26 September 2012

The Final Sacrifice: Jesus, The Day of Atonement and the Talmud

Does the Talmud (the Jewish Oral Law) confirm the validity of the sacrificial death of Jesus (Yeshua)? Watch this very interesting video about writings in the Jewish Talmud concerning the The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) sacrifices after AD30.

14 September 2012

Surviving the Holocaust: Love your Neighbour

My name is Blanche Benedick and I was born in Copenhagen in Denmark, on 20 September 1933. My father had a small factory. He was a wonderful man who could turn his hand to anything to look after the family. My mother always seemed to be in the kitchen. I remember coming home from school and being greeted by delicious cooking smells. I had an older brother and sister from my father’s first marriage. My younger sister was born later, in Sweden.

We lived in a second-floor flat in a mainly Jewish area in Copenhagen. It was a traditional Jewish home and we lit our candles every Friday night. We didn’t go to synagogue every Saturday, but we always went at festival times. Before the war, we also kept the special dietary rules at home. I have very clear memories of the festival of Passover. Grandfather would go through all the prayers and songs from beginning to end – which takes hours! I was only about 10 and we weren't allowed to eat until he had finished – about 11pm! I used to sit and look at the painting on the wall – a table with a big bunch of grapes – and I used to count the grapes. I still have that painting at home today and I treasure it.

As a child, I liked sports and singing, but I also loved playing outdoors. I had my dolls and pram and used to take them for walks on Sundays with Mona, my friend from across the road. Mona was my best friend, but she wasn't Jewish. We went to school on the same tram, although to different schools. I started at a Jewish school when I was about seven and can remember my first day. We had to wear little aprons and the first class was like nursery school; you learnt a few things and got used to playing with other children. I stayed at that school until I was ten.

When war broke out and the Germans invaded Denmark in 1940, we suffered the same curfews and rationing as other countries, and there was bombing. We had to run down to the cellar whenever there were air raids. There was a lot of talk about the Jewish people – that things were going to get worse for them. One day at school, the headmaster called me into his office and said, ‘You know there’s a war on?’ And I replied, ‘Of course I do.’ By then I was ten and knew what was happening. He went on, ‘Well, Mona’s mother came to see me today and said you have to go back to their house this afternoon. Your mother and father are there as well.’ So I went back to Mona’s after school. My mother was sitting crying and my father was pacing up and down, looking worried. Mona’s mother said, ‘Don’t worry, Blanche, you’re going to stay here with us for a few days. We’re going to hide you because we've heard that all the Jews are going to be rounded up.’ That was in October 1943.

12 September 2012

What's so Holy about the Holi-days?

In line with the Jewish calendar, the High Holy Days are upon us this year.  But as Gentiles, why would we be interested in these events?  We know that Jesus participated in the Feasts and culture of the day, but then, He was Jewish.  Do the times and seasons set up by God way back in Moses’ days have an impact on us as Believers today?  Here are a few thoughts to think about:

Rosh HaShana - Head of the Year
Leviticus 23:23-25

Otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets, it was simply to be a holy day celebrated by the blowing of the trumpet/shofar.  Today it is acknowledged with several different shofar blasts, and marks the beginning of the ‘10 Days of Awe’ - a solemn time of soul searching in preparation for Yom Kippur.  During this time, God’s forgiveness is sought and His judgment is feared.  One considers their ’sins’ before God and enters into a time of repentance, seeking forgiveness from God and from those you may have hurt.  It is also a time of restitution.
  As modern day believers, the sound of the trumpet blast is also very significant to us. It is mentioned several times in New Testament writings, not the least of which being the  signalling of the end of an age, and the beginning of a new season when at ‘the last trumpet’ we shall all be changed! (1Cor 15:51-53)

Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement
Leviticus 23:26-32

The holiest day of the Biblical year.  The only day the High Priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies, to approach the Lord where He resided over the mercy seat.  First the Priest had to go through a series of sacrifices to atone for not only his own sin, but the sins of all the people.  After this, the ‘scape-goat’ was released into the desert to carry away the sins of the people .  Then, and only then could the Priest dare to approach the most holy of places and sprinkle the blood from the sacrifices onto the Ark of the Covenant.
We know, according to God’s Word, that the blood of bulls and goats did not provide full and permanent forgiveness.  Each year the Priest had to go through the rituals, each year new animals had to be sacrificed, and each year a new goat wandered off into the wilderness.  Through Jesus life, death and resurrection, God provided a ‘once and for all’ solution to sin: He was the sacrifice, He used His blood, and He took on our sin on our behalf.
Not long after this, the temple was destroyed for the last time.  Since then there has been no provision for the sacrificial system to be reinstituted.  Today the Jewish people try to gain absolution through prayer and good deeds and spend the Day of Atonement in prayer and fasting, hoping that their names be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.