Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Scapegoat


Sacrifice is the murder of a scapegoat, an innocent party, with an intent to free, liberate or rescue a guilty party from the consequence of disobedience to a required legal, moral or ethical condition of life. "without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sin", but, "it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins." In this, the propitiation (satisfactory sacrifice) of Jesus, provides for the expiation of sin, the creation of a holy heart, the purifying of the soul and this scapegoat (Jesus) now sits at the right-hand of God, constantly affirming our place in fellowship with God by His willing sacrifice.

Psalm 40:6-8, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart."
Hebrews 10:5-7, "Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- In the volume of the book it is written of Me-- To do Your will, O God.' "


Obedience to obligation, whether legal, moral or ethical is a requirement of faith. Faith, personal and private communion with God, is the result of a guilty and condemned party (me) acting without any substitutionary, intercessory or intermediate appeasement releasing one (me) from condemnation or guilt, and by that action of faith receiving reward to which it has no legal or moral position to claim. Faith existed before the fullness of God's redemptive work in the world was initiated and revealed in His Son Jesus Christ. This faith, is the Philip. 2:12, "...work(ing) out (of) your own salvation with fear and trembling;..." It is the personal faith and belief that moves each of us to continue on in spiritual growth and maturation; it is the personal faith and belief that is our own relational experience with God apart from what anyone else can know; it is the personal faith and belief that requires a dependency upon the mercy and grace of God extended because of His son Jesus; it is 'kenosis' which exists because of Jesus, in response to Jesus; it is not the scapegoat removing responsibility for repentance; it is not the scapegoat removing accountability; it is not the scapegoat replacing obligation for personal holiness reflected in honest, vulnerable relationships with God and with other Christians; it is not about stoic expressions and ritual observances, it is about worshipping with our hearts; it is acknowledging the failings of ourselves and others in proclaiming the worth and value of the scapegoat; it does not negate the value of the scapegoat by our understanding of our human condition and the fluctuations of faith/fear, hope/pain, and struggles with defining love; it does not affect grace; it does not absolve from obedience to the Law (Ten + 2); it is the impetus for obedience; and, it is intrinsically linked to our actions and our attitudes and our ...
The operation of obligation in this instance is in effect the offering of ourselves as a sacrifice, however, it is offered and subsequently received as an offering less than worthy of acceptation because of the inherent blemish that is contained within, it is less than satisfactory, unless it is offered in relation to the faith previously noted.


This is viewed, but possibly not recognized or understood, at least cognizantly, as the killing of an innocent man (me), [and in this concept lies the identification of myself with the scapegoat (Jesus) because of the love expressed in the offering], by a self-interested party (me) who wishes to retain my power and the status quo [meaning to desire the best for myself with the least possible cost incurred]. This can present a conflict of interest, the appropriation of reward at the expense of another, combined with the willing and discerning presentation of myself, in faith, as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
This can quite easily become conditional, an expression of devotion, hinged upon personal discernment, circumstance and a number of arbitrary or prized attitudes and reflected by either a lack of commitment and/or an esteeming of that cost already paid by Jesus' propitiatory sacrifice (grace vs legalism; sola gratia sola fide ("by grace alone, by faith alone") and in that a facetious and/or heartfelt reverence which either fails to or succeeds in acknowledging the inherent hypocrisy residing in all of our Christian lives. This can become the wall or rift between generations, between cultures, between individuals, between churches, a dividing from what is seen as 'proper religious observances', from what is expected or sought after by a generation or group striving for relational, reality-based relationships,[represented by forgiveness, mercy, grace, vulnerability, acknowledging hypocrisy, etc.,] as a condition of relationship between God and interpersonal between people. In this we see the vehemence expressed against any legalistic approach to church doctrine by those who through indifference to the understanding of either pleasure or pain refute the true intent of the religious experience of Jesus' redemptive work as a heartfelt, loving yearning for a level of accountability and openness which does not diminish grace, but enlivens and expands grace. It is about the personal walking and talking with God, it is about God reaching our hearts and touching and healing the personal soreness of life's pressures and pains. Can I emphasize the personal aspects of this enough to catch your attention? I am not referring to a euphoric, emotional, sensationalist expression of worship, (that has its place, too!) but the acceptance of God's working in lives through His Holy Spirit, when we as observers, or when we as those enrapt in God's love, may not have understanding, and to not "...quench the Holy Spirit" at work in the believer. We do not want to impoverish the church, we want to see the church acting in the conciliatory power of God's Spirit.


The Law (Ten + 2) is not designed to establish the strictures of an authoritarian dictator who simply wishes to dampen and subvert joy and happiness in this life, the Law (Ten + 2) is designed to point to the absolute, abject poverty of man to redeem and bring value to life. The Law (Ten + 2) liberates through its inherent quality of defining the parameters for the expression of love in willful observance to the mandates of God, who desires that the health and welfare of the compliant servant is maintained and enhanced. In this there is no allowance, by observing worship or faith in action, for judgement upon the moving of God in relation to His people and the person's religious experience. As God continues to move and pour out His Spirit upon His people it is important to not cast doubt and aspersions upon the heartfelt awe and wonder of that personal expression of faith.

Romans 12:2 "...and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The acceptance of the personal sacrifice is in the faith with which it is presented both in terms of denial of self and with regard to the 'one-anothers' in our world. Can we really have the ability to say that we have spiritually and physically expressed in sacrifice all that there is in our life in faith? Can we ever have all faith? Can we ever have enough faith?

There is a tendency to divide obligation, obedience or works from concepts of sanctification, holiness and justification because they appear to be polarized positions. There are those who have used these polarized positions to advantage in the promotion of doctrines designed with good intent and with perverseness in an attempt to edify or damage the church. Oswald Chambers states, "The greatest spiritual crisis comes when a person has to move a little farther on in his faith than he believes he has already accepted." The question has to be asked, 'What is it I really believe to be true about God?' Is that truth all there is to God and His dealings with me? with others? We cannot put a capstone upon God and what He is prepared to, and rightfully can ask. That has already been tried and failed, "...but they found the stone rolled away from the tomb."(Luke 24:2)

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