"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

A Blood Sacrifice is not Required for the Forgiveness of Sins…

May 23, 2011

in Christianity:,Idolatry,Judaism vs. Christianity,Judaism:,Noahide - The Ancient Path,The Torah

This means that even if God allowed another to die for your sins, you do not need Jesus or any other blood sacrifice to die in order for your sins to be forgiven.

IN SHORT… If one believed that a blood sacrifice was necessary before God would forgive you, then even one example where God forgave without a blood sacrifice would prove that this idea is UnBiblical. There are many such examples, but the most interesting is found in the Book of Leviticus. The reason this is so interesting is that it comes right in the middle of the discussion of sin sacrifices, which is found in the first chapters. In Leviticus 5:11-13, it states, “If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering.” One can also see that one does not need a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins in the Book of Jonah 3:10. There, the Bible simply states that God saw the works of the people of Ninevah. Specifically it says that the works God saw were that they stopped doing evil, and so God forgave them. There are plenty of other examples, and the idea that one needs a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins is UnBiblical.

A FULL EXPLANATION…

The God-man relationship was never limited to the animal sacrifices, nor was it ever the only means by which a human being obtained forgiveness from God for sin.

The centrality of the animal sacrifices ceased, not with the second destruction of the Temple by the Romans, but rather with the first destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians. Please remember that the vast majority of Jews never returned to the Promised Land under Cyrus of Persia. They remained in Babylonia. By the time Jesus was born, eighty percent of the world’s Jewish community lived outside of the Promised Land, and could not have cared less about the cessation of the animal sacrifices. When the Temple was reestablished, the Jews of Babylonia made an annual financial gift for the maintenance of the Temple, and the land, but never worried that God was not going to forgive them their sins without a blood sacrifice, just as Diaspora Jews do today. And the reason why they had no such fear, was that the Bible makes it explicitly clear that no blood sacrifice is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, or that the exclusive means for the God-man relationship was through the animal sacrifices.

Those who believe that one must have a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins look to Leviticus 17:11, which reads:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” [Leviticus 17:11]

But if you read the whole context of this verse, you will find that it is in reference to abstaining from eating the blood of a sacrifice, and nothing more. God commanded the abstaining from eating or drinking blood because most other pagan religions ate the blood of their sacrifices as a way to incorporate their gods into their bodies and into their lives. (See The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer, the chapter on “Eating The God.” Perhaps this is the source of ritual communion?) But the Holiness of the People of Israel requires them to not practice the pagan ways and not to hold the same beliefs of their pagan neighbors.

The whole quotation from Leviticus 17 reads:

Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood– I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, `None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood. Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood.’ That is why I have said to the Israelites, `You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.'”

Many might still insist that blood is needed to atone for sins. But there are many examples in the TaNaCh where other things besides blood atone for sins. If you are poor and unable to afford a blood sacrifice, God allows you to use flour (which has no blood and is not an animal!). If the poor were not able to offer a sacrifice of flour, forgiveness would only be for the wealthy. God would never exclude humans from obtaining forgiveness on the basis of wealth.

If, however, he cannot afford two doves or two young pigeons, he is to bring as an offering for his sin a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering. He must not put oil or incense on it, because it is a sin offering. He is to bring it to the priest, who shall take a handful of it as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar on top of the offerings made to the Eternal by fire. It is a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for him for any of these sins he has committed, and he will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering. [Leviticus 5:11-13]

So here, right in the midst of the commandments concerning the sacrifices for sin, the Bible tells us we do not need any blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. This proves that the idea that one needs a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin is an UnBiblical idea.

Remember, too, the story of the book of Jonah. Jonah tried to escape from doing God’s will, and preaching to the People of Ninevah. After the problem with the great fish, he goes to the people of Ninevah, says five words to them (in the original Hebrew) and what do they do? They fast (“let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water” Jonah 3:7) just as the Jews do on Yom Kippur. The people of Ninevah also prayed (“Let them cry mightily to God.” Jonah 3:8) just as the Jews do on Yom Kippur. And, finally, the people of Ninevah stopped doing Evil, started doing Good (“Let everyone turn from his evil ways and from the violence which is in his hands.” Jonah 3:8) as we are, hopefully, inspired to do on Yom Kippur. What was God’s response? God forgave them of their sins because of their works (“When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the Evil which He had said He would do unto them, and He did not do it.” Jonah 3:10) Please note that the text does NOT read that God saw their sacrifices, the People of Ninevah were never commanded to sacrifice. Nor does the text read that God saw that they had the right faith. Rather it says that God saw what they did, their works.

We have proof of other non-blood sacrifices:

So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. [Numbers 16:47]

And in the following verse we see jewelry offered for atonement, but no blood is shed.

So we have brought as an offering to the Eternal the gold articles each of us acquired– armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces– to make atonement for ourselves before the Eternal. [Numbers 31:50]

So it is obvious, that a blood sacrifice is not needed! Another example is that Isaiah had his sin removed by a live coal:

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. [Isaiah 6:6-7]

But many will say, that without a Temple, we cannot offer any kind of blood sacrifice. This is true. That is why God gave many different methods of atonement to the Jews. There was a time in Israel’s history when they became all too consumed with the sacrificial ceremonies. For this, God rebuked them. God reminded them that the Laws of God were more important than the sacrifices.

For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. [Jeremiah 7:22-23]

Out of all the methods God gave to us for atonement, the sacrifices were the weakest. This is true, because sacrifices only made atonement for one kind of sin. Many may point out several verses that show that there needs to be a sacrifice for sins. They often point out these verses that show that sacrifice does atone for sin. But they seem to leave out just what sins are covered by these sacrifices, and that is, UNintentional sins, and only UNintentional sins:

The Eternal said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: `When anyone sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Eternal’s commands–” [Leviticus 4:1-2]

If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Eternal’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty. [Leviticus 4:13]

When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the commands of the Eternal his God, he is guilty. [Leviticus 4:22]

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the Eternal’s commands, he is guilty. [Leviticus 4:27]

When a person commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the Eternal’s holy things, he is to bring to the Eternal as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering. [Leviticus 5:15]

He is to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for him for the wrong he has committed unintentionally, and he will be forgiven. [Leviticus 5:18]

Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Eternal gave Moses– ” [Numbers 15:22]

…and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Eternal, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering.” The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have brought to the Eternal for their wrong an offering made by fire and a sin offering. The whole Israelite community and the aliens living among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong. “`But if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. The priest is to make atonement before the Eternal for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven. One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien. [Numbers 15:24-29]

But if someone were to commit a sin intentionally, he would be punished!

But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Eternal, and that person must be cut off from his people. [ Numbers 15:30]

For some intentional sins, the punishment was severe:

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the Eternal said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Eternal commanded Moses. [Numbers 15:32-36]

God is a righteous judge. For intentional sins to be atoned for, there had to be repentance and restitution and often punishment because the sins were committed on purpose!

A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing, he must be sold to pay for his theft… If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field, he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard… If a fire breaks out and spreads into thornbushes so that it burns shocks of grain or standing grain or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution… But if the animal was stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner… If a man borrows an animal from his neighbor and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, he must make restitution. [Exodus 22:3, 5, 6, 12, and 14]

Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. [Leviticus 24:21]

Say to the Israelites: `When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Eternal, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the person he has wronged. [Numbers 5:6-7]

It would be nice to live in a society where, if a criminal stole and stripped your car, he would have to replace it, and then give you 20% in addition to what it was worth.

There were other methods used to receive atonement that were superior to the sacrificial system. This is what God truly desires from us, Teshuvah, which means repentance and return to God.

..if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. [2 Chronicles 7:14]

But if from there you seek the Eternal your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. [Deuteronomy 4:29]

He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. [Job 33:26]

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. [Psalm 34:14]

The Eternal is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. [Psalm 34:18]

It is true repentance and prayer that God wants from us, NOT sacrifice!

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. [Psalm 51:16-17]

Remember, the Psalms were written to sing praises to God in the Temple, right where the sacrifices themselves were to be performed. They understood quite well God’s attitude towards the sacrifices:

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. [Psalm 40:6]

God wants us to pray for forgiveness, and it is prayer that replaces the sacrifices, just as God commanded us to do as Hosea stated:

Take words with you and return to the Eternal. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the bulls of our lips. [Hosea 14:2]

(Please note that many Christian translations intentionally mistranslate this passage. The Hebrew is quite clear, “Pa-reem S’fa-tay-nu, the bulls of our lips.” Instead they mistranslate the Hebrew as if it said, “Pay-rote S’fa-tay-nu, the fruit of our lips.” This means that for the specific purpose of misrepresenting what the Bible says, that God accepts prayer in place of sacrifices, they change the word of God!)

He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. [Proverbs 28:13]

Another superior method is charity:

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Eternal a man avoids evil. [Proverbs 16:6]

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Eternal than sacrifice. [Proverbs 21:3]

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

Please note: The following quotations all come from I Kings 8, in which King Solomon dedicates the only Temple in the world to the One True God. It was in this very Temple that the sacrifices were to take place. Yet at the dedication of this very Temple, Solomon states that one need only pray to God for forgiveness, after repenting, and God would forgive:

…and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel– each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple–then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men)… [I Kings 8:38-39]

The Gentiles too, were to pray directly to God for the forgiveness of their sins, and without the need of a sacrifice!

As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name — for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm — when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. [I Kings 8:41-43]

Notice here, that God allowed the Gentiles to pray directly to him, without the need of a mediator. God never did exclude anyone from Him. All God asks for is a contrite heart, and the willingness to follow God!

Remember, still, that the whole of the sacrificial system was centered at the Temple. Solomon continues:

When they sin against you — for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, `We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy. [I Kings 8:46-50]

So if you repent, God will save you!

The Eternal is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. [Psalm 34:18]

And he will restore your righteousness! Even though you sinned!

He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. [Job 33:26]

God has clearly shown us that sacrifice is NOT necessary for atonement. God has made it abundantly clear to Israel what we are to do for atonement:

With what shall I come before the Eternal and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Eternal be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Eternal require of you? Only to do Justice, and to love Mercy and to walk humbly with your God. [Micah 6:6-8]

Copyright held by Rabbi Stuart Federow 2003
All rights reserved.

 

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