I have met people in discussion groups on the internet who will argue that they forgive others without ever asking for a blood sacrifice. Why can’t God do the same? Is man able to do what God cannot do? Isn’t this a higher form of forgiveness? Doesn’t the system of animal sacrifice represent something ancient cultures used, because they didn’t know any better? In reality, doesn’t the Scripture even allude to this when God didn’t destroy Israel after they rebelled against him and made a golden calf? Doesn’t that it show a blood sacrifice is not necessary? This understanding of God’s mercy just does not make sense. So too, the implication that man’s forgiveness represents a higher form of mercy than that used for God in the Scriptures is out of line.
First, let’s look at the Scriptural argument. The people sinned before the laws of sacrificing were put in force. They sinned even before Aaron or his sons were anointed as the priests and High Priest to stand between the people and God. Moses was up on the mount speaking with and listening to God when the golden calf was erected and worshiped. How could anyone presume that because God didn’t kill Israel at once that he, by other means, forgave the nation? Notice what the Scripture says:
Exodus 32:9-14 KJV And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: (10) Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. (11) And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? (12) Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. (13) Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. (14) And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
This Scripture doesn’t mention anything that would lead one to believe that God forgave Israel for what they did. If we were to consider the context, we would realize at once that the punishment alone was changed, and that at the request of Moses. He acted as a High Priest and provided an avenue whereby God was not compelled by the iniquity of the nation to destroy it. Did God forgive them after Moses came down from the mount (Exodus 32:26)? No, he did not. Moses stood at the gate of the camp and called out to the people “Who is on the LORD’s side?” Only the tribe of Levi responded to Moses and came to the gate and stood with him. Moses then sent them back into the camp among the people with orders to kill all those who led this rebellion (cp. Numbers 25:5-12; Deuteronomy 33:8-10). These Levites slew 3000 men (Exodus 32:28), not even sparing members of their own families. Moreover, Moses sought to make atonement for Israel with his own life (Exodus 32:30-32), showing that blood was required to atone, but the LORD said he would punish those who sinned. And, the text says the LORD plagued the people for making the golden calf (Exodus 32:33-35). Where is the Scripture that shows God simply forgave the nation, requiring nothing?
Now concerning the argument that if we simply forgive others without requiring anything in return, viz. a blood sacrifice demanded in the Bible, it represents a higher form of mercy extended by man than that which is supposed to represent God in the Scriptures, this implies that by virtue of living a great many years man has matured to the point that he is now more righteous than the God presented in the Bible. This would be hilarious, if the people who presented it on the discussion boards weren’t so serious. Take a look around the neighborhoods in which we live; consider the crime rate in our cities, reflect upon the wars we fight and the terrorism around the world. All of these things are pregnant with the iniquity of man. We have not matured in righteousness, but we have become even more and more dangerous to life living on this planet, including the very existence of our own race. Mankind is not more righteous today than in the past. Folks, who say we are, are only deluding themselves.
That said, what can be said that the act of simply forgiving isn’t more righteous than God requiring a blood sacrifice? This argument misunderstands the need of humanity. If one is inflicted with an incurable, deadly and contagious disease, he cannot be simply forgiven of his disease and act like everything is fine, that is, that the presence of the disease is not dangerous. When Adam rebelled against God, a separation occurred. That is, Adam separated himself from his life-source—God! Adam cannot be saved through forgiveness, he must be redeemed. We can all feel really badly and sorry for our condition, but this doesn’t change our condition. The best of us are infected with the sin of rebellion. This is why we need someone from outside our race to come to us and save us for what Adam has done to us, and what we continue to do to ourselves.
This is what the Scriptures show Jesus has done. Those who use the Scriptures in an effort to show that God forgives without Jesus’ blood sacrifice are either purposely abusing the word of God, or they, through ignorance, do not take context into consideration. One simply cannot remove a Scripture from its context and still claim that the phrase used is the word of God. God’s word cannot be used that way.
We are now in the season we use to commemorate the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let’s consider where we would be without him, and then consider the value of the Life that is able to save an entire race like ours. We are saved through faith in him. The Life is spiritual and faith is like a spiritual umbilical cord connecting us with our second Adam, who is Jesus. We have a life within us that can be traced back to Adam, but this new Life within is eternal life and come from Jesus through faith. Let’s keep this in mind this season. This didn’t come because God forgave us, although he has forgiven all. This Life comes to us as a result of Jesus dying in our stead. We owed the debt that he paid. We were dying, but he came to us and redeemed Adam’s helpless race. Isn’t this a wonderful thought to keep in mind during this season—and always?