Most of us know John 3:16. Some people see it with new eyes and think, “How can this be love? To let your own son die a horrible death? Surely there is a way for an all powerful loving God to save humanity without the use of violence.” What we may not realize in this modern world is the ancient context. In Old Testament times, from the time Moses brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, about 1200 years before the birth of Christ, until the Babylonian exile in the fifth century before the birth of Christ, there was a continual battle for the souls of the people between the one true God and the pagan religions of the peoples who lived in the Promised Land before the Israelites came. In the old pagan religions of the region, the first-born child of a family was typically sacrificed to the god or goddess of fertility. If a person wanted to have a good crop yield, one sacrificed the first-born child. In some pagan rituals, all the children were made to “pass through fire” which must have been painful. The Old Testament says that God wanted the Israelites to occupy the Promised Land to eliminate the pagan practices that were so violent and cruel. God heard the cry of the suffering of the innocents.
When God gave HIS ONLY SON he turned the pagan religions upside down. The false god the pagans worshipped required the sacrifice of human children. The one true God hears the cries of the innocents and gives himself for them, not the other way around. The Son of God is sacrificed so that the sons and daughters of humanity need not be sacrificed. God does not require that we prove our devotion by harming others or ourselves. The very idea that the favor of a deity is given in exchange for human sacrifice is the most heinous lie of all time. No. The one true God tells us that he is the one who will do the sacrificing. We are to do the living, eternally, by accepting the sacrifice as proof positive that God wants us to live, joyfully, lovingly, peacefully live, in the embrace of Love.
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