A while back I received this Q&A question from someone:
“Matthew 27:45-47 and Mark 15:33-35 refer to the last words of the Messiah. Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Hebrews 13 say He will never forsake us. Is it the same word? Does God turn His back on people or is He always there with open arms?”
In this person’s question the two scriptural references from the Gospels that are mentioned are from Jesus’ words while on the cross. As He was dying Jesus cried out, Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani? It was a direct quote from Psalm 22, a prophetic psalm about the death of the Messiah, written a thousand years before Jesus came. Both Matthew and Mark record the translation as, My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)
In response to the questions asked, first, yes, the Greek New Testament uses the same word translated “forsake” in Matthew 27, Mark 15 and Hebrews 13. I didn’t check the Deuteronomy passage, but I’m sure it’s equivalent. It’s meaning is clear, “To turn away from, to abandon.”
The context of Matthew 27 and Mark 15 is the crucifixion of the Son of God. It was a one-time event that would bring a forever result. In some way that none of us will ever fully understand all of the sins of the world that ever have been or ever will be committed were laid upon the sinless sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God the Son willingly laid down His perfect, sinless, righteous life so that we could be declared righteous, and therefore in right standing with God. That sacrifice came at a very high price though, as God the Father turned away from God the Son while the sin debt was paid. The accompanying three hours of darkness symbolized the judgment that Christ endured as He was made a curse (Galatians 3:13) for us.
It’s important to remember that the unity of the triune God was never broken. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit had, before the foundation of the world, (1 Peter 1:20)determined to redeem us from our futile way of life. (1 Peter 1:18) Jesus’ cry on the cross was not based on a fear that He had somehow missed the Father’s will or been forgotten by Him. It was based on the pain of having to experience a time of broken fellowship. The Father turned away from the Son temporarily, so that He could welcome us permanently.
So in answer to the second question, “Does God turn His back on people or is He always there with open arms?” all I can say is that God spread His arms wide open on the cross, and He is still inviting any who will, to come to Him.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
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