If you ask any orthodox Rabbi today how are their sins are atoned for and why don’t they continue to offer animal sacrifices, they most likely take you to one, or both of these passages:
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!” Psalm 141:2 (ESV)
“Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips.” Hosea 14:1-2 (ESV)
In both of these scriptures, the emphasis is on prayer and it being compared to animal sacrifice which is what covered a person’s sins. In fact, we even have scriptures that go beyond these. David, in the Psalms says:
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17 (ESV)
Beautiful, and there you have it right? It’s not really necessary to have anything die for our sins, it was optional, its all about praying that The Lord would pardon us in deep contrition and repentance. Nothing needs to be put to death….
While it is true that The Lord found sacrifices from people out of an impure heart and motives absolutely atrocious and wanted them to be “circumcised in heart”, they were still under The Law, and thus, were required to participate in the atonement process that God had set in order with a priest offering daily sacrifices for the unintentional sins of the people.
David, the man who penned those words in Psalm 51, certainly did NOT presume upon the Lord to merely pray in place of sacrifice. In 1 Chronicles 21, David’s census of Israel, which was motivated from a distrust in the Lord and a breaking of faith with Him, was so abhorrent to God, that The Lord sent a pestilence among Israel and swept away 70,000 men as a judgement for David’s sin. As a result, the LORD commanded David through the prophet Gad to build an altar to make a sacrifice to him, (v.18) and the angel of the LORD who was bringing judgement, did not put back his sword into it’s sheath until David completed the burn offering, (v. 26-27).
What’s this all to say? The LORD prescribes the worship. If we are under the same Mosaic covenant as all orthodox Jews today would say, we are to worship the LORD in the order He has set. The LORD had a chosen place to offer sacrifices to make atonement for sins, being the temple, and demanded it to be kept that way according to Deuteronomy 12. It is also worth mentioning, if we are still under the Mosaic covenant without the ability to offer burnt offerings and animal sacrifices, it is useless to continue to abstain from eating anything with the bood still in it, because the blood was preserved for making atonement for sins ( Leviticus 17:10-12). To presume upon The LORD and His prescribed order of worship would be to fall into the fatal error that led to the judgement of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-3.
But what happened to the place The Lord designated for worship and to offer sacrifices? He brought destruction to it in His wrath, with no command to rebuild another to any man of God in the following generations. The only time we see in scripture Israel’s inability to offer sacrifices to atone for their sins and to worship God, is when they were in Egypt or when they were sent into exile under the wrath of the Lord, with his face being hidden from them. What we see today is different from the exiles we see in scripture. What we have today is what was foretold in the prophet Daniel of sacrifice and offering being put to an end, (Daniel 9:27), which should indicate the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31. If this is true, The Messiah has come already as Daniel chapter 9 speaks, but was cut off (V.26), which was predicted to happen before the fall of the second temple, as Jesus was cut off from the land of His people by being crucified.
Let all who think lightly on the necessity of blood be warned. Either we are in the mosaic covenant with its demands for blood sacrifice, or the destruction of the temple was the putting an end to sacrifice as Daniel reads, with the messiah’s visitation already come. As Jesus said in Mark 7, so could it be said of almost every orthodox Jew today, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:9 (ESV)