End of Religion 2

God created us in His image.

Amazing, mind boggling.

He already had pets, he wanted people who would reflect Him. LIKE himself.

We run around with his creativity, power. – Imagine the damage but also the good. Broken, imperfect, but beautiful.

Last week: part of being made in His image – deep desire – relationship.

The serpent planted this feeling that God was distant. B/C we need relationship, we immediately began to react out of that separation anxiety. – Origin of Religion.

Karl Barth (famous theologian) : this is the context for all sin.

Religion is not the solution, makes it worse.

The idea that there’s a distance that must be bridged – fertilizer from which failure grows.

Dangerous – from the outside in, it can look like genuine spirituality.

Two people side by side here – reading scripture, singing songs, going to church – 1 may be doing it because they think that’s what they need to do to bridge the gap between me and God. All out of a sense of panic.

Other – immersed – reality – God has taken care of it all.

Might look similar from outside, but from the inside out, one leads to peace, the other to a lot of pressure.

We see it Evolve.

We see it become more systematized.

Next chapter. Made it through Genesis 3.

Genesis 4 –

Adam & Eve – made in the image of God, ate from the wrong tree. God exited them from the garden. – Doesn’t want them eating from the tree of life, life forever. Act of mercy, the end of this life, a chance to live again in perfection. It’s the shape that grace takes in this particular case.

Something happens : People made in God’s image produce more people made in God’s image.

From Adam and Eve comes cain.

Begin chapter 4 with life happening.

Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” (Genesis 4:1)

Adam: uhh hello, didn’t I do something?

Doesn’t consider – baby

Doesn’t consider him a baby – “I brought forth a man.”

“It’s like he a little man!”

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

Theologians – ‘proto-evan-gelium’ – “the first gospel”

Preached right after the fall.

It’s about Jesus – destroy works devil

Adam and Eve are there, hear God say this.

Nothing in the prophesy that suggests to them that it would be her seeds, seeds, seeds, seeds, seed – Jesus.

Completely reasonable that Eve would believe it’s her seed. Her kid.

“You’re going to have beautiful offspring” – if someone were to say that, I doubt you’d think they’re talking about someone that comes 4000 years later.

“This is the seed that will crush the head of the serpent and deliver us all!”

Pumped up birth of Cain.

Next, Able, one little mention.

Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. (Genesis 4:2)

Bible puts the emphasis on Eve’s reaction to Cains birth, not Abels.

Have to imagine how these kids grew up, with stories of why they’re not in the garden. They’re out working on the land. Working the soil.

“Why aren’t we living in the garden? – It’s awful out here.”

“Well there was fruit, and a snake, and we ate it.” – “But God promised that my offspring, my children would make it right.”

Imagine: Cain growing up with this sense of calling, purpose.

When God didn’t receive his offering, how shocked, went crazy – killed his brother.

Last part vs 2 :

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. (Genesis 4:2b)

No judgement here, just different roles.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. (Genesis 4:3)

“Offering” – standard religious sacrifice.
“Fruit” – same word used in genesis 3 with his parents sin.

“Gonna make it right.”

And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, (Genesis 4:4)

but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. (Genesis 4:5)

Theologians struggled with ‘why’ he accepted abels offering and not cain.

Might be backwards, not why did he reject cain offering, but why did we accept Abels.

Up to this point, no one has said anything about offerings.

Something about how religious impulse that says “I’ve got to bridge the gap.”

It’s my speculation, opinion, that the reason that God accepted Abels offering and not Cains in this:

Cain was trying to repay something that was done before. AKA paying penance for his parents sin. Abel was just being nice. I love ya, I’m gonna give you something.

God doesn’t need it, didn’t ask for it, but he doesn’t shut it down.

Cain – Feels like this is what God needs to make it be made right.

God – not some epic rebuke – just basically says “I don’t need that.” “I don’t need you to make it right”

V6 – Then the Lord said to Cain.

Here’s what we might expect Him to say: Don’t you know I require blood and not stupid fruit! My wrath is only satisfied when I see something suffer!”

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? (Genesis 4:6)

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (Genesis 4:7)

In other words: Just live well man. Live a life of love, that’s what I want. You’re accepted. All this sacrifice stuff isn’t necessary.

Cain sees his life purpose crumbling away.

Walks away, invites his brother to come to the fields with him, kills him.

Goes nuts over this.

People will see God as the origin of sacrifice in the bible, but that’s not true.

Wait what? If you jump into them middle of the story. Let’s say Leviticus, God is drunk on blood. NEEDS STUFF TO DIE! If he’s ever gonna consider thinking about forgiving broken, stupid people.

He had to no choice!

Weird but important thought: God is not a diety that is subject to laws outside of himself. If that were true, those laws would be God. He doesn’t have to submit to some principle. “I want to forgive you, but I can’t until you kill something, that’s not how the universe works, sorry.”

This is true for a lot of stuff, if you jump into the middle of something, you don’t understand it.

You think it’s Gods idea because He goes with it.

Theologians – “principle of accommodation.”

God accommodates where we’re at, because He’s committed to working things out together.

When we stubbornly choose a course, God will often meet us where we’re at, even though it’s not His HEART. He does this to lead out us out of our blindness.

“David, you’re being weird” – I’m not making this up. It’s throughout the bible.

Principle of accommodation: Kings.

Go to the middle of the bible you’d think God is all about Kingship.

Go to the beginning, you find out that Kingship is personal rejection of God.

Story – Time in Israel’s life when they’re being led by prophets, God’s spokespeople. This is God’s way of leading Israel personally.

Samuel (prophet) comes to God, “The people don’t want me to lead them anymore, they want a King.” Like the pagan nations.

Samuel “I don’t know why, but I take it personally, it’s like they’re rejecting me.

God says “Samuel, they aren’t rejecting you, by asking for a King, they’re rejecting me.”

Next thing God says “Let’s get them a king.” “I’ll show you who to anoint. His name is Saul. He’ll be the first king of Israel.”

And after Saul “David” – “Saul’s not really working out. Jerk.”

“David will do better. Not a lot better, but some better.”

If you were to jump into the story here, you’d think he’s all about kings.

He becomes all about it. He takes kingship super seriously.

He even uses kingship to help explain himself. I’m the king of Kings & the Lord of Lords.

Jesus comes as the ‘son of David’.

“Yeah, at this point in the story, God is involved in Israels kingship. It started out a personal rejection of Him. But he went with it.

“Principle of accommodation.”

Principle of accommodation: The Temple

God never wanted a temple. God told Israel to make a tent. Called the tabernacle. Specific instructions on how to build this tent.

Not a temple. Who came up with the idea of the temple? David. Ironically KING David.

Comes to God “I live in a palace, these other Kings live in a palace. You live in a smelly tent.” “I want you to live in the best house out of everyone! I’m gonna build it for you.”

God “Don’t need that. Tent. Outdoorsy diety.

It’s simple. It’s portable. Great symbolism, I’m there wherever you go.”

David “Nah. I’m building you a temple.”

God “Alright. Actually you won’t. You’ll design it, your son’s gonna build it.”

When it’s finally done, God shows up with his spirit, blesses it, uses it.

Uses the temple to talk about the church. That we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.


But if you join the story half way through, you think “God’s all about temples.” Actually no.

“He’s all about Kings” – No.

“He’s all about sacrifice.” No.

But he works with us where we’re at. For a season.

If you get this, you might start to ALMOST understand the bible.

Principle of accommodation: Animal Sacrifice


Isaiah. First and last chapters – fascinating.

1st chapter.

First chapter. Going with the sacrificial thing, but he reminds them “This isn’t my heart. And one day this is going to change.”

This is the evolution of religion. Accommodating it for a season. But knowing that one day he’s gonna bring an end to it.

“The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. (Isaiah 1:11)

When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? (Isaiah 1:12)

Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations — I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. (Isaiah 1:13)

Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals, I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (Isaiah 1:14)


Last chapter Isaiah:

“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? (Isaiah 66:1)

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD.“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word. (Isaiah 66:2)

But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; (Isaiah 66:3)

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire— but my ears you have opened — burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. (Psalm 40:6)

Big statement. Did he never read leviticus? The man after God’s own heart? The man who Jesus most closely identifies with? He could have said son of abraham, son of moses.

David “I get it. You never wanted this stuff. But you’re putting up with it for a time.”

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:7)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Sounds like God’s instruction to Cain: Just live will.

Hebrews 8 – Paul – New Covenant. – Next week.

God “I’ve allowed religion to evolve long enough. Ending it with this new covenant.

Jesus at last supper “This is the new covenant. MY blood. Beautiful. Speaking their language. “I double dare you to top that.” “What more can you add to the blood of God?” – Nothing.

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)

Talking to religious leaders. Who love the idea of having this gap between God and man, and us doing something to bridge the gap.

But go and learn what this means (only time he uses this phrase): ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

He’s quoting Hosea 6:6

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

End the night w/communion.

Everything we do, is because of celebration, not salvation.

Religion is something that for a season, God has tolerated. He knows we have wrong ideas, he meets us there. Tries to help us.

He finally comes down in person to say “ENOUGH.”

Speaks the language of sacrifice so we can understand.

Now on the other side of the cross, we can live for celebration, and not salvation.

In the end, all God asks is that we say thank you. And live a life filled with gratitude towards Him. Living in a way that says “I get it. I don’t have to do something, to make something happen. I just need to receive the beauty of what God has done for me.

Religion is something that for a season, God has tolerated.

Because of His love for us, God relates to us on our terms. He tolerates religious practice that is detestable to Him.

This is the evolution of religion. Relating to God using systems that He never wanted, but we insisted on anyway.

But with Jesus, God finally comes down in person to say “Enough. Enough of your absurd record keeping and penance paying. I never asked for it. I don’t need it, and I don’t want it.

Just live well. Live a life of gratitude towards me and a life of love towards others. That’s what I want”

Know that, whoever you are, you’re off the hook for making it right. Jesus has made it right.

Say “thank you.”

We live a life of appreciation of what He’s done.