When we read the Bible, we know that God is a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God. We also know that he promises to punish the guilty, guilty being anyone who purposefully rejects and ignores God’s instructions.
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“So when I disobey God, does that make me a guilty person, deserving of punishment?”
Yes, it does.
“But, but, but…wait a minute! I am a Believer: I accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as my savior, so I can’t be guilty because he forgives my sins.”
Well, actually, no- that’s not accurate. Only God forgives sins; yes, Yeshua did say that he was authorized when he walked the earth to forgive sins, but that was only to prove he was (and still is) the Messiah. Believing in Yeshua as the Messiah does not automatically cleanse you of sin.
“So, then my religious leaders lied to me?”
Yes, and no, because they were only telling you what they had been told.
Why do you think Yeshua had to die? It was so that by his sacrifice we could be forgiven by God, in accordance with the sacrificial system God defined in Leviticus. Yeshua replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem, that’s all. We still need to confess our sins, repent of them, and ask God to forgive us in Yeshua’s name, i.e. by means of his sacrifice on our behalf.
“OK, so when I sin, I am guilty, and still need to confess, repent, and ask God to forgive me, which he will do because I have accepted Yeshua as my Messiah and ask forgiveness by means of his sacrifice. Is that right?”
Now you have it!
Sin is something no one can escape or completely overcome, even if the sins we commit are accidental. Before Yeshua, when the temple existed, we could sacrifice there to be forgiven, but only there- God commanded a sacrifice had to be made only where he placed his name (Exodus 20:24). When the temple was utterly destroyed (around 70 CE) there was no place we could go to be forgiven. This is where Yeshua’s sacrifice comes into play: as the Messiah, God’s anointed, his sacrifice replaced the animal sacrifice that had to be made at the temple. Yeshua’s sacrifice is acceptable to God anywhere, anytime, for all time.
“So what about the Jews? I know the Messianic Jews have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, but what all the other Jews?”
Yes, that’s a problem. The mainstream Jewish population rejects Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send because, for no other reason, they have been taught to reject him. It’s not really that much different than with most Christians, who have been taught they can reject the Torah commandments.
Jews aren’t the only ones left out of salvation by rejecting Yeshua; many, many Christians who believe they are saved are not because they have been taught to reject God’s commandments, or that they do not have to confess and repent of their sins because they are automatically saved by believing in Jesus.
It seems they don’t realize that believing Jesus is the Messiah isn’t enough. C’mon, people! Every demon in hell believes Jesus is the Messiah!
The sacrificial system requires confession of sin (once you have been made aware of it), repentance (you have to feel bad about having committed that sin), and the shedding of innocent blood to cleanse the sin (Hebrews 9:22.) When the temple existed, that is where the sacrifice had to be performed. As I explained, Yeshua’s sacrifice replaced the animal sacrifice and, as the Messiah, his sacrifice is acceptable anywhere, anytime.
After the destruction of the temple, in accordance with the Torah (do you hear this, my Jewish brothers and sisters?) forgiveness of sin can only be accomplished through Yeshua, the Messiah.
The teachings of Yeshua are, of course, also very important, and what he taught was exclusively from and about the Torah laws. He did not change or replace a single stroke of the pen, but what he did do was to explain the spiritual meaning of the laws, which is called the Remes.
Before Yeshua, the Pharisees only taught the plain language or literal meaning of the law, which is called the P’shat. In other words, the Pharisees taught performance-based salvation: do exactly what the law says to do and that is all you need. Yeshua taught the deeper, spiritual understanding of the law: just doing the right thing wasn’t enough, you had to feel it in your heart!
Just like God said in Jeremiah 31:33, the New Covenant will be written on our hearts.
The Torah teaches us what we must know to do, and Yeshua taught us what we must feel in our hearts. The Torah says do not kill, Yeshua says do not even hate; the Torah says do not commit adultery, Yeshua says do not even lust with your eyes.
Can you see? Yeshua didn’t just teach us what the Torah says, but what the Torah means!
This is why Yeshua came the first time: to teach us more than just what to do, but how to feel, and to replace the need to bring an animal to the temple for forgiveness.
The next time Yeshua comes will be to complete God’s plan for the redemption of his people, all those who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and been faithfully obedient (as best as we can) to God’s instructions in the Torah.
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I have written 4 books regarding God, religion, prayer, and (most recently) debunking the traditional lies about Yeshua that both Judaism and Christianity have proliferated over the millennia, so please consider getting these for yourself. They are available on Amazon Books or use the links on my website.
That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!