• Welcome to Christian Forums
  1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

Featured Mercy, not sacrifice

Discussion in 'Traditional Theology' started by graceandpeace, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. graceandpeace

    graceandpeace Episcopalian

    +550
    Anglican
    Private
    US-Democrat
    I'm going start by posting several Scriptures, so bear with me. :) From NRSV:

    What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
    What shall I do with you, O Judah?
    Your love is like a morning cloud,
    like the dew that goes away early.
    Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
    I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
    and my judgment goes forth as the light.
    For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
    the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
    - Hosea 6:4-6

    Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
    for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
    Take words with you
    and return to the Lord;
    say to him,
    “Take away all guilt;
    accept that which is good,
    and we will offer
    the fruit[a] of our lips.
    Assyria shall not save us;
    we will not ride upon horses;
    we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
    to the work of our hands.
    In you the orphan finds mercy.”
    - Hosea 14:1-3

    (Note that the Hebrew would be "bulls" rather than "fruit," which I believe is from the Septuagint.)

    And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” - Matthew 9:10-13

    (Matthew has Jesus quoting the same line from Hosea 6:6 again in Matt. 12:7.)

    This thread is partially inspired by a discussion invoking Hosea in another thread, different forum.

    What do you think it means that God desires mercy/steadfast love, rather than sacrifice?

    What sort of sacrifice did God have in mind? The blood kind?

    If so, why would Jesus' death need to be understood in any way as a blood sacrifice?

    If, as Hosea seems to say, we can offer "the bulls of our lips" - meaning to me, we can just repent, seek forgiveness, & it would be likened unto a sacrifice - it seems problematic to imply Jesus is needed to be a blood sacrifice.

    Jesus quotes Hosea: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." In Mark 12:28-34, the scribe answers Jesus that the commandments to love God & neighbor are more important than sacrifices, & Jesus seems to approve of this answer.

    If what God is looking for is not a blood sacrifice, what do we do with verses that seem to imply understanding Jesus as a blood sacrifice of sorts? (I.e. Romans 3:24-25, 1 John 4:10, Hebrews 9:11-12, etc)

    Just thinking about some of these verses, & wanted to hear how you or your church tradition answers them.
     
  2. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +9,904
    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    I may be wrong about this, and I am answering personally, and not for the Church, though my answer does come from truths and principles I've learned from the Orthodox Church (I've just not seen them put together to answer this specific question, so I hesitate to cite the Church as answering this way.).

    Christ's death was indeed a sacrifice. It was also necessary, because we human beings were under the curse of death, and were in no way capable of breaking that curse ourselves. Christ's death on the Cross accomplished many things, the greatest of which was His victory over death, making possible the restoration of life to all human beings.

    When I read about God desiring mercy, not sacrifice, I take that as a more personal interaction. Not something we do on behalf of all of mankind, as Christ did, because we are not capable of such an act. But something God desires to see in our own hearts, and how we relate to Him and through Him to one another.

    Sacrifice, rigidly following rules and regulations to the letter (no matter who may be damaged by carrying them out) is a rather pharisaical concept, I think. On the other hand, when we display mercy to one another, we show forth in the likeness of God's own heart toward mankind. We are most like Jesus when we are merciful, as He was to the woman caught in adultery, rather than rigidly demanding her blood to pay for her crime according to the Law.

    Not to demean Christ's sacrifice - not at all. It is essential. But I don't think that kind of sacrifice is what we can produce, nor does God really desire a semblance of it from us. What comes to mind is "the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit" and even "the sacrifice of praise". These, along with showing mercy, are the kinds of things that move our hearts toward God in the right posture, and I think that is what He most desires from us.
     
  3. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    +2,578
    Messianic
    Single
    Isaiah 29:13 And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

    God would not have instructed Moses about making offerings if it was something that He did not want. Rather, the Bible uses this form of contrast not to say that something was unwanted, but to say that something has lower importance. The word for "offering" literally "means to draw close", so in other words, the important part of making an offering was not in slaughtering an animal, but in drawing close to God. So those who were making offerings while not drawing close to God were missing the point and were doing something to honor God while their hearts were far from Him. When our hearts are far from God, then our focus is not on love and mercy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  4. graceandpeace

    graceandpeace Episcopalian

    +550
    Anglican
    Private
    US-Democrat
    I'm on board with believing that Christ has victory over sin & death. What I guess I'm questioning on the one hand is the necessity part, & on the other trying to reconcile the OT's attitudes toward sacrifice, with Jesus echoing some of that sentiment in the Gospels, & at the same time deal with passages like those mentioned elsewhere in the NT.

    I agree we should be merciful, but don't you think, in Hosea & elsewhere in the OT, the sacrifice in mind is the blood kind? I know there are exceptions, like what you quoted.

    If what God actually wants is mercy, justice, etc...then there is no need for blood sacrifice.

    Here's really my problem. If sacrifice - a blood sacrifice, Jesus - was required, what are the implications for how we understand God? God could've just chosen to forgive, IMO.

    Unless God's reasoning was less about blood sacrifice & more about demonstrating power over sin & death, which again I'm on board with. I just don't know what to do with other parts of the NT.

    Thanks for responding.
     
  5. graceandpeace

    graceandpeace Episcopalian

    +550
    Anglican
    Private
    US-Democrat
    Sure, & that's kind of part of my point. If we can just do the right thing - from showing mercy to others to seeking forgiveness from God - then blood sacrifice to somehow appease God is questionable, if not definetly unneeded.
     
  6. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    +2,578
    Messianic
    Single
    Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.

    We know that the law is spiritual (Romans 7:14), so it is meant to teach us spiritual lessons and it invites us to ponder why certain laws were given, but nevertheless, the understanding the weightier matters of the law does not allow us to neglect following it. That would be the same mistake that the Corinthians made where their knowledge puffed them up where they thought that it was ok to sin once they thought they understood it.
     
  7. Wgw

    Wgw Pray For Brussels!

    +2,034
    Eastern Orthodox
    Single
    UK-Conservative
    There is an Orthodox liturgical phrase that seems apros pos, the lyrics of this hymn start "A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise"

     
  8. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +9,904
    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    We are moving further into my own opinion and less of what I can back up from Church teaching ... maybe one of my more experienced Orthodox brothers or sisters can back me up here or correct me. But again, there are teachings that DO lay the basis for this and don't contradict. I'm glad you bring up these questions, because sometimes I haven't gotten around to digging deeply enough into a particular point to be sure.

    Did God require blood sacrifices as part of the structure of worship in the OT? Of course. But I think the reason was not because God was unable to forgive their sin without having His divine thirst for blood somehow sated. That paints a very strange picture of God. (I'm not saying you are saying this, only taking the idea to a bit of a more logical conclusion.)

    Instead, I believe the purpose of the blood sacrifice was MOSTLY to point forward as a sort of type of sacrifice, hinting at the way in which Christ would redeem mankind. The Church teaches of many such typologies in the OT, so I think this is valid. It is possible too, and this is just supposition on my part, that it might make more of an "impression" upon a person, watching the animal die, and having to complete such an act, seeing the lifeblood drain out of it - it might make them recognize the horror of sin and the damage it does to our own souls.

    Now the tricky part. CAN God possibly just forgive without Christ's sacrifice of blood and death? Is He under some kind of cosmic mandate that won't allow Him to show mercy, even if He wants to, without somehow satisfying the "payment"? Well ... to be honest, this doesn't ring true for me. What law is greater than God Himself? We hear that "justice" demands it, and because God is just, it is necessary. But what does mercy demand? And is God not also merciful? I don't think God is bound by any cosmic Law higher than Himself - after all, He created the cosmos. He is perhaps bound by His nature, but that nature is not only justice.

    In fact, truthfully, Christ's sacrifice on our behalf is inherently UNjust ... why should we be let off "scot-free" as it were, just for the asking? While an innocent man is punished in our place? Even if He volunteers it? Again, it is mercy at work, rather than pure justice.

    That is why I mentioned Christ's victory over death, accomplished BY His death. From all I can find, that is the main view of atonement that has always been most in view of the Church, from the beginning. And that DOES require Christ to die. Not to satisfy some kind of vengeance without the satisfaction of which God refuses to release us, but because of a natural law (death), brought about by the curse resulting from sin, and that did require a reversal. Any death would probably do - my guess on this point - but there are other reasons for the publicly humiliating and tortured death of crucifixion.

    I hope that addresses your question, and I am very hopeful of correction or acknowledgement from my Orthodox brothers and sisters if what I have said agrees with Orthodox theology, because I'd like to know that myself. :) And thanks again for asking and letting me think. :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
  9. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    God wants love. Put away the politics and religion which divides and scatters, and instead gather together in love, and in pure undefiled religion.

    Its my opinion that the Church can follow the same mistakes the Pharisees and Israel did. Don't boast against the branches, instead learn by them. Don't follow their example of folly, instead learn from it. Put away the politics and religion. This world is not our home, and religion is the folly of the pharisee. Just my opinion, humbly submitted. Thank you.

    Isaiah 58:4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
    You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
    5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
    Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
    Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
    6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
    to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
    7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
    when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
    8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
    then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
    9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
    “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
    10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
    then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
    11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
    You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
     
  10. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    +2,578
    Messianic
    Single
    Jams 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

    Why would we want to put away visiting orphans and widows in their affliction and keeping ourselves unstained from the world?
     
  11. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    Sorry, thats not what i meant. I was actually trying to promote the James scripture that you refer to.
     
  12. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    +2,578
    Messianic
    Single
    Take the scenario where you loaned someone some money, but they can't pay you back, so you decide to forgive their debt. It wouldn't be as simple as wiping the books clean because you would need to make up the money you loaned them, so by forgiving their debt you would essentially be paying their debt for them in their place. When we sin, we incur a debt and the wages of sin is death so what we owe is our life. So in the same way, in order for God to forgive our debt, He would need to pay what we owe in our place.
     
  13. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    Perhaps i was a bit over Zealous for a moment, if so please forgive me. What i meant to say is that religion divides us, and so do politics. These things defile us. In my opinion.

    What are we divided over any way? Walk in love, put away things that cause debate. It will only distract us from walking in the spirit. It surely will. If i may share my faith- i dont go to church but i find joy being around other brethren here at CF, i believe i share in the spirit with them here. Thats the point of Church. I believe in walking in humility, love, kindness, gentleness, and brotherhood. Sadly however, we allow religion to stumble us, just as the Pharisees also did. I dont even have the religious things that the Churches have, but i have the Lord and feel greatly blessed.

    Please brothers, i just want to share the blessing that is in my heart. I wish i could make you as rich as i feel right now. There is no reason for all this religious stuff that we argue over. It serves only to distract us. Look at the harm it is doing to us as a body. I have none of that stuff yet i have the Lord. Christ is so much simpler than all this. Maybe the Lord wants me to shine this light, i don't know and i wont presume to speak for the master. I just feel a great thing in my heart that wants to come out. Blessings and peace to us all, through our Lord. Amen.
     
  14. Soyeong

    Soyeong Well-Known Member

    +2,578
    Messianic
    Single
    Again, how do the things in James 1:27 divide and defile us? Religion can certainly divide us, but it can also unite us. Christianity is a religion and Jesus came to teach true religion, so there is no good reason to bash religion in general. Much of Christianity is about being part of a community, so I encourage you to join a church. For instance, our spiritual gifts we given to us for the benefit of others. Truth is also important in Christianity, so it is important to be able to discuss these sort of things so that we can reach a better understanding of the Bible.
     
  15. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +9,904
    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
  16. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    The words of James dont divide us. I was referring to the things that do divide us. Im not bashing anything. I just wanted to share my simple faith. You can be the judge whether its right or wrong for you. I dont want to beat anyone over the head with it, just wanted to let it shine a little.
     
  17. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    No problem, i thought i was on topic, but i will surely comply with your wishes brother. Thank you so much for the reminder. God bless us all, amen.
     
  18. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +9,904
    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    God bless. :)

    Please consider it a gentle reminder - that's why I didn't bother with a hat. I don't like posting hats anyway. ;) It wasn't so far off topic for the thread, but for the forum - to argue against the Church and doctrine doesn't fit with Traditional Theology. Many of us have been where you are, and I fully understand and sympathize with your sentiments, but we have reasons for seeking a more Traditional form of faith and expression - we aren't just blindly locked in here. Not that you were saying that, but the conversation can run that way from where it was headed. :)

    Thank you for understanding, and may God indeed bless us all. :)

    (Oh, and I'm a sister, not a brother, but that's ok :) )
     
  19. Extraneous

    Extraneous Well-Known Member

    +1,408
    Christian
    Private
    Sorry sister. lol. :doh:

    I didn't even look at you profile. I was too busy feeling blessed. I call everyone brother anyway, so please forgive me. Have a blessed day sister.
     
  20. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

    +9,904
    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    Married
    No need to apologize at all. :) I promise, I take no offense at that. We are rather faceless on here, and I don't expect everyone to look at my profile. My pic showing an icon of Christ confuses some people too. It really is ok. :) I rather like thinking of the ideal where we are no longer male or female to one another, but all in Christ - perhaps in heaven.

    (Not saying we will NOT be male or female - I don't actually know - but at least it won't matter between us) :)
     
Loading...