Biblical Offerings versus Christian Doctrine
Christianity contends that the crucifixion of Jesus represents the culmination of the offerings described in the Jewish Bible. It is claimed that Jesus is the “sacrifice to end all sacrifices”.
Is there any truth to this Christian assertion? Let us study the Biblical offerings and see what we can learn.
One feature that is obvious in all of the Scriptural offerings is the fact that nothing remained of them, they were completely consumed. Some of the offerings were immediately burned on the altar, while others were eaten by the priests or by the bearer of the offering. Anything that remained was burned (Exodus 12:10, Leviticus 7:17). The offering itself was eradicated. The only thing that remained from the offering was the closeness to God that it generated.
When an individual walked home after having brought his or her offering in the Temple, the last thing on their mind was the animal that was burned or eaten. The destruction of the animal brought to mind the concept that everything temporal; is just that – temporal. There is no intrinsic value to anything that can be destroyed. The offering brought into focus that our only true possession is the relationship we share with the One who created all.
In short, one of the central concepts of the Biblical offerings was the idea that everything earthly – represented by the offering – has no intrinsic existence. It is only the closeness to God that we obtain through the sincere act of bringing a gift to God that is of any value. The offerings of Scripture reinforced the central concept of Scripture, that God is the absolute Master of all – while the animal that was brought as the offering represented the flimsy nature of the existence of all created beings – including life itself.
Imagine if someone were to return from having brought an offering in the Temple with a portrait of the animal that he or she had brought as an offering. Imagine further that this individual hangs this portrait in a prominent place in his or her home. This individual goes around praising the animal: “Oh what a perfect sacrifice! Completely unblemished! This offering is my best friend because through it I achieved atonement from my sins!” – It would be obvious to one and all that this individual has completely misunderstood the Biblical sacrifices. Instead of learning the lesson of the offering – that all earthly existence is but a dream – this individual attempts to exalt an example of earthly existence.
The individual in our parable is none other than the Christian theologian. The Christian theologian points to the supposed sacrifice of Jesus in order to exalt Jesus. With this doctrine, the Christian has turned the Biblical concept of sacrifice inside out. The point of the Biblical sacrifice was to emphasize the ephemeral nature of the article brought as an offering and to exalt the Creator of all. Exalting the item brought as an offering goes directly against one of the basic themes of the Biblical offerings.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal