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Query for the Month

July 1999

Next up-date: August 1st 1999 (God willing).

 


Query:
Response:

This question originated in the mind of one who did not fully understand the character of God (he doesn't mind me telling you that!). It is not true that our heavenly Father wanted His human creatures to kill others of His creatures in large quantities. Not even in religious ceremonies.

He said through one of His prophets, about 600 years after the exodus from Egypt:

Jeremiah 7:21-23

God never asked for the sacrifices

Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings [of dedication] to your [other] sacrifices, and eat [the] flesh [yourselves]. For I spoke not to your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people: and walk you in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well to you.

Jeremiah 7:24-28

They decided on a sacrificial system themselves

But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt to this day I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they hearkened not to Me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.

But we must still try to reach them

Therefore you shall speak all these words to them; but they will not hearken to you: you shall also call to them; but they will not answer you. But you shall say to them, This is a nation that obeys not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receives correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.

The reality is that the Israelites so liked the system of worship that they saw in Egypt where the gods were kept in a special place and visited when something was wanted, that they decided to do just that when they left Egypt. They set up a special tent for their God so that He was not too close to them, and certainly not in their own tents!

Exodus 33:7-11

This was three months before they built the one of Exodus 25:8

And Moses took the tabernacle [an ordinary tent], and pitched it without [outside] the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation [the tent of the people].

It was the people’s tent – not God’s

And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. And it came to pass, when Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose up, and stood every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses, until he was gone into the tabernacle. [See Exodus 20:18-20 for an explanation of this behaviour].

Jesus accepts what He is offered and works with it

And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar [which shrouded the presence of Jesus, Exodus 19:9] descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped, every man in his tent door.

And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp...

What is true of sacrifices is that God intended that each individual, as they recognized their situation and the effect it had on the Son of God, would kill an animal in sorrow for that fact, and also in recognition that the Son of God had "died" to effect the change in them which made them into "Christians". They were to acknowledge that they had been "liars and murderers" until that moment (see John 8:44) and this action (like baptism today) was a reflection of that situation - it mirrored their own "death" in self-sacrifice.

You may rest assured that God had great plans for the animal which was killed in such a way. It was like a "martyr" to Him. Adam and Eve killed the first creatures and they were then clothed in their skins as a replacement for their fig leaves of self-righteousness. Genesis 3:21.

It was in fulfilment of this ritual that Abel brought his blood offering to the gates of the Garden of Eden, and why Cain refused to.

Genesis 4:3-7

When they understood they came

And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the LORD.

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect to Abel and to his offering:

There was no death associated with Cain’s offering

But to Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said to Cain, Why are you wroth [angry]? And why is your countenance fallen? If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not well, sin [the sin-master within, Romans 7:17] lies at the door [of your heart], and to [control] you shall be his desire, and [but] you shall [or can] rule over him.

One sacrifice, once in a lifetime, to show their understanding of what had happened was what God wanted. What He got was a Satan-inspired perversion of the truth. The false idea is that, if God wants a dead animal for worship, He will love you more if you give Him more!

When the Israelites asked for a detailed ceremonial system three months later at Mount Sinai, He replied, "Let [allow] them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them". Exodus 25:8. It was better to live in the midst of their camp than outside of it, and better to live in His own house among them when He could not live in theirs.

Because of their attitude, He gave them detailed instructions on the new building and the rituals which went with it. He hoped to be able to teach them a different way.

Our God is a very accommodating Person when He can be. If the spiritual life of the requester is not in danger, Jesus will work with us to an amazing degree. We should be very careful about supposing we know what He wants and then telling Him that we will do it! It may mean a lifetime of wasted religious "works" but He still loves us for the thought.

1 Corinthians 3:11-17

We need the Foundation

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

But we can build correctly or wrongly on it

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

Salvation is not based on "works", but a "reward" is

If any man's work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

God wants to live "in" us

Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Conclusion:

It should be obvious that God did not desire the ceremonial system instituted in Moses' time, because He did away with it as soon as He could teach us through the real sacrifice, that of His Son, which was pictured at Calvary. It was He who was "slain from the foundation of the world". Revelation 13:8.


Spiritual Dictionary:

ANIMAL SACRIFICES:

A system of wholesale animal killings was never God's intention. He desired one animal per person once in a lifetime. However, when faced with a demand from His people He instituted the ceremonial offerings to teach vital lessons which His people needed. As soon as practicable He did away with it and instituted "Christianity".


Next thought. To be discussed from August 1st 1999.

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