The four Gunter children had been looking forward to the camping trip as a great way to start their summer vacation. Because Daddy’s work kept him from home for weeks at a time, being able to spend several days together as a family was very special.
On Thursday, June 13, 2013, the family decided to take their boat onto Otter Creek Reservoir, a popular high desert lake in Utah. An unexpected gust of wind blew the hat off Mrs. Gunter’s head. Nobly wanting to retrieve his mother's hat, their 12-year-old son jumped into the lake after it. His father, Jeremy Gunter, immediately recognized the danger his young son did not: the temperature of the high-altitude lake was still quite cold at that time of year and the danger of life-threatening muscle cramps was very real. The windy conditions were also churning up the water enough that whitecaps were breaking on the waves, making the swim back to the boat difficult even for an experienced swimmer. Diving into the lake after his son, Jeremy was able to get the boy back to the boat. But even that short amount of exposure in the rough, chilly waters of the lake was too long. Before his wife could pull him back into the boat,
he slipped under the water and very tragically drowned. May our Loving Heavenly Father's Peace and Comfort cover this dear, grieving family... The love that parents have for their child is unlike any other love on earth. Only those who have themselves been parents can understand the depth of love that would lead a father to sacrifice his own life to save his child. Indeed, a true father would rather lay down his own life, than sacrifice that of his child. What depth of love, then, would it require to make a parent willing to sacrifice, not just his own life, but the life of his child to save another? And yet, as incredible, as unbelievable as it sounds, that is precisely what Scripture presents as the love of the Father for you. For Yahuwah so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For Yahuwah did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16 and 17.) In these few, brief words, the entire plan of salvation is encapsulated. Were there no other verses available, this alone is sufficient to enlighten the sin-darkened mind, touch the heart and draw the loyalties to the heavenly Father who loved sinners so much that He was willing to sacrifice even His own Son to save them! This truth was revealed by Yahushua when He said, “Therefore doth my Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17) In other words: My Father loves you so much that He loves Me even more for being willing to die for you!
The plan of redemption was to save sinners and restore in them the image of Yahuwah. But more than that, it was also to reveal to all created intelligences the truth about the character of the Father. By rebelling against the divine government, Satan virtually accused Yahuwah of being unjust and selfish, requiring love, obedience and servitude from His creatures, but not exercising the same self-sacrificing love Himself.
Yahuwah hates sin. But the question in the minds of the on-looking universe that had to be addressed was: does He love sinners more than He hates sin? Sin put Yahuwah into an impossible situation. How can Someone who is all powerful, Someone who can create universes by just speaking, exhibit self-sacrificing love? A demonstration was needed. Yahuwah Himself could not die for sinners. The reason is simple. The existence of everything, from the mightiest creature of the sea to the tiniest alpine flower, from the billions of celestial bodies, circling in their ordained orbits to the fragile butterfly dancing through the air, all are dependent upon the moment-by-moment sustaining power of Yahuwah to exist. Were He to die, everything else would cease to exist. The emergency, which shocked the universe, did not catch the All-Knowing One by surprise. Infinite Love had long before devised a plan just in case the need should ever arise. Paul speaks of this divine plan as “the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now in Yahushua is made manifest . . . according to the commandment of the everlasting Eloah, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” (Romans 16:25 and 26.) Had sin never arisen, the mystery would have remained secret forever. But the Almighty did not leave anything to chance. Just as soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. The only way mankind could be saved, the only way the Omnipotent Monarch of the galaxies could demonstrate self-sacrificing love was for Him to sacrifice His one and only Son. Divine love had conceived a plan whereby man might be redeemed. The broken law of Yahuwah demanded the life of the sinner. In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its claims. Since the divine law is as sacred as Yahuwah Himself, only one equal with Yahuwah could make atonement for its transgression. None but Yahushua could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Yahushua would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy Elohim that it must separate the Father and His Son.1 A professor of theology was leading a class discussion one morning when a student asked, “If God loved us so much, why didn’t He die for us Himself?” Another student, older and obviously a father, replied: “You’re not a parent, are you?” It is far more painful to sacrifice one’s child than to sacrifice one’s self. It requires far greater self-sacrifice to surrender one’s own child to pain and suffering than to go through it yourself. Only Yahushua, the Son of the Eternal, could be the sacrifice. He alone is the image of the invisible Eloah, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, . . . all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist . . . For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself . . . and you . . . hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight.” (See Colossians 1:15-17 and 19-22.) Yahushua is the only begotten Son of Yahuwah. He is not a created being. He is a begotten Son. There is a big difference. Angels, unfallen “sons of YAH,” humans, all were created ex nihilo – out of nothing. This is an act of pure creation that is the sole prerogative of the Divine. Yahushua, on the other hand, was begotten. To beget someone means “to procreate, as a father or sire; to generate; as, to beget a son.”2
This is not play-acting on the part of the Father and the Son. Scripture repeatedly refers to Yahushua as the “only begotten Son” of Yahuwah. To put it in earthly terms, they are family; they are related by a blood tie. The bond of affection they share far surpasses anything mere mortals can experience. The love the Father has for His only Son is as high as the heavens are above the earth in comparison to the love earthly fathers have for their sons.
All the paternal love which has come down from generation to generation through the channel of human hearts, all the springs of tenderness which have opened in the souls of men, are but as a tiny rill to the boundless ocean when compared with the infinite, exhaustless love of Yahuwah. Tongue cannot utter it; pen cannot portray it. You may meditate upon it every day of your life; you may search the Scriptures diligently in order to understand it; you may summon every power
and capability that YAH has given you, in the endeavor to comprehend the love and compassion of the heavenly Father; and yet there is an infinity beyond. You may study that love for ages; yet you can never fully comprehend the length and the breadth, the depth and the height, of the love of Yahuwah in giving His Son to die for the world. Eternity itself can never fully reveal it.3 Just as the character, mind and emotions of the Heavenly Father are pure and divine, so much greater is His capacity to feel love and devotion. Holy Scripture provides a glimpse into the close relationship existing between the Father and His Son in eternity past. The veil is briefly drawn aside from the mists of the far distant past and we are allowed to view the pure love, joy and delight that characterized their Father/Son relationship before anything else was created. Yahuwah possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting [time immemorial], from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; . . . Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, or the highest part of the dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon the face of the depth: when He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains of the deep: when He gave to the sea His decree . . . Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. (See Proverbs 8:22-30.) This passage is very significant. It proves the close, familial tie between the Father and His Son is a very real one and not just a poetical way of describing a loving relationship. Verse 23 asserts Yahushua “was set up from everlasting.” The phrase was set up comes from the Hebrew word, Nāsakh [Strong's #H5258], and means “To pour out (especially a libation); . . . to appoint; to consecrate; to ratify a covenant.”4 From eternity past, Yahushua, the Son of the Highest, was appointed to be the sacrifice for mankind, should the terrible need ever arise. This thought is repeated in Isaiah’s beautiful prophecy of the Saviour: He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . . He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:3, 11 and 12, KJV) In verses 24 and 25 of Proverbs 8, the phrase “I was brought forth” comes from the Hebrew word Chūl [or khül, Strong's #H2342], which means: “to bear a child, be born.”5 While divine wisdom has seen fit to remain silent on the process by which the divine Father begat His only Son, there can be no doubt that Yahushua is, indeed, the very begotten Son of Yahuwah.
The sacrifice of Father and Son to save humanity is greater than can be comprehended by the finite human brain. When Yahuwah surrendered His Son to be our substitute in meeting the penalties of the law for disobedience, far more was sacrificed than most people ever understand. In taking on human flesh, Yahushua willingly gave up communing with His omni-present Father on an infinite number of levels we cannot even grasp, let alone understand. Henceforth and throughout all eternity future, their communing would be limited to the same finite level to which every flesh-and-blood child of Adam is bound. But there is more. The sacrifice of Yahuwah’s only Son involved a risk that is but dimly understood by even a few. And it was a very real risk! The story of Bethlehem is an exhaustless theme. In it is hidden “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of Yahuwah.” Romans 11:33. We marvel at the Saviour’s sacrifice in exchanging the throne of heaven for the manger, and the companionship of adoring angels for the beasts of the stall. . . . Yet this was but the beginning of His wonderful condescension. It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of Yahuwah to take man’s nature, even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Yahushua accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life. Satan in heaven had hated Christ for His position in the courts of Yahuwah. . . . He hated Him who pledged Himself to redeem a race of sinners. Yet into the world where Satan claimed dominion Yahuwah permitted His Son to come, a helpless babe, subject to the weakness of
humanity. He permitted Him to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss. The heart of the human father yearns over his son. He looks into the face of his little child, and trembles at the thought of life’s peril. He longs to shield his dear one from Satan’s power, to hold him back from temptation and conflict. To meet a bitterer conflict and a more fearful risk, Yahuwah gave His only-begotten Son, that the path of life might be made sure for our little ones. “Herein is love.” Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth!6 By taking on the nature of Adam after the fall, Yahushua immeasurably increased the risk of failure. The divine law, which cannot be broken, demands the death of the sinner. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Yahuwah is eternal life through Yahushua the Annointed, our Master.” (Romans 6:23, KJV) Were Yahushua to sin by so much as a thought, He, like every other descendant of Adam, would have to die. This would not be the sleep-death to which Yahushua referred when He told His disciples that Lazarus had died. (See John 11:11-14.) Rather, this is the death Yahushua warned of when He stated: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, KJV) This is the sentence passed upon all who reject Heaven’s offer of salvation: death of both the body and the soul from which there shall never be any resurrection. Only Yahuwah has this power. (See Revelation 20:4-15.) It was dying this death that was the price that must be paid for your redemption. The danger was very real. If Satan could have tempted Yahushua to sin in the slightest degree, all of his charges against the divine government would have seemed to be true. All the universes of Yah, with their intelligent beings, would have joined in the revolt; all would, by the divine law, have had to die. And with His own Son dead, what would have happened to the Father? It is not something anyone wants to contemplate. But maybe, in the crushing agony the Father Himself would have chosen to simply cease to exist. And there would be . . . nothing. Anywhere. Ever. The apostle John could find no words to adequately describe such love as this. Human language fails in the face of such overwhelming love. All he could do was call upon all to behold it: “Behold, what manner of Love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of Yahuwah.” (1 John 3:1, KJV) Nowhere is this love more clearly seen than at the cross where “mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10, KJV) Yahuwah gave His only Son to redeem mankind by dying for us the second death. The statements which the Son of Yah made while hanging upon the cross reveal His soul agony. Further, the fact that His death was due to a broken heart and not to asphyxiation or exposure as most victims of crucifixion died, is additional conclusive proof that the agonies the Son experienced were the horrible mental and emotional agony that will be upon all who reject Yahuwah when He at last turns His face from them and
withdraws His sustaining presence as the Life-giver. And now the Master of glory was dying, a ransom for the race. In yielding up His precious life, Christ was not upheld by triumphant joy. All was oppressive gloom. It was not the dread of death that weighed upon Him. It was not the pain and ignominy of the cross that caused His inexpressible agony. Christ was the prince of sufferers; but His suffering was from a sense of the malignity of sin, a knowledge that through familiarity with evil, man had become blinded to its enormity. Christ saw how deep is the hold of sin upon the human heart, how few would be willing to break from its power. He knew that without help from Yahuwah, humanity must perish, and He saw multitudes perishing within reach of abundant help. Upon Christ as our substitute and surety was laid the iniquity of us all. He was counted a transgressor, that He might redeem us from the condemnation of the law. The guilt of every descendant of Adam was pressing upon His heart. The wrath of Yahuwah against sin, the terrible manifestation of His displeasure because of iniquity, filled the soul of His Son with consternation. All His life Christ had been publishing to a fallen world the good news of the Father’s mercy and pardoning love. Salvation for the chief of sinners was His theme. But now with the terrible weight of guilt He bears, He cannot see the Father’s reconciling face. The withdrawal of the divine countenance from the Saviour in this hour of supreme anguish pierced His heart with a sorrow that can never be fully understood by man. So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt. Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Yahushua. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to Yahuwah that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of Yahuwah.7 Emotionally, Yahushua felt the guilt of the combined weight of the sins of the entire human race. Emotionally, He felt rejected of Yah. It was this that wrung from His lips the heart-broken cry, “My El, My El, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) The focus of most people, in song, sermon and meditation, is on the suffering willingly endured by the Son to save sinners. Few, if any, contemplate the cost to the Father as He stood to one side and allowed His Son to experience agony so intense it, literally, broke His heart. In the prayer of Yahushua, just before His betrayal, a view is provided of the emotional intimacy shared by Father and Son. Yahushua prayed that His followers might All be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23, KJV)
In the silence of your soul, let these words sink into your mind. The Father and the Son were ONE. What the Son felt, the Father felt. Even as the Father withdrew the sense of His love and presence from His Son, even as He knew, experientially, the agony He was causing His Son, He did it anyway.
To save you.
And the Father loves you so much, that, rather than resenting you for causing the death of His Son, He instead loves His Son even more for being willing to die for you. Because you are precious to Him. As a loving Father, Yahuwah did not forsake His Son even in the throes of His deepest suffering. Scripture suggests that the Father was there, at the side of His Son, arms wrapped about Him, cradling Him close, even though emotionally and mentally, Yahushua felt forsaken of the Father. When the Children of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea, Yahuwah used darkness to hide the light of His presence in the blazing pillar of fire which gave courage to His people. The psalmist explained: “He bowed the
heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.” (Psalm 18:9 and 11, KJV) This same supernatural darkness enveloped the cross during the Saviour’s dying agony. “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.” (Matthew 27:45) In that thick darkness Yahuwah’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. Yahuwah and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.8 This, this was the gift of the Father to save you. The anguish which He endured, being both the witness to and the cause of His Son’s agony by withdrawing the sense of His presence, was worth it to Yahuwah in order to save you. Heaven itself felt incomplete without your presence there. Yahuwah was willing to surrender His very own Son to die, just to give you a chance to live. Do you feel far away from the Father? Do your sins stand before you, a mountain of condemnation? Do your many broken promises and back-slidings make you feel that you cannot reach out the hand of faith to grasp the hand extended to you? “Know therefore that Yahuwah thy Elohim, He is Eloah, the faithful El, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.” (See Deuteronomy 7:9.)
Let your trembling faith grasp the promise: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.” (Jeremiah 3:22, KJV) He is leaning forward on His throne, hand extended to you, earnest longing in His heart for you to accept His loving invitation.
In order to strengthen our confidence in Yahuwah, Christ teaches us to address Him by a new name, a name entwined with the dearest associations of the human heart. He gives us the privilege of calling the infinite Eloah our Father. This name, spoken to Him and of Him, is a sign of our love and trust toward Him, and a pledge of His regard and relationship to us. Spoken when asking His favor or blessing, it is as music in His ears. That we might not think it presumption to call Him by this name, He has repeated it again and again. He desires us to become familiar with the appellation.9 Hear His voice speak peace to you: “Neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:11) Return to Me and all shall be forgiven you, no matter what it might be. There is no secret too dark, no sin too vile, no pit too deep for My love to reach you. Your Heavenly Father has done everything in His power to inspire you to hope and trust in Him. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of Yahuwah has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the impious. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But Yahuwah demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (See Roman 5:5-8.) Do not wait to make yourself better. There is no goodness apart from Yahuwah! You have no hope of improving yourself separated from Him. Go to Him now, just as you are, and accept the gift, purchased for you at such an infinite cost. He is waiting with longing for you.
Please note: For all quotes, the Proper Names for the Father and the Son have been used. 1
Ellen G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 63.
Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1983 ed.
Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, p. 43.
“Lexical Aids to the Old Testament,” Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers.
Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, pp. 48-49, emphasis supplied.
Ibid., pp. 752-753, emphasis supplied.
Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 141.