Response to Line of Fire 10

Response to The Line of Fire 10

On the July 7 2011 segment of Dr. Brown’s radio show: “The Line of Fire” he addressed several video clips by Rabbi Eli Cohen ( ). In this article we will address some of the arguments that Dr. Brown raises in his presentation. In no way is this to be considered a comprehensive refutation of all of Dr. Brown’s statements.

Before I set out to point out the flaws in his arguments, I would like to commend Dr. Brown for the tone of his presentation. He makes it clear that he respects Rabbi Cohen as a person and that his presentation is not a personal attack against Rabbi Cohen. By bringing a conciliatory tone to the table the discussion can focus on the real issues.

  1. Dr. Brown makes the claim that 2 Chronicles chapter 7 teaches that once the Temple was destroyed, Israel is without national atonement.

The passage in Chronicles presents no such teaching. The passage does say that with Israel’s sins the Temple will be destroyed, but the Scripture says nothing about Israel not being able to atone for sin. The wording that the prophet uses in verses 21 and 22 of this chapter directly parallel Deuteronomy chapter 29:23-25. The passage in Deuteronomy leads to God’s directive as to how we can go about getting the Temple back. The answer is repentance. Although we do not have a temple, the Scriptures clearly teach that there is a path for the nation to be reconciled with God and that path is turning back to the Law of Moses through sincere repentance.

2.      Dr. Brown addresses Rabbi Cohen’s arguments concerning the Christian interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27. By accepting the Christian teaching that assumes that there is no atonement without blood, Dr. Brown has missed the main thrust of Daniel’s prophecy. The background of Daniel’s prophecy is that he feared that the restoration that Jeremiah prophesied was not coming to pass. Jeremiah had predicted that Israel’s exile was to last 70 years and Daniel was under the impression that this prophecy was not being fulfilled. The answer to Daniel’s prophecy is that what he had expected to be accomplished with the 70 years of Jeremiah will not be fully accomplished until a later time. When the angel speaks to Daniel about the expiation of sin, he is not talking about blood offerings because that was not the subject of Daniel’s prayer. The angel was talking about Israel’s suffering. The purpose of Israel’s suffering is for the expiation of sin, and the angel was explaining to Daniel that it was not going to be accomplished in the 70 years of the Babylonian exile.

3.    Rabbi Cohen points out that the Christian interpretation which assumes that Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled through Jesus is simply untenable. All of the glorious predictions about ushering in eternal righteousness and anointing the holy of holies have not come to pass. The point Rabbi Cohen is trying to make is that the culmination of this prophecy is yet to occur.

Dr. Brown responds to this point with the argument that the prophecy comes with a time limit. It must be fulfilled before the destruction of the Second Temple. Dr. Brown argues that according to Rabbi Cohen’s argument, Daniel would have to be a false prophet.

Dr. Brown recognizes that the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy is yet to come. Dr. Brown contends that a “foretaste” of the fullness of the prophecy took place during the time of the Second Temple, while its final culmination is to occur with the return of Jesus.

The problem with Dr. Brown’s interpretation is that the prophet says nothing about a “foretaste” or that the prophecy will be fulfilled in two stages.

When we read the prophecy in context, with the clear understanding that the focus of the prophecy is suffering of Israel and what it is supposed to accomplish, we can readily understand this Scriptural passage.

Daniel assumed that through Israel’s suffering in the 70 years of the Babylonian exile, the glorious Messianic era would be ushered in. The angel informed him that this was not to be. The angel told Daniel that there was a period of 490 years was decreed over Israel which will culminate in the destruction of the Temple. By noting the parallel verses in chapter 11 (verses 31-35) we learn that the destruction of the Temple will be accompanied by a new exile and that Israel will still undergo yet another refining process. It is only with this second exile that Israel will accomplish what Daniel expected her to accomplish in the first exile. The process that will usher in eternal righteousness, anoint the holy of holies and put a permanent end to sin is to begin at the end of the 490 years.

4.     Towards the end of his presentation Dr. Brown makes the claim that by establishing the largest religion in the world, Jesus has thereby fulfilled a Messianic prophecy. I wonder which prophecy he is referring to. As far as I can tell, there is no such prophecy in the Hebrew Bible.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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66 Responses to Response to Line of Fire 10

  1. James says:

    @Rabbi Blumenthal,

    To your point #4, let me just say that I, as a gentile individual, came to inherit the blessing of father Abraham in and through the Messiah Yeshua. It is in His name that I have come to know of the God who created the heavens and the earth!

    …and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast hearkened to My voice.

    • naaria says:

      If you believe you found “the way”, understand that “the way” is not the destination. Don’t also resist the correction that those who are enlightened offer to you. So sometimes we choose a path that feels right to us, but that does not mean it was the only path or the right one. Many find what you might have experienced, the “blessings”, “truth”, and happiness, etc., in Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, etc.

      And has “messiah Yeshuah” taught you what a messiah really is? Are you sure your concept of a messiah is even mentioned specifically in the Jewish bible? Are you sure you know the original meaning of the word, prophecy? What was the blessing given to Abraham and what does it mean to “inherit”? Did you know that you don’t really inherit anything from the “parent” plant if you are grafted in, you just have a source of your “water” ? Why did God say “a great nation” and others (or nations, including larger ones) would be blessed through that nation? Can’t God give us something directly, without it bring an inheritance or without it coming through some other nation? Is God saying someone different from what you were taught recently? Why did Jesus choose the sign of Jonah (yes, Jonah’s sign was not surviving a fish incident)? His disciple was supposedly called a “bar” or son of Jonah? Did Jonah die in order to save a huge city? In a Jewish-like parable by Jesus, did the father of a wayward son die, was the son dead, did the father curse to hell or hate the son because he chose a different path, or was any blood shed except as a celebration because one returned? Did you know God said we were all children of God, and we could be Holy, just as God was Holy? Or did your preacher and your messiah tell you that you were hopelessly fallen & bound for “hell” unless you said some magical words and unless you believed in a human representation of God? Is God not much more than a means for human “salvation”? Were you given a problem, then offered a standard solution?

      Are you sure you have given up idolatry? Or do you need an intermediary and pray in their/his “name”? Are you sure you understand the Jewish bible concept of One God, a unity, and a “living God”.? It is good to have a personal relationship with God, but is a “personal God” really the same thing? Doesnt a “personal god” sound like one that caters to you, your feelings, maybe sort of like a drug? What is your take on a “communal God”?

      • James says:

        Your screen name suggest that you are a thoughtful person calling yourself a “child of god”, and you sure do ask a lot of questions 🙂

        I just have one small question to ask in return – What is the place for the Book of Leviticus in your Bible? Last time I read, the first 7 chapters are FULL of bloody sacrifice. I pray that you will meditate on them.

        I never said I was on any way – I have found my destination, my search has ENDED – Yeshua yeshuati – in the person of Messiah Yeshua!

        Peace to you!

        • Sharbano says:

          “Last time I read, the first 7 chapters are FULL of bloody sacrifice.”

          So, you prefer to eat meat WITHOUT acknowledging who has given it. You don’t think there is much blood spilled when an animal is slaughtered? Apparently you are unaware of the purpose of Leviticus.

      • glynn surdivall says:

        A communal God is predicated on what God can do for us and what we can do for God and what we and God can do to keep the mutual relationship strong.

        • Jim says:


          I am confused by your comment here. Surely you do not imagine that we can do anything for God. I cannot imagine that you mean that he can by any means benefit by us or from us. Would you mind clarifying?


  2. Thomas says:

    James, does the Hebrew Bible ever say (or more specifically, does G-d ever tell Abraham) that the blessing to Abraham’s descendants would ever be passed onto non-descendants by way of their belief in the messiah?

    Anyone can claim their messiah brings them into the Abrahamic covenant.

    The only question is- did the maker of the covenant (G-d) ever say that belief in the messiah will allow non-descendants of Abraham to claim that lineage? The verse you quote says the seed of Abraham (ie Israel) will bless the peoples. How does one see that to mean non-seed will become the seed by virtue of believing in the messiah?

  3. James says:

    I am going to assume that you are the true lineage and a direct decedent of father Abraham. My question to you in return would be – where where you and what is your responsibility in bringing about this Prophesy of the Most High God to pass? A gentile like me would have never ever come to know the Loving God, if it were left to you my friend. Your premier evangelist Jonah had to be prodded and prodded to ask the people of gentile Nineveh to repent – so I know I am not speaking facetiously.

    It is though a Jewish man Yeshua and his followers that the name of God the God of Israel was made known to me. My forefathers within the last 4 generations were hewing down boulders of rocks and shaping them into idols and worshiping them. It is the name of Yeshua that has set me free from this wicked idolatry. I owe everything to the Jewish people – yours is the promise, yours are the fathers, yours is the Messiah – I as a gentile have none. So I have come like the Syro-phonecian woman of the New Testament and have been grafted in.

    My story can be multiplied by myriad billions throughout the ages and corridors of time – who have come to hear of the One God – the God who created heaven and earth, a personal God who bends down from heaven when I cry to him and answers my prayers in my distress – it is all through this one, the Messiah Yeshua that the blessing that was promised to father Abraham has come through.

    • Thomas says:

      James, I do not minimize the impact that Christianity (or Islam, for that matter) have had on bringing people closer to the one G-d of Israel.

      The question you are asking is how does Israel teach the nations? I think the answer is evident- 4 billion monotheists as a result of Israel’s message. Islam, Christianity and 4 billion people know monotheism because of Abraham, and Judaism- yes. Before Jesus was born, the Roman empire was fascinated by Judaism- from Alexandria to Jerusalem. Jesus, furthermore, is not the reason the west knows of monotheism- it is Constantine, and before him, Paul.

      But we miss the message- the Jewish people’s responsibility is to teach the world about G-d. Their success or failure is irrelevant in that it still does not allow one to claim ‘grafted’ into Israel if G-d never said it.

      But G-d never told Abraham that people who believed the messiah died for their sins would be ‘grafted’ into Israel. Anybody can make the same claim- a Muslim can make the exact claim as you, verbatim, and on what basis can you reject that if one can be ‘grafted’ in even though G-d never actually said that? The bestower of the blessing to Abraham never said anything of the sort that belief in the messiah’s atoning death will make one part of spiritual Israel.

  4. Sharlee says:


    I think some clarification of the history of Judaism needs to take place. The Hebrew nation was a nation long before they came into covenant with God at Sinai. Hundreds of years. Their charge to be a light to the world was not so much a religious one, as it was to example living at a higher standard and showing the rewards of humans behaving humanely. They were charged with establishing justice systems and observing there was only one God and exampling that to the world as well. They have, indeed, done a remarkable job of all of the above in spite of severe adversity and going through their own learning curve of how to live in this manner.

    They do not claim to be “the only way” to God, as no conduit is needed. Only sin separates us from our creator and to have a relationship with him, we need to own it, make it right and repent, not become a Jew or a Christian for that matter. Being an example, or a light, is not necessarily strong arming the world into your way of thinking. The Jews also believe that each man chooses his way, as we all have free will. So, no, they did not go through hundreds of years of converting people to their beliefs by the sword. That was Christianity. That is not the Jewish way. By the way, you may want to put your beliefs aside for just a bit and pay attention to what is the Jewish way. Just for consideration purposes, as they have been studying God and His word far longer than Christianity has AND unfortunately, Christianity has done it at the rejection of Jewish interpretation of God’s word and so often completely misses the point. I’m just saying, it has not been to their benefit to do this and now that we are in the information age, a lot of stuff is coming out that makes it clear that it is not Judaism that has missed the boat, but Christianity.

    There has always been a way for the gentile to be in relationship with his creator. A “savior” was not needed and gentiles were not “lost.” They just needed to obey God, not necessarily the Mosaic Law, but the Noachide laws and go about healing the world. God made it simple, as he say it is not far from us or unattainable. Unlike Paul, who says obedience is impossible. Who are you going to believe? Paul or your Creator? There is no such thing as “grafting” in. Just because Paul said it, doesn’t make it true. His words must be measured against what was taught in the OT. Certainly, Jesus never mentioned grafting. That presents a problem, don’t you think? Paul’s ministry was driven by a non-Jewish agenda. His letters served the Roman Catholic Church well in bringing about religious control of an empire. Paul’s letters were chosen, not because they were the inspired words of God, as they were just letters full of anger, ideas, thoughts and condemnation and I am confident Paul never dreamed they would be considered scripture, but for the purpose of Rome to control the masses and eradicate any dissenting voice.

    You have a beautiful story of a changed life, but yours is not unique to Christianity. Similar stories abound in religions throughout time and the world, and therefore, cannot be proof that Jesus is the messiah. There has to be other proof. There is prophecy that must be fulfilled that tells us the messiah is here and who he is. Jesus did not fulfill these things. There is no disputing that. The Christian would say this will happen during his second coming. The problem with that is then Jesus does not get to be called the messiah until he has fulfilled the prophecies. That is just basic integrity of prophecy, don’t you think?

    Also understand that, as a general rule, Jews do not evangelize. In history, to become a Jew, most often meant death. However, I have never known them not to be willing to show a person how to live righteously. Again, the goal is not to become a Jew, it is to live a life pleasing to our Creator and contributory to the world.

    Warmest Aloha to you and all the best as you are on your own journey in search of truth.

  5. James says:


    I confess I am stunned by your very revisionist understanding of the Holy Bible. Is this teaching part of a liberal wing of Judaism? May I suggest most humbly that I as a gentile reading from Genesis onward got a very distinctly different understanding of the place of the Jewish people and the worship of Lord God. The promise of the Messiah was given in the Garden of Eden – of the seed of a woman who was to crush the head of the serpent – or in my New Testament understandinf – where sin abounded grace superabounded. But of course you consider the Creation account and the fall of man and the promise of the Messiah very allegorical(?)

    In one stroke you have reduced the countless sacrifices at the altar of the Tabernacle and subsequently the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the flames that would ascend to the Lord God for the atonement of sin to nothing but a cultural event. Even the court of the Gentiles was an architectural testimony for the place of evangelism and the lack of it by the Jewish people – a place which was turned into a place of merchandise which the Messiah Yeshua had to clear as rebuke the religious authorities of the land by saying

    My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

    which is a quotation of Isaiah 56:7.

    I am shocked and amazed by your claim that the way of the Bible is not the only way to God – which would make me wonder why I left my pantheistic ways in the first place.

    Sharlee, I believe you mean well, and I appreciate your discussion – but I would suggest that rather than blaming “Christians” for what they did to the Jews in history past – I would suggest those who have used violence in the name of Christ were doing it AGAINST the teachings of Christ. They are as much “Christians” as much are Nutri Karta are the true “Jews” today. I apologize for the sins of people who have used the sword against the very teachings of Christ. You are confusing Roman Catholicism with Christianity – and may I just suggest that Roman Catholics killed my forebears just as they did yours.

    I am truly saddened and disappointed by your very revisionist understanding of the Hebrew Bible and I pray that God will shine HIS light on you and you would come to see the Yeshua the Messiah of whom it is written – a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

    • naaria says:

      @James: Yes, I chose the screen name because I am a child of G-d, so uses of the word son in the NT doesn’t impress me. Very thoughtful, so I thought about Yeshua & the NT for decades & so that is why I now reject both. Despite what you say, you are still on a “way”. I can see you still are strongly pantheistic (not to say that that is evil). You still show strong affinities toward both idolatry and paganism, so you are not at a destination. Plus your mind still works. Since, I was raised on a farm/ranch (grew life-sustaining plants and raised animals), I see the taking of a life differently then you might. I see a great deal of concern about cleanness, kosherness, mercifulness, prayerfulness, and concern about life and the sanctification of life in Leviticus & in all of the Torah. Maybe you missed that in your “revisionist”, “not true liberal” thinking. Sacrifices (which were not all about atonement for sin, but was also about thankfulness & love offerings to G-d) is not the same thing as “slaughter”, as for instance, the needless, cruel, & despicable slaughter of buffaloes on the American Plains & Prairies by “modern”, cultured, or “civilized” men.

      Oh, come on man. Your “shocked”, “amazed”, & “stunned”? What, you call others a revisionist and you believe what you believe??? Sharlee was once where you at. And I have “been around the block” a few times. I am aware & fully expect your type of revisionist thinking. Come on, get real! You started to read Genesis, not as a typical Gentle, but with pre-conceived Christological assumptions and biased teachings “under your belt”. The plain reading of Eve’s seed and the serpent, is that this is a curse and a punishment on-going and into the future. It is not a promise. And mankind (mentioned first) strikes first at the snake. Then the serpent, not dead, strikes your heel. That is like most rattlesnakes I have run across. They warn you (don’t tread on me)(hopefully!). Then you choose to go around them or you hit them on the head. If you are not careful or you stupidly try to play around with them, you might get bit. If anything, the plan reading or the common sense meaning is anti-messianic!

      Stop blaming the RCC. Re-read your history again, instead of promulgating the same old worn our excuses and myths. If I had the time now, I could show you another (& very logical) interpretation of the parables of Jesus cursing a tree and then going to “cleanse the temple” as a failure of “Yeshua” and as a sign that God was rebuking & rejecting Yeshua. Messianic pretenders and zealot leaders were often called thieves by the Romans (as we see in Josephus’s writings), so maybe Yeshua was seen as part of the “den of thieves”?

    • Thomas says:

      I think you might enjoy reading 2 articles written by the rabbi who runs this site

      1/ The first link here, ‘contra brown”- discusses a number of topics, including atonement, its nature, etc. The fact is- neither Jews nor Christians bring sacrifices to the temple. So which alternative- repentance or Jesus – is the biblically-proscribed alternative?


      These types of works had a big impact on my spiritual journey. I hope you find them informative.


  6. James says:

    @ Thomas:

    The fact that followers of Yeshua do not bring live animal sacrifices is because of 2 reasons – ONE, the insufficiency of animal sacrifices – in that the atonement is not permanent, which necessitates numerous repetition ad infinitum. TWO – the FULL PERFECTION of the PERFECT and FINAL sacrifice of Yeshua, the SON which takes away any need for any further animal sacrifice and makes it redundant and obsolete. Those who put their faith in GOD’s provision of Yeshua’s sacrifice do not need any more animal sacrifices.

    • Thomas says:


      I understand that your beliefs, but I’m asking where does G-d in the OT ever say in the absence of a temple, just belief in the messiah? We both know that is nowhere to be found in the OT.

      This is essential because you are telling me I cannot achieve atonement without the Temple, and yet you propose an alternative method (jesus) that is never outlined, never mentioned, never condoned in the OT.

      James, my friend, you cannot simultaneously tell me no atonement without a temple, and then proceed to tell me why you have atonement outside the temple. Perhaps you mean no atonement without blood?

      If that is what you believe, where does the Hebrew Bible say no atonement without blood? Giving methods of atonement through blood is clearly not the same as saying no atonement without blood. It’s just as saying “you can be filled up through eating a muffin” does not mean that is the only food which can fill you up.

      Jews belief that in place of the temple, repentance atones. This is a repeated teaching of the OT, in I Kings 8:46, Jonah, and dozens and dozens of other places.

      So just to recap:

      Both of us believe in atonement outside the Temple: you believe in jesus as the alternative, I believe in repentance.

      What does G-d in the Hebrew Bible say? He says atonement comes through sincere repentance and turning back to G-d. Here’s an article on this site with a selection of relevant sources:


  7. James
    If that is the case then why were the Jewish disciples of Jesus still bringing animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin after Jesus’ death (Acts 21)?

  8. James says:

    @ Rabbi Blumenthal,

    I am much honored that you would address me, readily confessing my lack of refined thought and scholarship, unlike you. But I do believe in what I am about to say and I believe there is a lot of Scriptural justification for it too, though some of my Messianic brothers and sister and perhaps even Dr. Brown will not agree with my interpretation or have a different explanation – so, with much respect to everyone, here goes:

    The Bible is God’s Word – and it does not gloss over or paint its heroes in “Technicolor”. So just like the Bible does not mince words when Prophet Nathan chides King David for his adultry with Bathsheba and the willful and premeditated murder of her lawful husband while still calling King David the man after God’s own heart – which is a testimony of God’s “chesed” and Grace in ALL HIS dealings with mankind.

    Apostle Paul is not God and just as all of mankind makes mistakes, it does not take any stretch of imagination that Apostle Paul made mistakes too. Only Messiah Yeshua was the perfect, sinless one – who in HIS flesh was FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN, a holy mystery.

    I will admit that the Christian community has no problems when the Bible says that Apostle Peter made a mistake for which Apostle Paul “withstood him to his face” – and yet has a very tough time to admit that Apostle Paul could make mistakes too. A case in point is in :

    And Paul, fixing his eyes on the council, said, Brethren, I have walked in all good conscience with God unto this day. But the high priest Ananias ordered those standing by him to smite his mouth. Then Paul said to him, God will smite thee, whited wall. And *thou*, dost thou sit judging me according to the law, and breaking the law commandest me to be smitten? And those that stood by said, Dost thou rail against the high priest of God? And Paul said, I was not conscious, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evilly of the ruler of thy people. Acts 23 : 1-5

    If Apostle Paul would have followed the example of Messiah Yeshua – who

    When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23) He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

    Now to answer your question as to why Apostle Paul would offer animal sacrifices in Acts 22 (the fact is that not only did he do it for himself, but he was at charges for 4 other men too). You must realize that Apostle Paul was WARNED OF THE SPIRIT ENOUGH TIMES NOT TO GO TO Jerusalem in the very same chapeter!

    And as we stayed there many days, a certain man, by name Agabus, a prophet, came down from Judaea, and coming to us and taking the girdle of Paul, and having bound his own hands and feet, said, Thus saith the Holy Spirit, The man whose this girdle is shall the Jews thus bind in Jerusalem, and deliver him up into the hands of the Gentiles. And when we heard these things, both we and those of the place besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Acts 21: 10 – 12

    You will realize that God did not want Paul to go to Jerusalem – for God had commissioned him to go to the gentiles!

    …and saw him saying to me, Make haste and go quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me… And he said to me, Go, for *I* will send thee to the nations afar off. (Acts 22: 18, 21)

    So my understanding is that Apostle Paul gave into his own ZEAL AND DEEP SEATED LOVE for his own people the Jewish people for whom he says,

    “… for *I* am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. Act 21:13b

    and again –

    I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great grief and uninterrupted pain in my heart, for I have wished, I myself, to be a curse from the Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen, according to flesh; who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises; whose are the fathers; and of whom, as according to flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5)

    You cannot fault the Apostle Paul for his intense zeal and his intense love for his own people for whom he was willing to be made a curse!

    • James says:

      Also, Rabbi Blumenthal, I must mention that Paul’s animal sacrifice was not done to confer upon Paul and his 4 friends any salvific or redemptive benefit. That is FARTHEST from Paul’s mind since he says, “For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.” In other words Paul was fully convinced of the principle of Justification by Faith based on the finished work of Messiah Yeshua. His participation in the sacrifice of Acts 21 is more with a view of identification with his own “kith and kin”.

      I think this is what your implication of your question was – and I want to make sure that I made this point clear.

    • naaria says:

      You seem to be forgetting that it supposedly was the disciples of your beloved “messiah Yeshua” aka Jesus, that Paul was going to see. According to the gospels, they were the ones that were hand chosen by Yeshua to deliver his message, not just to Jews but to all people. His true disciples were not in any danger (from either the “jews” or from the “gentiles”). Even earlier when Saul was obsessed and chasing after members of the way, way into a foreign country, to Damascus, the followers of Yeshua (supposedly their leaders unless the NT writers are confused and these are different groups of people) were in no danger in Jerusalem. And now when Paul came once again to Jerusalem, the leaders Yeshua had personally chosen were in no danger from anyone (neither Jew nor Gentile nor God nor devils). And they were leading thousands of Yeshua’s followers that were zealous for the law (which is the same as saying they followed all of God’s eternal words and did not see them as decayed and obsolete as Paul did). There were different gospels preached, including Pauls, but according to the Gospels you consider holy and the non-Pauline first part of Acts, Yeshua did not know nor select Paul or Saul. Now Acts presentation of Paul sometimes contradicts Paul as seen in Paul’s letters. So something fishy is going on here. Maybe James, Peter, & John also made a human mistake and allowed Paul to preach about a man that Paul never met and teachings he never heard. Maybe he was like the 7 of Sceva & others who self appointed themselves as apostles because of some vision and that is why they got in trouble? Yeshua didn’t seem like he was guiding Paul to keep out of trouble?

      There is a lot fishy with Paul, who chased followers, supposedly, of Yeshua but did nothing to the leaders and main disciples of Jesus. He himself was a Roman citizen and owed a loyalty to Caesar. It is funny how the Herodians thought he was innocent, but didn’t let him go free because Paul had already stated that he was going to take his case for freedom to the Roman emperor. Why be kept in jail (when the end of the world is so near) and bother a busy emperor with a case when you are already declared innocent? Not jail actually but in “protective custody” including house arrest in the “gentile” Governors mansion. After he does get to the emperor, the emperor is favorablly impressed with him, but the story soon suddenly ends. Two main legends states what happens next, both bad for Paul. One states that he is executed (after he makes “pals” with the emperor and he is “innocent”).

      When someone is all man and all god, then the 2 are exactly the same. This is no mystery. It is common in most paganism. It can be called an atheism (no god exists). It can be called humanism, where no being greater than a man exists. In the Jewish bible, which Yeshua or Jesus is SUPPOSEDLY based on, it is called idolatry.

      • Thomas says:

        It seems to me that the core of the issue is that nowhere ever does the OT ever say belief in the messiah is a replacement for the temple offerings. The OT teaches – time and time again – that the means to achieve atonement is through repentance.

        In other words, without a temple, Jews say repentance, Christians say Jesus- what is the biblically-proscribed alternative? Christians can cite the NT to say Jesus, Jews can cite the Talmud to say repentance- but it seems to me that the same source that stresses the importance of the Temple (the OT) is the same source we should look to in order to figure out what it says is the alternative to the Temple: Jesus or repentance. From my reading and studying, the answer is rather clear, but nonetheless, it seems to me that is where the issue is.

  9. James
    My point was not about Paul. My point was that the members of the Jerusalem Church – those who lived with Jesus and heard him teach – were still bringing sacrifices for the expiation of sin (a Nazarite offering includes a sin offering) – to be processed by the Temple establishment. This was not a peripheral activity – but one that they considered demonstrative of their loyalty to the law of Moses – how do you explain that?

  10. James says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,
    Question : Are you suggesting that there has ever been any controversy in the Christian Assembly arguing FOR a practice of animal sacrifices for the expiation of sins? To all my understanding NEVER. So I do not quite understand the reasoning behind your question.

    Please note the following Scripture verses:

    Heb 10:1-14 “For the law, having a shadow of the coming good things, not the image itself of the things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually yearly, perfect those who approach. Since, would they not indeed have ceased being offered, on account of the worshippers once purged having no longer any conscience of sins? But in these there is a calling to mind of sins yearly. For blood of bulls and goats is incapable of taking away sins. Wherefore coming into the world he says, Sacrifice and offering thou willedst not; but thou hast prepared me a body. Thou tookest no pleasure in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, Lo, I come (in the roll of the book it is written of me) to do, O God, thy will. Above, saying Sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin thou willedst not, neither tookest pleasure in (which are offered according to the law); then he said, Lo, I come to do thy will. He takes away the first that he may establish the second; by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering, and offering often the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But *he*, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down in perpetuity at the right hand of God, waiting from henceforth until his enemies be set for the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified.”

    Rabbi, you must also give consideration to the fact that Acts is still foundational, Church at its infancy – there is a Christian “inter-testamental” period if you will – a cross over taking place. If not, how else would you explain the early disciples and the Apostles going to the Synagogues and the Temple in Jerusalem to pray? Eventually Paul separates them out (Acts 19:9) due to the persecution from synagogue attendees. The “Christian” Apostles were not out to create a NEW RELIGION – they always wanted to and still do identify themselves as part of that one unbroken testimony (the One Purpose of God in creating man) that one chain of events that started out with the Garden of Eden, to the selection of the Nation Israel (Deut 7:7,8), Yeshua, the Messiah that was promised.

    • naaria says:

      What you seem to be saying with your “inter-testamental” period, is that Jesus got it wrong, the 3rd time maybe, (1st when he was teaching contrary to Torah, next when his chosen students got it wrong, and then when Paul couldn’t correct the chosen disciples and he got it wrong, then the early church fathers got it wrong, then the church under Constantine got it wrong, then the Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic, & Syriac churches got it wrong, then the Protestant reformation got it wrong, then…, then …,). You seem to be saying that there was an evolution in this period. And that the result, in Hebrews (which many scholars do not know who wrote it nor when, since Paul is not the author) suggests that the tradition of men should supersede Yeshua and he should supersede the original Word of God.

  11. James
    Who is better equipped to tell us what Jesus actually taught – those men who lived with him – or the author of Hebrews who never met him? – If the Jewish disciples of Jesus still believed that sacrifices processed by the non-Christian Temple establishment were efficacious – as their actions testify – then in what way do you consider them Christians?

  12. James says:

    Rabbi Blumenthal,
    Let me take a step back and try to explain this further – there’s countless times when the Messiah was alive together with his disciples when Yeshua tried to explain that He MUST go to Jerusalem and suffer and die. But this band of disciples who lived with HIM day and night for the 3 years of HIS public ministry – they did not understand it. Mark 9:31,32 is one such instance. Even a week before the Messiah was to be crucified, HE repeated that HE was going to be killed – and the disciples did not understand it, instead they were more interested in figuring out who would be the greatest in the Kingdom which they thought the Messiah was going to inaugurate right then and there. They did not understand the idea of a suffering Messiah AND and reigning Messiah.

    So, mere proximity with the Messiah gave these privileged men no more clearer understanding of the truth. Perhaps just like the Prophets of old did not fully comprehend the very prophesies they were to prophesy.

    And therefore Yeshua said, “But I say the truth to you, It is profitable for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you.” (Speaking of course about the Holy Spirit) – “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth”.

    There were many problems in the early church. The Holy Bible is not ashamed to call our attention to the problems – it does not window-dress the facts. Therefore, when the Law-keepers of the Jerusalem Church wanted to impose their Law based ideas of circumcision on the gentile believers, the leaders of the Church called a Council together and took up a decision about the problem (Acts 15). Similarly, there was a problem in the Corinthian Church, and the Bible does not hide the sin – but through Paul exposes it and recommends a solution.

    So, just because the disciples in Jerusalem were with Yeshua for a length of time does not mean that they had the corner market on TRUTH. Only God has THE TRUTH. And the Holy Scripture is God breathed (inspired) by the Holy Spirit. The events in Acts 21 is not a doctrinal statement but rather a statement of facts. There is no dichotomy between Jerusalem Church and the Writer of Hebrews. The principle of Progressive Revelation means that as the Holy Spirit gave more and more revelation of the Truth about the Person and Finished Work of Messiah – we understand it through their writings as the Holy Spirit gave them revelation. As I pointed out already – there has never been a controversy in the Christian Assembly pleading FOR animal sacrifice, and it was always understood that the Finished Work of the Messiah was a once-for-all, fully efficacious work, and it is potent to save to the uttermost.

  13. vos says:

    I have been following this discussion, and the answers appear to be repeats of opinions and beliefs, but not the reasons behind them. Someone can demonstrate that the disciples did not know everything, but i do not see how that proves how they were worse off than an author who came decades later who never met the subject of his writings.

    the rabbi is asking on what basis you hold hebrews higher than the actual disciples of jesus, who brought sacrifices. Your answer is because hebrews says so, and because Christian theology says so. He asks how can christianity feel the disciples of jesus – whatever flaws they had- somehow knew less about jesus than a man who never met him in his life. the answer is because christianity says so. That’s not a reason for why it is logical- it is simply a repeated assertion of belief.

    the rabbi is asking for the rationale behind that opinion, not the belief itself. The fact that the disciples did not know everything does not prove-

    1. that although they did not know everything, they knew less than the author of hebrews
    2. that they were wrong in bringing sacrifices
    3. that they contravened biblical law in continuing to bring sacrifices

    If the argument in favour of hebrews v. disciples is merely ‘the principle of progressive revelation,’ that looks like not a rationale or a reasoned approach, but just belief being imposed on the text- theology dictating the text, when the text should be dictating your theology.

    but even more, even if that belief was rational, that would only lead us to even more ‘revealed’ faiths such as mormonism, so hardly a solution at all.

  14. James says:

    @ vos,

    I think I have tried to explain why the animal sacrifices are no longer efficacious proving it verse by verse from the Holy Scripture, which is something NO ONE HAS DONE SO FAR in these discussions – but rather hurled ad hominem remarks and arguments at me. If you are asking me for logic, may I kindly suggest that reading the Hebrew Scripture was not very “logical” to me either – to say nothing about the commentaries of the esteemed Rabbinic Scholars of ages past.

    Let me try another example – Just like Joshua the son of Nun, did not ask the Lord God before he led the battle to Ai on the heels of the great victory in Jericho (they would have gotten it right the first time if they had inquired the Lord’s mind on it), the Apostles were either –

    1. still holding on to the customs of their forefathers until further revelation of the Holy Spirit came to explain that what they were doing was superseded by the Final and Perfect Sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah as in the Book of Hebrews. OR
    2. they understood what they were doing and following the custom and re-enacting what was already accomplished on the Cross, knowing that there was no efficacious worth in the animal sacrifice anymore.

    You must realize that we are discussing the realm of faith – and while what I hold on to is an intelligent faith, and based on the written Word of God, it is ultimately a matter of faith. I cannot convince you of something you are vehemently convinced against. You are trying to create an artificial divorce between the action of Apostles in Acts 21 and holding it higher than the revelation in the book of Hebrews, where as what I am arguing for is that the Bible is only recording the events in Acts 21 without any moral commentary – and the Book of Hebrews then comes in and give fuller understanding by giving Doctrinal foundation. If you haven’t realized it yet, the book of Acts and the book of Hebrews are equally part of the New Testament canon. I feel the way you are arguing is like saying Judaism allows for incest because Lots daughters got pregnant with their father – which is quite an absurd statement (which both you and I will agree).

    Sorry if I did a poor job at explaining.

    • Thomas says:

      James, you have NOT shown at all in the Hebrew Scriptures why the temple sacrifices were ineffective, and why you believe Jesus is the alternative proscribed.

      Give me ONE verse in the OT which says that:
      1/ No atonement without blood
      2/ The Temple offerings were ineffective
      3/ The alternative to the temple is belief in the messiah

      As Vos said, you are just re-iterating your beliefs, not SHOWING the basis for it in the OT.
      A few verses in support of repentance achieving atonement are:

      Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 4:29, 30:1-10, Judges 10:16, 2Samuel 12:13, 1Kings 8:33-36,48-50, 2Kings 20:1-6, Jeremiah 3:22, 4:1-4, 18:7,8, 25:5, 26:3,19, 35:15, 36:3,7, Ezekiel 3:18, 18:21-23,27,28,31,32, 33:11,14-16,19, Isaiah 1:16-18, 55:7, Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:12-27, Jonah 3:10, Micah 6:7,8, Psalm 51:19, Job 11:13-20, 22:21-30, 33:26-30, Daniel 4:24, Nehemiah 1:9, 2Chronicles 6:24-30,34-39, 7:13, 12:6,7, 30:9, 33:12,13,
      (pulled from another part of this site)
      Please give me the scriptural evidence from the OT for your beliefs above. I do not wish to see simply repeated statements of belief- but the OT evidence FOR your beliefs.

  15. naaria says:

    An observation: The title Hebrews sounds like a term that could only be used by an academic philosopher, one who is only acquainted with “Hebrews” by studying written texts. Also a NT writer who often speaks of “the Jews” as if they were some type of “other” people, may lack a knowledge of true Jews and of their faith and/or may be biased (maybe even an antipathy) toward them and writing to those with anti-Jewish beliefs.

    Progressive revelation (supposedly from God or holy spirit) often means that an earlier Truth is being replaced with a newer Truth, rather than that there is a deeper understanding and admiration of the established Truth. So sometimes we have to go back to basic principles and see if something is revealed (enhanced, strengthened) or if we are being led astray and the former is rejected for an opposite “truth”.

    The Tanakh has established these things once-and-for-all. One thing God cannot do is lie (since God is not a son of man nor a man). God cannot break promises (can’t lie). God is not born & cannot die and there is none beside God (if an entity is in a throne on the right or left side of God, they are not God nor gods). God hates human sacrifice. God hates idolatry or an attempt to represent God, or anything in Heaven, on earth. God is Merciful and is Just (can forgive and requires nothing of us that is unreasonable). You may disagree since it is my opinion.

    If Jesus came for the Jews first, then why? God lied about being pleased with people giving praise & worship offererings to God, even when God specified what was acceptable & what was not? God lied about being able to forgive us? God lied about the efficacy of prayer and repentance, because he forgot he actually NEEDED animal blood in order to be merciful to us? And he really did prefer the far superior human blood, like the heathen offered to their no-gods? Better yet the god blood offered by pagans to the dying sun so it might be resurrected? If Paul believed one was justified by faith alone, those Jews and others who already had a faith in God were already justified. Now they just needed to walk in their faith, not be coerced or even persecuted to reject their faith for a new kind of faith with a new kind of God.

    Before- one could pray directly to the Hebrew God, god of Israel, God of Abraham. After – one needed an intermediary to stand between us & God, like the Greek Gnostic-Platonist Word, or the poly-theistic “son of god”. They said no person was clean enough to stand before God (although they also say that God “walked all over the earth man-like”). Yet with a different name, not used by God before, we sinners could not only stand before him, he actually became a man and crawled/walked around for decades (lot of that time literally wasted like ordinary people waste time away) and actually preferred to forgive the unclean and hated on those who loved God according to the Words of God. Before – God was the only Creator, the only heavenly father of people. After – even Satan could create and be a father to people. Before -God controlled all the earth & the heavens and was 2nd to none. After progressive revelation to the Romans – God often appeared even less powerful than “the devil” and Heaven now was split up and included “evil principalities” and there was war in the Heavenlies just as on earth (not on earth as it is in heaven, but in heaven as it is on earth- just like god now is human like the pagan man-gods). Before -a messiah is a servant of God. After – worship a messiah, which means no need for God. Relaced the “torn curtain” with a son of a god and worship the son or else you can’t get a word to God. Of course, why do you even need God since the poly-theistic son is a god, is your redeemer, is your savior, healer, etc. This does not seem like a revelation but a revolution. It does not seem like simple reform of worship and of rituals, but a whole re-design of both Heaven & of God.

  16. James
    I assume that when you say you have “proved” from the holy scripture that animal sacrifices are no longer efficacious – you mean your quote from the book of Hebrews. – You already accept the canon of the NT. What we are trying to show here is that your acceptance of the NT canon is not based on teh teachings of Jesus in his lifetime – but rather on teh teachings of people who never saw Jesus – the NT itself gives us a strong indication that those who saw Jesus would not have accepted the teaching of the author of Hebrews.
    Who are you relying on when you accept the NT canon?
    You provided two explanations as to why teh disciples were still bringing sacrifices after teh cross – 1 – they still did not know (they were awaiting revelation) – my question to you would be – in what way were they Christians?
    2 – they saw the sacrifices as a reenactment of the cross – my question to you would be – so why did they see the sacrifices as symbolic of their differences with Paul about the law of Moses? If the sacrifices are just a Christian symbol – how do they represent obedience to the law?

  17. James says:

    @ naaria

    The title “Hebrews” to the book of Hebrews was not given by the author – it was added on later to give it an identifier in the corpus. The title was poorly thought – I will grant you that – since the early readers saw it so steeped in Hebraic thought, they thought that it was written to Jewish Christians and hence the name “to the Hebrews”. It was not written by an academician/philosopher as you suggest who was not acquainted with Jewish tradition or Scripture, bur rather quite the opposite. While we do not know who the author is, since the text gives no indication – there are a lot of speculations, and I do not think it was Paul either, but that is of no consequence. The book of Hebrews is quite Majestic in its opening line,

    God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son, whom he has established heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

    which I presume made the author feel so puny that he left out all thoughts about himself and gave all glory to GOD.

    One last point about Progressive Revelation – the idea is not that Progressive Revelation negates a previous revelation, but rather adds on, expounds it and brings it to fuller light.

    May I ask you a question – where in the Tanakh, which you hold on to as final revelation from God, do you find a passage that says blood sacrifice is no longer required for the remission of sins? Where is it written that repentance alone, outside of any blood sacrifice, was enough?

    • Thomas says:

      Hi James,

      You ask: “May I ask you a question – where in the Tanakh, which you hold on to as final revelation from God, do you find a passage that says blood sacrifice is no longer required for the remission of sins? Where is it written that repentance alone, outside of any blood sacrifice, was enough?”

      The question itself – “where does the text say blood sacrifice is no longer required for remission of sins?”- is misleading.

      Well, who ever said blood sacrifice was the only method of remission of sins? Where does the OT say that?

      And since we cannot point to any verse which says no blood = no atonement (as Hebrews claims), then we both must ask: what alternatives has the OT proscribed to the Temple?

      Let us see the comparable evidence: You belief Jesus is the alternative, I belief repentance is the alternative.

      Yourphariseefriend helpfully gave some examples showing the efficacy of repentance: Genesis 4:7, Deuteronomy 4:29, 30:1-10, Judges 10:16, 2Samuel 12:13, 1Kings 8:33-36,48-50, 2Kings 20:1-6, Jeremiah 3:22, 4:1-4, 18:7,8, 25:5, 26:3,19, 35:15, 36:3,7, Ezekiel 3:18, 18:21-23,27,28,31,32, 33:11,14-16,19, Isaiah 1:16-18, 55:7, Hosea 14:2-10, Joel 2:12-27, Jonah 3:10, Micah 6:7,8, Psalm 51:19, Job 11:13-20, 22:21-30, 33:26-30, Daniel 4:24, Nehemiah 1:9, 2Chronicles 6:24-30,34-39, 7:13, 12:6,7, 30:9, 33:12,13

      While you will not find these verses 100% convincing, compare it to the alternative. Compare these verses with the scriptural support for “believe in the messiah and you will have atonement” in the OT.

  18. James says:

    @ Rabbi Blumenthal,

    You will realize that the reason I am quoting Scripture passages is because I am engaged in a discussion about the Scriptures, so any proof text I need to bring would have to come from the Scripture. Anything I say outside of that would only amount to my opinion.

    I accept the the New Testament canon just like I accept the Old Testament Canon. Just to give you a hint, I am reading a rather thick commentary on the book of Jeremiah by your friend Dr. Michael Brown – and from a textual-criticism stand point, and by your own definition, the Book of Jeremiah would fall apart (who wrote what portion, and who edited and added on what when???) and yet you and I have absolutely no problem accepting the book of Jeremiah – just to give you an example.

    You must realize where I am coming from – I believe in the Divine inspiration of the entire corpus of the Bible (which includes the poorly named “old” Testament, and the “new” Testament) and my support is:

    All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16,17)

    You asked the question – how were the early Apostles Christians? One of your early progenitors (who may now have been put out of your circles) Nicodemus asked the Messiah the question, which I will loosely paraphrase to say – How does a man become a Christian? And the Messiah replied that one famous line which I believe is the most famous of all Christian passages of all time:

    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    To reiterate, the early Apostles and disciples were Christians because of their faith in the Person of Yeshua the Messiah, and His Cross Work – just like any one is saved today or has been saved from Adam to the last man who ever will be born. The “Old” Testament sacrifices where but a type of the one Final and Fully Efficacious Sacrifice of the Messiah Yeshua!

    To your second question, Rabbi, just as I stated this already several times, there is NO controversy arguing FOR animal sacrifices in the Christian assembly that I am aware of. The event in Acts 21 is unique, and was done by sincere men (except Paul who let his ZEAL carry him away) who were following their tradition. For example, the book of Acts records “When it was the hour of prayer, Peter and John ….” went to the Temple. Well, isn’t that natural? For all they knew, and for all I know now – the Temple was the place to pray – that is the place where Yeshua Himself said was “my Father’s house”. It was not as if Islam was coming out of Judaism, but rather, in the eyes of the Apostles and in my eye today, thousands of years removed, it is the continuation of the same Testimony of God – When I pray, I do not pray to Allah, I pray to the God of Abraham, Issac and of Jacob, when I read the Scriptures, I am reading the very same “old” testament that you have. Also, I must add one more verse if you will permit me 🙂

    Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Rom 10:4)

    I rest on the Finished Work of the Messiah that God has provided for me.

    (I have a feeling I haven’t quite answered your 2nd question well – its because I probably misunderstand your question – if so, can you please restate your question)


    • Thomas says:

      But isn’t that the point, what you wrote about how the disciples were Christians:

      “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

      If the disciples felt Jesus had died the final sacrifice, why did they bring sins? You cannot have it both ways- that they did not know the complete truth, but they were still Christians.

      If the standard for being Christian is belief in the atoning death of Jesus, the disciples of Jesus, who clearly did not believe his death was a full atonement (otherwise they would not have continued offering sacrifices), could not be called Christians. But you tell me they could be called Christians because they did not know everything. Very well and good, but it does not change that in their ‘less enlightened’ stage, they did not believe that Jesus was the final sacrifice. And thus, according to John 3, they would not be called Christians.

  19. Thomas says:

    But isn’t that the point, what you wrote about how the disciples were Christians:

    “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    If the disciples felt Jesus had died the final sacrifice, why did they bring sacrifices? You cannot have it both ways- that they did not know the complete truth, but they were still Christians.

    If the standard for being Christian is belief in the atoning death of Jesus, the disciples of Jesus, who clearly did not believe his death was a full atonement (otherwise they would not have continued offering sacrifices), could not be called Christians. But you tell me they could be called Christians because they did not know everything. Very well and good, but it does not change that in their ‘less enlightened’ stage, they did not believe that Jesus was the final sacrifice. And thus, according to John 3, they would not be called Christians.

  20. James says:

    @ Thomas

    Accepted. Let me rephrase your question back to you – what you are asking me is similar to me asking you

    If Israel knew first hand the deliverance of the Lord God, why did they serve the Baal and Asherah? (Many times simultaneously)

    As I replied to the esteemed Rabbi, Acts 21 is a unique incident in the Bible – it was not the norm or a pattern. Acts, you will realize, was written way right on the heels of a tumultuous events of the Messiah’s death and resurrection and ascension to heaven. The Apostles are still trying to understand the implications of all that the Messiah said. One of them even unknowingly asked the resurrected Messiah, and not recognizing who HE was, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” (referring to the Crucifixion of the Messiah).

    To say this again. Acts 21 animal sacrifice is a one off incident in the New Testament – I feel trying to argue against this point is a proverbial clutching at the straws. The entire Christian community (which unfortunately, and sadly will not take the Cake for unity of thought) is at least united that when we go to Assembly worship, we do not carry a sacrificial animal with us. (You cannot blame me for trying a little humor once in a while:-) )

    • Thomas says:

      James, I think the rabbi here raises a good point. In the OT, when the Israelites worship idols, the very same leaders in the very same text condemn their actions as idolatry- thus, these first people who were at Sinai may have committed idolatry, but they are corrected. So this same source which says the Israelites commited idolatry – committed a sin. We do not rely on later generations to tell us that they sinned- those in the same generation said they sinned. The golden calf is identified as wrong in the same instance where it occurred (ex. 32)

      This has nothing to do with historical-criticism, or who wrote what. It is an issue of those closest to Jesus believing what Christianity would consider heresy, but these first disciples were doing something intentionally, and for theological reasons- they were doing what they believed was the right thing to do. Conversely, the israelite worship of idols is never condoned or supported- it is condemned.

      In the NT, you – and christianity – are NOT at all on the same page as the early disciples who knew Jesus. You do not deny this- you simply try to explain WHY the only people who met Jesus were wrong in a central theological tenet. They clearly did not recognize his death as an all-encompassing atonement, which as you cite from John 3, seems to be the standard for what constitutes a Christian.

      In the OT, Judaism does claim to be on the same page as the early Israelites. We recognize that the Israelites sinned, but the difference is we are not the ones saying they were “in the dark” without later revelation- not only are they corrected by their contemporaries in the same instances where they sin, but their actions in that time are identified as wrong, and condemned for readers.


  21. James
    Just because we both believe in certain books (I in the OT – you in the OT and NT) doesn’t mean that our beliefs are equally valid. There is a complete faith structure supporting my belief in the OT – a whole series of beliefs that comes BEFORE my belief in the OT that God established so tha I can believe in the OT – what compells you to believe in either the OT or the NT?
    As for your verse – the OT never says that blood was an absolute requirement to begin with – so I am not looking for a verse that will say blood is “no longer required” – in any case try Ezekiel 33:10-20

  22. James
    Israel’s worship of idols was recognized by her spiritual leaders to be a departure from the faith they carried from Sinai – The apostle’s offering of sacrifices in teh Temple was viewed as a central feature of their service of God – to the degree that it symbolized to them their loyalty to the law.
    Let me explain something – I don’t need this story to prove my point – the disciples of Jesus are not authorities in my spiritual world. I am raising this point to demonstrate to you – that your own beliefs rest on a flimsy foundation – I am pointing out to you that those who saw Jesus and heard him teach – would be considered heretics by every denomination of modern Christianity – what exactly is the basis of your faith?

  23. Maala says:

    I mean verses where the Hebrews worship of idols is condemned by its leaders

  24. Wherever the Scripture records Israel’s worshipping of idols – it records the prophet’s condemnation of that worship – are you surprised that I consider the prophets to be Israel’s spiritual leaders?

  25. Maala says:

    I’m not doubting the significance of your argument, or that the prophets are the leaders, but i just don’t know where these examples are- where can i find them. I guess other than the golden calf, there are other examples in the pentateuch? And later also?

  26. James says:

    @ Rabbi Blumenthal,

    I am catching this in the middle of a break….arrows flying everywhere 🙂

    Will you not agree that Israel’s worship of idols is AGAINST God’s instructions where as the Acts 21 sacrifice is a symbolic of something that was prescribed. OK go ahead and make fun of me for throwing that Baal and Asherah line in there 🙂 – I will forgive you, and don’t you know that my prayers include you too now? But the point remains that the symbolic and culturally permissible sacrifice is not IDOLATORY. The “New” Testament never fails to call a sin a sin. It does not allow license, which is what you are contending for.

    What I don’t get is your repeated push to make Acts 21 the central thing of Christianity. What I call that is a straw-man. You do not make a rule out of an aberration. I tried to explain that it was a one off incident, never again repeated. If it were a PILLAR of Christianity – then such references would have been everywhere. Its uniqueness is a testament to the fact that this was OK for the time, which was later corrected. Why hate the writer of Hebrews?

    Take to you later….

  27. James says:

    @ everyone else,

    for those asking about the centrality of blood as the basis of remission – I refer you to Volume Two of Dr. Michael Brown’s very excellent treatment of it in Section 3.10, 3.11 (pages 103 thru 126) from his Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections Vol. 2
    This is a verse by verse rebuttal. I would be happy to scan the pages in but I do not wish to break any copyright laws.

    Blessings to all in the name of the Messiah

  28. James says:

    @ Maala

    The you will need to only look at 1st and 2nd Kings to get your answer – 90% of the Israelite kings were Idolators, and let the nation into most wicked ways of the pagan nations around them. King Ahaz takes the cake – he even went so far as sacrificing his own son in fire.

    Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, following the detestable ways of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 2 Kings 16: 2,3

    I don’t say this to try to trump over the Rabbi or score a point. But I simply wanted to answer your honest question. And I agree with the Rabbi that the Godly prophets spoke out against them.

    • Maala says:

      Thanks for your reply, but that is not quite what I was looking for. I was looking for examples from the first group of Jews in the desert after the exodus from egypt.

      I did find some examples. With the calf, exodus 32 says only 3 thousand people did the worshipping, only a small fraction of the group, which the Levites punished, and Numbers 25, where Moses instructs the judges to punish those bowing to Baal Peor. Those do seem to be good examples that when the Jews bowed to Baal or to other Gods, their own leaders rebuked them. Thanks anyway.

  29. Thomas says:

    James, no one denies the Israelites worshipped idols. The point you are trying to make is rationalizing how you (ie. Christianity) claim to know more about Jesus than the people who actually knew him. And why you believe Jesus was the final sacrifice when his actual followers didn’t seem to think so.

    You use the sins of Israel as an example, because after all, here the Jews are in 2011 saying they know more than the Israelites who actually met G-d at Sinai.

    The worship of idols by Israel was immediately condemned by their contemporaries- it was never condoned by the prophets and leaders of that same time! Therefore, we in 2011 are not the ones saying “the first Israelites were wrong”- they themselves recognized their errors (the fact that they erred many times is irrelevant). So the actions of Israel in the past by worshipping idols, golden calf, etc. were recognized as wrong by their contemporaries and leaders- not by us.

    This, in contrast to the NT, where the disciples (ie. the first Israelites in your comparison) were “continually in the temple” (luke 24:53) – they never considered their actions to be sinful, but rather a central and required part of their worship. They never ‘repented’ from bringing sacrifices, and the only time we are told they are wrong is by people who came long after them.

    James, you are imposing your Christian theology on what the disciples actually believed- the NT makes it clear that the original disciples of jesus were observant Jews who continued temple use after Jesus’ ascension. Your belief in ‘progressive revelation’ allows you to just claim they were “in the dark” and instead say Paul had more authority here than they did.

    The only way you can justify why the followers of Jesus didn’t see him as the final sacrifice is by saying they lacked the “progressive revelation”- a convenient, but pretty flimsy excuse.
    Jews, conversely, are not imposing their beliefs on the first Israelites- the first Israelites never worshipped idols out of conviction, but desperation, and they were always criticized by their own leaders (ie. Moses) for doing so. Thus, Judaism is not arrogantly claiming that Jews of today somehow know more about G-d than the Israelites who ‘met’ Him at Sinai.

    Thus, the fact that Israel sinned is irrelevant. It recognized that it sinned. The first disciples of jesus never saw their actions as sinning, but rather as central and imperative.

  30. Thomas says:

    And as for your assertion that the disciples bringing sacrifices is an isolated incident:
    Luke 24:53 says the disciples were “continually in the temple blessing G-d.” That certainly includes sacrifices. it was not a ‘pillar’ of Christianity because christianity had already done away with the sacrifices and installed Jesus instead. But the point is that for those who actually knew Jesus, yes, temple sacrifices were a central pillar.

    The Int’l Standard Bible encyclopedia gives some background:

    1/ Acts 2:45 indicates that the disciples attended the temple “day by day.” Any repeated visits there would have included sacrifices.
    2/ Acts 3:1 says Peter & John went to the temple at the 9th hour. The 9th hour is 3pm, and that is when the evening sacrifice would be offered.
    3/ “The persecution of Stephen stemmed, at least partially, from charges that he spoke against the Temple (acts 6:13). Until this point Acts does not indicate that the disciples voiced any criticisms of the temple, and the previous persecutions (Acts 4-5) had nothing to do with the temple.

    Anyway, the key takeaway is that for the first disciples, the temple sacrifices was not an isolated event, but a central part of their worship:

    “Thus it is safe to infer that for the earliest disciples, faith in Jesus did not rule out participation in the sacrificial cultus.”

    • James says:

      Playing the proverbial devil’s advocate here – let’s for a moment say what you are saying is correct, and that the early disciples of Yeshua were following the correct Jewish practice of expiating sin by blood sacrifice – then that leaves YOU in a deeper theological hole than me because you are not practicing the true Jewish practice – and I would really wonder if I had forgiveness of sins myself if I were you. Mind you, winning an argument is nothing compared to the loss of the Soul. I pray that you will consider the matter of redemption of your soul seriously, and I am praying for you. I’d rather that I lose a thousand debate and see you saved, than the other way around. You think I have fun going back and forth back and forth?

      Coming back to what you wrote – Its quite a leap, and a leap in the dark mind you, – for you to assume that “continually in the temple blessing God” constituted animal sacrifice. Sorry that argument fails at too many levels. You are imposing your idea on the Scripture. is a great resource, even if you oppose the view Dr. Brown is presenting. I highly recommend it.

      • Thomas says:

        James, I’m trying to get at some facts here with you, but all I see from you is repeats of your beliefs, re-worded. You are not addressing the BASIS for your beliefs, but just telling me WHAT you believe.

        How can you possibly say I am imposing my view on scripture when you are yet to produce a SINGLE verse from the OT saying that the death of the messiah is a prequisite for atonement? I gave you about 20 verses, and the rabbi gave you ezekiel 33. You are just giving me your opinion, repeated again and again. Where does the OT say no blood = no atonement? Where does the OT say atonement will come from belief in the messiah?

        Also, how the fact that the disciples brought offerings put me in a theological hole?

        Is it because they believed that the temple sacrifices bring atonement? Judaism does not deny that the temple provided atonement…clearly the OT gave so much info on the sacrifices for a reason- because it did provide atonement- but you are making a big unwarranted jump from “sacrifices atone” to “nothing but sacrifices atone.”

        Once again, the sacrifices do provide atonement- the disciples of jesus saw this, and the Jews saw this. But when the temple was destroyed, Christianity said the replacement was Jesus, and Judaism said the replacement was repentance. We are in agreement so far, yes? However, in terms of evidence for these beliefs, the OT teaches again and again that repentance will atone. Never, however, does the OT say belief in the messiah will atone. The OT never teaches that the ONLY method of atonement is blood- but that is the basis of Christian belief- that without blood, there is no atonement. My only question is- where is the OT evidence for this?

        Please James, I want to see OT evidence for these claims.

      • Thomas says:

        As for the NT evidence for the disciples bringing sacrifices:

        You may not find it convincing, but the fact that the disciples were constantly at the temple, at precisely the times when sacrifices were to be made, is indirect evidence that they were there for sacrifices. It may not be 100%, but it is stronger than the alternative you are suggesting.

        Just a couple quick references:

        “To be sure, the early Christians did not reject the cult while it stood; Acts reports the early disciples were assiduous in it…”- Jacob Neusner, the Idea of purity in ancient Judaism

        “They still observe the Law of Moses. The reference here is to the laws repecting circumcision, sacrifices, distinctions of meats and days, festivals, etc. It may seem remarkable that they should still continue to observe these rites, since it was the manifest design of Christianity to abolish them”- Barnes notes on the New Testament

  31. James says:

    Thomas I am glad you asked : so here’s the Scripture

    Lev 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’

    Let me repeat the part I want you to look at –

    I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul

    Editorial comment: James waits on the sidelines for the “night sky to light up in response” with a special pleading to tell me that this was not talking about atonement at all but rather a regulation not to eat blood.

  32. James
    In any case – I am not making Acts 21 a “central thing” of Christianity – You are tryingto make teh repalcement of the Temple sacrifices a “central thing” of Christianity – Acts 21 demonstrates that those who lived with Jesus would disagree with you

  33. Thomas says:

    Oh, how did I know it would be good ole’ Lev 17:11. Really, James??

    James, firstly, kindly explain to me how “I have given you blood as atonement” means “nothing but blood atones.” Do you really really really believe one single line, in a chapter which deals with the prohibition of consuming blood (says the NIV-, actually means what you claim it to mean? You will be hard-pressed to find many scholars outside of apologetics (and even then, not as many as it used to be) who actually believe that. This is a perfect example of taking one verse which doesn’t even say what you claim it does, in a chapter discussing something else, as the central basis for Christian belief (and of course, ignoring the dozens of clear and repetitive chapters discussing repentance).

    James, if you read that chapter on its own 100 years before Jesus, you would NEVER come away from it saying “ooh, verse 11 means you can not get atonement without blood.” You would take it to say- ah, in the blood sacrifice, it is the blood which causes atonement, or “blood can atone.” There is NO basis for suggesting this means that ONLY blood can produce atonement.

    READ the surrounding verse, friend:

    10 “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.[c] 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”

    Once again, I know that you would never read lev 17 v. 11 and interpret it the way you do without having a background in Christian theology. And even then, you’re standing pretty lonely if you try to suggest Lev 17:11 actually is saying this.

  34. James says:

    Language has lost all meaning!

    @ Thomas – sure I know the surrounding verses – I was the one who posted the verse to begin with! But why are you in a hurry to run away from the verse. Meditate on it day and night my friend – for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. must mean SOMETHING or else the Lord God would not have put it in there, HE would have just asked Moses to write – Don’t eat blood. Language has meaning!

    @ Rabbi – I once heard a very good line about comparative religious studies – the speaker who was talking about Islam and giving a primer on Islam to his Christian audience said wisely, “If you reduce any religion to nothing – you can be guaranteed that you have not understood it”. If my faith were to rest on my debating skills, I would be a Hindu by now and Buddhist the next. My Faith rests on the Finished Work of Yeshua the Messiah. He is the WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE, no one comes to the FATHER but by Yeshua. My destiny is settled – I live with Eternity in my life right now. I pray that you will find that same way. Yeshua is one of you – after all!

    Anyone can have the last word here – I do not plan on updating my replies. Thanks for having me on your blog. Its been a very enlightening encounter.


    Peace in Yeshua’s name.

    • Thomas says:

      James, I ask again, and I do hope for an answer:

      How do you justify translating “blood can atone” into “only blood can atone?”

      It absolutely means something: blood does atone in the context of temple sacrifices- where did I ever deny this? There are many laws surrounding blood offerings- such as unblemished, on the altar, at the hands of a priest.

      BUT (!!!) it is never mentioned as the ONLY means of atonement- NEVER, nor is this even hinted at. It is one method of achieving atonement. Do you not see the difference?

      Moses DID write “don’t eat blood”- did you even read the verse right before and right after 11???

      v. 10- “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people”

      v. 12- Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”

      So you are suggesting that while v. 10 and v. 12 both discuss the prohibition of consuming blood, somehow v. 11 talks about something completely different? Verse 10 and 12 explain 11- blood is forbidden for consumption because it is used for atonement purposes. You are reading FAR beyond the text.

      James, my friend, you cannot close your mind to inquiry when it gets uncomfortable. Approach the OT with an open mind, not as a Christian with a Christian mindset. You and I both know you would never read 17:11 the way you did had it not been first explained to you by the new testament.

    • naaria says:

      Jesus was not a once-and-for-all “sacrifice”, since you are (since there is no “Temple”), according to Romans 12 and other places, still required to “present your bodies as living sacrifices”, worship “God with the sacrifices of your lips”. So some of the same verses the Rabbi and others used are also used by NT writers. Jesus knew about the efficacy of fasting, prayer, and repentance, without any animal sacrifice, for the gospels quote the Tanakh where it states that God loves mercy more than sacrifices. Jesus is supposed to be a priest of the “gentile” Melchezedek order (the one Abe saved and refused a reward from?), so his job is still to offer “supplications” to God. But the temple curtain was torn so that no one requires a priest and no intermediary is required to come to God, OUR FATHER (not just Jesus’s father). why put idolatrous, stumbling blocks before God’s children as if God had a distain for humans like Zeus and other pagan gods?

      Depending which gospel you feel has it correct on this point, Jesus also ate the Passover meal. If he did not eat it or did not eat it correctly, the author may be suggesting why he was not passed over, which would also suggest why the temple was not cleansed. It is a mystery why one who supposedly believed sacrifices were unnecessary, obsolete, ineffectual, and only temporary, would “choose” a martyrdom and an unbibiblical, pagan-styled sacrifice as one of the permanent centerpieces of his theology. Especially when he makes it a major stumbling block and a “spit in the the face” of all those God-fearers that he supposedly was a messiah for and when it presents him as a failed messiah and also as a false prophet.

      We will be praying for your soul and for the Light of God to shine upon you. Let the Peace offered by the One God comfort your troubled mind.

  35. James
    Of-course language has meaning -and in the context of an animal sacrifice it is the blood and not the other parts of the body that effect the atonement – that is why we can eat the other parts of the body but not the blood – it is reserved for a specific purpose. But there is no justification to stretch this concept to say that repentance does not work.
    When you say that if your faith were to rest on your debating skills – you would be constantly changing religions – how do you avoid this problem by relying on your personal experience? How do you knwo that your personal experience is superior to the experience of the members of any other faith?
    Instead of relying on debating skills or experience – try relying on truth – it works

  36. James: Re: response to all comments; In the context of the Torah, human sacrifice was forbiden such as in God and his condemnation of the pratice of the golden calf where children werre placed in the arms and burnt to death by the fire stoked within the calf while the beating of drums was employed so the parents wouldn’t hear the cries of the child.
    God provided prescribed Kosher animal sacrifices, as a peace offering for attonement, forgiveness wasn’t achieved simply by the act itself; The temple provided the direct connection to God and the animal sacrifices were not the only offerings brought to the priest; Atonement can only be achieved through repentance, the sacrifices were to show the sincereity of that gesture of repentence, and the asking of forgiveness.
    Micah 6:6-8 Clearly What God asks, is to walk humbly in loving kindness, and follow his statutes.
    He clearly states that there was no savior either before him nor after him, nor will he send someone Hosea 13:4 Is 43:11 Is 45:21,22
    Again God reiterates what he expects from us, and to what will bring salvation as outlined in scripture Ezekiel 18:21-24 Ezekiel 33:10-16 Genesis 4:7 Exd 15:2
    God warns against viewing him in the form of any likeness ie: { human } and declares that it is considered idoltary Deut 4:15-19 Deut. 5:7-10 noting in Deut the commandment regarding those who observe his LAWS and fianally the warning given by God in Deut. 11:27-28
    The NT in Galations 2:16 and 3:1-5 clearly speaks out against the LAW and in defiance of God and his word prescribes acceptance of viewing jesus as the direct likeness of God being justified merely by being born of a woman adherant to the law, having been born out of impregnation susposably by God, as not to infer corruption by mans sin; this in itself is outright blantant idolarty.
    Question? When you pray do you visualize God in the likeness of the man jesus? When you look upon the cross? isn’t it the effigy of the graven image of jesus? Exodus 20:4
    Isaiah 42:10-13 42:8 God does not provide a mediator between himself and man, we alone must answer to God.
    The word that christian bibles translate as [ LAW ] and claims is contrary to us, and cannot lead us to walk justly in loving kindness on the path God prescribed for us is: תורה { Torah } Then if what christianity claims is the basis for mankinds salvation too; no longer has any basis whatsoever according to any or all of its claims, based on the fact that it rejects the LAW ie: { Torah } as having by admission of words contained in its own nt text, and therefore renders itself and Judaism alike null and void.
    The insidious conjecture and bickering does nothing to accomplish fact.
    James, Like most, your stance bears witness only to yourself, just as did jesus, mohammad and many others alike who in fact can only give account to themselves, God gave account to milllions at mount Siani not to just one or a few, God left his Torah to bear witness to everyone is it any wonder that the largest chapter in the bible Psalms 119 is dedicated entirely to the Torah { LAW }.

  37. Larry Cohen says:

    I really enjoyed the above discussion . I must say this
    to my Jewish friend in the most respectful loving way.
    There is a real flaw in your argument .
    You are discussing what it says in the Old Testament.
    But you fail to mention that in the first century
    they would sacrifice Why did they feel “blood sacrifice”
    was a concept “unknown to the Jews” .
    What has happened is the Jews ” abandoned”
    the sacrifices but Jesus appearing in the first century had
    to ” maintain the Jewish law ” (Not conflict with it as you argue)
    and in contradiction to what you argue must maintain the tradition.
    So your argument that it was “alien to the Jews and conflicting
    to prophecy could not have been true.

  38. Larry
    I don’t know what you are talking about – Every Jew knows that there are blood sacrifices commanded by God – our only point is that not only was Jesus not one of them – but he is the antithesis of all of them

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