10 years without christianity – Part 11
Hesediah: Hi again. Carrying on with this convo between myself and David, a guy who left christianity over 10 years ago, we are on the subject of sacrifices. Hi again, David.
David: Wotcha, Hesediah!
Hesediah: “wotcha”? Huh?
David: Oh, sorry. It’s just a greeting used in some places here in England. Like “Aw-rite, mate!” or … oh, forget it! Hi Hesed.
Hesediah: Err … ok! Anyway, back to the topic at hand. A friend of mine pointed out something to me the last time we spoke. He had read what you said, but noted that christians are still going to mention important festivals mentioned in the Law of Moses, like Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and how that took away the sins of the people for the year. The christian book of Hebrews states that the priest had to go into the Most Holy Place in the Temple or Tabernacle year after year to do this rite. Based on this, can you really say that people don’t need sacrifices or blood to atone for sin, especially when there is no Temple?
Hesediah: What? Are you saying circumcision atones for sin?
David: No. But there’s something in it that I can use to bring my point home about this subject. I’ve gotta thank the late Rabbi Immanuel Schochet for this. May God grant strength to his family in their loss.
Now God commanded Abraham’s descendants, particularly the nation of Israel, to circumcise their sons on the eighth day after birth. Now this is a divine command. I’ve got three scenarios for you.
1) I’m a Jew and my wife has just given birth to a daughter.
2) I’m a Jew and I have no children.
3) I’m a gentile.
Now consider the first two situations. Is it possible for me to break the command if scenarios 1) and 2) occur? The proper answer should be no. The question is then this: why not? And the answer would be that the law does not apply in these situations. Or the situations don’t come under the law.
What about scenario 3)? If you look at how I started the scenario, it would be clear that God commanded the nation of Israel in particular to keep this law. So if I’m a gentile, someone who is not of Israel, then again this law does not apply to my situation because God gave me no such command. So the gentile can’t be punished for a law that doesn’t even apply to that person in my situation.
OK, so we have laws in Leviticus commanded to Israel that such sacrifices should be done, sacrifices that can only be done when the temple is standing. Can you guess what happens when the temple no longer stands? Actually, let me just answer that. The necessary conditions for the law to apply is no longer there. So the people cannot be condemned for what they cannot keep. In fact, if you really notice, most of the people using this argument are gentile christians, people to whom this law doesn’t even apply since it was given to Israel, not to gentiles!!! So they had nothing to worry about from the get-go (the beginning).
And even with the Temple standing the christian view is twisted in four significant ways.
1) As I said last time, and I’ll repeat it now, there is no command or hint in the whole of the Jewish Bible that the only way to get atonement or forgiveness is through blood or sacrifice.
2) Understand that the christian insistence on blood is due to their illegal sacrifice of a man – illegal, because there is nowhere in Torah law that allows human sacrifice in a place that has no ritual significance like a place of execution. They already have addicted their souls and hearts to the need for Jesus and his death and that comes first. Then they go back to the Jewish Bible and interpret in that light. If a person were to read the whole of the Jewish Bible first, then they would get a different result. I was trying to get to this last time but … well, let me just finish these points and I’ll expand on this.
3) On a small aside, this christian insistence on blood is not in-line with the text of scripture. It cannot be said that blood is needed for sacrifice if there is a sacrifice that needs no blood. In the last verses of Leviticus 5 according to the christian numbering, a poor man just has to give flour and his sins can be atoned for. Now note, some christians, again due to their dependency of blood (a bit vampiric, huh?), will state that the poor man’s sacrifice was mingled with the blood of other sacrifices. Strangely enough when you read the text, it says nothing about mingling blood. It says nothing about the sacrifices of others impacting the sacrifice of the poor man. Now it’s always funny for christians who are supposed to only rely on the text of scripture to make up something that isn’t even in the verses of scripture. You gotta chuckle!
4) What actually happened on the day of atonement? Remember, for the christian vampiric notion …. ok sorry, blood notion to work, then it needs an animal to die for the sins of the people, right? Wrong! Read Leviticus 16 and you’ll see that there are two goats used for the people. The one that gets slaughtered is used to cleanse the Tabernacle/Temple itself because of the uncleanness of the people. But the one that actually has to do with removing the sins of the people is kept alive and sent off into the wilderness. Once again, don’t let christians who know Jewish tradition bring that up at all because they essentially reject Jewish tradition. All they have is the text and the text says that it is not the killed animal and its blood that gets rid of the sins of the people but the living one. See Leviticus 16:21-22 in context.
Hesediah: So …
David: No, no, no! You started this thing from the last time we talked and I don’t know when our next one is. So if you don’t mind, I’m gonna get my point out now that I wanted to say since last time.
Look, Hesed, if the whole Jewish Bible is read in context just for what it says, without the “new testament” presuppositions that lock christians into pagan and vampiric notions, if you just allow the Jewish Bible to speak, then you would see over and over and over and over and over again, God says what he wants from the people. From Leviticus 18:5 where it says that life is found in obedience to the commandments, to Deuteronomy 10 and 11 where God says “what do I require of you, if only to love me and keep my laws”, to Deuteronomy 30 where God says a person has a choice, life in obedience or death in disobedience, in all these places, we see that what gives a sinning person life is not just the death of an animal or blood. God wants a changed and obedient lifestyle and a changed heart. You then see this message repeated in Jeremiah 7 where the prophet says from God that he didn’t desire sacrifices but obedience. Isaiah 1 has God saying to the people to put away their sacrifices and festivals, even their prayers, and actually do justice and live by his law. Hosea 6:6 says God prefer kindness to sacrifice. Ezekiel 18 and 33 say that if a wicked person changes his ways and does what is right in God’s eyes, not only does he find life but also his sins are forgotten by God. Micah 6 asks how a person can approach God. It answers that it’s not through sacrifices, but to “do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with God”. This motif is repeated again and again throughout the Jewish Bible. Proverbs 21 says that God prefers judgement and justice to sacrifices. Proverbs 16 says that iniquity is atoned for by deeds of truth and kindness. Psalms says that the sacrifices of God are a repentant (crushed) heart (Psalm 51) and says that a man can pray and have forgiveness (Psalm 32). 2 Chronicles 6 or 7 says to Israel that if they humble themselves and pray, and seek his God’s face and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their lands. If you actually pay attention to the whole context of the Jewish Bible without “Jesus-blinders”, then you’ll see that the pulse, the heartbeat that goes through the Jewish Bible is not “messiah”, it’s not “sacrifice”, it’s not “blood”; but rather it is personal responsibility and that God requires people to change their actions and do what is right.
Hesediah: But …
David: And don’t come back to me giving the retort that God demands perfection. He doesn’t and it is wrong, unbiblical and sinful and, dare I say it, stupid to suppose such a thing, that God would demand something from his creatures that they are not able to fulfill – limited creatures can’t be perfect in all ways – and then have God brutalize and kill his creatures for what they couldn’t do. The Jewish Bible states two things that are clear. Righteous people are not perfect people (Ecclesiastes 7:20) but they are still righteous. Proverbs says that a righteous man can fall seven times, yet he rises up again. So the righteousness that God demands of his creatures, his humanity, is not perfection, something unattainable, but a lifestyle that aims at living for the better. A person may fail but their aim is to do better so they get up and try. How else do you think God could still see King David as an example of righteousness for future kings of Israel if he just focused on David’s failings?
So to sum it up, there is no verse in the Jewish Bible that limits forgiveness to only sacrifice or blood. God asks people for what they are able to do, and that is a general lifestyle of obedience, to do what he says and return to him if they slip. For forgiveness and atonement for sin, prayer and repentance is clearly given in scripture. The only reason why christians put emphasis on sacrifice is not because of any reliance of the Jewish Bible, but because of their beliefs about the death of Jesus in spite of the Jewish Bible.
David: Yes I’ve finished now.
Hesediah: *chuckle* I don’t think I’d get such a response from you if I were just to ask you in a nice friendly way. Gotta stoke your fires a bit to get you working for our audience, right? Interesting. I don’t think we should focus on this much longer as we still don’t know what happened to you after you left christianity. Is it ok for us to go down that path next time? That is, unless some unknown force takes us in a different direction …
David: *smile* That’s fine by me!
Hesediah: OK. Well, whoever’s reading this, thanks for reading. Hope you have a good day and we’ll see you soon.