I always find it ironic when one of the Ashkenazi repeat the mantra of doubt, “The Christian Bible isn’t my Bible.” There is a lot of of finagling on the part of Jewish teachers to arrive at that conclusion, which is then taken to heart by the uninformed congregant and repeated with the eye-watering fervor of a child wishing for a precious toy. I can certainly empathize with this position. Having argued with certain individuals who use fallacy and polemic to twist scripture so that it says whatever currently suits them, I know what it feels like to argue a known obvious truth with someone who simply changes the meaning to suit their conclusions. It’s like wrestling atop a pile of sand draining through a hopper. The domain of the topic can completely shift from one clause to the next, in a single statement by a deceitful polemicist.
This is the feeling they bring to the discussion, partly because the Mishnah is such a mishmash of opposing opinion all presented as divine prophetic revelation of the Almighty (bless his name). Partly such suspicion is bread by the mixed up mess of fad doctrines and movements that have left the western Church as churned up and unstable as a battlefield. One group will say that the deceased family and companions of Yeshua can hear and answer your prayers like half-gods. Another will tell you that you are a God in training and if you wish hard enough, sacrifice hard enough and block all niggling voices of reason, you can create the wealth, fame and power that your soul longs for. Yet another will tell you that once you have converted to Christ and been genuinely initiated into the process of molding and growth into his image, you can never be sad, depressed or grief stricken because the sacrifice of the cross means new life and to prove it your must always be “Happy, so very happy…”
Anyone, having been raised to revere the Torah and the Prophets would balk at such “off-scouring of pigs.” This hogwash distracts from the real work of negotiating your salvation in fear (yes Joel, fear means being afraid) and trembling. But the bigger issue is just how unlike the God of the Bible, the father of Christ, such teachings really are.
In the Torah, the Old Covenant if you prefer, the word of the day was restitution. When a man stole an object of chattel property, he had to return it and pay interest. If it was grazing or mineral rights, he gave from his own. If it was livestock likewise. If it was livestock or goods that had already been consumed then the finest equivalent available had to be returned in multiples. Throughout the lot, there were fines, monetary damages that had to be paid. And all of it put you in wrong relationship with God. This was the scariest part, because all the blessings of God, all the love he sheds on his people, is conditional on having that right relationship.
Then–in the times of the Torah and the Writings–as now, people would be indifferent or ashamed of the harm they had caused. They would seek to cover up their crimes, their sins, and ignore the pleas and suffering of their victims. They may even have blamed the victim for being whiny, for not showing the presence of God in their lives, by moving on and simply accepting the loss. For the cynic there is ample ammunition for the bazookas needed to blast such people. One can call on the whining of the Hipiru, the Israeli refugees, during the 40 years nomad. For the Christian there’s plenty of ammo in Paul’s letters about enduring to the end, “pressing on,” “taking victory,” etc. And never forget Peter and the asp! “Just shake it off!” Such beautiful stoicism, just waiting–so long as you are willing to lift passages out of context, trample wholesale on the meaning the author intended by them and allegorize them into the witchcraft of the modern psychologist. Simple, make everyone responsible for their own wounds and exonerate the guilty from any responsibility. After all, it’s for your own good and anything else would just be–vengeance!
That leads into “Vengeance is mine,” and castigating the victim for wanting justice. And don’t forget the cynic’s favorite cherry, “You don’t want justice! Look at what would happen to you if God took Justice on you!” There is context where all of these things have their place, but that place is not in dealing with the injury done to a victim of the sins we call deuteronomical or the ten commandments.
In fairness, Christ was a perfect man and died for crimes he didn’t commit, so we could be forgiven for the ones we have. The Ashkenazi polemicist will argue that the common word for “sacrifice” in the Torah is Korbanah, offering, and point out that even the Hebrew root points to offerings being things that draw together or repair. Thus a sacrifice is a precious thing offered to repair relationship with God. Ironically, this is intended to refute the Messianic sacrifice of Yeshua. But as a believer we recognize that this was the core concept of Christ’s prophetic ministry.
And as such, how can we demand more? How can a victim, of adultery or the murder of a child reject the perfect sacrifice. God took the initiative, gave his own child, so that like the lamb that took Isaac’s rightful place, we could live as he died. The entire purpose was to draw us closer and repair the breach in the relationship with our creator and King. Just as we pointed out at the beginning, the Offering, is a Blood Sacrifice, a meal where we eat the roasted meat to take the death of innocence in and we give the blood and fat to God through the fire, so that in sharing the meal we are drawn together in good relationship with God our father. How can we presume to reject that Zevach/Zebach, blood sacrifice, as sufficient to bring the offender into relationship with God and therefore with us?
Of course we can not. The repentant must make restitution, because without restitution there is no repentance. Without repentance, there is no remission of sins. As Yeshua said, “If you come-to the altar and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your sacrifice waiting and go make reconciliation with your [victim]” so that God will accept rather than reject your sacrifice. Or, “If you don’t forgive, you will not be forgiven.” But that of course is limited to those who have never been “saved,” never been converted to Christ and partaken of his death.
As Paul said, when I told you not to judge I meant don’t judge the world who have the excuse of not knowing Yeshua. But, of course, I judge the church. Anyone who calls himself a brother and continues to live in error is excommunicate and don’t even eat with such a one. I am minded of the role eating takes in the Zebach of Christ, where we are instructed to consume the matzos and wine of Passover as a memorial allegory of his Offering.
In Hebrews, there is a lengthy passage the Stoic and the Gnostic will use to argue that once partaken, no further sacrifice is needed, therefore sin in the life of a believer is simply an inconvenience rather than separation. This ploy might almost work, were it not for the fact that the passage is framed before and after with almost identical passages that when taken together say simply, “If after anyone has partaken of the good Offering of salvation in Yeshua and returns to his former life of habitual sin, there is then no further sacrifice for him, for it would require that Yeshua be crucified a second time and cause public shame on the name of Yeshua.”
Does this mean that if a Christian ever commits sin or enters habitual sin he can not be forgiven? I submit to you that Jesus, who lived by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Ruach Hachodesh, said we would be indwelt with that same spirit and be gifted beyond the list of accomplishments that Christ performed.
No, the cross does not cover the new transgression of the Believer. You cannot crucify him again and be saved again. You must work out your salvation with fear and trembling. You must use the supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit. You must contrive to make restitution in your own flesh, by the power of God, and incidentally be allegorically and incrementally crucified to the will to sin. You must leave communion, go submit to and make reconciliation with your victim and comfort him, then return to full communion–together.
The cynic will say, “But I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of anyone responding to Christ–” No. Nor would any authentic Believer in Yeshua the Messiah. But count the cost. Repentance costs restitution and without repentance there is no drawing together with God, no remission of sins. This is not a game, and eternity is in the balance. But really, isn’t good relationship with God and with your victim worth the discomfort, even pain or suffering reconciliation might cost? Isn’t Good relationship and the blessings of the Lord of Creation well worth any cost or struggle? Open the door, let him in and have a meal. Barbecue is blessing.