds that type. (Daniel Fletcher, Psalms Of Christ: The Messiah In Non-Messianic Psalms, (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2018), 109-110.) (Many of the wonderful meditations below come from Fletcher's book, like this chart.)

J. Clinton McCann Jr. writes: 

Psalm 88 . . . serves to articulate the same experience Jesus would later live out. (J. Clinton McCann Jr., A Theological Introduction To The Book Of Psalms: The Psalms As Torah, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993), 99.)

Commenting on Psalm 88:7, Augustine wrote: 

The anger of God was not merely roused, but lay hard upon Him, whom they dared to bring to death, and not only death, but that kind, which they regarded as the most execrable of all, namely the death of the Cross. (Augustine of Hippo, Expositions On The Psalms, In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff. Trans. J. E. Tweed, (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature, 1888), 88.)

Jerome gave this heading to Psalm 88 in the Vulgate:

The voice of Christ: he speaks concerning his Passion to the Father. (John Eaton, The Psalms: A Historical and Spiritual Commentary With An Introduction And New Translation, (New York: Continuum, 2005), 509.)

In an excellent article on how Psalm 88 is a Psalm about Christ on the cross, Robert Godfrey writes:

Yet, beyond sovereign comfort, we also find salvific comfort in the words of Psalm 88. These cries of sorrow not only apply to the Psalmist, but they also point us to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Savior knew the Psalter well, and he fulfilled the Psalter’s promises . . . The Psalmist revisits the themes of forsakenness and God’s wrath in the closing of the psalm. In v.14 the Psalmist’s troubled soul cries out with the final questions, “O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?” These questions sound very similar to the words we considered from Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God why have You forsaken me!?” The poetic language in both Psalms 22 and 88 unpack the immense suffering that Christ endured on Calvary. As Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 44 declares, “Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from hellish anguish and torment.” In Christ’s agony upon the cross we are reminded that we shall never be forsaken! Though we still may cry out the words of v.14 in times of great despair, nevertheless we must remember that this question of forsakenness has been answered once and for all upon the cross in Jesus Christ our Lord. Furthermore, the theme of abandonment is fulfilled in Christ, when the righteous anger of God was put upon our Savior.

The Psalmist calls out as one who is surrounded by God’s wrath in vv.16–17, “Your wrath has swept over me; your dreadful assaults destroy me. They surround me like a flood all day long; they close in on me together.” These are similar to vv.6–8, which we considered as the “fog” of darkness. For our Savior, however, these words were not some fog of deception—He truly endured the Lord’s righteous anger and was offered up as an atoning sacrifice. As Questions and Answers 39 and 40 from the Heidelberg Catechism state, “By this death I am convinced that he shouldered the curse which lay on me, since death by crucifixion was cursed by God…[and] because God’s justice and truth require it; nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the Son of God.” He endured the wrath of God upon the cross, and He was forsaken that we might have life in Him.

Richard Belcher writes:

Although it is legitimate for the believer to pray Psalm 88, ultimately Psalm 88 is not our prayer but the prayer of Jesus. Hebrews 5:7 states that "Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death." Psalm 88 fits the experience of Jesus as he struggled with the prospect of crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane. Although the resurrection stands in the future, Jesus is overwhelmed by the darkness of the pit and the prospect of death on the cross. He is all alone, abandoned by everyone close to him (Mark 14:50; Luke 22:45, 54-62; 23:49). He not only faces the horror of the physical pain of being crucified, and so is counted as one who is already dead, he faces the horror of bearing the judgment of God against sin. Verse 7 is literally fulfilled in Jesus: "your wrath lies heavy upon me." He was going to be abandoned by God, which is expressed in the questions of 88:14 [Psalm 88:14: "O LORD, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?"]. Could not the rhetorical questions of 88:10-12 be similar to the experience of Jesus in Luke 22:44, where it describes Jesus being in agony and praying more earnestly, with his sweat becoming like great drops of blood? What was he praying? Luke 22:42 reports his prayer: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done."  Jesus experienced the darkness and abandonment by God expressed in Psalm 88 as he hung on the cross suffering the judgment of God against sin. His human life ended in darkness, but only for a short time, for on the third day he burst from the grave conquering sin and death. Because Jesus experienced the dark night of the soul we are assured that darkness will not be the last word. (Richard P. Belcher, The Messiah And The Psalms: Preaching Christ From All The Psalms, (Geanies House, Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2006), 75-76.)

Thomas Schreiner writes on Psalm 88:

God as v. 14 says hid his face from Jesus Christ at his death. The worst thing Jesus experienced was being abandoned by God. The fellowship he always enjoyed with God was severed. That was the most difficult aspect of Jesus’ sufferings. (Dark Nights and Days: Psalm 88)

Ligon Duncan writes on Psalm 88:

The suffering of this psalm ultimately points to the sufferings of Jesus . . . Jesus's words and life attest to these very sufferings on the cross [the sufferings of Psalm 88]. (When Pain Is Real And God Seems Silent: Finding Hope In The Psalms, Pages 28-29; Duncan preaches Psalm 88 and Psalm 89. Bryan Chapell has an excellent sermon on Psalm 88.) 

Preaching on Psalm 88, Timothy Keller said:

The end of Psalm 39: God's face is turned away. The end of Psalm 88: darkness. Losing God's face; darkness. Does that sound familiar to you? Matthew 27:45: "From the sixth hour to the ninth hour, darkness came down over all the land. At the ninth hour, Jesus Christ on the cross cried: 'My God! My God! . . . Why have You forsaken Me?'" . . . Jesus got the total darkness that Heman thought he was getting. When Jesus went to the cross, He was abandoned. Really. Not just subjectively. "My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" On the cross, Jesus Christ really got the wrath of God. Not just I felt the wrath. He actually got the wrath of God. Everybody abandoned Jesus so only Jesus Christ of all the people who have ever trusted God as Savior, only Jesus Christ - darkness really was His only friend. His disciples had left Him; His people had left Him, His Father had abandoned Him - darkness was His only friend. You know why? He was taking the sins upon Himself that we've committed . . . but Jesus took the darkness so that when you believe in Him, your sins are forgiven. Or put it another way: Jesus Christ experienced darkness as His only friend so in your darkness you can know that Jesus is still your friend. He's still there. Jesus was truly abandoned so that you will only feel abandoned, and you can know that God's still there. He's not going to abandon you. No matter what you've done wrong, because of what Jesus Christ has done - He's taken the penalty. It all fell on Him. It all fell on to His heart. (Timothy Keller, How To Deal With Dark Times, Accessed 06 FEB 2024).

On Psalm 88, see Christ And His Church In The Book Of Psalms by Andrew Bonar. Robert Hawker, whom Charles Spurgeon cites extensively in his The Treasury Of David on Psalm 88, wrote a whole sermon titled, "The Personal Sufferings Of Christ For The Salvation Of His People", from Psalm 88:15: "Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless." It's on page 89 of his works here.

Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

Psalm 89

I have already written more extensively about how Psalm 89 is fulfilled in Christ. But briefly take note of verse 46:

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Psalm 89:46

Because Jesus was made sin on the cross, God hid Himself from His Anointed Son on the cross, and God's wrath burned like fire toward His Son so that God might never hide Himself from us and we might never experience His burning, fiery wrath!

In The Treasury Of David, commenting on Psalm 89:46: "How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?", Charles Spurgeon gave these hints to the village preacher (Oh be a village preacher, Brother Pastors!), and they include God's hiding Himself from Christ and His wrath burning like fire as afflictions on Christ. Spurgeon understood that God hid Himself from Christ on the cross, and God's wrath burned like fire upon Christ on the cross:

Verse 46. The hand of God is to be acknowledged.
1. In the nature of affliction. "Wilt thou hide thyself", etc.
2. In the duration of affliction. "How long, Lord?"
3. In the severity of affliction. Wrath burning like fire.
4. In the issue of affliction. How long? for ever? 
In all these respects the words are applicable both to Christ and to his people.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Other Psalms

All over the Psalms, we see the Psalmist cry out about God's face being hidden from him. And as we've already seen, the Psalms are about Christ!:

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Psalm 13:1

Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! Psalm 27:9

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? Psalm 44:23-24

Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Psalm 69:17

Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! Psalm 102:2

Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Psalm 143:7

All of these Psalms point to the cries of Jesus from the cross! Jesus endured the true hiddenness from the face of God so that we will never face such torment but see Him face to face!

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Revelation 22:3-4

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

God Hides His Face From The One He Forsakes 

The Bible teaches that Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross. To be forsaken by God means God will hide His face from the forsaken one. Right before Moses died, God warned Moses that Israel would forsake Him and serve other gods. As a result of this rebellion, God told Moses that He would forsake His people and hide His face from them: “. . . my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them . . .” (Deuteronomy 31:17).

The Psalmist also connects the hiding of God’s face with being forsaken: “Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!” (Psalm 27:9).

This is exactly how faithful preachers of the past, like Spurgeon and Martyn Lloyd-Jones, have preached about what Christ endured for sinners on the cross. Spurgeon preached:

Christ in that hour took all our sins, past, present, and to come, and was punished for them all there and then, that we might never be punished, because he suffered in our stead. Do you see, then, how it was that God the Father bruised him? Unless he had so done the agonies of Christ could not have been an equivalent for our sufferings; for hell consists in the hiding of God's face from sinners, and if God had not hidden his face from Christ, Christ could not – I see not how he could – have endured any suffering that could have been accepted as an equivalent for the woes and agonies of his people (The Death Of Christ)

Lloyd-Jones also preached this way:

[God] has made His Son the sacrifice; it is a substitutionary offering for your sins and mine. That was why He was there in the Garden sweating drops of blood, because He knew what it involved – it involved a separation from the face of the father. And that is why He cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Commentary on Romans 8:32).

Everyone else had forsaken Him, His disciples had fled and had left Him, but now He cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The one who utters that cry is “the beloved,” the one who had basked in the sunshine of the eternal love from eternity, without intermission. He reaches a point wherein even He has lost sight of the face and the smile of His Father. And He experienced that for you, for me. ("In The Beloved")

(This section was taken from an article I wrote for Reformation 21: "Forsaken, Or Felt Forsaken?". I wrote this follow-up article: "More Thoughts On Being God-Forsaken")

Hallelujah! What A Savior!

Yes, The Father Turned His Face Away

The Puritan, Thomas Goodwin, wrote of how Jesus suffering the curses mentioned in Job 13:24:

Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy? 

In his book, Of Christ The Mediator, Goodwin wrote:

A bloody battle was now towards, and therefore it was a black day; Christ was to encounter with the utmost power of darkness, and therefore the field he fights it out in is darkness. Two things were due unto us for our sins:

1. Pœna damni, the loss of God's favour, and a separation from God and all good, even to a drop of water.

2. Pœna sensûs, the curse and wrath of God. Other things are but either circumstances or consequents of suffering these in those who are sinners. We have them both mentioned; Job 13:24, "Wherefore hidest thou thy face" (says he to God; there is the punishment of loss and privation), "and holdest me for an enemy?" (There is the punishment of sense). These two are the substance of the pains in hell, and do now both fully meet in Christ. (Page 471)

Sinclair Ferguson writes: 

His [Christ's] death is everything that death truly is . . . alienation from the face of the Father. (The Holy Spirit, Page 104)

In a powerful article and sermon on the curse motif of the cross, R. C. Sproul pointed out that what Jesus suffered on the cross was the exact opposite of the blessing of Aaron in Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

R. C. Sproul wrote:

The supreme malediction would read something like this:

"May the Lord curse you and abandon you. May the Lord keep you in darkness and give you only judgment without grace. May the Lord turn his back upon you and remove his peace from you forever."

When on the cross, not only was the Father's justice satisfied by the atoning work of the Son, but in bearing our sins the Lamb of God removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He did it by being cursed.

You can watch his powerful sermon on this here:

In another article, The Crucifixion And Old Testament Prophecy, R. C. Sproul wrote:

God is too holy to look on iniquity, so when Christ hung on the cross, the Father, as it were, turned His back. He averted His face and He cut off His Son. Jesus, Who, touching His human nature, had been in a perfect, blessed relationship with God throughout His ministry, now bore the sin of God’s people, and so He was forsaken by God . . . On the cross, He was in hell, totally bereft of the grace and the presence of God, utterly separated from all blessedness of the Father. He became a curse for us so that we one day will be able to see the face of God. God turned His back on His Son so that the light of His countenance will fall on us. It’s no wonder Jesus screamed from the depths of His soul.

Mark Dever, while preaching about the Father forsaking the Son on the cross, references the excellent and Biblical line in question from the song they had just sung during the church service, "How Deep The Father's Love For Us":

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory!

Later he says, "Christ was forsaken, so that we will never be." Then Dever quotes this puritan prayer from The Valley Of Vision:

Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy
that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell’s worst
that I might attain heaven’s best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light . . .
expired that I might for ever live.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

To learn more about the great Triune God, the God-ManJesus Christ, and His glorious Gospel message and everlasting Kingship, please watch American Gospel: Christ Alone. You can watch the full documentary here with a free, 3 day trial.

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