Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Some point to a blood-payment mechanic, but I wish to look deeper than this. If payment for sin is required, then why have that in the first place, even before Old Testament ritual was established.

I've learned that the blood-payment mechanic is only one of many theories of atonement (the penal substitution theory of atonement), and these theories may be relevant. In some theories of atonement Jesus' death is an example to us, and the answer to my question may be "he didn't have to die, but God chose it". However, in many theories of atonement, there was a specific consequence of Jesus' death (propitiation, ransom payment, victory over death, etc.). In each of those cases, I cannot see the necessity for Jesus' death, because without it God can still act if he chooses to. Whatever Jesus' death allowed or changed could be allowed or changed anyway, right?

share|improve this question

put on hold as primarily opinion-based by Mr. Bultitude, El'endia Starman 18 hours ago

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

2  
Because no greater love hath a man than this... Or Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin –  Affable Geek Jun 5 '13 at 11:53
2  
Welcome btw- this is a great question! It might take a book to answer, but it is a superb question. –  Affable Geek Jun 5 '13 at 11:54
2  
    
I'm afraid there can be no better answer than that short comment given by Affable Geek. Putting a "why" on those two points will be like asking "Why is 1+1=2 ?" –  Mawia Jun 7 '13 at 8:30
    
That sounds like "just accept it because it's true". Do you really mean that? It sounds a little circular. Not everyone would liken this question to a simple, clear, mathematical equation. It seems to me to be the opposite... –  user4659 Jun 7 '13 at 19:37

8 Answers 8

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Most of the answers to your question are not actually answering your question. You already know the mechanics of God's redemption system, that Christ had to die to pay our sin debt. You want to know why God chose this system which required those mechanics.

Well, I don't know if that is even a valid question. Maybe its in God's nature that He could not choose any other system. We know that God cannot lie, so maybe He cannot redeem sinners without sacrificing Himself.

However, There is an old Gospel song that covers this topic.

Here are the lyrics:

"I often wonder why God didn't choose an easy way to pay my debt, but to prove His love he chose the hardest way"

share|improve this answer
    
I don't see how this is doctrine more than speculation. –  Matt Dec 28 '14 at 19:38

When God created man He was sinless, and would have remained so had he not disobeyed the one restriction God gave him. God also told him what he would face as a penalty should he disobey that command.

Genesis 2:9, 16 & 17 KJV

9  And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 

17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 

Had man not eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would never have needed Redemption, because the Law of God would never have been evoked.

Romans 5:13 KJV

For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

That one sin alone is sufficient to bring the Law into force, however that was only the beginning of man's disobedience of God as we see in the statement of Jesus.

Luke 11:49, 50 & 51

49  Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: 

50  That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 

51  From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 

As a further infuriation to God man not only continued to commit greater sins, but also rejected God himself.

Luke 12:47, 48, 49 & 50

47  And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 

48  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. 

49  For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 

50  And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

A Loving and compassionate God in whom is no evil, would have been perplexed (if that is a proper term) as to why man would reject an opportunity to regain that friendship and closeness that God and man had in the Garden before man first sinned.

Ezekiel 18:23 & 24 , 13 & 14

23  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 

24  But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. 

13  When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 

14  Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 

God being a just God, and would then have formulated a method by which man should be judged fairly. Since God cannot be tempted by Satan as man is it seems only logical that he provide a means by which man could be judged by a peer (that is to say one who also could be tempted by Satan).

Romans 5:12, 15 & 23

12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so 
death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 

15  But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 

23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Therefore it would be necessary that someone whom Satan had tempted would be needed to sit in judgment of mankind. That Judge of mankind would not only have to be a peer, but would of necessity be without Sin himself otherwise he would be in the position of having to judge himself. The way God chose to accomplish that is in the form of Jesus (the Christ).

John 5:22, 27 & 30

22  For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 

27  And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of
man. 

30  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just;
because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

God as one part of the tripartite God (in the form of the son or if you will Jesus) then assumed a human body in the infant born to the Virgin Mary.

At this point it must be understood why it must be a virgin birth.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden; Eve was deceived by Satan, but Adam was not. Adam had willfully sinned against God, while Eve sinned out of ignorance.

It is that willful sinning against God that is in need of forgiveness in that that is an exercise of free will, while Eve's sin was through being gullible and not the willful sin as was Adam who was not deceived.

When Jesus died on the cross he did so of his free will as a human, took on the burden of willful sin against the Tripartite God. In his accepting our burden of sin he negated all willful disobedience of God for anyone willing to allow him to do so.

For this reason it is necessary that mankind willingly accept Jesus death on the cross as his redemption from Sin.

The sentence of death God proscribed for man when said in that day you shall surely die was in reference not to physical death but to the second death described in Revelation.

Rev_21:8 KJV But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

That is why Jesus warned us in:

Matthew 10:28 KJV

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear
him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 
share|improve this answer
1  
Thanks for this answer. But it seems to be more history and details about the system God set in place: the restriction, the rules, the Law of God, and not about why that system exists in the first place. The Law is not something which exists apart from God - something to which God subscribes - or he wouldn't be God because there would be something "higher" than him. It still seems to me that Jesus only needed to die because God had made his rules/system/Law, and had decided to stick to them. And actually, he could forgive, without Jesus' death. –  user4659 Oct 28 '13 at 16:50
    
@ user4659 I disagree that God could forgive without a blood sacrifice (Jesus). After having Lucifer and one third of the Angels in Heaven revolt against him; why would God not require that if man were to be allowed into Heaven he not be proven loyal before hand? It would only seem logical to me that he would set some kind of standard to decide whether or not to allow entry into Heaven. –  BYE Oct 28 '13 at 17:15

I submit that the blood->payment mechanic you mention is a direct consequence of the nature of sin.

Penalty of Sin
Since before the Fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, the penalty of sin has been death.

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV)
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat [fn] of it you shall surely die."

Sin then requires death, as also seen in Romans 6:23. This is a foundational Christian belief, without which we would not need redemption. In the Torah/Old Testament, God provides a means of atonement: an animal may die in the place of the sinner. The animal dies so the penalty of sin is satisfied, and the blood of the animal then "covers over" the sin. In fact, the word atonement coming from the Hebrew word kaphar (Strong's H3722) means "to cover".

With the concept of sin requiring death established, we can now look at the specific death of Jesus. As Mawia stated, Jesus was not just another sacrifice to atone for sin. Jesus was The Perfect Sacrifice. Because of this perfection, His blood atones for all of humanity (who accepts) for all of eternity.


Passover
Another example of this is the Passover lamb in Exodus chapter 21. The lamb was killed on the eve before Passover (the day of Preparation), and the blood smeared on the door-frame. All houses which had the blood on the door-frame were "passed-over" and the occupants spared the death penalty of the tenth plague. This was made into an annual sacrifice to atone for the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16). Roughly two-thousand years later, Jesus was killed on the eve of Passover.

John 19:31 (ESV)
Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.

Jesus was then quite literally the Perfect Passover Lamb, and all who believe in Him are atoned by His blood.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for the response. I do not dispute the biblical evidence for a blood->payment atonement system, such as that described here. But why does God keep to this system? What cost to God is there from my sin? If by one mechanism God can ignore my sin, why not just ignore it anyway? I do not mean to be obtuse: my motivation here is to understand what Jesus' death on the cross really achieved, why it was necessary. The responses so far seem to expand the history and detail of the blood->payment atonement system, but not why it exists at all. Why not just forgive? –  user4659 Jun 5 '13 at 19:24
    
May I suggest that Christ's death on the cross expresses the utter abhorrence of sin in God's eyes? If He could just forgive, then sin isn't so bad, and we would not work with Him so hard and long in overcoming it. Where would be the motivation to self-denial and self-discipline to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ? –  Steve Jun 6 '13 at 4:21
    
It may express that. But that means that Jesus' death isn't necessary, and God could forgive without it. Additionally, Christ's death is still not a motivation for some, as was commented elsewhere in this thread. It still seems to me that Jesus didn't have to die; that God made a set of rules up and stuck to them, and Jesus' death only has meaning in the context of that set of rules. –  user4659 Jun 6 '13 at 9:44
1  
@user4659: But we make up rules for all kinds of things and stick with them. There are standards of beauty in a beauty contest; we don't apply them to mathematics tests. There are standards of weightlifting we don't apply to moral behavior. And there is a moral standard by which we judge, and we apply death for the most egregious violations of that standard. I'm afraid you are applying the standard of intellectual reason to a problem where we are to supply a moral standard. This question can't be answered by logic alone. –  Steve Jun 6 '13 at 13:33
    
@user4659 Sorry, I misinterpreted your question then. I'm going to try answering here with a philosophical point. If we could be redeemed/forgiven because of something we as humans can achieve, then not only would Jesus' death have been unnecessary, but there would be no point in God's existence. Without a mechanism for forgiveness that is unattainable for humans (we could not take the place of Christ as atonement), then Christianity would be nothing more than a branch of Deism. –  Walter Jun 6 '13 at 14:31

Your question has become a complex in nature in a sense that there are multiple question to be answered from question as well as from comments. It would have been better if you had broken them down into separate questions.

Why the blood->payment mechanic in the first place,if payment for sin is required? I assume you mean to say: Why to spill only blood to overcome this eternal death?

We have answer in Leviticus 17:11:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

A “sacrifice” is defined as the offering up of something precious for a cause or a reason. Making atonement is satisfying someone or something for an offense committed. The Leviticus verse can be read more clearly now: God said, “I have given it to you (the creature’s life, which is in its blood) to make atonement for yourselves (covering the offense you have committed against Me).” In other words, those who are covered by the blood sacrifice are set free from the consequences of sin. See this related question for more detail

God while creating this world and everything therein did established certain attributes with some purpose in mind. One of of this is freewill. God could have created us without it and programmed us to choose only that which is good. The result: There would be no evil among us but only good and we would be like puppets. But that did not fix in the plan/scheme of God. If He was to create us without freewill, then we would be like computers. I cannot experience love from you unless you have the capacity to do otherwise. If you have the capacity to, not to love me, and you choose instead to love me, then that choice has validity and meaning. You cannot have a love relationship with a computer. It is pre-programmed to serve you.

In the processes when God started His act of creation, some unwanted by-products also came into existence (similar to any chemical reactions). Some mechanisms come to exist because of creation of some other mechanisms. In the system that God created some things were not necessarily required by God but they were inevitable by-products of other good things. One by-product was choice for us to choose evil because of freewill. So your presumption that Jesus didn't have to die because God made a set of rules up and stuck to them, and Jesus' death only has meaning in the context of that set of rules is not tenable.

When man chooses evil, he sins against God. God hates sin because it is the very antithesis of His nature. In one of your comment it is said: If by one mechanism God can ignore my sin, why not just ignore it anyway? To say it in other words: Why sin is considered as something which is against God? God is holy and good, there is no bad in Him. If God were to accept sin as nothing against Him there would be no need for any penalty to pay for that. Here there is a problem but. If God were not to demand penalty for sin then God would have to just accept whatever sin that we commit and He would forgive us. That would mean no difference between good and bad and reward for doing good or bad would be same. This would be utterly wrong and God cannot allow this to happen. So sin is against the nature of God since God is holy and good, just and righteous.

That is the reason why penalty for sin is death. Cost of sin to God is that, it is an act against His nature.

Why not some other mechanism of atonement?

We would in reality never know the exact reason for God for having only this mechanism but we can only speculate. One thing is however clear from the scripture, that this was God’s plan even before the creation of the world: that Jesus would die and spill His blood to deliver us from the clutches of sin.

1Peter 1:20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was manifested in these last times for your sake.

As I said earlier we can only speculate. Visualise it as something similar to so many other scientific laws (Laws of nature) devised by God. Laws of physics and other laws are applicable to this entire universe. All the celestial bodies including earth are governed by them. These laws are such that the behaviour of any object would be as per these laws or unless you satisfy some precondition or act in a certain way, you would not get the desired result. Like for example, if you drop something it would always drop down and will never go up by itself. But of course God can defy this law. Another example is a simple case of work done. It is a product of force and mass. Unless you apply a force there would not be work done. Here also God is able to defy this law. We work for our provisions. There would be some who will say that God could have done everything for us. We can just lie down and wait for Him to send us a plate of food at the designated time of our requirement without working/paying for getting it. Just because God is able to do everything, it doesn’t mean that we should expect Him to do everything for us without actually ‘us’ doing anything. That was how the system was when Adam and Eve were living in the Garden of Eden before their fall. So though God is able to do everything yet He wants us to put our efforts for getting our provisions in this world because that would require God to break HIs established (Natural/physical) laws.

In the same way, may be it would be possible for God to forgive and forget without spilling of blood or He could have devised some other mechanism for us to pay for sin. Yet God is not doing it possibly because it just breaks the established law (not to be taken as moral law) of God.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks for your post jayyeshu. I disagree that "If God were to accept sin as nothing against Him there would be no need for any penalty to pay for that". The penalty is the consequences of sin, because sinful actions are by definition destructive. But just as if my own children wrong me, I can still forgive them, without requiring payment, or restitution. They may live with the consequences of their actions, but I don;t hold it against them; I love them. I don't see why God can't do the same. (So I suspect he just chooses not to.) –  user4659 Jun 7 '13 at 19:30

After having posted the following as a comment, I on reconsideration decided that I needed to expand that into an answer.

I disagree that God could forgive without a blood sacrifice (Jesus). After having Lucifer and one third of the Angels in Heaven revolt against him; why would God not require that if man were to be allowed into Heaven he not be proven loyal before hand? It would only seem logical to me that he would set some kind of standard to decide whether or not to allow entry into Heaven.

It is my belief that God is all knowing (omniscient) That God knew even before the rebellion in Heaven, God knew that things were going to unfold as they have since before time began.

I have considered that God did not create excess Angels, and that each Angel was created with a specific duty in mind. And if that assumption is true there are some duties in Heaven which are being unfulfilled.

From my reading and studying the Scriptures I have pretty much decided that those duties are in the worshipping of God since that seems to be the ultimate position we will occupy in Heaven.

As far as I can determine Lucifer revolted against God and instead of worshipping God convinced one third of the Angels to worship him. I draw this conclusion from:

Rev 12:7 through 9 KJV

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

and

Revelation 13:4 KJV

And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

Revelation 16:2 KJV

And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.

Revelation 19:4 KJV

And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.

Revelation 19:20 KJV

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

And

Revelation 5:14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Revelation 7:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

Revelation 11:16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

When God created man it occurred to me that God may have created man to replace those fallen Angels in the worshipping of him. # I have nothing but my assumptions to base that upon, but I let that fit into my logic anyway. #

So when God created man he gave him free will to either choose to worship God or Satan as had the Angels before him, and just as he had cast the rebellious Angels out of Heaven and Created the Lake of fire for the ultimate punishment of Satan and his Angels:

Matthew 25:41 KJV

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

And so when man like Lucifer and the rebellious Angels reject God, they too are given the same punishment as the Devil and his Angels.

I also believe (but have no Scripture to back up that belief) that when God told man that when he disobeyed God that he would surely die, that was a reference to the second death described in:

Revelation 2:11 KJV

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Revelation 20:14

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

So what about physical death, why doesn't that fulfill God's demand that man die for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and Evil, you ask?

Well again I have no Scripture to give you concerning my conclusion, but it seems to fit into my conception of what the Bible says, So here goes:

When God breathed the breath of life into man and he became a living Soul, that breath was a part of God and since God is eternal so is that breath of life eternal. And that Soul will last throughout Eternity. I further believe that that breath of life is inherited from Adam down to every human being from Adam. As God has not breathed the breath of life into any one other than the first man that he created from the dust of the ground.

I may be alone in my beliefs, but they work for me.

I also believe That Jesus was both man and God, and the man part was the inheriting of that breath of life handed down from the first man to the man Jesus through his mother Mary.

I further believe that when Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her that he was telling her that the seed he would plant in her womb would be Deity.

Or in more earthly terms Jesus would have two distinct life forms, one would be the second part of the Trinity, and the other the Earthly extension of the breath of life breathed into the first man.

I believe that that Earthly extension was the life that Jesus sacrificed on the cross which fulfilled God's demand that man must surely die.

I further believe that when we accept the Salvation offered by Christ we are sacrificing that breath of life we inherited through our parents upon that same cross with Jesus, accepting a new eternal life given us by Christ as indicated in the following Scripture:

John 10:28 KJV

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

share|improve this answer
    
If you sit down with a deck of real cards and play Klondike solitaire, will you know the locations of all the aces at the start? You, as a human being, are vastly more powerful than pieces of coated paper or acetate, and there's no reason you couldn't easily find out where all the aces were if you wanted to. No solitaire police would burst through your door if you picked up the cards and peeked, but despite the fact that you are vastly more powerful than mere slips of paper, you would in fact be completely unable to peek at the cards without ceasing to play Klondike solitaire. –  supercat Feb 6 '14 at 0:52
    
I view God's omniscience and omnipotence the same way. I believe that God could find out about everything that is going to happen, and prevent anything from happening against his will, but his ability to do either of those things without completely nullifying human free will is in fact very limited. God can call upon people to do things, and often they will, but sometimes they won't. If someone declines God's invitation, God will then have to find someone else. There are enough people God can call upon that His will can generally be done, even if not always exactly as planned. –  supercat Feb 6 '14 at 0:56
    
Christ had to die because there was no other way for God to save his creation without violating the rules he set for himself before Creation. While nothing would physically compel God to follow those rules, any deviation from them would totally negate Mankind's free will. The greatest gift God gives mankind is that even when the world doesn't go as God wants, He lets the world go as it will. –  supercat Feb 6 '14 at 1:02

Background: God’s Mercy v/s Justice

David’s Sin – A case study

When David got Uriah killed, his sin could not be atoned or forgiven through sacrifices. The law did not prescribe a sacrifice for Murder, but rather the death penalty for such sins.

Examples: Before the law:

"Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6 ESV)

In the Law:

"Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 24:17 ESV)

Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the high priest. (Numbers 35:31-32 ESV)

David Confronted

So, clearly David is trapped! His power as King could keep people at Bay from getting executed, but his sin could not be atoned for. He had no solution from the law. God confronts David via the prophet Nathan and gave him few curses:

2Sa 12:10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, 2Sa 12:11 And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.

When David realized where this was going and his conscience was struck he made no delay to confess his wrong (worthy of the death penalty) thus:

2Sa 12:13 David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."

And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.

So, David received forgiveness and did not die. (But he would eventually die of old age as a great and forgiven King.)

David himself wrote about this incident in Psalm 51

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalms 51:16-17 ESV)

I.e. He pleaded to God outside the sacrificial system:

Psa 51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Psa 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

Another Case study: King Manasseh Manasseh was a mass murderer and even disregarded his God.

He burned his son as an offering (2Ki 21:6) Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, 2Ki 21:16

Like Nathan was sent to David, God appealed to Manasseh through prophets (but that appeal only fell on deaf ears):

2Ch 33:10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention.

Interesting, God should waste his time and threaten the life of prophets for this extremely wicked man. (Imagine the plight of prophets who had to contend with such a blood thirsty King)

Yet in the end, when words of appeal went vain, God still not willing to destroy him, used a different strategy. God used the ‘stick’ and finally got Manasseh’s attention:

2Ch 33:11-13 Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon.
And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.
He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God.

Yet again, we see Manasseh’s sins were beyond any sacrifice or blood could atone for. Only his confession, repentance and change moved God to forgive and even restore him to his former position as king.

God’s Justice v/s Mercy

The law taught about God’s mercy and justice thus:

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7 ESV)

Merciful + gracious + abounding in steadfast love + slow to anger + forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin + keeping steadfast love for thousands, V/s but who will by no means clear the guilty. I.e.

Mercy triumphs over judgment. – James 2:13

Case study - A remedy for Bloody Hands

People had committed grave sins and even shed blood. People are described as being CRIMSON with sin. God’s mercy as proclaimed through the Prophet Isaiah:

Isa 1:15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Isa 1:18, 19 "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, …

I.e. the remedy for sin and receiving forgiveness was based on the spirit of being ‘willing and obedient’. God is seen willing to reason and negotiate forgiveness. Offering animals to God was not the solution but a change of heart and action.

Isa 1:11 "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.

Animal sacrifice v/s God’s mercy

Am I saying Animal sacrifice is of no use? No! Just showing that, the mercy of God is greater than the law. Where animal sacrifices could not offer any solution, God’s mercy overcame the law. Besides the law mainly focused on sins of ignorance:

but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. (Hebrews 9:7 ESV)

As Jesus once explained concerning the Sabbath:

Mar 2:27 And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

So also, God’s mercy can prevail anytime to offer forgiveness. David could easily see God’s great compassion when he wrote:

Psa 103:10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

God’s merciful attributes are spoken of as beyond comprehension even before the blood of Jesus was shed:

Psa 103:11,12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

A Father may threaten his son, but he may not execute his threats because of his great mercy. Consider how David likened YHWH as a Father the very title Jesus would use repeatedly.

Psa 103:13-17 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children,

The sacrifices in the old testament were a teaching aid and ritual to perform. Paul explains the true meaning of sacrifices:

Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So, if God is abundantly merciful, then what did Jesus accomplish?

Continuing with David, the problem was that though Nathan had said David would not die, yet, he died of Old age. To this Peter bears witness thus:

"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:29-31 ESV)

So while David was forgiven, he still died. The way to the tree of life was blocked since Adam’s time and needed unlocking for David to be eternally saved. Jesus the Christ, achieved that for mankind through resurrection by his righteous way of life that he was called to live. As Paul put it:

For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Romans 5:17-18 ESV)

I.e. One man’s disobedience brings death and another man’s righteous act was able to reverse the process. One man dis-obeyed, while the other obeyed. If one man's trespass caused mankind to be subject to death, so also one man’s righteousness could also reverse death and produce eternal life.

I’m not talking about original sin (Transmission of sin). God locked the way to the tree of life that was just a hand’s reach away from Adam and Eve, but now opened by Jesus. God in his displeasure with Adam had sealed up the path for eternal life, but because of Jesus opened that path.

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 ESV)

I.e.

Christ is the FIRST fruits of those who have fallen asleep * Adam brought death v/s Jesus brought Eternal life {victory over death} * At Jesus’ return his followers will also be resurrected as he was resurrected. * Men who sleep in the dust of the earth can be re-constructed and brought back to life as Jesus was resurrected!

“... in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-57 ESV)

So, while God can easily forgive, he chose Jesus as the role model to open salvation for mankind, because Jesus did the good pleasure of God through his holy life while on earth.

The mechanics of why blood of Jesus was shed as recorded in the gospels: The Greatest Appeal from a merciful God!

We have already considered examples of appeal earlier, how God appealed through Nathan to David, Isaiah to the people with bloody hands and and the prophets that visited Manasseh. With the arrival of Jesus as a son, God makes his greatest appeal.

Jesus and John the Baptist God sent Jesus to change people from their evil ways, like he had done earlier through prophets. John the Baptist, the great prophet of God at the same time was preaching:

Mat 3:1, 2 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Jesus also preached a similar message:

Mat 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

But, Jesus and John were rejected by the leaders and were murdered. I.e. their appeal to people to change cost them their lives i.e. their blood was shed. As much as God did not chop of John’s head, neither did he crucify Jesus. But, God did not intervene to stop the beheading of John or the nailing of Jesus. Jesus told a parable of the story of great appeal and mercy of God thus:

“Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. (Mat 21:33-45)

This parable is an excellent summary of God’s mercy exercised over time towards his family of Israel. The consequence of God’s appeal resulted in the death of not only Jesus but other faithful and just men too. Even after Jesus’ resurrection we find Stephen stoned for his testimony. So we see a merciful God hoping to turn people away from their wicked deeds at the cost of righteous men. So, the mechanics of salvation and the result of Jesus’ blood was not that God needed the physical blood, but that was the deadly consequence of a loving appeal before the judgment to come.

Zechariah - A Case Study

Here is another example of extreme appeal – Innocent Zechariah stoned while doing the will of his God:

Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'” But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” (2 Chronicles 24:20-22 ESV)

God’s mercy has been demonstrated through appeals in spite of unjust deaths. If one heeded to the appeal it would result in a realisation of one’s fault and that would lead to repentance and forgiveness of sins. Greater sacrifice or commitment no one can show beyond sacrificing their own life.

God demonstrated through Jesus, that he has made the greatest appeal to the Jews. Consider how great the Father’s mercy - He sacrificed his own son, in spite of the earlier rejection of his holy prophets, to save the Jews (and later non-Jews). Jesus bore witness of God’s great mercy and appeal thus:

Mat 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!

Atonement – The High Priest angle: His Life not just death brought salvation

Jesus’ Life & Death are important. Further, he was resurrected i.e. victory over death. So death alone is insufficient.

  • Atonement = Jesus’ Life + Death + Resurrection. i.e. the full gospel message!

As already explored, Jesus the son was a continuation and the extension of God’s Appeal (Gospel) for mankind:

Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

But, Jesus was unique (only begotten) as God’s son:

Heb 1:3 He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact likeness of his being Heb 1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"?

Jesus was chosen for the task of High Priest:

Heb 5:5 In the same way, Christ did not take upon himself the glory of being a high priest. No, it was God who said to him, "You are my Son. Today I have become your Father." Heb 5:6 As he also says in another place, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Heb 6:20 where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone on our behalf, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus’ priesthood is derived from one greater than Levi:

Heb 7:7 It is beyond dispute that the less important person is blessed by the more important person…

Jesus’s role as High Priest:

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Adam failed, Jesus won!

As a priest, Jesus had to offer a sacrifice

Heb 8:3,4 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.

While Levi would deal with a copy, Jesus on the other hand dealt with the real temple. Where did Jesus make this offering? In Heaven itself!

Heb 8:5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."

Born into the tribe Judah, Jesus had no access to the holy or most holy place. This did not matter, as the temple on earth was only a copy/duplicate of the real temple in heaven, which he entered. For instance the ark and the image of the cherubim were only copies of God’s throne. Jesus gained access to God’s throne itself. What did Jesus offer as a sacrifice? He offered a life dedicated to God. His death had meaning because of the life that preceded. The gospel records bear witness of his life and death. More chapters are dedicated to his life. The resurrection cannot occur without death. Jesus explained the necessity of death thus:

Joh 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

  • Jesus’ sacrifice

Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Heb 10:7 Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'"

Examining the original quote regarding God’s will: It had to do with delighting in the commands of the law:

Psa 40:7,8 Then I said, "Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."

The life of Jesus included his upbringing, his teaching, his compassion, his miracles, his truthfulness, his faithfulness and his love. All these were pleasing to God. The Father bore witness thus of his life:

Luk 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Mat 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him."

In the end, Jesus surrendered to a torturous death that came about because of jealously. We see Jesus submitted to God who judges faithfully:

1Pe 2:23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

The emphasis is on ‘entrusting himself to him who judges justly’. So God vindicated Jesus by exalting him higher than everything under heaven or earth.

The prophet Zachariah also entrusted to God in faith when he exclaimed: ‘And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!”’ (Lord Jesus requested forgiveness. But in AD70 the Romans destroyed the temple and the city)

Jesus the Saviour: Isaiah 53:6 - "the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

Literal sins were not transferred to Jesus. Every sins man has ever committed or to be committed were not transmitted to our Lord. The language of the prophet is allegorical. Jesus was not a man of incredible Sin. Let us consider the allegory of transfer of sins as imposed on Ezekiel:

Eze 4:4 "Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. Eze 4:5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. Eze 4:6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.

Did God literally transfer sins of Israel and Judah to Ezekiel? While the prophet suffered, people could be liberated if they heeded to the symbol of punishment inflicted on Ezekiel - the language of appeal. It is important to note that God was not angry with Ezekiel but used him to warn the people. As much as Ezekiel was innocent of the sins of the people so also was the Messiah. But, Jesus would accomplish more than Ezekiel, he would open the way to eternal life. When a leper touched Jesus the leper was cleansed i.e. Jesus was not defiled by the touch of healing. Let us for a moment consider verse 4:

Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Is the above verse talking about the death on the cross? No! Does the verse imply that all the past and future sorrows were dumped on Jesus? No! Mathew points to the fulfilment of the above words in the context of the healing that Jesus provided to the distressed. Jesus fulfilled the above verses by sharing in the distresses of the people and brought about a solution i.e. healing.

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: "He took our illnesses and bore our diseases." (Matthew 8:16-17 ESV)

So also we ought to interpret ‘the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ i.e. Jesus worked with sinners to pardon and teach them the way to the kingdom of God. God laid on the shoulders of Jesus the burden to bring a solution to the sins of people. Sins kept people away from gaining access eternal life. Jesus was resurrected because of his innocence and sinless state, as the grave could not keep him dead. Here we see JUSTICE displayed.

Act 2:24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Jesus a Human Sacrifice for sins: “Behold the Lamb of God” & “He is the propitiation for our sins,"

Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

In the light of the above verses was Jesus a human sacrifice? Under the law, human sacrifice was explicitly forbidden. Human sacrifice offered to the false God, Molech, involved a Father burning his child as a sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice is not a parallel to that. Jesus was murdered by evil men:

Act 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

While Jesus’ murder was by the ‘definite plan and foreknowledge of God‘, yet it was executed by evil men. God allowed it to happen. John the Baptist was beheaded, but God’s spirit of allowing it to happen and the spirit of Herodius to have him executed are very different motivations. The story of such human sacrifices (John, Jesus, etc) is an ancient one. God does not intervene, starting with the blood of righteous Abel who served as an example for wicked Cain:

Act 7:52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered,

While Jesus was a sacrifice, his offering was not like a literal blood poured for the appeasement of the Father nor to uphold a justice system of God. In fact, we have already seen at the beginning that God is way too merciful to need blood to be appeased. Jesus’ sacrifice had to do with the full submission to the Father’s will in-spite of all odds.

Jesus was not a propitiation in a pagan way (to appease a wrathful and blood thirsty God), but that his way of life produced an opposite effect on God compared to Adam. Jesus as ‘son of man’ reversed the displeasure (wrath) of God that was on mankind. Jesus, by his act of obedience brings eternal redemption and this process was achieved at the cost of shedding his blood.

Since the way to eternal life was opened by Jesus, belief in Jesus’ way is essential to obtain eternal life. God accepted Jesus’ life as a propitiation or an ‘accepted’ way of life. The actual act of crucifixion, while it was a significant part of the propitiation yet was not the whole story. For instance, if Jesus in the flesh had heeded to the temptation in the wilderness, then that would have had a different effect. Again, If Jesus had taken the following course of action, things would be different:

Mat 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

The goal of propitiation from God’s perspective was that: ‘his will be done on earth as it is done in heaven’ even at the cost of one’s life, but from a human perspective Jesus serves as an example and way of obtaining forgiveness and redemption, i.e.

“whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:23-25 ESV)

Interestingly, the Greek word translated as ‘propitiation’ in Romans is translated differently by different bible versions: ANT version: “Reconciliation” YLT version: “mercy seat”

The point of this section is this: The propitiation, is God’s APPEAL (Gospel’s message) for mankind to change:

Joh 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

The Ransom paid: To God or Devil - Neither

Men were held captive to a worthless way of life that was leading to death. Jesus ransomed humans from a worthless life to a new life, a life that leads to death to a life that leads to eternal life.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you have been ransomed from the worthless way of life handed down to you by your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 ISV)

Ransom/redeemed as different translations translate that word. Implication of the ransom:

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14 ESV)

Finally,

Act 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Mat 12:18 "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.

share|improve this answer

Good question.

God chose to reflect the true consequence of sin to guard against sin from appearing a second time after the total eradication of sin.

Take adultery for example, the consequence of adultery is separation. But if the husband knew that this particular wife was going to repent and he was going to forgive her completely, why set this rule? However, what will stop the wife from committing adultery again? She does not see the true cost of adultery and the sacrifice the husband had to make to redeem her.

Similarly, the true consequence of sin is seen in calvary. Such is the seriousness of sin that it necessitates the separation of even the Godhead. By Jesus' sacrifice, God's self-renouncing love is clearly seen by all creation. No longer do we follow a God who says He loves us, but proved it with His ultimate sacrifice. Therefore we can safely trust in Him and know that all of His ways are ways of mercy.

share|improve this answer

If a person dies for you or suffer in your place you will have emotional attachment to that person or even if it is just a dog that you barely know.

If Jesus just received 100 lashes and lived instead of being crucified and died, people would be like "meh...". But if someone dies, not to mention the torture of being crucified and lots of other mean stuff done to him, people would feel guilty and accept him more. Death was necessary for it to work. God will not save people if Jesus did not die. It was all part of the plan.

Jesus's death is meant to be a sacrifice for our sins to be purged. That's why he has to die and draw blood. But the question of why would God need a sacrifice first before he can forgive is a different one.

share|improve this answer
3  
(Just for an argument) Why would I have emotional attachment to some random man who died some 2000 years ago, whom I don't know if he even existed and has no relation with me? :-) –  Mawia Jun 5 '13 at 11:53
    
Thanks. I interpret this answer as "he didn't have to die (but God chose it)". –  user4659 Jun 5 '13 at 12:19
1  
@Mawia, a valid point. Some people respond "meh..." anyway. Also, I'm not sure that God intends guilt as motivation for accepting Christ, as indicated in this answer. –  user4659 Jun 5 '13 at 12:22

protected by Community Jun 15 at 23:25

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.