The Sacrifice of God

December 16, 2009

Yesterday we saw the great things faith can do when we considered how Abraham was able to trust God in the face of His command to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. His faith in God’s promises kept him calm and submissive throughout the test. But what in the world was God thinking in asking for a human sacrifice? Doesn’t He detest such things? Why did Abraham believe that God would ask such a thing of him?

One evangelical commentator asserts that this “command is in some ways repulsive and contrary to the nature of the one making the request.” He asks, “Why could God have not simply said, ‘Human sacrifice is repulsive to me?”

That got me thinking. Is human sacrifice repulsive to God? Is it contrary to His nature?

God set death as the penalty for sin. If you sin, even once, you lose your life. But God also appointed a way for the condemned to be delivered from death. He appointed sacrifices. It works this way. In a sacrifice one innocent creature exchanges its life so that one who is guilty and condemned can live. God appointed various animals to be used for this purpose. But Hebrews10:3-4 makes it clear that the life of an animal cannot atone for even one sin committed by a human being. “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

If an animal’s life cannot be exchanged for a human being’s then how can the condemned be delivered? If there is to be atonement, an innocent PERSON must give his life in exchange for the condemned PERSON’S life. But that truth raises certain dilemmas. We need to find a person who is not himself condemned; a person innocent of ever breaking any of God’s laws. If we did find such a person AND he was willing to take our place, could he substitute himself for more than one person? One for one would be the standard of justice. What about everyone else?

In the end God did not ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. Isaac was neither sinlessly innocent nor sufficient to atone for anyone’s sin. But God showed His love for the world in giving His own Son as the sacrifice. Christ never disobeyed his Father and being God, as well as man, He is of such superlative worth that His death is a sufficient atonement for the sins of all His people.

Human sacrifice is not repulsive to God. It is the only way for God to satisfy His justice and yet show mercy. It is the perfect expression of His nature. If any of us hope to be delivered from condemnation in Hell, it will be because we offered Jesus Christ to God as our substitute. This is the sacrifice of God. Any other ‘sacrifice’ will be detested. Why, then, would anyone turn away from trusting in the Lord Jesus?


One Response to “The Sacrifice of God”

  1. […] Jim O’Brien has a great post on God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and the subsequent sacrifice of Christ. You can read it here. […]

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