Dipping into a book about Judaism, I came across an interesting prayer. It’s one that was added to the synagogue liturgy after the destruction of the Temple, and it’s basically telling God why we can’t bring him sacrifices as he had commanded us, in the place where he had commanded us. A bit like a note for the teacher explaining why young Jimmy couldn’t do his homework – but a lot more important, because obeying God is much more of a big deal than doing your homework.
If you’re Jewish you may be familiar with the Mipnei Hataeinu, but here’s the bit in that book to refresh your memory. The author is talking about the destruction of the Temple and says this:
And it’s true that because of our sins (and I say “our” because I’m Jewish, so it’s my own people I’m talking about) we were exiled, as God had promised (and in his mercy he has started bringing us back, as he had promised) – but let’s get a bit more specific… and let’s talk about why God allowed the Temple to be destroyed and not rebuilt this time…
And also, why this prayer isn’t the right answer to: why we can no longer offer the sacrifices God had ordained.
You see, something pretty major in the history of our people happened just a few decades before the Temple was destroyed. God had sent the promised Messiah, just as the prophets had foretold – and though some of us accepted him, the religious authorities rejected him.
Messiah was killed, in accordance with the prophecies, and then rose from the dead and is now alive and seated at the right hand of the Father, where he is waiting for the appointed time for his return – when he will usher in the promised Messianic age. He was killed as an atoning sacrifice for all mankind – which is why there was no longer a need for the Temple in Jerusalem, and why there’s no longer a need to offer sacrifices as God had ordained. Those were only a temporary measure until the full and final sacrifice was made!
The grave sin our people had committed? and the one we are continuing to commit to this day, as a nation? It’s the rejection of God’s annointed, whom we have replaced with the Golden Calf of halachic Judaism. Instead of trusting in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah on our behalf, we have turned to a man-made system of rules and regulations which are only loosely based on the God-given Torah, and every year on Yom Kippur we fast and pray and beg God for forgiveness without the necessary sacrifice – and all we can hold in our hands as we stand before him is this pathetic note-to-teacher saying: sorry we can’t do what you said we should because, look, no Temple! When what we should be doing is obeying God by putting our faith in the Messiah and gratefully receiving forgiveness through his once-and-for-all atoning sacrifice.
I know, I know – you’ve been brought up to believe that Jesus isn’t for us. I was also brought up on that lie. But the truth is that Jesus – or to give him his Hebrew name, Yeshua – is the Jewish Messiah foretold by the Jewish prophets in our own Scriptures, and he himself said that he came first of all for the lost sheep of the House of Israel! Yes, he came also as a light to the Gentiles – praise God that his grace and mercy is, through Jesus, available to all mankind! But to claim that the Jewish Messiah is not for us – that’s ridiculous, and wrong, and oh so terribly sinful!
If, like me, you’re Jewish – know that God has not rejected us despite all the various ways we have throughout history rebelled and sinned against him, and that, contrary to what you’ve been told, Messiah is not tarrying! He came at the time that he was expected (check out Daniel 9) and his blood is available to cleanse us from our sins and put us in a right relationship with God.
Halacha won’t save you. Only Messiah can. He does not tarry – he has come, and he’s waiting for us to come to our senses and accept him. He’s waiting for you – you who are reading this now – to turn to him in repentance and faith, and accept the atonement he is offering to all who believe.