Meme Crush, part 2
Yesterday, we covered the first two items on God’s To Do list:
Today, let’s finish it up.
The third item on God’s to do list would, again, have a correct action item but an incorrect reason supplied. This is where the man-centric view comes very clear. God is not on his knees bidding us to come to him and trust him. The correct view is us on our knees, asking God’s forgiveness. Put another way, God’s not lucky to have me on his team; I’m lucky he wants me on his team.
So the crucifixion has nothing to do with winning our trust. Whenever we read of God making a promise in the Bible, he delivers (see Heb 11). Whenever something is contingent on human beings following some sort of rule or precept that God has established, we fail (see Exodus and Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Kings or 1 and 2 Chronicles, most of the prophetic books deal with at least one failure, see the Sermon on the Mount for Jesus’ exposition on the condition of the heart vs. actions taken). And yet God remains faithful. God, therefore, is not the one who needs to earn our trust.
So what the heck was the crucifixion about?
Books have been written on that topic and I couldn’t possibly do it justice as part of a single blog post. But I will give the fastest possible summary:
- Start with Adam and Eve. When they sinned against God in the Garden of Eden, God made for them clothing of animal hide to cover their shame.
- Cain burned crops as a sacrifice to God, while Abel sacrificed a lamb. The acceptable sacrifice was the lamb.
- Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac. He lied to his son, saying that “God himself would provide the lamb” (Gen 22:8). As it happened, God stayed Abraham’s hand and did provide a lamb. Remember that point.
- Leviticus and Deuteronomy provide a laundry list of what to sacrifice for what occasion.
So all through the Old Testament, the theme is that a sacrifice is required in order for God to forgive sins. Because, as we are reminded by the author of Hebrews, “… without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness” (9:22).
The entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament prefigured the crucifixion of Christ, and chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews draws the parallel of the High Priest of the Jews to the role Christ plays in the redemption of Christians. The conclusion?
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Heb 10:1-4, emphasis added)
The blood of the animals is only a representation of the perfect, heavenly realities. These no longer need to be offered, because Christ “…by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Heb 10:14).
The crucifixion wasn’t to earn the trust of humanity. It is to purify humanity, and specifically those that God elects to heaven, thereby giving us assurance to walk into the holy places of God by faith in Christ rather than the fleeting sacrifices of animals. God now says “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb 10:17b).
That just leaves us with the final item on God’s to do list, which is “Lay low for the rest of time.” This is question-begging. What evidence does the author have that God has laid low? What insight has he into the outer workings of God that the rest of us aren’t privy to?
In a broader sense, God isn’t a trick pony. Skeptics of Christianity tend to point out that we don’t see much of God’s action in the world and then demand he do something to prove himself to them. Well, that won’t work.
Even when the Son of God dwelt among us, the Pharisees asked for more signs. And Jesus rebuffed them by saying they already knew what to look for; they just don’t know how to read it:
And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. (Mt 16:1-4)
We’ve already been given the Scriptures to work with, we’ve already been given human history to work with. Why ask for more signs and wonders than the one that has already come? Jesus says that “an evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” Maybe that describes us to a T and we don’t see it.
To wrap up, I think this represents a human-centered view of God and fails on every level to take the divine into consideration.