Quotes from the OT Prophets and Psalms

Some of Bob Brinsmead’s favourite quotes from the OT prophets and Psalms:

“He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases; he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.  He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executes justice for all who are oppressed…[ this is a compassionate, restorative, liberating justice – not retributive justice]

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us…for he know how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”    Psalm 103: 3-14

There is no hint here that love, compassion and forgiveness rests on some sacrificial atonement that compensates or pays back for the evil done; rather it rests on God’s overwhelming compassion and love.

“Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation… Save me from blood guiltiness, O God, and my tongue will sing of your justice [note the compassionate, restorative meaning rather than the retributive meaning of sadak]… You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;  you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Psalm 51: 11-17

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Hosea 6:6  (This passage was cited by Jesus – Matthew9:13; 12:7)

“For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves.  For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Jeremiah  7:21,22  Amazing!  Yes,  read it again… you read correctly.

“Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them…but let justice roll on like a river, righteousness [that delivers those who are oppressed] like a never-failing stream. Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings for forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?  [No!] You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols.”   Amos 5:22-24

In Acts 7, Stephen uses this passage from Amos to attack the temple and its sacrificial system just as Jesus did, and for which, just like Jesus, he lost his life. The later Ebionites or Jewish Christians claimed that the evil priests added the sacrificial laws to the law of Moses. We might add that none of the historical books of the OT nor the OT prophets say anything about a Day of Atonement, indicating that it did not exist when these books were written.

“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act with justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.”  Micah 6: 6-8

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7: 18-19

“I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats… Take away your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong. Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord.  Though your sins; are like scarlet, they  shall be as white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1: 11-18

And now a very big one because the passage shows that God’s love takes the initiative to forgive before Israel repents and returns to God  (“Before they call, I will answer…”  Isaiah 65: 24).

“I have made you, you are my servant:  O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offences like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.  Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this, shout aloud, O earth beneath, burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees…”  Isaiah 44: 21-23

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  Isaiah 49: 15

“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you put all my sins behind your back.”   Isaiah 38:17

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon [ never a suggestion of making a blood atonement and making any kind of sacrifice.  God’s forgiveness proceeds wholly from God’s character of compassion, mercy and love – or what the OT prophets call sadak – justice.  So St. Paul’s teaching about the propitiation of God’s wrath by the blood sacrifice of Jesus as a payment for human sin is not the fulfilment of the message of the OT prophets, but completely contrary to it.  The OT prophets everywhere speak of a forgiveness of sin proceeding from a merciful justice which is not in any sense based on any kind of sacrifice or the offering of a woman’s firstborn for slaughter].  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’’  Isaiah 55: 7-9

“When Israel was a child, I loved him and out of Egypt I called my son.  But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me… How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? [places that were completely destroyed]  My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor devastate Ephraim again.  For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you.  I will not come in wrath… I will ranson them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.  Where, O death are your plagues?  Where, O grave, is your destruction…I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.” Amos  11: 1-2,  8-9; 13:14; 14:4  ( The context in these passages from Hosea are very enlightening.  Again and again the Lord is represented as leaving his son reap the bitter fruit of his evil ways, but in the end the Lord redeems him anyway)

The light of unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness in the OT prophets develops like their concept of a full-blown monotheism and universalism gradually develops. At first the gods of the nations are derided, not because they don’t exist, but because they are powerless.  It is only later that the prophets begin to say that they don’t exist.  At first is appears that the Jews alone are sons of God or the chosen people. When the full rays of monotheism appear, it can also be said, “Blessed be the Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” Isaiah 19: 25

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.  The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” Psalm 145:8,9

The forgoing shows that Jesus had much to draw on from the OT prophets for his teaching of a scandalous kind of justice –  unconditional love and forgiveness.