Q&A: Islam and Jesus' Sacrifice - Hosea 6:6

Islam and Jesus' Sacrifice - Hosea 6:6

Question

Islam argues that God does not wish for sacrifices and therefore the sacrifice of Jesus would be pointless. Is this true?

Answer

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

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

Mattehw 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice," you would not have condemned the innocent.

Yes, Islam does argue that God does not wish for sacrifice(s) and therefore the sacrifice of Jesus would be pointless.

First of all, the verses above do not say there should NEVER be any sacrifice. Rather it speaks to the fact of covenant faithfulness; God demands loyalty and not mere mechanical rituals. This is clarified in Micah 6:8:

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.

In essence, although he appeared very religious by escalating the value of his sacrifice, the representative worshipper condemned himself. He manifested a profound unbelief in God's grace, for Israel's salvation (Mic. 6:4-5) was free - a profound misunderstanding of his covenantal obligations, which entailed social justice and mercy, not mere liturgy (Mic. 6:7-8), and a profound refusal to repent for instead of asking God to change him, he aimed at bribing God along with Israel's magistrates, prophets, and priests (Mic. 3:11). His attempt to buy God led him to offer (in absurd fashion) "rivers of oil" and (in pagan fashion) his "firstborn."

Secondly, God delights in covenant faithfulness and loyalty. God demanded sacrifice in the Law: burnt offering (olah), grain offering (minchah), peace offering (zebach shelamin), sin offering (chatta't), and (5) guilt offering ('asham). The sum of the whole Levitical sacrificial system is summed up in Hebrews 10:8:

First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made).

Third, Jesus, in covenant faithfulness and loyalty, offered the last sacrifice. As Hebrews 10:5-7 states:

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.

Notice the phrase "I have come to do your will, O God." Jesus' sacrifice was the will of God! This is God's Son whom he loved and is well pleased (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 2 Pet. 1:17). Only in Christ's sacrifice are we given complete mercy (Heb. 8:1-13; 9:1-10; 9:11-28; 10:1-18).

1 Peter 2:24 "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed."

Please see Christianity and Islam Contrasted

Reference:

Richard Pratt, General Editor. Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2003.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).