The Jews have no Sacrifice Today
By Frank Duff
I talk to you about the Jews. It is necessary that we should devote thought to this great problem, because it is one, which has defied solution
The Jews represent an amazing manifestation. They remind one of the Church itself in many respects. Like the Church, Judaism is persevering, indestructible, apparently destined to last till the end of the world. If we might venture to parody very sacred words," the gates of heaven have not prevailed against it". That is a doubly astonishing manifestation, because, Judaism, unlike so many of the great causes of the world, seems to have so little to recommend it. It is like something in the air, with no idea or purpose in it. It is leading to nothing. It really possesses no programme. It does not propose conquest. It does not try to convert. It is not a religious force in the world. It has got nothing to teach. It possesses no real spiritual life. In modern times it has been at best a mere ritual, and at worst it has not been even a deism. Much of it does not believe in God.
The foregoing represents a sorrowful generalization. It does not upset it to point to the innumerable Jews who have signally distinguished themselves in every walk of life.
An English paper has been running a series of articles on religion. Into the series of course has entered Judaism. But the article contains nothing whatever about beliefs or observances. It is nothing but an account of the prominence and the wealth of the Jews in England. To read it one would hardly believe that a religion was being discussed. So what is the meaning of it all, and can we do anything?
Significant Prophecies Fulfilled
The central circumstance in Judaism is its non-acceptance of the fact that the due time of the Messiah has long passed, that is altogether apart from their rejection of Christ. Because the time declared in the prophecies, as acknowledged by themselves, coincided with the birth of Jesus. That was the time indicated in the prophecy of Daniel.
You will remember that most picturesque episode of the journeying of the three Magi to Jerusalem in search of Him whom they said was the new-born King. They had come there led by a star. When they drew near Jerusalem, the star extinguished itself and so they expected that they had reached their journey's end. They went to the King's Palace, but they found no new-born king there. They found in possession of that edifice a very sinister old ruffian, Herod.
Herod heard their story with apprehension. Then he sent for the Sanhedrim, or Council of the Priests and the learned men, and he put to them the question: “When was the Christ expected according to prophecy?" The answer came pat to him that the time was about now. And where is the place? The place is Bethlehem. Those were the circumstances portrayed by the prophecies. That knowledge was current among the Jews. It was their experts, not persons belonging to another religion, who had worked out that time.
Another significant prophecy had just been fulfilled. It was the one, which declared that the Messiah would come when the scepter had departed from Judah. This event had accomplished itself: Rome had conquered Israel.
Another great prophecy—Our Lord's this time and as such not accepted by the Jews — was soon to be justified. It was His prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. You will remember His words of sorrow as He looked down over the city. That calamity took place in the year 70 of Our Lord's era, that is not very long after His own death. One item of the capture of Jerusalem was the destruction of the Temple.
The Temple — a Vital Consideration
discuss the Temple because it is vital to our consideration of the whole
question of the Jews. After the promulgation of the Old Law at Mount Sinai,
Moses erected what was called the Tabernacle. As the name indicates, it was a
tent-like structure, which could be dismantled and moved, and actually it
accompanied the Israelites in their amazing wanderings in the desert. They
continued to use that particular structure until David took Jerusalem. Then his
last act was to erect an altar in the threshing hall of Araunah and there the
sacrifice was celebrated and the holy rites gone through
Years later Solomon, the son of David, had a vision in which the Lord ordered him to construct a worthy Temple. Solomon obeyed and built his great Temple about the year 1005 before the coming of Our Lord. That Temple of Solomon was a colossal achievement. In design it was almost identical with the one made by Moses, but made of far superior materials and being about twice the size. During the troubled history of the Jews, harm and even destruction were often visited on this sacred building. A reconstruction of it about the year 520 B.C. was called the Temple of Zerrubbable. Then once again Herod whose name has just been mentioned renewed it with infinite magnificence. That building was completed shortly before the advent of Him to whom it was pointing; of whose coming it was the promise; and whose expiatory death it daily portrayed. It was a thing of splendor. Taken with the beauty of its site, it was unquestionably one of the architectural masterpieces of all the ancient world. When it was destroyed by the Romans the sacred vessels were taken away — as depicted on one of the most beautiful of the Roman triumphal arches
The Temple was the centre of Jewish worship. The Scriptures expressly commanded that every male Jew take part in the sacrifice there. It would represent an obligation akin to our own Easter duty. The book of Deuteronomy (XVI, 16) puts the frequency of that attendance at three stated times in the year. But presumably such a frequency did not bind those who lived in distant lands.
Thus every Jew at home and abroad looked to the Temple. In it there was a daily sacrifice, and twice daily there was a service of incense. This was doubled up on the Sabbath, and on the special feasts there was an additional degree of ceremonial and beauty.
Emigrants and Exiles with Fading Hope
The Jews had
always been an emigrating people. Moreover they had gone through several great
captivities such as those of Egypt and Babylon. Those had left settlements of
the Jews abroad. Many of the Jews, too, left home for business reasons. Thus the
position at the time of the sacking of Jerusalem was that all the foreign
cities, and in fact almost every place, had its little community of Jews. So
that when this dreadful event of the year 70 took place, in which one million
Jews were massacred, the survivors flying abroad found it not so difficult to
establish new homes. For everywhere their co-religionists stretched out
welcoming, hospitable hands to them and helped them to settle in
Behind them they left the Temple in ruins and the daily sacrifice stopped. The full gravity of the situation was not grasped by the leaders of the Jews. They expected to return. They looked back over their scarred history and brought to mind the occasions on which they had to clear out in similar fashion, but only to return after more or less prolonged exiles. They thought this would happen again, and we read that Rabbi Ishmael, the celebrated leader of that time, put down on paper the minute detail of the sacrifice and of the entire ritual so as to ensure its exact restoration on the day of return.
Soon afterwards the extraordinary rumor began to circulate among the Jews that the Redeemer had been born on the day of the destruction of Jerusalem. This legend kept hope vividly alive for a generation. Incidentally it forms further evidence that the Jews were expecting Him around that time.
Eventually it was realized that the restoration was afar. But hope died hard. We read that up to mediaeval times the Jew at the stroke of midnight arose, seated himself on the floor, put ashes on his head, bewailed the Temple which had been destroyed fifteen hundred years before, and prayed for the speedy coming of the Messiah.
Divided by a Gaping Void
Nowadays, due of course to many circumstances including the awful tribulations through which that race has gone, a gaping void divides the ancient from the modern Jew. Some Jewish writers say that the Jew is forced to remind himself that the present Jews are the same as those he reads of in the Old Testament. That void was never destined to be bridged. The Temple was never destined to be re-built; the sacrifice never to be restored.
words the Christian contention worked out in practice. That is, when the Messiah
came He fulfilled all the prophecies. He completed the Old Law and abrogated it,
ushering in the New Law and the new doctrine. In spite of themselves the Jews
were forced by circumstances to conform to this new Order.
There would be no further need for the sacrifice of the Temple — that daily immolation of animals, because it was but a type of Christ's Sacrifice, deriving its efficacy from His death. Calvary and its continuance in the Mass, perfected and terminated the old sacrifice. Indeed to make even one further bloody offering of the kind would be the denial of Christ. If the Jews of that time had accepted Our Lord, there could have been a violent but delightful transition. The Temple could have become the Cathedral of Jerusalem and Mass would be celebrated daily there. Such alas did not take place. Those who had rejected Christ persisted with the sacrifice, which had at a stroke became meaningless. This fact was dramatically symbolized at the moment of Our Lord's death when the great veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom, indicating the departure of the Holy Spirit from the edifice. That empty ritual was maintained until that fatal year 70. Then the Romans besieged Jerusalem and those words of Our Lord were brought true:" Thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee fiat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee: and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone: because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation." (St. Luke XK, 43-44)
Temple Ended—Sacrifice Gone
Three hundred years after, an attempt was made to rebuild the Temple. Strange to say, this did not proceed primarily from the Jews themselves but from the Emperor Julian, successor to the Emperor Constantine who had transformed the Roman Empire into being Christian. Julian is sadly known as Julian the apostate. He deserted Christianity and attempted to restore the old pagan forms of worship in the Empire. As one of his counterblasts to the Christianity he hated, he ordered the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. But a most extraordinary set of phenomena began to operate there. Explosions and other portents made the work impossible. When it finally became evident that these were going to continue as long as the attempt continued, the enterprise abandoned and was never renewed. Not even in Israel to-day! Now they can do it if they want, but apparently have no idea of it. The Temple is ended. The sacrifice is gone for good.
The supreme importance of this does not seem to be generally realized, not even by the Jews themselves. Yet it is the dominant and decisive fact. For it is a silent, solemn admission that Christianity has superseded the Old Law; that it has terminated the old Jewish religion. Without understanding those things, without accepting Christ, the Jews are nevertheless submitting to the logical consequences. They are not attempting to renew their old religion.
The Temple and its sacrifice represented the primary idea in the Old Law. Everything tended to it as to a junction and depended on it. It represented the casting forward of their minds through the weary ages of waiting for that coming Messiah who was to operate salvation. Their faith in that atonement meant the setting of it at work in their own days. Through the sacrifice of the Temple their faith thus ministered salvation to them. In other words the Sacrifice applied the merits of Christ to their souls as the Mass applies them to ours. But of course the sacrifice was only a shadow or substitute for the Sacrifice of the Cross whereas the Mass is one with Calvary, representing the substantial planting of that Sacrifice in our days.
As the Messiah was the future hope of their race, so the daily sacrifice was the fixing of that hope in their hearts and the gaining of the benefit of it in advance of the actual Redemption. It was the pivot of the Faith of the Jews. Taken away, everything else would fall asunder and lose its meaning. To judge as to the effect, perhaps the nearest example would be the case of our own Eucharist and Mass. Imagine these totally abolished. The Catholic system would be radically altered into being a different thing altogether from what it is — in fact into Protestantism.
Suspension not Abolition
Perhaps an objection may occur to minds: Has not the Mass been suspended at times in many countries? Yes, but only suspended. Like the sun that sets only to rise again! And even when the Mass was stopped by force in one place, it was going on in other places. These circumstances do not apply in the case of the Jews. There was no question of a mere local or temporary abolition. The sacrifice was gone!
But for long years the Jews hoped that it was only a case of suspension. Some of the Old Testament prophecies which seem to us to apply so plainly to the past, they kept applying to the future, deriving false hope from them.
A point which comes to one's mind is: Why did they not make do in some other centre? We know that we would. Some of you went off to Rome on a pilgrimage a while ago and on the way Mass was celebrated in a huge railway station. The conditions were primitive, but nonetheless it was the Mass. Why, we might think, should the Jews confine the idea of the sacrifice to Jerusalem, and why to the Temple? The Bible prescribed (Deuteronomy XI, 5) that the sacrifice be offered in the place which God would choose. Could not this be held to designate any place which would be the existing headquarters of Judaism? As we have seen, the sacrifice was offered for a very long time outside Jerusalem, that is in the traveling Tabernacle constructed by Moses. Could not the sacrifice be offered without any building or in a stadium — just as we are told that David offered it in that threshing hall? In the wide movements of the dispersed Jewish people, various places have had great numbers of them. At one time Spain. At another Poland. To-day the United States of America is probably the greatest abode of the Jewish people. Why is it that they do not offer the sacrifice in Madison Park Gardens, the scene of the triumphs of Billy Graham and Ronald Delany?
No, they never took any such obvious step although absolutely every consideration would seem to call for it. For nearly two thousand years they have had their eyes riveted on the mirage! They were waiting for the great return to Jerusalem when they would rebuild the Temple and reconstitute their ritual in all its pomp and detail.
The Day of Great Return
And that day did come: The return to the homeland. Israel was founded. The Jewish people once more had a locality which they could call their very own. They had taken their place among the free nations of the earth once again. Now is the opportunity! Now is the sacrifice to be renewed! But once again—No.
For we are presented with the startling fact that quite a number of years of that nationhood have already elapsed and that they have not attempted to rebuild the Temple. Apparently they have not even thought of it, nor of continuing the sacrifice that formed the main ingredient," the pillar and the ground" of their faith. It seems to be accepted by them and by everybody else that the sacrifice is gone.
It is important for all to remember that there is an utter difference between the Temple and a synagogue. There was only one Temple, but every little place in the Jewish world has its synagogue. There is likewise a complete difference between what took place in the Temple and what took place and takes place in the synagogues. The former was the place of the great sacrifice. The synagogue is a prayer meeting place.
Why has Israel not restored the Temple and the dread rite of the sacrifice that it housed? It is because they have recognised in their hearts and in spite of themselves that something fatal for them took place in the moment when Jesus Christ died. Without realizing it, they are confessing that when He was immolated, the purpose of the blood sacrifices of the Old Law died with Him. They acknowledge this by their deeds, though they will not acknowledge it by their lips. The sacrifice is abandoned. The old Jewish religion is definitely voided. The Jews have something else in its place masquerading under its name.
Cannot be Ignored or Forgotten
But perhaps it will be argued that there is time enough? Israel is young! It has not fully organized itself yet! Give them a 'chance'. Perhaps they have plans for a Temple in some architect's office. Perhaps they will put into force at some future date those elaborate plans of the Rabbi Ishmael for the resumption of the sacrifice and the rest of the ritual!
Is there anything to be said for that argument? No, because now it will not be possible to restore the sacrifice as it was. That sacrifice was the immolation of animals to God, the shedding of their blood in offering and the burning of their flesh. That is not possible to-day in Israel or in Madison Park Gardens or anywhere else. Why? Because public opinion would not allow such things today.
It was appropriate to an age of different mentality, and God built on that. Nowadays He builds on a radically changed mentality, with the amazing consequence that the door has now been shut and locked on the old Temple and what took place in it. The real Jewish Religion is not restorable.
That is the supreme fact which must be brought home to Jews, so that they cannot ignore it, so that they cannot escape from it by forgetting it.
must propose it to the Jews with all the simple directness of a slogan: The
Jewish people have no sacrifice today, and they are never again going to have
one until they accept the truth that the Old Law ended tragically but fruitfully
on Calvary; and that the New Law with its Sacrifice was the orderly and greater
The followers of Jesus Christ were the true Jews. The Judaism which rejected Him was no longer the living religion. Its heart and its meaning have gone. What is on earth to-day is not the old Jewish religion. It amounts to an embalmed corpse around which empty rites are being performed.
Christianity Logical Fulfillment
In Christianity lies the logical fulfillment of their old religion. If logic were to have its rights, the Jews would become Christian, because their present stand is not logically tenable. But in the way of that logic stands a force which is still greater. It is Prejudice. Prejudice is the unconditional surrender of the mind to peremptory ideas. The Jews believe that they have been and are the victims of injustice throughout the ages. Their own history books would have us believe that they have been treated with unvarying and insane savagery. Of course that is a gross exaggeration — apart from which the Jews themselves have shown a capacity for cruelty — but unhappily there is a basis for it. And we have not done so much to undermine that foundation of their prejudice. It is no matter of ancient history but of our own time that half the Jews of Central Europe were exterminated in circumstances of extreme horror.
Anti-Semitism to-day is too common, so that there is no use in proposing that slogan of ours to the Jews except we put a twin-idea along with it. That twin-idea is Christian love. We must love them, because of their very need if there were no other reason, and we must prove that love beyond question. We must deal with them on that footing. We must repress those unworthy behaviors that fill so many Jewish hearts with fear. In all countries there are many Jews who live in a state of apprehension. They are always fearing that the turning over of the next page of history is going to show a repetition of what took place in past pages.
Maria Legionis, Vol. 13. No. 3, Sept-Nov., 1960, pp. 1-5