"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

Question:

I want to first commend you on your web site which is laid out quite well and has helped me understand more about traditional Jewish thinking on Christ.  Although I am a born again Christian, I do not support groups such as the Messianics who sit on the fence regarding Judaism and Christianity.  You either follow Judaism or Christianity; you can’t pretend to follow both at the same time.  This has led to Jews for Jesus following rabbinic customs that are not a part of the teachings of Christ.

With that said, my question to you is: Why have the Jewish people rejected Jesus as their sacrificial lamb who is the sin bearer for mankind when the atoning blood of Jesus is so ever-present in the Paschal lamb in the Book of Exodus.  I ask this question because you are a rabbi and profess to believe in the teachings of the Old Testament; so how is it that you do not see the atonement of the blood of the lamb which was placed on the doorposts that first Passover Seder night in Egypt?  I look forward to your answer.

Answer:

Thank you for your question.  It is not every day that I hear a “born again Christian” condemn missionary groups like Jews for Jesus.  If churches committed to Jewish evangelism would present themselves to the Jewish people as forthrightly as you have, unknowledgeable Jews would have a much clearer understanding of the scenario into which they consider becoming involved, and apostasy to Christianity would be an uncommon disease among my people.

With regard to your question, evangelical Christians often draw a comparison between the Paschal lamb and Jesus, insisting that the former foreshadows the latter.  This idea is advanced in the New Testament, particularly in the Book of John, where Jesus is portrayed as the fulfillment of the Passover lamb.  Yet how valid a point is this?  What is the meaning of this holiday sacrifice?

The Bible relates in Exodus 12:3-13 that when the Jewish people were preparing themselves for their momentous exodus from Egypt, God commanded them to slaughter a year-old sheep or goat on the 14th day of the first month (Nissan) and to publicly place its blood on the outside doorposts of their homes.  Because Christians insist that the blood of the Paschal lamb foreshadowed the atonement of the blood of Jesus at Calvary, it behooves us to question the soundness of this claim.

The Torah never states or even implies that the Passover sheep or goat atones for sin.  The notion that the Paschal lamb is a representation of a crucified savior or an atonement for sin is as foreign to the teachings of the Torah as is the notion of Santa Claus.

A mindful study of the Jewish scriptures reveals that the Torah had alluded to the Paschal lamb long before the exodus from Egypt occurred.  Centuries earlier, the Almighty tested Abraham’s faith when God commanded him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac.  Genesis 22:7-8 relates that as the two ascended Mount Moriah together, Isaac turned to his father and asked,

“Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?”  Abraham then replied, “God will see to a lamb for an offering, my son.”

The question that immediately comes to mind is, what happened to that lamb that Abraham promised?  A few verses later we find that it was a ram, not a lamb, which was sacrificed!  Where was the lamb to which Abraham was prophetically referring?

The answer of course is that our father Abraham was referring to the Paschal lamb.  Just as God tested Abraham’s faith to show his worthiness to be the father of the chosen people, the young Jewish nation also had to have their faith tested to show their worthiness to participate in the exodus from Egypt, to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai, and to become the progenitors of the covenant people who would forever be known as “a light to the nations.”

In the pagan Egyptian society where the Jewish people were enslaved, the lamb was considered a sacred god, similar to how the cow is deified and worshiped in India today.  In ancient Egypt, molesting a lamb in any way was considered a crime punishable by death.  That is why, when Egypt was overcome with the third plague of lice, Moses refused Pharaoh’s initial offer that the Jews bring their sacrifice to God while remaining in Egypt.  In Exodus 8:26, Moses explained to Pharaoh that if the Israelites were to kill these animals before the Egyptians, they would be stoned to death.  The Almighty, therefore, used this to test the faithfulness of the Jewish people by commanding them to not only kill Egypt’s sacred god, but also to publicly place the lamb’s blood on their doorposts for all to see.  Only those Israelites who, like Abraham, demonstrated that their fear of God exceeded their fear of the Egyptians, would be deemed worthy to have their homes passed over during the tenth and final plague.

Yours,

Rabbi Tovia Singer

 

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