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Mercy, Atonement, and Redemption

Joshua: Faith & Fear  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:07
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Introduction

Last week we looked at a blessed story of redemption in the story of Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho, who helped the Hebrew spies escape the king and in the process secured the her safety as well as that of her family from the impending invasion of Jericho. She also chose to accept the God of the Hebrews as her own and was adopted into the Hebrew nation through marriage.
In our text for today, Joshua chapter 3, we begin to see the Hebrew army preparing to cross the Jordan river into the Promised Land.
Let’s read this...
Joshua 3 NASB95
1 Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. 2 At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp; 3 and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. 4 “However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” 6 And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people. 7 Now the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. 8 “You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” 9 Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the Lord your God.” 10 Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. 11 “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 “Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” 14 So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people, 15 and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), 16 the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
As I read through this and prayed about his morning’s message, I realized that there was something happening here that might help some of you understand redemption and atonement.
Joshua 3
This passage marks the first place in the Book of Joshua that the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned. This chest was built by Moses following God’s design and it is very closely related to the theme of redemption that we have discussed on multiple occasions.
As I pondered this text, I realized that there is a lesson to be learned just in studying the Ark of the Covenant.

What is the Ark of the Covenant?

The Ark of the covenant
tebah - a box, chest, or casket - Noah’s ark

בֵּבָה tebah (1061c); prob. of for. or.; a box, chest:—ark(26

אֲרוֹן
aron - a chest, ark, coffin - carries with it the sense of being a boat
a chest, ark, coffin
berith - ally, covenant
berith
ally, covenant
ally, covenant
ally, covenant
aron berith - the ark of the covenant
On a few occasions this chest is called the ark of testimony.
The most holy physical possession of Israel since it symbolized God’s very presence.
; ; ;
This ark was basically a chest (or box) made of acacia wood. It measured 45x27x27 inches and was overlaid with gold. It had rings so that the poles could be used to carry it.
The lid was made of a slab of gold and was topped by two golden cherubim.
Contained three symbols of God’s relationship with Israel:
the tablets of the Ten Commandments ()
Aaron the high priest’s rod, that had budded (; )
a jar of manna ()
Rules of Interaction with the Ark
The Mercy Seat (propitiatorio)
atonement - the high priest made atonement by sprinkling the blood of bulls and goats upon the mercy seat ().
The lid was called a seat, because this was effectively God’s throne here on earth.
While this sounds strange to us, this ark showed the Hebrew nation that God was with them physically.
Rules of Interaction with the Ark
nobody was to touch it
the high priest could only approach it once per year on the Day of Atonement
rested in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle (later the temple)
no sinful man could even survive looking upon God’s glory (a cloud resting above the ark)
When the Hebrew nation travelled, the ark of the covenant went before them
The ark of the covenant was the dwelling place of God, when He was on this earth with the Hebrew nation. A cloud was said to float between the outstretched wings of the angels. This cloud being the visible presence of God who was seated upon his earthly throne.
The Ark of the Covenant’s Place within the Tabernacle
The ark was positioned on the back side of the tabernacle (or temple) within a curtained off area. Entry into this area was limited only to the High Priest on one day of the year, the Day of Atonement. This was the day that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled onto the lid (or Mercy Seat) of the chest.
This atonement was performed in order to obtain forgiveness from sin before God.
We’ll get into the definition of atonement in a moment. But I wanted for you to know about this chest.
Forgiveness of sin hinges upon three concepts that are critical for the believer to understand:
Mercy
Atonement
Redemption

What is Mercy?

mercy - is compassion or forgiveness toward someone whom is within one’s power to punish.
Mercy is known to be one of the characteristics of God.
The Mercy Seat (propitiatorio)
PRINCIPLE God is merciful and compassionate toward His people, whether or not they are deserving of His mercy.
When we talk about the removal or pardon of sin, we see primarily two words used:
While this sounds strange to us, this ark showed the Hebrew nation that God was with them physically.
Propitiation vs Expiation
The lid was called a seat, because this was effectively God’s throne here on earth.

Propitiation vs Expiation

While this sounds strange to us, this ark showed the Hebrew nation that God was with them physically.
There are scholarly arguments both for and against the use of the phrase propitiation vs expiation in regards to the process by which God removes our sin.
propitiation is an action that is meant to appease and angry god, for example a sacrifice.
The argument against propitiation is primarily that we are not really attempting to earn God’s favor by appeasing His anger.
Propitiation is tied with the idea of exchanging a gift for the favor of forgiveness.
Propitiation is tied with the idea of exchanging a gift for the favor of forgiveness.
The Bible does not teach that we can earn forgiveness. On the contrary, forgiveness is granted to us, but in no way do we earn it.
expiation - is the act of removing of sin or guilt.
As such, expiation is much more closely related to the idea of atonement than propitiation.
Expiation is tied with the idea that the crime or the sin is removed from our record.
Expiation is tied with the idea that the crime or the sin is removed from our record.
We have to remember that forgiveness is something granted to us by God. There is no price that we can pay or favor that we can perform to earn God’s forgiveness. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor, beyond accept His son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the savior and make him the Lord of our lives by submitting our will to his.
There is a word for this process...
However an even better word for this process is atonement.

Atonement - A Better Way

The idea of atonement is one that is given to us by God.
atonement - at*one*ment - making at one - a process of unifying those who are estranged. It carries with it the concept of reconciliation and restoration of relationship.
The idea of atonement is one that is given to us by God.
atonement - the high priest made atonement by sprinkling the blood of bulls and goats upon the mercy seat ().
The Need For Atonement
The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition I. The Need for Atonement

The need for atonement is brought about by three things, the universality of sin, the seriousness of sin and man’s inability to deal with sin.

God hates sin and cannot coexist with it. He will not abide with sin.
; ; ; ;
Sin actually acts as a barrier that repels God from us.
Man cannot...
deal with the sin situation
The Anglo-Saxon word basically means “a making at one”, at*one*ment - and indicates a process of unifying those who are estranged. There is a concept of reconciliation and restoration of relationship here.
hide his sin from God
cleanse himself of sin
stand justified before God
save himself
…on his own.
Sin basically makes it impossible to relate to God without some form of atonement.
The Anglo-Saxon word basically means “a making at one”, at*one*ment - and indicates a process of unifying those who are estranged. There is a concept of reconciliation and restoration of relationship here.
What could be better than being reconciled with God?
Old Testament Atonement - The Sacrificial System
atonement - the high priest made atonement by sprinkling the blood of bulls and goats upon the mercy seat ().
This sacrificial system was a large, complex system of having the Hebrews bringing bulls, goats, and doves into the temple to be slaughtered, drained of their blood, butchered and burnt as an offering before God. Without this sacrificial system there could be no forgiveness of sins.
New Testament Atonement - Jesus’ Work Completed on the Cross
We learn in the New Testament that Jesus was sent to replace the sacrificial system of the Old Testament and fulfill our atonement through his death on the Cross.
Effectively his blood was spilled on the cross and his death was made as a sacrifice that we might have an opportunity to have atonement (reconciliation) with God.
Jesus is our Atonement
Ephesians 1:3–12 NASB95
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
New Testament Atonement reveals God’s love for man. (; ; ; Hebrews 2:9)
The Holy Spirit is our Mercy Seat
The spilling of his blood fulfilled our need for atonement.
Blood

What is Redemption?

What is Redemption?

redemption - to be bought back, to be released from bondage or slavery.
We talked about redemption last week. It means that we have been bought by the price of Christ’s death on the cross.
We do not have to sacrifice animals any longer in order to have our sins expiated or to acquire atonement with God.
Our forgiveness and our pardon has been paid for and our sins have been wiped clean.
We have this forgiveness simply by choosing to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and putting our lives into submission to Him.
Jesus is our Atonement
The Holy Spirit is our Mercy Seat
The Holy Spirit is our Mercy Seat
The spilling of his blood fulfilled our need for atonement.
However, if we don’t express our faith in action (like Rahab did) by putting our trust in Jesus Christ, then we cannot be redeemed from sin.
The spilling of his blood fulfilled our need for atonement.

How Does God View Those Who Are Saved in Christ?

I know people who think they aren’t good enough to receive Christ.
They believe in God
They believe in Christ
But they think they are too bad for God to accept them the way they are.
This is a faulty thought process. It is partially correct, but it is wholly false.

What Does That Have to Do With You?

It is true that you can never be good enough for God to accept you the way that you are.
But it is the acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior that brings to you the atonement and redemption to be able to stand before God and be accepted.
What does God see when He looks at you?
Romans 10:9–10 NASB95
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
If you take Jesus Christ as your Lord and submit your life to Him and turn away from your sin, then you will be saved.
When you have been saved, God looks at you and sees Jesus.
It is literally as if Jesus stands up in front of you with your arms spread wide and says, “I got this one… He’s one of mine!”
And God sees no sin!
Psalm 103:12 NASB95
12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Hebrews 8:12 NASB95
12For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more.”
Hebrew
We humans cannot forgive and forget. It is virtually impossible for us.
But God says that’s what He does with our sin.
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