The God-forsaken God
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Critics of Christianity will often argue that Jesus knew beforehand that, though He would die, He would be resurrected to life. Thus, they ask, what was the big deal about His death when He knew it would be only temporary?

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Jesus on the Cross Image © Darrel Tank from GoodSalt.com

My mother knows that flying in an airplane is safer than traveling by car. She knows the sad statistics that people are killed every day on the highways, while a rare jet crash makes headlines around the world. Knowing all this, when my mother gets on an airplane she sure does not feel that it is safer! There is a difference between knowing and feeling. Jesus died as a man, not as God.

As a man, this is what Jesus experienced;

“In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.

“The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God.” -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 753.

Foxe’s book of Martyrs tells us John Huss was singing songs of praise as he burned at the stake for his faith. We wonder if John Huss, a mere mortal man, could be singing songs of praise as He died at the stake, why couldn’t Jesus sing songs of praise instead of crying out “My God My God why have You forsaken me?”

It is because John Huss died a totally different death than Jesus died. John knew he would be resurrected. He knew he was at peace with the Father. But on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserve to be treated so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. Think about this, Jesus always called God His Father.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions.”
“I always do those things that please my Father.”
“I and my Father are one.”

But when Jesus was on the cross being treated the way we deserve to be treated He could not call God His Father! He did not know that He would be resurrected. Instead He cried out, “My God! Why have you forsaken me?” This fulfilled the prophecy of Psalms 22 of Jesus dying the second death.

Jesus was not crying out, “Why have you forsaken me till Sunday morning?” You don’t forsake someone when you leave them for the weekend. When I tell my Sabbath School class I will be preaching at another church next Sabbath, none of them ask me why I have forsaken them. They know I will be back the following week. When Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He felt abandoned forever. He felt what the wicked will feel.

Obadiah 1:16 says the wicked will be as though they had never been. Jesus was not facing a mere six-hour pain endurance marathon. A lot of cancer patients would gladly trade their years of battling cancer for six hours on a cross. The physical pain is not what made it the supreme sacrifice. What Jesus was facing was going into total oblivion and being as though He had never existed! While Satan was willing to sacrifice anyone who got in his way of being number 1, Jesus was willing to go into total oblivion if He could just save even one of us.

Hebrews 2:9 tells us Jesus tasted death for everyone. Jesus and Paul both refer to the first death as sleep. Jesus did not save us from that death, as we plainly experience that death ourselves. Paul did not say Jesus tasted sleep for every man. No, He tasted death, the death of the wicked. Yes, He prophesied of His own resurrection, but that was while He still felt the presence of His Father. When Jesus felt the Father turn His back on Him, He felt, as a man, that the promise of the resurrection had left with the Father. Jesus became the God-forsaken God.

Some say, how could Jesus have died the second death while He never lost faith in His Father? Remember Jesus had no sense of self-preservation. The sense of self-preservation belongs to Satan. Jesus had faith, but His faith was not that He would be saved but that you and I would be saved!

Some have a hard time wrapping their minds around this awesome love. Some refuse to believe that Jesus would be willing to die forever to save us. In that case they have made Moses more loving than Jesus. In Exodus 32:32 Moses is willing to be wiped out of eternity in order to save the children of Israel. Do you think Moses loved them more than Jesus loves sinners? Of course not! Only when Moses experienced the self-sacrificing love of God could he express such love. If you don’t believe that Jesus was willing to say good-bye to life forever in order to save us, then you believe that Moses demonstrated more love than Jesus.

Since the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy they could have just stoned Him to death. According to Leviticus 24:16, blasphemers were to be stoned and not crucified. Yet Jesus was crucified. Why? Because Deuteronomy 21:22-23 tells us those who are hung are cursed by God. Someone could plead for mercy and have the hope of salvation, just like John Huss had, even though they were stoned to death. However, being hung was a sign you were cursed by God. Joshua 10 tells the story of five kings who refused to accept Israel’s God and were hung from five trees, telling the world they had rejected God and so there was no salvation for them. It was good-bye to life forever.

Friend, does this help you understand how much Jesus loves you? He could have come down from the cross and returned to heaven where He could wear His kingly Crown instead of the crown of thorns. He could have left the road to Calvary and walked on streets of gold. He could have left the mocking mob and returned to hear angels sing His praise. He could have returned to His mansion. Why didn’t He do just that? Because the thought of going back to heaven without you did not appeal to Jesus. Heaven would not be paradise without you, as far as Jesus is concerned.

There is nothing I would rather be preaching than this message here. It is the everlasting gospel in the three angels’ messages. This kind of love changes everything. It changes how we look at the cross and how we look at sin. Most of all it changes our hearts. The disciples were just a bunch of self-ambitious men until they saw this love displayed on the cross. After they saw this love they were willing to give everything – even their own lives. Revelation 15 tells us there will be a multitude singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. They will be filled with this self-sacrificing love just like Moses and Jesus. They will hate sin more than they hate death and they will love God more than they will love their own lives or self preservation.

Jesus’ love for you goes deeper than the nail scars. He loves you more than He loves life itself. He was willing to go into total oblivion and be as though He had never existed if that is what it took to save you!

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The God-forsaken God — 30 Comments

  1. Jesus died the death that we deserve so that we would not have to and that we might have the life that He deserves.

    What "death" do we deserve that we do not have to die? Is it the "sleep" that is ended by the first resurrection?

    Or is it the "second death"?

    We may not understand how it is possible, even though William drew a good picture, but unless Christ died the second death in our place, we are doomed to die the second death ourselves.

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  2. I just have to add my amen to today's lesson. This is a message that we have had for over a hundred years, and in mercy and love God is giving it to us again. I pray it moves us to greater appreciation and love for Him who died of a broken heart for us. When the soldier pierced the side of Jesus and two streams flowed, one of water and one of blood, it revealed that He died of congestive heart failure brought on by grief so deep for the sins of others He took the blame for, most of whom didn't yet even know or care that their sins were crucifying Him ("while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8). Look up congestive heart failure; it is the pleural cavity around the heart filling with water (in this case due to extreme stressfulness) and crushing the heart in agony too great to imagine, especially in this young man with a strong healthy heart. When Jesus felt his heart torn and mortally wounded by grief, while still alive he cried "It is finished". He had drunk the cup for us to the dregs. Then and only then could he rest his soul by faith alone in God.

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  3. I don't want to "crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." (See Hebrews 6:6). God help us to glorify You in this Earth and not cause you shame.

    A quote from an inspired author reads: "Remember that when you sin, you wound afresh the One who gave his precious life for you, putting him to open shame. The world looks on, and says, “Ah, they are the ones who profess to believe that Christ is coming, and who profess to believe that the Lord forgives their sins; but do you see their conniving, their dishonesty, their sinfulness?” Christ is humiliated in the person of his saints. Let us not take that position. Let us consider that it is a noble thing to confess our faults, and to forsake them." {RH May 18, 1905, par. 9}

    Have you ever thought of Christ being wounded again by the sins of His people on Earth as History marches on? Friends I believe those wounds in His hands still weep a little blood every day, that the sins still sting as He pleads His blood in our behalf in the Heavenly Sanctuary. His heart still aches for the lost. May Heaven help us to share His love and burden for the souls around us at work, in the home, the neighborhood. We need to be much in prayer for opportunities to tell and share with others of His matchless (Agape)Love! God help us.

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  4. Consider john 16:32 & john 18:4. These passages refute all this speculation. Jesus was calling psalm 22 to mind to show that even the particulars of His crucifixion were predicted. He was continuing to encourage His disciples even in the agony of His death. Now that is love!!

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    • Jim, Psalms 22 is a real prophecy about Jesus' real feelings and emotions on the cross. THAT is love! There is no speculation to refute. The supplied Desire of Ages quote clearly says Jesus could not see through the portals of the tomb. Like Psalms 22 all Bible prophecies are very real when they are fulfilled. Psalms 22 is a prophecy of Jesus dying the second death. Jesus was not play acting for His disciples. It was all very real.

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      • William - thanks for posting my comment and even responding to it. Most sites that support the abandonment theory where I post will not post my opposing opinion.

        Given your view that God really did in fact forsake the Son, I can see why you read Psalm 22 with an emotional view. This is a new (and I must say creative) way to look at Psalm 22. However, the fact remains that Jesus, speaking to His disciples, said in John 16:32, "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me." And John 18:4 reports that, "Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth,..." Put these together and we have that Jesus knew that He was NOT going to be abandoned, forsaken, or left alone "because the Father is with Me" as He went forward to meet the Roman cohort that would arrest Him.

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        • Hi Again Jim,

          Thank you for your comment. We are always glad to publish sincere comments that are on subject. Thank you also for letting me clarify something. I do not believe that God actually abandoned Jesus. I do believe however that Jesus felt abandoned. Jesus experienced the cross as a man which is why it says in Mark 14:33 that Jesus became sore amazed in Gethsemane. His humanity was overwhelmed in experiencing something He never had had before. He was facing the death of the wicked and felt forsaken though He was not. My view of Psalms 22 is not unique or creative. It is standard. As I said in my earlier comment, the experience was real to Jesus and David prophesied of this real experience. Jesus was not just reciting verses on the cross to remind His disciples of the prophecy in Psalms 22. He actually felt forsaken though He was not. If Jesus was only pretending to feel forsaken then that would greatly cheapen the cross. Jesus was willing to die forever if that is what it took to save us. It would not be logical to think that Moses had more love and was willing to make a greater sacrifice than Jesus when he asked for his name to blotted out in Exodus 32. I hope this helps clear up any confusion. God bless and thanks again for the open dialogue.

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          • Hi Mr. William,

            thank you for your message, i understand it so well so as with your convo with Mr. Jim and your explanation is far better to understand than his since it's really i think the actual feeling of Jesus as he died on the cross and Psalms 22 is i think the most fitted text to describe his feeling. He knows that the Father is with Him in John 16:32, yes He knows! But as you said knowing is different from feeling. and what he felt at the moment (on the cross) is not his own feeling but actually it is WHAT WE SHOULD FEEL HAD HE NOT DIED FOR US- THE FEELING OF ETERNAL SEPARATION WITH GOD BECAUSE OF OUR SINS. it was not his feeling because he had not sinned so how can he feel being separated with God? but it WAS OUR FEELINGS (all of Us) because we sinned, we are to be cursed (that's why he was hung), but he took all our curses and sins to save us (just as what atonement in Leviticus symbolizes), and the feeling of supposed eternal separation with God and man and the second death, He took them all for us (if we follow and accept Jesus we will not experience anymore the two)! And that is Great Love! an Amazing Love! that no one can ever imagine. thank you Mr. William.. God is really love!

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          • It would be good to note that, even though He FELT forsaken the next words from his mouth according to Luke's Synoptic account was, "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit."

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          • Dan, remember that Ecclesiastes 12:7 says everyone's spirit returns to God who have it. That is simply their breath and the saved and the unsaved return their breath to God. Satan has worked hard to misrepresent God's love, and taint our understanding of our love by making it look like Jesus had a hint of self interest or self preservation. The whole world was turned upside down when at the cross the universe saw God's love with no hint of self. True love can have no self in it, and a proper understanding of the cross exposes Satan's lies and lets us see the true character of God that He is love.

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          • Of course. The context of the passage, however, indicated absolute submission to the Father whose presence He could not sense. That demonstrated absolute trust, even though He could not see through the "portals of the tomb." He KNEW the character of His Father and in this moment of absolute severity, He was able, still, to depend upon it. The Faith of Jesus. (Rev 14:12)

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          • William, I have to believe that we as human beings with limited understanding have questions as to the fulfillment of the plan of salvation in it's entirety. We answer those questions again from a human perspective. We do not all understand why or how the same way. The insight that we have has only been available for less than 250 years. One might wonder if all those before this time would not have benefitted as much as we? I would reason that God supplies what is needed and when. You ask a question, why was Jesus crucified and cite Deuteronomy 21:22-23. I would add Jesus' answer in Matt 26:53,54,56. The bottom line is, Thank You Lord for Love that is without measure.

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          • Hi Paul, I believe the insight has been around for more than 250 years. I believe this insight is what turned the world upside down in the book of Acts, and totally changed Peter and the others. I believe it will change us too, which is why Satan wants to blind us to the depths of God's love and sacrifice.

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  5. If I may be sufficiently presumptive to add a thought to your excellent treatise, I would say that it would be wise of us to go an extra paragraph for a greater understanding of the reason for the Godhead's valiant plan of Salvation having it's watershed at the cross and it's culmination at the re-creation of the New Earth - or, perhaps, extrapolating it to, and throughout eternity, making it a universal plan rather than just a concentrated plan to save our miserable skins.

    That, of course is found in Ephesians 2:1-10 with the emphasis on verse 7-10. This gives us the realization that what has been done for us in Christ has the everlasting purpose of demonstrating to worlds "in the ages ([gr] aeon) to come...the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us, for (because) it is by grace you are (have been) saved through faith..., it is the gift of God!... For (because) we are His workmanship, created unto (for the purpose of) good works...."

    It will be a joy to travel about the 200 - 500 Billion Galaxies searching out other worlds in the "Goldilocks Zones" telling those who have never fallen just what it's like to experience "Amazing Grace." That will give even the retired evangelists something to do in Eternity!

    Also, Jim, you alluded to the short tour that Jesus shared with us here. That is true, but when we look at what He actually surrendered to do that, the mind is boggled! When He left the place we call Heaven, the place of God's throne, He came here as one of us, "...forever to retain His human nature." (DA 25.3)

    That was some kind of sacrifice!

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  6. Praise the Lord for the insight he has given you. I had to read it twice. This is so compelling. Let the whole world know!

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  7. In our church nazareth in kenya we do go through your programmes ad we do appreciate ad may God grant u with his mercy ad if possible ur most welcome in our church

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  8. Thanks for this message, I think worth sharing in our Sabbath school class. I understood that though there was a plan of salvation, Jesus still had the choice to fulfill it or not. It is all about LOVE. Amazing Love!

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  9. Thank you all for your comments on the question as to wether or not Christ was forsaken by the Father at the cross. It has helped me to clear up this in my mind. I think, under different aspects both holds true. On one hand, Christ was not forsaken by the Father or else the spirit of God would not have raised Christ from the dead, and Christ would still have been in the tomb up to this day (Romans 8:11).

    On the other hand, Christ suffered the experience of being forsaken by the Father as he tasted death for all sinners taking their place (Hebrews 2:9). The word tasting indicats his experience of bitternes pertaining to this kind of death no man has ever experienced and will ever experience. Every one of us dies for our own sins. But the sins of all were placed on his head, which finally crushed his life.

    In this sense Christ descended into the lower parts of the earth (Ephesians 4:9), which is the hell of eternal separation from God, an experience of utterly being forsaken. His reaction in expectation of this horrible event clearly shows the uniqueness of his approaching death at the cross. (Hebrews 5:7; Luke 22:44)

    This is not all that can be said: It will take all eternity to ponder about his being forsaken and not being forsaken. As to now, it all leads us to adoration and worship (Hebrews 1:6).

    Winfried Stolpmann

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    • Winifred, I hope that you misspoke when you wrote, "Every one of us dies for our own sins. But the sins of all were placed on his head..."

      If we die for our own sins, the indication is that we have not allowed Him to carry our sins. So I see a dichotomy in your post. It is a redundancy if both He and we carry our own sins.

      If we have claimed His blood, we have accepted His grace and forgiveness and the guilt of our sin is placed on Him as our substitute. We then stand before God as though we had never sinned.

      Otherwise, - Agreed.

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      • Dan, thank you for your note. It helps me to be more precise next time. Saying, every one dies for his own sins, I had in mind the biological death followed by a funeral service. In the next sentence I was thinking of the substitutionary death of Christ on our behalf as all our sins were placed on his head, which crushed his life. I could have added: Accepting his imputed righteousness as a free gift and partaking of his imparted rightousness will give the assurence of of eternal life.

        The problem seems to be as to what is in the mind of a writer and how does the reader understands the outflow of invisible thought seen in visible print. I also freely admit that thinking across a foreign language barrier can also lead to a misunderstanding. Thank you for your information which, I hope, will help to clarify the issue.

        Regards

        Winfried Stolpmann

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        • Add a few years to your life and it will happen more often! :)

          I can't count the times that my fingers work slower than my brain. Then there are time that the converse occurs. That part is frightening! When I write a Blog I usually have my wife proof it to ascertain for certain that it makes sense.

          You are right on! - Keep on!

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  10. Hello brothers of the United States!
    This was one of the best texts I've read on this site! William Earnhardt was blessed by God for writing this text with so many important details, demonstrating the tremendous love of God for us!
    Jesus took seriously the example of "let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

    Greetings from São Paulo / Brazil !.

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  11. Thank you for this insightful, well written discussion of Christ at His death.
    It has given me a deeper understanding of Christ's love for humanity. I had often wondered why He questioned "...why have You forsaken Me?" when in His ministry, said He would raise up, and, rebuild the temple of His body. I thought He knew He would rise again and that to some extent, that knowledge gave Him courage to continue His journey to the Cross.
    Thank you for sharing your understanding. I have been blessed.

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  12. Thanks for the great lessons expressed here by everyone.

    In the case of substitutional sacrificial lamb, it was natural that it was fully subjected the full sting/ pain of death in totality, and for Christ there were no exceptions, worse still to bear the guilt of every sinner, must be overwhelmingly heartbreaking indeed.

    Most psychologist are able to explain what grief is all about and how to deal with it, it might be true with you and me too in many other circumstances, but as for the psychologists what they lack is their own personal experience, they might have never lost their most beloved one. When tragedy strikes one is now able to appreciate the difference between knowledge practice and feeling.

    Here Jesus was totally left to face sin and death in human flesh, no wonder He felt forsaken by the Father, but still with faith, hope and knowledge had to go on and declare "it is finished", the penalty for sin is being fully paid, at the cost of sacrificing self "AT ALL COST" for the sake of others.

    Praise God for His amazing love and amazing sacrifice, glory to the lamb of God.

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  13. No long epistle from me today. ... just saying, Thank you Lord for the awesome sacrifice you became and your Matchless love towards us undeserving sinners. May we in turn live for you and reflect your love to others...so help us Lord Amen! :)

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  14. It will be an agonizing experience for all of us as we witness the billions surrounding the New Jerusalem at the moment they realize their hopelessness. Having the mind of Christ we will feel the utter pain of Christ as He faces that 'strange act' where He must finally eradicate those who He created, and died for.
    I cannot possibly imagine living a moment without any hope. The anguish that Jesus experienced for us we will ever need to, thank God. Hope is a wonderful gift.

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  15. With the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are assured of our salvation otherwise without it we would remain hopeless for ever. Thank you God for your great love for me. Help me respond positively to it. Amen

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