“The LORD shall never be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and His jealousy will burn against that man, and every curse which is written in this book will rest on him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law” (Dt 29.20-21).
Such is the fate of those “whose heart turns away today from the LORD our God” (Dt 29.18), i.e. those at peace in their rebellion (v19). Such is the fate of us all.
One of the transcendent mysteries of the cross is that we can never exhaust its significance. The law of diminishing returns never applies to the gospel. It returns exponential reward to those who love and believe it. It always bears more fruit and never fails to leave us wanting.
We can never understate or underestimate what it meant for Jesus to take on our sin. This is largely due to the fact we ourselves don’t consider our sin nearly as grievous as God did. If we think lightly of our sin then we’ll not think much of what Jesus endured to save us from it.
Paul described Christ’s work this way: “[God] made the one who knew no sin [i.e. Jesus] to be sin” (2 Cor 5.21a). God made Jesus the embodiment of sin. God the Father chose to consider and then treat God the Son as he promised to treat any and all who rebel against him.
God the Father treated God the Son as the one he would never be willing to forgive. That is, Jesus endured whatever it is to be eternally unforgiven by God.
God the Father unleashed on God the Son the burning anger and jealousy against “that man” who rebels against him. Jesus endured whatever it is to experience the eternal fire of God’s anger and jealousy against sinners.
God the Father cursed God the Son (cf. Gal 3.13) as one whose name should be blotted out from history. Jesus endured whatever it is to have one’s name removed as though he never existed.
God the Father singled out God the Son for adversity from all the tribes of Israel. Jesus endured all the covenant curses as though he himself was the lawbreaker. Not just a lawbreaker, but the sole lawbreaker who committed every single act of rebellion of those for whom he died.
Jesus didn’t endure the cross with a wink and nod to heaven. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15.34; cf. Ps 22.1) is the cry of a man singled out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel. His name was being blotted out as God’s public enemy #1. He was forsaken by God and felt all the consequences of that hell. Can we possibly fathom what sort of event must happen for there to be a functional (not ontological) breach in the gloriously indissoluble Godhead?
All so that “we might become the righteousness of God in [Jesus]” (2 Cor 5.21b). As much sin God the Father made God the Son, he has also made us the righteousness of God. God didn’t shortchange his anger on Christ and he will no do so in the sharing of his righteousness. God’s forgiveness is not because he’s grown soft on our sin. It’s because he considered Jesus his debtor and exacted from him every penny we owed. How much must God love someone for him to suffer the shame of his every own name (1 Jn 3.1)?
The cup of God’s bitter wrath Jesus drank is now served to us as the cup of blessing (1 Cor 10.16). Let us drink our fill because it, unlike the cup of his wrath, will never run out for us.