Friday, December 24, 2010

Re "Was Jesus death contrary to God's command against child sacrfice?

There is a vast difference between someone being compelled to die, and for a pagan deity, and one being willing to place himself in the hand of others who can kill him of their own will, in order to to save others.

There is nothing of the latter in the examples of sacrifice which God condemns; rather He condemns all sacrifice to false gods, and the innocent being compelled to die is murder. Thus today, as one poster said, "If you want to argue with those who offer human sacrifices to pagan gods [of pleasure, possessions and politics], look up 'abortion providers' in the Yellow Pages."

Ted Kennedy's hands were red because of the babies whose blood he shed, and if he died unrepentant, he is in Hell-fire no matter how nice his (Catholic) funeral and eulogies, and the same is true for all who reject the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, or who trust their works will merit them eternal life (which the LDS do, among others).

And if you do either, you will mourn having spurned your day of grace, and for having rejected "so great salvation" (Heb. 2:3) as so great a cost, by the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." (Titus 2:13)

While Jesus was foreordained to die, this not mean human will is not excised to fulfill the plan of God, and was no "victim" in the sense that he had no power over His death, rather He plainly stated, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. {17} Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. {18} No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. " (John 10:16-18)

Moreover, as this link explains

Is there any place in the Hebrew Scriptures or Jewish tradition ... But at times the death of another human being atoned for the sins of the people. Three such biblical passages are Numbers 25:1-8; Exodus 32; and Second Samuel 21:1-14. In the first, the death of two people by the hand in Phinehas stops a plague against the people; in the second, the death of a large number of Israelites does the same thing; in the third, the impaling of the sons of King Saul again atones for the sins of the people. Make no mistake: it is the death of people that stops the plague or averts God's wrath. Rabbi Jacob Milgrom comments:

Phinehas's deed in slaying one Israelite leader suffices to ransom (kipper) Israel; God requires no additional victims. Kipper functions to avert the retribution, to nip it in the bud, to terminate it before it is fully exhausted.

Jacob Milgrom, The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers (Philadelphia; New York: The Jewish Publication Society, 1990), p. 477.

Milgrom mentions two other texts where the death of human beings functions to secure atonement:

The first, Exodus 32:26-29, deals with the apostasy of the golden calf where the Levites are called upon to slay the people, even their close relatives, indiscriminately -- to assuage the wrath of God. The second text, 2 Samuel 21:1-14. . .[shows that] the impalement of Saul's sons provided the needed ransom-expiation for ending the drought.

Ibid., p. 478

Likewise, in cases of accidental manslaughter, the killer would flee to a "city of refuge," but could not leave until the death of the high priest (Numbers 35:25-32). The high priest's death atoned for the manslaughterer's sin so that he himself could go free. This interpretation is held not only by Christians but is also found in the Talmud (Makkoth 11b):

If after the slayer has been sentenced as an accidental homicide the high priest dies, he need not go into exile. But is it not the exile that expiates? It is not exile that expiates, but the death of the high priest.

Translation as given in Jacob Milgrom, Numbers (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990), p. 294. See likewise in Gordon J. Wenham, Numbers: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1981), p. 238 n. 2

Milgrom comments: "As the High Priest atones for Israel's sins through his cultic service in his lifetime...,so he atones for homicide through his death."

Milgrom, ibid.

Perhaps the most controversial passage that refers to atonement not just by the death of any human being, but through the sufferings and death of the Messiah, in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. In Talmudic times, this passage was understood to refer to the coming Messiah. In medieval times, especially under the influence of Rashi, the prevailing interpretation applied the passage to the people of Israel, though the messianic interpretation was still held by various sages. The relevant point here is that no one can object that the Isaiah passage is non-Messianic because God forbids human sacrifice. Though He surely forbids pagan sacrifice of human beings, there are examples where only the death of a guilty human being or the death of the priest can effect full atonement. Furthermore, the "servant" of Isaiah 53 voluntarily gives us his life; his death is not forced on him. In a later time, Jesus affirmed that his impending death was voluntary. Even though he seemed to go to death by the force of circumstance, he voluntarily placed himself in those circumstances, so that he could say: " lay down my life --only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (John 10:17-18). And, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:12-13).


In Jewish thought, the death of a martyr can be redemptive and atoning.

That martyrdom somehow counteracts the menace of sin and, therefore, has a redemptive quality is decidedly an early rabbinic theme, though not necessarily a central one...."Expiation for the coming world" underlines the significance of the notion for the martyrs themselves. But, the rabbinic conception is not limited to penance for sin...

Aharon Agus, The Binding of Isaac and Messiah: Law, Martyrdom and Deliverance in Early Rabbinic Religiosity (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), pp. 40-41.

Though it includes that conception. When we speak of martyrs, we are speaking of human beings whose death has atoning value. © Copyright 2010 Jews for Jesus All Rights Reserved

And, Does God endorse human sacrifice?

Deuteronomy 12:31 "Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods."

God forbids human sacrifice, but the critics have a handful of instances where they think God had people violate this one:

Genesis 22:2 "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

Since God's intent never was that Abraham complete the sacrifice, this is hardly contradictory. For more on this subject, see Glenn Miller's essay here

Exodus 22:29 "For thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors; the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me."

This is not referring to sacrifice, but to service. No one sacrificed fruits and liquors on an altar.

Leviticus 27: 28-9 Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the LORD of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the LORD. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.

Is this human sacrifice? No, it is judicial execution. Those among men who are "devoted" (charam) are those who worship false gods (Exodus 22:19 He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed (charam.) or deceive others into doing so (Deut. 13:15).

Judges 11:30-39 "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord...

See our reply to this issue here.

2 Samuel 21:8-14 "But the king [David] took the two sons of Rizpah . . . and the five sons of Michal . . . and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest . . . And after that God was intreated for the land."

Do not leave out verses 10-14a, which tell us that God was intreated AFTER Saul's bones were reclaimed and buried. It had NOTHING to do with the sons of Rizpah, etc., or any human sacrifice.

Ezekiel 20:26 I let them become defiled through their gifts--the sacrifice of every firstborn --that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.

This is not a case of endorsing human sacrifice, but a case of God giving rebellious peoples what they want and deserve by giving them freedom.

Hebrews 10:10-12 " . . . we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ . . . But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God."

1 Corinthians 5:7 " . . . For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."

God offering the essence of Himself is human sacrifice? Human sacrifice always involved victims who were either a) deceived; b) unwilling. Jesus was neither. For more on this subject, see Glenn Miller's essay here.

Your assumption that what God condemned in Deut 12:30-31 is the same as the death of Jesus ignores critical distinctions.

1. According to your hermeneutic, what God condemns the pagans for doing must be forbidden to Israel, yet God also condemned pagans offering up prayers and sacrifice to false gods. However, God commanded Israel to do the same, but this did sanctioning the pagan version.

2. Again, Jesus was not child sacrifice, (Deut 12:30-31) but he willingly offered himself.
3. If the suffering servant of Is. 53 is Israel as you suppose, then it would show that God is not opposed to the innocent becoming an atonement for sin.

4. The suffering servant is not Israel, who was not righteous or an atonement for the world, but a third party, thus “for the transgression of my people was he stricken. " (Isaiah 53:8)

Another point you are missing is that God shows atonement being made by the death of a human, and thus your remaining objection is that such were guilty. However, the scapegoat and atonement of Lv. 16 were animals without defect, and all the guilt of Israel was symbolically transferred to the scapegoat. And which atonement was a perpetual commandment, to be made once a year.

All of which corresponds to Is. 53, in which the “the arm of the LORD” which is not Israel, grows up and is punished for “our transgressions,” pouring out His soul to death, His soul for sin, by whose knowledge many shall be justified. While since about 1,00 after Christ Rabbi's attribute Is. 53 to Israel, there are exceptions

  • The children of the world are members one of another. When the Holy One desires to give healing to the world, he smites one just man amongst them, and for his sake heals all the rest. From where do we learn this? From the saying [Isaiah 53:5], “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. (Zohar, Numbers, Pinchus

  • The Messiah, in order to atone for them both [Adam and David], will make his soul a trespass offering [Isaiah 53:10] as it is written next to this parashah “Behold my servant” [Isaiah 52:13]. (Midrash
    Aseret Memrot)

  • Messiah Son of David who loves Jerusalem... Elijah takes him by the head... and says “You must bear the sufferings and wounds by which the Almighty chastises you for Israel’s sins” and so it is
    written, He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. (Midrash Konen; 11th century)

    More here:

    You can contrive the Hebrew in your attempt to deny this, but the fact is that God commanded atonement, and human death can atone, and that Is. 53 speaks of this, and Christ voluntary consented to be the scapegoat atonement, and your attempt to disallow that by invoking the
    prohibition on pagan sacrifices is invalid.


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    I will try to respond to comments within one or two days after I see a response, however, this has not been where I usually engage in dialogue.
    Please try to be reasonable, willing to examine things prayerfully and objectively, and refrain from "rants" and profane language, especially regarding God and the Christan faith. The latter type are subject to removal on this Christian blog, but I do try to help people no matter who they are. May all know the grace of God in truth.