Hard to Believe – The Great Exchange

So…what would be the hardest to believe Bible story? I have been thinking about this and it comes down to 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21.

Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

These few words sum up most of the hard to believe stories God has given in His word.

CREATION. In the beginning God created perfection and order by His word. He said, “let there be light” and it was so; “Let there be earth, sky, boundaries for the sea” and it was so; “let there be living things” and it was so; “let us make man in our image” and he reached down to fashion man from the dust, breathed breath into him, and it was so. It was very good and God walked with man in the garden. Man did not continue to believe the word of the Lord and believed a lie from Satan instead. The shame of man was covered by the skin of an animal and the grace of the Lord. Man was banished from the perfection of the presence of God.

NOAH and the FLOOD. One man, Noah, found grace in the eyes of the Lord as he walked among sinful men. God judged the sin of men and warned that He would punish it. The obedience of one man resulted in the salvation of his family and all that entered the ark.

ABRAHAM. God appeared to a sinful man, Abraham, and promised that a great nation would come from him. God sealed this promise with the sacrifice of animals and the spilling of blood. Abraham believed God and God considered him righteous in his belief. When the first seed of this promise was fulfilled in the birth of Abraham’s son Isaac, God asked that Abraham give his son as a sacrifice. Abraham obeyed and God provided a ram was given as a substitute.

DELIVERANCE from EGYPT. God’s people were slaves to the mighty nation of Egypt. God spoke to Moses to deliver His people from their bondage. The final plague of judgment to visit Egypt was the Angel of Death. All who had applied the Blood of the Lamb to the doorpost of their home – those who acted in obedience – we saved from death.

PROPHETS. Moses continued to receive the word of the Lord. God revealed the law which would train His people in righteousness towards God and their neighbors. The penalties for breaking these laws were sacrifices that pointed towards the need for cleansing, the desperation of their situation, the ever-present penalty of death for sin. Moses spoke of a greater prophet that would come to God’s people.

The message of the prophets continued to be remember the righteous law of God. Repent of your sin. Return to God. Be restored to God. The story of God’s people is one of a cycle of obedience and blessing, sin and discipline, slavery and deliverance. They killed the prophets.

The WORD BECAME FLESH and DWELT AMONG US. Jesus is the object of all of the scriptures. He is the Creator, the Light of the World, the Salvation promised, the righteous man among sinners, the first-born of the family of God, Hope for the nations, Deliverer from bondage, the Word of God, the very manifestation of God.

These stories have several themes: God’s perfection; Sin, judgment, and death; God’s providing grace and mercy. It is only when the story reaches Jesus that man is once again reconciled to God’s perfection, and it happens at the cross in the Great Exchange of 2 Corinthians 5:21.

The cross is the penalty of sin. Here God’s wrath was poured out in judgment for every sin and evil deed and thought in the hearts of men. Jesus’ died in the place of sinners – as a substitute – for those who believe that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.”  The cross is the end of God’s wrath for those who confess their sins and believe in Jesus – forgiveness is found here.

The constant power of sin to enslave us is broken at the cross. God promised Eve that her seed would crush the head of Satan. We must never see the cross alone but view it through the open door of an empty tomb. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) The empty tomb is the guarantee of God’s promise that the presence of sin in our lives is now subject to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as we obey in His power. The empty tomb is life eternal. In Christ we are new creatures, the old is passed away, all things are new out of this empty tomb. Christ was raised from the dead as proof of His righteousness – His sinlessness. In Christ we become the righteousness of God.

Perfection is not yet visible in our earthly walk, but we can be confident of this: our sins will be forgiven at the cross; the penalty is paid and the righteousness of God is given to us; we are reconciled to God; the presence of God is with us; and the power of God is for us. “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Do you believe?

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