Here is the final part of my book review for Bradley Jersak’s book: “A More Christ-like God”:
From Chapter 13, Jersak conveniently ignores much of the Torah, Psalms and Prophets references to sacrifice for sin and claims that some paganize God by citing them (page 256) as God’s punishment against sin and understanding Christ’s sacrifice by them. If we must read the Torah through the lens of Christ, we must understand them all to foreshadow Christ. Jersak simply uses a double standard here by picking and choosing from them that which he agrees with. But they all in some way point us to Messiah and that was the entire point of them. If we view God’s actions as temperamental like the gods of the pagans, then one wonders who is paganizing the sacrifice here. It is disconcerting that Jersak is willing to quote a Hindu early in his book and hail atheists’ critiques of Evangelicals, displaying an openness to them, but considering much of what Moses and the Prophets say to be childish in their understanding of God.
Maybe we should go rather, to Genesis 6-9 where the Lord destroys most of the world with a flood because of its wickedness but saves a few folks who believe in His Word. He then Himself says that blood must be taken for blood and life for life. Is this just mythology or God’s Word? He destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, except for a few, we’ve cited his wrath towards not only the gods of Egypt but clearly the unbelieving Egyptians themselves and especially Pharaoh’s house; how he protects his people from His own wrath at Mt. Sinai, how it was His will to not destroy the Israelites even though His wrath was kindled against them, but Moses stood in the gap, the punishments listed in Leviticus for sin and the sacrifices made as well for atonement, fire from the Lord in Numbers 11, a banishment of Miriam in Chapter 12, the destruction of Korah and his household, the destruction of Arad, the judgment against Sihon and Og understood even by the Psalm 136 to be God’s wrath against them, the atonement of Phineas from Chapter 25, the judgment against Midian, judgement in the days of Joshua against the nations of Canaan described in Deuteronomy as God not giving the land because of Israel’s righteousness but in order to punish the wickedness of these nations and make God’s name great in the world, the similar deliverance of the judges and the Kings of Israel, always made clear when it is God’s judgment against wickedness as opposed to the foolishness of men taking vengeance as seemed best to them; this narrative of God’s punishment of the nations is described in detail by the Psalmist, and most certainly by all the Prophets, by Jesus Himself and by the Apostles and many of the Early Church Fathers (See Justin the Martyrs debate with Trypho: “…who submitted to suffer these things according to the Father’s will…For although His Father caused Him to suffer these things in behalf of the human family…” or see Eusebius: “And the lamb of God was chastised on our behalf, and suffered a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins, because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the scourging, the insults, and the dishonor, which were due to us, and drew down upon Himself the appointed curse, being made a curse for us…” or see Athanasius “On the Incarnation”: “..For if He came Himself to bear the curse laid upon us, how else could he have ‘become a curse’ unless He received the death set for a curse. And that is the Cross. For this is exactly what is written: ‘Cursed is he that hangeth on a tree…” and those are just a few.)
What is intriguing is that if God were what men wanted him to be, I think he would look more like Jersak’s version, not the mysterious One proclaimed in Scripture.
(Next time a song…)