Bible Teaching

 

Spiritual Alternatives

 

Current Issues

 

Deception in the Church

 

Europe

 

Islam

 

Israel & Middle East

 

Jesus the Messiah

 

Moral Issues

 

One World System

 

One World Religion

 

Persecution

 

Science & Evolution

Bible Teachings
Alternatives
CurrentIssues
Deception
Europe
Islam
Israel&ME
Jesus
Morals
System
Religion
Persecution
Science

Topics Menu

We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

the light of Bible prophecy

Home
About Us
Beliefs
Meetings
Location
Articles
Resources
Contact
Bridge Lane
Vimeo

Does God require blood sacrifices today?

T

Previously we have looked at the verse in Isaiah 53 which speaks of the

Servant sprinkling many nations and the relevance of this to the blood of

atonement provided by Messiah as prophesied in Isaiah 53.

 

Modern Judaism teaches that the blood of atonement is no longer required

today. When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans, the Sanhedrin

reconvened in Yavneh under the leadership of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, who

developed a theology based on some verses of the Bible which seem to point

to sacrifices being unnecessary as a means of mediating between God and

humanity. For example:

 

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15.22

 

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? says the Lord.

I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I

do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or goats. … Bring no more

futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to me. Isaiah 1.11-12

 

For I desire mercy not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt

offerings. Hosea 6.6.

 

Based on these and other scriptures and the fact that the Temple no longer

stood and therefore there was no access to the place appointed by God to

offer the sacrifices Judaism developed a theology which relegated the

sacrificial system to past times. The Rabbis decreed that God was able to

forgive sins through repentance, prayers, fasting and good deeds which

replaced the blood of the animal sacrifices. In this they were only

developing ideas which had been around since the Babylonian exile and the

development of the synagogue and the home as an alternative to Temple

worship.

 

In Berachot 55a we read: As long as the Temple stood the altar atoned for

Israel. But now a mans table atones for him.

 

Sincere repentance is considered enough to cover sin: Whoever commits a

transgression and is filled with shame thereby all his sins are forgiven

him. Berachot 12b.

 

Maimonides wrote that repentance atones for all sins: At this time when the

Temple no longer exists, and we have no atonement altar, nothing is left but

repentance. Repentance atones for all transgressions. Even if a man was

wicked throughout his life and repented at the end, we must not mention

anything about his wickedness to him, as it is written, And as for the

wickedness of the wicked he will not stumble because of it in the day when

he turns from his wickedness. Ezekiel 33.12. Yom Kippur itself atones for

those who repent as it is written, For it is on this day that atonement

shall be made for you. Leviticus 16.30. Moses Maimonides, Mishneh Torah,

Laws of Repentance, 1.3, 2.1, 9-10.

 

Going back to the scriptures quoted above, when we look at them in context

we find that the issue is the offering of sacrifices without sincerity and

continuing in sin at the same time as making the offerings. God is not

actually saying, You dont need to offer any sacrifices again. What he is

saying is Your sacrifices are meaningless because you are just going

through the outward motions of pleasing me while your hearts and your

actions are far from me. He is calling on them to repent and to offer the

sacrifices from a true heart, not to repent instead of offering the sacrifices.

 

If we look at the whole teaching of the Bible we find that almost everything

involving a covenant between God and mankind is sanctified by an offering

involving the shedding of blood. Adam and Eve put on fig leaves to cover

their nakedness, but clothes them in animal skins, involving the shedding of

the blood of the animal. Genesis 3.7, 21. Cain offers the fruit of the

ground and is not accepted, while Abel offers the firstborn of his flock

and is accepted. Genesis 4.3-4. Noah offered a sacrifice of the clean

animals that came out of the ark and this is soothing aroma to the Lord.

Genesis 8.20-22. God made the covenant with Abraham concerning his

descendants and the Promised Land, after Abraham had made the sacrifice of

animals which God required of him. Genesis 15. After God gave the Torah,

Moses read the commandments to the people and sprinkled blood of the

sacrificed animals on the people and on the altar. Exodus 24.3-8.

 

Was this because God was bloodthirsty or some primitive ritual which has now

been done away with? Or was God making a serious point which needed to be

understood? According to the Bible death came into the world because of sin.

Genesis 3.17-24. The soul that sins shall die. Ezekiel 18.4. So in order

to cover sin and escape from its penalty (death) there needs to be another

who dies in our place. Under the covenant with Moses this was the animals

who sacrificed their blood (and therefore died) in accordance with the

commandments given in the Torah.

 

The Bible also teaches us that there is a barrier between God and all

humanity, Jewish and Gentile, caused by our sin. Under the covenant made

with Israel at the time of the giving of the Torah, that barrier separating

the Holy One from His sinful people could only be removed by repentance and

faith in the sacrifice which God appointed. In Leviticus 17.11 we read:

 

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon

the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that

makes an atonement for your soul.

 

We also read of the importance of the blood in connection with the night of

the Passover when the people were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and place

the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their houses. Then the Angel of

death would pass over them:

 

For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians: and when He sees the

blood on the lintel and on the doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door,

and will not allow the destroyer to enter your house to slay you. Exodus 12.23

 

Could it be that the destroyer has so often entered the house of the Jewish

people to slay them, because the blood is no longer on the doorposts? Since

the destruction of the Temple, there has been no blood sacrifice and modern

Judaism no longer considers it necessary. Yet according to the verse above

from Leviticus it is vital. I am not advocating however that Judaism returns

to the sacrifice of animals, even if that were possible in the modern world,

because the final sacrifice for sin has been made once and for all by Jesus

the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He shed

his blood at the time of the Passover, for the forgiveness of the sins of

all mankind:

 

But when Messiah appeared as a high priest of the good things that have

come… he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of

goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9.11-14

 

Under the old covenant the worshipper found forgiveness through repentance

and faith in the blood of the sacrificed animal,recognising that he deserved

to die, but God in his mercy accepted this sacrificed animal in his place.

The blood of the animal itself only had value in that it typified the blood

of the Messiah who was yet to come. Under the New Covenant the same

principle applies. We find forgiveness through repentance and faith in the

blood of the Messiah shed for our sins:

 

Messiah has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it

is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Messiah

was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for him

he will appear a second time apart from sin for salvation. Hebrews 9.26-28

 

Under the new covenant the same principle operates as under the old

covenant: that those who come to God must repent from their sins and put

their trust in the sacrifice He has appointed. Under the old covenant it was

the blood of the sacrificed animal. Under the new covenant it is the much

better sacrifice of the blood of Jesus the Messiah. Through accepting this

sacrifice we find our way back to a covenant relationship with God.

 

Just before he was taken away to be crucified Jesus celebrated the Passover

with his disciples. He then took the familiar symbols of matzo bread and

wine which spoke of the Exodus from Egypt and reapplied them to himself.

 

Then he said to them, With fervent desire I have desired to eat this

Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of

it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Then he took the cup, and

gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves. For I say

to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God

comes. And He took the bread and broke it and gave it to them saying, This

is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me. Likewise

He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in

my blood, which is shed for you.

 

What he was saying was that there is now a greater exodus on offer, not just

bringing people out of physical slavery in Egypt, but bringing us out of

slavery to sin and into the Promised Land of a relationship with God. But

just as God required the blood on the doorposts of the Israelite houses for

the Angel of Death to pass over them and thus deliver them from death to

life, so today God requires the blood of the Messiah to be applied to our

individual lives in order that we can pass from eternal death and separation

from God into eternal life in the Kingdom of God. In a Jewish Passover

service the cup taken after supper is the third cup, which is known as the

Cup of Redemption.

 

There is an exact parallel to the Prophets speaking against the offering of

insincere sacrifices as found in the verses quoted at the beginning of this

chapter in the New Testament. The issue, especially in the passage quoted

from Isaiah 1 was not that God did not want sacrifices. It was that the

sacrifices offered without repentance and faith and without the deeds of

righteousness which should go with a life dedicated to God were meaningless

and an offence to God.

 

In 1 Corinthians 11.27-28 Paul writes: Therefore whoever eats this bread or

drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body

and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of

the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats in an unworthy manner eats

and drinks judgment to himself not discerning the Lords body.

 

This means that for followers of Jesus to take the bread and the wine in

remembrance of the Lord Jesus in an unworthy manner is not acceptable to

God. In other words just to take the bread and wine as many Christians do

without repentance and faith in the sacrifice of Jesus and continuing to

live lives which are contrary to his teaching is just as bad as offering the

sacrifices without repentance in Isaiah 1. Far from doing good to the person

who does this, it actually brings him under the judgment of God.

 

Therefore the teaching of the Tenach and the New Testament is entirely

consistent on this issue. God requires the blood of atonement and repentance

and faith to accept human beings. Under the Tenach the blood of atonement

was provided by the animal sacrifices. Under the New Testament it is

provided by the sacrifice of the Messiah, which is the better and eternal

covenant by which God now puts right Jews and Gentiles with himself.

 

In Genesis 15.18-20 we read of a mysterious figure called Melchizedek (means

King of Righteousness) who is King of Salem (King of Peace) who meets

Abraham as he came back from the first war recorded in the Bible. A good

time to meet the King of Righteousness and Peace. In the Messianic Psalm 110

we have a reference to Melchizedek and one who will be a priest forever

after the order of Melchizedek. So who was Melchizedek? A pre-incarnate

appearance of the Messiah? To make this person even more intriguing Psalm

110 begins with the verse, The Lord said to my Lord. So how can the Lord

speak to the Lord? This brings us back to the issues we looked at earlier,

about the Messiah being a Divine person. When Melchizedek met Abraham he

offered him bread and wine. Jesus took the symbols of bread and wine from

the Jewish Passover and applied them to his body and blood offered as a

sacrifice for the sins of the world (Luke 22.19-20).

 

So what about the animal sacrifices today? There are some Orthodox Jews in

Jerusalem who wish to rebuild the Temple and bring in the animal sacrifices

again. This is very much a minority concern, encouraged to a certain extent

by American Christians who for prophetic reasons want to see a rebuilt

Temple. One small problem is that the Temple area is under Islamic control

at present and any attempt to rebuild the Temple where the Dome of the Rock

mosque now stands would cause an uproar (Armageddon even) in the Islamic

world. Apart from this there are massive problems about any reconstituting

of the sacrificial system, which would also involve setting up the

Priesthood and the Sanhedrin again. As a Jewish friend once said to me, We

ve got enough problems agreeing on a Chief Rabbi. You want us to agree on

who should be High Priest!

 

Despite all this I am convinced that the real Jesus has the only valid

answer to the problems of humanity and the suffering of all people, Jewish

and Gentile. Having considered the failure of the church to show the love of

God to the Jewish people, we also have to admit that the Jewish people today

are not in the relationship with God through they have experienced the kind

of divine protection and victory over their enemies described in the Bible

at the time of such leaders as Moses, Joshua, Gideon and David. Rather they

have experienced the fulfilment of Moses prophecy in Deuteronomy 28.64-66:

 

And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth

to the other… And among these nations you will find no ease, and there shall

be no rest for the sole of your foot; but the Lord will give you a trembling

heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul; your life will hang in doubt

before you; night and day you shall be in dread, and have no assurance of

your life.

 

Why is this? A reading of the whole of Deuteronomy 28 gives a very clear

answer. Verses 1-14 record all the blessings of Gods peace, prosperity and

protection given to Israel on the condition that you obey the voice of the

Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments. The remainder of

the chapter (verses 15-68) records Gods judgements on Israel if they

disobey. The whole history of Israel recorded in the Bible can be seen as

the outworking of this chapter in the direct experience of the people of

Israel. When the people turned away from God they experienced his judgments

in terms of foreign invasion, drought, social disintegration and confusion.

At these times God raised up prophets and leaders who spoke His message and

showed the people the way back to Gods blessing as He led them to victory

over foreign invaders and back to peace. But when they refused to listen He

allowed the Gentile nations to punish them.

 

However by far the greatest suffering in Israel’s history began with the

destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 and the beginning of the

dispersion. Could it be coincidence that this happened just one generation

after God spoke through Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, not only through His

words, but also through His death and resurrection? God spoke to Moses and

said:

 

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and

I will put my words in his mouth and he shall speak to them all that I

command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak

in my name I myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18.18-19

 

If Yeshua is the Messiah who is spoken of here and in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53,

and Daniel 9.26, the calamity which happened to Israel in CE 70 can only be

interpreted as the judgement of God on His people for not accepting him as

the Messiah. Furthermore since Israel has clearly not enjoyed the covenant

blessing described in Deuteronomy 28 since that time, the way back to the

original relationship with God promised at the time of the birth of the

nation, must be through accepting Yeshua as the Messiah.

 

It is vital that we give serious thought to this question and enter into

this covenant now. Although Hitler’s regime was defeated and in recent years

we have seen the fall of another totalitarian system in Europe, Communism,

the world situation is not encouraging for those who hope that freedom and

democracy will ultimately triumph. Indeed there are many signs that the end

time scenario prophesied in the Bible is almost upon us. At that time we are

warned of a time of world dictatorship and great tribulation, so severe that

if God did not cut short those days no human being would survive. In the

midst of tribulation the Lord will not forsake His people even though we may

be called to suffer persecution, even martyrdom, for our faith, as many have

done under Soviet and Chinese communist regimes and continue to do so in

many parts of the world, especially where Islamic fundamentalism rules.

 

God is not offering those who believe in Jesus an escape from persecution.

In fact Jesus Himself said, If they persecuted me they will persecute you.

(John 15.20). He is however offering an escape from the despair and that

feeling of being abandoned by God and without hope in the world, expressed

in the quotation from Night at the beginning of this article. His promise

to all believers is, I will never leave or forsake you. (Hebrews 13.5) He

assures all who trust Him that they will receive eternal life in the new

heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3.13) He is

reaching out to His people to comfort them in their suffering, to pour out

His love upon them and to heal the wounds of the past. The dominant phrase

in my first quotation from Night is Never shall I forget. Yet Jesus can

heal even such terrible memories and create out of such darkness His new day

of eternal peace and love. Today God is saying to His people;

 

Come my people, enter your chambers and shut the doors behind you; hide

yourselves for a little while until the wrath is past. Isaiah 26.20-21

 

And the way into these chambers of Gods protection and mercy? It is through

the One who said, I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.

Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah of Israel.

T