Friday, June 15, 2012

The Arguments for Limited Atonement

When I was new to Calvinism I was a big fan of Limited Atonement, because it seemed to magnify the deep and abiding love that God has for the elect which I never realized was there before. That and R.C. Sproul sounded so wise on the radio.
Once I matured in my thinking and reasoning I began to think of Limited Atonement as the gateway drug to hyper-Calvinism- once you believe it you have set your feet on the road to very unbiblical conclusions. Among the other acrostic elements in the TULIP it alone is the bitter center of death coated in a sweet outer, doctrinally sound TUIP.
Now I think that this doctrine simply is one of the key tenants in hyper-Calvinism, is driven directly by hyper-Calvinistic presuppositions, and the only people who believe in it are the hypers or the closet hypers. To be sure, an unsuspecting person can be taken in by it, but what they are taken in to is hyper-Calvinism. 
That may sound un-charitable at first, but read the arguments for it, consider them, and then you may realize that all of the arguments proceed from the assumption that God has a group of people that He has always hated, and always will hate, and another group that He has always loved, and always will love.
Without further introduction, below are a few of the most common arguments for Limited Atonement. I have also arranged them that the conclusion is the last sentence, and I suspect you will find this so helpful that just by reading the concluding statement the error in the argument is made manifest.

Christ lays down His life for His sheep (Jn 10:15), His people (Matt 1:21, Titus 2:14), His church (Acts 20:28, Eph 5:25), those who wait for Him (Heb 9:28), and His friends (Jn 15:13). Since there is no measure He is not willing to go to save the elect it proves that He loves them in a special way.
Therefore, He laid down His life for them only. 

REBUTTAL(1): A special love for the elect does not imply a general hatred for the non-elect. This is a negative inference fallacy, and it’s foreign to reason. If I tell my wife I love her more than anyone else in the world people should not infer that I hate my children.
REBUTTAL(2): If the atonement can be no larger than what is listed in Scripture, then ultimately atonement and salvation was only for one person, Paul (Gal 2:20).

The word all does not mean all without exception, it means all of a class. Did every person go out to see Jesus (Jn 12:19)? In the same way world, and whomever, do not mean all of humanity it means exactly and precisely the elect.
Therefore, since the text never indicates the non-elect have the potential to be saved; Christ did not die for them.

REBUTTAL(1): If applied consistently this principle makes the text un-understandable. Jn 12:31 would have Satan as elect. Jn 13:1 would have Jesus loving only a subset of the elect, Jn 14:19, 1 Cor 11:1, Jn 3:16 would have some of the elect failing to persevere. In 2 Cor 5:15 would have only a subset of the elect going on to eternal life.
REBUTTAL(2): If all means elect, then only the elect are sinners. In Rom 5:12 we would have only the elect becoming sinners in Adam. In Is 53:6 if only the sins of the elect are laid on Christ, then it was only the elect that were sinful to begin with.
REBUTTAL(3): This interpretative argument, “because sometimes all does not mean every individual without exception, therefore it never does” is wholly devoid of validity.  Unless someone was already convinced before reading the Scriptures that there was no such thing as God’s indiscriminate invitation to salvation they would never reach that conclusion by starting at that premise.

The Bible never records the using the phrase, “Christ died for your sins” to evangelize.
Therefore, Christ never died for the sins of the non-elect.

REBUTTAL(1): The argument that ‘because a specific phrase is not in the Bible the concept for it is wrong’ unravels as soon as it’s pointed out, because by that reasoning there is no such thing as the trinity.
REBUTTAL(2): It’s simply untrue, Paul spoke of preaching Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23), which must necessarily include the topic of Christ dying for sinful men.
REBUTTAL(3): The first half of the argument is irrelevant to the conclusion. We could re-write the statement in this way and have it be just as valid, “The Apostles never used the phrase “Turkey Sandwich” to evangelize, therefore Christ’s death can be of no benefit to the non-elect.”

The Father has chosen only to elect a particular people, and the Spirit regenerates them only. In light of this it’s senseless to say the Son dies for all without exception.
Therefore, the non-elect have no share in the atonement of Jesus.

REBUTTAL(1): If the Father does not have a real love for all men, nor the Spirit does not earnestly desire their salvation and call out to them with an indiscriminate proposal of mercy, then the result is hyper-calvinism, wherein God loved the elect and hated the non-elect from all eternity past. The whole argument proceeds first from the assumption that God hates the non-elect, wishes them to perish, and delights in their demise. That there is only one disposition in God toward the non-elect and it's hatred is a dubious assertion at best.
REBUTTAL(2): The tacit assumption here is that each member of the Trinity can have only one job in salvation. While that means election, regeneration, and atonement are sponsored, it leaves a gap in adoption, sanctification, and justification (to name a few). This is a very strange and unwarranted assumption.

In the Garden Christ does not pray for the world, He only prays for believers.
Therefore since Christ did not intend to save the non-elect, He did not die for them either.

REBUTTAL(1): This is to confound the satisfaction of God’s justice and His application of Mercy. There existed between God and man a legal barrier that had to be first overcome before God could even offer salvation to men (this is the meaning of the temple curtain being torn). To make this argument is to assume that God has absolutely no desire to even lower the legal barrier to salvation.
REBUTTAL(2): The tacit assumption is that because God is not willing to regenerate a man He is not willing that they should be saved. This is a faulty assumption.

Christ did not come to potentially save, to merely give an opportunity to men they may or may not be saved if they take it. He did not die to offer men a chance to be saved, because chance is nothing. Christ actually atoned for the sins of His people on the cross.
Therefore, since the non-elect are not saved, Christ did not die for them. 
(NOTE: This same argument is often seen in the famous form of Owen’s Trilemma: Christ either died for All the sins of all men, in which case nobody goes to hell, some of the sins of all men, in which case nobody goes to heaven, or all the sins of some men, in which case those who have their sins atoned for go to heaven, and those do not to hell.
ALSO NOTE: The argument is sometimes put this way: If the sin of unbelief is not atoned for then the elect would go to hell for their unpaid sins. Christ must therefore have atoned for every sin, even the sin of unbelief while on the cross.)

REBUTTAL(1): The argument proves too much. If the sins of the elect were transferred to Christ, and He made a payment for them while hanging on the cross, then the elect are saved before they were born, regardless of what they do. In other words, contrary to Eph 2:3, the elect are never under the wrath of God, no matter what action, belief, sin, or level of ungodliness they commit or exhibit.
REBUTTAL(2): This is a total denial of the centrality and necessity of faith in salvation. This is classic hyper-Calvinism.

Related: If Christ paid the punishment a sin then it’s paid for. It would be unjust for God to punish sins twice: first in Christ, then in the sinner.
Therefore, Christ did not pay for the sins that men are punished for.

REBUTTAL(1): The argument makes the assumption that our debt to God is made like a cash payment on a debt. The atonement does not ipso facto liberate us because we are under a judicial wrath, and God has set terms for us before He will apply Christ’s death to our account.
REBUTTAL(2): The notion of double jeopardy just isn’t Biblical. How could God be wrathful with believers if this was true? How could He justly discipline believers when they sin?

Related: Christ’s purpose in coming and dying was to keep His people out of hell. There were already people in hell at the time of His death; therefore, He did not make atonement for all men.

REBUTTAL(1): As mentioned earlier, this assumes that men are free from their debt before, and without faith. Men may still end up in hell even after Christ takes their punishment if the conditions for salvation (namely faith) are not met. Therefore if a man goes to hell it’s not necessary there is a deficiency in the atonement, but rather it’s because of their rebellious unbelief.
REBUTTAL(2): The presumption is that Christ’s death does no good to dead men. If this is true then how would (or could) people who lived before the time of Christ ever get to heaven?

Related: In dying for the elect Jesus gave all the gifts necessary for salvation, including faith. (If this were not so then men would be saving themselves by adding the one element that makes all the difference in their destiny).
Therefore, since Jesus gives the gift of faith from the cross as part of the atonement, and the non-elect do not receive the gift of faith, the non-elect are not atoned for.

REBUTTAL(1): The Bible does not specify that all gifts come from Christ. Indeed, doesn't the Calvinist assert that the gift of election is given by God the Father? On what grounds is it assumed then that the cross is the source of the procurement of faith?
REBUTTAL(2): If the cross is the source of all good things, rather than God as the Scriptures say, then the point is over-proved. Does not Christ then also give the gifts of rain, sunshine, sleep, family, joy, sex, children, taste, relaxation, from the cross as well? This must also extend to the non-elect, in which case they must necessarily be atoned for.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd
  • Naturally a shepherd like David would call (by inspiration) the Lord a shepherd.
  • Psalm 78:52 “Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.”
  • Psalm 80:1 “Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!
    You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.”
  • Isaiah 40:11 “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
  • Ezekiel 34:11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.”
  • Ezekiel 34:23 “And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
  • John 10: 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
  • The Shepherd is the worst job. You condescend to spend all your time guarding dumb smelly creatures.

I shall not want
  • Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
  • Psalm 34:10 “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
  • Psalm 34:9 “Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!”

He makes me lie down in green pastures
  • Hebrew NEOTH which means pastures, or sheep cot, or lodges.  An open air tent in fertile ground that sheep can cool off under while eating
  • Ezekiel 34:14 “I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.”
  • John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

He leads me beside still waters
  • Hebrew: waters of rest - denoting gently flowing water.
    Sheep have trouble drinking from fast moving waters, and it is harmful to drink from stagnant water
  • Is there anything you can think of that the sheep need that they have not gotten? Food, water, shelter

He restores my soul
  • Psalms 19:7 God refreshes our soul
  • The word means ‘to make new’
  • As a shepherd who coddles and heals his sheep, so God does likewise to our soul

He leads me in paths of righteousness
  • Righteousness, or ‘right paths’
  • Isaiah 49:10 “they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.”
  • Psalm 143:10 “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” What does it say of John the Baptist? Make level the ground, make straight the paths, prepare the way for the coming Lord
  • Psalm 31:3 “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me”
  • Proverbs 8:20 “I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice,”

For His name sake
  • Ezekiel 20:9 “But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.” And 20:14
  • Why has God created the world as He has? For His Glory. For His name.
  • Psalm 79:9 “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!”
  • Why has therefore God fed us and clothed us, nursed, healed us?  Because of any good thing we did or will do or are? WRONG! Because there is only One who is good, God alone.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
  • In spite of all that good protection, believers are still exposed to danger
  • Hebrew tsalmaveth meaning deadly shade, which connotes near or in a cave of darkness, a den of wild animals
  • Psalm 138:7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life;
    you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.”
  • During our trials we are to take comfort in running to God

I will fear no evil
  • Psalm 27:1 “he LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
    The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
  • The Lord who is for you is greater than them, therefore be strong and courageous and do not be afraid
  • Psalm 118: 6 “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
  • Fear God who can cast you body and soul into hell

For you are with me;
  • Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
  • Indeed He is everywhere and has promised not to leave us

Your rod and your staff they comfort me
  • The crook and cudgel that is to be used on the enemies of the sheep.  We need not fear the severe justice of God, but delight in it as our protection

You prepare a table before me
  • Transitions to future tense
  • Psalms 78:19 “They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness?”
  • to prepare a table is to make ready

In the presence of my enemies
  • On the run from absolom David was blessed by some men 2 Samuel 17:27-29 “When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils, honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, "The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness."
  • Though evil men try to destroy David, though they hate him, still God is good

You anoint my head with oil
  • David was anointed by Samuel for kingship
  • For visiting guests they would perfume you with oil if you were a friend or welcome guest Jesus said ‘you did not oil me..’
  • Psalm 45:7 “you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;”

My cup overflows
  • Psalm 16:5 “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.”
  • Or better still: my cup continually is overflowing, you catch the oil in the cup, that it is overflowing is a generous beyond measure testimony to God

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
  • Surely – only
  • Mercy – steadfast love
  • Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”

And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever
  • In Hebrew: forever = length of days
  • In addressing Jesus Psalm 21:4 “He asked life of you; you gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.”
  • David’s goal was to make it to heaven with God, in God’s presence, and to seek things not of this earth, but things of the next world.

Psalm 19

David sings the praise of heaven, and then of the law in revealing God

The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims His handiwork
  • Sky above is Hebrew ‘expanse’ The word means to spread abroad, stretch forth, extend, expand.
  •  it is the same as Genesis 1:6-8 “And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.”  The meaning is that looking from earth the entire earth, land and sky are earmarks of Gods power
  • Romans 1:19-20 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
  • It is not possible to look at the stars and the skies and think it was chance

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge
  • He moves from saying the heavens demonstrate and proclaim, to the heavens talk to us
  • Now looking from the solar system, the cycle of the sun, the rotation of the earth, the dance of gigantic cosmic spheres, they pour out cosmological evidence, shouting praise to their maker they testify to His largeness, His wisdom, and His imagination.

There is no speech, nor are there words whose voice is not heard
  • This may be the only time I will say this, the NIV does a fantastic job with this verse.
  • Regardless of if you speak French, Chinese, or Hindi, you can look and see God’s glory

Their measuring line goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world
  • More than they speak in every language now, David states that the whole world is informed
  • The word kav means a building, or line, or measuring line is the regularity and control that marks our universe. Here is means more ‘writing’ or ‘blueprint’ something that all men can read
  • Paul quotes this to mean that Israel has heard the good news in Romans 10:16-18 “But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?" Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
  • God’s plan always includes the whole world. He does not act in secret, but so the whole world is aware. The Gentiles had God preaching to them all along Acts 14:16-17 God had left the Gentiles this witness

In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber and a strong man runs it’s course with joy
  • It might seem to us like Ecc 1:5 the sun rises the sun sets, but the sun is NOT doing that.
  • The sun delights to serve God in the way it was created

It’s rising is from the end of the heavens and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat
  • David comments on the path the sun takes, the swiftness of it, and the power of heat
  • If we cannot escape the suns heat and power, how much less God’s power?

The law of the YHWH is perfect, reviving the soul
  • David goes on to talk about the entire revelation of God, not merely the book of Leviticus
  • Perfect or blameless. In the Bible there is only full and total truth.  Other books may have some, but only the Bible has it all.
  • As water revives the body so too do God’s words revive the soul
  • Romans 7:12 “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good"

The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple
  • Testimony - Exodus 25:15 “And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you”
  • 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
  • Sure - psalm 111:7 “The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;”
  • Make wise- 2 Timothy 3:15 “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
  • Psalm 119:130 “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”
  • Simple­- children is a nearer mark to the original word. 

The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart
  • Psalm 119:27 “Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”
  • When we live with a clear conscience as God intended we will be happy

The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes
  • Psalm 12:6 “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”
  • Psalm 13:3 “Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,”
  • Men who ignore God wander as a blind man. Jesus said you blind guides to the Pharisees

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever
  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and we learn from Proverbs to search wisdom for it will never depart
  • Clean shows us how we are to worship: in spirit and in truth

The rules of the LORD are true and righteous altogether
  • Or decrees of the LORD
  • Psalm 119:160 “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold
  • Fine = paz meaning to strengthen. Denotes purity
  • Proverbs 8:10 “Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold,”
  • Psalm 119:72 “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
  • The law is better than any amount of money, for money is destined to perish. What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?

Sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb
  • Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
  • Revelation and Ezekiel – eat the scroll, and it tasted like honey in my mouth
  • Proverbs 16:24 “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Moreover, by them is your servant warned
  • God warned us in Deut 30 to stay away from sin or die, in the strongest terms He says “NO SIN”
  • And without them we are left with nothing, no center, no glue, no truth, no guideposts, no signs, nothing.

In keeping them there is great reward
  • And He warned us in Deut 30 to keep them and live. For by them we possess eternal life
  • Now, if this is the old revelation, if this is the law that brings death and destruction, condemnation and woe, that blinds men’s eyes, and yet is perfect, life giving, right, clean, eternal, true, pure, the essence of wisdom itself, how much greater is Christ Jesus!!!!!!!  John 1:17 && 1 Corinthians 15:56 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”

Who can discern his errors?
  • We are blind to our own faults, thinking we are decent people, generally sinless. HA! As we come into the light our true selves are exposed. We don’t even acknowledge 1/1000th of our faults
  • 1 Cor 4:4 “For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”
  • The law is a mirror for ourselves

Declare me innocent from hidden faults
  • Leviticus 4:2+ Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If anyone sins unintentionally in any of the LORD’s commandments about things not to be done, and does any one of them
  • And how can we be cleansed of our sins? Supplication, asking. Romans 4, we cannot work for our cleansing. It is a prayer for forgiveness

Keep back your servant also form presumptuous sins
  • 1 Samuel 25:34 & 39 The Lord held David back from sin
  • Our nature is sin, and that means we are slaves to it.  We are slaves to whom we submit to obey, our passions and lusts.  A world without restraint is a Romans 3 world. All good comes from God
  • God is continually with His hand on us

let them not have dominion over me
  • Psalm 119:133 “Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.”
  • Romans 6:14 “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression
  • Turn me and I shall be turned.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight
  • David asks for a clean heart and a clean tongue. For whomever has mastered the tongue has mastered himself. 

Or LORD my rock and my redeemer
  • Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 50

PSALM 50 God is not happy with the Jews, for they have not worshipped rightly while bringing their sacrifice

The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
  • Deuteronomy 10:17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.”
  • God has all the power over nature. As we saw when Jesus calmed the seas.
  • Messenger announcing the presence of the Lord

2Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
  • Psalm 48:2 “Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.” Zion = Jerusalem, the habitation of God Himself
  • God is surrounded by a shekina, a glory. Luke 2:9 as an example.
  • This is why the New Jerusalem will have no night, because God will be its light Revelations 22:5

3Our God comes; He does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire,
   around him a mighty tempest.
·         He is not slow in keeping His promise, as some count slowness. He is a mighty and awesome God
·         Exodus 19:16-19 “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
·         Ezekiel 1:4 “I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal”
·         Ezekiel 1:13-14 “The appearance of the living creatures was like burning coals of fire or like torches. Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it. The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.”
4He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
·         God judges His people for everyone to see
·         Deuteronomy 30:19 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”
·         Isaiah 1:2 “Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, "Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me.”
5"Gather to me my faithful ones, who cut a covenant with me by sacrifice!"
·         God is going to clarify to the people He made the agreements with the nature of sacrifice
·         Abraham made a covenant by sacrifice, Genesis 15:9-18
·         Moses made a covenant by sacrifice, Exodus 24:7-8, the Jews Jeremiah 34:18
·         Jesus made a covenant by sacrifice
The heavens declare His righteousness for God Himself is judge! Selah
  • The Jews did NOT declare God’s righteousness in their sacrifice but His wrath. The heavens can declare God’s righteousness
  • Psalm 75:7 “But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another.”

7 Hear O my people and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you; I am God, Your God
  • Psalm 81:8 “Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you; O Israel, if you would listen to Me!”
  • Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
  • God Himself speaks now, He indicates His possession and His right to judge them

8 Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you, your burnt offerings are continually before me
  • It has nothing to do with your sacrifices
  • Numbers 16:35 “And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.”
  • Isaiah 1:12+ God is not pleased with wrongful sacrifice, which is how we know He was pleased with Jesus
  • Jeremiah 7:22-23 NO NIV “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. "But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it maybe well with you.'
  • Micah 6:7 “Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
  • Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings”
  • Psalm 40:6 “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.”
  • Matthew 9:13 “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."”
  • Hebrews 10:8-10 In speaking of Jesus, who prayed in the Garden not my will but thy will, not about sacrifice but heart “First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

I shall take no young bull out of your house nor male goats out of your folds for every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine
  • Reason 1 God is not pleased: if you take His stuff and kill it you are a thief and arson. God is sovereign!
  • Isaiah 66:1-2 “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest? For all these things hath mine hand made.”
  • 1000 means a big number, same as the millennial reign in Revelations

If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine and all it contains.  Shall I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of male goats?
  • God does not care about eating. He is transcendent.
  • John 4:24 “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

14Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and perform your vows to the Most High and call upon me in the day of trouble I will deliver you and you shall glorify me
  • NO NIV for this section!  This then, is the sacrifice God wants: thanksgiving, honesty, and cries for help
  • Not that sacrifices had no value, but that they have no intrinsic value to placate God with their mere presence
  • Hebrews 13:15 “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name.”

16 but to the wicked God says: What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?
  • A hypocritical worship angers God.  Which is why we are to examine ourselves before the Lords supper 1 Corinthians 11:17-33 – do not confuse weakness with hypocrisy
  • Acting saved will not save you, reforming your behavior is useless if your heart is evil.
  • Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.”

For you hate discipline and you cast my words behind you.
  • Cast words behind, throw them out as if they had no value
  • Obedience is the form of worship God desires
  • 1 John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
  • We can get a bad idea of what a Christian should be like from hypocrites and their teachings, hence the condemnation

If you see a thief you are pleased with him and you keep company with adulterers You give your mouth free rein for evil and your tongue frames deceit You sit and speak against your brother; you slander you own mothers son
  • Violations of commandments 7, 9,
  • Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”
  • Romans 1:32 “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

These things you have done, and I have been silent
  • God remains silent to show us His patience and to pour wrath on Christ
  • Romans 3:25-16 “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

You thought that I was one like yourself, but now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you
  • We are not to assume God is like us. We are evil, He is good. We are weak, He is strong. We are selfish, petty, and criminal, He is magnanimous, forgiving and Holy

Mark this then you who forget God least I tear you apart and there be none to deliver!
  • Hosea 5:14 “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.”
  • Preaching about hell is at bottom a kindness, for these men will be severely punished for their ingratitude, profaning His worship, mocked His patience, and acted like criminals

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me,
  • The parallel from verse 14

to the one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God
  • Hebrews 9:13-15 “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

Arrival, Humanity, and Jesus

I recently rented Arrival (a worthy movie about aliens coming to Earth to communicate with us) and was immediately struck by the forcef...