#0103 “Is God being depicted as a blood-lusting deity here?”
Link relevant to today’s posting…
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
John’s Disciples Follow Jesus
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
John 1: 35-39 (NIV)
Today’s posting is part 5 of the new series: “Words of the Bible vs. the WORD”. This series is based upon material to be included in my new book. As I am inspired to write this, I am posting these ideas on-the-fly, so they will be fleshed out and edited more before they get incorporated into the book. In today’s link we get a glimpse at Hillary’s running mate: Tim Kaine. Is he a Jesus man? Just look at his face and draw your own conclusion.
Words of the Bible vs. the WORD
All throughout this 1st chapter of John we see the Holy Ghost operating just ahead of the time when Jesus comes on the scene. In a way He is working to prepare the arrival of Jesus and the message of the Kingdom which He is bringing to the earth. The Holy Ghost used this approach to open the eyes of the disciples so they could see the divine nature in Jesus. Once they began to follow Jesus, His message of the Kingdom began to resonate within their beings. The more they allowed this connection with God and Jesus to continue the more established the Holy Ghost became within each of them; the more they became convinced of the divinity of Jesus. Beyond even this, they began to develop the ability to see the divinity inherent in the creation all around them including the divinity within each other and in other people outside their own circle.
Going back to the Lamb of God reference once more; it becomes a key point to understand what John is referring to here. And the best way to figure it out—as is the case with figuring out any scripture—is by letting the Holy Ghost help us get at the truth of the matter; which in this case is John’s meaning of the Lamb of God. As I said a few paragraphs back, the traditional interpretation says he was referring to Jesus’s role as the sacrificial Lamb of God and that in this regard He was predestined to die as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind. My position is that John wasn’t referring to this; but was referring to the gentile, docile and humble nature of Jesus. It’s a combination of attributes which might best describe the divinity of His nature. And it’s this very divine nature which we, as human beings, are called to aspire to. John says that Jesus came to help all humans inherit this divine nature. John further intimates that what’s keeping us humans from achieving this goal is the sin of the world. By this he’s not referring to the individual sins of people; but rather to the sinful condition inherent within world’s environment. It may well be further intimated that the Law of Moses itself falls into this category of “sin of the world” because it loomed large and imposing more like a wall than a hurtle with which Jesus and His disciples were faced.
One of the reasons I put the Law of Moses into the category of sinful conditions in the world in which Jesus found Himself is the specific law that demanded the sacrificing of animals as a way of appeasing God (the Father). This particular law dates back to the time of Adam and Eve and the specific account of Cain and Able their sons…
Cain and Abel
4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Gen. 4: 1-9 (NIV)
Before we talk about any specifics here notice how the story jumps right from the birth of Cain and Abel to them as adults. It’s as though the writer is trying to make the specific point that some actions are acceptable in God’s eyes and some are not. The judgmental nature of God is beginning to take shape. Part of the reason the narrative seems so terse is that it started out as an oral tradition. What this means is that this and all the stories of the 1st five books of the Old Testament commonly referred to as the Pentateuch; were memorized by certain Hebrew men and conveyed verbally by them to their families. In this way the record or tradition of these stories was preserved. This is why they are short in length but also why they have a moral or a lesson by which the Hebrew people were taught to live. These morals eventuated into the written Law of Moses. In this—one of the very first stories—we see two of the characters caught up in a performance struggle over whose sacrifice was most pleasing to God. Abel, the younger brother was offering an animal sacrifice and Cain a sacrifice of crops. For some reason (not explained in the story) God found Cain’s offering of crops unacceptable, even though it represented the fruit of all his labor and who he was as a person. It begs the question: “Is God being depicted as a blood-lusting deity here?” Today, as Christians we want to disavow any such notion; but put yourself in the shoes of one of the ancients who were listening to this tale—what kind of offering would you choose to put on your altar and burn to God, vegetables or meat? Let’s jump ahead a few chapters in Genesis to the story of Abraham and Isaac…
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
2 Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Gen. 22: 1-2 (NIV)
In this narrative God actually (supposedly) tells Abraham to take his son, kill him and burn him on the sacrificial altar. A few lines later we read that an angel stops him from completing the act just in the nick of time. This scripture is often used as an example of Abraham’s faith. Again we must ask ourselves what kind of God would behave this way and what message is He telling those people who are trying to have a relationship with Him?
Jesus’s goal was to steer His fellow countrymen (the Hebrews) away from this traditional conceptualization of His Father as a blood-thirsty deity and it fell to the Holy Ghost to help Him with this task. The way the Holy Ghost would do this was to go before Jesus softening and preparing the hearts of His would-be disciples so they might better stand against the Law’s depiction of God (the sin of their world) and be open to Jesus’s version of Him (the salvation of their world).
If you have a question or a comment about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As usual, thanks for reading.
TBC: Saturday, July 30, 2016