Messianic Judaism

Does G-d Really Want a Blood Sacrifice?

Ever since the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E., there has been an attempt in Rabbinic Judaism to downplay the importance of blood sacrifice.  It has been argued that sacrifice can be replaced with “comparable” means of atonement:

“It once happened that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai was leaving Jerusalem and Rabbi Yehoshua was walking behind him, when the latter saw the Temple in ruins.  Said Rabbi Yehoshua:  ‘Woe to us that this is in ruins, the place where the sins of Israel were expiated!’ He [Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai] replied to him:  ‘My son, be not grieved, we have a comparable means of atonement.  Which is this?  It is [acts of] loving kindness, as it is said, ‘For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, [Hosea 6:6]'” Midrash Avot D’rabbi Natan 4:5

The following verse is invoked to assert that G-d doesn’t even want burnt offerings:

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” Hosea 6:6
But were the Prophets really trying to overturn Torah?  Were they trying to turn people away from establishing the Temple with its system of blood sacrifices?  Heschel has the following insights:
“Sacrifice, the strength and the measure of piety, acts wherein God and man meet–all this should be called obnoxious?
     Of course, the prophets did not condemn the practice of sacrifice in itself; otherwise, we should have to conclude that Isaiah intended to discourage the practice of prayer (Isa. 1:14-15).  They did, however, claim that deeds of injustice vitiate both sacrifice and prayer.  Men may not drown out the cries of the oppressed with the noise of hymns, nor buy off the Lord with increased offerings.  The prophets disparaged the cult when it became a substitute for righteousness.  It is precisely the implied recognition of the value of the cult that lends force to their insistence that there is something far more precious than sacrifice…”  Heschel, The Prophets
Now the deepest mystery regarding blood sacrifice is that the blood represents the bond of kinship.  So all of these blood sacrifices serve as a metaphor for a bond of kinship.  But kinship with whom?  In Genesis we have a clue:

“Vayomer Avraham Elohim yir’eh-lo haseh le’olah beni vayelchu shneyhem yachdav,” Genesis 22:8

“And Abraham said: ‘God will  a provide Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son.’ So they went both of them together,” Genesis 22:8 (Jewish Publication Society)

Israel broke the covenant because in the Old Covenant there is no way to perfect the heart.  So the Prophets speak of a New Covenant in which G-d perfects our hearts so that we will want to follow the Torah.  Our own hearts are desperately wicked.  We need the heart transplant that only the New Covenant provides.

The Prophets tells us that G-d wants both the sacrifice and the right heart attitude.  Only in Yeshua can we have both.  In Him G-d has provided the sacrifice–the blood of kinship–and created a way to change our hearts.

Shalom,

Peter

Source: Orthodox Messianic Judaism (http://goo.gl/tTgTQM)

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