Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
This ‘east to west’ reference is more than a map coordinate, for within this statement is a glorious promise that Jesus was to fulfill for you and for me.
Why “east to west”? To guard against sun worship, God forbade His people from approaching Him toward the rising sun in the east (see Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 23:5-11; Ezekiel 8:15-16). Therefore, in the plans for the tabernacle and the temple, a man would stand with his back to the east, while looking to the west, whenever making a sacrifice. This made the altar of sacrifice sit in the east and the Most Holy Place sit in the west (See Ezekiel 8:16; Ezekiel 47:1). Just like the altar is separated from the Holy of Holies, sin causes man to be separated from God’s presence (Isaiah 59:2; Proverbs 15:29; Micah 3:4). What the Psalmist is promising is a reconciliation that bridges the gap between this “east to west” separation of sinful man and the perfect God. Once this separation is closed, man can be reunited with God’s presence.
Jesus fulfilled this ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Hebrews 2:17). He did this by becoming our “propitiation” (hilastērion G2435). Hilastērion is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint for the Mercy Seat. This made Jesus the Mercy Seat for the Ark of the Covenant (see Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:5). As our propitiation, Jesus is also the atoning blood sacrifice (see 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10). This propitiation (hilasmos G2434) is the blood sacrifice necessary to “make reconciliation” (“make propitiation” RV) for man’s sins (see Hebrews 2:17). Thus, Jesus’ reconciliation refers both to the Altar of Sacrifice and to the Most Holy Place…the “east to the west.” This “east to west” is what took place when the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place on Yom Kippur. He offered a sacrifice at the Altar of Sacrifice and took that blood into the Holy of Holies, where that blood was put on the Mercy Seat. The writer of Hebrews picked up on this imagery when he said:
Hebrews 10:16-23 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
Jesus’ work on Calvary was imagery of this “east to west” reconciliation. In this work, Jesus died on Golgotha as mankind’s sacrifice. He was then buried in a tomb for three days. After He arose from that grave we find two angels at the head and foot of where Jesus had lain (see John 20:12). This positioning is like the Mercy Seat; for it had one cherub positioned at each end (Exodus 25:17-20). Cherubim first appear after Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden for their sin. The Bible says a Cherub was “placed at the ‘east’ of the garden of Eden,” and held, “a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (see Genesis 3:24). After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the way to the Tree of Life was made available again to the redeemed in Christ (Revelation 22:14).
Many believe Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden and from the Tree of Life as a judgment of God. However, I believe this was due to God’s grace, for had He allowed them to partake of that Tree before the promised Redeemer had come, they would have been eternally lost in sin (in the “east”). But in God’s wisdom, He kept that tree separated from mankind until Jesus had finished all things written of Him. After Jesus’ work, God allowed those who had washed their robes to partake of the fruit of eternal life once again. How would they wash their robes? In the blood of the lamb, which is Jesus Christ (see Revelation 7:14). The Tree of Life mentioned in Revelation 22:14 is not said to be in the Garden of Eden. Rather it is located in the gates of a better paradise, a place where God eternally dwells, the City of God, the New Jerusalem, the Church. Jesus is the fruit of this tree. As a matter of fact, through the plan of God, Jesus always was both that tree and its fruit (1 Peter 1:19-21; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17). Through Him we find the sustenance we need to receive live “saved” now, and to inherit eternal life (John 6:47-51; 2 Peter 1:13). Just as Jesus was given the “ministry of reconciliation,” when we are Born Again and receive the Holy Ghost, we also receive this same “ministry of reconciliation” (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). This means that those in the Church presents Jesus’ gospel to a dying world so that they too can be reunited to their God and receive eternal life.
While on His cross, Jesus became the mediator between mankind and their God. He hung suspended between earth and Heaven to bridge the gap between mankind and their Holy God. When He died, the Bible says the veil separating the Most Holy place from the outside world tore from top to bottom (see Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). This was a “new and living way” that Jesus “consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (see Hebrews 10:20). This was Jesus making God more easily accessible to mankind, and mankind more easily accessible to God.
North runs only to the South Pole, and south runs only to the North Pole. But east and west have no such ends, for they run infinitely away from each other. Without something to change this, a person would keep traveling either east or west with no change of direction. Similarly, the sins that men and women committed would continue driving them further and further from God if there was no mediator of change. Jesus became that mediator (see 1 Timothy 2:5). His work caused men and women (Adam and Eve) to reverse their direction (away from paradise) and once again walk toward the things of God (paradise). The Bible teaches the way to become a “new creature” “in Christ” is to repent of your sins, be baptized in Jesus’ name, and be filled with the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10; Acts 19:1-7). This supernatural change will turn your life around to allow you to walk—by faith—in a life lived in Christ. Psalms 103:12 speaks of this promise; it prophesied that, through Jesus Christ, a sinner who before stood without God can now become a saint that stands in God’s presence. This type of life is as different as the east is from the west.
Copyright © 2015 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.