Daily Archives: March 31, 2019

Jesus Christ Is The Atonement For Sin

Atonement is the forgiving or pardoning of sin in general, and original sin in particular,
through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, enabling the reconciliation
between God
and his creation. … Recapitulation theory, which says that Christ succeeded where Adam
failed.
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1 John 2:2

and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

1 Peter 2:24

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

 

Atonement For Sin

From: The Bible Project

There is a chance that when you enter Leviticus and start reading about animal sacrifice, you’ll want to shut down. This is so foreign to the life experience of modern Westerners; most people simply don’t have categories for what’s happening here. We want to help with that, though at the end of the day it’s still going to feel weird. Our modern notions about animal sacrifice come from all sorts of places, most of which are not biblical at all. These range from pagan practices in the temples of ancient Greece all the way to modern day examples, such as the recently suspended Gadhimai festival in Southern Nepal. Many of us have inherited a story about animal sacrifice, and it goes something like this:

The gods are angry with me and are going to kill me. But, maybe if I kill this animal and make sure the gods get their pound of flesh, they’ll be appeased and happy, and just maybe, they won’t kill me or send a plague on my family. Sure it’s barbaric, but so are the gods.

If you’ve ever read (or just heard of) any of the Greek classics by Homer, such as The Iliad, or The Odyssey, or maybe the more ancient Mesopotamians works like the Epic of Gilgamesh, you’ll recognize this storyline. The problem is, when we come to read about animal sacrifice in the Bible, we unfortunately assume that the same gods are at work. Much of popular Christian belief has simply imported this pagan storyline, reminiscent of the Greek and Babylonian cultural texts referenced above, into Leviticus and the stories about Jesus’ death on the cross. The result is a tragic irony. What the Bible is portraying as an expression of God’s love gets twisted into something dark. Our version goes like this:

God is holy and perfect. You are not. Therefore, God is angry at you, hates you even, and so he has to kill you. But, because he’s merciful, he’ll let you bring this animal to him and will have the animal killed instead of you.

When Jesus gets Dragged In

Thankfully, Jesus came to be the one who gets killed by God instead of me. Jesus rescues us from God, and so now we can go forever to the happy place after we die and not the bad place.

Is this story recognizable to you? If so, you’re not alone. The main problem with this story, to be a bit snarky, is the Bible. More specifically, the problem is that this story has enough biblical language in it that it can pass for what the Bible actual says about animal sacrifice and Jesus’ death. However, when you step back, and allow Leviticus and the New Testament to speak for themselves, you can recognize this story as an imposter.

These misconceptions about God’s character most often originate in Leviticus and then go on to fundamentally twist our understanding of God in the rest of the Old Testament. This misunderstanding has a domino effect—it distorts what we believe about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in the New Testament. Over the next two weeks, our blog will focus on atonement, sacrifice, Jesus, and how it is deeply revealing about God’s good nature in all of it.

Sin

In Leviticus, human sin is an act that vandalizes, infects, and defiles God’s good world. This idea is rooted in the depiction of human rebellion found in Genesis 3-11

. Sin results in fractured relationships that lead to power struggles, that then lead to violence

and widespread, systemic evil. All of this has a corrosive, or defiling, effect, not only on the
wrongdoer, but the entire community. Remember, Leviticus comes right after the tabernacle is
finished, where God is going to come dwell in the center of the Israelite community. So, Israel’s
sin doesn’t just defile the camp, it even defiles the sacred space itself. It makes God want to
leave, just like vandalism all over the front of your house and heaps of trash in your living room
would make you want to leave.

 

The temple is the throne of God within the world, the place where heaven and earth meet. Israel’s rebellion isn’t simply about breaking a rule. It’s about humans introducing corruption, pain, and death into God’s world, and they might as well be bringing that nastiness right into the dwelling place of God. If Israel’s God leaves the temple space, then the entire nation will suffer the consequences of living in a land without God. We already know this story from Genesis 3-11

, when humanity had to leave God’s presence in Eden. It led to Babylon, and ultimately to Egypt.

Last week’s blog was an exploration of Pharaoh and what happens when humans hijack God’s
good world and redefine good and evil on their own. God’s justice is the only appropriate
response to this kind of rebellious vandalism.

 

But God does not want to see his people (Israel) go down the same road and suffer the same consequences. God knows full-well that the Israelites are corrupt humans like the rest of the human family. This is why he made a promise to Abraham that he would restore divine blessing to the nations through these people (remember Genesis 12

). So, by his own word, God has obligated himself to not destroy Israel when they sin against him.This brings us to God’s alternative way of dealing with Israel’s sin and rebellion. It’s a symbolic ritual that takes up an existing practice among Israel’s neighbors (animal sacrifice) and transforms its meaning. Welcome to the biblical symbol of animal sacrifice!

 

What Is Sacrifice?

By: Linda J. Gilden, CBN ministries

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“Hey, Rose. What does sacrifice mean?”

I looked in the rear view mirror. How did the conversation with my granddaughters move so quickly from counting cows in the pasture to defining sacrifice?

“Where did you hear that word, Baylor?”

“Choir. We were singing a song yesterday and it said that word.”

“We hear the word ‘sacrifice’ at church a lot. We read it in the Bible, too. The Bible tells us Jesus was a sacrifice for us because God loves us so much.”

Four-year-old Baylor scrunched her nose. “But I don’t know what that means.”

“OK. What if you and Sissie made cookies. You took some to the neighbors then came home for a tea party. You both ate one cookie and one was left on the plate. Both of you wanted the cookie.”

“We could just split it in half.” Baylor put her hand under her chin. “But I think I would want the whole thing.”

“You looked over at your sister. You knew she really wanted that cookie, too. And you love Sissie so much. So your love for Sissie makes you say, ‘Sissie, I know you want that cookie. I love you so much I’m going to let you have it.’ That is what is called a sacrifice. You gave away something you really wanted because you loved Sissie so much.”

“Oh, so I sacrificed the cookie.”

“That’s right. There are many different types of sacrifices. But if we can understand the simple ones, it will be easier to understand the harder ones.”

Even adults struggle with sacrifice—to give something up that you really love for someone else’s benefit. If you are a student of the Bible, you know that during those times, sacrifice was a way of life.

In Genesis 22:1-2 God instructs Abraham:

“Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
 (NIV)

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Abraham had loved God for a long time and trusted Him. He took Isaac up to the mountain intending to carry out God’s instruction. We know the end of the story. God provided a sacrificial ram and spared Isaac. But Abraham proved his total love for God and willingness to sacrifice even the son for whom he had waited years.

Later in the Old Testament, we learn Jephthah, the Gileadite, made a promise to God as he advanced against the Ammonites.

“If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” Judges 11:30-31 (NIV)

When he returned home, Jephthah’s daughter, his only child, came dancing from the house to greet her father. Jephthah was beside himself with grief but stayed true to his vow. Even though it meant the sacrifice of his daughter, Jephthah kept his word.
 (Judges 11:34-40)

Other sacrifices appear throughout the Bible, but, of course, we know best God’s sacrifice of Jesus. God loves us so much that He sacrificed His Son. One of the first verses we memorize as children is John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
 (NIV)

God was willing to sacrifice His Son for us. His only Son. For us. Is there something in your life He is asking you to give to Him today? Why are you waiting?