This article is about Judaism and the blood of atonement.

Source: Witness, 2008. 2 pages.

A Search for Atoning Blood

In the spring of 1898, an evangelist was holding some Gospel meetings in San Francisco. He had a special interest in the salvation of the Jews. He had just returned from a trip to Israel, and was giving presentations in various churches around the city. His purpose was to prove from Scripture that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah. Once, when he finished his speech, he asked if there were any questions, or if anyone had a testimony. He especially welcomed Jews to ask questions. At last an old man stood up and told his story.

‘This is Passover week among you, my Jewish brethren’, he said, ‘and as I sat here, I was thinking how you will be observing it. You will put away all leaven from your houses; you will eat the motah (unleavened wafers) and the roasted lamb. You will attend synagogue services, and carry out the ritual and directions of the Talmud.

‘But you forget, my brethren, that you have everything except that which Jehovah required first of all. He did not say, When I see the leaven put away, or, when I see you eat the motah, or the lamb, or go to the synagogue, I will pass over you, but His Word says,

When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.Exodus 12:13

‘Ah, my brethren, you can substitute nothing for this. You must have the blood!’ After a moment’s pause, the old man went on, ‘I was born in Palestine, nearly 70 years ago. As a child, I was taught to read the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets. I attended the synagogue, and learned Hebrew from the Rabbis. At first I believed what I was told, that ours was the true and only religion, but as I grew older and studied the Law more intently, I was struck by the place that blood had in all the ceremonies, and was equally struck by its utter absence in the rituals I was brought up in. Again and again I read Exodus 12, and Leviticus 16 and 17. The latter chapters made me tremble, as I thought of the great Day of Atonement, and the importance of the blood. Day and night one verse would ring in my ears, “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11). I knew I had broken the Law. I needed atonement. Year after year, on that day, I beat my breast as I confessed my need of it, but it had to be made by blood, and there was no blood!

‘In my distress, I at last opened my heart to a learned and respected Rabbi. He told me that God was angry with His people. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Gentiles, the temple was destroyed, and an Islamic mosque was built in its place. The only place on earth where we dare shed the sacrifice, in accordance with Leviticus 17 and Deuteronomy 12, was desecrated, and our nation scattered. That was why there was no blood, he explained. God Himself had closed the way to carry out the solemn service of the great Day of Atonement. Now, we must turn to the Talmud, and rest on its instruction, and trust in the mercy of God and the merits of the fathers.

‘I tried to be satisfied, but could not. Something seemed to tell me that the Law was unchanged, even though our temple was destroyed. Nothing else but blood could atone for the soul. We Jews dared not shed blood for atonement anywhere else but in the place the Lord had chosen:

But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.Deuteronomy 12:14

‘So we were left without an atonement at all, I reasoned. This thought filled me with horror. I consulted other Rabbis with my burning question, “Where can I find the blood of the atonement?”

‘I was over thirty years old when I left Palestine and came to Constantinople with my soul exceedingly troubled about my sins. One evening, I was walking down one of the narrow streets of that city, when I saw a sign informing passersby about a meeting for Jews. Curiosity led me to open the door and go in. Just as I took a seat, I heard a man say,

The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.1 John 1:7

‘It was my first introduction to the gospel, but I listened breathlessly as the speaker told how God had declared that “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22b) or forgiveness of sins, but that He had given His only begotten Son, the Lamb of God, to die. All who trusted in His blood were forgiven all their iniquities. This was the Messiah of Isaiah 53; this was the Sufferer of Psalm 22! Suddenly it all made sense. My long search was over. I had found the blood of atonement at last! I trusted then and there in the blood of the Son of God! His blood has been shed for sinners. It has satisfied God, or He would not have raised Christ from the dead, and it is the only means of salvation for either Jew or Gentile. Dear brethren, the Messiah has come. He has made atonement with His blood. Turn to Him and acknowledge Him as the,

Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.John 1:29b

‘You will have no peace or salvation until you trust in Him’.

Have you found the blood of atonement? Are you trusting in God’s smitten Lamb? Or are you trusting in your good works, in your church attendance, or Bible reading and prayers, or your good behaviour? All these things are good, but they do not provide the blood of atonement. Flee to Jesus Christ with all your sins, for only in Him is found forgiveness of sin.

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