and Jeremy Westcott –
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Modern evangelical religion sees the Father punishing and forsaking his own Son on the cross. Yet the early Church Fathers (who were discipled by those that Jesus discipled in love) did not believe that God punished Jesus. The cross is not about abandonment but quite the opposite: healing and reconciliation.
Relationship sees the death of Jesus as the communion, oneness and togetherness of Father, Son and Holy Spirit breaking into our separation. It sees the love of God breaking into our alienation and darkness with light. The purpose of Jesus’ death is to find us, to establish relationship with us, in our sin, in our death, in our bondage; and to recreate us or to make us alive, to bring us from death into life. That has been His desire all along.
If God is ‘not counting their trespasses against them’ then there is no reason for Him to punish anyone. And fear of punishment is absolutely not the way Perfect Love operates in any case: instead, His kindness leads us to repentance:
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Rom 2:4 NIV).
What is wrong with this picture?
So if we look at the Old Testament law and the sacrificial system and see an angry God needing appeasement, something is very wrong with this picture.
Cain and Abel were the first people we know of who brought God an offering:
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions (Gen 4:3-4).
God had not asked them for anything. So I wonder who told them that God required offerings or sacrifices. I would suggest that it was the same satanic DIY religion whose lies inspired Adam and Eve to make coverings and hide in the bushes.
Since then, and throughout mankind’s history, making sacrifices (including child sacrifices) to appease angry do-it-yourself gods has been integral to religion. Sacrifices are made to ensure fertility, bountiful harvests, security and victory. Abraham was told to leave his idol-making family behind but he didn’t (Gen 12:1). Jacob’s wife Rachel stole her family idols when she was leaving home (Gen 31:19). Israel sacrificed to idols while they were in Egypt, and even took them with them into the wilderness (Acts 7:43), where they got Aaron to make a golden calf (Ex 32:1-4).
Delight in sacrifice?
It was anger at the sight of the golden calf that caused Moses to break the original tablets God had given him (Ex 32:28), God’s own handiwork which according to the original Hebrew were actually sapphire cubes of heavenly revelation.
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
Moses wrote the law from His own interpretation on the replacement tablets he cut out of stone. He gave the sacrificial law to stop Israel sacrificing (including child sacrifice) to idols such as the golden calf, Baal, Molech and countless others. God allowed Moses to introduce the law to limit sacrifices that could be made, not to endorse them. He neither wanted nor needed the sacrifice of animals to appease His wrath.
At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands… as it is written in the book of the prophets, “It was not to Me that you offered victims and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, O house of Israel? You also took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rompha, the images which you made to worship” (Acts 7:41-43).
God really did not want their sacrifices.
For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices (Jer 7:22).
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says “Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure” (Heb 10:5-6).
King David, even after committing murder and adultery, knew that appeasement was not what God required:
For You do not delight in sacrifice,
otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise
Justice, not sacrifices
“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats… Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow” (Isa 1:11, 16-17).
“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings… But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21-22, 24).
“…and to love one’s neighbour as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:33-34).
A change of heart, righteousness or justice could only come from relationship with God, not out of the self-righteousness associated with our own DIY religion, or with the Law. In fact the Law only served to demonstrate to those who were under it that they could not have a relationship with God through their own DIY efforts.
A living sacrifice
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).
Paul is not writing here about trying to appease God by serving Him. It is very easy to slip back into the mindset that we need to do something to make us more acceptable to Him. Political and religious spirits constantly seek to subvert the gospel. Jesus warned his disciples about this:
“Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).
So let us consider, are we in any way still living a DIY religious lifestyle?
- Are we praying and reading our Bibles more out of fear than faith?
- Are we doing good works to earn forgiveness, or brownie points?
- Are we paying our tithes and giving our offerings out of obligation?
- Are we sacrificing our children on the idol of ministry?
There’s nothing I could do
That would ever make You
Love me more
There’s nothing I could do
That would ever make You
Love me less
(Outrageous Love by Jonathan David Helser and Ed Cash).
Nothing we can do could possibly make Him love us any more than He already does. Nothing we can do can make Him love us any less. He loves us consistently, perfectly, passionately. Once we recognise this fact, the idol of ‘GOD’ as the distant, angry, punishing deity begins to be demolished in our lives.
- What if God was ACTUALLY good?
- What if God was ONLY good?
- What if God was ALWAYS good?
- What if there was NO dark side to God – at all?
- What if God was FOR us, not against us?
- What if God doesn’t allow evil, but rather seeks to DISALLOW it by applying His curative energies to both victim and offender?
- What if God cares deeply, tenderly and intensely for the wellbeing of everyone at all times and in all places?
A.W. Tozer famously said that “by a secret law of the soul, we grow to resemble our image of God.” We become like who we behold; so we need to know the true God if we are to be like Him and represent Him on the earth.
Once again, let me say, I am not trying to invent or convert anyone to a new theology or belief system but I am encouraging us all to meet God face to face and find out what He is really like. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing with me about these things, why not ask God for personal revelation and let Him reveal Himself as the Truth?
- Beyond “Without the Shedding of Blood …” – Brad Jersak
(Christianity Without the Religion blog)
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