Look again at Exodus 12:23, “When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” That’s why they called it Passover. On the day of judgment, if the Lord saw the blood he passed over. Every family who applied the blood of the lamb was saved from death, and set free from slavery.
There is an often overlooked effect that sin has on our relationship with God. Our sins stir up the righteous wrath of God. Romans 1:18 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.”
The Greek word for wrath is orge, and it comes from the word orgao meaning, “to teem, or swell up in opposition.” Wrath is not a sudden, wild, irrational tirade. Have you ever had one of those? You snapped and out came your ugly self? Your friends and family backed away looking at you like you just went crazy. Wrath is God’s fixed, internal, passionate anger and opposition to sin that increases and grows stronger as time passes.
It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the brilliant, perfect holiness of God. If you’re wearing a brand new white pair of jeans, a white v neck t shirt, and a white pair of vans, it’s going to bother you if your little brother rubs his fingers in dog poop and wipes them on your duds. How much greater the majestic holiness of God. If the word orge teaches us anything, we see how God is opposed to sin in his very nature. Because we have fallen short in too many ways to count, on our own, we are under the righteous wrath of God.
In love too great to fathom, God made a way to save us. 1 John 4:10 says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
In the Greek the word for propitiation is hilasmos. The NIV and NLT translate it “atoning sacrifice.” But the King James Version and the ESV get more to the heart of the meaning by using this old English word.
Propitiation comes from the word “propitious,” which means to be kind and favorable toward another. If you act propitiously, you’re gracious and nice. A propitiation satisfies the wrath of one offended so they might look favorably upon another.
On the cross, God’s just, hot, holy fury for the sins of the world were poured out on Jesus as he died. Jesus, as innocent as a lamb, took the wrath we deserved so we could enjoy fellowship with God. Here’s how Paul put it in Romans 3:23-26, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
Notice those last five words, “to be received by faith.” God didn’t ask the Israelites to post a list of their good works for the week. He told them to trust in the blood. Through faith in Christ alone the benefits of his death are applied to our lives. Our sins are forever washed away in the blood. Romans 5:9 says, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
So many live in fear, convinced God will zap them with lightning, hit them with a brick from the sky, or just make them suffer through life for their past failures. But because of Jesus, God is smiling on. You are his child, and he is forever pleased with you. Galatians 4:7 says, “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”