Hey, friends! Winding down our "Conversations About the Bible" in Natasha Crain's Keeping Your Kids on God's Side, today we'll be gathering the kids around as Natasha guides us through the question "Does the Bible support human sacrifice?" AWKWARD. On second thought, send the kids outside to play again. Like the last few posts, I'm sure Natasha will elucidate why skeptics have it all wrong. Let's see what she says: "Even skeptics acknowledge that God condemns human sacrifice." Umm, no, we don't. Now, I will admit that Yahweh seems to have a love/hate relationship with human sacrifice, but it's mostly love.
1) God's Command for Abraham to Sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-2)
22 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Natasha spends several paragraphs explaining the context of these passages, but I won't bore you with the unnecessary details. I think this sums it up: "The ultimate test of Abraham's faith in God's promise was to ask him to eliminate the only apparent possibility of those promises ever being fulfilled: Isaac." Abraham passed the test as he laid Isaac upon the altar and raised his knife to slaughter him. Luckily, an angel of the Lord intervened. I'm pretty sure it went down something like this:
If this was a test, shouldn't the proper response have been, Oh, hell no! Only Satan himself would ask me to do something that my Lord obviously detests! Get behind me, Satan! ?
2) Passages That Are Descriptive but Not Prescriptive
For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to cover the story that most of us are familiar with, Jepthah's Vow (Judges 11:29-40). Natasha reminds us, "Much of the Bible is purely descriptive; it records events that happened historically, but not necessarily because God approved of them. That’s why it’s such poor scholarship when skeptics simply pluck a verse out of the Bible and suggest that God must support whatever the text describes." (Emphasis mine) That's right, skeptics! God's a busy man, so don't expect him to intercede at will. Sure, he intervened on Jepthah's behalf when he asked for assistance in defeating the Ammonites; but Jepthah made a promise, and it's just too bad that it happened to be the sacrifice of the first thing that walked out of the doors of his home -- wait for it... wait for it... his young virgin daughter! Here we go with the young virgins again. They basically never get a fair shake. Now, some Christians have spun this story to mean that this poor girl was offered to the sanctuary for her services as a young virgin. Gee, I wonder what that entailed? Honestly, I might prefer to be sacrificed, given the "cultural context".
3) Misinterpretations: No Human Sacrifice at All
a) Consecration of Firstborn Males
"Many of the passages skeptics use to demonstrate God's support of human sacrifice aren't about human sacrifice at all. They're misinterpretations." Of course, they are.
Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine. (Exodus 13:2)
Natasha explains, "Skeptics assume this verse means God wanted the firstborn to be killed." Umm, yeah. God elaborates in Exodua 13:12-13:
12 you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord's. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
Phew! That was close. See, guys? God didn't want the firstborn sons after all, except a little later when he did...and make it quick:
You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. (Exodus 22:29-30)
b) A Judicial Execution
Joshua 7 tells the story of the sin of Achan. Despite being told not to take from any of the things set apart for destruction upon conquering the city of Jericho, Achan greedily stole from items that were to be offered to the Lord. As a consequence of his transgression, he was stoned to death, and then his body was burned. Natasha clarifies, "This was a judicial execution, not a human sacrifice." As if that makes it okay. Even more sinister, however, is the overall "context" of this story:
Joshua 6:17 (NLT) Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.
Okay, so everything destroyed is an offering to the Lord. We're talking about humans, those made in the image of God, being slaughtered and then offered to the the creator of the universe, because this is what he needs. They may not have been laid upon an altar, but these men, women, children, and infants were murdered and devoted to the Lord. I call that human sacrifice.
c) Jesus' Death on the Cross
Natasha explains that since God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one, God didn't sacrifice a "third party". He sacrificed himself. Right. God sacrificed himself for the weekend to appease himself.
Natasha concludes the chapter by reiterating, "There's no question the Bible explicitly condemns human sacrifice." I don't even know what to say other than I am ashamed and embarrassed that I believed this utter garbage.