Was Messiah the “Final Sacrifice”?

Was Messiah the “Final Sacrifice”?
James Scott Trimm

There is a popular teaching in Christendom that “Jesus” was the “final sacrifice.”  Often this premise is then carried forward to the conclusion that since the sacrifices and offerings have been abolished, the Torah, or at least large portions of the Torah, have been abolished.  However the fact is that the Scriptures do not teach that Yeshua was the “final sacrifice” at all. 

The Torah warns us about subtracting from it’s commandments:

You shall not add to the word which I command you,
neither shall you subtract a thing from it,
that you may keep the commandments of YHWH your Elohim which I command you.
(Deuteronomy 4:2)

Whatever thing I command you, observe to do it:
you shall not add thereto, nor subtract from it.
(Deuteronomy 13:1(12:32))

Moreover the Torah tells us repeatedly that its commandments are for all your generations forever:
“…it shall be a statute forever to their generations…” (Exodus 27:21)

“…it shall be a statute forever to him and his seed after him.” (Exodus 28:43)

“…a statute forever…” (Exodus 29:28)

“…it shall be a statute forever to them, to him and to his seed throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:21)

“It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” (Exodus 31:17)

There is no shortage of passages in the Torah which specify that the Torah will not be abolished but will be for all generations forever. (For more see: Leviticus 6:18, 22; 7:34, 36; 10:9, 15; 17:7; 23:14, 21, 41; 24:3; Numbers 10:8; 15:15; 18:8, 11, 19, 23; 19:10 and Deuteronomy 5:29)

Several of the references above are speaking specifically in context of commandments pertaining to the sacrificial offerings!

Yeshua was the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth (Rev. 13:8) his death had an effect from the beginning of time and not just from around 32 CE forward.

Paul writes:

1  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2  For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
(Heb. 10:1-3 KJV)

Often when I share with Christians that the Torah is everlasting, for all generations, they respond by saying, “But the law was only a shadow.” By this they allude to Colossians 2:16-17 and Hebrews 10:1, two passages which have been very misunderstood. 

Lets begin by looking at Col. 2:16-17 as it reads in the KJV:

Let no man therefore judge you
in meat, or in drink,
or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon,
or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body is of Christ.
(Col. 2:16-17 KJV)

There are three issues we must look at here:

First the passage speaks not only of “meat” but of “drink” so it cannot be speaking about the kosher laws which deal with food not drink.  Paul’s opponent here has differing views regarding “meat”; “drink”; “holydays”; “new moons” and “sabbaths”.  Clearly his opponent here are the Essene influence within the movement which later re-emerged as the Ebionites.  These Essene-Proto-Ebionites were vegetarians, they all took the Nazarite Vow (and thus abstained from wine) and they used a Solar Calendar.  Thus they differed with Paul on issues of “meat”; “drink”; “holydays”; “new moons” and “sabbaths”. SO Paul is not speaking here about the validity of Torah, but of his opponents positions on these issues.

Secondly there is the “shadow” issue.  Now we know that Passover was a shadow which Messiah fulfilled, yet rather than abolish the observance of Passover as a result, Paul says “therefore let us keep the feast” (1Cor. 5:7-8). 

Lastly we must once again look at the KJV’s use of italic here.  The italics in the KJV indicate words that are not really there in the Greek, but which the KJV has added to the text.  This is supposed to be to help the text make sense in English, but in some cases like this one the italics have been used to completely and radically change the meaning of the text.  If we remove the italicized word “is” from the phrase “body is of Christ” we see the familiar phrase “body of Christ” which appears over and over in the New Testament.  Why would one disrupt the common phrase “body of Christ” by inserting the word “is”?  If we reread the KJV without this word something interesting happens:

Let no man therefore judge you
in meat, or in drink,
or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon,
or of the sabbath:
Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body of Christ.
(Col. 2:16-17 KJV without itallics)

Suddenly the passage is no longer contesting “shadow” with “body” it is contrasting “man” with the “body of Christ” or “body of Messiah”!  The passage is now saying that no individual man has authority to judge in these matters, only the collective Body of Messiah has this authority.
Many Christians teach a false doctrine that since the commandments of the Torah are symbolic of certain deep truths concerning Messiah, and since the Torah is a tutor leading us to Messiah and since the Messiah “fulfilled” the Torah, we no longer need to actually observe the commandments once we have come to the truth of Messiah.
Interestingly Philo of Alexandria encountered a similar false teaching.  Philo was an Alexandrian Jew who was born nearly 20 years before Yeshua and died around 20 years after his death. Philo was a “Hellenist Jew”. Not like the Hellenists of the Maccabean period who abandoned Torah for Paganism, but like Stephen (Acts 7) and the Hellenists in Acts 6. These Hellenists were Greek speaking Jews who remained Torah Observant (at least in there own understanding) while accepting Greek culture.

Philo wrote commentary, primarily on the Torah, which was highly midrashic.  Philo interpreted the texts in an allegorical manner, finding in them philosophic symbolism.  Philo saw the commandments of the Torah as pregnant with deep symbolic truths which he sought to express in his commentaries.

But Philo had encountered others in his day who taught that observing the actual commandments was not necessary at all, that all that was really important was to understand the deep truths which they, through symbolism and allegory, teach us. Philo responded to this false teaching as follows:

(89) For there are some men, who, looking upon written laws as symbols of things appreciable by the intellect, have studied some things with superfluous accuracy, and have treated others with neglectful indifference; whom I should blame for their levity; for they ought to attend to both classes of things, applying themselves both to an accurate investigation of invisible things, and also to an irreproachable observance of those laws which are notorious. (90) But now men living solitarily by themselves as if they were in a desert, or else as if they were mere souls unconnected with the body, and as if they had no knowledge of any city, or village, or house, or in short of any company of men whatever, overlook what appears to the many to be true, and seek for plain naked truth by itself, whom the sacred scripture teaches not to neglect a good reputation, and not to break through any established customs which divine men of greater wisdom than any in our time have enacted or established. (91) For although the seventh day is a lesson to teach us the power which exists in the uncreated God, and also that the creature is entitled to rest from his labours, it does not follow that on that account we may abrogate the laws which are established respecting it, so as to light a fire, or till land, or carry burdens, or bring accusations, or conduct suits at law, or demand a restoration of a deposit, or exact the repayment of a debt, or do any other of the things which are usually permitted at times which are not days of festival. (92) Nor does it follow, because the feast is the symbol of the joy of the soul and of its gratitude towards God, that we are to repudiate the assemblies ordained at the periodical seasons of the year; nor because the rite of circumcision is an emblem of the excision of pleasures and of all the passions, and of the destruction of that impious opinion, according to which the mind has imagined itself to be by itself competent to produce offspring, does it follow that we are to annul the law which has been enacted about circumcision. Since we shall neglect the laws about the due observance of the ceremonies in the temple, and numbers of others too, if we exclude all figurative interpretation and attend only to those things which are expressly ordained in plain words. (93) But it is right to think that this class of things resembles the body, and the other class the soul; therefore, just as we take care of the body because it is the abode of the soul, so also must we take care of the laws that are enacted in plain terms: for while they are regarded, those other things also will be more clearly understood, of which these laws are the symbols, and in the same way one will escape blame and accusation from men in general.
(Philo; On the Migration of Abraham)

Philo pointed out that the literal meaning of the commandments was like a body and the symbolic meaning was like a soul.  Since the soul inhabits the body, the soul depends upon the care of the body.  Likewise the symbolic truths of the Torah depend upon the observance of the commandments to have any real meaning. 

For example the Passover was a shadow which Messiah fulfilled, yet rather than abolish the observance of Passover as a result, Paul says “therefore let us keep the feast” (1Cor. 5:7-8).

Now lets look at Hebrews 10:1 as it appears in the KJV:

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
(Heb. 10:1 KJV)

It should also be noted that while most manuscripts of Hebrews do read in this verse “not the very substance” the oldest copy of Hebrews (p46) reads:

For the law having a shadow of good things to come,
and the very image of the things.
(Hebrews 10:1 from p46, the oldest copy of Hebrews)

The Hebrew text of Hebrews which Sabastian Munster obtained “from among the Jews” and published in the 16th Century has a conflation in this verse reading “and not the very substance”.  Only Munster and p46 have the word “and” in this verse (the word “and” is in the KJV here, but is in italics, meaning that it was not in the Greek). The presence of the word “and” in the Munster Hebrew text could be seen as supporting the reading of p46 and the word “not” could have been added to the Hebrew text later to bring it into conformity with the majority of Greek manuscripts.  In any case, it is ill advised to create an entire theology around a word in the text for which the evidence is divided as to whether that word even appeared in the original.  And even if we accept that the word “not” belongs in the text, this still does not indicate that the Torah should no longer be kept.  Paul here is referring in context to the fact that the earthly tabernacle is a shadow of the heavenly one (see Heb. 8:5; 9:11). This passage does not teach a doctrine that the Torah should not be kept because it is only a shadow, in fact the Torah has always been a shadow of good things to come, even in the days of Moses when the Tabernacle stood and was being used.

Yes the Torah is in fact a shadow of many good things.  The tabernacle in the Torah is a shadow of the heavenly tabernacle.  The holydays, the new moon and the sabbath day in the Torah are also shadows of things to come.  For example the Passover was a shadow which Messiah fulfilled, yet rather than abolish the observance of Passover as a result, Paul says “therefore let us keep the feast” (1Cor. 5:7-8).  In fact these elements of Torahs have always been “shadows of things to come” even when Moses was stoning people to death for violating the Sabbath.  We should ask ourselves this:  When Moses was stoning people to death for violating Sabbath why did they not timidly lift a finger and say “Excuse me Moses, but the Sabbath is just a shadow…”?  Clearly then the fact that it is a “shadow” does not mean that it should not be observed, in fact the scripture indicates that the fact that it is a shadow is all the more reason to observe it.  Note especially that in Paul’s day these things were still shadows of things to come, there were also still elements of Torah which had not then seen their allegorical prophetic parallels, and in fact many of these parallels still lay in the future, in the last days, the second coming of Messiah and the Millennial Kingdom. 

In fact Paul took the Nazarite vow:

18  And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
(Acts 18:18 KJV)

Which would have required him to make several animal sacrifices:

13 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:
14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings,
15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings.
16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering:
17 And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering.
18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings.
19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven:
20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation.
(Num. 6:13-21 KJV)

In fact, should there be any question about whether or not Paul made such offerings after Yeshua’s death, they are settled later in the book of Acts.   When Paul visited Jerusalem, he went to the Temple and completed the Nazarite vow with them. “that an offering should be made for every one of them”:

17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.
18  And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.
19  And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22  What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
23  Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24  Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
25  As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
26  Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purifcation, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
(Acts 21:17-26 KJV)

And as we have stated, making a Nazarite vow requires making animal sacrifices (see Numbers 6:13-21).

Paul describes these events himself later in the book of Acts saying:

17 Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.
18 Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult.
(Acts 24:17-18 KJV)

In fact we know Yeshua was not the final sacrifice because sacrifices and offerings will be made during the Millennial Kingdom.  In Ezekiel 40:1-48:35 we are given a detailed account of the Millennial Temple and its services.  Here we read:

18 And he said unto me, Son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; These are the ordinances of the altar in the day when they shall make it, to offer burnt offerings thereon, and to sprinkle blood thereon.
19 And thou shalt give to the priests the Levites that be of the seed of Zadok, which approach unto me, to minister unto me, saith the Lord GOD, a young bullock for a sin offering.
20 And thou shalt take of the blood thereof, and put it on the four horns of it, and on the four corners of the settle, and upon the border round about: thus shalt thou cleanse and purge it.
21 Thou shalt take the bullock also of the sin offering, and he shall burn it in the appointed place of the house, without the sanctuary.
22 And on the second day thou shalt offer a kid of the goats without blemish for a sin offering; and they shall cleanse the altar, as they did cleanse it with the bullock.
23 When thou hast made an end of cleansing it, thou shalt offer a young bullock without blemish, and a ram out of the flock without blemish.
24 And thou shalt offer them before the LORD, and the priests shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
25 Seven days shalt thou prepare every day a goat for a sin offering: they shall also prepare a young bullock, and a ram out of the flock, without blemish.
26 Seven days shall they purge the altar and purify it; and they shall consecrate themselves.
27 And when these days are expired, it shall be, that upon the eighth day, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you, saith the Lord GOD.
(Ezekiel 43:18-27 KJV)

There are many other passages in this section which describe such sacrifices and offerings being made at the Millennial Temple during the Millennial Kingdom.

Yeshua was not the “final sacrifice” because the sacrifices continued year after year as a remembrance.  The Messiah is the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth.  Before his physical death, the sacrifices and offerings were a shadow looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, and after the Messiah’s physical death they continued each year as a remembrance looking back at the death of Messiah.  The Messiah was not the final sacrifice because Paul performed sacrifices in the Temple after Yeshua’s death, and sacrifices and offerings will yet be offered even after the Messiah’s return, in the Millennial Temple during the Millennial Kingdom.

The sacrifices and offerings are not performed today, not because Yeshua was the final sacrifice, but because the sacrifices and offerings must be performed at the Temple, and the Temple is no longer standing.  However when the Temple is rebuilt (may it be done swiftly and in our day) they will be and should be restored so that they may serve as a remembrance year after year of the death of Messiah. Do not give heed to those who would subtract from the Torah!

Messiah, is our Passover offering, therefore let us keep the feast (1Cor. 5:7-8)  not only the feast of Passover, but all of the feasts, and all of the Torah!

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