The Cure for Death, Part II

If you read the last post then you know what a person must do to be saved, to be born again (The Cure for Death).  But I want to tell you something more about the cure for death and that is the purpose of this post.

As we have already discussed, please remember that we are all sinners.  There are two reasons for that.  The first reason is that we were all in Adam when he sinned and when that happened Sin, as a principle or essence, entered us and became part of each and every one of us.  The second reason is that having that inborn sin nature causes us to walk in sin, to sin continuously (The Cause of Death).

But maybe you don’t believe that you are a sinner.  Maybe what I have been saying is just all a bunch of nonsense to you.  You look at the Ten Commandments and say to yourself “I have never broken any of those.  I’ve never stolen or lied or murdered or dishonored my father and mother.  I’m a good person”.  Well, how about this one: You shall have no other gods before me?  That is the first commandment.  Did you know that an electronic video game and the cell phone that contains it is a god to many people?  It demands more of their attention and energy than anything else and so they make it more important than everything else in their lives.  It is an idol to them which is another way of saying it is a god to them.  People can also make idols of money,  jobs, cars, houses, their children, and other things too.  Do any of these apply to you?

Well, I’m not going to go through the first nine commandments in  detail with you right now and I’m not going to go through the rest of all the other commandments in the Torah with you right now either.  But I do want to make sure that you know that there are a total of 613 commandments or mitzvot in the Torah.  That’s 603 commandments in addition to the famous Ten Commandments.  My Jewish brothers and sisters, please believe me.  You’ve broken many of these commandments.  After our people returned to the Land from Babylon, the Law was read to them and they wept.

“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law.”  Nehemiah 8:9

Why did the people weep?  They wept because as the Law was read and then explained to them they realized how many of God’s mitzvot they had failed to keep without even realizing it.  That was the case because most  of the people had not had God’s law or instruction, the Torah, read to them for a long time, perhaps never.  That applies to many of us today.

But just to make it absolutely clear to you that you and I are sinners, that we’ve broken at least one commandment, let’s take a look at the 10th commandment:

““You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.””  Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet.”  What does that mean?  It means to want something that does not belong to you.  Now I want to be very clear here.  Coveting does not mean taking something that is not yours.  That would be stealing.  Or in the case of sexual desire it would be adultery or extramarital sex or premarital sex.  Coveting, if it proceeds no further, is a sin of the mind and the heart.  It’s a desire.  It could even be secret.  Maybe nobody but you knows that you desire some particular thing that is not yours.  And by the way, if nobody else knows about your secret desire, that probably means that you have also broken the commandment which forbids you to lie.

Let me show you an example of coveting.  Perhaps you desire to have your boss’s job, or to have your neigbor’s Mercedes.  Or perhaps  you desire your wife’s best female friend or your husband’s best male friend.  Now you might never act on this desire.  You might never progress from desire for another woman or man to actually having an affair with her or him.  But by coveting you’ve broken the 10th commandment.  Have you never desired to have something that is not yours?  I very much doubt that.  And according to God’s Law, by breaking this 10th  commandment you’ve broken all 613 commandments.

“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”  James 2:10

Now, my Jewish brother or sister (and please remember that I’m Jewish too),  you may say to me once again that this is a verse from the New Testament and therefore you don’t believe it.  Do you think that the Hebrew Scriptures, even the Torah (the first five books of  the Bible, also called The Five Books of Moses), says something different?  I’m sorry to tell you that we can’t pick and choose which commandments to obey.

“if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.”  Leviticus 26:15-16

God is saying that He wants you and me to do all His commandments and if we don’t do them all there are serious consequences.  It sounds very much to me that God is saying that if we’ve broken one commandment it is the same as breaking them all.  And there are many more verses from the Torah that make it clear that God expects all His commandments to be obeyed.  My friend, you can’t help but break at least one of the 613 commandments and neither can I.

So what is the answer?  What is the cure for Death?  A substitutionary sacrifice is needed.  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.  This was mentioned in the last post.  The shed blood of an animal provided a covering for sin, but permanent forgiveness of sins could not be provided by an animal sacrifice.  Only the blood of Jesus could do that.

Now you may quote the following verse to me and tell me that a blood sacrifice is no longer required:

““What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.”  Isaiah 1:11

This is what the LORD wants from us:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”  Isaiah 1:16-17

God never eliminated the requirement of a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins.  There is no way that the LORD would tell us about the need to provide sacrifices for the remission of sins in verse after verse after verse in the Torah, in exquisite detail, and then later tell us that sacrifices are not needed for the remission of sins.  God does not contradict Himself.   But God will not accept sacrifices from those who do not have contrite hearts, from those who do not repent.  Here is what God did do:  He sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die for us, to shed His precious blood.  He did this one time and that was enough.  All of the sacrifices described in the Torah were a foreshadowing of the once for all permanent sacrifice that Yeshua would make.

My fellow Jewish brother and sister, you may also tell me that Jonah went to Nineveh to preach the message that God gave him for the Ninevites, to save them.  They repented and 120,000 were saved right then.  There was no shedding of blood.  How could that be?  Here’s how:

“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”  Hebrews 9:15

Are you familiar with the New Covenant that the LORD spoke about through the mouth of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah?  It’s in Jeremiah chapter 31, in the Hebrew Scriptures.  Yeshua inaugurated that covenant many years later at The Last Supper which was a traditional Jewish Passover seder.  The  blood that Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, shed was so efficacious that it provided effective atonement for the sins of those who loved God and had contrite hearts even before Yeshua came to earth to die on the cross.  That would include people such as Abraham, Moses, King David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and many others.  God operates in the sphere of eternity and He can even provide permanent forgiveness of sins for those who died before Jesus came.

There is yet more to talk about under the title of The Cure for Death.  The blood of Jesus provides for even more than just the forgiveness of our sins.  It provides for our justification.  Justification is a forensic term.  It makes us think of a courtroom, a judge, and a defendant.  When this defendant, who represents you and me, accepts the judge’s, i.e., God’s, free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, God justifies us.  This means that we are not only pardoned for all our sins but we are are considered by God to be one who never sinned in the first place.  Jesus took all the punishment for all our sins and gives us His perfect righteousness.  How could that be?  It can be because God made the provision for it and because God declares it to be the truth.  It’s better than a pardon.

But, you ask, why then does the person who is saved still commit sins?  Thank you for that very important question.  We will address that in an upcoming post.

1+