Question: A Jewish friend who was explaining how Judaism differs from Christianity told me: “Why buy retail when you can buy wholesale at the factory?”
She was basically saying that she had no need for a “middleman,” that Jewish people go directly to God and do not need Jesus.
Answer: Your Jewish friend holds to a modern form of Judaism, which can ignore certain Scriptures that might be troubling—particularly those concerning sin. Modern Jews are told almost nothing about sin, or how the Jewish Scriptures teach that sin must be expiated. Consequently, many view sin as no more than a bad deed that can be cancelled by doing a good deed. Scriptural statements concerning the Temple, the sacrificial system and the elements of atonement are explained away as being “obsolete.”
If you hope to enlighten your Jewish friend on these matters, a good beginning point might be a discussion of the Day of Atonement. Ask if your friend knows how the Day of Atonement was celebrated in ancient times. Why was it that any Jew could not just walk into the Holy of Holies and announce, “Hey God, there are a few things that I would like to talk over with you”?
Maybe you will have to get your Jewish friend to study the Scriptures to find out about the kind of Judaism that God delivered to His people of ancient times. She might be surprised to learn that the Jewish religion was built around a mediating place, that Jewish priests served as mediators and performed the sacrifices for atonement of sin.
Now you might wonder, “How could the Jewish religion today say so little about the biblical principle of atonement and mediation when it was so central to the original religion?” Well, modern Judaism is very practical. There is no longer a Temple, so there can be no Temple sacrifice. Rather than creating a dilemma by teaching people about necessary rituals they can no longer observe, the rabbis have pressed on to the question of “What can we do instead?” And of course they came up with their own solution to the problem. They say: “Because the Temple was destroyed we have to make atonement in a different way. Today we practice T’shuvah (repentance), T’fillah (prayer) and Tzedakah (good deeds and works of charity). Of course, the Bible teaches that God desires us to do all those things and one can’t imagine a relationship with Him that would omit any of those three. But as important as repentance, prayer and good deeds are, none of them is given as a means of atonement.
Answering the question of “What can we do instead?” was a way of keeping the Jewish people in alignment with one another, relating as a community. But it could not solve the problem of bringing individuals, much less all the Jewish people, into alignment with God.
Being out of alignment with the Almighty and failing to meet the purpose for which we were created is not a Jewish problem. It is the human predicament. Sin is the great separator. It is woven into the fabric of our souls. The only Savior from this pandemic soul sickness is Y’shua, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world.