The Gospel Story – Act 2: Human Sacrificial Love
In Act 1 we discovered the events that lead to the chaotic and tumultuous world we now find ourselves in. We left off with our hero – Noah – who was the only righteous man alive.
Now God told Noah to build this big boat and it took him a really, really long time to build it. In fact, it took a couple hundred years. But Noah had some help because God decided to save Noah and his family – even though Noah was the only righteous one God found. Obviously Noah would not be able to reproduce by himself so God saved them all because He is merciful and for some reason likes full households and happy families more than individuals (for more information, ask James Dobson). And God saved a lot of animals. Well, he only saved two (or seven) of each kind. But you have to remember that this was before micro-evolution had really gone into full swing and so there were not a lot of species on the planet. Somehow they all fit into the boat (probably because they were babies). Then God sent the flood and killed everything except for some seeds which obviously survived, and miraculously salt-water and fresh-water fish survived in the tumult and obviously everything in Noah’s boat (affectionately called the “ark”) was safe too.
After the flood, God invented the rainbow (because refraction of light through tiny water droplets in the air to produce a prism effect did not exist before the giant canopy of water fell to the earth even though a mist used to rise from the ground to water all the plants). The rainbow symbolizes God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood. In fact, as we will soon discover God has better plans when he gets upset in the future: He is going to use fire (isn’t it nice to know it won’t be water though?!)
Now you may ask why God gave the rainbow and made the promise. Well, you see, despite the way God was acting with the whole flood thing, God actually loves mankind and had a plan to save everyone whom he chose to be saved.
Now the entire human population after the flood grew rapidly but did not want to fulfill God’s command to spread out and fill the earth. The had the sex thing down, but like most humans did not like packing and moving. So God gave them a kick in the right direction by inventing a whole bunch of new languages so they could not talk to each other anymore and could not finish building their massive tower that God was a little nervous was going to reach heaven because He was afraid that man could now do anything they wanted (remember this: even though God looks insecure, he is not!).
Anyway, then there was this Abraham dude who was a fairly ordinary nomadic wanderer in the ancient middle east with lots of cattle and tents and servants. He had a wife named Sarah who is known for her cute laugh and her white lies. God chose Abraham to be the ancestor of Jesus because even though everyone on the planet was super confused at this time about what was going on, God thought it might be nice to tell at least one person that he had the salvation ace up his sleeve. So you know what God did? That’s right! God promised that Abraham would have a kid in his old age. And this was not just any kid, mind you. A male. Because men are more important that women in the Bible and God had not informed anyone differently yet. Anyway…
So after a confusing succession of events in which Abraham had sex with his wife’s maid (with his wife’s permission, of course) and had a kid through her and this produced a ton of family strife and Abraham was nervous God’s promise would not be fulfilled, Abraham and Sarah (though both nearing one hundred years old) had a kid name Isaac because God promised that this would happen.
After a while, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on an alter because either God was nervous that Abraham was not faithful or Abraham needed to be taught to give everything to God (it’s hard to tell from the story!). Never mind that God later told the Hebrews that human sacrifice had never entered his head, because God was good and saved Isaac at the last moment right before Abraham was about to kill him. This story is symbolic of the human sacrifice God had in mind to save the world, which we will get to shortly.
Abraham became the father of many nations. First, he became the father of all those in Arabia (through his mistress’ son), and second He became the father of all the Hebrews (through his wife’s son). These people still fight and die today because of Abraham’s sin in not trusting God (for more information, ask a fundamentalist).
Anyway, the Hebrew nation got bigger and bigger and eventually they went into captivity to the Egyptians (because they had to because it was prophesied). For hundreds of years they died over and over and made it no where until God sent Moses to save the few souls who didn’t die in the wilderness. Moses became one of the greatest prophets because he gave them this amazingly strict Law and finally wrote down their amazing story which we have been recounting. (Sadly, Moses could not enter the promised land, though, because he tapped a rock to make water come out of it instead of yelling at it because God is super strict in his commands and Moses probably got confused due to a previous incident of a similar nature.)
This Mosaic Law is special because it was super strict and gave the death penalty for lots of things and required sacrifices for just about everything. All this death was to show that God means business and requires lots of nasty bloodshed each time a person commits even the tiniest sin because God is holy.
Up until this time there was a priesthood called the priesthood of Melchizedek which is only mentioned once (could be because once we get to Moses it was not important anymore). Now God established a new priesthood through Aaron, who just happened to be related to Moses. The people obviously became upset at the power God gave these two men and were punished by having their entire families killed or swallowed up whole by tectonic plate shifts that caused the ground to open up like on the movies. One man was even put to death by stoning for picking up sticks on the sabbath day!
All of this was so that the people could fulfill their end of the bargain so that they could go to the promised land that God had previously promised to Abraham. God (Yahweh) had apparently been allotted this portion of land in all the earth. After several hundred years and lots and lots of dying (because God’s law was really strict and people could not read so they probably easily forgot portions of the instructions and they were born sinners by nature anyway and probably could not help it because they did not yet have the Holy Spirit who could enable them to fulfill God’s requirements), God fulfilled the promise through a bunch of people who just happened to be born in Abraham’s lineage. The Hebrews now occupied the land of Israel after killing probably hundreds of thousands of people (Canaanites, Amalekites, women, children, infants, evil cattle) who had it coming anyway because they were super wicked and did not follow God’s law which they had never heard of anyway.
After a long time, the people wanted a king and after their first king was a complete flop (because God told them that He wanted to be their king and was a little jealous that they wanted to be like other nations who also had kings and let them choose a guy who was super good looking instead of a nice personality), they had the best king ever: David. David was a man after God’s own heart and wrote lots of neat prophetic poetry, and even got away with killing one of his commanders and sleeping with his wife. But God did punish David by killing the baby and eventually making his family fall to pieces. But God also decided that the lineage of the promised Messiah (the savior of the world) would come through David and via Bathsheba, the hot chick he watched take a bath! This is to show that God is merciful and works through humans even when we make mistakes like murder and adultery. It also shows that even though God killed lots of people for breaking the Law, if you understand the Law just right like David did (or you are a king like he was) then you don’t get stoned like the Law says you should!
So then the nation of Israel was split into two portions (Israel and Judah) and there was a long succession of kings on both sides (most of them wicked) and lots of prophets came and went and the nation went into captivity several times (primarily to the Babylonians (like everyone else did) and to the Assyrians (like everyone else did)). And they got upset and were trying to figure things out and finally became so frustrated that the Law was so hard to follow and God kept sending them into captivity and there was so much death and eventually the prophets started prophesying about a day that would come where the hearts of the fathers would return to their children and a sacrifice that would be the final sacrifice so that they could all stop killing so many animals (which God also admitted He never wanted in the first place because that was not the point), and also that God would eventually wipe out the old system and write his law on their hearts and minds so that they could finally follow him without making so many mistakes and messing up everything. Oh, and everyone would be resurrected from the dead too and finally come into judgment and everything would be made right and there would be a new temple and a new prince like Ezekiel prophesied (which still has not happened and cannot happen but this is not a problem because we are just supposed to trust that God knows what He is doing) and then everything would be all right!
Then came the Romans. By this time there were tons of sects in Judaism because nobody understood the Law and the prophets properly because it was so confusing and written in ancient Hebrew that had probably been modified so many times that nobody knew what it said in the original anyway. But they did have the Septuagint, which was a perfect Greek inspired version of the original Hebrew (that’s why the New Testament authors quote from it!) (but remember: the Septaugint is no longer inspired! Why? because we have better English translations of the original Hebrew than the Septuagint ever was even though it was inspired!). Anyway, the middle east was completely overrun by the Romans and the evil philosophizing Greeks and the Jewish people were super oppressed and confused and were looking desperately for the Messiah to set them free from this tyranny and wondering what God was up to.
Then came Jesus! – born in a manger to a virgin (like the confused prophet had foretold in the inspired Septuagint he did not know yet existed in a passage that had nothing to do with the Messiah and in a poor translation of the Hebrew word “young women” into the Greek word for “virgin” which miraculously was what the Holy Spirit meant in the first place). Jesus grew up and was unique because he did not ever sin once even though he cursed at a lot of people he did not like and ripped off a pig farmer by sending a massive lot of demons into his pigs and never paid him back. He also did lots of miracles and cast out those nasty bodiless Nephilim demons who were floating around in the abyss when they were not possessing people or pigs. Jesus, though one among many Messiahs, was the right Messiah: the promised one who was in the lineage of David (even though the two family trees we do have do not match each other at all) and who would become his own great High Priest thereby nullifying all the hard work the Aaronic priesthood had done in slaughtering animals year after year trying to please God who was not pleased by the sacrifice of animals anyway even though He said He would be at one point.
Jesus went into ministry for three years. He fulfilled everything in the Law, and even was a Nazarene! He never made any mistakes and spoke to everyone in parables so that all the people who did not already understand would never be able to understand and would go to hell which they deserved anyway because God had prophesied that “seeing, they would not see, and hearing, they would not hear” and God has to fulfill his prophecies. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies in the Old Testament about his first coming that he could (and then some!). His followers were these twelve men called disciples (except for one man named Judas who was an impostor who, being prophesied about, did not have a choice about his own eternal security).
Jesus kept clearly telling his disciples that he was going to die and rise again, but they never got it until after the fact because it was hidden from them. They thought that all the old prophecies were about a physical kingdom, but in reality the entire thing was spiritual! That is why Jesus kept saying “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. They thought that God was going to set up a king like David with a priesthood like Melchizedek but they were wrong! It was all spiritual, meaning that it was super invisible but it existed anyway!
Then Jesus died. The disciples were devastated. All their hopes were destroyed, and because they were blinded from listening to Jesus when He told them over and over that this would happen and kept giving them hints that they might be able to stop it (like giving them swords when he went to the garden of Gethsemane and then telling them not to use them after Peter cut off a man’s ear trying to protect Jesus out of love and then Jesus told Peter not to use the sword that he had told Peter to bring in the first place).
The key here is this: Jesus was a human sacrifice to fulfill all the sacrifices of all time. He died to save us from ourselves, because we were born in sin and could not help it because none of us had a choice to be born into this race but we were born here anyway by God’s choice and so who best to save us but God Himself so that He could get the glory for saving us from a problem that was in His control in the first place? Even though God seemed to indicate that we could actually gain life by living according to the Law, He secretly knew (and hoped we found out), that we could not do this. We needed a perfect savior, a human sacrifice, like us, because all the blood of animals that was spilled under the Old Covenant through Moses did nothing even though God told them to do it and implied that it actually would do something. This is why Jesus was of the order of Melchizedek and not of Aaron because the Aaronic priesthood was nullified without even a 30-day notice! In reality, none of the Law worked and was just a shadow of the things to come. David discovered this principle and this was probably why God let him off the hook and did not have him stoned to death for adultery and murder like the law required: because David was humble and repented (even though Achan and plenty of other people repented and God still punished them, and this has nothing to do with the fact that David was king and probably would not have commanded his own stoning to keep the law even though he wrote Psalm 119 which is all about how much he loved keeping every commandment in the law).
The point is this: God loves you. And all those people who had little choice and died horrible deaths in the Old Testament for their sin, well, you don’t have to end up like that in hell for eternity if you just accept the free human sacrifice that God gave us through Jesus.
If you want to do this, you can either pray a prayer, or just sit there and soak up the love, or you can go on a mission trip, or give to the poor. Just make sure you aren’t doing good works to be saved because that never worked, remember? You have to just believe, and that just right. Make sure you don’t believe anything that is not true or you might be a heretic (and its all the rage to be orthodox because then you don’t get burned at the stake!) And even though your heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked, make sure it is right before God (don’t ask how you can know if it is right, you’ll just know because it will feel right even though you can’t trust your heart in the first place). And if everything is just right and the Holy Spirit is moving in your heart it will all come together and presto: Eternal Salvation!
Now don’t let any evil doubts come into your life because those are from Satan. And if this doesn’t seem to make any sense, its not supposed to make any sense because if it did then it would be the wisdom of man and we are not supposed to follow the wisdom of man, but the wisdom of God (which seems to look a lot like the foolishness of man). And at the end of the day you shouldn’t worry about this anyway because your election is “sure”, meaning you don’t have any control over it either way. So if you are going to hell there is not much you can do about it. So be joyful in the Lord, you might be saved right now, or you might be saved someday, or you might be saved and lose your salvation someday, or you might never be saved and you don’t have any control over God’s election process anyway!
To be continued… (next time we will discuss the resurrection and eschatology, which is a fancy word theologians like to use when they don’t really want to talk about the subject because they don’t really know what is going on anyway)