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  • How do Jews atone today?

    I've been asked several times how Jews atone today without sacrifice.

    First I'm going to post some biblical verses that demonstrate that sacrifice is not mandatory for receiving God's forgiveness. Then I'll post a short list of how Jews atone today.

    Some verses:

    Asking for forgiveness

    "Then the LORD said, 'I do forgive, just as you have asked.'"
    Numbers 14:20

    Obedience to God

    1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams.

    Prayer

    Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto The Lord thy G-d; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. [2] Take with you words, and return unto the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render [as] bullocks [the offering of] our lips.


    and

    Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright [is] His delight. [9] The way of the wicked [is] an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness. (KJV)

    and

    2 Chronicles 6:24 And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house; [25] Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers.

    and

    2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    Feeling remorseful

    Psalms 51:16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of G-d [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O G-d, thou wilt not despise. (KJV)

    Song

    Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of G-d with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. [31] [This] also shall please the LORD better than an ox [or] bullock that hath horns and hoofs. (KJV)


    Practicing mercy

    Proverbs 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (KJV)

    and

    Daniel 4:27 Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity. (KJV)

    Just because He feels like it

    Micah 7:18 Who is a G-d like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. [19] He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. [20] Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. (KJV)

    Money

    Exodus 30:16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.

    Turning from evil

    Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed G-d, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. [6] For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. [7] And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: [8] But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto G-d: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. [9] Who can tell if G-d will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? [10] And G-d saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and G-d repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

    Yom Kippur

    Leviticus 23:27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement; it shall be a holy gathering to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. [28] And you shall do no work in that same day; for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your G-d.



    In light of these verses, repentance process is as follows:

    * Ceasing to commit the forbidden act
    * Regretting what he or she has done
    * Confessing before God
    * Firmly resolving never to repeat those actions
    * If possible, bring sacrifice

    But sacrifice alone is meaningless without the other four steps.

  • #2
    then why the sacrifice? I agree the other things on your list are important but why was the sacrifice of an unblemished without spot animal necessary?
    .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

    ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
    .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



    Comment


    • #3
      Good question.


      OK, first of all let's clarify something. Sacrifice did not atone for all sins. Animal sacrifice was only done for certain types of sins. A careful reading of Leviticus will demonstrate that one generally brought sacrifice only for inadvertent, accidental sins. When one sinned intentionally, sacrifice was not enough to remove that sin.

      So now onto your question: why sacrifice?

      First of all, we have to realize that the bible was not given in a vacuum. In many ways it was evolutionary and not revolutionary. It was give to people who lived in societies where sacrifice was how they worshiped their gods. So rather than forbidding it, God took an idolatrous practice and made it into a monotheistic practice. In this manner, God weaned the Jews of the religions they saw around them.

      Of course, sacrifice also had a practical aspect in the atonement process. When one brought a sacrifice for sin, they had to lean on the animal and confess their sin. Now imagine what they were thinking as they did that: this animal is going to die for my sin. Maybe it should be me that dies, but God lets me put this animal in my place. Maybe I should be more careful not to sin in the future, lest it IS me that dies for the sin next time...

      And so by bringing the sacrifice, it would lead the sinner to be more careful with their actions in the future.

      In the balance, the sacrifice appears to be more for US than for God.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thank you for your answer...I understand about the sacrifice being only for certain types of sins, because other than that they would be put to death, am I correct?

        So if they were leaning on this animal realizing that next time it would not be a sin of ignorance, they would be the ones to die?
        .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

        ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
        .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by karenoka27 View Post
          Thank you for your answer...I understand about the sacrifice being only for certain types of sins, because other than that they would be put to death, am I correct?
          No, the courts had a variety of punishments, depending on the crime. Some required a monetary fine. Some required being lashed. Some required death penalty. Some were so egregious that even the death penalty was insufficient.
          So if they were leaning on this animal realizing that next time it would not be a sin of ignorance, they would be the ones to die?
          Not necessarily.

          The point of repenting is to remove one's sins. One's death can also absolve them of sin. So God might decide that a person had sinned and not rectified the situation, and He would have to take their life to remove their sin.

          Comment


          • #6
            I just finished reading the book of Leviticus so I am a little familiar with what you are saying. I have not, however, done an in depth study on it. I appreciate your patience with me.

            you said, " The point of repenting is to remove one's sins. One's death can also absolve them of sin. So God might decide that a person had sinned and not rectified the situation, and He would have to take their life to remove their sin."

            If a person dies in sin who does "their" death absolve them? Is there a verse for that? I am very curious.

            Can I ask another question? I don't know what books of the Bible you go by so please forgive me if I use a Scripture that you wouldn't..
            What does this verse mean to you?
            Psalm 116:15-"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
            If you do use the book of Psalms what does this verse mean to you?
            .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

            ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
            .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by karenoka27 View Post
              I just finished reading the book of Leviticus so I am a little familiar with what you are saying. I have not, however, done an in depth study on it. I appreciate your patience with me.
              It is no problem, really.

              you said, " The point of repenting is to remove one's sins. One's death can also absolve them of sin. So God might decide that a person had sinned and not rectified the situation, and He would have to take their life to remove their sin."

              If a person dies in sin who does "their" death absolve them? Is there a verse for that? I am very curious.
              One's own death can absolve them of their sins. Interestingly enough, if one has no sin they would not die. There are few few biblical examples of that. Elijah, for example.

              I'll see if there's a verse on it.

              Can I ask another question? I don't know what books of the Bible you go by so please forgive me if I use a Scripture that you wouldn't..
              What does this verse mean to you?
              Psalm 116:15-"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints."
              If you do use the book of Psalms what does this verse mean to you?
              A better translation is "Difficult in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His pious ones", which doesn't really require an explanation.

              Comment


              • #8
                I am fascinated by all of this...keep in mind I am a Christian so my beliefs are different than yours but since you didn't title your thread to allow for Christians to discuss our beliefs (I am guessing you already know full well what they are anyway...) I will only ask questions according to Jews atoning today?

                Everyone dies at some point...where does a Jewish person go when they die?
                I'm asking because you mentioned their death could absolve them from sin.
                Since the Jewish people were God's chosen either way do they all end up in heaven with Him?
                .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

                ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
                .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Fenris View Post
                  In the balance, the sacrifice appears to be more for US than for God.
                  Isn't this more an act of charity (or mercy, as you posted above) as well, since the priesthood benefited by the sacrifices which sustained it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by karenoka27 View Post
                    I am fascinated by all of this...
                    Good, that means I'm contributing by being here.


                    Everyone dies at some point...where does a Jewish person go when they die?
                    We should be more general. Where does a person go when they die? Well, it depends on their deeds and who they are. A Jewish person is obligated to keep 613 commandments, more or less, to the best of their ability. If they fall short, and most do, they spend some time in hell to cleanse them of their sin before ending up with God.

                    A non-Jew, on the other hand, is only obligated to keep seven commandments to earn favor from God. If He or she does that to the best of their ability, they too end up in heaven. If they fall short they have to go through the same process as a Jewish person to be cleansed.

                    Unspeakably evil people (think Hitler, Stalin, etc) are punished in hell fully for their sins and then their soul is destroyed.

                    I'm asking because you mentioned their death could absolve them from sin.
                    Since the Jewish people were God's chosen either way do they all end up in heaven with Him?
                    No, being born Jewish ensures nothing. As I said above, we believe that being a Jew means additional responsibilities, not additional benefits. See Amos 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
                    God holds us to a higher standard of behavior, because we should know better.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Teke View Post
                      Isn't this more an act of charity (or mercy, as you posted above) as well, since the priesthood benefited by the sacrifices which sustained it.
                      I suppose that might also be true, yes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Is there a verse anywhere that says a person goes to hell until they are cleansed from their sin...(it almost sounds like Catholicism going to purgatory?)

                        If God is a perfect God and a Holy One..then I find it hard to believe that He is "ok" with sin. You make it sound so casual...by saying a Jewish person has to keep so many commandments to the best of their ability.
                        .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

                        ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
                        .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by karenoka27 View Post
                          Is there a verse anywhere that says a person goes to hell until they are cleansed from their sin...(it almost sounds like Catholicism going to purgatory?)
                          No, the Jewish bible does not mention the afterlife at all.
                          If God is a perfect God and a Holy One..then I find it hard to believe that He is "ok" with sin.
                          He isn't ok with it. He expects us to make mistakes and succumb to temptation. He did create us, after all.

                          It's just that after one sins, they have to repent.
                          You make it sound so casual...by saying a Jewish person has to keep so many commandments to the best of their ability.
                          Well, why would God expect an imperfect being to behave perfectly? Anyway, doing some good deeds is still better than doing none.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Is the book of Genesis one of the books you use? Excuse my ignorance...

                            If so, then you do believe that God created man as a perfect being don't you?
                            I believe He expects perfection or else He would not say:
                            Leviticus 11:44-"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."



                            I understand the word holy to mean, "pure, free from defilement..."

                            If holy gives the idea of being perfect..then how do we become perfect?
                            Deuteronomy 18:13-"Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God."



                            Yet we aren't perfect..hence the sacrifice..was the forgiveness of sins (some of them as you say,) accepted by God through the blood of the animal? And once they offered this sacrifice did God now see them as perfect?
                            .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

                            ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
                            .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a



                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by karenoka27 View Post
                              Is the book of Genesis one of the books you use? Excuse my ignorance...
                              Yes.


                              If so, then you do believe that God created man as a perfect being don't you?
                              Man may have been perfect, but we no longer are.

                              I believe He expects perfection or else He would not say:
                              Leviticus 11:44-"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."



                              I understand the word holy to mean, "pure, free from defilement..."
                              The word 'holy' in Hebrew has the same root as the word 'to set aside'. It doesn't mean 'be perfect', it means, 'set yourself aside because you belong to Me.'

                              Yet we aren't perfect..hence the sacrifice..was the forgiveness of sins (some of them as you say,) accepted by God through the blood of the animal? And once they offered this sacrifice did God now see them as perfect?
                              No, because they weren't expected to be.

                              Atonement is a process, not an act. It means sinning and regretting it and trying to improve.

                              Comment

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