What Sacrifice is Effective?
I am pleased to report that dialogue between Jews and Christians has drawn closer and more intimate. Presumably, the issue that I will raise does not lend itself to this dialogue. The question must still be addressed. Within the Christian belief system, Jesus The Messiah is seen as God’s own provision of a perfect sacrifice to make atonement for the sins of Jews and Gentiles. Therein, Jesus is seen as the one given to be “Light of the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth” (Isa. 49:6). Therefore, the Christian view proposes that God intended to draw near to the Jews, but additionally, He also wanted to reach out to other people. His love has been shown through Jesus—the Lamb of God—the perfect sacrifice. No basis exists to presume that God would accept the unclean sacrifice of a blemished subject--even if that subject was a human being—even if that subject was a group of medieval Jewish sages—even if the subjects equated to 6,000,000 Jewish victims of rage, hatred and insanity. The issue is not quantity but quality. Scripture demands a perfect sacrifice. No rabbi, no concentration camp victim, no man is perfect unless the claims of Christianity are believed which profess that the perfect man was Jesus and our redemption is found in “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pet. 1:19).
There is a bottom line to Torah adherence. The precise language of the punishments associated with disobeying God’s Sabbath and Yom Kippur commands are sobering. Reconsider the words of Rabbi Steinsaltz: “The violation of the Sabbath laws is punishable by execution by an earthly court, while the violation of the Yom Kippur laws is punishable by excision.” Rabbinic Judaism has sought its own method of circumventing the punishment. Their method is creative, but is it effective? Every Jew has broken the law. Every Jew should be concerned about the result. It is unthinkable that anyone would violate God’s edict and fail to seek a scapegoat. Fasting removes pounds--not sins. We need a sacrifice!
Rabbinic Judaism suggests that fasting and praying will suffice. Although Scripture does not make a convincing case, I was convinced of that practice as a youth. Today, I cannot attribute much confidence to that theory. I love the tradition, but I cannot base my eternal destiny on the decisions of the rabbis. Some rabbis have agendas to protect, while others are well-meaning but unsure.
As a Jew, I look forward to the sacred season of these festivals. Unfortunately, some would deny me this joy. As suggested in my introduction, some would seek to rob me of my Jewish identity. I thank God that my rabbi has sufficient grace and compassion to receive me. I thank God for our friendship and stimulating dialogue. Incredibly, some would rob both of us of our Jewishness.
In Israel, “a senior Chief rabbinate official has proposed that the Reform movement be considered a separate religion from Judaism.” Rabbi Yisrael Rosen bluntly declared that “the Reform religion is not our religion.” Incredibly, the same Associated Press article also said that Israel’s . . .
. . . religious institutions do not recognize the other streams of Judaism, including the Conservative and the Reform movements that predominate in the United States.”
I am a Jew. Some among my people would reject me for not living up to their standards. As shown, I am in good company, for they would reject millions of other Jews who do not accept their standards. Sadly, Jewish skeptics, Jewish eastern mystics, and even Jewish atheists are welcomed as citizens of Israel. I am not welcome. With my people, I confess my sins during the High Holiday season but I differ with their understanding of how forgiveness is obtained. I admit that I adhere to a different standard than Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox Jews. My faith links me to ancient Jews who followed the Messiah since He walked the streets of Jerusalem. The sect to which I belong is more ancient than Orthodox Judaism. I believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. I view my failures with remorse but that knowledge of sin is accompanied by a calm sense that presumes my atonement is secure because of the sacrifice of another. According to my faith, Jesus “paid the price” for the sins of faithful followers. Although I have not performed the required sacrifice, the Scriptures teach me that the sacrifice was nevertheless performed. I believe that Jesus is the spotless lamb that was slain for the sins of those who know Him. Jesus is Lord and He is my Messiah—the Jewish Messiah.