Monday, January 28, 2019

Get Back to the First Century: Salvation and Sacrifice

Salvation and Sacrifice

Many Christian and Messianic believers mistakenly believe that since the Temple is not standing and we have no functioning Levitical priesthood and that Yeshua came to die on the cross that the Temple and its sacrifices have become obsolete.

We see that after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua that the Nazarene Jewish believers still participated in worship at the Temple.

Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart…

“They continued,” which means that despite Yeshua being Messiah and dying for our sins, despite that not everyone accepted Yeshua as Messiah, the early Jewish believers still attended and participated in religious functions at the Temple. This was a normal, regular part of their religious life. When Yeshua was on earth he respected the Temple and revered it as His Father’s House (Lk. 2:49, Jn. 2:16), so it is natural that His followers would have that same zeal and respect for the Temple. This did not change because Yeshua came on the scene and died on the cross for our sins.

Acts 3:1-2 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
 2And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

We see in this passage that it was customary for Kefa (Peter) and Yochannon (John) to go to the Temple and pray at the time of Mincha (Afternoon) prayers. It did not say that they went to heal or evangelize, they went to pray, and it just so happens that on their way they saw a lame man and healed him in Yeshua’s name.  This caused quite a stir and in Acts 4, we see Kefa and Yochannon speaking to the people about what happened and ended up telling the people about Yeshua and the resurrection. This caused such a disturbance they arrested them and incarcerated them. Acts 5 records their miraculous escape and we see them back at the Temple preaching. The Sadducees held power over the Temple and yes, the authorities had an issue of them proclaiming Yeshua as Messiah, because they saw many “Messiahs” come and go and they didn’t want a crazed following. However, I believe the Sadducees took more issue with them speaking about the resurrection because one of the major doctrines of the Sadducees is that they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, not just Yeshua’s resurrection, but the phenomenon of resurrection period.

Let us look a Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) and his views in regards to the Temple and its service. Let us first make clear that Rav Sha’ul, even after “conversion”, accepting Yeshua as Messiah, did not change his Jewish practices, affiliation and or beliefs to a radical degree.

 13For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
 14And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

ACTS 23:6

6But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.



 1Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.


ACTS 28:17
And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men [and] brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.

Here Rav Sha’ul proudly proclaims that not only has he kept the Torah, but also the traditions and customs of the Fathers relating to the performance of the commandments!

ACTS 21:17-26
 17And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
 18And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
 19And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
 20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
 21And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
 22What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
 23Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
 24Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
 25As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
 26Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

Here Rav Sha’ul was accused of teaching Gentiles and Jews that they did not have to keep the Torah, which was a total lie. So, to solve the problem, the Elders suggested an act on Rav Shaul’s part that would prove to the people his allegiance to the Torah, which was to take on a Nazarite vow (which is a part of the “Old Testament” Law) along with other believers, and to have Rav Sha’ul fit the bill for the other believers in regards to the sacrifices.

This meant he took on a Nazarite vow, and when the vow was completed, he went to the Temple to offer the prescribed sacrifice! Why would Rav Sha’ul do this if he thought the Torah, the Temple and the Sacrifices were done away with, or if he actually was teaching others to forsake the Torah!?

Either Rav Sha’ul was a Torah Observant Jew till the end or right here is proving himself to be a two faced liar, playing whatever crowd he was with at the moment.

I say that the Scriptures are evident and clear that Rav Sha’ul never abandoned Judaism, the Torah, nor did he assimilate into the Roman culture at that time, nor did he convert to “Christianity”.

Unfortunately, As Kefa said in II Peter 3:15-16 that Rav Shaul’s texts have been, and it is evident even now, have been taken out of context to suit a bias Anti-Jewish and Anti-Torah doctrine in the majority of Christianity.

Acts 22:17-19 And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance;
 18And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.
 19And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:

We see from this passage that the Temple was still a very important place to Rav Sha’ul and the 1st century believers; so important, that we see Rav Sha’ul going there to pray and receiving a vision from God. This even lends validity that even after Yeshua came and went, that God’s favor and power still resided in the Temple and God expected the followers of Yeshua to go there when appropriate.

Bottom line is, if your interpretation of Rav Shaul’s writings is anything but pro-Torah, you have sorely misinterpreted, misrepresented, and misunderstood this great Pharisaical Nazarene Jew.

I believe it is abundantly clear that the first century believing Nazarene Jews still went to the Temple to sacrifice and worship during the pilgrimage festivals and to pray and even give money in support of the Temple (Exodus 23:17, Acts 2:46, Acts 24:14-18).

As for today, the Temple and a working Levitical priesthood do not exist, and most Jews would agree it is because of our sin and disobedience to the Torah. So obviously, the Commandments regarding our duties and obligations concerning Temple service have been temporarily suspended until the 3rd Temple is rebuilt, and I believe prophecy is clear that the Temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices will resume.

I believe similarly to Maimonides of the 11th century who said that we do not need a Temple in order to worship the God of our Fathers. I can worship God anywhere. However, if there were a fully functioning Temple that met all Torah requirements to be legitimate, I would not have to think twice about going up to the “House of the Lord” and do what the 1st century believers did before the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., which is to pray and offer sacrifices to ADONAI.

In the Messianic and Christian arenas, the issue of Salvation and Levitical animal Sacrifice has caused charged, heated debates, and cause congregational and denominational splits.  How were the “Old Testament Saints” saved?  Will there be animal sacrifice during the Third Temple when Messiah reigns, and if so, why?  Wouldn’t animal sacrifices slap Yeshua and his sacrificial atoning work on the cross in the face?  Many like questions circle submerge and emerge continuously. As a Natsari Jew, let me put this weary animal to rest.  If you do not like the answer, take it up with the Father and His Word.  If it blows down your little theological house of cards, then maybe you should question the materials you have used, or the foundation it has been founded upon, GOD’s Word, or tradition and doctrines of men.

Let me first tackle the issue of salvation.  It is the misconception of many that the “Old Testament Saints” were saved by works, keeping the Torah (Law) in combination with the Levitical animal sacrifices; and “New Testament Saints” are saved by “Grace” and Yeshua’s death on the cross.   How fair is that!?  Christians say there is only one way of salvation. This view would contradict that.  This is purely a Christian false doctrine; nothing could be further from the truth. Plus, how was Abraham, who live thousands of years before Christ declared righteous? By Faith (Rom. 4:9)!

Then how were the Believers before the death and resurrection of Yeshua, saved!? 

I believe the saints in the Tanak were saved the same way as the saints in the Renewed Covenant (New Testament).  The difference is perspective.  Those in the Tanak (Old Testament) looked forward to, and believed in the Messiah and His atoning work that was coming.  The Renewed Covenant saints (us) look back and believe in the Messiah and His atoning work that already came, and is coming again!  The sacrifices of the Tabernacle and Temple era, before Yeshua came, never atoned for or removed sin.  In the Renewed Covenant, Hebrews 10:4 states, “It is NOT possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” The sacrifices just rolled the sin back like a credit card debt until Messiah came to pay the debt in full, atoning for them all past, present, and future. (Isa.53:6; I Pt.2:24; I Jn.2:2; Heb.1:3; 5-10)   I believe that Yeshua worked within the framework of Torah, and the sacrificial system set up therein. 

Then what is the purpose of the animal sacrifices and Tithes? 

1.    It was to be a physical object lesson that pointed to the coming Messiah and what He would do.  It acted as a credit card that covered, but did not take away, and rolled back the sin debt until someone, Messiah, could come along and pay it.  In the time of the Third Temple, the sacrifices will be a reminder of the Messiah who came and what He did (Is. 56, 66; Zech. 14:16-21).  The sacrifices that took place before Yeshua came only pointed to the Messiah, which was to come. The sacrifices that will take place after Yeshua, and that will take place in the Millennial Reign, point back to Messiah’s atoning work. Yeshua is a part of the Melkezidekian priesthood which is a higher and older order of priesthood than the Levites and thus does not do away with the Levitical Priesthood. And so, Yeshua will reign from the Temple and supervise the Levitical priests in their duties for Yeshua is Prophet, Priest and King.
2.    It provided and will provide food, materials and income for the Priests and their families. (Leviticus 5-10)

From the accounts in the book of Acts we can clearly see the first century Nazarene Jewish believers in Yeshua meet “daily,” during appointed festival times at the Temple, and offered “offerings,” “sacrifices” and “gifts” as practiced by all Jews at that time. The first century believers in Yeshua clearly saw no conflict with this and their belief in Yeshua being the ultimate atoning sacrifice. There was no problem or issue with belief in Yeshua and participating in Temple activities and having both coexist simultaneously.