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Jesus Loves His Enemies…and Then Kills Them All

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Danios

This article is part 5 of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series. Please read my “disclaimer”, which explains my intentions behind writing this article: The Understanding Jihad Series: Is Islam More Likely Than Other Religions to Encourage Violence?

Anti-Muslim demagoguery relies on the demonization of the Prophet Muhammad, who is characterized as being especially violent and warlike.  This idea has certainly gained currency in the “Judeo-Christian West”.  When it is pointed out that the Biblical prophets–including Moses, Joshua, Samson, Saul, David, among many others–were far more violent and warlike (and even engaged in religiously sanctioned genocide), anti-Muslim pro-Christian ideologues will respond by disregarding or downplaying the Old Testament and will instead focus on the personality of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Didn’t Jesus preach nonviolence and “loving one’s enemies”?  The anti-Muslim ideologues use this idea to assault the religion of Islam with.  For example, the Catholic apologist Robert Spencer compares Islam to Christianity by juxtaposing carefully selected quotes from Jesus to Islamic texts.  In his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Spencer includes a “Muhammad vs Jesus” section.  He cites the following sayings of Jesus in the Bible:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

“If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”

“Blessed are the peacemakers”

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”

“But love your enemies, and do good”

These “peaceful” verses of the Bible are compared to select violent-sounding Quranic verses.  The violent verses of the Bible “don’t count” and are craftily excluded from the comparison (“that’s just the Old Testament!”).  To tighten the noose, peaceful verses of the Quran are also excluded from the heavily biased analysis: these “don’t count” since they are supposedly from when Muhammad was still in Mecca.

To understand the last point, one needs to have a basic understanding of the Prophet Muhammad’s biography: he first declared his prophethood in the city of Mecca.  Only a very small segment of society accepted him (mostly the weak and poor), whereas the masses–especially the powerful leaders of the city–not only rejected him but actively persecuted him.  The chapters of the Quran that were revealed during this period are known as the Meccan chapters.  Eventually, Muhammad fled to the city of Medina, whose people accepted him as their ruler.  He went from persecuted prophet to ruler and commander-in-chief of a fledgling city-state.

The anti-Muslim ideologues claim that the peaceful and tolerant verses of the Quran come from when Muhammad was weak and persecuted in Mecca.  These verses are “canceled”, they argue, by the violent-sounding verses in the Medinan chapters.  Robert Spencer writes in  his book:

Islamic theology divides the Qur’an into “Meccan” and “Medinan” suras [chapters]. The Meccan ones come from the first segment of Muhammad’s career as a prophet, when he simply called the Meccans to Islam.  Later, after he fled to Medina, his positions hardened.  The Medinan suras [are]…filled with matters of law and ritual–and exhortations to jihad warfare against unbelievers.  The relatively tolerant verses quoted above and others like them generally date from the Meccan period, while those with a more violent and intolerant edge are mostly from Medina. [1]

The Islamophobes portray Muhammad as opportunistic: when he was weak and under the rule of the pagans, he called for peace.  Without being in a position of authority, Muhammad was hardly in a position to do otherwise.  As soon as he came to power, however, he waged “jihad warfare” (what a strange phrase!) against them. This is why, they argue, the peaceful verses of the Quran simply “don’t count”.

The merits of Spencer’s claims about the Prophet Muhammad will be critiqued in a future article of this Series.  For now, however, we will demonstrate that, using such logic, it is equally possible to invalidate the “peaceful” sayings of Jesus Christ.  While he was a persecuted prophet, Jesus advocated nonviolence and peaceful resistance.  He was hardly in a position to do otherwise, right?  Once in power, however, this changes dramatically and violent warfare becomes the new modus operandi.

The Messiah

Just as Muhammad’s biography can be divided into a Meccan and Medinan period, so too can Jesus’s lifestory be divided into a First and Second Coming.  (Likewise can Moses’ lifestory be divided into pre- and post-Exodus: prior to Exodus, Moses was largely peaceful, but after Exodus, Moses became the leader of the emerging Jewish state–and subsequently engaged in holy wars and even genocide against other nations.)  In the First Coming of Christ, only a small segment of society (mostly from the weak and poor) accepted Jesus, whereas the leaders and authorities persecuted him.  During this time period, Jesus advised his followers to engage in nonviolent resistance only, perhaps even pacifism.  Jesus advised his followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  According to the Bible, this didn’t stop his Jewish and Roman persecutors from crucifying him.

Yet, the Second Coming of Christ is a central theological belief of Christianity.  When Jesus returns to earth, the gloves will be off: no longer will he practice nonviolence or pacifism.  Enemies will be mercilessly killed, not loved.  In this manner, Jesus will fulfill the messianic prophecies found in the Bible–both in the Old and New Testaments.  To Christians, Jesus is the Messiah (the Greek word “Christ” has the same meaning as the Hebrew word “Messiah”)–the same Messiah that the Jews had been in anticipation of.

It is important to understand how the concept of Messiah developed.  According to the Bible, Moses and his followers fled persecution in Egypt to find refuge in the land of Canaan.  They believed that God had bequeathed this land to them, which would come to be known as Israel. Unfortunately, there were already peoples who lived in Canaan, a problem that Moses and his followers rectified via military might.  The native Canaanites were subsequently occupied, exterminated, or run off their ancestral lands.  When the natives fought back, the Israelites attributed this to their innate and infernal hatred of the Jewish people.

After ruling the “promised land” for a time, the Israelites were themselves conquered by outsiders.  The Babylonian Empire captured the Kingdom of Judah and expelled the Jews.  Though the Israelites felt no remorse over occupying, slaughtering, and running off the native inhabitants of Canaan, they were mortified when they received similar (albeit milder) treatment.  In exile, the Jews prayed for vengeance, as recorded in a divine prayer in the Bible:

Psalm 137:8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.

137:9 Blessed is the one who grabs your babies and smashes them against a rock.

(We can hardly imagine the glee that an Islamophobe would feel had such a violent passage, one that blesses those who smash infidel babies against rocks, been found in the Quran instead of the Bible.)

It was during the time of exile that the Jewish concept of Messiah was first born.  Dutch historian Jona Lendering writes:

The word Messiah renders the Aramaic word mešîhâ’, which in turn renders the Hebrew mâšîah. In Antiquity, these words were usually translated into Greek as Christos and into Latin as Christus, hence the English word Christ. All these words mean simply ‘anointed one’, anointment being a way to show that a Jewish leader had received God’s personal help.

It was believed that the Messiah (the Anointed One) would receive God’s personal help against the enemies of Israel; the Messiah would defeat the Babylonians and reestablish the Jewish state of Israel.  Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, fulfilled this role by conquering Babylon and releasing the Jews from exile.  Israel Smith Clare writes:

After Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, had conquered Babylon, he issued an edict permitting the Jews to return to their own country and to rebuild the city and Temple of Jerusalem. [2]

Prof. Martin Bernal of Cornell University writes:

The first Messiah in the Bible was Cyrus, the king of Persia who released the Jews–at least those who wanted to leave–from Exile in Babylon. [3]

As for this passage in the Bible:

Psalm 137:8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.

137:9 Blessed is the one who grabs your babies and smashes them against a rock.

Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible comments on this verse:

This was Cyrus, who was chosen of God to do this work, and is therefore called happy, as being God’s agent in its destruction.

The Jews thereby returned to the promised land and rebuilt their nation.  According to Jewish tradition, however, this did not last long: the Roman Empire conquered the land, destroyed the Temple, and exiled the Jews once again.  As a result, as Lendering puts it, “the old prophecies [about Messiah] became relevant again.”  Although in Jewish tradition there is a messiah for each generation, there is also the Messiah, which is what is commonly thought of when we hear the word.  The Messiah would fulfill the task of destroying all of Israel’s enemies.

JewFaq.org says of the Messiah, which they spell as mashiach (emphasis is ours):

The mashiach will be a great political leader descended from King David (Jeremiah 23:5). The mashiach is often referred to as “mashiach ben David” (mashiach, son of David). He will be well-versed in Jewish law, and observant of its commandments (Isaiah 11:2-5). He will be a charismatic leader, inspiring others to follow his example. He will be a great military leader, who will win battles for Israel. He will be a great judge, who makes righteous decisions (Jeremiah 33:15).

KosherJudaism.org states:

The Messiah will defeat and conquer the enemies surrounding Israel.

The Second Coming of Christ

Around 4 B.C., a prophet by the name of Jesus was born.  He claimed to be the Messiah, and some Jews followed him.  The followers of Christ eventually split into numerous sects, and eventually one triumphed over all others.  These became what are today known as Christians.  As for the majority of Jews, they rejected Jesus.  Why? The Jews rejected (and continue to reject) Jesus because he did not fulfill the prophecies pertaining to the Messiah.  How could Jesus be the Messiah when he not only did not defeat or conquer Israel’s enemies, but he never even led an army into a single war?  On the contrary, didn’t Jesus preach nonviolence and “loving one’s enemies”?

Instead of rejecting these militaristic aspects of the Messiah, Christians attribute them to Jesus during his Second Coming.  No longer will Jesus be a weak and persecuted prophet.  Instead, he will hold governmental authority, and is depicted as powerful and mighty.  This Jesus will certainly not love his enemies or turn the other cheek to them. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus will wage violent warfare against his enemies, and he will mercilessly kill them all.

Many Christians talk about how Jesus Christ will bring peace to the world, once and for all.  But they often neglect to mention how this world “peace” is obtained.  It is only after slaughtering his opponents and subduing “the nations” (the entire world?) under the foot of the global Christian empire that the world will have “peace”.  Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible explains:

There shall be no more war; horses and chariots shall be no more used in a hostile way; but there shall be perfect peace, all enemies being destroyed, which agrees with Micah 2:3 Zechariah 9:10.

In other words, there will be peace for the simple reason that there will be nobody left to fight, all opponents having been slaughtered or subdued.   This world “peace” is the same “peace” that any conqueror dreams of: after utterly defeating and conquering all of one’s neighbors and enemies, what is there left but “peace”, insofar as the non-existence of violence?  In the accidentally insightful words of the Evangelist Wayne Blank: “Put another way, humans aren’t going to have anything left to fight about.”  Following conquest, a foreign occupier would obviously want the occupied peoples to be peaceful, as this would eliminate the nuisance of having to fight off freedom-fighters.  The absence of violence would allow the conquering force to effortlessly sustain its occupation.

The events of the Second Coming of Christ are found in the Bible, including the Book of Revelation–which is the last book in the New Testament.  Jesus will “judge and wage war” (Rev. 19:11), his robe will be “dipped in blood” (19:13), and he will be accompanied by “armies” (19:14) with which he will “strike down the nations” (19:15), including “the Gentiles” in general and “the nations that were opposed to him” in specific.  This will result in the “utter destruction of all his enemies”. Furthermore: “in his second coming[,] he will complete their destruction, when he shall put down all opposing rule, principality, and power.”

Once he conquers the infidels, Jesus “will rule them with an iron rod” (19:15).  Wayne Blank writes:

The good news is that The Return Of Jesus Christ is going to happen. The even better news is that this time He’s not coming to be sacrificed by the world, but to rule it, along with those who have been faithful and obedient to Him. The world is going to know true peace, and genuine justice, in a way that it has never known before…

How Will World Peace Happen?

…[This will] not [be] by pleading and debate, but with a rod of iron. Those who choose to love and obey Him will be loved, while those who choose to rebel and hate Him will know His wrath.

Jesus will “will release the fierce wrath of God” (19:15) on them, and “he shall execute the severest judgment on the opposers of his truth”.   Because of this, “every tribe on earth will mourn because of him” (Rev. 1:7), and they will “express the inward terror and horror of their minds, at his appearing; they will fear his resentment”.  Just as the people of Canaan were terrified by the Israelite war machine, so too would the unbelievers “look with trembling upon [Jesus]”.  This is repeated in the Gospels, that “the Son of man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn” (Matthew 24:30).  “All the nations of the world shall wail when he comes to judgment” and the enemies of Jesus “shall mourn at the great calamities coming upon them”.

Far from the meek prophet of the First Coming, Jesus on his return will command a very strong military force that will “destroy[] every ruler, authority, and power”.  Not only is this consistent with the legacy of conquests by the Biblical prophets, it is actually a fulfillment or completion of the task that Moses initiated: holy war and conquest in the name of God.  In First Corinthians (part of the New Testament) it is prophesied that instead of loving his enemies, Christ will subdue and humble them under his feet:

1 Corinthians 15:24 [Jesus] will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.

15:25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.

Pastor and Biblical scholar Ron Teed explains that Jesus Christ brought “comfort and salvation at His first coming” but will bring “vengeance on God’s enemies” during his Second Coming.  There are thus “two comings of Christ, the first to save, the second to judge”–yet in debates with Muslims it seems that Christians play up the First Coming and completely ignore the Second.  The popular Teed Commentaries explains how “vengeance” is for Christ’s enemies (the “unbelievers”) and “comfort” only for his followers (the believers):

The Messiah will bring both comfort and vengeance. He will take vengeance on God’s enemies and bring comfort to His people. This is a summary of the mission of Christ. He brought comfort and salvation at His first coming during His earthly ministry according to Luke…

However, He said nothing of taking vengeance on God’s enemies at that time, for that part of his mission will not be fulfilled till He returns triumphant…

[There are] two comings of Christ, the first to save, the second to judge.

In His First coming He did the things mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-2; in His Second Coming He will do the things in verses 2-3. When He returns He will bring judgment on unbelievers. This will be the day of God’s “vengeance.”

The ever popular Evangelical site GotQuestions.org sums it up nicely:

Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist.

Will the Real Messiah Please Stand Up?

Whereas the Second Coming of Christ is curiously forgotten in debates with Muslims, it is conveniently remembered during debates with Jews.  One of the primary (if not the primary) functions of the promised messiah in the Judeo-Christian tradition is, after all, vengeance against Israel’s enemies and global dominance.  Indeed, the entire concept of Messiah emerged following the conquest of Jewish lands with the subjugation and exile of its inhabitants.  The Messiah stood as hope for the redemption of Israel as well as revenge against her enemies.

Jewish polemical tracts against Christians reveal to us how militarism is a fundamental characteristic of the Messiah.  The Christian response in turn reveal how Jesus Christ will indeed be militaristic (during his Second Coming).  David Klinghoffer, an Orthodox Jewish author, writes in his book Why the Jews Rejected Jesus:

There were certainly those among [Jesus’] followers who saw him as the promised Messiah.  This was natural.  The first century produced messiahs the way our own time produces movie stars.  There was always a hot new candidate for the role emerging from obscurity, whose glory faded either as he was slaughtered by the Romans or as his followers lost interest when he failed to produce the goods promised by the prophets. [4]

“The goods” refer to the military conquest of Israel’s enemies and world domination.  The fact that Jesus failed to produce these “goods” proves that he is not the promised messiah.  Klinghoffer continues:

Let him do what the “son of man,” the promised Messiah, had been advertised as being destined to do from Daniel back through Ezekiel and Isaiah and the rest of the prophets.  Let him rule as a monarch, his kingship extending over “all peoples, nations, and languages.”  Let him return the exiles and build the Temple and defeat the oppressors and establish universal peace, as the prophets also said…

Let Jesus come up with the real messianic goods–visible to all rather than requiring us to accept someone’s assurance that, for example, he was born in Bethlehem–and then we’ll take him seriously. [5]

This point is reiterated in his book numerous times:

Hearing Jesus preach, a Jew might reasonably have crossed his arms upon his chest and muttered, “Hm, intriguing, but let’s see what happens.”  After all, the scriptures themselves common-sensically defined a false prophet as someone whose prophecies fail to come true.  According to Deuteronomy, this was the chief test of a prophet. [6]

Klinghoffer writes elsewhere:

The Hebrew prophets describe the elements of a messianic scenario that could not easily be overlooked: an ingathering of the Jewish exiles, the reign of a messianic king, a new covenant with the Jews based on a restored commitment to observance of the commandments, a new Temple, the recognition of God by the world’s peoples.  The future Davidic king was expected to radically change the world. [7]

The “radical change” involves the “subjugation” of the nations:

The Messiah would be a military and political leader. Philo, whose views have sometimes been taken as foreshadowing Christian teachings, is clear on this: “For ‘there shall come forth a man’ (Num. 24:7), says the oracle, and leading his host of war he will subdue great and populous nations.”

The Gospel writers thus faced the challenge that Jesus never raised an army, fought the Romans, returned any Jewish exiles, ruled over any population, or did anything else a king messiah would do. [8]

The subjugated nations would then “prostrate” themselves to the Messiah and “serve” him (perpetual servitude?):

The promised royal scion of David, the Messiah, would surely inspire veneration and awe beyond that accorded even to David himself…The nations will “prostrate” themselves before God, says one psalm; but so will they “prostrate” themselves (same Hebrew verb) before the Davidic king, says another psalm…As Daniel puts it…“[The Messiah] was given dominion, honor, kingship, so that all peoples, nations, and languages would serve him.” [9]

Klinghoffer defines the Messiah as he “who conquers and rules the nations and liberates the Jews” and describes him as a mighty warrior”.  He rhetorically asks:

Was there in Jewish tradition any room for a dead Messiah?  Didn’t Jesus’s death tend to cast doubt on his ability to accomplish all the world-transforming things the Messiah was supposed to do? [10]

Again, the “world-transforming things” include violent holy war against the heathen nations and their subjugation under his rule.  Klinghoffer answers his own question:

But was Jesus a ruler over Israel?  On the contrary, the younger Kimchi pointed out, “He did not govern Israel but they governed him.” [11]

Christians reply by arguing that Jesus will fulfill these prophecies, just during his Second Coming.  The Good News, a Christian magazine with a readership of nearly half a million subscribers, responds to the Jewish criticism by arguing that Jesus returns “a second time” as a “conquering King” who will “slay the great armies of those who opposed Him”.  Jesus will be “the promised Messiah whom the prophets claimed would rule all nations ‘with a rod of iron’” and “all nations would come under His rule”.

Klinghoffer, our Orthodox Jewish interlocutor, cries foul:

Christians respond by saying that “the famously unfulfilled prophecies (for instance, that the messianic era will be one of peace) apply to the second and final act in Jesus’s career, when he returns to earth.  This is a convenient and necessary dodge: The Bible itself never speaks of a two-act messianic drama. [11]

The interesting dynamic is thus established: Jews accuse Jesus of not being militaristic enough, and Christian apologists respond by eagerly proving the militaristic nature of Jesus during his Second Coming.

Christians Affirm Militant Old Testament Prophecies

Far from saying “it’s just the Old Testament!”, Christians routinely–and as a matter of accepted fundamental theology–use the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah to validate their belief in Jesus–prophecies that have militaristic overtones.  The Book of Isaiah, for example, has numerous prophecies in it that Christians routinely attribute to Jesus Christ.  For example:

Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary of this verse says:

Assurance is given of the approach of Messiah, to take vengeance on the powers of darkness, to recompense with abundant comforts those that mourn in Zion; He will come and save. He will come again at the end of time, to punish those who have troubled his people; and to give those who were troubled such rest as will be a full reward for all their troubles.

This will be “a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause” (34:8) against the “nations at enmity with the church” and “those found opposing the church of Christ”, which will result in “the destruction of [the church’s] enemies.” Likewise do Christians claim that the Book of Micah foretells the Second Coming of Christ:

Micah 15:5 I will execute vengeance in anger and fury on the heathen, such as they have not heard.

One Biblical commentary helpfully explains this verse:

Christ will give his Son either the hearts or necks of his enemies, and make them either his friends or his footstool.

[NassirH, a reader of our website, astutely commented: I suppose this is what JihadWatch writer Roland Shirk meant when he said “Islam is a religion of fear and force, and its adherents can only be at your feet or at your throat.”]

Another Biblical commentary notes: “Here no mention is made of Mercy, but only of executing vengeance; and that, with wrath and fury.”  Yet another states that this is “a prophecy of the final overthrow of all the enemies of pure and undefiled religion” and that this is “a threatening of vengeance to the Heathens”.

When we published articles comparing the Judeo-Christian prophets of the Hebrew Bible to the Prophet Muhammad, an anti-Muslim bigot by the name of Percey (formerly known as Cassidy) claimed that the genocides of the Old Testament were “not supported by Christ’s teachings.”  This hardly seems the case, however, when we consider that Jesus will bring to a climax the holy war first initiated by Moses against the enemies of Israel.  Jesus will fulfill, not repudiate, Old Testament holy wars against Israel’s foes.  In fact, the war will be expanded to heathen nations in general, or at least those that reject Jesus.

Conclusion

We could reproduce violent Christian texts ad nauseum…What is clear is that the Christian conception of Jesus can very easily be characterized as violent.  Prof. Melancthon W. Jacobus writes in A Standard Bible Dictionary:

[Jesus] excluded from the Messiah’s character the main elements of the popular ideal, i.e. that of a conquering hero, who would exalt Israel above the heathen, and through such exclusion He seemed to fail to realize the older Scriptural conception.  The failure, however, was only apparent and temporary.  For in the second coming in glory He was to achieve this work. Accordingly, His disciples recognized a twofoldness in His Messiahship: (1) They saw realized in His past life the ideal Servant of Jehovah, the spiritual Messiah, the Christ who teaches and suffers for the people, and (2) they looked forward to the realization of the Davidic and conquering Messiah in His second coming in power and glory to conquer the nations and reign over them. [12]

How then do we reconcile the seemingly peaceful and pacifist sayings of Jesus with the violent and warlike Second Coming of Christ?  There are numerous ways to do this, but perhaps the most convincing is that Jesus’ peaceful and pacifist sayings were directed towards a resident’s personal and local enemies–usually (but not always) referring to fellow co-religionists.  It did not refer to a government’s foreign adversaries, certainly not to heathen nations.  Prof. Richard A. Horsley of the University of Massachusetts argues:

The cluster of sayings keynoted by “love your enemies” pertains neither to external, political enemies nor to the question of nonviolence or nonresistance…The content of nearly all the sayings indicates a context of local interaction with personal enemies, not of relations with foreign or political foes…

“Love your enemies” and the related sayings apparently were understood by [Jesus’] followers…to refer to local social-economic relations, largely within the village community, which was still probably coextensive with the religious community in most cases…[although sometimes referring] to persecutors outside the religious community but still in the local residential community—and certainly not the national or political enemies. [13]

This is consistent with the ruling given by the Evangelical site GotQuestions.org, which permits governments to wage war whilst forbidding individuals from “personal vendettas”:

God has allowed for just wars throughout the history of His people. From Abraham to Deborah to David, God’s people have fought as instruments of judgment from a righteous and holy God. Romans 13:1-4 tells us to submit ourselves to government authorities and that nations have the right to bear the sword against evildoers, both foreign and domestic.

Violence occurs, but we must recognize the difference between holy judgment on sin and our own personal vendettas against those we dislike, which is the inevitable outcome of pride (Psalm 73:6).

As for the “turning the other cheek” passage, it is known that the slap on the cheek that was being referred to here was in that particular culture understood as an insult, not as assault.  The passage itself has to do with a person responding to a personal insult, and has nothing to do with pacifism.  In any case, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary clarifies:  “Of course, He applied this to personal insults, not to groups or nations.” [14]

Some Christians maintain that fighting the enemies on the battlefield does not exclude loving them.  This begs the question: how absolutely irrelevant is this strange form of “love” for enemies that does not proscribe killing them?

Whatever the reason for the contradiction between loving enemies on the one hand and killing them on the other, the point is that the comparison between a supposedly peaceful Jesus and violent Muhammad is not just a vapid oversimplification but pure falsity.  It is only through a very selective and biased analysis–a carefully crafted comparison between the most peaceful sounding verses of the New Testament (a handful of quotes from Jesus that constitute a small fraction of the Bible overall) with the most violent sounding verses of the Quran (those too out of context, as we shall see in future parts of this Series).

Anything that doesn’t fit this agenda simply “doesn’t count” (and indeed, the anti-Muslim pro-Christian readers will furiously rack their brains to figure out ways to make the violent Jesus verses “not count”).  The Islamophobic logic is thus: If we exclude all violent verses from the Bible and all the peaceful verses from the Quran, then aha!  See how much more violent the Quran is compared to the Bible! Anti-Muslim Christians scoff at Islam and exalt their religion by informing Muslims of how Jesus, unlike Muhammad, loved his enemies.  Let the Muslims reply back ever so wryly: Jesus loved them so much that he kills them.

Addendum I:

Anti-Muslim Christians often chant “Muhammad was a prophet of war, whereas Jesus was the Prince of Peace”.  A few points about this are worthy of being mentioned: first, Muhammad never used the title “prophet of war” nor is this mentioned in the Quran or anywhere else.  In fact, one of the most common epithets used for Muhammad, one found in the Quran no less, was “A Mercy to All Humanity”.  (More on this in a later part of the Series.)  Jesus, on the other hand, will be a “Warrior King” and a “Conquering King.”  Should it then be “Muhammad is A Mercy to All Humanity, whereas Jesus is the Warrior King”?

As for Jesus being the Prince of Peace, this epithet comes from Isaiah 9:6:

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

9:7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen.

One Christian website paraphrases this succinctly: “Israel’s enemies will be destroyed. Peace will flow to the four corners of the earth, as the Prince of Peace rules and reigns.”  Again, this is the “peace” that conquerers dream of.  Jesus is the Prince of Peace because he declares war, slaughters and subjugates all possible enemies to the point where nobody is left to fight, and voila! there is peace!

This brings us to the commonly quoted (and oft-debated) verse of the Bible, in which Jesus says:

Matthew 10:34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

Most debates focus on whether or not the word “sword” here is metaphorical or not.  Leaving aside the fact that even if this is a metaphor it is certainly a very violent sounding one, it would actually behoove us to focus on the word “peace” in this verse.  Jesus told the Jews: “do not think I have come to bring peace on earth” as a way to explain his failure to produce “the goods”: “the Jews believed that when the Messiah comes, there would be a time of world peace.”  Naturally, this world “peace” would be brought about through war.  Of course, in his Second Coming will Jesus bring this “peace on earth” (and by “peace”, what is meant is war, slaughter, and subjugation).  As we can see, this verse confirms the militant nature of the Messiah (and thus Jesus), regardless of if it is metaphorical or not.

Addendum II:

Here is another hotly debated verse, in which Jesus says:

Luke 19:27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and kill them in my presence.

Robert Spencer dismisses this verse, saying: “These are the words of a king in a parable.”  Yes, this was a parable that Jesus told his disciples.  But what was his intention in narrating this parable?  Gill’s Explanation to the Entire Bible explains that it was to explain what will happen to the Jews “when Christ shall come a second time”:  Jesus will “destroy the Jewish nation” for rejecting him “and then all other enemies will be slain and destroyed” as well.  Death and destruction will be the fate of whoever does not accept Jesus’ reign as Warrior King.

This was hardly an innocuous story.  It reminds us of a scene in the movie Gladiator when the evil Roman emperor Commodus tells his nephew a story about an “emperor” who was betrayed by his sister (“his own blood”) and how he “struck down” her son as revenge.  (Watch it here.)  The story was a thinly veiled threat, as was Jesus’ parable.

One can only hardly imagine how Islamophobes like Robert Spencer would react had it been the Prophet Muhammad who had used such a violent parable, threatening to return to earth in order to “slay” anyone who “did not want me to reign over them”!  This would certainly “count” since all violence in the Quran “counts” whereas whatever is peaceful in the Quran “doesn’t count”, and whatever is violent in the Bible “doesn’t count” and whatever is peaceful in the Bible “counts”.  Heads I win, tails you lose.

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Leviticus 17:11

By Rabbi Michael Skobac

One of the cornerstones of Christian theology is that the only way to achieve atonement for sins is through the offering of a sacrifice whose blood is shed in our place. The Greek Testament makes this very clear in Hebrews 9:22 “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Is this idea consistent with the teachings of the Tanach, or do the Jewish and Christian bibles diverge on this issue? Christians generally insist that the absolute need for a vicarious blood sacrifice is rooted in the Torah, and cite as proof Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.”

If you are a Christian, or are a Jew who has been approached by Christian missionaries, you have probably heard many sermons on the topic of atonement, and have undoubtedly read many studies which support the contention that there is no atonement without blood. Of course you are also aware that this is a teaching which is not shared by traditional Jews. Have you ever wondered how they could reject what to others seems so clear? This study has been prepared to give you the opportunity to consider a different perspective on the vital issue of atonement.

ANOTHER LOOK AT LEVITICUS 17:11

You might remember that in junior high school, we were often given an assignment to write the title for a story; what is the central idea of a passage. Let’s look at Leviticus 17:11 in context:

“And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who consumes any blood, I will set My face against that person who consumes blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 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 an atonement for the soul. Therefore, I say to the children of Israel, `No one among you shall consume blood, nor shall any stranger who sojourns among you consume blood.'”

What should immediately be apparent is that the topic of this passage is not how to secure atonement from sins, but the prohibition against consuming blood. We are told parenthetically that the reason for this prohibition is that the blood contains the vitality of the animal (cf. Genesis 9:4, Deuteronomy 12:23) and consequently, when we bring an animal sacrifice, its blood serves as the atoning agent, and not another part of its body. Since Leviticus 17 doesn’t come to teach us about the principles of atonement, we will have to look elsewhere for the Bible’s most important teaching on how to repair our relationships with G-d.

Before proceeding, let’s consider another point about what is, and what is not being said in Leviticus 17:11. The passage does say that since blood symbolizes the life of the animal, G-d has given it to us as a means of atoning for our sins. But does the verse clearly teach that it is the only means G-d has provided to make atonement? As with any other Biblical study, we will have to examine this question in light of the Bible as a whole. But for now, we should note that our verse merely says that blood can serve as an atonement. It is an effective means of atonement, but by no means the only form of atonement.

In the Torah, blood sacrifices were not the only path to atonement; there were other ways to achieve forgiveness. For example, incense served to atone for the people in Numbers 16:46-47, and giving charity is described in Exodus 30:15-16 and Numbers 31:50 as `making atonement for your souls’ – the same expression as in Leviticus 17:11. In reality, blood sacrifices were the least effective of all the means of atonement mentioned in the Bible. One important limitation to the effectiveness of sacrifices is that they were only brought for unintentional sins (ie. someone didn’t know that kindling a fire was prohibited on the Sabbath, or they were aware of this, but thought it was Sunday when kindling the fire). Sacrifices did not help to atone for sins that were done intentionally (Leviticus 4, and Numbers 15:22-31).

Examining the Christian interpretation of Leviticus 17:11 generates some serious problems. What happens if someone can’t afford to purchase an animal for his sin offering? Is it possible that G-d would institute a system of atonement that could only be used by the wealthy? The Torah took this into account and allowed the poor person to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons if he couldn’t afford a lamb (Leviticus 5:7). However, what if someone was so destitute, that he couldn’t afford even these small birds?

“But if his means are insufficient for two turtledoves or two young pigeons, then for his offering for that which he has sinned, he shall bring the tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall not put oil on it or place incense on it, for it is a sin offering.” (Leviticus 5:11)

Since flour could be used for a sin offering, it is clear that blood was not a prerequisite for atonement. Another example will drive home the point. The proposition that only blood sacrifices could secure atonement creates a dilemma. Could it be that G-d would set up a system of atonement that wouldn’t be available to all people at all times? While the Temple stood, sacrifices did serve as part of the atonement process. But what is the fate of Jewish people who don’t have access to the Temple? What were the Jewish people supposed to do after 586 BCE when the first Temple was destroyed and they were exiled to Babylon? What did the Jewish people do in the times of the Macabees when the Syrian-Greeks were in control of the Temple and didn’t allow sacrifices?

Christians erroneously claim that Rabbinic Judaism came up with novel, non-Biblical measures to deal with atonement after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Actually, it wasn’t Talmudic innovation at all- the Bible anticipated the possibility of the cessation of sacrifices. When King Solomon finally laid the finishing touches on the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, he inaugurated it with a moving dedication speech (I Kings 8; II Chronicles 6). In this lengthy speech of almost 50 verses, you will notice that Solomon doesn’t speak about sacrifices at all! This omission would be strange if the most crucial part of the Temple were the sacrifices. Actually, the central focus of the Temple was the Holy Ark (Exodus 25) containing the Torah. The Temple was first and foremost a symbol of G-d’s presence and revelation to the Jewish people (I Kings 8:13, Exodus 25:8).

Towards the end of his speech, Solomon deals with the possibility of the Jewish people being denied access to the Temple in the eventuality that they are exiled from the land of Israel.

“If they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You…” (I Kings 8:46-50).

This seminal passage puts the spotlight on the Christian misunderstanding of Leviticus 17:11. The Bible is clearly teaching that sacrifices weren’t necessary in order to atone for sins. Prayer and repentance are cited here as effective means for securing atonement. Certainly, when the Temple stood, and one could afford an animal, a sacrifice was brought as part of the atonement process for unintentional sins. Leviticus 17:11 teaches that when we bring such an animal as a sacrifice, we aren’t allowed to consume its blood, because as the life force, it is the part of the animal that affects our atonement.

Christian dogma holds that the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary served as the final atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Christianity insists that this is not just a Pauline innovation, but reflects the requirements of the Jewish Bible, and tries to establish this by pointing to Leviticus 17:11 as the key to atonement in the Tanach. However, if this passage is examined, it will be clear that Jesus could never serve as an atoning sacrifice. Obviously, the shedding of blood by pricking my finger or killing my cat won’t fulfill the Biblical requirements for atonement. The Torah delineates how sacrifices are to be brought.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls…”

Clearly, not any spilled blood is accepted by the Torah as a sacrifice. Jesus’ crucifixion may qualify as an atonement according to the Greek Testament, but since his blood was not offered on the altar, it is not in line with what the Torah mandates.

There are actually several other factors which would render the crucifixion of Jesus an unacceptable sacrifice. According to the Biblical rules in Leviticus, all sacrifices had to be offered by a Priest who descends from Aaron. This was not the case in the death of Jesus, who was crucified by Roman soldiers. Additionally, Biblical law prohibited any sacrifice which was blemished or maimed (Leviticus 22:19-21). However, prior to his crucifixion, Jesus was whipped and beaten (Matthew 27:26, Mark 15:19, John 19:3) which would render him unfit. Furthermore, Jesus was circumcised in the flesh, which according to Philippians 3:2 and Galatians 5:12 is considered mutilation.

Frequently, Christians react to this line of reasoning by protesting that it is improper to be so literal, and that Jesus’ death was more of a symbolic or spiritual sacrifice. This would be fine if the Bible provided for such ethereal offerings, but such is not the case. The Greek Testament, however, does insist that Jesus was a real sacrifice, literally fulfilling the Biblical requirements of such:

“But coming to Jesus, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs…in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled: `Not a bone of him shall be broken.'” (John 19:33-36)

The Gospel of John portrays Jesus as the Paschal lamb which was not supposed to have any of its bones broken (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12). Since the author of John insists that Jesus was a real sacrifice to the extent that the Biblical rules of the Passover were fulfilled in him, we can’t dismiss the problems cited above as legalistic nit-picking.

One wonders why the Greek Testament chose to type Jesus as a Paschal lamb rather than the sacrifice for the Day of Atonement. We know from Exodus 12 that the Passover sacrifice did not serve as an atonement for sins, it commemorates the exodus from Egypt. (Even when the lamb was slaughtered in Egypt and its blood smeared on the doorposts, it did not serve to atone for the sins of anyone. It was a sign for the angel of death to pass over Jewish homes during the plague of the first born. The only people in danger were first born males, the blood wasn’t a help to other people in the family, and didn’t serve as an atonement for the first born). A more fitting prototype for Jesus would have been the Yom Kippur sacrifice, which was an atonement for the sins of all the people. It is interesting that according to Leviticus 16:10,21-22, the animal which effectuated the atonement for the sins of the nation was not killed, but sent live out into the desert. Again, the shedding of blood is not a sine qua non for atonement.

The Greek Testament went to some great lengths to demonstrate that the atoning death of Jesus was predicated upon the Jewish Bible. In the book of Hebrews, a verse from the book of Psalms is quoted as evidence that the sacrifice of Jesus was part of G-d’s original plan for the world.

“Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for me” (Hebrews 10:5 referring to Psalms 40:6).

In verse 10 of our passage from Hebrews, we are told that the body spoken of refers to the body of Jesus. However, the Greek Testament took some great liberties in quoting from the book of Psalms, which never mentions a body being prepared:

“Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened; Burnt offerings and sin offerings You have not required” (Psalm 40:6).

The author of Romans asserts that the Jewish scriptures spoke about the Messiah coming in order to eradicate sin from Israel:

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written,`The deliverer will come from Zion and remove ungodliness from Jacob’.” (Romans 11:26 citing Isaiah 59:20)

However, checking the original source in Isaiah reveals the flawed foundation of the claim made in the book of Romans.

“And a redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, says the L-rd.”

Isaiah didn’t teach that the Messiah’s purpose is to remove sin; rather, he will come to the Jewish people when they show themselves worthy by turning away from sin.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT VICARIOUS ATONEMENT?

One wonders why throughout the four Gospels, Jesus never speaks about his death serving as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. Is the idea that an innocent person can be killed instead of those who are guilty consistent with what the Bible teaches? After the sin of the Golden Calf, G-d expressed His intention to destroy the Jewish people. Moses intercedes, and offers to die in their place. In response, G-d says “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book!” (Exodus 32:32-33). Throughout the Bible, G-d says that one person cannot die for the sins of another:

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16, II Kings 14:6).

“But everyone will die for his own sin; each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge” (Jeremiah 31:30).

“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).

“No man can by any means redeem his brother, or give to G-d a ransom for him” (Psalms 49:7).

“So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who has shed it!” (Numbers 35:33).

Although Romans 4:5 says that Jesus justifies the ungodly, the Tanach teaches that “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, both of them are an abomination to theL-rd” (Proverbs 17:15).

If indeed, Jesus came as the final sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world, why does the Tanach predict that the Temple will be rebuilt and sacrifices resumed?

“Even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7). “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, My dispersed ones will bring My offerings.” (Zephaniah 3:10)

“All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, the rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; they will go up with acceptance on My altar, and I shall glorify My glorious house.” (Isaiah 60:7)

“And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Ezekiel 37:26)

“And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the L-rd offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the L-rd, as in the days of old and as in former years.” (Malachi 3:3-4)

“And every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the L-rd of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them.” (Zechariah 14:21) “And it shall be the princes part to provide the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the libations…to make atonement for the house of Israel.” (Ezekiel 45:17)

The Christian claim that our sins can only be forgiven if blood is shed on our behalf also seems to limit the power of G-d. It’s ludicrous to say that G-d`s ability to forgive us is dependent on anything. One of the most basic teachings in the Bible is that since G-d is merciful, He often forgives us simply because He is merciful. “Who is a G-d like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.” (Micah 7:18; cf.Psalm 103:7-18). Even when we don’t seek G-d appropriately, He has the ability to reach out to us with love and forgive us:

“Their heart was not steadfast toward Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant. But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity…remembering that they were but flesh.” (Psalms 78:36-39)

“You have not brought Me the sheep of your burnt offerings…or the fat of your sacrifices, but you have burdened Me with your sins…Nevertheless, I will wipe out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:23-25)

THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF ATONEMENT

One of the clearest indications that Christianity is off base in its insistence on the centrality of blood sacrifices is that none of the prophets speaks about it. There isn’t one instance in the prophetic books where the Jewish people are told that in order to get right with G-d they need to get covered by the blood. If that’s the case, what is the fundamental teaching of the Tanach on the issue of atonement? What theme is reiterated time and again by the holy prophets in the Jewish Bible?

“That every man will turn from his evil way, then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3).

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the L-rd, and He will have compassion on him; and to our G-d, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7).

“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, `I will confess my transgressions to the L-rd’, and You did forgive the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5).

“And if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14). “But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has practiced he shall live…When a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life…Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you (Ezekiel 18:21- 22,27,30).

“By lovingkindness and truth iniquity is atoned for…” (Proverbs 16:6).

“If you return to G-d you will be restored; if you remove unrighteousness far from your tent…then you will delight in G-d…” (Job 22:23-27).

“Depart from evil, and do good, so you will abide forever.” (Psalm 37:27, cf. Ezekiel 33, Zechariah 1:3, Jeremiah 26:13).

The central teaching of the Bible is that only a break with our past and a sincere turning in repentance can restore our relationships with G-d. If I go off the path, I have to put myself back on track, and G-d will forgive me. Even when sacrifices were offered, they in and of themselves didn’t effect atonement. The sacrifice was part of the process, it helped bring us to the core of atonement which is achieved by TESHUVAH, returning to G-d by forsaking our evil ways and praying for forgiveness. One of the main teachings of the prophets was to chide Jewish people who thought that sacrifices were the essential element of atonement:

“What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me? says the L-rd. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats…Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come let us reason together says the L-rd, `Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they will be like wool, if you consent and obey…” (Isaiah 1:11-18).

“The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the L-rd.” (Proverbs 15:8).

“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the L-rd than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3). “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of G-d rather than burnt offerings.” (Hoseah 6:6).

“Has the L-rd as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the L-rd? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken more than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel 15:22).

“With what shall I come to the L-rd, and bow myself before the G-d on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the L-rd take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the L-rd require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d.” (Micah 6:6-8,cf. Amos 5:22- 24, Jeremiah 7, Psalm 69:31-32).

Since repentance, and not blood is the Biblical form of atonement, we now understand how in I Kings 8, Solomon explained that even if the Jewish people don’t have access to the Temple, they still have access to G-d. This will illuminate a famous story found in the book of Jonah. G-d sends Jonah to the evil city of Ninveh to warn them of their impending destruction. Jonah doesn’t come into the city and tell the people that unless they begin offering sacrifices they are doomed. Their response to his warnings is to repent: they fast, pray, and turn from their evil. What is G-d’s response?

“When G-d saw their deeds that they turned from their wicked way, then G-d relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10).

In similar fashion, Daniel advised king Nebuchadnezzar on how to atone for his transgressions:

“Therefore, O king, may my advice be pleasing to you: Redeem your sins by doing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.” (Daniel 4:27).

This principle will also help explain a passage in the book of Hoseah. Hoseah was a prophet to the 10 northern tribes in the kingdom of Israel during a time when there was a civil war going on between them and the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah in the south. Because of the strife, the tribes up north couldn’t get to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. Did this leave them with no way of atoning for their sins? The prophet advises:

“Return, O Israel, to the L-rd your G-d, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the L-rd. Say to Him, `Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, for we will render as bullocks the offerings of our lips’.” (Hoseah 14:1-2).

We are able to approach G-d directly with prayer, which is possible at all times; and G-d assures us that sincere prayer can achieve forgiveness for our sins:

“Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O L-rd, the G-d of my salvation. And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O L-rd, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not delight in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of G-d are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. These, O G-d, You will not despise.” (Psalms 51:14-17, re:II Samuel 12:13).

“I will praise the name of G-d with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This shall please the L-rd better than an ox or bullock that has horns and hoofs.” (Psalm 69:30-31).

“For You, L-rd, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O L-rd to my prayer, and give heed to the voice of my supplications.” (Psalm 86:5-6).

“And listen to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear from heaven Your dwelling place, hear and forgive.” (II Chronicles 6:21).

Are Christians consistent with the Jewish Bible when they claim that atonement is only possible with a blood sacrifice? Did the Rabbis just make up the idea that we can restore our relationship with G-d through prayer and repentance? YOU DECIDE!

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