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Question 160

Q: How do modern day Jews—those who don’t accept Christ as Messiah—resolve the atonement issue?

If sacrifices are necessary for atonement but there is no Temple at which to perform them, how are they to make atonement for themselves?    

Asked by: Bill


A: Bill, thanks so much for your question. It’s a good one. In fact, I took the time to call a friend of mine.

He is a Jewish man who came to the conclusion that Jesus is the Messiah. And now he works with Jewish people helping them to understand that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. So, I asked him your question.

He said most contemporary Jews are quite secular and because of that, they believe that no blood sacrifices are needed, but in the place of sacrifices they have repentance, prayer, and good works and that, therefore, is the substitute for the sacrifices.

The whole problem that the Jewish people have of being away from the temple and having no place to offer sacrifices is not really that unique. If you remember back in Babylonian times, when the Israelites were in Babylon for 70 years, they had no temple. And so the idea came up that it was their good works, their repentance, their prayers, and their own personal lives that become the substitute for the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

There was one problem with this, though: they didn’t have the assurance that their sacrifices were being accepted. That’s always a problem. All that they can do is to die hoping that those sacrifices will meet God’s requirements, but there’s no way in this world to find out whether or not they will. That’s why it’s so necessary for us to try to help our Jewish friends to come to faith in Jesus Christ—to realize that there is one sacrifice—one perfect sacrifice that takes away sin.

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