“Your word (Torah) is truth.”
Due to the present inexistence of the Temple, Biblical texts on offerings or about the Yom HaKippurim rituals in Leviticus 16 may today seem irrelevant. They may feel to us like texts pertaining to a distant people and past, and as having very little to offer us today. As we wonder in this train of thought, we must remember the words of King David, "The Torah of God is perfect, pure and eternal" (Psalms 19. If these things are part of the divine oracle, they certainly have perpetual pertinence.
There are some who teach that Yeshua initiated a new Temple-less era. This is strange when apostolic texts as well as historical books pertaining to fist-century life in Israel tell us that for forty years after the resurrection of the Master, that is until the roman invasion of Jerusalem, the Jewish disciples of Messiah continued Temple and synagogue attendance as a sect of Judaism. They continued in the Passover traditions, as well as in those pertaining to the atonement rituals of Yom Kippur. If they found relevancy in doing so, shouldn't we? Is there then something that we are missing and should learn from these long descriptions in Leviticus? Stepping aside a little from the realm of the ritual and entering that of the social, much indeed should be learned from Temple and offering protocols.
Here are some examples. The Torah acknowledges that appointed judges can sometimes err in judgment and therefore cause the people to sin. In such a case, a public admission of error is required through an offering (Leviticus 4:13). I am thinking right now of the court which wrongfully condemned our Master. There is a provision for them to eventually confess and publicly acknowledge their error thus atoning for the sin of the people of their day. We also learn that Hashem understands our financial pressures and makes provisions for cheaper offerings to be made (Leviticus 5:1–11). Also, though Hashem understands involuntary mistakes, they still require acknowledgment and retribution. In our system, the punishment for a thief is incarceration. The Torah is concerned with retribution and as such a thief is required to restore that which he had gotten deceitfully, plus a fifth to the person he stole it from. He is also supposed to make amends with God for breaking his commands.
The offering process is also quite interesting. The person comes to the altar and with his hand on the forehead of the animal to be offered confesses his sins to Hashem, (not to the priest). Doing so, he in fact transfers his sinful identity on the poor animal. Then, except in the case of a bird offering, the offerer is the one who has to kill the animal, hear it die, get splattered with its fluids, and feel its life’s warm blood run through his hands. Along with having to pay for a good quality animal, one of the best of the flock, this becomes to him a very good illustration of the horribleness and cost of disobedience and sin, which should provoke in him a healthy fear of Hashem.
This makes me wonder: Christianity at large claims a theology that affirms they are no more sinners and as a result they invalidate the Torah. When the their sinful reality dawns on them they realize that they need rules, a social structure, moral guidance, and a penal system. This leas them to institute their own sense of law and righteousness. The question is: Why didn’t they keep God’s system in the first place?
P. Gabriel Lumbroso
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