Friday, May 18, 2018. Recently, in a discussion the question came up: what about all the rules about sacrifice in the Old Testament? They are disgusting - how can a God of love tell people such things? To get a better idea of the role of sacrifice, let us step back a little and look at the whole story.
Humans and Sacrifice
First, we find humans sacrificing animals very early in prehistoric history. Today, there are many theories what the origin of sacrifice has been - let us just note it has been there from the beginning.
Second, human sacrifice was taken up and regulated in the Mosaic law, as written down in the five books of Moses. The Mosaic law is a law of obedience in the first place, a law of care, truth and justice. Sacrifice plays its role where justice is violated.
Third, the role of sacrifice is taken up by the New Testament. Here, its role culminates in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus at the cross, where he died “for the sin of the world”. This is summarized for example in Hebrews 10:
5 Consequently, when Christ1 came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” (from Hebrews 10)
It is not the will of God and has never been that innocent blood should be spread! No, he never wanted this. But the role of blood, of life and death, when it comes to justice, care, love, truth and fidelity, needs further discussion. We need to understand this connection …
A look onto our History and Future …
The biblical view into life and death is a very deep and basic one. The questions are addressed on a very fundamental level of thought. Do we want injustice, fraud, lies, hatred and ignorance to live? Do we want all the bad things, pain and suffering, to go on forever?
On the other hand: what about freedom? Does it not bring the freedom to do the wrong thing? Does it not bring freedom to hurt others, to violate truth or to ignore, to fight, to hate?
We are in a world, where this freedom exists. We live in a world where suffering is daily reality for many humans. Also, fraud is reality, hatred, lies, ignorance, physical fight, … and the injustice which is linked with all of this.
The core meaning of sacrifice in the Old Testament has been: injustice cannot live. It needs to die. Its life has to pass. This was transferred to an animal in ancient times. It is transferred to Jesus, the perfect human sacrifice, in the New Testament. God himself dies to set injustice a final limit, it has no right to live forever. Here, in Christ Jesus, freedom and justice come together, in death and resurrection. Here, at the cross, the sacrifice of the Old Testament, taking up human desire and need to become free of sin and guilt is realized in God's chosen sacrifice. It opens a door for mankind to live in justice, and to live free, and to find eternal life. What a story! What insight into history and reality of our life and our societies on a global scale … (Roland Potthast) ... further texts