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What do you give a God who has everything? (Index thread)

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posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:02 PM
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Paul told the people of Athens that a God who made the world had no need of offerings and sacrifices;
“He is not served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything” (Acts ch17 v25).
While Jeremiah told the people of Jerusalem that their God had never demanded them;
“For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.
“But this command I gave them; Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah ch7 vv22-23).

If Jeremiah was right, how did these offerings become part of the Pentateuch?
I would reconstruct the history in this way;
The God of Sinai would have given his people commands which focussed on their relationship with himself and their treatment of each other, just as Jesus later defined them; “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbour as yourself”.

When brought into the land of Canaan, this commandment-based covenant would have been grafted onto the existing, sacrifice-based, local culture.
Cultural conservatism would have made it difficult to discard the sacrifices, and there would have been no obvious need to give them up.
If their God was going to supersede the local gods, it would be desirable, in any case, to transfer to him the ceremonies which were associated with them.
It would make the point that he alone was the true provider of the gifts for which men were giving thanks.

Abraham and Isaac

However, there were some customs which could not be appropriately transferred.
There was to be no room in this religion for human sacrifice, which was a common practice in the ancient world, illustrated in the Old Testament itself.
Part of the purpose of the story of Abraham and Isaac is to demonstrate, in the most dramatic way possible, that the God of Israel does not want human sacrifice.
The command that Isaac should be sacrificed was put forward with the intention that it should be withdrawn, and the lesson of this reversal was much more memorable than a merely verbal prohibition would have been.
Another lesson was taught at the same time; “One kind of sacrifice can be replaced by another”, a principle which offers a way of re-modelling the whole sacrificial system.

The wrong incense

The God of Israel may not have asked for these customary offerings in the first instance.
But if they were going to be accepted at all, he could not exclude undesirable features (or begin a process of changing them) without first establishing some degree of control.
Therefore an incident in the consecration of Aaron shows him insisting on obedience in the way these rituals are conducted.

The shared meal

The most basic form of sacrifice was giving a portion from a food animal back to the God who supplied the animal in the first place.
This was originally supposed to happen every time an animal was slaughtered.
The rest of the sacrifice was normally divided between the worshippers (which later included the priests).
Paul picked up on the point that, in effect, the worshippers and their God were sharing a meal together.

There were other forms of sacrifice which were offered on the same grounds.
That is, expressing a sense of obligation to the provider.

Claiming the firstborn.

The basket offering

The tithe offering

The firstborn progeny of all living things.
The first portions of the annual harvest.
One tenth of the annual produce.

The calves of the lips

The praise of God can also be counted as a kind of sacrifice.
Hosea calls it “the calves of the lips”.
This makes it a possible substitute, in the long term, for bloodier forms of sacrifice.

The atonement offerings

The other main reason for offering sacrifice was as a way of persuading God to overlook their sins and transgressions.
The Law declared that the blood of animals was reserved for the purpose of “making atonement”.
This was because their blood represented their life.
I suggested that the lives of the animals, in turn, were representing the lives of the worshippers, being offered in repentance.

Better than the fat of rams

But this God declares, through the prophets, that he values obedience more than he values animal sacrifice, or any other kind of offering.
The best way of putting it, I think, is that what God really wants from his people is a self-offering.
The offerings of animals and produce, the offerings of incense and even praise, are only symbols and tokens of that self-offering.
That is what makes them inadequate.
The most effective way of giving yourself to God would be in offering obedience to what he wants.

He shall be a Nazirite

One class of people dedicated themselves to living in obedience to God.
This, too, was symbolic, because they restricted themselves to a particular set of regulations and a limited period.
But it was a move in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the nation’s religious life was moving in the opposite direction, towards increased dependence upon sacrifice.
One factor would be convenience. Making an offering would seem simpler than giving a generalised obedience to God’s commands.
Another would be greed. Once the priests were getting a portion of the sacrifice, they had a vested interest in encouraging more use of the practice.
The prophets protested against these developments.
They are sometimes regarded as the proponents of a new form of religion.
But if Jeremiah is right, they were really resisting change, and attempting, like all true reformers, the restoration of what was there from the beginning.

The destruction of the kingdom, and the restoration of the nation without kings, had the effect of establishing the priesthood as the dominant force.
During the period of exile, they were custodians of the religious tradition, and they seem to have taken the opportunity of emphasising the importance of the sacrifices which they administered.
As a result, the religion of the second Temple, down to the time of Jesus, was more sacrifice-based than ever.

All this was overturned, of course, by the Roman destruction of that Temple.
In the absence of the Temple, the Jewish faith has re-centred itself upon praise of God and keeping his commandments, which is probably closer to what he wanted in the first place.

If the Creator God is already the true owner of all we have, then the most rational response to the title question is to give him everything.
Paul puts it well when he appeals to his brethren to present their bodies as a “living” sacrifice. (Romans ch12 v1).
It sums up what the Biblical God is really looking for, in the offerings described in the Law.
Namely, an acceptance of our dependence upon him, and the full offering of ourselves.




posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:08 PM
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An observation;
I suggested that the Jewish faith, once the Temple had been destroyed and the sacrificial routine had been abandoned, found a form of religion closer to their God's original intentions.
If this is the case, then of course a resumption of sacrifice, with or without the restoration of a temple, could only be a retrograde move.
edit on 4-9-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:09 PM
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Your patient teacher

I am the son of two schoolteachers and the grandson of a third.
I may have mentioned this before.
This provides me with a very accessible analogy for the way God approaches the question of giving laws to the people of Israel.
He behaves like a teacher.

A good teacher is always conscious of the capabilities and limitations of his pupils, and he tries to give them teaching at the appropriate level.
He talks to them in terms which they will be able to understand, and sets out to improve their understanding in gradual ways.
If their reading abilities have taken them to the end of the first of the “Janet and John” books, then he offers them the second book.
If their mathematical skills have taken them as far as adding up and “taking away”, then he might begin showing them how to multiply and divide.
What he’s not going to do is start scribbling Einstein’s equations on the blackboard.
Teaching is not about “zapping” people with instantaneous advanced knowledge (except in science fiction stories).
It is the slow and patient work of gradual training.

We find a similar patience in the way the God of Israel deals with his people.
Thus his intention for marriage was that “a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” (Genesis ch2 v23).
Yet in the Old Testament laws he accepts, for the time being, the practice of divorce, which Jesus blames on “the hardness of their hearts” (Matthew ch19 v8).
And why does God allow them to fall short of the intended standard?
Because their minds are not yet ready for the intended standard.
They are still in training.

He finds this people living in a very patriarchal society, like all the other societies of the time.
Whatever he thinks about this, he does not try to change it at a stroke.
He modifies their behaviour gradually, beginning with some mild restraints on the husband’s power.
He finds them owning slaves, like all the other societies of the time.
Whatever he thinks about this, he does not try to abolish the custom at a stroke.
He modifies their behaviour gradually, providing slaves with some legal protection, and trying to discourage them from enslaving their own people.
He finds them loving their brothers and other kinsmen and encourages them to treat the rest of the nation in the same way.
However, they are not yet ready to extend the concept of “brothers” to the world at large, so that part of the training is postponed for a later stage.
He finds them offering animal sacrifices, like all the other societies of the time.
Whatever he thinks about this, he does not try to abolish the practice at a stroke.
Instead, he gradually changes the meaning of the word “sacrifice”, giving it a more and more metaphorical interpretation, and waiting until the more literal sacrifices can be brought to an end by the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
And he finds them engaging in war, just like all the other societies around them.
But in this case, too, it takes time to wean them out of it.

In short, what we see in the laws of the Old Testament, and in the overall history of the Old Testament, is the slow and patient work of gradual training.
God does not “zap”. He teaches.

When modern critics are assailing the laws and the culture of the Old Testament, this is precisely what they are complaining about.
They don’t think God should have been giving his people this patient teaching.
They think he should have “zapped” them , instantly, to a state of spiritual maturity comparable to their own.
If they had been in God’s place (and they would certainly have done the job better) they would have “zapped”.

The God of the Old Testament is much more patient than they are.
He finds his people at the “cuh-ah-tuh-CAT” level of spiritual education, and he lifts them gradually.
A lot of work will be required before they can reach the kind of spiritual heights from which these critics can look down haughtily at the junior versions of themselves.
The fact that God is willing to undertake this slow and patient work is very revealing.
It shows us that God is a teacher.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:21 PM
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"What do you give a God who has everything? Jeez? I dunno? How about a pair of furry pink panties and a electric lime green tu tu?



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:23 PM
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a reply to: HUMBLEONE
The opening post has suggested a better answer.
I don't know if you ever read opening posts, but this one might be worth considering.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:28 PM
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Your thread addresses some important "whys and wherefores" regarding the confusion people struggle with as to "why does God do this or that?"
Well written. Thank you.
edit on 4-9-2015 by ColeYounger because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:29 PM
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You mean that you cannot actually give anything to god? He is the giver of all gifts. It is foolish to bargain with god?

This is my interpretation.

A god of true patience can hardly receive anything from his children. He is a teacher in a all things?



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:30 PM
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a reply to: ColeYounger
I'm glad you found it helpful.
I do have other threads on similar issues (like the series looking at the social laws).



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:35 PM
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originally posted by: Subnatural
You mean that you cannot actually give anything to god? He is the giver of all gifts. It is foolish to bargain with god?

That is all true as well.
I was expounding Paul's point that a Creator God does not need to receive specific goods from us.
Concluding with the idea that it's foolish to hold anything back, since everything is his already.
He doesn't want anything from us, except that he wants "us".
edit on 4-9-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:36 PM
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It shows us that God is a teacher.


Maybe this is the main reason Jesus was sent. Knowing that the feeble human intellect couldn't grasp the concept of a truly omnipotent being, God said "Let's see if you can grasp this: A man who can perform supernatural deeds, heal the sick, raise the dead."



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:39 PM
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a reply to: ColeYounger
Yes, and he was also sent to explain what the Old Testament meant.
E.g., what God really wanted marriage to be.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 05:52 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI
a reply to: HUMBLEONE
The opening post has suggested a better answer.
I don't know if you ever read opening posts, but this one might be worth considering.



Oh, I don't know. I thought my answer was spot on. How do you know whats on the mind of God? What is God? Do you know? How can your feeble little human ego have any understanding?



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:00 PM
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What God really wants is our loving service, that we do everything as if it was for Him, that we offer everything to Him, and always think of Him...



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:02 PM
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a reply to: VED4S
Thank you, that well sums up what I meant by "self-offering".



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:07 PM
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originally posted by: DISRAELI

originally posted by: Subnatural
You mean that you cannot actually give anything to god? He is the giver of all gifts. It is foolish to bargain with god?

That is all true as well.
I was expounding Paul's point that a Creator God does not need to receive specific goods from us.
Concluding with the idea that it's foolish to hold anything back, since everything is his already.
He doesn't want anything from us, except that he wants "us".


The fact that you italicize the word need shows my problem with this argument.

Why does a Creator God need anything? All things are not provided for him, but he provides all things.

It is exactly and necessarily true that he himself provides all things that we can comprehend, for him or for us.

Yet now as I write this it strikes me that you may not find this counter to your arguments. Indeed it is evident in your first sentence in your first message in this thread.

And your later statements about God as teacher make sense to me, more than the view of God that is propounded by modern Christianity, in my country, anyway.

Still, what is "us" and why does he want it? Did he not fully create mankind? Is there something lacking from the fullness of his creation? There must be some reason. Why would he create a being that betrays him?

The same is true for Lucifer or Satan who in some christian traditions betrays God and wages war against him. Why delay his defeat? Why delay the inevitable?

These are the questions that sap my soul. There are worse ones too, but let's start with these. If you will indulge me. And I beg you will.
edit on 4-9-2015 by Subnatural because: (no reason given)

edit on 4-9-2015 by Subnatural because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:13 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

God doesn't have everything. God can't have my love if I choose not to give it. That's what god wants but with free will and all that god doesn't get to choose who gives it or not.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:16 PM
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originally posted by: Subnatural
The fact that you italicize the word need shows my problem with this argument.
Why does a Creator God need anything? All things are not provided for him, but he provides all things.

I don't understand why there should be a problem. As far as I can tell, we agree with each other on this.


Still, what is "us" and why does he want it? Did he not fully create mankind? Is there something lacking from the fullness of his creation?

By "us" I mean humanity in general.
The lesson being taught by the story of the Garden of Eden is that obedience is missing.
So that is something which he still wants from us.


Why would he create a being that betrays him?

He doesn't tell us the answer to this.
It was something he wanted to do anyway, come what may.


These are the questions that sap me. There are worse ones too, but let's start with these.

As long as the questions don't wander away from the basic topic of the thread.
edit on 4-9-2015 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:18 PM
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originally posted by: ZeussusZ
God doesn't have everything. God can't have my love if I choose not to give it.

Then that is the answer to the title question. You can choose to give him that as well.



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:23 PM
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If God did not want human sacrifice then why did he require the human sacrifice of his Son on the cross?

If we are the living sacrifice as Paul says then why was Jesus needed? Wasn't he a living sacrifice as well?



posted on Sep, 4 2015 @ 06:27 PM
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a reply to: DISRAELI

No the tittle was what to give god who has everything. God doesn't have everything as I pointed out.



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