Wednesday, April 8, 2015

DID GOD THE FATHER ACTUALLY FORSAKE JESUS SOME TIME WHILE THE SON OF GOD WAS ON THE CROSS?

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" (Mat 27:46; Cf Psa 22:1; Mar 15:34).
It is commonly taught in Christian congregations that, at the moment when Christ cried out with this quote from Psa 22:1 ("My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"):
1. "The Godhead was ripped apart."
2. "God the Father hid His face from God the Son, forsaking Christ for the time being, because Christ had taken upon himself our sin, and God cannot look upon sin."
3. Similar such things.


I, however, doubt that God actually abandoned His Son at all. Much less that "the Godhead was ripped apart." Why? In Matthew's rendition, Jesus quoted Psa 22:1 in a combination of Hebrew ("My God, My God why ..." -- directly from the Bible) and Aramaic ("... have you forsaken me?" -- not directly from the Bible). True enough, the Hebrew word in Psa 22:1 is עזבתני / AZAVTANI and it means "you have forsaken / abandoned me." The same is true for the Aramaic שבקתני / SABAQTHANI which Jesus referenced. But neither word means anything like "you have ripped apart from me."
Furthermore, Jesus, as any good observant Jew does during times of distress, prayed the Psalms. And he called to mind and mouth a Psalm (Psa 22) that expressed his emotions at that moment. None of this diminishes the prophetic importance of the Psalm he chose. However, when David himself wrote Psalm 22 a thousand years prior to the time of Christ, about experiences he was having in his own life then, David felt as though he had been abandoned by God. But he hadn't been abandoned by God ... not actually. And when you read the whole Psalm, you realize that David knew -- despite his feelings at the time -- that he hadn't actually been abandoned.
In faith David declared about God:
"He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from [the afflicted]; but when [the afflicted] cried to [God], He heard" (Psa 22:24; see also vss 25-31).
See what I mean? "The afflicted" in immediate context was him ... was David. And God had not "hidden His face" from David.
In the same way, Jesus, David's great descendent, as a human being on the verge of death, felt as though God had forsaken him and "hidden His face" from the suffering Son. But God hadn't actually abandoned him.
"The afflicted" in the Psalm applied every bit as much to Christ and his circumstances as it did to David in his time! Yet God wasn't hiding His face from Christ (See above quote). And Jesus not only knew by heart Psalm 22 in its entirety (like all right-minded Jews of his day), he knew the other messianic prophecies that indicated that God would not abandon him. Jesus had to walk in faith according to what is written in Scripture, just as we have to. And the Scriptures teach that, rather than being abandoned by God, Israel's Messiah was to be raised by God from the dead.
Jesus knew this.
Still, death is a scary experience for anyone going through it, and observant Jews who are in distress habitually pray the Psalms. That is cultural training. And I don't think that Jesus, as an observant Jew, was any exception. Thus, after quoting Psalm 22, Jesus kept on praying to his Father. Remember? He knew in faith that the Father had not actually abandoned him, or else why did Christ keep praying to the Father?
Christ prayed again from the Psalms, but this time words of complete faith:
"Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit'" (Luk 23:46; Cf Psa 31:5 and note especially verses 19-24).
So I don't believe that Christ really thought that he had been abandoned by God the Father. Much less that, at that particular moment (or at any moment):
1. ''the Godhead was ripped apart'
2. 'God the Father hid His face from God the Son, forsaking Christ for the time being because Christ had taken upon himself our sin, and God cannot look upon sin'
3. Similar such things
And I don't think that we should read the Gospel evidence as though Jesus actually thought that.
Also, I think we wax too "theological" when we try to develop theories about God being torn asunder by the cross, or whatnot. I don't know all of what happened on Calvary, and I don't think it is wrong to try to connect some of the dots and fill in some of the dead space. But we create more problems than we solve when we start to assert theories about God the Father abandoning His only begotten Son when Christ became a sin offering for us, or of the "Godhead" being "ripped apart" by the events of the cross.
When we begin with a wrong concept, our reasoning that uses that concept as its basis is necessarily wrong too.

-Michael Millier

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me. Alpha Test

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  2. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me. Alpha Test

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shalom. This is one of our discussions with my teacher in biblical Hebrew some time ago and I was enlightened with his insight, so post it in my blog. I will try to explore some more regarding on this topic. Yah bless you!

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