5.7 Miscellaneous Jewish Objections To Christianity

a) Human blood was never allowed as an atonement. This is a pagan notion.

The use of human blood is as much a pagan notion as the use of animal blood. We have shown at length in the section on 'Reconciliation with God' that " the blood" that made atonement could not be the blood of animals; it pointed forward to the one all effective blood offering that was to be made in the sacrifice of Messiah. We have shown that Isaiah 53 clearly speaks of Messiah as a human sacrifice. If his blood was unnecessary for atonement, then He would have only needed to suffer rather than die. Yet He is clearly described there as an offering. If animal blood was the atonement, then they would not have had to be continually offered, nor would there have been a remembrance made of Israel's sins each day of Atonement.

b) Deut. 30:8-14 says that it was quite possible for Israel to acceptably obey the Law. The blessings for obedience would not have been made if obedience was impossible. Man is therefore not condemned to sin, and therefore there is no need for someone to die for our sins.

These verses do not say that Israel would keep the whole law. Deut.30:10 is clear: " If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God" . Throughout the prophets there is the continual complaint that Israel were being grossly unfaithful to God's commandments, and the majority of them throughout their history had been. " They were disobedient, and rebelled against Thee, and cast Thy law behind their backs, and slew Thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to Thee, and they wrought great provocations" (Neh.9:26). " I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way not good, after their own thoughts; a people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face" (Isa.65:2,3). The curses for disobedience outlined in the law have come upon Israel, showing their continued disobedience. If they repented, then they would receive the full Abrahamic promises of eternal inheritance of the land; Abraham and the true seed of Israel would be resurrected to receive the promises; they would have total victory over their enemies, and above all the presence of their saviour-Messiah. (Lev.26:39-45). This would necessitate Israel being regathered to their land and dwelling there securely. The existence of a massive diaspora and the paranoia in the modern state of Israel is proof enough that such repentance and subsequent blessing has not yet occurred.

Whilst technically total obedience to the law was possible, it was primarily a teaching mechanism to make men realize the seriousness of sin. Without the knowledge of the Mosaic law there would have been little appreciation of sin. However, the law also taught a correct understanding of the perfect sacrifice to which it pointed forward, which would ultimately save man from the sinfulness which the law emphasized. The law itself was perfect; it was the weakness of man which resulted in that law leading to sin and condemnation. Therefore by its very reason of being, the law was almost impossible for sinful man to keep. We have seen that the law pointed forward to one specific human sacrifice- " the blood" of atonement. If there were many men who had perfectly kept the law, this would not be necessary. The fact that no one except Jesus ever claimed perfect obedience to the law is proof enough that the Law was very difficult to keep.

Deuteronomy 30 is speaking of the time when Israel will be regathered after their dispersion (v.1-5), and their hearts will be circumcised as opposed to their flesh (v.6), resulting in God's word being in their heart (v.14). There are ample allusions here to the new covenant: " After those days (of sin and lack of covenant relationship with God) I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God...for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jer.31:33,34). This would lead us to conclude that when Israel are fully regathered and repent, then God will make the new covenant with them, so that they will be able to fully obey His word and therefore receive the blessings for obedience of Lev.26 and Deut.28 in the Messianic Kingdom. There is an extraordinary emphasis on the heart in Deut.30 -the word occurs seven times, suggesting that the passage is speaking of the time when Israel's heart will be totally committed to God's law. This can only be under the new covenant, when God puts His law in Israel's heart. Similarly Ezekiel 36 describes Israel's dispersion and suffering (v.18-20), followed by God taking pity on them (v.21), their regathering, the surrounding nations coming to accept Israel's God (v.22,23), and " then...a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh...and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments and do them" (v.25-28).

It is to this time of Israel's obedience that Deut.30 refers, but this is when the new covenant is made with Israel, and God assists ('causes') Israel to be obedient to the Mosaic Law on account of the new covenant. Without this help Israel would be unable to be obedient to the law. For this reason it is common to read of references to Israel keeping parts of the Mosaic law during the Messianic Kingdom (Mal.3:4; 4:4,5: Ezekiel 40-46; 20:41; 36:26; Isa.60:7; 66:23; Zech.14:21; Mic.4:2); thus through God's making of the new covenant with Israel " He will magnify the law, and make it honourable" (Isa.42:21) through their obedience to it and the blessings for obedience to it coming upon the world during the Kingdom. The Elijah prophet comes as both the messenger of the new covenant and to turn the hearts of Israel (cp. God giving them a new heart) to be truly obedient to " the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel" (Mal.3:1 cp.4:4-6). The " new covenant” can therefore be seen as an 'enabling covenant' enabling full obedience to God's law by Israel. If Israel are disobedient to Elijah, God will smite the land with a curse (Mal.4:6)- the curses for disobedience to the law outlined in Lev.26. By implication, if they are obedient to Elijah's new covenant then they will receive the blessings on the land promised for obedience to the law. From this it follows that Israel are now disobedient to the law, seeing that Elijah comes to lead them back to the true spirit of the law, which was the burden of his ministry at his first coming.

Returning to the original objection, it is not true that man is forced to sin. However, there is ample indication in the Old Testament that by nature, man is sinful, and therefore condemned to suffer the effects of sin. The record of the fall of man in Gen.3 makes this clear. We have shown above that Israel live and have lived without total obedience to the law of God. There is therefore a need for a perfect sacrifice to atone for Israel's sin. Jewry's rejection of the need for someone to die for their sins seems largely due to their refusal to accept that man is sinful by reason of so easily giving way to his inherent evil mind. The Jews recognize the existence of this evil heart (the 'Yetser ha-ra'), but seem unwilling to accept the degree to which it is present in our very natures. The following need some explaining by them:

- " The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?" (Jer.17:9)- i.e. our inherent sinfulness is so great that it deceives us as to its very magnitude. Judaism's attitude to man's sinful nature is surely a prime example of such deception.

- David, a man after God's own heart, admitted " I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps.51:5).

- " Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble (referring to the curse on man in Gen.3)...who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (i.e. woman)? not one...what is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?...how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" (Job 14:1,4; 15:14; 25:4).

- " The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth...I will not again curse the ground for man's sake...neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done" (Gen.8:21; 6:5). This is referring back to the language of Gen.3, as if God is saying that because man is of inherently sinful nature, He will not again bring curses for sin upon the earth in such a form as will permanently affect it. It can be argued that before the flood, man did not eat the animals (Gen.9:2,3). His doing so afterwards would indicate an extension of the Edenic curse.

- The Mosaic provision for sins of ignorance, the day of Atonement, and its constant emphasis on the need for the shedding of blood indicates that sin was a major problem which ultimately could only be dealt with by sacrifice.

- God's dealings with Adam and Eve show that it is a principle with Him that sin brings death. All their descendants were subject to death, showing that by nature they were sinful. Thus even a perfect man would still need to die by reason of having mortal nature. For this reason the Messiah, being a man and descendant of Adam, would have to die, despite his perfection. It is for this reason that true Christians believe that Jesus would have died anyway, e.g. of old age, had he not died on the cross. Thus the Jewish problem with the concept of a Messiah who dies is quite unnecessary.

c) Christians claim that animal sacrifices cannot atone for sin, yet they are to be offered in the Messianic Kingdom, according to Ezekiel. Why, if they are ineffective?

This is the same question as asking why the animal sacrifices were offered before the time of the perfect sacrifice which they foreshadowed. We have shown that the offerings taught man about the principles of God concerning sin, sacrifice and reconciliation with God. Thus the law has been correctly described as a 'schoolmaster' which led men towards an understanding of the love and purpose of God as shown in the sacrifice of His son as the Messiah. This role of the law as a teacher will continue during the Messianic Kingdom. However, it is the purpose of God to fill this earth with a group of people who fully manifest Him -His memorial name 'He who will be revealed in a host of mighty ones' (Jehovah Elohim) reveals this plainly. The promises to Abraham speak of a time when the earth will be filled with the seed of Abraham, and all the enemies of mankind (i.e. sins) will be permanently overcome. This connects with God's promise in Eden, in which sin was to be finally overcome. Thus animal sacrifices will not need to go on for eternity. We can conclude therefore that the first part of the Messianic Kingdom will involve the teaching of the whole world about the God of Israel, and their entry into covenant relationship with him. The partial restitution of the Mosaic Law as outlined in Ezekiel 40-48 will be uppermost in this teaching programme. However, the time will come when this will have fulfilled its purpose. The New Testament sheds more light on what the Old Testament teaches more indirectly and by implication: " God will be all in all" (1 Cor.15:28), after a 1,000 year reign of Jesus sin will be eradicated from the earth (Revelation 20-22).

Thus instead of the sacrifices pointing forward to the perfect sacrifice as they did before Jesus, they will point back to His work. The Christian breaking of bread service similarly looks back to the sacrifice of Jesus. The New Testament describes the believers as the future king-priests in the coming Kingdom (Rev.1:6; 5:10; 20:6; 1 Pet.2:5,9); as it was God's intention that the whole of Israel should be " a Kingdom of priests" (Ex.19:6), so His new Israel will be also. The prospect before the believers during the first part of the Kingdom is therefore to teach the nations, based in small centres worldwide, as the Levites of old were scattered throughout Israel to teach and judge the people.

d) A sacrifice was only valid if it was offered on the altar (Lev. 17). Jesus was not offered on an altar, so he cannot be a sacrifice.

The constantly underlined principle was that sacrifice could only be offered at the place where God had caused His name to dwell: " There shall be a place which the Lord shall choose to cause His name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices...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. 12:5,11,13,14,18). The altar is described as the place which God had chosen to place His name there no less than 15 times in the book of Deuteronomy alone. The guilt offering described in Deut.21:1-9 was not made on an altar, although the priests had to be present to " bless (i.e. forgive) in the name of the Lord" (v.5) after the sacrifice had been offered. Being a human sacrifice, Jesus was the fulfilment of the law, and therefore that sacrifice was a special case. God's name was to be carried by Messiah: " His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of peace" (Is.9:6). Therefore he was the altar, the chosen place of God on which and in which God was willing to see atonement made once and for all (Heb.13:10).

The reference to the altar in Lev.17:11 emphasizes the importance of the blood rather than the altar: " 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" . The whole chapter is speaking of the importance of shedding blood.

However, it remains true that there was only one way of correctly offering to God and thus coming before Him in fellowship, and that was to offer on the altar at the one place where God had placed His name. Thus while the temple was standing Israel were able to pray towards that temple and the altar that was within it. The temple and altar were destroyed in AD70, as prophesied in Daniel 9 (see previous notes). It follows that God's name must still be dwelling somewhere so that man can come to God. Seeing it is not dwelling physically in the temple or on the altar, it follows that the temple and altar must represent the person that has replaced them, which according to Daniel 9 is " Messiah the prince" . Thus he can be described as both altar and temple, which symbology the New Testament uses about Jesus.

e) Only kosher animals could be offered on the altar, so the idea of a human sacrifice dripping with blood is contrary to the Old Testament concept of sacrifice.

'Kosher' is a post-Biblical term, meaning literally 'to be fit', and refers strictly to 'clean food' as outlined in Lev.11. We have shown that blood had to be shed for the forgiveness of sin, therefore a blood sacrifice on the altar is necessary. Messiah being perfect, he was the pre-eminently fit ('kosher') sacrifice to be offered there. Thus Heb.2:10 (N.I.V.) says that it was " fitting" that God should make Jesus the saviour because of his perfect character. Again, the laws about clean and unclean animals were for teaching purposes, seeing that there was nothing inherently harmful in some of the unclean meats. Messiah, the supremely clean food of sacrifice, fulfilled those things which this teaching foreshadowed. The altar having to be sprinkled with blood on the day of Atonement (Lev.16:18,19) shows that it is not abhorrent in God's sight to associate blood with the altar. The blood was drained out from the animal and then offered in various ways to God; there was constant emphasis on the fact that the blood was not to be drunk by the offerer, because it represented the life, which was being taken by God. The bloodless animal therefore represented the dead body of the offerer, seeing the blood was the life. It taught that sin resulted in death, and the animal represented the offerer dying on account of his sin. However, Jesus was the offering for sin, therefore he gave his own personal life on the altar. His personal blood and body had to be offered to God, and therefore all this was as it were offered in one offering to God on the cross.

f) The Old Testament concept of atonement is concerning past sins - there is no hint of a sacrifice providing future forgiveness.

This was so by reason of the fact that the blood of the offerings made did not in itself save from sin. To demonstrate acceptance of the principle that sin brought death, the offerer laid his hand on the head of the animal to show it represented him, and then offered it to show that he accepted that he deserved to die. God was willing to accept this representative offering by reason of the fact that the blood shed pointed forward to some perfect offering yet future. This idea has been discussed at length in the section on 'Reconciliation with God'. It is therefore understandable that the offerings made did not relate to future sins, seeing that the offerer could not repent of his sins in advance and sacrifice for them. However, the fact that God was willing to accept the animal offerings as a temporary means of covering sin did in itself point forward to a future sacrifice which would be an all sufficient sin covering. That being made, there would be no need for any more offerings, seeing that forgiveness would be made possible through association with that perfect offering whenever one sinned, rather than through making yet another animal sacrifice. For this reason it is vital to show association of ourselves with the perfect sacrifice of Jesus by means of baptism into his atoning death and resurrection, and also continuing to show our association with this by our taking the bread and wine in memory of His sacrifice.

The claim that atonement for future sins is a concept alien to the Old Testament is surely contradicted by the teaching of the new covenant: " I will (future to the time of Jeremiah) forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jer.31:34).

g) The sin offering had to be female. Jesus was male.

This is incorrect. Most sin offerings required male animals. Lev.4 required a bullock for the High Priest or for the whole congregation, and a male goat for a ruler. In Lev.5:15,18, trespass offerings included rams (male animals). The R.V. here translates " trespass" as " guilt offering" . Isa.53:10, concerning the offering of Messiah, describes His sacrifice as a " guilt offering" (R.V.margin). We have seen that the guilt offering was a male animal, and Messiah too was male. The sin and trespass offering were closely related: " As the sin offering is, so is the trespass (guilt) offering: there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith (i.e. both types of sacrifices were for atonement) shall have it" (Lev.7:7).

Further, it must be remembered that Messiah was to be the " seed of the woman" who through his sacrifice would overcome sin (Gen.3:15); therefore any female element in the typical teaching of the Mosaic sacrifices can be understood in this context.

h) The Torah is not very precise and is designed to need further explanation. This created the need for the Talmud and Rabbinic interpretation, and therefore their teaching about Jesus should also be accepted. Deut. 17:8-13 says that the interpretation of the Law by the elders was to be accepted as the will of God.

Much of the need for further explanation of the Torah has arisen because Israel have been living for so long without a temple, altar and priests who can prove their genealogy. It is impossible to keep the law of Moses in the long term without these things, although during relatively brief periods of exile provisions such as those outlined in 1 Kings 8 were made. To get round this problem, Judaism has amassed a large body of extra-Biblical teaching to justify themselves. The old covenant has now been broken (Zech.11:10), God has divorced His people Israel, and therefore the Rabbinic pronouncements have become a religion in themselves. Its concepts of atonement and fellowship with God are at odds with the basic teachings of the Old Testament scriptures. It is doubtful whether, had Israel been faithful to the terms of the covenant and remained living in the land in obedience to the Mosaic law, they would have had many cases where they could not find inspired guidance from the Torah.

However, God had made provisions for when such occasions did arise by granting His Holy Spirit to be possessed by a hierarchy of elders, to whom matters of practical judgment could be referred. These seem to have been replaced by the priests of the tribe of Levi, whose duty it was to live in certain priestly cities and indeed probably in all the cities of Israel. They were to keep the true understanding of the Law, and to actively teach this to Israel (Mal.2:5-7). However, they abused their privilege of being supported materially by the people, and are targeted by the prophets as " false shepherds" , who were largely responsible for Israel's apostasy. Malachi chapters 2 and 3 provide ample evidence for all this. However, it should be noted that the priests had no mandate to claim new revelation from God. Indeed the corrupt priests of Jeremiah's time are condemned for so doing. Their method of teaching the people was to be through drawing their attention to the Mosaic law, rather than through claiming new inspiration: " The law of truth was in his mouth...the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth" (Mal.2:6,7).

To suggest that Christians accept Rabbinic teaching about Jesus presupposes that the spiritual mantle of the priests has fallen upon the Rabbis, and that they are speaking by inspiration rather than voicing their personal opinions. At least two major obstacles stand in the way to accepting this:

- There is much disagreement between Rabbis. Thus the Rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel disagreed over the interpretation of divorce and other matters of practical interpretation of the Mosaic Law. There is also a wide divergence of Rabbinic teaching over the person of Messiah; Leo Baeck questions whether there will be a personal Messiah, interpreting 'Messiah' as a personification of various ideals; Hillel claims " Israel shall have no more Messiah: for they had him in the days of Hezekiah" ; whilst other rabbis look for a future coming of Messiah. How can Rabbinic teaching about Jesus of Nazareth be accepted as inspired and reliable, when they are so evidently prone to error, as shown by their contradiction of themselves?

- Members of the priesthood had to prove their genealogy; Ezra 2:62 describes how those who could not do so were barred from the priesthood, and were thereby " polluted" -a Hebrew word meaning 'repudiated, defiled, desecrated'. During the destruction of the second temple in AD70 the records of Jewish genealogy were destroyed, and since then there has been no way in which Jews can prove what tribe they are from. All Rabbis since the time of Jesus have been unable to prove their descent, and therefore their claim to representation of the priesthood is groundless. It cannot be coincidental that the proof of descent was permanently destroyed in AD70 -at the very time when, according to the exposition of Daniel 9 offered previously, the ministry of Messiah fully replaced that of the Old Covenant system.

The quotation of Deut.17:8-13 is hardly proof that the views of modern Rabbis about Jesus should be accepted. It describes how in difficult cases the opinion of the High Priest and the priests on duty at the temple should be sought and obeyed. Their pronouncement is called " the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee" (v.11) -i.e. all they were doing was reiterating the relevant parts of the Mosaic Law already existing. It must be remembered that most Israelites would not have had personal copies of the Law, nor would they have been able to read for themselves. Regarding this priestly pronouncement they were told: " Thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee (by pointing to it in the relevant scroll?), to the right hand, nor to the left" (v.11). This must definitely connect with the injunction to keep the Mosaic law without " turning aside to the right hand or to the left" (Deut.5:32; 28:14; Josh.1:7; 23:6). Thus the command of the priest was basically a statement from the Mosaic Law, which they had to obey. Above all, there is absolutely no evidence in the law of Moses that the judgments of the priests were to be written down and treated as inspired scripture. Surely God would have legislated concerning this? By contrast, they were explicitly forbidden to add to the commands which God had given them; the terms of their covenant with God were inviolate: " Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut.4:2). This implies that any adding to the Law would make the Law itself impossible to obey, which explains exactly the moral and intellectual dilemma of Judaism. The only solution is to accept the new covenant, based as it is on God's merciful action on men's hearts through His word, rather than man having to obey rigid legislation.

i) " Shiloh" , or Messiah, was to come before " the sceptre...depart from Judah" (Gen. 49:10). The last king in the line of Judah reigned at the end of the first temple (2 Kings 24:12; 25:11), so Messiah should have come by then, which was before the time of Jesus.

This is as much a Jewish problem as a Christian one, seeing that many Jews are still looking for a future Messiah. If Shiloh did come before the end of the first temple, then where is the Messianic Kingdom? Jews often argue that Jesus was not the Messiah because he did not establish a Messianic Kingdom on earth. If their objection now being considered is to be accepted, then it follows that there is a person they can identify as Messiah who fulfilled the promises to Abraham and David, who permanently destroyed sin, and who established the Kingdom of worldwide peace and righteousness which the prophets speak of. But this has not happened.

The sceptre was to only temporarily depart from Judah; it was to be removed, the Kingdom was to be overturned " Until he come whose right it is; and I (God) will give it (the sceptre) him" (Ez.21:25-27). Thus the sceptre has not permanently departed. If it has, and Messiah has not come, then the promise to David is broken, seeing he was promised that he would have a son who would reign on his throne for ever.

" The sceptre" cannot mean the existence of a literal monarchy, as the objection interprets it. Jacob was saying that the sceptre would not depart from Judah from then on -which was 800 years before the monarchy began. Yet up until that time the sceptre did not depart from Judah. " The sceptre" must represent the principle of kingship which would ultimately find fulfilment in Messiah; note how Balaam describes him as " the sceptre" (Num.24:17).

Some of the apparent difficulties disappear if the verse is re-translated " The sceptre shall not depart from Judah...until he come to whom it shall be" , which more obviously suggests connection with Ez.21:25-27 " He whose right it is" . Rabbi Ben Uzziel and the Targums of Onkelos and Jerusalem translate it as " Until the time when King Messiah shall come" . Another possible translation is " The sceptre shall not depart...for that (i.e. because) Shiloh (shall) come" ; i.e. because he would be an eternal king and a member of the tribe of Judah, the sceptre of rulership would never depart. This seems the most probable explanation.

j) It took a revelation from Heaven to convince Paul of Jesus' Messiahship (Acts 9:3). This indicates that theological and historical proofs were not powerful enough. Surely without such a revelation there is no reason to accept Jesus?

This objection focuses on the experiences of just one convert to Christianity. But it is also recorded in the New Testament that thousands of Jews were converted by the preaching of the word by Christians without the personal appearance of Jesus. Acts 18:24-28 records how a Jewish Christian named Apollos, " an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures...mightily convinced the Jews...shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ" , i.e. Messiah. Another example, this time concerning Paul, is found in Acts 17:1-4: " There was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was (i.e. this is how he normally preached to Jews), went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed..." . Other records of Paul's entry into a synagogue and preaching the Messiahship of Jesus through reasoning from the Scriptures are to be found in Acts 13:14-43 and 17:10,11. In the latter case we read that many Jews believed because " they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily" . These examples are not of ecstatic response to an emotion-charged message depending on personal experiences, as is seen all too often today, but of a response dependent on " theological and historical proofs" . Paul was a zealot for Jewish tradition. It is an accepted fact that zealots for a cause can ignore the most powerful contrary evidence and need something supernatural to shake them out of their obsessions. Paul was a special case; indeed, if Jews are willing to accept the record of his conversion, then this is evidence in itself of the uncanny conviction of Christianity.

k) God gave the Law in front of all Israel. It can only be abrogated in front of the entire nation.

There is no Biblical evidence for this reasoning. The law was given through Moses at Sinai in front of all Israel, on a certain date in a certain month. It does not follow that the law has to be ended at Sinai on the same day of the year, with Moses present. Therefore it is not necessary for all Israel to be assembled either.

When Israel left Egypt, their relationship with God is described in terms of both parties falling in love with each other. God could later say of Israel " I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness" (Jer.2:2). God's love and compassion for Israel were similar, so that " I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee...and thou becamest mine...I spread my skirt over thee" (Ez.16:8 cp. Ruth 3:9). This refers to the covenant made with Israel at Sinai in the wilderness, which was the law of Moses. Thus the old covenant was the marriage contract between God and Israel. Thus through disobeying the commandments which made up that covenant, Israel were breaking that covenant and thereby effectively committing adultery against God.

The whole of Ezekiel 16 and also 20:1-33 describe all this in quite explicit language. The covenant was therefore broken by Israel, and God confirmed this by breaking the covenant formally (Zech.11:10). Therefore Hosea, representing God, was told to marry a harlot, symbolic of Israel. As a result of the false relationship between Israel and God, He cast them off from being His people. This was represented by the offspring of Hosea and his harlot wife being called Lo-Ammi, meaning 'Not my people'; " For ye are not My people, and I will not be your God" (Hos.1:9). Thus in practice God confirmed Israel's estrangement from Him by effectively divorcing them. The destruction of the second temple was the ultimate proof of this; Dan.9:26 speaks of Messiah being cut off " and the Jews they shall be no more his people" , which would be followed by the destroying of the " sanctuary" . The killing of Jesus was the ultimate breach of the covenant, and from then on God confirmed, even stronger than during the ministry of the prophets, His estrangement from Israel. This connection between Hosea and Dan.9:26 suggests that the relationship can only be restored when Israel's killing of Messiah is repented of; then they will be God's people again. Significantly, Messiah was to confirm " a (new) covenant" from the time of his cutting off to the time of Jerusalem's final cessation from tribulation. This in itself indicates that Messiah's resurrection was able to do this. It also shows that repentant Jews can at any time enter into that new covenant, although nationally the whole nation will not do so until the reappearing of Messiah. This new covenant of forgiveness must be based, as we have reasoned earlier, on the promises of forgiveness and eternal life made to Abraham well before the Mosaic covenant.

The Rabbis of today accept that God and Israel are divorced. This means that the marriage covenant has been broken through Israel's disobedience; it did not need to be formally abrogated before the whole nation, as the objection claims.

In all these prophecies there is definite mention of a day when Israel will be accepted back into relationship with God. Because that old covenant was broken, a new covenant forming the basis of God and Israel's future married relationship will be made (Hos.2:14-20; Ez.16:60; 20:33-44; Jer.2:2;3:1-18). This last passage is parallel to the more familiar new covenant prophecy of Jer.31. This new covenant will enable Israel to obey the basic principle of the Old Covenant, i.e. obedience to God's word. This will be through the forgiveness of their sins which the new covenant, based on the promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is able to offer. Thus Lev.26:40-42 says that when Israel finally repent, " then will I remember My covenant with Jacob" . This is parallel to the promise of the new covenant being made with them once they return to God as His wife. Yet it will not be the same as that old covenant made through Moses on Sinai. Speaking of that time of the new covenant God said " They shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more (note the emphasis on the change). At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all nations shall be gathered unto it" (Jer.3:16,17). Thus instead of Israel seeking to the ark, under the new covenant Jerusalem and God's throne there with God's name on it will be the centre of God manifestation, and will be attended by all nations, not just Israel. This throne will be the restored throne of David, in fulfilment of the promise to David, that he would have an everlasting throne on which the son of God, his great descendant, would reign. This will be fulfilled at the second coming of Jesus.

l) If Jesus wittingly went to the cross of his own choice, then he committed suicide, which is abhorrent to God.

This objection misses the point that although Jesus was obedient to God and offered no physical resistance to his persecutors, His death was against his own choice (Matt.26:39-42). A man who gave his life to save his friends can hardly be classified as having committed suicide (John 15:13).Suicide is fundamentally selfish and self-centred. Jesus is recorded as giving his life from totally self-less reasons. Jesus did not engineer his own death, as the Talmud's record of his death admits. He was submitting to Roman and Jewish law, which cannot possibly be called suicide. Moses was willing to offer his life -even his place in eternity, it would appear -for the salvation of others (Ex.32:32), setting a superb pattern to be followed by Messiah, the great prophet like unto him (Deut.18:18).

previous chapter previous page table of contents next page next chapter