Sunday 13 October 2013

Response to Rabbi Asher Meza: Blood Atonement texts

Firstly, I want to look at some texts that have a close connection to each other in terms of the phrase "mercy not sacrifice." This can be found in:
Psalm 51:16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;

    a broken and contrite heart

    you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—

    but my ears you have opened[c]—

    burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,

    and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

These three texts do not suggest that God is against sacrifices in and of themselves nor a denial of them. In fact Samuel said to obey God's voice is better than many sacrifices but this is not a denial of sacrifice. Although God prefers to have our constant unflinching obedience, these texts don't suggest what my Rabbinic friend is suggesting.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Amen to that text, but why quote this text? Sacrifices don't have to be constantly mentioned every single time. The Psalm is about David speaking about the goodness of the LORD to those who seek him and love him. Thus, sacrifices are not relevant to the context of this passage whatsoever.

Proverbs 28:13 Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,

    but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

I think every person is aware of this principle all to well and it is a true statement. Like Psalm 34, sacrifices are not relevant to the point the writer is trying to make. The verse itself is a warning to us to admit our wrongdoing and turn from it, After all, in Psalm 32, David comments on how he wasted away because he didn't confess his sins (And hyper-grace people come up with this rubbish of not needing to). How this verse once again proves the point of my Rabbinic friend I don't know.

Some of the texts that the Rabbi quotes include these:
Micah 6:6 With what shall I come before the Lord

    and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

    with calves a year old?

Jeremiah 7:22 For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.

First, it is important to understand why this is mentioned, In both texts, the reason the Lord was displeased with the sacrifices was because the people were delibrately abusing the sacrificial system so they could live in sin. The sacrifices were rendered unacceptable because there was no repentance accompanying them. Without repentance, a sacrifice is useless, which even the New Testament and the Talmud affirm.

NT referrence
Hebrews  10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Talmud - Mas. Yoma 87a

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT DOES NOT PROCURE ATONEMENT. Shall we say that our Mishnah is not in accord with Rabbi, for Rabbi said: It was taught, For all transgressions of Biblical commandments, whether he repented or not, whether positive or negative, does the Day of Atonement procure atonement? — You may even say it will be in agreement with Rabbi. It is different when he relies on it.

Both referrences I have provided show that repentance is required for a sacrifice to work. My point is, it was the abuse of the sacrifice that God was condemning in Jeremiah 7 and Micah 6.

The next texts are Hosea 14 and 1 Kings 8:38.

Hosea 14:2 Take words with you

    and return to the Lord.

Say to him:

    “Forgive all our sins

and receive us graciously,

    that we may offer the fruit of our lips.[b]

1 Kings 8:37 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

In the following article, although the text is 2 Chronicles 7:14, the same principle applies.

Numbers 16:47
46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.[c]
This is a text used by Meza to suggest that incense can be used as atonement for sin in this passage.
There is one explain that can be provided regarding this. 

It is simply an aversion of God's judgement and a ONE TIME event in the context itself. That's all it is. It is Moses telling Aaron how to avert God's judgement. It is simliar to Daniel 4:27.

I hope to address Leviticus 5:11-13 in a future article.

Job 33:26

then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,

    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;

    he will restore them to full well-being.

This particular chapter doesn't raise the issue of atonement within the context of the chapter, nor is the issue of sacrifice raised, as it is not relevant to Elihu's point of seeking God again. This goes back to an earlier point I made about Psalm 34 and Proverbs 28.

Another text he raises in the video is Leviticus 5:11-13, which has been addressed here:

I hope that this video has provided an adequate response to Asher Meza and hope this has been a blessing for you. One thing I ask you, I URGE YOU, CHECK WHAT I AM SAYING OUT WITH OTHERS, Don't simply take my word of it, and don't take those who I have quoted as your gurus, study the truth for yourselves and see if what I am saying stands the test of truth. 

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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