If Christ’s death God’s will, then His killers are heros…


Besides being a direct assault on common articulations of the Atonement as being substitutionary in nature, I hope this post/article also hints at the reality that the act of Christ – submitting as He did to being murdered at the Cross – secures the basis upon which God has not only the right, but the obligation, to save all.

It is, of course, rather silly to talk of God being “obligated” to do anything. Is God, for example, “obligated” to Love His creation? Well yes – in the sense that His nature simply will love it; yet no, in that God’s act to Love is (can we not agree this is self-evident?) freely chosen by Him.

The entire premise of the gospel is that a rift has occurred between God and man; and God unilaterally acts to mend that rift. And in so doing, He reconciles us back to Himself. Of acute importance is that the rift was not of God’s making; it was ours. Yet of equal importance is the notion that God none-the-less seized the initiative in winning us back to Himself. He neither waited for, nor needed, the acquiescence of either men or devil. The Atonement was thus His act alone.

And the act then, that brings us back to God, through our Christ, is the Atonement; the willing submission to death on the Cross by the Christ, and His subsequent resurrection. So it seems reasonable to assert that, in ways we’ve yet to comprehend – or perhaps rather in ways that yet dawn upon our minds – the Cross saves and redeems us. And joyful we are for this reality. No doubt can remain, for the Christian, that this is THE event upon which our eternity hinges… And is thus appropriately celebrated.

Did the death of Christ somehow “allow” God to do what He wanted to do anyway? Did it compel Him to do what His common sense told Him not to do?

There is a way of thinking in Christendom, that says that Christ’s death on the Cross was essential to the “plan of salvation”; a “plan” which foresaw, and demanded the death of Christ. And it’s a grand plan; ordained from the foundations of the world. Jesus, the very Son of God, must die to be the proper sin bearer it is thus said. And in this way He “takes away” the sins of the world. Where He takes them exactly, and what His solution is to the veritable “sin factories” we remain, are not disclosed. He died, and thus saves. That’s the formula… Hush: no questions. That’s the ordained way of things.

The death of Christ then emerges as the fulcrum of our salvation. And indeed, what follower of Christ will not recognize this great and saving act as central to his own salvation?

This poses however, an enormous problem for we Christians. For if the death of Christ was essential to facilitate our redemption, it should follow that we extend our thanks to those men who brought that death about. It’s a simple dynamic really; if X is what saves us, and X is God’s explicit plan and desire, we should be grateful for – and bless and adore – any actions which allow and facilitate X.

Which means, necessarily, that we honor and thank those wicked men who contrived to murder the innocent Lord whom we worship and serve as the very Son of God.

No Christian I’ve ever met – of any stripe or shade thereof – has had the courage to submit to this utterly deplorable and reprehensible logic. For the very thought of honor ing the murderous rabble who conspired to thus eliminate the Christ brings not joy, but chill and horror to any Christian. Christ was, simply, murdered by a force which saw Him not as creator and Son, but as threat to the way things were; the power structures of the day.

How then to reconcile this tension?
To celebrate the nobility of Christ’s death, and it’s centrality in our salvation, yet at the same time damn the wickedness of those whose appalling abuse of law and justice brought such a death about? The very death that we hold saves us??

It seems obvious to me that any substitutionary model falls, just here, completely flat and impotent. For God neither desired, nor willed, the death of His Son. He, it seems plain, did not need any “substitution”. Where the killing of an innocent Man repulses us, we should properly imagine God being repulsed unfathomably more. I’m sure God recoiled at this heinous murder of His Son, and to recoil likewise is to share God’s heart. The murder of innocents is against, and wildly so, the ethic of God… Yet this heinous death is the very one which saves.

The tension remains.

So we have a death which is saving (the central pillar of Christianity) yet at the same time deplorable (obvious in it’s departures from justice). How can this be?
(Yes, I know; early version… Much editing required!)


And this is where I wonder how you would complete the essay. (Tossing in the trash is a form of completion I note!!!)

Note, I’m not asking for a debate about the validity of the penal substitution model. That has occurred elsewhere. And yes, I’m freely admitting my bias against the tortured constraints of that model.

It seems to me that there is a glaring absence, in the literature defending Universal Reconciliation, of explicit linkage of the Fact of the Atonement with the Fact of Universalism. (That’s said of course from the viewpoint of a Universalist! Understand.) I’m very curious why that is – although maybe I’ve misread things and simply MISSED this connection.

Except not only do I want to link the central importance of what happened on the Cross with Universalism, I think that – and this is where the thought is incomplete and embryonic (seems to me that the expectations that only “fully mature” theologies are to be spoken about. Hence the annoying dogmatism we so often encounter on “religious” sites… Why NOT present ideas in their growing and formative stages? Oh well…) – the Fact (I say “fact” because to me it is the most persuasive of the ideas) of Universalism is best supported by a model of the Atonement which denies “Penal Substitution” (except as a useful metaphor).

Of course maybe I’m asking/attempting too much. For it’s quite obvious that the Penal models support Universalism (if Universalism is true) just as much as any other model. In fact, maybe even better! ie if God “paid” the “penalty” of sin via the death of Jesus, then that kind of mere accounting and legal model perhaps is the simplest way of justifying Universalism. ie Jesus “paid” the penalty at the cross, therefore He “paid” the penalty for EVERYONE.

Except I find the Penal Substitution models of the Atonement utterly abhorrent. Mostly for reasons of incoherence and illogic. For example, it’s quite easy to sustain the idea that GOD did not kill Jesus, but WE did. So the “punishment” Christ is said to have endured was ours; not Gods. But that gets absurd to picture SINNERS doing the punishing. That’s irrational.

And of course it’s quite easy to sustain the notion that the act of killing Christ was an appalling crime; NOT the sort of thing that a Just God would be orchestrating behind the scenes. Jesus Himself referred to the way He was being treated as “sin”. So no; it’s most proper and appropriate to label what happened to our Christ as and INJUSTICE – and one of the greatest magnitude. Awkward then any attempts to recruit that injustice as God’s idea to FULFILL justice. (Absurd to ponder how the greatest injustice ever, satisfies the greatest act of JUSTICE ever… if you hear me…)

Then we encounter the quandary of asserting that God pardons – and forgives – when in fact He has demanded “payment” via Jesus. Why do we have such difficulties with declaring that incoherent and absurd… If God actually DOES pardon and forgive, he “requires” NO such payment. To “forgive” only AFTER “payment” is no forgiveness AT ALL. Thus rendering this entire dynamic blindingly incoherent. Grace “if” – Grace “but” is not conceivably Grace at all.

At any rate, I see looming before us, we here (sorry to exclude those to whom this does not pertain) who love the truth of UR, a great challenge to link far more closely the Atonement with Universalism. Badly wish Talbott and MacDonald (aka Perry) would tackle this topic…

Anyway, hope this proves a helpful topic to generate new thinking about UR…

(maybe feeling TOO energetic after a very nice vacation – holiday to JeffA! – out west)


An Inferred Argument for Penal Substitution

I think part of the tension, speaking from the perspective of critiquing the essay (so far as it stands), is that you seem entirely willing at the beginning to affirm that the Father acts and so wills the death of the Son as being essential to the plan of salvation; but then later this looks hugely affrontive to you, even apart from the particular flavor of explanation appended to it by common penal substitution theories.

Maybe you should pick one and proceed from there? :slight_smile:

Relatedly: if God (including the Son) is first and foremost responsible for the death (as well as the resurrection) of the Son (e.g. “I lay down my life and I take up my own life, no one takes My life from Me, I have authority from the Father to do this” etc.), that responsibility would include turning Himself over into the hands of evil men to be mistreated by their abuses of their own God-dependent and God-granted (and God-maintained) responsibility.

I sure as hell don’t consider myself a hero when I sin, so participating in my own abhorent way in the murder of God; but neither does this lessen my admiration for God’s willingness to sacrifice Himself for my sake (and in effect at my hand, unjustly). Christ is the hero; I, the sinner, am the villain. The only tension here is the tension of me trodding upon the body and blood of Christ, given for my sake, when I sin: a very understandable (and condemnable) tension. :slight_smile:

Also, I talk pretty frequently about how UR logically follows as an expectation of God’s persistence in reconciliation (or at-one-ment in English derivation), from a basis of the fair-togetherness (i.e. the “righteousness”) inherent in the essential self-existent self-sacrificial nature of God Himself–if orthodox trinitarian theism is true.

From the direction of metaphysics, I recommend reading through at least half of Section Four (soon to be updated I hope!) of Sword to the Heart, linked to in my signature below; starting no later than the chapter “A Return to the God of Justice”. Everything before that part is a discussion and critique of ethical theories (including theistic ethical theories); everything afterward pulls together arguments made prior to that Section (some of which have not yet been published) to begin discussing God as the positive ground of ethics; sin (especially mine); God’s relation to sin and to sinners; God’s punishment of sin; and God’s salvation of sinners (although the topic of God’s salvation doesn’t fully get going until the still-unpublished Section Five. But the principles are largely established before then in SecFour.)

It’s a huge amount of material, but it might be helpful. :slight_smile:

(Or you could wait for me to update and post it piecemeal here. :mrgreen: I’m almost ready to begin SecTwo, after some important revisions and updates.)


Hi Bob,

I’m far from thinking I understand this well–I’m still in process of changing over my thinking from the easily understood but seemingly flawed penal substitutionary formula to something else–what does God–with His higher than the heavens thoughts, mean by the Atonement? I’m far from having it all wrapped up in a neat package in my mind (like perhaps Jason does! :sunglasses: ) But I’ll give you what few thoughts I can.

I think you’re taking the wrong angle on the killing of Christ. I would say that it’s not that God’s justice required a death to make it possible for him to release us from the punishment we have earned. (Would that make his executors the ‘priests’ who offer the sacrifice?) But that Christ is willing to give up his ‘rights’–to humble himself, taking the form of a servant’ as it says in Philippians. So, as I currently see it, it is not the Killing of Christ that reconciles us to God, but his self-sacrifice. It is his willingness to go even as far as death in order to bring peace that God is pleased with. That, for me, is the resolution of your ‘tension.’

In Romans 5:10, Paul distinguishes Christ’s death as the means of our ‘reconciliation’ to God, and our ‘salvation’ as tied to his life. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” And in the context here, this is given as the ‘proving’ of the magnitude of God’s love–that Christ gave his life–submitting to ill treatment and death–for his enemies.

And, to my thinking, ‘enemies’ would include all–especially those who have not yet learned to love Him. (Perhaps that’s part of the connection you want to make between UR and the Atonement?) Perhaps one could say that, to them, he is still ‘dead’, and his life has not yet ‘risen’ in them (if you want to take it to a more mystical level). :wink:



Jason, Sonia,

Thanks for taking my poorly formed, and embryonic intent here seriously….

The experience and perception of tension in ones theology can be a disturbing and threatening thing; but it is precisely how, it seems to me, the Spirit guides us to new understandings. One alights and settles upon those notions of God and how He interacts with His creation, when they make sense and answer the most questions. If one is happy with all his articulations of God, if they all seem to cohere and make sense to him, that is where he “settles”.

Of course the fact that one has settled at a certain place in his understanding does not therefore mean he is right about all his conclusions. So, in a real way, tension in ones perceptions of theology that have heretofore made good sense, seem to be the only way the Spirit is able to guide to new and greater comprehensions.

Thus, in my estimation, I think it important to shine the spotlight onto what should be, logically, a tension in common understandings of what God did/accomplished at the Cross. No question it’s importance and centrality; it is THE central act of the human drama. No question God could predict it’s occurrence; He saw it coming. (Open theists should not have a problem with this idea. I certainly don’t.) Yet it should also be equally clear that the death of the Christ was NOT the desire of God; for it was, and remains, the most vile and unjust and despicable act in history. The murder of God Himself, the very Creator of the Universe, whose innocence is not questioned, was a crime of infinite dimensions. It was, as Christ refers to it, a great sin. As such, it seems logical and fair to say that God neither caused, nor willed it. For He neither causes, nor wills, sin.

The resulting tension inherent here, between an action which is an heinous sin, and also that action being held to be salvific, demands further scrutiny. That we should be thankful for an act of grotesque injustice, surely demands further reflection and dissection. We can be thus driven, in an attempt to resolve the tension, to grasp the saving aspects of this heinous crime, all the while deploring it’s criminal dimensions.

Central then to this resolution of tension is to recognize the distinction between God being reconciled, and man being reconciled. For God to be reconciled to man, must mean that God can be effected, even changed, in His disposition towards sinful man. God is thus “allowed”, or “permitted” or maybe “compelled” by the Cross, to alter how He behaves.

On the other hand, it could be that it is man who is reconciled to God; which means it is man who undergoes the change, the alteration, and is thus effected to transform. It should be obvious (though I’ve many for whom it is not) that it is not God who is reconciled by the cross, but we who are reconciled to Him. It is not His mind toward us which meeds to change, but ours toward Him.
And this crucial distinction makes all the difference in how the Cross is interpreted. It was an act not for GOD’S “benefit” (included in this would be the law, or our “account”) but for ours. God need not be convinced of anything; but WE do! Christ’s death as “necessary” in the face of the law, or to pay sins penalty, or in any way as an “exchange” for we sinners fades away then into the truth that Christ’s death WAS necessary as means to demonstrate, to US!, His true nature and solidarity with our cause. This death demonstrates God’s already in effect forgiveness; it does not somehow un-leash or now allow it; that is, where God could not before forgive, but now can.

What has been “paid” at the Cross then, is not “penalty of the law” but definitive demonstration by God, to US – fallen, unbelieving, rebels – of His nature of Love and His eternal commitment of solidarity with us, His creation. And it is the sort of evidence which, in time, (how much time, and how, interests mostly we Universalists!!) guarantees the reconciliation of all! (Col 1 as Sonia noted)

In this way, or something along these lines, a clear line should be able to be drawn between the non Penal Substitution models of the Atonement and with the beauty of Universal Reconciliation.

The law of Love – the law by which God runs His Universe – thus demands payment; and it must demonstrate it’s sincerity and total devotion to the creation. On the Cross Christ filled that law full – and “paid” it’s demands. And as witnesses to this great act of love and solidarity, we are drawn to our creator. And are thus saved.

An idea even in progress,



No, but He wills and causes His own self-sacrifice. And He allows His children to contribute, as loyal or rebel children, to the shape of that sacrifice.

When God Himself insists upon primary, ultimate and active authority for what happens regarding even the cross, then there should be no question of that importance, too. There can be no denying, so long as we recognize the authority and active choices of God in this, that the death of the Son was the will of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (in any of the various ways Christians understand that relationship, whether ortho-trin or otherwise.)

That sinners abuse this will, by making their own (God-permitted and God-empowered) contributions to how this sacrifice will play out historically, whether at the cross or in any other way (and the cross is emblematic of how we all sin in history, not restricted to only one small group in a particular place and time), does not make them (and by ‘them’ I include myself in acknowledgment of my sin) any less sinners: any less children who abuse the freedom granted to them by their Father.

Even so, sinners could not be sinners if God did not actively create, empower and keep them in existence. Arminians and Katholics (universalists) typically understand this to be an act of God’s true love even to sinners. Even Calvinists typically understand this to be an act of God’s true love to at least some sinners (namely the elect), even though they typically deny it is an act of God’s true love to other sinners (in which case the intention is understood to promote God’s glory in some other way, by setting up puny enemies so that He can show off how awesome He is, for example. :wink: )


Haven’t jumped in here yet - but wanted to say Bob that the ‘Christ’s killers should be lauded as heroes’ approach seems to me as flawed as the ‘One might as well kill babies at birth to guarantee they go straight to heaven’ approach.



I think it would be instructive to look into the mindset of person’s involved in the events that happened in Genesis 22. Traditionally among Christians, this story parallels what God would do in offering His Son, Jesus Christ. According to Hebrews 11:17-19:

*“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” *

It should be noted that nowhere in the Genesis account do we find that Isaac was offered up as some kind of substitutionary sacrifice for sins. But what is in play here is the promise “that in Isaac shall thy seed be called”. From that perspective, we must go back and look at the account and the reactions of both Abraham and Isaac. The instruction from God was as thus:

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 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.” - Genesis 22:1-2

Bear with me a moment.

Notice the phrase, ‘and it came to pass after these things’. This sets the precedence for what is about to happen. What went on prior to this? In the previous chapter, Isaac is born and circumsized, Hagar is banished with Ishmael out in the wilderness where God provides for Hagar and promises to make a great nation of Ishmael, and Abraham makes a weird covenant with Abimelech, because Abimilech’s servant took a well away from Abraham and Abraham reproved Abimelech for this. The odd thing is that after Abimelech is reproved and returns the well, it is ***Abraham *** that offers Abimelech sheep and oxen, including offering seven sanctified ewe lambs in making this covenant. One would think that Abimelech would be the one to offer the goods since he did the wrong to Abraham, doncha think?

It is right after this incident that God tests Abraham. And I think the two are connected. (In fact, I think there is something going on that has it’s origins in Abimelech’s almost taking Abraham’s wife thinking it was only his sister another previous chapter, but we won’t get into that).

Even though Abimelech did wrong, Abraham was the initiator in restoring that relationship, after Abimelech admittedly* knew not who took the well (Gen 21:26). * (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”).The seven ewes are a witness to Abimelech that the well belongs to Abraham.

The tables are turned in God’s command for Abraham’s offering of Isaac. Abraham has no clue as to what God is doing. But unlike his plea for Sodom and Gommorah not long before this, in that if ten righteous are found God would spare the city, Abraham gives no such plea for his ‘only’ son (Did God forget about Ishmael?). It’s one thing to offer sheep and goats, but this is his only son. Instead, without protest, He rises up early in the morning and mounts up a ***three day ***journey to the place appointed (on Mount Moriah, site of the future Temple), with Isaac and two men tagging along.

When they get there, Abraham tell the two men to wait for them at the bottom of the mount, ***“and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” ***.

First, Abraham sees this as an act of worship. Second, he fully expects that both him and Isaac will return to the two men. He has already anticipated that verse in Hebrews 11, that God is going to one way or another going raise Isaac up. It is God’s problem in doing so, not his.

I think when we come to God offering His Son that we need to take into consideration that this a two-part process, 1) That Christ lays down His life on the Cross and 2) three days later He will rise from the dead. Without Resurrection, the crucifixion would have no meaning whatsoever.

But the faith activated here is that of Abraham’s obedience to go through, three days before. In his mind, Isaac is already dead, and continues to think so, up until the angel of the Lord stays the knife.

Isaac apparently does not know what is in store, but has sense enough to inquire where the sacrifice is. All Abraham can answer is that God will provide a lamb. This speaks back to the seven lambs offered to Abimelech (seven, or ‘shaba’ in one of it’s roots has the meaning of oath. Abraham named the place of the well ‘Beersheeba’ meaning well-oath). Something valuable of Abraham’s will be given to the Lord, a lamb worth more than the seven ewes, one which establishes a covenant with God through Isaac. Seemly contradictory, since God plans to populate Abraham’s decendents through Isaac, it is with Isaac that Abraham worships God. (Not that God approves of child sacrifice, but it proved Abraham’s faithfulness to God over something dear to him. And that is the basis of sacrifice.)

What if Abraham actually went through with it? Well, certainly God could and would have raised Isaac. But He didn’t require Isaac to die to know that the sacrifice was real. There was a true value to the faith of Abraham.

In the question of Christ’s death, those who would have Christ dead repeatedly proclaimed themselves as the ‘seed of Abraham’ (c.f. John 6:33). They were willing to put Christ to death, though they know not what they do. The seed of Abraham produced the nation of Israel, which produced the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16).

I’m not being anti-Semitic here, but the Jews of Christ’s day had taken the place of Abraham in his offering to Isaac. They just didn’t know what they were doing

The fact is, Jesus didn’t have to die. I say again, Jesus didn’t have to die. What’s that you say? Jesus didn’t have to die.

I can prove it…from the words of Christ even.

“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

In the Malachi 3:1, we are told:

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

The chapters following deals with the restoration of the sons of Levi through the refiner’s fire, about a return to the Lord, an atonement if you will, but on the commandment that Israel “Remember ye the law of my servant Moses”. It is a covenant relationship founded way back with Abraham with Isaac and confirmed on Mt. Horeb with Israel as a nation.

This messenger is identified as Elijah, who would turn the heart of the fathers back to the children, and the heart of the children back to their fathers, lest I smite a curse.

There is a condition for which John is Elijah to come. A condition of whether John would be the messenger in the wilderness. But it is not John who failed in becoming Elijah, it is Israel. Instead of accepting the messenger, they rejected him and the One who would follow him. Had Israel accepted the Messiah right then, then God would have restored Israel, and through Israel, all the nations of the world would have been blessed, The Atonement would have happened right then and there.

All because Israel would have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and seen the salvation of the Lord. Crist would not have had to die. But because they rejected as a nation the messenger and the Holy One, they put Him to death.

(Come to think of it, in all fairness, if in the minds eye of the Jewish Leadership of Jesus’ day, where several figures around that time claimed Messiahship, if they really did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, they would have treated Him no differently than the others who had the same claim. Most of them suffered similar the fate of death, either by the Romans or Herod.)

But there is still a present covenant with Israel.

There is still a coming messenger.

That’s why Israel (as a people, for they were a people before they were a nation) has survived so long.

That is why there are events in Revelation still to come

That is why Jesus will come again a second time (as spoken in Hebrews 9:28).

That is why all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25).

And that is why the nations of the world will still be blessed through Israel.

We who have received Christ have already entered that covenant relationship with the Lord. Even we as Gentiles, not of Jewish origin. Who are adopted into the covenant.


As nifty as that attempt was (and I have to admire the guts of any translation that goes with “God tempted Abraham”!), in terms of the relationship of the Shoah to Christ’s sacrifice, actually yes Jesus did have to die. The Father provided a lamb to take the place of Isaac’s sacrifice. Good point about the Abraham prefigurement not involving the notion of penal substitution though! (As well as some other curious things in the background… quite interesting and possibly suggestive.)

Except that it wasn’t from the words of Christ, exactly. It’s a pretty distant inference from a scripture quoted by Christ (for a purpose that was hardly, at the time, to testify to Israel that He didn’t have to die if only they would accept Him.)

I’ll want to suss out that inferential train a bit more, too. :slight_smile: I’m not sure I follow the logic on it yet.


Of course, God doesn’t tempt anyone to evil, as James says, but He does test or tries our faith and love, as in this particular case.

I don’t know what the Holocaust (Shoah) has to do with Christ’s sacrifice, but do you know the meaning of the word ‘atonement’? It is a ‘reparation for an offense or injury’ and as such rendered in the Hebrew scriptures as an ‘eye for an eye’. In terms of justice, this is repairing the damage or making amends to the one whom you’ve done wrong. In the first instance of this found in Exodus 21, if a slave owner strikes a slave in the eye and damages it, he shall let the slave go free. Jesus was more lenient in His famous sermon saying, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” This doesn’t mean that the punishment is not deserving, but the point Jesus makes is that there ought to be some attempt to exercise mercy rather than retribution. Jesus is calling for a behavior change, which is just what atonement calls for, in order to restore and repair the relaionship. No matter how many sacrifices one offers, it does no good if there isn’t a repentant heart to follow. “To obey is better than sacrifice”. Why do you think we need to leave our gift on the alter and go reconcile with our brother before presenting the sacrifice? God was disgusted in several places in the OT because the sacrifice wasn’t offered properly and without good intentions (see Isaiah 1:11-18, Malachi 1:78). You will notice in the former example in Isaiah that repentance was necessary before God says, *“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” * followed immediately by “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:” That is why I said that if Israel accepted Christ as Messiah, the kingdom would have been ushered in. Jesus lamented the failure of Israel to do this, after lambasting their hypocrisy in Matthew 23:37-39:

*“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” *

Jesus was willing to be their Messiah how many times? One of the common beliefs in Judaism is that the Messiah will not come until all Israel repents. Had they done so back then, that would have been it. The kingdom of God would have been realized. Why do you think both John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ first sermon was ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’?

As far as the ram replacement in Isaac’s case, you will note that God never commanded Abraham to sacrifice the ram. He did so entirely on his own. I believe it had to do with the psychologiocal construct in Abraham’s mind. He was ready and willing to kill his son. The knife was drawn and raised up. When the angel of the Lord stayed his hand, willingness to give a sacrifice was still with Abraham. That had to be released in some way. Sacrificing the ram satisfied that urge to give something to the Lord, even though it was freely given by the Lord and not from his own stock. And really what that demostrates is the reciprocal of Abraham’s sacrifice: God’s love for Abraham (after Abraham proved his love for God through his son) in providing that ram to complete the task.

I don’t know, the passage in Matt. 11 clearly shows Jesus speaking to the multitude in verse 7 after John’s disciples were dispatched back to John. And as for Israel’s acceptance of Jesus as Messiah, I refer this back to the quote in Matt. 23:37-39.


Quick, brief response Jeff – having trouble seeing the analogy, if you are trying to make one. You might, however, be MAKING my point???

The similarity in those statements rests, as I see them, in that they might be logically true, but that very fact is what brings the tension. Which is an explicit invitation to rework and reinvestigate the idea.

So being obviously true, yet also obviously flawed, means it needs to be altered in some way. Thus, with the ‘One might as well kill babies at birth to guarantee they go straight to heaven’ statement, an immediate flaw is that this would assume that getting to heaven is far and away the most important goal of life – instead of perhaps growing into the kind of rational, mature, informed, being that will bring honor and glory to God in eternity and enjoy His presence forever.

With my scenario, IF we say that God’s plan demanded the Cross, then it seems indisputable (to me anyway, though apparently not to folks like you, or jason) that I show some gratefulness to any and all people and circumstances that brought it about. Except that chills me to the core and speaks to a cold harsh rigid adherence to everything that lies in contrast with GRACE. Thus, seeing it as a problem, as I do, I have felt compeelled over the years to discern an Atonement model which “solves” - as I see it - the problem. And in my mind the solution leads me directly AWAY from the classic Penal models.

And my hunch is that the very same sorts of things that inform this transition away from Penal sub models are also the things which inform my convictions about Universal Reconciliation. Hence my post.

Just as I began to see an incredible tension between a God of Love and ECT/annihilation which drove me, compelled me, logically, to Universal Reconciliation as the best solution (accepting that others find resolution via other mechanisms) so too do I suspect my discomfort at my inability to be thankful to those who killed Jesus should drive me to better models of understanding the Atonement.

More later,



Maybe I’m mixing up that term with the Akabeh. Sorry. (Rabbis are in the habit of referring to Isaac’s near sacrifice as one of the other, or maybe both. Actually, some rabbis think a tiny amount of the blood of Isaac was spilled at that time, for some obscure reason that would allow it to count as having really been a sacrifice after all. But certainly not anything I get out of the text. :mrgreen: )

In several variations, including the original notion behind translating the Greek terms (the {katalla-} family) and the Latin terms (‘conciliate’ ‘reconcile’) as English “atonement”. It was a compound word coined by the English translators, “At-one-ment.” The Greek term means down-reaching; and if I recall correctly translates a similar meaning in Hebrew.

Mmmm, maybe some English translations render “eye for an eye” as “reconciliation” or “atonement” (or cognates thereof); but that certainly is NOT how the word is ever used in the NT. (I did an exhausting report. Er, exhaustive. :smiley: )

That’s more likely to be (in Latin terms) “propitiation” (which some English texts do translate to “atonement” sometimes). Although again, the NT does not use the term along that direction of action. (Even-more-exhausting report. :mrgreen: )

The connections here weren’t explained very well. I’m going to take a guess, you meant that the Exodus 21 eye-damage code showed mercy on the abusive owner by only requiring he free his abused slave, instead of giving up an eye of his own, thus helping foster reconciliation between them…?

Admittedly, this might be a strong challenge for the slave to change his attitude of demanding a harsher penalty on his abusive master, and so might be considered parallel to the challenge of abused citizens of an occupied country being abused by their overlords. But in the latter case, the offering of the other cheek requires the abuser to at least respect his victim enough to punch him, as in a real fight, rather than backhand him (that’s the cultural context); whereas in the former case, I don’t see where the sinner is being specially helped to repent of his action and so reconcile with the victim.

But maybe you meant something else.

Can’t say I disagree with that! :slight_smile: (Nor the following couple of sentences.)

It’s “be reconciled to” your brother, by the way. The sinner isn’t the one doing the reconciling; not primarily anyway.

And of course it’s the admonition to forgive or we will not be forgiven, except from the other direction: there is no point asking for God to forgive our sins if we hold impenitently to sin against our brother.

No disagreements here!–or afterward for a while.

That’s a jump of the topic, though. What do you mean by “Israel” accepting the Messiah? Most of the original Christians were Jewish. And the notions from the Law that you’re talking about could apply in principle to anyone.

More to the point, you seem to be claiming (or trying to claim) that if ‘enough’ (or ‘all’?–‘all’ or ‘enough’ in what sense??) of Israel had accepted Jesus, Jesus would not have had to sacrifice Himself for the nations, including for those in prison you-know-where. :wink:

I was under the impression that the Messiah did come to them even though they hadn’t repented. (“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” etc.) They didn’t in fact have to repent first. God was gracious to them first.

Why did they both call for repentance from the nations as well as from Israel? (Though sent to Israel first, as promised.)

Also, granted, Israel inherently makes for better Christians (as per St. Paul in Romans 11), and will even make for better Christians once the ones who are stumbling finally convert (ditto). Part of Paul’s point, however, is that Israel stumbled so that the Gentiles might be saved (ditto again), and that’s clearly in regard to rejecting (with terminal prejudice!) the Stone/Son that was the Chief Foundation (the Cornerstone).

Moreover, the kingdom has begun already (even in the earthly ministry of Jesus) without all Israel having come in yet. (This is even more of a theme in GosJohn than the Synoptics, but it’s there, too.) Had all Israel come in, wouldn’t it be in fact more likely that they would have been eventually treated by the nations as Christ was terminally treated? I could quote a lot of (especially) Synoptic scripture along this line. They weren’t going to get a ruling king the first time in any event, and without a militant messiah they would have still been steamrolled for standing up to Rome.

This point can be pushed to the extreme limit: if EVERY SINGLE PERSON EVERYWHERE had never sinned, or at least had repented, maybe Christ would not have had to die. (Though actually I expect, along with some other theologians, that Christ would still have died for us while Incarnated in an unfallen world, even if He was the only person ever to die. He just wouldn’t have been murdered.) But at what point less than absolutely everyone would Christ, in principle, not have to die?

Good point. :slight_smile:

Duh. But, at the risk of seeming dense, it seems extremely far from obvious that Jesus was trying to get them to understand that He didn’t have to die if only they would accept Him.

Getting back to this: not only does the quote itself have nothing to do with Jesus not having to die if Israel had accepted Him, the cultural context is explicitly about Jesus having to die to protect Israel–even if they accepted Him. The reason mother birds shelter their young under their wings like this is to die protecting the chicks, even (especially!) in the event of catastrophic fire. (This not-entirely-rare occurence is actually mythologized across the world in stories about the phoenix.)

In other words, had they accepted Jesus, Jerusalem would not have had to die. The immediately subsequent context in GosMatt 24:1-2 is about how the Temple will be utterly destroyed, thanks to Jesus’ departure.

(Ironically, despite the crowds giving Jesus the “Blessed is He” at His triumphal entrance, He weeps over Jerusalem’s coming military destruction in Luke 19:41.)

So, maybe Jerusalem would not have had to die had Israel accepted Jesus as Messiah. Or maybe Israel would have taken up its cross and followed Christ, to be martyred by kings and governors after Him (as in fact many Israelites did do, including most of His closest subordinates). But even on terms of the sheltering mother hen analogy, Christ was still going to give His life for their sakes. St. Paul, again, is pretty emphatic (1 Cor 15) that the burial and resurrection of Christ is super-important to salvation even of people who might be similarly changed without having first “fallen to sleep” to be “buried in the earth”.

Paul at Rom 11 seems to think it’s indisputable that we should show them grace. He can do that without denying their sin, or saying that we should be grateful to them for their sin as sin per se–or even to them at all. The gratitude, per se, is reserved for God.

See above. :slight_smile:

Please understand, nothing I’ve said requires defense (much less affirmation) of standard penal substitution atonement theories.


Hi Bob,

Yes - I think I was just restating your point in another way that is an extreme view held by some.

Sorry there was nothing more profound in my statement than that :wink:


That, as I see it, is very very correct and insightful; and should propel us to dig deep to explain just how different the cross looks when this truth is embraced. Yes, God is completely involved, yet the act itself was a despicable crime. And in the digging, the penal sub models fade away and models which emphasize God, in the Cross, revealing truths around which our salvation centers comes to the forefront. (And the very same truths, I’m trying to assert, which bring UR into focus…)

Thus it makes far better sense to me if we see our condition of sin and rebellion as revolving around willful departures from, or even ignorance of, the realities of God and His universe and how it all interacts. What are some of those realities? The fact of God and His nature of love; the fact of His creatorship/ownership of the universe and all that’s in it – including us; the fact of His solidarity with us; the fact that life is not possible apart from Him; the fact that God’s intent towards us has always been good; the fact that the greatest joy possible in the universe (given the nature of free will) is for the entire creation to worship and enjoy God forever. And so on.

And the Atonement via the life, death, and resurrection of His Son was the only way to accomplish and demonstrate definitively, once for all time, the truth of those assertions about the way God runs this universe. So it WAS necessary – but it was so for US, not for God. God simply HAD to have a faithful witness (it’s in the nature of love) to ALL those crucial realities about Himself and Christ WAS the perfectly faithful witness. Faithful unto death. So God knowingly stepped unto the crucible of combat and sin with the full knowledge of what it would do to Him. In Christ, the ultimate sacrifice WAS given; but given to US – not to God. And that demonstration (ie BY His stripes) heals (saves) us.

More and more I’m convinced that God simply does not rest until those truths have set His entire universe free. And when free, saved.

Or something sorta like that.



That was a good something. :slight_smile:


I’m referring mostly to the Old Testament rendering of the word.

According to The Routledge Dictionary of Judaism:

Again, the provision of God is there (God’s initiative, that ‘down-reaching’), but individual (and collective, in terms of Israel) initiative is necessary (the ‘return’).

Essentially, that is it. By all rights, the owner ought to have his eye plucked out, according to the strict sense of the law. In a sense, the owner lost an eye, since by process he lost his slave, which was attached to that eye :wink: . Some reparation was made in the process. The slave would no longer be able to see in that eye, but at least it won his freedom, for what it’s worth.

But the slave is under no obligation to change anything, nor is he quite frankly able to. Really, it is the law that gives leniency to the owner in this case, not the victim. By the same token, the slave is compensated in some way. The slave could have just as well Chuck- Norrised a roundkick to his now former owner’s face, but that wouldn’t have anything to do with the law itself. The law shows mercy; the law, of course, being an extension of God. How the slave responds, while it is hoped that he would have a spirit of forgiveness, is inconsequential.

The same consequence is shown in the discussion about the goring ox in verses 28 and following. Even though the owner ought to be liable for the ox killing a man or a woman, it is the ox that suffers the punishment, not the owner (at least so far as the owner wasn’t negligent in keeping a known wayward ox confined, lest he die with it). But the owner doesn’t get off scot-free. For one, he just lost his ox, plus he might be monetarily liable for the death of the human victim.

The point is that there are scores of laws in Exodus and other places intended to make some kind of restitution less than what the punishment calls for, for mercy’s sake, except on some of the more grievious offences (watch out witches!).

This is probably the usage I leaning towards (pun intended). I did go back and re-read your word studies on 'atone/reconcile as well as ‘propitiate’, which I appreciate even more the second time around (and was exhausted just reading them again :neutral_face: ).

We are talking about Jesus’ killers, of which we could name the Jewish leadership of the time. The sheep follow the leaders.

Much of the repentence needed to come from the leadership of Israel, for which Jesus continually butted heads against, i.e. the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, etc. Afterall, they were in influential positions and planned the death of Jesus. They expressed at times great fear that the crowds would be too swayed by Christ’s teachings, against their own. I believe that early on in Jesus’ ministry there was a chance that Israel would have repented. I believe God set it up for that possibility, contingent on Israel’s reaction.

Granted. But as I recall, Jesus was send but for the lost sheep of Israel, as He told the Canaanite woman. But what did she do? She persisted, like Israel ought to have done. The centurian showed greater faith that anyone in all of Israel, simply because He believed in the power of Jesus to heal his servant.

At any rate, it would continue in the line that all the nations of the world be blessed through Abraham’s seed. If Christ can’t get Israel to repent then how will He get the world to? (Rhetorical question, but we know the answer :wink: ) But it really ought to have begun in Israel and followed on through to the Gentiles

Which is why I believe that if Israel repented the first time, we would’ve seen the reign of iron from Christ in all His glory, like what we see will happen in Rev 19. All the nations of the world would have seen the glory of the Lord through Israel. But that time is yet to come.

The question is, why did Israel stumble? The same reason why they didn’t enter the Promised Land the first time. Unbelief.

Go back to the disussion of John the Baptist and his role as Elias to come. Matthew states that prophetically John the Baptist is “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” This of course refers back to Isaiah 40:3, but notice also next verses in that chapter:

*"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

**O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." ***

In the first place, if John the Baptist was the ‘voice’ then we should have seen the glory of the Lord revealed in that time. And all flesh would have seen it. The valleys would have been exalted, hills been lowered, and crooked places straightened. But the voice says, “Cry”. Why? Because of the need for repentance of Israel. Then there is the injuction to come up to the mountain, that is meet with God, THEN His arm shall rule for Him. THEN and only He would gather the lambs with his arm and carry them to His bosum (sound familiar?)

Everything hinged on Israel, and in some respects, it still does, at least qs far as the Secomg Coming is concerned.

I won’t argue with that. But the kingdom is progressive (in fact, from all the way back to the beginning)…and conditional. Why wasn’t Jesus able to perform miracles in His hometown? Was it because He was not able? Or was it because He was looking for something?

There is one verse in Revelation that has always puzzled me…until now.

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” - Revelation 4:11

Why does the Lord need to receive glory, honor, and power? Isn’t He All-Powerful anyway? From whence does He receive this power?

See above in my remarks about Rev 19, and what should have been.

But we are not talking about not sinning. In our current state, we are powerless. We are talking returning to the Lord, repenting is a prerequisite to that. It is that “draw-near” we need to pursue.

As far as Christ’s death, I thought you were against the principle of penal substitution? Yes, Christ died, but He rose again because He’s not finished yet. Those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior are being saved by His Resurrection, with which He needed to die to happen, btw.

What would prevent God from just poofing us into a glorified body? Do you think that Jesus couldn’t have been fully transfigured into a glorified body at the Transfiguration? Do you think that He couldn’t be raised in a glorified body without dying? What happened to Enoch and Elijah? Why did Enoch get raised up without dying? (Hint: Hebrews 11:5) What was Elijah and Moses doing at the transfiguration anyway? Talking about Christ’s death? Do you suppose that it grieved Elijah and Moses to know that Israel didn’t repent and accept Jesus as Messiah?

The reason Adam and Eve were banished from the Tree of Life (I mean, why, if that tree is symbolic of Christ?) is because they needed to know how to return to it. And that takes a willingness and heart to do so.


Which, as you presented it, still has exactly nothing to do with even the concept of “eye for an eye” (much less rendering that phrase instead of kapparah as “atonement” or “reconciliation” in English. :slight_smile: )

Nor does it have anything to do with that in the Routledge Dictionary (nice link though! :smiley:)

The Talmud quote of the rabbinic notion that “In a place in which those who repent stand, those who are completely righteous cannot stand”, sure fits some things I’ve been tagging on RevJohn recently, by the way. :exclamation: :mrgreen: :exclamation:

The word literally means “to cover”, in the sense of repairing, shoring up, sealing (specifically with bitumen/pitch–fire and brimstone basically! :open_mouth: :mrgreen: ) or writing over with ink (such as to strike out an account held against someone).

That, by the way, was from The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament and AMG’s Annotated Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary of the Old Testament as reported in AMG’s New American Standard Bible – Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Edition. Wonderful resource, although I was hoping it would actually contain the most recent update to the NASB rather than the 70s edition. I’ll have to splurge on that thing, too, next year I guess…

Yeah, I got all that, but I can’t figure out how it helps reconcile the slave-owner to the injured-and-now-freed-slave. The slave is under no obligation to change anything on his side (and how he responds is inconsequential), whereas the owner is in effect out some money that he’ll have to buy another slave with–but which is probably far less value to him than his own eye!

True, but (aside from this tending to benefit the wealthy criminal who paradoxically can afford to do something less than full equivalence!) it still doesn’t have much (if anything) to do with at-one-ment or reconciliation between the sinner and the victim of the sin. And while it may have something to do with reconciliation between the sinner and the Highest Authority (also sinned against), it feels kind of weird to say so, especially considering He keeps talking about justice for the downtrodden.

It looks a lot like the powerful are buying their way lightly out of worse punishment than they deserve for trodding down the helpless–something God repeatedly warns is not sufficient to atone with Him (much less with their victims).

That was an excellent pun, by the way. :smiley:

I’m not sure that answers any of my questions, though. How much of the leadership would have had to repent before Jesus would NOT have had to sacrifice Himself for any other currently unrepentant people among Israel?–or for anyone outside Israel, for that matter!?

Granted that ideally it ought to have begun in Israel and followed on through to the Gentiles–which is in fact what happened! All Israel didn’t need to be saved first. Only an elected number (an elected number predestined by God no less!) But St. Paul seems to think that without the stubbornness of Israel the Gentiles would not be being brought in through Christ’s sacrifice; and without the Gentiles being brought in, the fulness of Israel also cannot be brought in.

Christ had the opportunity to reign like that from the beginning, including over all the nations, but refused to do so. Setting the example of self-sacrifice was apparently more important to do first. (A factor that extends far beyond the Incarnation in several ways!–after all, God Almighty could have been reigning with the iron rod over sinners at any point this whole time, but has chosen not to do so.)

Incidentally, I love how Isaiah prophecies that all flesh shall see the glory of God together–and that, in effect, all are shut up into stubbornness that God may show mercy to all. :smiley:

Also, “behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.” Which is one reason why I think it’s proper to interpret all the OT and NT refs to Him bringing His reward to reward every man according to his work should at least also mean according to His Work! :smiley: (Let those who are wicked still be wicked and those who are filthy still be filthy, but God shall reward them not only according to their work but far more importantly according to His own work!)

This is a very interesting reply so far, btw; but I’m too hungry to give it all the attention it deserves at the moment! :laughing: I’ll have to come back to it tomorrow and continue reading it.


Dondi, Jason, am enjoying this very much. Please continue!

However, may I ask, in light of what I’m trying to develop in this thread (that is, a coherent link between UR and an Atonement model NOT requiring “penal Sub” overtones) this specific question of you…

It is said that Christ bore the punishment for sin. As if sin X somehow deserves whack Y.
Except as Universalists, don’t we all see the proper place of punishment as something like discipline and teaching – not a punitive “tit-for-tat” or whatever?

OK – say that one accepts that the ONLY use, in God’s Universe, for punishment is as a tool to redirect the person back to what really matters; personal confession, repentance, and inner heart change. If this is true, it makes NO sense to say Christ was punished for us – because Christ NEEDED no discipline to alter His thinking! Punishment is tool in our redemption; NOT some quid pro quo arrangement. Of course it’s quite absurd to imagine God “teaching” Christ in this manner. Penalty paid or not, it is WE who need the discipline and remediation! Not Jesus for heavens sake!

In fact, to deprive us of that healing discipline (which must be the case if Christ bore our punishment and punishment is transformative) would be the exact WRONG thing to do…

Hope this does not seem trite or silly to you, but any immediate thoughts??



The concept that Christ was punished for our sins is pretty rare in scripture, and (maybe) arguable in the few places it does (maybe?) show up.

However, assuming for purposes of argument that the punishment (per se) of Christ has to be kept–and there are universalists who go very strongly along with the notion that Christ in Himself has already borne all punishment (and even wrath) of the Father, although they tend not to think in terms of Him taking a remedial punishment for us–it doesn’t have to be substitutionary punishment.

There’s a lot to be said in favor of the notion that in Christ God is sharing (and shows that He is sharing) our burdens, including voluntarily sharing the burden of our mortality and the corruptions of our flesh (if not, in His case, of our soul). Otherwise there would have been no point to transforming Christ in His own resurrection! In that regard, the One Who disciplines us also shares in our travails, both as a result of our sin and in the result of His chastisements.

That divine co-operation with us fits very well into the “fair-togetherness” concept of “righteousness”, too. :slight_smile: Or to put it terms of what I argued in regard to 1 John when discussing the use of “propitiation” there, the Judge Himself stands with us in facing the throne of His own court. The purpose isn’t to propitiate Himself (nor the Father)–God has no need to convince Himself to lean in our direction or to smile upon us. To stand with us at the seat of His own judgment, He’s already “leaning” in our direction to the farthest extent–and voluntarily chose to do so while we were still rebels against Him! He’s trying to get us to trust Him even though He has to judge us, and to lean upon Him–even to throw ourselves upon the mercy of the court.

But throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court (under the seat of propitiation) is worthless and maybe even outright hypocritical if we do not also rejoice in the judgments of God against our sins and even against ourselves so far as we have insisted upon being sinners.

Fortunately, as we universalists are often well aware, God shall someday bring all sinners to rejoice in His judgments as well as in His saving mercies, acclaiming Him as our Lord and Savior!


I’ll be going back to read Dondi’s post from the beginning later, btw, as well as continuing where I had to leave off yesterday. :slight_smile:


OK, let’s not get too caught up in the word play. Perhaps ‘eye for an eye’ connotates at least a sense of justice, if not atonement. But I would like to show how "an eye for an eye’ can play a part in atonement, which we’ll go with the definition in ‘The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament and AMG’s Annotated Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary of the Old Testament as reported in AMG’s New American Standard Bible – Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Edition’ (Thank God for copy/paste).

In the case of the master/slave, the law as posted as ‘eye for an eye’ should at least give the master pause to consider the leniency of the law in that he doesn’t actually have to have his own eye poked out, and perhaps in due course he would learn to treat his slaves better. As far as slavery was concerned, OT laws provided to treat slaves humanely. That the Israelites were themselves subject to harsh conditions in their slavery in Egypt did not condone turnaround treatment to their own slaves, a condition which may have not been so uncommon among Israelites, if we consider similar cases of child abuse, where the abused becomes the abuser. But slavery in the Mosiac wilderness is a rather misnomer anyway. They were really more like indentured servants, and freed after six years anyway, unless for the sake of his children he decided to stay, in which case he stays forever (and ‘branded’ :open_mouth: ).

So in the sense that by following the law, the master is taught to a ‘shoring-up’ or ‘repairing the damage’ in regard to his slaves, albeit at a cost. But that is another point. What sacrifice *doesn’t * have a cost?

*"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.

This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.

Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.

The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls." - Exodus 30:11-16*

Seems in this case, atonement for the soul (for more or less good health, since they didn’t really have an HMO. Or did they?) is in the form of a monetary payment! No less from the rich, no more from the poor. Exactly half a shekel (or about 6.5 grams of silver, the current value as of today would be $3.24. I don’t know what the value conversion would be in Biblical times).

Of course in Christ’s case, we are not redeemed by silver or gold, but by His precious Blood. But what is it that makes Jesus’ blood sufficient to for the atonement of the soul? We are taught that the life of the flesh is in the blood. While Jesus was alive, He offered His life as Messiah at the appointed time. And I’m not just talking about giving his life up on the Cross. He became obedient, even to the death of the Cross, yes. But in terms of His Messiahship, He was offering the power, and glory, and honor of God toward the redemption of Israel. Far more than an example for us to follow, He was indeed that, He was offering Israel the opportunity to rise up in the power of God to usher in the Kingdom, but they just didn’t believe Him. All the miracles that were performed were a taste of what He had to offer them.

Why do you think that Jesus didn’t perform miracles in certain areas? Was it because He couldn’t do them? Or was it because He wouldn’t do them because of a lack of faith? You see this theme running all through the Gospels. His hometown didn’t have faith, so not many were healed. Even his disciples lacked faith, like in the sinking boat, or when Peter already walking with Jesus on the water suddenly got fearful and started sinking, and what did Jesus say? ‘O ye of little faith, why did ye doubt’. When the disciples couldn’t cast the unclean spirit from the lunick boy, they asked Jesus why. He said ‘O faithless and perverse generation’. He wasn’t directing that comment toward the father, who had asked the disciples to cure his son. He included disciples in the the ‘faithless and perverse generation’, seemingly frustrated that they did not learn to do what He ended up doing. Then Jesus gets into the Mustard Seed Parable. Do you know what mountain He said they could move? The mount of the Transfiguration, possibly Mount Hermon, some distance from Caesarea Phillipi. Why would Jesus say they could move THAT mountain with a grain of faith?

But going back to the ‘faithless and perverse generation’ theme. I looked up all three words and found it interesting. ‘Faithless’ means ‘without trust in God’, ‘perverse’ means ‘to distort, turn aside
;to oppose, plot against the saving purposes; to turn aside from the right path, to pervert, corrupt
and plans of God’, and ‘generation’ means ‘that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family; the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy’.

You know it sums up pictures the condition of Israel fairly accurately. By the time of this account, it was apparent that Israel wasn’t ready to repent. Yes, God could have slammed down His iron fist and ruled at anytime. But He wants to do it with Israels cooperation. And I believe that as long as Israels demonstrates herself as THIS generation. that is turned aside from the right path, against the plans and national salvation of God, they will remain THIS generation. Just as the first generation of Israelites weren’t able to go into the Promised Land, there awaits the generation that will. Jesus could have choosen to do so then, or at any time, but He is waiting for Israel’s time.