Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mercy.

Jesus said, "'Go and learn what this means, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."'" Matthew 9:13a (NRSV)

This refers to Hosea 6:6, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

And Micah 6:6-8, "With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?  Shall I came before him with burnt offerings, with calve a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?  Shall I give my first born for my transgression*, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
"He has told you. O mortal, what is good; and what does the lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."

*  This would appear to be a reference to child sacrifice in ancient times - the story of Abraham and Isaac may have signaled the end of this practice.

This progression would indicate that ancient religious practices kept in ignorance were superseded by more enlightened practices.  In this case a better life is preferred by God to ritual sacrifices.

In Ezekiel the saying that God punishes sins to the third and forth generation is no longer to be heard.  Each person is to be responsible for their own sins.

So our understanding of God evolves according to our ability to understand.

When Jesus comes this understanding is further progressed.
We are to love God and our neighbor and love our enemies.

Now our understanding is progressing to supersede ideas like judgment, hell, death, and punishment, original sin and redemption.

God punishes no one.

His love is for each of His children, to the least.

Rather than taking things literally we should see the spirit of scripture.

Know what goodness is - not the dark side of hatred, revenge, and violence; but the light - love, forgiveness, and peace.

"'"I desire mercy, not sacrifice."'"  Matthew 12:7b (NRSV)


(Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.)

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