The Jewish People and Sacrifice

The Jewish People and Sacrifice

The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD proved to be one of the most significant events in the history of Judaism. The house of God standing among His own people with its implied invitation to fellowship with Him was ever a token of his favour toward them. Its loss, its ruin, its removal under the sovereign hand of God must mean, on the other hand, disfavour. Nowhere is that truth captured for us more clearly than when Jesus, descending from the Mount of Olives, looked over the city and wept over it and warned of what would shortly overtake them because they knew not the day of their visitation. Since the destruction of the temple the Jewish people have made a point of gathering at the Western Wall, the one remaining part of the house of God, to plead for God to restore his favour and to come again with his blessing. And that place of prayer has come to be known as the Wailing Wall. Yet it is hardly likely that the Jew, pleading for the restoration of God's house and the return of his favour, would see the implications of that loss in the way that we as Christians see it.

No Temple. No Sacrifice.

The destruction of the temple meant not only the cessation of sacrifices but the cessation of that God-ordained religion given to Moses, and so to remove the temple with all its ritual was the removing of the very heart of the Jewish religion. In a very real sense we could speak of the Old Testament religion as sacrifice-centred and, in like manner, we can speak of Christianity as a sacrifice-centred. But rabbinic Judaism, which sought to continue Judaism without sacrifice is, of necessity, a radically different religion.

The writer to the Hebrews puts it: "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin". Aware of this, some Christians understandably can hardly believe that the Judaism today is a religion without sacrifice. We must also remember that the previous destruction of the temple and the captivity in Babylon no doubt had laid some foundations for the changes that would be necessary in the religious pattern when the temple was destroyed. In Babylon the Jews experienced just the same problem and, whilst they were exiled from the land, a pattern of religion had to be formed without the ritual of priesthood and sacrifice. It is generally understood, of course, that synagogue worship developed at that time. We deal with this in Jewish People and the Synangogue.

From Sacrifice to Prayer

It is interesting and instructive to note how much of the basic pattern of synagogue worship derives from the temple order. For instance, the three set times of prayer

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