The Bible says Jesus is the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8)
The Crucifixion is a foundation stone of the whole creation. How can this be – if it was four thousand years into the future from the creation event?
Clearly God’s control of time, and his utility of it, plays a role in this reality. If God is at the beginning of time, the end of time, and every nanosecond in between, all at the same time, then the Crucifixion is just as visible to God as the Fall of Man. All at once. For God, they are simultaneous events.
Why is it so important to understand the Crucifixion in time? Because what we believe about history will determine what we believe about right-now, and into the future.
The Crucifixion was foreshadowed in the Passover. A sacrificial lamb, and its blood caused God to “pass over” a house and not kill the first born son there.
But wait, if the Crucifixion is a foundation stone of the Creation, the Crucifixion foreshadows the Passover, not the other way around. We should see the Cross in every aspect of Scripture.
God says “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, but unto the Greeks, foolishness” (1 Cor 1:23)
This is because Paul could go to any synagogue and preach atonement, Messiah, etc. And Jews would convert. It was merely a bump in the road. But to the Greeks, the whole idea of a God killing His son to redeem mankind was over-the-top.
In Acts 17, Paul is on Mars Hill and confronts the philosophers with the monument to the unknown God. He starts at the Creation, and explains Christ in context of the Creation.
In Time, the Cross has a context. It’s the Fall of Man. Adam sinned, and brought sin and death into the world.
“For in Adam all die”
“By man came sin, and by sin death, so death passed on to all men”
“By man came death, by man came the resurrection of the dead”
Death and Sin are connected. Sin came first, then Death. And “death is the last enemy to be destroyed”. In fact, death is a temporary and unwelcome visitor.
What does this say of the theory of evolution, where mankind arrived after long periods of death and struggle? Death appeared before man, and so would appear before sin, and so sin and death are not connected at all.
And if sin and death are not connected at all, what does this do to the Cross? It makes the Cross meaningless.
Atheists have a pretty good handle on this:
“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of god.
Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!” – Bozarth, G. Richard, The Meaning of Evolution, American Atheist (February 1978), p 30.
As reprehensible as it sounds (and reads), removing the connection between sin and death rips the foundation from under the Cross.
A pastor said once that Adam didn’t physically die when he ate of the fruit, but he “spiritually died”.
Yet, we read “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (of sin) – and Jesus most definitely died a physical death.
So why would someone say Adam died a “spiritual death”? It’s because they fail to embrace the connection between sin and death, even though Scripture is replete with shedding of blood for atonement of sin.
They are also using a “biological” definition of life and death.
Get this – when God encountered the First Couple after they sinned, he covered them with coats of skin – the first recorded death in Scripture. In the very next chapter we see Cain and Abel doing ritual sacrifice – someone showed them how.
Abels sacrifice, we are told, was more acceptable to the Lord than Cain’s – it was a blood sacrifice.
Takeaway: God established substitutionary death when he built the Crucifixion into the Creation’s foundation. But he enacted substitutionary death when he covered Adam with coats of skins.
Can we see how God already provided for Adam – for all of us – with substitutionary death?
Let’s understand the fine meaning of the forms of life described in Scripture. One is basic life (“chah”, microbes, etc), another is the life process (“nephesh”, plants and animals), another is the breath of life (“ruwach”, animals with blood and breath in their nostrils) and lastly is the living soul (“neshamah”), reserved for mankind only.
The breath of life (ruwach) is interesting because it’s the type of animal Noah preserved in the Ark, and it’s also the only kind of animal accepted for sacrifice.
The Bible says “blood is the life of the flesh”.
The Bible doesn’t say plants “die” – they “wither” or “fade” (Psalm 1). The “death” is reserved for animals with blood – this is Biblical death. While one might crunch a spider, or skin cells may die, these are cessations of “chah” life without losing the life of the flesh (the blood) – insects and spiders don’t have blood.
This narrows the definition of death in Scripture.
When we engage in discussion whether evolutionary processes or divine processes brought about mankind, we must consider the Cross. It’s not a debate centering on the meaning of the word “day”, nor is it a battle of proof-texts.
The issue with God and Time, and the Crucifixion in Time, is that God foresaw the Crucifixion in the foundation of the Creation, planned for it, prophesied and promised its coming, fulfilled it-
And all in the context of sin and death.
The death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is foolishness to the Greeks – and if we are honest, the whole world around us has little Hebrew foundation, just like the folks on Mars Hill.
We are surrounded by “Greeks”. This means we cannot jump to the Gospel alone – it’s foolishness. We have to lay a foundation of understanding (the Creation and Fall) for the Gospel to have a context.
And that context is found in Time.
If Jesus is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, he paid for our sins over six thousand years ago. He merely consummated them in time two thousand years ago, in full visibility of mankind, so that mankind knows salvation is real, is made of flesh, and has a name –
Jesus Christ of Nazareth.