Friday, September 22, 2023

L&O (11) Not to Appease God

A common belief among Christians is that the tabernacle sacrifices were necessary to allow God to be in relationship with his people. They assume that God is so holy that he cannot interact with sinful people in any way, so sacrifices were essential to appease his anger so he could come near the people he had chosen.

Reading the Old Testament, it is clear that God has never had a problem interacting with sinful people. The initiative was always with God.

  • God spoke to Adam and Eve in the garden after they fell and blessed them with garments.

  • God called Abraham even though he continued to make serious mistakes.

  • He called Jacob and watched over him, even though he was a liar and a cheater.

  • He protected Joseph and spoke through him, even though he was proud.

  • Even when he sent his people into exile from the promised land, it was because he cared about them and wanted to restore them, and in exile, he continued to speak to them and keep them safe.

  • He prepared Moses and sent him to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt before they offered sacrifices to him.

  • God revealed himself to Paul while he was intent on killing followers of Jesus.

All these events took place without any human acknowledgment of sin or blood offerings for transgressions. (He was active in my life while I was still hostile to him.)

We are sometimes taught that God hates sin and can't have anything to do with sinful people, but that is only half true. He does hate sin, but it is because of the harm it allows the spiritual powers of evil to do to people. But it is not true that he cannot have any contact with sinful people. He did it all the time throughout the scriptures. God rescued the children of Israel from Egypt and brought them to the promised land before any offerings had been made. He did not need sacrifices to allow him to intervene, even though the people continued to be obstructive and rebellious the entire way.

The tabernacle offerings were not needed to start or sustain a relationship with God. Rather, they were needed to keep the people safe from the spiritual powers of evil who had dominated them as slaves in Egypt and wanted to get them back under control again. The offerings specified in Leviticus did that effectively.

From Part 3: Leviticus and Offerings.

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