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WHY THE JEWS DO NOT OFFER SACRIFICES
Victor M. Eskew
Anyone who has ever casually read the Old Testament knows that animal sacrifices were a major part of the Jewish religion. One of the most important sacrifices of the Jews was the Passover lamb. This sacrifice was instituted the night prior to Israel’s departure from Egypt (Exo. 12). This offering was carried out every year on the fourteenth day of the first month. In the book of Leviticus, we find seven chapters devoted to offerings and sacrifices (Lev. 1-7). They Day of Atonement was another important day of sacrifice. It was celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month. This was the day the high priest entered into the Most Holy Place to make atonement for the people of Israel (Lev. 16).
Today, the Jews no longer practice animal sacrifices. Don’t the Jews still adhere to the Law of Moses? The answer to this question is: “Yes.” Why, then, do they not offer sacrifices? The simplest answer to this question is: “The Temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed.” In 70 A.D., the Roman armies of Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem, entered therein, and completely obliterated the Jewish Temple. With no Temple, the Jew believes there can be no sacrifices.
The key text for the Jew is Deuteronomy 12:10-11, 13-14. Moses spoke these words to the nation of Israel just prior to their crossing into the Promised Land.
But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall chose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord….Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offering in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there shalt thou offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
Two times in these verses a specific place is mentioned where sacrifices were to be offered. It is a place “which the Lord thy God shall choose.” In the days of David, that place was selected. It was the city of Jerusalem. God spoke to the king, saying: “Since the day that I have brought forth my people out of the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that my name might be there; neither chose I any man to be ruler over my people Israel: but I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel” (II Chron. 6:5-6). Once the city of Jerusalem had been selected, David brought the tabernacle into the city. He planned to build a temple to replace the tent of meeting. God, however, would not allow David this privilege because he was a “man of blood.” Therefore, the Temple was erected by David’s son, Solomon.
Once the site was chosen, this was the ONLY place the Jews were authorized to offer sacrifices. God’s command was plain: “Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings…” (Deut. 12:13-14a). Today, the Jews have a dilemma. The Temple is the place authorized for sacrifices. The Temple, however, was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Therefore, the Jews cannot offer their animal sacrifices.
The modern Jew is okay with this. He believes the prophets of old foresaw the end of sacrifices. Today, other things have replaced the offering of animals. (NOTE: We will deal with this in another article).
Most individuals, especially the Jews, miss the real meaning of the destruction of the Jewish temple. What is really means is the full, complete removal of Judaism as a system of religion. Jesus Christ came to establish a new law and a new priesthood. When he died on the cross of Calvary, the Law of Moses was abolished. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Col. 2:14). Most of the Jews of the first century did not acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. In turn, they did not accept His new covenant or His priesthood. They continued to live and worship under the old Mosaic system.
God had a plan to take care of this, the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. With no Temple, Judaism crumbles to the ground for several reasons. First, God’s presence would no longer be with the Jews with the Temple removed. God’s presence was found on the mercy seat within the Most Holy Place. If this were taken away, God’s presence would also be gone. Second, there could be no animal sacrifices. The Temple was the place for animals to be offered. If the Temple did not exist, the sacrifices could not be carried out. Third, the priesthood was destroyed. All of the genealogies of the Jews were housed within the Temple. When the temple was destroyed, so were the genealogies. Without proof of one’s genealogy, there could be no proof as to tribal affiliation. If one could not prove he was from the tribe of Levi, he could not serve as a priest. Yes, dear reader, the destruction of the Temple was a deathblow to the Jewish system of religion. Therein lies the true significance of the destruction of Herod’s Temple.