Yeshua: His Better Covenant ~ Part 5b

Messianic Jews 9:15-22
Letter to the Messianic Jews

In my last post, we started to examine Messianic Jews 9:15-22 ~ The New Covenant Validated by the Death of Yeshua. In this post, we pick back up with at Messianic Jews 9:19-22 ~ The New Covenant Validated by the Death of Yeshua.

The New Covenant Validated by the Death of Yeshua.

15 It is because of this death that he is mediator of a new covenant [or will]. Because a death has occurred which sets people free from the transgressions committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a will, there must necessarily be produced evidence of its maker’s death, 17 since a will goes into effect only upon death; it never has force while its maker is still alive. 18 This is why the first covenant too was inaugurated with blood. 19 After Moshe had proclaimed every command of the Torah to all the people, he took the blood of the calves with some water and used scarlet wool and hyssop to sprinkle both the scroll itself and all the people; 20 and he said, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has ordained for you.” 21 Likewise, he sprinkled with the blood both the Tent and all the things used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” ~ Messianic Jews 9:15-22 (CJB)

After Moshe had proclaimed the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the civil code of Exodus 21-23, and the people had responded, “We will do and obey everything Adonai has said,” he inaugurated the covenant by sprinkling blood on the altar and the people (Exodus 24:1-8). Leviticus 14:4, 6, 49, 51-52 report that in purification rituals scarlet wool and hyssop were used, and living (i.e., running) water was mixed with the blood. The scroll of the covenant, from which Moshe read to the people, is nowhere mentioned as having been sprinkled; but since human hands made it, it too needed cleansing, even though the words in it were from God himself.

Exodus 40:9-10 says that the Tent and all the things used in its ceremonies were purified with oil, but it does not mention blood. However, Josephus, in retelling the story, writes that Moshe purified “the Tent and the vessels which belonged to it, both with oil that had first been incensed and with the blood of bulls and rams.” (Antiquities of the Jews 3:8:6) [1]

Everything is purified with blood. See the numerous examples in the Torah at Exodus 29-30; Leviticus 1-9, 14-17. For exceptions (almost in this verse), see Exodus 19:10; Leviticus 15:5ff.; 16:26, 28; 22:6; and Numbers 31:22-24.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins. This fundamental principle is minimized or overlooked entirely by modern non-Messianic Judaism.

On the one hand, those forms of non-Messianic Judaism which borrow from secular philosophy promulgate the idea that modern man has evolved past the kind of primitive religion that portrays God as requiring blood atonement. Thus Reform Judaism has removed from the ’Amidah in its prayerbook all reference to the restoration of sacrifices.

On the other hand, although Orthodox Jews pray thrice daily for the rebuilding of the Temple so that animal sacrifices can be offered in the manner, the Torah requires, Orthodox Judaism diminishes their significance by emphasizing the efficacy of other factors in atonement.

It is understandable that it was necessary for the survival of non-Messianic Judaism after the destruction of the Temple that it minimizes the role of blood sacrifice. However, it is the Torah itself which proclaims the necessity of blood atonement for sin:

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” ~ Leviticus 17:11 (CJB)

There is no implication that a magical power resides in blood. Instead, Leviticus 17:11 is one of the Torah’s most precise statements of the indissoluble connection between sin and death. Already at Genesis 2:17-21 it is clear that sin, defined as disobedience to God, requires the sinner’s death (see Romans 5:12-21). Animal sacrifice, which by implication appears as early as Genesis 3:11, is a reminder of the seriousness of sin and at the same time a demonstration of God’s mercy toward sinners (compare Romans 3:25-26).

In non-Messianic Judaism, there is no blood atonement. This contradicts the Torah, which says that the blood makes atonement. This discrepancy is implicitly acknowledged by some Orthodox Jews on Yom-Kippur in a ceremony called kapparot(“atonements”). Each person wrings a chicken’s neck and swings the chicken around his head three times “while the following is pronounced: ‘This is my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement; this chicken shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace.’ The fowl is thought to take on any misfortune which might otherwise befall a person in punishment of his sins. After the ceremony, it is customary to donate the fowl to the poor, except for the intestines which are thrown to the birds.” (Encyclopedia Judaica 10:756). [2]

The paltriness of this substitute for the awesome, fearsome, never-ending bloodiness of the Temple sacrifices is evident even to those performing the ritual. For if it is impossible that the blood of goats and bulls should take away sin (Messianic Jews 10:4), how much less will the blood of chickens?

Our sins have been covered by the Blood of Yeshua. They are forgiven and forgotten.

In my next post, we’ll continue our mini-series on Yeshua: His Better Covenant which will cover Messianic Jews 9:23-28 concerning Yeshua As the Sufficient Offering for Our Sins.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Ibid.


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