Tag Archives: Blood

Christ – The Atonement Sacrifice – Allusions in Luke 4

It is a little known fact that Luke’s record of our Messiah’s ministry starts with an allusion to the Atonement Sacrifice. Luke alone gives an account of the timing of this event, and also shows how the people themselves unwittingly declared how Yeshua would take the sin of the nation upon Himself.

Knowing about the Day of Atonement is paramount to understand the story behind the story that Luke gives witness to. Considered the most important of the Appointed Days in God’s Calendar, The Day of Atonement is the only day of the year with a command for Fasting. In fact, since the Day of Atonement is intricately connected to Judgement, most Jews engage in a partial fast for a full 40 days before the Day of Atonement. The 40 Days start with the 6th month of God’s Calendar (known as Elul) and end with the Day of Atonement, which is the 10th day of the 7th Month, equalling to a full 40 days of Repentance. It is a time for Repentance and preparation of one’s life to stand before God. While it is not clear whether this tradition of Fasting existed back in 1st Century times, is it not wonderous that Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) fasted 40 days in the same season of Elul and The Day of Atonement?

How do we know that His Ministry started in the time of the Day of Atonement? There are several hints given to us by Luke. Let us review his account in Chapters 3 & 4.

1.John preaches repentance –
Not only does John preach Repentance, a key aspect of meditation as it dawns toward The Day of Atonement, he also speaks of the coming Judgement as seen below.

Luk 3:3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;
Luk 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Luk 3:9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Luk 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.

2.Yeshua’s 40 day Fast –
Yeshua is baptized by John(Luk 3:22,23) and proceeds directly into the Wilderness of Judea(Luk 4:1) and remains there fasting for forty days(Luk 4:2). After being tempted of the Devil, He teaches in Galilee, and then comes to Nazareth – His hometown and steps into the Synagogue.

3.The Reading in the Synagogue –
Traditionally on the Sabbath, people meet in the Synagogue and read a Portion of the Torah (5 Books of Moses) & the Prophets which is done in a planned manner. Isaiah is read in close proximity to The Day of Atonement, and it just so happened that Yeshua was delivered the scroll of Isaiah on this particular Sabbath Day.

Luk 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

4. Isaiah 61, Judgement & the Jubilee
Yeshua reads the following passage, stopping abruptly without reading everything proceeding “The Day of Vengeance”. “Proclamation of Liberty” is intricately connected to the “Year of Jubilee” which is announced on The Day of Atonement. The Day of Vengeance or His Second Coming, was yet to come. So it makes sense that He stopped before this part, but reading the full verse, we see that He consoles everyone who repents and is in Ashes, mourning & heaviness – which are central themes of The Day of Atonement.

Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Lev 25:9,10 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

5. The Sacrificial Goat which took all the Sin of the Nation upon itself –
On The Day of Atonement, the High Priest enacted a sacrifice to atone the sins of the nation. This twin sacrifice had two goats, one of which was taken before the High Priest, who then proclaimed all of the Sins of the nation on its head, and was then led away to the wilderness.

Lev 16:8-10  And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Lev 16:21,22  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

It is traditionally known that this goat was pushed off a cliff by the person who led it away signifying the complete erasure of the sins of the people.

The Rabbis, interpreting “Azazel” as “Azaz” (rugged), and “el” (strong), refer it to the rugged and rough mountain cliff from which the goat was cast down (Yoma 67b; Sifra, Aḥare, ii. 2; Targ. Yer. Lev. xiv. 10, and most medieval commentators)  Jewish Encyclopedia

The Sages taught: The word Azazel indicates that the cliff the goat is pushed from should be rough and hard. I might have thought that it may be located in a settled area. Therefore, the verse states: “In the wilderness.” And from where does one derive that the goat is pushed from a cliff? The verse states “gezeira,” indicating an area that is sharp, like a cliff. Yoma 67b – Talmud

Now read what happens after Yeshua reads the Scripture in Isaiah and has a dispute with the people in the Synagogue. The crowd unwittingly proclaims that Yeshua will be the sacrifice which takes away the sin of the nation, by trying to take Him to a hill and thrusting Him down from it.

Luk 4:28,29 And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

6. The High Priest & the Atonement Sacrifice –
As the author of Hebrews make mention, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies only once a year – on the Day of Atonement(Exo 30:10), and he would also take the blood of the second goat which was applied inside. Hebrews clearly connects the Blood of the Atonement Sacrifice to Yeshua’s blood. He would be the High Priest of the Nation and the Sacrifice for the Sins of the Nation.

Heb 9:6,7  Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Heb 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Conclusion
It is very likely that Luke knew of the Atonement Sacrifice and the connection of Messiah to the redemption of the Nation as seen in the Scriptures. When Luke heard this account from witnesses before he wrote his gospel(Luk 1:2), he would have immediately connected the dots of the Goat which was led to the cliff with Yeshua who was almost thrust down in the same way, in the days of Repentance – The Day of Atonement. I am in no way saying that Christ was almost thrust down the cliff exactly on the Day of Atonement, but it was definitely close in proximity to this all important day, and the event itself definitely alluded to Him being the Atonement Sacrifice for all of us. As we repent for our own sins through fasting, let us remember the sacrifice that was made for our iniquities, transgressions and sins – our Saviour and Lord – Yeshua Ha Maschiach (Jesus the Messiah).

Advertisements

Holy Communion and the Bread & Wine on the Table of Shewbread/Presence

As Christians we are all used to taking communion or partaking in the Lord’s Supper / Lord’s Table. It is a tradition that has been handed down through generations and is regarded as one of the most important customs carried out by Christians each sunday. Everyone understands the significance of the Bread and Wine being equaled to the Body and Blood of Christ. But do we really understand the real significance behind this Commemoration? Did it simply originate with Christ?

Now whether the Last Supper was a Passover Meal has been reviewed before here, so we will not be delving into that question again. The discoveries in that study led us to conclude that the Last Supper was a meal shared at the beginning of the 14th Day of the 1st Month of the Biblical Year. Although the Synoptic Gospels and John’s Gospel seem to be contradicting each other, they all agreed that Christ died on the Passover and the Last Supper was held the night before. Even though the Last Supper seemed like a Passover seder, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the likeness of this theory. The Last Supper would have most probably been a Pre-Passover meal shared in celebration of the ushering in of the Passover day, and the upcoming Sacrifice, through which we came out of slavery to Sin, just as the Israelites came out of slavery to Egypt.

In this study we hope to find the reason behind Christ’s choice of Bread & Wine as a symbol and commemoration, and what it really means to partake of communion / Lord’s Supper / Lord’s Table.

This study is broken down into the following parts:
1. Christ speaks of the Body & the Blood
2. Covenants and the Covenant meals
3. The Table of Shewbread/Showbread
4. The Contents of The Table of Shewbread – Bread & Wine
5. The Table of the Lord
6. The Bread & Wine of the Old Testament and the New
7. Paul speaks of the Lord’s Table
8. Conclusion

1. Christ speaks of the Body & the Blood
On the eve before the Passover was killed, at the end of the 13th day and the beginning of the 14th day (The Biblical day starts at Sundown), Christ sat down with His Disciples to have His last meal – His Last Supper. The Day when the Passover Lamb was to be Sacrificed had begun. And as the Disciples were having their Supper, Yeshua – their teacher & master makes a parallel between His Body & Blood and the Bread & Wine that they consume.

Mat 26:26-28  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Mar 14:22-24  And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Luk 22:14-20  And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Joh 13:1-4  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

All 3 Gospels that record the breaking of bread and drinking of wine note the parallelism brought by Christ. Only John is silent in this sense, indicating that the Supper was before the Feast of Passover and moving onto the washing of feet after the meal. It is a fact that Yeshua equaled the bread to His Body and the wine to His Blood of the New Covenant. Even as Moses ratified the Covenant with Blood(Exo 24:8), Christ also ratifies the New Covenant with His Blood. So from the above we conclude as all agree:

The Bread = Yeshua’s Body
The Wine = Yeshua’s Blood

2. Covenants and the Covenant meals
Although Bread and Wine are not specifically mentioned we see that Covenants preceded with a meal between the two parties in celebration of the agreement at hand. We see such meals taking place between Abimelech/Isaac as well with God and the Elders of Israel. God wanted the elders of Israel to have a Covenant Meal after ratifying the Covenant with blood before Him.

Gen 26:26-30  Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.

Exo 24:1-11  And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

After this Meal Moses straight away ascended the mountain and received instructions from God, of which the first was on making a Tabernacle for God. And one of the integral parts in this tent of meeting, was a table which stood in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.

3. The Table of Shewbread/Showbread
The “Table of Showbread” as it is called in some of our English Translations, is one of the lesser known articles in the Tabernacle. The “shulchan lechem paneem” mentioned in Exo 25:30 can be directly translated as the “Table(shulchan) of the Bread(lechem) of Faces(paneem)” and is also translated in some of our English Bibles as Table of Bread of the Presence(because God was meeting face to face). The Table was one of the 3 Items mentioned to be placed inside the Holy Place of the Tabernacle alongside the Altar of Incense and The Golden Lampstand(Menorah).

Exo 25:23-30  Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.

Exo 40:22,23  And he put the table in the tent of the congregation, upon the side of the tabernacle northward, without the vail. And he set the bread in order upon it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.

2Ch 29:18  Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof.

Heb 9:2  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

4. The Contents of The Table of Shewbread – Bread & Wine
The Table inside the Holy Place had twelve Loaves of Bread. Each loaf was made of two tenth deals (Approximately 3.5Kg) which would have made each loaf quite large in size. The Table also carried dishes, spoons, bowls and covers(qasah-cups) to cover(Nawsak-Pour) Drink Offerings. Prepared every Sabbath, the 12 Loaves of Bread signified the 12 Tribes of Israel as it is set in order before YHVH being taken from the Children of Israel by an Everlasting Covenant. The 12 loaves together represented the whole of Israel. When the new loaves were set on the Sabbath the old ones were taken away, and none but the priests were allowed to eat them. The Drink Offering for which the Cups were placed on the table, carried Wine; as the Drink Offerings were made exclusively with Wine(Exo 29:40, Lev 23:13, Num 15:5,7,10, Num 28:14). The Table of Presence/Showbread was also known as “The Table” & “The Pure Table”.

Lev 24:5-9  And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake. And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD. And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.

Num 4:7,8  And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover(Nesek-Drink Offering) withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: And they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof.

Exo 37:16  And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.

1Ki 7:48  And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was,

2Ch 13:11  And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.

1Ch 9:32  And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath.

It is stated in the Mishnah ” teaches that they(priests) used to lift it up and exhibit the Shewbread thereon to those who came up for the Festivals, saying to them, Behold the love in which you are held by God! –Menachoth 96b & 29a. Why did the Priests say “Behold the love in which you are held by God!”? The table represented the Covenant God had made with Israel – the bread resembling Israel while the Wine most probably resembled the Blood of the Covenant.

5. The Table of the Lord
The Table of Showbread was also known as the “Table of the Lord”, and God Himself calls it “My Table”. The Table of Showbread was the only Table that had any connection to God. Built according to specific instructions by God, this Table was where He came face to face (hence “Lekhem-Pawneem” which means Bread of the Faces commonly translated as showbread or bread of the presence) with Israel. The other main feature of the table was the Drink offering which is Wine – known as the Blood of grapes(Gen 49:11, Deut 32:14). The Bread and Wine on His Table signifying coming face to face or having Fellowship with His Children in remembrance of His Covenant was surely an integral part of the Tabernacle. Every Sabbath, the bread was renewed and the Table with its bread and wine was before the face of God continually.

Mal 1:7  Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.

Mal 1:12  But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.

Eze 44:16  They shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge.

Eze 41:22  The altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; and the corners thereof, and the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood: and he said unto me, This is the table that is before the LORD.

6. The Bread & Wine of the Old Testament and the New
According to Lev 24:8 the Table was set on behalf of the Children of Israel by the Everlasting Covenant. If the Wine kept on the Table of Shewbread symbolized the Blood of The Covenant and the Bread symbolized the Children of Israel, Then the Bread and Wine symbolized in the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings could be categorized as below.

Old Testament Scriptures

New Testament Writings

Bread symbolizes Israel

Bread symbolizes Christ’s Body

Wine symbolizes the Blood of the Mosaic Covenant

Wine symbolizes the Blood of the New Covenant

7. Paul speaks of the Lord’s Table
Paul speaks of the Lord’s Table in connection with a specific issues that the Corinthian Congregation was having – Eating meat from the markets which could have been selling animals which were sacrificed at pagan temples (which was common at that time). A more detailed study on this subject can be read here. Paul speaks of the “cup of blessing” and the “communion of the blood of Christ”. The “Bread” and the “communion of the body of Christ”. and then he says we are the body of Christ. According to the above comparisons of Bread in  the Old Testament and New, it could be said that Yeshua equated His body to the body of Israel. In other words we are all His body and a part of Israel – God’s Chosen people. Paul also speaks of Israelites by birth who partake in the altar (which is the tabernacle). Why did Paul bring a connection of the Tabernacle to the blood and body of Christ? Was it because he understood the origins of the Communion we partake? Was his reference to the “Lord’s Table” one which spoke of the Table of Shewbread?

1Co 10:15-21  I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?  For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

8. Conclusion
While we are used to calling Communion as the “Lord’s Table”, the only Table of the Lord in the Scriptures was the Table of Shewbread, specifically made according to designs given by God. The Table of Presence as it is also called, was a Table in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of God which carried Bread which symbolized Israel and the Drink Offering of Wine which probably Symbolized the Blood of the Covenant. The Table was to be before God continually with fresh loaves of Bread added each Sabbath. The Table represented a meeting of Faces(as it is called shulchan lechem paneem – Table of Bread of Faces) as in Communion/Fellowship and was a kind of eternal Covenant Meal where God remembered Israel and the Covenant He had with them. While Yeshua used the Bread and Wine to be equaled to His Body and Blood, the reason probably originated from the Original Lord’s Table. He was equaling Israel that He was going to reign over someday(Acts 1:6, Luk 1:33) to be His Body and equating the Blood He shed to the Blood of The Covenant, just as Moses ratified the Covenant with the Blood of the Covenant(Exo 24:8). As we partake of communion / Lord’s Supper / Lord’s Table we do remember the Covenant God has made with us and that we are His Body/His People. The Bread and Wine has deeper roots in the Scriptures than we thought, being connected to the Mosaic Covenant as well as the renewed Covenant. As often as we eat the bread and drink the wine, let us remember that we are His Body and we are saved only through the Blood of the Covenant which was shed for us. Let us partake of it without having any uncleanness as the Aaronic Priests also did. Let us remember God’s Love for us, and that His Covenant is before His face continually, forever.

Understanding Sacrifices and Offerings, and whether they are done away in Christ

The “Scriptures” or the Old Testament, as it is known today, consist of many Sacrifices and Offerings which were instituted by Our Heavenly Creator. Though many of us are vague on the details of such, and see these sacrifices and offerings as archaic and barbaric, we must not forget that they are part of God’s Word. While these sacrifices/offerings have ceased with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD, many Christians believe that they are done away in Christ, never to be re-instituted again. While much of this thinking stems from the idea that “God’s Law is a curse that was done away in Christ“, there are many prophecies which speak otherwise.

the-lamb-illustration-1It is the objective of this study to give you, the reader, a basic understanding of the different kinds of sacrifices and offerings instituted by YHVH through Moses, to unravel the reasons for such actions and see whether they have ceased altogether or whether they will reappear in the time of the Millennial rule of Messiah Yeshua.

 

 

This study is broken down to the following sections:
1. What are Offerings & Sacrifices?
2. The different varieties of Offerings
3. What was the reason for offering sacrifices?
4. Sacrifices & Messiah
5. Earthly Priesthood & Heavenly Priesthood
6. Sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom?
7. Conclusion

1. What are Offerings & Sacrifices?
Offering – The word translated as “offering” in our English translations of the Bible come from the Hebrew word “Korbawn” (H7133 – something brought near the altar, that is, a sacrificial present: – oblation, that is offered, offering). An offering was a gift brought before God, similar to a manner of approaching a king, with humility and due honor. It did not necessarily consist of Animal Sacrifices, but could be anything from bread to jewels(Num 28:2, 31:50). We see Yeshua alluding to the same “Corban” in Mark 7:11 when rebuking the Pharisees.

Sacrifice – The word translated as “sacrifice” in our English translations of the Bible come from the Hebrew word “Zabach” (H2076 – to slaughter an animal. usually in sacrifice: – kill, offer, sacrifice, slay). An Offering was not necessarily a “Zabach” (animal sacrifice). The difference could be seen clearly in Lev 3:1 And if his oblation(Korbawn) be a sacrifice(Zabach) of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD.

2. The different varieties of Offerings
While Animal Sacrifices(Zabach) was just one type of offering, there are also many other types of offerings, that we are not familiar with. Offerings could be divided to 2 main categories as “blood offerings” and “bloodless offerings”.

BLOOD OFFERINGS mainly consisted of
“Olah” translated as Burnt Offerings (H5930 – ascending, going up in smoke: – ascent, go up)
“Shelem” translated as peace offering (H8002 – requital, that is, a sacrifice in thanks)
“Chattath” translated as sin offering (H2403 – offence, and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also an offender: – punishment of sin, purifying for sin, sinner). Both “Sin” and “Sin Offering” is called “Chattath” (Lev 4:3).
“Asham” translated as Trespass offering (H817 – guilt; by implication a fault; also a sin offering: – guiltiness, offering for sin, trespass)

BLOODLESS OFFERINGS mainly consisted of
“Minchah” translated as Meat/Meal Offering (H4503 – apportion, that is, bestow; a donation; euphemistically tribute; specifically a sacrificial offering. usually bloodless and voluntary: – gift, oblation, meat offering, present, sacrifice).
“Nesek” translated as Drink Offering (H5262 – libation; pouring out, pour)

RITUALS OF OFFERING THE ABOVE
“Terumah” translated as Heave Offering (H8641 – something raised, lifted, offered up). For example, part of the Peace offering could be lifted up, and therefore called a heave offering (Lev 7:32)
“Tenuphah” translated as Wave offering (H8573 – tumult; specifically the official undulation of sacrificial offerings: – offering, shaking, wave). For example,  part of the Peace offering could be waved, and therefore be called a wave offering (Lev 7:30). Several offerings were waved, such as the Leper’s trespass offering (Lev 14:12), Consecration offering (Lev 8:27), Sheaf of Firstfruits (Lev 23:11) and Loaves at Pentecost (Lev 23:17).

THE SIX MAIN OFFERINGS COMMANDED BY GOD
1)Burnt Offering (Olah)
2)Meal Offering (Minchah)
3)Peace Offering (Shelem)
4)Sin Offering (Chattath)
5)Trespass Offering (Asham)
6)Drink Offering (Nesek)

Different combinations of these above categories of offerings were used for different instances – such as – consecration of priests, nazarite vow, cleansing of leper, person defiled with issue, women giving birth, jealousy trial, etc.

3 MAIN GROUPS OF OFFERINGS
• Sweet savour offerings – Burnt and Peace offerings
• Atonement offerings – Sin and Trespass offerings
• Supplementary offerings – Meal and Drink offerings (added to other offerings)

1) BURNT OFFERING
Burnt Offerings are first seen many years before Moses, being offered by Noah(Gen 8:20),  Abraham(Gen 22:2) & Job(Job 1:5). Better translated as “Ascending Offerings”, these were wholly burnt at the Altar.

Commanded Burnt Offerings –
1) Continual Burnt Offering – One lamb was to be offered each morning and evening (Exo 29:42) at the Temple, and the fires would continually burn through morning to evening, and so on.
2) Sabbath Burnt Offering – On top of the continual burnt offering, on the Sabbath, two lambs were offered (Num 28:9,10).
3) New Moon/Month Burnt Offering – Two young bullocks, one ram & seven lambs were offered on the first day of each month (Num 28:11).
4) Burnt offerings at the seven Feasts/Appointments – Passover(2Chr 30:24), Unleavened Bread(Num 28:24), Firstfruits(Lev 23:12), Pentecost(Lev 23:18), Trumpets(Num 29:2), Atonement(Lev 16:24), Tabernacles(Num 29:13-38)
5) Consecration – of priests(Lev 8:18, 9:2), of people (Lev 9:3-7) of Levites(Num 8:12)
6) Dedication – of the altar – (Num 7:87), of the temple(1Kin 8:64)
7) Cleansing – of women bearing children(Lev 12:6), of lepers(Lev 14:19), of people with some kind of bodily discharge(Lev 15:15), a defiled Nazarite(Num 6:11)
8) Completion of a vow(Num 15:8), specifically a Nazarite vow as well(Num 6:14)

Each day, each sabbath, each month, each feast, in consecration, dedication, cleansing and completion of oaths, physical contact with God was prescribed. They were constant reminders of who is King, Lord & God. All important events and commemorations were celebrated by offering such gifts to God.

Voluntary Burnt Offerings
An individual could bring a burnt offering on his own free-will, but what should be offered and how it should be offered was instructed(Lev 1:2 onwards). Even the people who were not native born Israelites (aliens/strangers) were capable of making burnt sacrifices(Lev 22:18). The poor could also offer pigeons and turtle doves instead bullocks and lambs(Lev 12:8 & 1:14).

The process of sacrifice
• Offering – being accepted by God
It was offered only at the brass altar in front of the door of the tabernacle/temple(Lev 17:8-9).
The offerer then laid the hand on the animal, identifying with it, and showing that he himself is offered up(Lev 1:4)
• Shedding blood – being atoned/covered by God
The offerer killed the animal and shed the blood, which was sprinkled around the altar by the priest(Lev 1:5). Then he had to skin the animal, at which point the skin was kept by the priest(Lev 7:8). Then the offerer cut the meat into pieces, which was placed on the altar by the priest(Lev 1:6-8). The inwards and legs were washed with water, and placed by the priest on the altar(Lev 1:9)
• Burning – Being adored by God
Then all of the animal was completely burnt on the altar as a pleasant smell to God(Lev 1:9)

While in some offerings, the offerer and the priest shared a part, in the burnt offering they burnt it whole to God as a sweet savour. The same applied for a poor man who brought a pigeon – the only difference being the priest would kill it instead(Lev 1:14-17).

The burnt offerings were accompanied by a drink offering and meal offering, with various sizes according to the animal(Num 15:3-12). Trumpets were sounded over the burnt offerings done on the New Moon days and appointed feasts(Num 10:10).

2) MEAL OFFERING
Usually translated as meat offering in the King James Version, the reason for this was that “meat” was generally used for food in the early days. It is also translated as meal offering or grain offering in various translations, but the meaning derived from the Hebrew word “Minchah” is Gift/tribute/apportion. First seen in Gen 4:3-5 in the offerings of Cain & Abel, it is seen again in Gen 32:20 & Gen 43:26 translated as present. The Meal offering is an act of remembrance(Lev 2:2), of worship, gratitude and request for future blessing. As a supplementary to other offerings such as the daily, Sabbath, Feast day offerings, Consecration of the priests & levites, End of a Nazarite vow and the Cleansing of the leper, the portion of the meal offering varied according to the animal sacrificed(Num 15:4-10).

The ingredients of the meal offering consisted of fine flour, oil and frankincense(Lev 2:1). Every meal offering was also seasoned with salt, called the “salt of the covenant”(Lev 2:13). Salt being a preservative agent, was certainly used to ratify covenants(Num 18:19, 2Chr 13:5). Anything Leavened was not part of Meal offerings.

The process of sacrifice
The meal offering according to Lev 2:2-3 is;
• a memorial – reminder of the indebtedness to God
• Offering made by fire – consumed by fire to indicate being devoted wholly to God
• Sweet Savour – Giving satisfaction to God

3 states of wheat could be used for the meal offering:
1) Corn – Ears of wheat parched on a pan and rubbed to obtain roasted grains (Lev 2:14)
2) Flour – Wheat ground into fine flour and mixed with oil to make a batter (Lev 2:1)
3) Bread – The flour baked into bread could be offered by baking in the oven, baking in a flat plate or baking in a frying pan (Lev 2:4,5,7)

It was brought by the offerer to the priest, who burned the necessary quantity at the altar. The amounts of oil and frankincense used with the component of wheat differed according to the animal sacrificed(Num 15:4-11)

After it was burnt at the Alta, whatever was left was provided to the priests (sons of Aaron) as food. It was to be eaten inside the holy place, in the court of the tabernacle, and never to be baked with leaven. Only people who were ritually pure could eat it, and this was said to be a statute forever(Lev 6:14-18).

3) PEACE OFFERING
Derived from the root word “Shalam” (H7999) meaning to be safe, it was an offering of giving thanks, and were divide into 3 types of peace offerings (Lev 7:11-16)
1)Thanksgiving for received salvation(Lev 7:12)
2)a fulfillment of a vow – when expected salvation is received(Lev 7:16)
3)voluntary offering of giving thanks(Lev 7:16) – as an expression of rejoicing with God, as in the case of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (1Kin 8:63)

The peace offering consisted of a part of an animal sacrificed to God through fire, part given to the priest as food and the rest eaten as a festive meal in fellowship.

The offerer could bring an ox, sheep or goat from his flock(Lev 3:1,6,12) but it would need to be without blemish. There was more freedom of choice as a male or female could be offered up, but there was no provision for a pigeon or dove as the whole point of the offering was the sacrificial meal, and a chance to join with God in a time of fellowship and thanksgiving.

The peace offering was also accompanied by 4 varieties of cakes(Lev 7:11-14)

The process of sacrifice
Similar to the burnt offering, the offerer brought the animal to the door of the tabernacle, laid hands on it, identifying himself with it, and killed it. The priests sprinkled the blood, after which the offerer removed all the fat of the animal as part of God’s burnt offering(Lev 3:3-5,9) set forth as a sweet savour to Him. The fat was prescribed as the food of YHVH offered up by fire(Lev 3:16). The second portion was given to the sons of Aaron as per the instructions of God(Lev 7:34, 10:15) The remainder was used in a sacrificial meal eaten inside the temple court with all of the offerers family including his servants(Deut 12:11,18) with much rejoicing(Deut 12:7). This is what Paul alludes to in 1Cor 10:18. They were having communion with God. The meal was to be partaken on the same day, but could be eaten the next day if it was for a vow or a voluntary offering. Whatever was left had to be burnt with fire on the third day, and nothing left or eaten(Lev 7:15-18).

If the sacrificed meat came in contact with something unclean, it could not be eaten but burnt. All who ate it had to be ceremonially clean as well. Any who broke these precepts were said to be cut off from His people by God Himself(Lev  7:19-21).

The fat was not to be eaten as it was God’s portion, and the blood was not to be eaten(Lev 7:22-27) as it was used for atonement and had life(Lev 17:11).

4) SIN OFFERING
With the giving of the Law, everyone was given the knowledge of Sin (Rom 5:13). No more could one say “I did not know”. This offering was intended for such a person who had broken God’s Law to be restored back to a right relationship with God(Lev 4:31). Willful sin could not be atoned through this offering. Lev 4:2,13&22 shows whether it is the individual, the congregation or a ruler, they must all atone for sinning through ignorance. Lev 5:1-4 specifically mentions a few unwitting sins – a witness who keeps quiet, a person who touches an unclean thing and realizes it later and a person who makes a rash oath and realizes his guilt. Confessing the sin was of utmost importance(Lev 5:5). The sacrificed animal would take the place of the person for his guilt and act as atonement.

Different people in different offices had to bring different sacrifices according to the greater responsibility they carried. The higher the rank, the more valuable the sin offering would be.
• The high priest must bring a bullock (Lev 4:3-12)
• The whole congregation must bring a bullock (Lev 4:13-21)
• A ruler must bring a male goat (Lev 4:22-26)
• A common man must bring either a female goat(Lev 4:27-31), a female lamb(Lev 4:32-35), two turtledoves or two pigeons(Lev 5:7-10), or a tenth of an ephah of fine flour(Lev 5:11-13).

Sin done knowingly was not covered through the sin offering and God had mentioned that people doing such would be cut off from His people(Num 15:30).

The process of sacrifice
The offering was brought to the brass altar at the door of the tabernacle(Lev 4:18). Then the offerer laid his hands on the offering(Lev 4:33), and possibly confessed the sin(Lev 5:5, 16:21). Then the animal was killed by the offerer(Lev 4:29). Blood was sprinkled as atonement(Lev 4:5-7) and the fat was burnt on the bronze altar(Lev 4:8-10). The remainder would be burnt wholly outside the camp in case of the priest’s or congregation’s sacrifice(Lev 4:12,21), but was left for the priest’s consumption in other cases(Lev 6:26).

5) TRESPASS OFFERING
The trespass offering and sin offering are closely associated to each other. While sin was the act, trespass was the result. The word “Asham” (H817) is used for the trespass(Psa 68:21), the trespass offering(Lev 5:18) and the compensation paid for it(1Sam 6:3).

Trespasses were divided among things done against God(Lev 5:14-19) & things done against the neighbor(Lev 6:1-7). A trespass against his neighbor is also counted as a trespass against God (Lev 6:2).

The process of sacrifice
The trespass was confessed, assessed and paid with a fifth being added to what was taken/lost(Num 5:7). After the trespass was recompensed, a ram was offered to God(Lev 6:5-7). When David said “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned”, he understood that the trespass against Uriah was a sin against God. If the person who was wronged was dead or had no family, the payment would go towards the priest(Num 5:8). Just as in the sin offering, the animal was killed near the altar, blood sprinkled and the fat burned, while what remained was given to the priest to be eaten in the holy place(Lev 7:1-6).

6) DRINK OFFERING
The drink offering which had the act of pouring out, usually consisted of Wine. In Gen 35:14 Jacob pours a drink offering as well as David is seen doing the same in 2Sam 23:16. Used as a complementary offering, it was used for all offering other than the Sin offering and Trespass offering. Even though oil and water was also used as drink offerings, the prescribed drink offering of the temple was of Wine(Exo 29:40). And even strong wine was used(Num 28:7).

The process of sacrifice
Various quantities of wine was offered alongside the main sacrifice, and was poured on them(Num 15:5,7,10). The table of shewbread consisted of a jug and cup for the pouring out of these sacrifices(Exo 37:16, Num 4:7 – cover should be translated “poured out/cup”). The drink offering was most probably poured on the sacrificed animal(Lev 23:18). It was a sweet savour offering before God’s eyes(Num 15:10) and is never mentioned to have been drunk by the priests.

3. What was the reason for offering sacrifices?
The sacrifices each person had to offer for various reasons at various occasions created a profound sense of responsibility, accountability of personal actions and duty/reverence towards the King over all – our Father in Heaven. While in our current lives we have no way of measuring sin, or better, the wages of sin – the people who made physical sacrifices of blood and wine experienced what it took to cover sin, to approach God, to be holy before Him. Offerings gave weight to Sin, in a way we can never understand, as each person had to offer their own sacrifices, killing animals, thereby getting covered in their blood – experiencing first hand, that it took life to cover death – it took blood to cover sin.

Another reason for many of the misunderstandings regarding these offerings, stem from a wrong understanding of what Atonement is. Derived from the Hebrew word Kaphar(H3722) “Atonement” means “to cover”, as covering your sin. A good example for the above is Gen 6:14, where “Kaphar” is used as cover instead of atonement. While the blood covered the shamefulness, nakedness and sin, the forgiveness wrought from offering sacrifices could not have been a complete, spiritual forgiveness. In Yeshua, we have spiritual forgiveness so that even if our body dies, it can be resurrected anew. The earthly forgiveness, that sacrifices brought was a temporary bridge so that we were not cut off from a Holy God because of our Sinful nature. To understand this more fully, we must understand the connection between Sacrifices & our Messiah.

4. Sacrifices & Messiah
As a lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Messiah’s Sacrifice was the pinnacle of all Sacrifices, and it is evident that all sacrifices pointed to Him. But it is important to understand that His sacrifice is not offered up in an earthly temple, but in the heavenly construction(Heb 9:23-26). What was created on earth was a duplicate of the heavenly(Exo 25:40, Heb8:5), and it is in this heavenly temple that Yeshua offers up His blood. His sacrifice is what purifies the soul and clears our conscience(Heb 9:9), which could not have been wiped clean with the blood of earthly sacrifices, but only covered(Atoned).

When we as Children of the Most High, sin, we bring shame to Our Father. And for such actions we should ideally be punished – but Our Messiah took on our shame, thereby taking the just punishment we should receive, on Himself. The love that Yeshua showed us is boundless for this reason. In animals, the life given for our own, was of a lesser being which was only able to cover us for the time, but not give just satisfaction for the trespass done against God. Yeshua’s Life was a just exchange for our own lives which were destined for death, but in Him have been transformed to Life.

So the question should never be “whether Earthly Sacrifices are done away in Christ”. Rather, the Heavenly Sacrifices offered by Yeshua are a means of receiving purification for our life beyond the earthly bodies, while the earthly sacrifices were a means of being covered on earth, so that we are not cut off from God, in our walk till we attain eternal life. The two should not be mixed up, as one has nothing to do with the other – the heavenly being for eternal life and the earthly being for the temporary life on earth.

5. Earthly Priesthood & Heavenly priesthood
In the previous section we saw that the Earthly Temple built in Jerusalem was a copy of a Heavenly temple structure. The Earthly Temple was handed over to the Levites and the Sons of Aaron to be managed, and it is a clear fact that Yeshua can never be a priest on earth(Heb 7:13,14). All throughout the Book of Hebrews, its author explains how Yeshua, in the order of Melchizedek, has taken charge of the heavenly service and sacrifice, where better sacrifices are offered(Heb 9:23). On earth, fleshly bodies needed cleansing even after Yeshua’s death. A good example being Paul’s own sacrifice and purification done in the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as the Earthly Sacrifices should not be mixed up with the Heavenly Sacrifices, the Earthly priesthood should not be mixed up with the Heavenly priesthood. One does not replace the other, but only foreshadows the better – the Heavenly.

Heb 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

6. Sacrifices in the Millennial Kingdom?
Most of the prophets in the Scriptures speak of the Millennium reign of Yeshua. And one interesting fact is that almost all of these verses speak of various offerings such as Burnt sacrifices and Animal Sacrifices made at the time. A few such instances are given below.

Isa 56:6-8 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings(Olah) and their sacrifices(Zebach) shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.

Jer 33:15-18 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings(Olah), and to kindle meat offerings(Minchah), and to do sacrifice(Zebach) continually.

Dan 9:27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice(Zebach) and the oblation(Minchah) to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The greatest detail of such sacrifices comes from not these, but Ezekiel Chapter 40 to 46. All sorts of details from the sizes to the appearance of the new temple is prophesied through Ezekiel. Ezek 43:18-27 speaks of the animal sacrifices offered on the altar by the Levites, while chapter 44 goes on to speak of the Levites in service and especially the lineage of Zadok. Chapter 45 & 46 continue to speak of animal sacrifices, and all of the instituted offering in the book of Leviticus, as well as specific offerings made on the sabbaths, new moons and feast days.

Eze 40:42  And the four tables were of hewn stone for the burnt offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering(Olah) and the sacrifice(Zebach)
Eze 44:11  Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering(Olah) and the sacrifice(Zebach) for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.
Eze 46:24  Then said he unto me, These are the places of them that boil, where the ministers of the house shall boil the sacrifice(Zebach) of the people.
Eze 43:18-27 And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings(Olah) thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon. And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering(Chattath). And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it. Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering(Chattath), and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary. And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering(Chattath); and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock. When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish. And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering(Olah) unto the LORD. Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering(Chattath): they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish. Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves. And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings(Olah) upon the altar, and your peace offerings(Shehlem); and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.

The context of the above Scriptures is the Millennial Kingdom beyond any doubt. And it is clear that these prophets have spoken of Sacrifices being offered up at that time, just like before. So the thought we need to consider is why such sacrifices are offered in the future. As mentioned before, the Heavenly Sacrifices done through the Heavenly Priesthood is Spiritual in nature and brings eternal life through the wiping away of sin, while the Earthly Sacrifices done through the Earthly Priesthood is physical in nature and acts as a temporary cover from sin on earth.

In the Millennial Kingdom, Sin is still an active facet of life(Zec 14:16-19, Rev 20:7,8) and will not be expunged till the end of the Millennial Kingdom(Rev 20:14). Paul is right in saying “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin(Rom 3:20).” During the 1000 year reign of Yeshua, righteousness and holiness will prevail, but those with earthly bodies will still have a sin nature, and there will be a need to teach about how offensive sin is to a holy and righteous God. Animal sacrifices will serve that purpose, “but in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year”(Heb 10:3). A temporary cover for sin will be required at this time, through offerings made at the active Temple in Jerusalem. Only after the Millennial reign, will the Heavenly Jerusalem come down, replacing the Old Temple with the Heavenly(Rev 21:1-4). When sin and death are cast off, there will be no more reason for physical animal sacrifices – till that time, the re-instituted system of Temple Offerings will stand according to Scripture.

7. Conclusion
The reason for the objections brought against an earthly sacrificial system stem from the belief that “Sacrifices” took away sin. We have seen that the blood of animals could never wipe away sin, but rather act as a temporary covering. What’s more, the sacrifices also gave weight to “Sin” and served as a lesson to the sinner, that the relationship with God was based on purity and obedience. Just as one cannot approach a king without right attire, a man in sin could not approach a Holy God. In the earthly realm, the instituted offerings dressed up the person so that they were not naked before God, in their walk in this temporary body. Offerings showed how great and holy God was and what drawing near to Him entails.

Yeshua’s sacrifice and His Blood could never be offered in the earthly temple, but in the Heavenly construction where it cleared the conscience and made us pure in Spirit so that one could receive Eternal Life. While the earthly foreshadows the heavenly, the two are separate and have nothing to do with each other – one meant to be a temporary cover for temporary life and the other wiping away sin wholly, opening a path to Eternal Life. This is why the Sacrifice of Messiah did not abolish the Earthly Sacrifices. It is why even the Apostle Paul went to purify himself through sacrifices in the temple many years after the death of Messiah(Acts 21:23-26). It is why the prophets speak of a time where offerings will be re-instituted with the building of a third Earthly Temple in Jerusalem.

Even though these offerings were expressions of ones heart, symbolic of the offerer being offered up as an offering, they were never a substitute for obedience to God(1Sam 15:22, Mic 6:6-8). The psalmist put it aptly when he said “An afflicted heart would be desired more by God, than burnt sacrifices(Psa 51:16,17)”. What matters is obedience, when it comes to His Word. And the sacrifices and offerings instituted by YHVH are part of His word. It was never abolished in Yeshua, but rather ceased temporarily with the destruction of the temple only to be re-instituted when it is rebuilt. In the interim we can only bring our prayers as Offerings, and our lives as a sacrifice unto Him. Let us be obedient in all He has instituted, walking in holiness, and do what is possible till the prophesied time of His return.

Gentiles have to obey only 4 Commandments? Misunderstandings regarding Acts 15

As Christians, we have been taught that we are no longer under the “Old Testament”, and that the commandments of old have no bearing on us. But what if I told you that the decision made by James in Acts 15 is also from the Old Testament? Acts 15 is most often used as a clear indication that we are free from the Old Laws. And it is generally taught to all Christians that Gentiles, unlike Jews, need to only abstain from the four things decreed in Acts 15:20. If these 4 abstentions were proved to be from the Old Testament, would we see things differently?

In this study, we will attempt to look at the context of Acts 15 and the origins of these four abstentions, making it clear to all of us that James and the Jerusalem Council did not set Gentile converts free from God’s Law, but gave them a good starting point. The four Abstentions are as follows.

Act 15:20  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
(Abstain from    1.Pollutions of Idols    2.Fornication    3.Things strangled    4.Blood)

If you want to skip the lead up and the context of the Abstentions, and want to know about the origins of the 4 requirements and their connection to the Old Testament Scriptures, please move on to point no.7 given below. But I highly recommend you follow through, if you have the time on your hands for serious study.

1.Context of the events leading to this decision (Acts 14)
Leading upto Acts 15, we see that Paul and Barnabas sail in their missionary journey, ending up at Antioch (Act 14:26). It is here, in Antioch, that men from Judea come and teach the brothers as written in Acts 15:1.

2. What was the teaching that led to this Jerusalem council meeting? (Acts 15:1)
It is very important to know what exactly these men from Judea were teaching the congregation of Antioch.

Act 15:1  And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

The teaching was that, “Whoever is not circumcised according to the custom of Moses, cannot be saved”. In other words, “you need to get circumcised to be saved”. This is obviously an unbiblical doctrine which Paul and Barnabas both opposed(Acts 15:2). Nowhere in the Scriptures do God require anyone to get Circumcised as a requirement for Salvation. Even the patriarch Abraham got called by God when he was 75 years old(Gen 12:1-4) but was given Circumcision as only a “sign” of the covenant between God and himself, when Abram was 99 years old (Gen 17:1,11). In a similar fashion, Joshua circumcised the Children of Israel before entering the promised land, as none of them had gotten circumcised along the way in their wilderness journey for 40 years(Jos 5:3-6). Circumcision was a commandment given by God, but nowhere does keeping any of God’s Commandments guarantee us salvation. Salvation, was, is, and ever will be, a free gift of God.

These men from Judea were making a claim that you needed to do a specific act to earn Salvation. It’s like someone saying to new converts that unless you’re baptised, you cannot be saved. Baptism is a commandment, but it does not guarantee us salvation.

3. Paul and Barnabas go to Jerusalem (Acts 15:2,3)
This dispute led the believers in Antioch to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, so that they could return back to them with a favorable answer.

4. A question of what basic requirements are needed from a new convert (Acts 15:4-6)
After Paul and Barnabas were welcomed by everyone at Jerusalem, some of the believers of Christ who were from the Sect of the Pharisees (Yes, there were pharisees who believed!) expressed there views on what a new convert should be “required” to do.

Act 15:5  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

The view of some of the believers from the sect of Pharisees, was that they should indeed circumcise them and command them to keep God’s commandments. Zealous as this sounds, making or forcing anyone to obey God’s Law does not bring true obedience. This is why the Apostles and Elders considered this question and came to discuss what the basic requirements of a new convert should be (Act 15:6).

5. Peter’s Speech (Acts 15:7-11)
After there were disputes regarding the matter, Peter addresses the council proclaiming how through him, God declared the Gospel to the gentiles and how God did not see any difference between the Jew and the Gentile giving them the Holy Spirit, referring to Cornelius’ household as we see in Act 10.

Acts 15:10 is of special importance as we must clarify what Peter is talking about. He says “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”. Some Christians believe that the “yoke” Peter is talking about in this verse is the Law/Commandments. This does not make sense as Peter talks about tempting God by placing this yoke on disciples. If the yoke was God’s Commandments, this would mean that Peter is saying that they were tempting God by placing God’s Commandments on the disciples. furthermore, the next verse clarifies what Peter meant. Peter says “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” So the yoke can mean only one thing. Peter was saying that we should not make adherence to God’s Commandments a prerequisite to Salvation. In other words, we are saved through Grace and not through any commandment we keep. (Please note that this does not mean that Peter or any other member of the Council agreed or ever thought that new converts do not have to obey God’s Commandments. The issue was in keeping laws for salvation)

The other part of the statement he made, reads “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”. What does Peter mean by this? The religious establishment of his day believed that one could be saved only by keeping God’s Law. This is the yoke he is saying neither their fathers or they could bear. It is Obeying God to earn Salvation. (This fact is true in Orthodox Judaism even today. If someone wants to convert to Judaism, that person must prove that he is keeping God’s Law and be Circumcised prior to being accepted as a follower of Orthodox Judaism)

6. James’ speech and judgement/decision (Acts 15:13-20)
James makes it clear that God indeed had plans to bring Gentiles back to him, giving proof to the council from the Scriptures by quoting Amos 9:11,12 and paraphrasing Isa 45:21(read Isa 45:22 as well to understand James’ point). Finally, James makes his decision known. Firstly, he says that no one should trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. But that they write asking them to abstain from Pollutions of Idols, Fornication, Things strangled & Blood.

7. Why these specific 4 abstentions and where do we see these in the Scriptures
We must spend a bit of time studying these 4 abstentions and where it comes from. The reason for these 4 abstentions would have originated because of the society they lived in. The abstentions themselves originate from the Old Testament, more specifically Lev Chapter 17&18. Let us read through each of the abstentions looking at the Old Testament origins of these as well.

1.Pollution of idols/Meat offered to idols
The Greek speaking world of the first century was known to be a culture that had many gods. A particular person at that time would worship many gods, depending on the day, season or circumstance. For some YHVH(God Almighty’s name) would have been another god that they could believe in. A restriction on sacrificing and partaking in any rituals to other gods was an understandable abstention. And the origins of this commandment is clearly from Lev 17 where God specifically says not to offer sacrifices to foreign gods, and that whoever does so would be cut off from being one of His people.

Lev 17:7-9  And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people.

2.Fornication
Fornication or sexual immorality was rampant in the 1st century Greek society. The Congregation in Corinth is said to have a big problem with fornication as it is recorded in 1Cor 5:1. This makes it clear, why James would mention “Fornication” as one of the 4 things to abstain from. And just like the other 3 abstentions, this is also found in the Scriptures. The whole of Leviticus Chapter 18 is descriptive of what sort of sexual activity is abominable to God. (Please read the whole chapter to go through each description. I have provided a shorter version highlighting a few, so as to prove the point. There are many more abstentions described in this portion of Scripture)

Lev 18:6-24  None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. … Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

3. Things Strangled
Just like in the society today, most of the butcheries in the 1st century did not know or adhere to killing an animal in the way which is stipulated in the Scriptures. “Strangled” by it’s mere definition means that it was not bled to death, letting the blood drain out of the meat. God made it clear in the Scriptures that no one was to eat blood. And even gave clear orders on how a person should kill an animal so that its meat could be consumed. Christians erroneously believe that they are free to eat what they like. Not only do we have to eat what is stipulated in the Scripture as “clean”, this abstention of things strangled, means we need to eat things which are prepared according to how it is commanded in Scripture. This abstention is also clearly described in Lev 17.

Lev 17:13  And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

4. Blood
Eating meat of animals which have been “strangled” is closely connected with “Blood”. If the blood is not drained out properly, the consumer of the meat will inadvertently be consuming blood. This abstention, just like all the others proclaimed by James came from the Scriptures in Lev 17 as shown below. Historians say that most of the ancient pagan rituals even had people consuming blood of animals, to attain strength (such as from a bull). These practices of the first century might have also led James to bring out this abstention specifically.

Lev 17:10-12  And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

8. Final words from James (Acts 15:21)
Now some of us will have a hard time believing the evidence shown above in the 4 abstentions and their connection to Lev 17&18. Some would say, that it still does not prove that we need to keep any other commandments from the Old Testament. This is why the following verse is of so much importance. James finishes his speech and his decision with why he thinks it is enough to command these 4 abstentions only. He says “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Why would he use such a statement to finish his speech? We should look at his judgement again, reading it altogether.

Act 15:19-21  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

His judgement hinges on a simple fact. For Moses is preached in every city being read in the synagogues every Sabbath. In other words, he is telling the council that they should not trouble the Gentiles, but only ask them to abstain from 4 things as the rest of the commandments can be heard in every city on every Sabbath. This statement proves two important facts and clears up a major misunderstanding.
1. The Jerusalem Council did not decide that the Gentiles are free from obeying God’s other Commandments
2. They knew all of the Gentile converts would attend synagogue and listen to the Old Testament (Moses) on the Sabbath

If this was not so, there would be no reason for him to make such a statement at the end of his speech as it is recorded in Acts 15:21.

Conclusion
Acts 15 and the decision made by the Jerusalem Council is one of the biggest misunderstood chapters in the New Testament today. I hope you have clearly understood the reason for this decision, the origins of these abstentions in Scripture and that it does not give us freedom to throw out all of God’s other commandments. No one should keep His commandments to earn salvation (which is impossible), but we must obey Him and His Commandments because we love our Heavenly Father. Just because “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not steal” was not mentioned in the decision of James, does not mean Gentiles were exempt from obeying those Commandments. We cannot pick and choose what we obey and what we don’t from God’s everlasting Word, which will not loose even a jot or tittle, till heaven and earth pass away.

Old Covenant abolished by New Covenant? Part I

One of the biggest arguments in Christianity is, whether the Old Covenant is in effect today or whether it is abolished and no more. I would like to pose a different question in the midst of all this confusion and misunderstandings.

Which Old Covenant?
Some are in the belief that there are only 2 Covenants in the Scriptures. Contrary to this belief God has made several Covenants with man from the beginning of creation. Before we can say that any Covenant is abolished, let us understand what these Covenants are and what God has said about them.

First of all, we need to understand what a Covenant means. A Covenant is an agreement between two parties. The party which has more authority/power could make a Covenant with the other party which includes or does not include certain conditions. After the other party in return agrees upon the Covenant, it is in effect. Blood was spilled as a sign of these contracts in ancient times.

The words “Covenant” and “Testament” written in the bible are the same. In the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, only one word is used wherever “Covenant” or “Testament” is seen in our English translations (Strong’s Greek Concordance – G1242 – διαθήκη – diathēkē – dee-ath-ay’-kay – a disposition, that is, (specifically) a contract (especially a devisory will): – covenant, testament).

Covenants God made with His creation

  • Covenant with Adam (Gen 2:16,17) (Hosea 6:7) –
    This Covenant had conditions. If Adam obeyed, he would have eternal life. Disobedience would cause him to die.
  • Covenant with Noah (Gen 9:9-17) –
    This is an Everlasting, Unconditional Covenant made with Noah, his seed & all living creatures. God promised that He will never again destroy the whole earth with a flood. The sign of this covenant was the Rainbow.
  • Covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 6-7; 13:14-17; 15; 17:1-14; 22:15-18)
    This was an Everlasting, Conditional Covenant. God asked Abraham to leave his Country first. Then He required him to believe in the promises. He made sure Abraham knew about the slavery of Israel for 400 years. God gave him and his seed the land of Israel. God wanted him to walk before Him and be perfect. The sign of this Covenant was that every male of his seed and every servant bought with money, was to be circumcised. All the blessings which were promised were certified as Abraham obeyed even unto the degree of sacrificing his only son.
    This Covenant was renewed with Isaac (Gen 26:3-5, 24) and Jacob (Gen 28:13-15, 46:2-4)
  • Covenant with Israel through Moses (Exo chapter 19-24)
    This Covenant was a Conditional Covenant with many Everlasting Commandments/Laws(Exod 12:17,24, 21:6, 28:43, 30:21, Lev 3:16-17, 6:17-18, 20-22, 10:9, 15, 16:29, 34, 23:14, Num 19:21). While the person who kept these Commandments would be blessed, the person who broke it would be cursed (Deut 11:26-28). The sign of this Everlasting Covenant was the Seventh Day Sabbath (Exo 31:12-18)
  • Covenant with Aaron ( Exo 40:12-15, Num 25:12,13, Neh 13:29)
    God made an Everlasting Covenant with Aaron and his descendants to be the priests alongside the Tribe of Levi which was also consecrated for priestly duties.
  • Covenant with David (2Sam 7:8-16, 23:5, 2Chr 13:5, Jer 33:20,21)
    God made an Everlasting Covenant with David, where His people would always be ruled over by a descendant of David hinting to Messiah Yeshua(Hebrew name of Jesus) who will reign and rule over “His People – Israel”(Luk 1:32,33).
  • Covenant with the 2 Houses of Israel through Yeshua (Heb 8:8-10) (Jer 31:33,34) (Heb 13:20)
    The New Covenant which we are all familiar with, was spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31. In verse 31, He says that He will make a New Covenant with The House of Israel & The House of Judah. In verse 33, He says that He will write His Law on peoples hearts. This is the same Covenant spoken in the Book of Hebrews chapter 8. According to verse 34, This Covenant will come to fulfillment when God’s kingdom is established with Yeshua ruling as king, as no one will need to teach another about God anymore.

Blood of the Covenant
Major Covenants with His People were always put into effect by shedding of blood.
1. Noah sacrificed animals before God made the Covenant (Gen 8:20)
2. Abraham sacrificed animals before God made the Covenant (Gen 15)
3. When God made the Covenant at Sinai, Moses sprinkled the Blood of the Covenant
(Exo 24:8, Heb 9:19,20)
4.Yeshua renewed the Covenant as per God’s Word in Jer 31 through shedding His blood (Mat 26:28, Mar 14:24, Luk 22:20, Heb 10:29, 12:24, 13:20)

Now that we understand a bit more about the Covenants in Scripture, lets look at what is commonly known as the Old and New Covenants.

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
As you see above, there are many Covenants God made with His creation. Many of these Covenants were made by God as Everlasting Covenants as the Scriptures show us. What people generally mean by “Old Covenant” is the Covenant God made through Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) at Mount Sinai, while the Scriptures have also been broken into and commonly known as “Old Testament” & “New Testament”.

As our focus is on this Mosaic Covenant, and whether it is done away with, let us look at some important facts about this Covenant before we make our conclusions and find answers for any of the persisting misunderstandings.

  • The Mosaic Covenant is called an Everlasting Covenant and God says that He will not break His Covenant (Judg 2:1, Lev 26:44, Psa 89:34, 105:8-10, 111:7-9, 1Chr 16:15-17, Deu 5:29, 12:28)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was written with the finger of God (Deut 4:13) (Exo 31:18, 32:16)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was made with all 12 Tribes of Israel (Exo 19:5,6, 24:4)
  • The Mosaic Covenant was there for 3 reasons.
    1) It would bless the person who obeyed (Deut 11:26-28)
    2) It would curse the person who disobeyed (Deut 11:26-28)
    3) It would show right from wrong, sin from righteousness (Rom 7:7)
  • The Ten Commandments are the conditions, and part and parcel of the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 7:9, 4:13, Neh 1:5, Dan 9:4)

If the Old Covenant (Mosaic Covenant) is abolished after Yeshua, then we can no longer have the 10 Commandments. Jesus himself said we cannot break the least of the commandments, and that not the minutest detail will pass from it as long as heaven and earth exists (Mat 5:18,19).

The questions arise when you read some of the epistles of Paul, The Book of Hebrews and some verses in the Gospels. Paul and other writers of the “New Testament” seem to be saying that the Law and the Old Covenant is done away with, in some places.

We have a serious problem with our Bible if there are contradictions in the Scriptures. One verse cannot disagree with another. One author cannot disagree with another Author. All Scripture has to be in perfect harmony, as our God is not a God of Chaos, but of perfect order and peace.

As we saw earlier, The Mosaic Covenant as well as the New Covenant mentioned in Jer 31 & Heb 8 are both Everlasting Covenants. So how can one abolish the other? The New Covenant could be better understood as a “Renewed” Covenant. One does not abolish the other, but the “Older Covenant” is renewed by the “New Covenant”. This renewal happened by the shedding of the blood of Yeshua. If the Old Covenant was taken away, there would no longer be any Commandments. We would no longer need to adhere to God’s Laws, which mean there would be no yard stick for judgement. All of us will receive judgement at the end of time, according to Scripture. And God will not judge by our standards, but His own. If we were free from God’s Commandments, to do as each of us see fit, how would the righteous judge be able to judge us?

What about all the verses that say the Old Covenant is done away with?
Doesn’t Heb 8:13 say that the Old Covenant is ready to vanish away? Didn’t Jesus say the Law is Finished in Joh 19:31? Are we not free from the Law, and under Grace? Isn’t the Law a Curse? Wasn’t the Law nailed to the cross? Some even say that we do not have 10 Commandments any longer, and that we have only the 2 new Commandments that Yeshua gave us. In the next part of this study, we will delve into the meaning of “Law” and try to understand some of these misunderstood verses and see whether we can unravel the true meaning in them.

My request to you, is this. If you believe in a certain doctrine, Test it. See whether it is in perfect harmony with all of the verses in the Bible. If there are contradictions, most probably, something is wrong with the understanding you have. I hope this study has given you something to think about, and that it will help you to better understand the Word of God.