Churches Of Christ/How do we know God asked the sacrifice?
We read in the Bible that Jesus should be sacrificed unto God his Father and that his sacrifice the reason God forgives us.
Its from the OT(Isaiah 53) where we read that God demanded such a sacrifice. How do we know that this is what God really asked and not just an unsure human idea?
Did God need the blood of Jesus? If a God needs healthy blood and clean meat, this wouldnt be omnipotency, isnt it? Besides this I cant understand how does this fits with the word "grace". If someone shows you grace, he doesnt demand anything.
This is a larger subject. Its about sacrifices.
As we read in the beginning God lived with humans down on Earth, which was called Eden. It seems humans made a huge sin so that God departed.
Some have proposed the strange idea that the humanlike form of God was murdered by his son Adam and then Adam made love with Eve(original sin). Then people felt guilty and started making sacrifices to keep in touch with the departed Father, the spirit of God.
Since people were offering foods or burning food(smell), seems to indicate that God was once among humans in a "human" form. And the idea is that since God demanded the bloody sacrifice of Jesus seems to indicate that humans "murdered" God, during the time he was on Earth.
I know this sounds strange, but how can we explain then the demand and need for the bloody sacrifice of Jesus? And how do we know that God really asked it? Could it a human idea arising from the guilt of humans? Because if God shows grace, he doesnt demand sacrifices to forgive.
Thanks for helping in this difficult subject.
Thank you for the question. I will do my best to answer so that you may understand. Rest assured, it is not as difficult as it seems. You are simply laboring under an incorrect definition of grace; causing you confusion. What you wrote is the denominational definition rather than the Biblical definition. The two are always mutually exclusive.
You wrote, "If someone shows you grace, he doesnt demand anything." Not only is this against the Bible, it is against the reality of everything else in our realm. For arguments' sake, let's suppose I decide to give you a brand new Cadillac (I really can't, but this will give you an idea). You did nothing to earn it. That is grace. However, by the denominational definition, you would be able to take and use the car without having to take the keys from my hand, and without inserting the keys in the ignition, let alone turning the keys. You would be using it for travel with no demand to use the steering wheel, brakes, or accelerator. You would even be able to use it for its intended purpose without ever removing it from your garage! Logic (a necessary component of theology - consider it is actually part of the word) shows a demand from the giver for the recipient of any gift before said gift may be appropriated.
Biblical grace is the same. For a few Bible examples:
* Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis chapters 6-9). Was there a demand? Yes. If Noah had failed to comply with his demand (build the ark), that grace would have served Noah no purpose. Noah would have perished in the flood.
* Naaman had leprosy (2nd Kings chapter 5). He earned nothing by following the demand of God; through the mouth of Elisha. He was not cleansed before compliance.
* In the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers chapter 21), God gave the children of Israel grace with the gift of healing from the bites of the serpents. Nevertheless, before that grace could be appropriated, the individual was required to look upon the brass serpent erected by Moses.
Scripture is filled with numerous such examples, but these are sufficient. Grace, Biblical and otherwise, always
makes a demand on the recipient. To say God should make no demand renders grace not a gift, but a debt. To remove demands from grace says we are so much better than God that somehow he is indebted to us and is required
to give something to us for nothing.
Genesis 1:27-28, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
It is a strange idea, indeed, to say that sex was the original sin, when you consider that it was a command (Genesis 1) of God even before the fall (Genesis 3) in the Garden of Eden. The sin committed to expel Adam and Eve from Eden was eating a literal piece of fruit from a literal tree. What made it a sin was the express prohibition of God to touch or even observe that particular fruit.
I do not know where you read that God was in human form and lived among us. That sounds more like mormonism than it does Christianity. I do read of Him visiting
man in the Garden, but nothing is said of it being His residence. Further, it is specifically stated (Genesis 1:2-3) that it was the Spirit
of God that was upon the earth. This hardly sounds like a physical form at all; let alone a human form.
Your qualifying questions actually carried more weight than you realized. I had to answer those first. Now, let's turn to blood and sacrifice. It seems to me you are putting the cart before the horse. God does not need
flesh or blood. God requires
the blood because it is man
that needs the blood. Allow me to explain.
Genesis 9:4-6, "But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man."
time a man's blood is shed, man's blood is required to be shed in recompense because blood is life. If one life is taken, another is required as payment. Death is the opposite of life. But, what is death?
Genesis 3:22-24, "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
Isaiah 59:1-3, "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Death is nothing more than a separation. It can either be a separation of the body and soul (physical death) or a separation of the soul from God (spiritual death). When man sinned in the Garden, God separated man from His presence. This kept man from enjoying life: it was spiritual death. And, it happened on the very day man ate that fruit (c.f., Genesis 2:17).
Now, please notice (in the Isaiah reference) what sin does to man. ANY
sin, whether it be murder, lying, or plain disobedience, defiles a man's hands with blood. It deprives man of spiritual life, and blood is life. Any sin causes spiritual death (i.e., spiritual suicide), and as a result, blood must be shed for recompense.
Romans 3:23-26, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Since all men have sinned, all men have committed spiritual suicide: spiritual self-murder. We must now have faith to appropriate the blood of Jesus as payment in our stead. If we do not, we must rely on our own blood as payment, and it is not as efficacious as the blood of Jesus since it was He who was not spotted or marred by sin. In other words, our blood is just not sufficient to pay the price in full.
What does this have to do with animal sacrifice and burn offerings found in the Old Testament?
Numbers 19:2, "This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:"
Ephesians 5:27, "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
1st Peter 1:19, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
Galatians 3:23-27, "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Hebrews 9:7 - 10:22, "But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
God does demand sacrifice to forgive, and hearkening back to the denominational premise that God's grace to us is a debt He owes us whereby He can make no demands (which we saw was false), that demand is a necessary
part of grace. Jesus' sacrifice was set in place before the earth was made. It was done out of love for His ultimate creation, so that we might have a home with Him after this life. It was the only way to reconcile the Infinite Justice of God with the Infinite Mercy of God. Further, the manner of death suffered by our sacrifice was the only one possible to ensure our salvation. Blood payment is required for our shedding of blood. However, God devised a way for the penalty to be paid by another (the meaning of propitiation). It involves faith, which in turn necessarily involves baptism. In doing this (meeting the demand) all we are doing is telling Jesus we are willing to let Him pay our blood debt in our stead, and there is no other approved way to tell Him this.
Now, as I close, we can answer your final question:
"And how do we know that God really asked it?"
The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,500 years. It was written through the hands of 39 people in three distinct languages. These people were from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, occupations, and levels of education. These penmen of God's revealed thoughts were lowly and uneducated fishermen, enemies of the state, slaves in royal courts, and even the wealthiest of kings. There is not one place (at least in the original language texts) where it is self-contradictory.
Nevertheless, the Bible has never had one portion to be proved false. Yes, there are some that are not yet proven, but each time a discovery is made, it dovetails perfectly with the divine record. People would not willingly die for something they knew was a lie, yet witnesses of these events died in order to prevent denying those events, and counted it joy. The Bible is unlike any other piece of literature. Even among its heroes, the foibles of man are recorded alongside their acts of righteousness. In human literature, faults are minimized to increase the hero status of the protagonists. The Bible, every word of it, is definitely not of human origin. This includes the animal sacrifices, as they told man of the need for blood, and the perfection necessary in that blood. Without it, we would know nothing of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus that we all need to pay our penalty.
Chris, I hope I have given you some new insight. I am just sorry that my mortal words are so inadequate when trying to explain the unfathomable thoughts of the immortal. The best any of us can do is try.