God’s brilliance with burning beasts

Today we want to continue with the Bible’s answer on animal sacrifice (see Sacrifice in the city and The law – do or die!).

God’s sacrificial system (animals in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament) is the key to the Kingdom of God.  Without it, God’s plan of an eternal kingdom will remain a pie in the sky and never materialise.  It is because no human being can ever keep all God’s commands. 1  Let’s look at God’s brilliant design to ensure that the Kingdom will become a reality.

#  Almighty God, the King

The very first people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed Almighty God, the Ruler of the universe.  It is a serious offence and carries the death penalty. 2 God knew that the descendants of Adam would find it impossible not to sin or disobey.  So He designed a way to legally be fair (judge them) and yet forgive them (extend mercy).

#  The legal exchange – judgement and mercy 

  • When Adam and Eve sinned, God clothed them with animal skins (the animals died for their disobedience).  It fulfilled God’s decree,  ‘…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ 3  It was a legal exchange.  The animals were ’judged’ and the people were forgiven.  So justice combined with grace and mercy.  God was fair (He judged the sin), yet merciful (the animals died in their place).
  • Followers of Jesus don’t always recognise that God’s justice and mercy is absolutely unique.  Only the all-knowing, wise God was able to plan it.  Remember it was designed before creation. 4

#  The enemy cannot complain

The devil wanted to complain, because he does not want people to be forgiven.  He wants them in hell, which is his future ‘home.’  It was actually prepared for the devil and his angels because of their rebellion against God. 5  However he cannot complain.  When he stole Adam’s right to rule, God did not stop him.  Scripture is very clear, ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one.’ 6

#  The New Covenant/Testament

  • The Old Testament sacrificial system was a type or shadow of something better.  Through Jeremiah 31:31 God said there will be a New Covenant.  Jesus instituted it,  ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ 7
  • We see how effective God’s new covenant is by the universal spread of the Gospel.  Animal sacrifices were only for a time for the Israelite nation who kept livestock.  It was not practical for people like the Eskimo’s who live in the polar regions.  Animals for offerings are scarce there.  Yet in God’s New Covenant system they are not disadvantaged.  When an Eskimo wants forgiveness, the blood of Jesus takes away his sins.  God ‘catered’ for all people in Christ.

Conclusion

The sacrificial system of justice and mercy, which began in the Garden of Eden and ended with Jesus on the Cross, displays the wisdom of the Trinity.   The unbeliever can mock about Jesus and the Cross,8 but God’s design of justice and mercy stands forever as a monument to His brilliance.

References

  1. Romans 3:9-18
  2. Genesis 2:16-17
  3. Hebrews 9:22
  4. 1 Peter 1:18-20
  5. Matthew 25:41
  6. 1 John 5:19
  7. Luke 22:20
  8. Revelation 5:6

Richard Dawkins’ advice for God

Richard Dawkins thinks he has excellent advice for God.  ‘If He wanted to forgive people their sins, why not just forgive them?  Why did He have to kill His Son on the cross in such a gruesome way, to forgive people?’  At face value it might sound like good advice, but is it?

What is the issue about forgiveness?  

Right in the beginning God gave  Adam and Eve a command.  If they disobeyed Him, they would surely die (which meant death and eternal separation from Him).  They did disobey (or sinned against God).  It caused a relationship break between God and them.  But in His great love, God demonstrated that their sin against Him could be exchanged with the death of an innocent animal.  God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins to show that the blood of the animals were exchanged for their transgression.

That pattern of God’s sacrificial system goes throughout the Old Testament with the animal sacrifices at the Tabernacle and Temple of the Israelites.  It reaches its pinnacle in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.  The innocent Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world:  ‘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.’ 1

Even if Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, forgiveness is not automatic.  God created man with a free will.  Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel, exercised their free wills.  Abel decided to do its God’s way: sacrifice an innocent animal.  Cain used his free will and rejected God’s way: he sacrificed produce from the ground. 2  God does not accept anybody who refuses to make use of the blood sacrifice for forgiveness.  It was demonstrated with His acceptance of Abel’s, but not Cain’s sacrifice.

Reasons why God does not automatically forgive sin:

  1. Each person has a free will and can decide, like Cain and Abel, to do it God’s way or not.  God accepts the free will decision of those who want to go their own way.  He will never impose His will on people.
  2. Additionally, God uses the cross of Jesus to sift which people are willing to obey Him, and which ones are not interested.  Scripture states, ‘…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.’ 3

Conclusion

Those who use the sacrificial system supplied by Jesus, can enter the new future garden of Eden. 4  What Adam closed up, Jesus opened up.  The beautiful, peaceful, eternal ’garden of Eden’ is waiting for those people who are willing to approach God in the way He designed.  Richard Dawkins reminds us of the most important aspect of God’s plan for man: making peace with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb of God.

References

  1. John 3:16
  2. Genesis 4:2-5
  3. 1 Corinthians 1:18
  4. Revelation 21 & 22
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