Did God forsake His Beloved Son on the cross?

John Lim
There is a multiplicity and multitude of beliefs in Christendom today that do not have a scriptural basis and which dishonour God. Once they have been established, they are very difficult to eradicate. For example, people believe Christ had long hair and religious paintings have depicted Him thus making people believe He contradicted 1 Corinthians 11.14: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” People believe God is a modern God and consider it proper to address Him as “You” but archaic to use the traditional pronouns “Thou” and “Thine.” These people have forgotten the fact God is not a man that He should be so addressed, and do not know the scriptural principles (there are indeed scriptures) prohibiting addressing God as “You,” whether in prayer or in Bible translation. There is a far more serious case where God is addressed as a god, that is, God’s Name is likened to a god’s name. In China, millions of Chinese believers address God in the name of a god (shen, in Chinese) because their Chinese Bible uses shen in addressing both God and god just as modern English translations use “you” to refer to both God and men. Again, there are scriptural principles prohibiting addressing God as “shen” (god). Indeed, Exodus 23.13 tells us so: “make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” It is the Devil’s scheme to profane God so that God is not God but a god and a man, that is, he has succeeded today in blurring the distinction between God and god, and between God and man. The Devil has also succeeded in making God’s people discredit God in this commonly held and deeply entrenched belief that God the Father forsook His Son on the cross. This makes God look cruel to forsake His beloved Son suffering on the cross. We know no earthly father will forsake the son he loves, so did God really forsake the Son of His love on the cross? We will go to the Scriptures to know the truth. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8.20) Just before He went to the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ said: “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16.32) The Greek word for “not” is an absolute negative and can mean “never.” The Son of God was never alone because the Father was with Him, even on the cross. “That He was not to be utterly deserted, that there was One Who would not forsake Him, was to Him matter of ineffable support and consolation. The Father was with Him - how near, and with what sustaining power, who can express?” (JFB) The Father was in Him, and He in the Father (John 10.38, 14.11,20;17.21,23), even on the cross. The Son was always in the bosom of His Father. (John 1.18) So how could the Father forsake His Son on the cross? The Lord says: “And He Who sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8.29) The Greek for “not” is an absolute negative, as in John 16.32. God the Father was with His Son and never left Him alone, not even when He was on the cross. Did it not please God that His Son came to do His will (Heb 10.7) and die for sinners? Yes, but to say God forsook Him on the cross is tantamount to saying the Lord on the cross did not do what was pleasing to God. It also means God was not pleased with Him. Instead, God was so pleased with all that His Son did on the cross that He raised Him from among the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 1.20) The Lord Jesus Himself has pointed out that He and the Father are One (John 10.30, John 17.11,22), that is, metaphorically, One in “union” and “concord” (Vine’s). We can say God was in union and concord with what His Son did on the cross. So, again, how could the Father forsake His Son on the cross? The following scriptures have been used to speak of the Father forsaking the Son on the cross: Psalm 22.1,2 My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? Matthew’s Gospel 27.46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Mark’s Gospel 15.34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? -2The expression “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” in all the above three scriptures is not correct. It should be as given in the Newberry Bible and some English Bible translations: “My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?” We do not need English experts to tell us there’s a world of difference in the verb tense between “hast forsaken” and “didst forsake.” The Hebrew tense for “didst forsake” in Psalm 22, verse 1 is a short tense in the past, that is, it marks an action or event completed certainly in the past. The Greek tense for both Matthew 27.46 and Mark 15.34 is an aorist indicative of an action or event completed in the past; it is similar to the Hebrew short tense. Note, all the three scriptures concur with each other on the verb tense “didst forsake.” This concurrence shows the inerrant accuracy, precision and certainty of the Scriptures. The Son of God felt He was forsaken by His Father before He was on the cross. If it were true He was forsaken on the cross by God, the present tense would have been used: “My God, My God, why dost Thou forsake Me?” But it was not so. The verb tense clearly tells us the event happened NOT on the cross but in the past. God knew beforehand men would one day say He forsook His Son on the cross. God had inspired the writers of Psalm 22 and the Gospels to put the correct verb tense there in the above scriptures to show He did not forsake His Son on the cross, but, despite that, God’s people still believe that the Father forsook His Son on the cross. What a complete travesty! As the Son of God on the cross was not forsaken by God, then where did He feel forsaken by His Father? Since the verb “didst forsake” is in the past tense, meaning the event happened somewhere in the past, then we have to find out, not conjecture, where and when it happened and we are led to Psalm 22. Verse 1 of the Psalm says: “My God, my God, why didst Thou forsake Me? why art Thou so far from helping (saving) Me, and from the words of My roaring?” We don’t hear Him on the cross asking God to save Him but only in the Garden. Save Him from what? He cried to God to save Him from death (Heb 5.7), for He was going to the cross to tremendously suffer, and die for sinners like you and me. Do we hear the words of His roaring on the cross? Only in the Garden. Hebrews 5.7 says: “He had offered up prayers (entreaties – Darby) and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him.” Where? On the cross? If so, did we hear of His entreaties? No. The Gospels are silent. The Lord made the entreaties in the Garden. Where do we hear of His strong crying and tears? For certain, it is not on the cross. And His ‘roaring”? Not on the cross, either. We have to refer to verse 2 of Psalm 22, which may explain why the Lord uttered these words: “My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?” “My God, I cry by day, and Thou answerest not; and by night, and there is no rest for Me.” (Darby) He cried by day and by night. The crucifixion took place in the day, so how do we account for the night in verse 2? It was night when the Lord cried to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, but His cry began in the day (unknown to His disciples, and to us too) as the Hebrew tense for “cry” tells us. It is a long tense - a continuous tense – and his cry finally culminated in the night and expressed out in the Garden. It has also been the experience of many a severely tried saint who cries to God, whether audibly or inaudibly (in his heart) in the day and, finally, burst into tears at night on his knees before God. He had no rest because God did not answer Him (who can have rest if his prayers are not answered in a severe trial?)). The rest is not to be found at the cross; there He was already suffering for sins. It’s true He was heard but NOT answered, but where? Not on the cross and not in the Garden of Gethsemane either. The Son of God felt He had been forsaken by His Father when He saw His prayers not answered, and we know it was in the Garden of Gethsemane God did not answer Him. How did the Lord feel forsaken? The Gospels say He was “sorrowful and very heavy,” and “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” There, on His knees, He prayed to the Father, asking: “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.” (Luke 22.42) God heard His prayer but did not forsake Him, and sent His angel to strengthen Him instead. (Luke 22.43) He was so pressed in spirit and “being in an agony

He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22.44) Hebrews 5, verse 7 tells us that He “Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him Who was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared.” It must have been exceedingly painful to the Son that His Father did not answer Him: three times He prayed and made the same request and three times the Father did not answer Him though He had heard His prayers. There on the cross the remembrance of this painful experience gave forth to His cry on the cross. God would not let the cup remove from His Son and so did not answer Him. God remembered what His Son said: “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4.34) Would His Son do the Father’s will and finish the work He had sent Him to do if the cup were to be removed from Him? If He did not finish the work, sinners like us would never be saved but perish. The Father had heard the prayers and cries of His beloved Son, seen His tears, but did not abandon Him. It makes sense now why the Lord felt forsaken in the Garden of Gethsemane when His prayers were not answered, as Psalm 22, verse 2 tells us. In His final moments on the cross and in the extremity of suffering, this was the bitter cup He had to drink, and He remembered asking His Father to take away the cup from Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, but God did not answer Him. This remembrance led Him to cry out, “My God, My God, why didst Thou forsake Me?” Similarly, a believer can never forget a very painful experience, and, later on, as he looks back, like the Lord on the cross, he would still feel the pain in his heart and tears would flow though the event happened long time ago. Psalm 22, verse 3 has been used to say that the Lord knew why He was forsaken: “But Thou art holy, O Thou Who inhabitest the praises of Israel.” If true, what does it imply? Does it imply the Lord was not holy because He was bearing sins and so God Who is holy forsook Him? If that is what is implied, it is a serious misuse of the scripture to mean what it does not mean and this can cause people to think the Lord was not the holy Son of God. Believers can feel, like the Lord, forsaken by God (note “feel forsaken,” not “be forsaken”) when the believer feels God seems so distant, when tears flow “because the Comforter Who should relieve my soul is far from me,” (Lamentations 1.16), when the believer walks in darkness for so long a time (note, it is real suffering to walk in darkness – look up Isaiah 50.10), when the believer feels – may the expression be used - the bottom drops out, when the believer feels God has hidden His face from him (Psalm 13.1; 30.7), and when the believer in his most difficult moment of trial feels pressed in his spirit so much so he asks God: “Dost Thou care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth or song, as the burdens press, and the cares distress and the way grows weary and long?” He prays with tears and strong pleas to God but finds God does not answer his prayers, and may think God has forsaken him. He may think like the psalmist, “Hath God forgotten to be gracious?” (Psalm 77.9) He is so perplexed and wonders “Where is God?” However, he has forgotten the promise in Hebrews 13.5: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” How can God leave him and forsake him when His Holy Spirit dwells in him? But, unknown to him, God has heard his prayers and cries, and seen his tears, but, for reasons known to Him only, He does not answer yet. God is with him in his trials, and makes a way out for him to bear them. (eg 1 Corinthians 10.13) The Lord had gone that way before and knows what it is to feel forsaken by God. For those who have this experience, they have the sympathy of the Lord “for we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling (sympathy) of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted [or, “tried” or “tested”] like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4.15) Note, “in all points” tried like as we are, include feeling forsaken by God. Believers today live in comfort zone and have become complacent and so will never understand how the Lord felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are not on Scriptural ground to speak of the Son of God forsaken on the cross by His Father. Alas, this position has been taken for many years by God’s people, writers, teachers, preachers, and theological seminaries, and has been propagated far and wide and perpetuated by Christian websites, magazines, books, and other publications. Of course theology, not scriptures, can be used to prove that God forsook His Son (theology can be used to prove anything, even unscriptural propositions) and can lead to doublemindedness (or divided thoughts, as in Psalm 119.113). The Father loved His Son too much to forsake Him suffering on the cross. The Lord knew the Father did not forsake Him on the cross but was with Him, in Him, and never left Him. He was always in the Father's bosom. To say or believe otherwise is tantamount to contradicting God and His Word,

dishonouring Him, and putting Him in a bad light that He is not a gracious and loving God and Father. Those people have an account to give to Him in that day.


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