“The Father Turns His Face Away”

A very popular and beautiful song has captured the hearts and minds of many brethren, especially the younger demographic within the body of Christ. The song is entitled, “How Deep the Fathers Love for Us”. This writer admits that the words and melody will jerk the tears out of your eyes. This writer also admits that some of the wording in the beginning of the song has given him a reason to not sing the song. Conscience will not allow participation in the song. Here are the lyrics under consideration:

“How deep the Father’s love for us? How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure. How great the pain of searing loss?
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory”  

For years, many have been taught that the Bible teaches that when Jesus hung on the cross, and bore the sins of all mankind, God couldn’t bear to look upon the event. Since Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), God wasn’t able to look upon Jesus in that condition, thus He “turned His face away” as the song proclaims. Didn’t Jesus Himself during this time ask, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken ME?”

One of the principal passages that is used to promote this idea, that God couldn’t look at Jesus on the cross, is Habakkuk 1:13. There, Habakkuk pens, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treachersly, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?”

In this context, Habakkuk is talking about the evil Chaldeans God has allowed to come upon His covenant people to destroy them. God took no pleasure in the death of the wicked of Israel (Ezekiel 33:11). Since the longsuffering of God would not motivate repentance, He took another course with them. God allowed the Chaldeans to come and chastise and punish Israel. In the preceding verse (1:12), Habakkuk says of God, “Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgement; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” To honor the context, one must note that Calvary is nowhere in the purview of the prophet. The context is dealing with God using the Chaldeans to punish His people. The people of the covenant hadn’t honored the laws. Habakkuk says that the Law is slacked and judgement doth never go forth (1:4). It is the moral decay of Gods covenant that He is too pure to look upon, and be indifferent. God will never be indifferent to sin, whether it be of His people, or His enemies, God will punish sin. God will deal with Israel first, but He will not be indifferent toward the vast sins of the Chaldeans either. His eyes are too pure to behold evil, and look upon iniquity. Look at the later part of verse thirteen, “and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?” Habakkuk is saying, “I know God isn’t going to allow this atrocity to go unpunished”. The children of Israel will get what they deserve for making a mockery of Gods law, but the Chaldeans will be dealt with as well!

God has no pleasure in wickedness (Psalm 5:4-5). Considering what the Bible teaches, it is a bit naïve to say that God cannot look upon sin. That is not what the Bible teaches. Actually, to the contrary, the Bible affirms over and over that God sees everything.  Notice briefly these passages: Genesis 6:5, “God saw the wickedness of Man”; Genesis 15:16, The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full(noting that God was watching when their wickedness would be worthy of driving out of the land of promise); Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good; Ecclesiastes 12:14, “God shall bring every work into judgement, every secret thing, whether it be good , or evil”; Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Surely, with all this evidence, which is just five passages, we can affirm that God indeed does look upon sin. He sees it! This writer suggest, as well as the Biblical narrative, that God will not be indifferent toward sin. When sin entered the world, God was not indifferent, He didn’t remain neutral. All throughout the Biblical narrative, God remained active against sin, not indifferent. That’s the point Habakkuk 1:13 is making. It is bad scholarship and hermeneutically violent to leave the Hill called Golgotha, and run to Habakkuk to prove a doctrine the Bible never seeks to prove. 

Consider now the statement of Jesus, “My God, My God, WHY have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46)? How does this author rectify the above teaching with this very plain and emphatic statement of the Lord? If anyone knew wouldn’t Jesus?  From the vantage point of everyone present just outside the Jerusalem wall, among the trash of the city, this religious heretic named Jesus of Nazareth was completely forsaken and defeated. There was no question that Jesus had made a good run of it up until this point. A ruler of the Jews, a prominent man of the sect of the Pharisees, Nicodemus, came to Jesus by night and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him(John 3:2). Nevertheless, here is that same teacher, who is nailed to a tree, the ultimate curse (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13), and He can do nothing to save Himself as He had others (Matthew 27:42). His disciples have forsaken Him. He is nigh unto death. Where is His God now?

There are songs or poems that someone can recite a “one liner” out of and the majority of people could finish the lyrics. The few simple words can fill the mind with the rest of the song. Let this writer suggest to you that is exactly what Jesus did when uttering the words to Psalm 22:1. While he only quotes the “one liner”, the religious elites among the throng should have the entirety of the Psalm flood their mind. The Psalms were their hymnal, and they knew them by heart.

In Psalm 22, the Psalter is describing events that He has or is experiencing among enemies. David faced a lot of calamities in his life. God is using Davids’s pen here to describe not only his sufferings, but to prophecy of the true King to come. David and Christ share these injustices in common, but David goes on to write of one who would suffer the ultimate injustice. The King of all Kings that would endure (1) His bones being out of joint (22:14); (2) His tongue that would cleave to His jaw (22:15); (3) A piercing of hands and feet (22:16); (4) and a parting and casting lots for his garment (22:18).

It is here that David has painted a vivid picture of what would take place around a thousand years later. It could not be clearer or more evident to what David is referring. It is in the first twenty verses of this Psalm that we get the grewsome picture of the day the savior died for all. It is also here, in verse twenty-one that the narrative changes from gloom to victory.

In 22:21, the Psalmist declares that, “You have rescued (i.e., heard; Heb. Answered) me. This “hearing or answering” was cause to praise the Lord and stand in awe of Him (22:23). And it is in verse twenty-four, we find the crux of the passage, the force of the Psalm Jesus meant to flood the minds of the onlookers, “For He has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and He has not hidden His face from Him, but has heard, when He cried unto Him.”

Things are not always what they seem. Jesus was the “master teacher”. In the final moments of His life, He was identifying Himself to the ones gathered to watch this gruesome display. The world that hated Him, rejected Him, and killed Him. He truly came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus was so selfless, that in the final moments of His life He was still teaching! He was doing what He could to recall in the minds of His subjects that which was prophesied long ago was taking place in their midst (Luke 4:21; Matthew 27:47). The Jews standing at the foot of the cross should have been jolted to reality with the quote of Psalm 22, and the happenings of nature (Amos 8:9). Those familiar words should have pierced their hearts, but they were so blinded by hate they couldn’t see the eternal plan to save their souls unfolding before their own eyes.

So convincing was all that took place that a Roman Centurion said, “This man truly was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). 

Absolutely none of this snuck up on God, or Christ. This entire event was known to the Father, and Jesus, from eternity past. Notice in Ephesians 1:4, “Chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”; Ephesians 3:4, “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed”; John 1:29, “The lamb of God that takes away the sins”; Revelation 13:8, “Lamb slain before the foundation of the world”, Acts 20:28, “Which He purchased with His own blood”. This author submits to your consideration that no surprise was involved, but satisfaction was!

All of the happenings noted in the Biblical narrative were part of the appeasing and pleasing God. The twenty-four hours of total abuse and six hours of crucifixion were pleasing to the Father. What Jesus endured was the payment for sin. That should tell every human being how terrible sin is and the wages it exacts (Romans 6:23). It was all worth it to God to redeem the human family. It was well worth it to Christ to pay the ransom for many (Hebrews 2:9; 12:2; John 11:50).

This writer cannot accept a doctrine that does violence to the Biblical text and the God of Heaven. He submits to your consideration now that promoting the idea that God forsook Jesus and turned His face from Him does just that. Jesus did not become a literal sinner on the cross, but He made the one-time payment, the all-sufficient sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 7:27; 10:12, 14). Consider for a moment just how close and intimate these moments were that Jesus shared with His Father. (1) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); (2) “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). From these moments one must note a perfect son (1 Peter 2:22), speaking candidly to His Father. Isaiah 53:10 says, “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him”. It was this bruising that would accomplish the crushing of Satan’s head, promised all the way back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). To say that God turned His face from Jesus is to deny the text of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. It was the crucifixion that pleased and satisfied God (Isaiah 53:10-11).

The truth is, God does look upon sin, but not favorably. God will ultimately destroy sin, for sin cost Him His son. Sin brought so much pain and evil into the world, the creation which was “very good” was stained and marred for all time because of it.

            If God turned His face away from Jesus during the ultimate display of love, obedience, and sacrifice (Romans 5:8-9), then you do not stand a chance with God. Neither does this writer. If God did turn His face away from the very act and person he ordained from the foundation of the world, you ought to be paralyzed in fear. You are hopeless to ever please a God like that.

It was Jesus who said, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29). God was in full fellowship with Jesus on the cross. Never, at any time, did God fall out of fellowship with himself. That’s the logical conclusion to the doctrine this author opposes today.

Always strive to be a people that “rightly divides the word” (2 Tim.2:15) and draws only the conclusions God has drawn in the text. It is the desire of this blog to help you draw that logical conclusion.

This article has sought to expose a faulty position some have taken relative to Jesus and His Father, our Farther. This has been accomplished by establishing context for passages that are misused, establishing logical conclusions by deducing what are contradictions, and noting what kind of light this doctrine puts God in, which is completely untenable and unpalatable. For these reasons I do not sing the song, “How Deep the Fathers Love For Us“. To sing error is to teach it.

May God richly bless you as you study His word and if you need any assistance or have any questions, reach out to us below.

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