Zvi Aug/Sep 1999
Soon Jewish people around the world will observe the high holy days, culminating with the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As it is written in Leviticus 17:11, “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 for the soul.”
Here in Jerusalem around this time of year we see many large posters on the streets picturing a chicken with large lettering proclaiming that such a chicken is an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. But, can a poor chicken really be a ransom for the soul? Now that we are approaching a new millennium, most people have opened their blinded eyes to this false belief. They recognize the truth that a chicken could never ransom us from our sins. Unfortunately, however, there are many people who still believe this lie.
Sometimes when I see such a poster on a wall, I pull it down and take it to a synagogue, to the great rabbis who post these signs, and try to tell them how far they are from true faith in God. When I asked the people in one synagogue if they knew what was written in Leviticus 17, they stared at me as if they did not know what to say. Then the rabbi approached me and asked what I was doing there. “Why have you come here? Do you want to change the law that we have followed for many years?” I replied, “I do not want to change the law, but I do want to show you the right way to follow God and how to worship Him according to His true law. I want to show you who was and still is the true atonement for our souls. It is certainly not a poor chicken, like the one pictured on this poster. Rather, our atonement is found in the one spoken of in Isaiah 53 and especially in verse 6: ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ There is not one word written here about chickens or bulls or goats.”
The men seemed to be listening carefully, but when I finished, the rabbi said, “Tell me, are you not one of those dangerous ones who call themselves Messianic Jews?” Now I had gone from the chicken coop to the lions’ den. But always, in such situations, the Lord brings to my mind the comforting words of Luke 12:11–12: “And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, be not anxious how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” These words from the Lord encouraged me, and I said, “I am one who worships the Lord according to His commands, not according to rabbinical traditions, fictitious stories, or superstitions. Now I ask you, who is dangerous? You, who obey superstitions and sacrifice chickens? Or ones like me who believe in the living God and accept what is written in Isaiah 53?”
I then challenged the rabbi. “You, as the leader of this group, answer this question: What should I obey? If I am to obey your traditions, then I must cast away God’s Holy Bible and write new commandments, as you have done. You are just like the Israelites of old. When Moses was standing on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God, they were dancing around the golden calf. That is just what you are doing, only you have created your own idols to worship.”
They were not happy with me and said, “You are very insolent to say such things to us, especially here in our synagogue. No one has ever done this before. What you are saying is against the law!” I replied, “Ezekiel 33:7–9 clearly tells God’s followers that they are to be watchmen for the house of Israel, to warn them about their wickedness. When I speak to you, it is not the same as when you speak to me. Every word that you say to me is taken from the rabbinical commentaries, but every word that I say to you is taken from our own Jewish Scriptures, which were given to us by God. Again I ask you, who is dangerous?”
These men were stubborn and stood firm on their point, asking again, “Why did you come here? What do you want us to do, forsake our laws passed down from generation to generation?” I said, “If you will permit it, I would like to read to you a few verses from the Bible.”
“All right,” they agreed, “but only from the Hebrew Bible, not from the Christian Bible.” I then read Jeremiah 17:7, “Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” They all agreed that it was a very nice verse.
Then the rabbi asked, “Do you believe what is written in the New Testament about that man, Jesus Christ?” I replied, “Yes I do, because the New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament.” “No! No!” they shouted. “That cannot be so! Where is that written? Of course, you will say it is in the Bible, but we know better.” I told them, “As a matter of fact, you are absolutely correct. It is written right here in Jeremiah 31:31–32: ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant [italics added] with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which, my covenant, they broke’.”
“No!” they said again. “That is the biggest lie that could ever be told.” In a very quiet voice, I asked, “Why are you so nervous? Why do you reject what I just read? It is clear that this ‘new covenant’ spoken of in Jeremiah is the New Testament, or, as you say it in Hebrew, ‘Brit-Hadasha,’ a term you do not like to hear.
“In this chapter God gives us the great privilege of turning to Him, as it is written in Jeremiah 31:34, ‘they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ This speaks of the true atonement that God has provided to save us from our sins, and it comes only from the one spoken of in Isaiah 53. We can have this atonement only if we come to Him with open hearts—not with chickens in our hands. Now tell me, do you really think I am dangerous?”
The men stopped attacking me, and there seemed to be a quiet, cold cease-fire between us. But there was also an open door to continue our discussion at some future time. So, I will go to them again, and perhaps the Holy Spirit will enable me to lead them into the truth.