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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 5:06 pm 
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This is probably a stupid question, but I'll ask it anyway. I was at a Bar Mitzvah this past weekend (the only time that I find myself in a Synagogue or any kind of house of worship) and I noted that part of one of the readings includes Leviticus 23:27, which provides the scriptural basis for the Yom Kippor, the day of atonement, the holiest Jewish holiday. Leviticus is part of the Christian bible, including so far as I can tell the section that says "on the tenth [day] of this seventh month [there shall be] a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD."

Why do Christians, particularly those who believe the whole bible is God's word, not follow this prescription? Or do they?

I apologize if anyone considers this question offensive. I don't mean it that way, I'm just puzzled by what seems to me (in my ignorance) to be a contradiction.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Hm. Interesting question.

I believe it is related to the reason that Christianity does not observe the pilgrimage festivals either - Succot, Shavuot - in that forgiveness and redemption is tied to Christ, on an individual, personal basis rather than in community, which is what Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur are all about.

But I'm talking from gleanings of memory, and I'm not a Christian (I'm not even a particularly observant Jew) so I may be totally off-base.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 5:50 pm 
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Hi Voronwë. I would have to do some research in order to answer your question with any certainty. In the meantime I can tell you on a personal note that I do, usually, note the day as important.

It all started for me back when I was at film school in the late 80's. The school I attended actually counted both Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana as statutory holidays... not that I observed any religious traditions back then, but it was refreshing to have those days off and for the stated reasons.

Sort of related to your question: an International Day of Prayer event is being held locally on May 27th this year, to coincide with Pentecost Sunday. As well as being a significant day to Christians, its origin and name are based on the Jewish harvest festival that is observed 50 days after Passover.

Anyway, as far as I know the days are not forgotten entirely by Christians though the practice of making burnt offerings has been set aside by most Jews and most Christians alike. I could go into the reasons from the Christian perspective but it involves wading through a fair bit of Paul's writings in the latter testament (Hebrews and Romans for a start). Suffice it to say, if you will, Jesus (and the former Pharisee Paul) maintained that what was in the heart (the motivation) of one who would observe traditions is more relevant to God than the act (for instance offering a sacrifice) itself. Even in the first testament he said a few times that he desires mercy not sacrifice.


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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 6:21 pm 
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The model for atonement changed, from a Christian perspective, with the Crucifixion, the symbolic offering to (literally) end all offerings. This cemented the New Covenant, which (according to most Christian sects) supplants, replaces or fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and its attendant rites.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 6:48 pm 
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axordil wrote:
The model for atonement changed, from a Christian perspective, with the Crucifixion, the symbolic offering to (literally) end all offerings. This cemented the New Covenant, which (according to most Christian sects) supplants, replaces or fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and its attendant rites.

This is more or less how it was explained to me when I asked a similar question as a kid (though in much smaller words as I was 9 or 10). And, looking back, in Sunday School the whole OT was presented as a "This is how it was" and the NT as "This is how it is."

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 8:06 pm 
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axordil wrote:
The model for atonement changed, from a Christian perspective, with the Crucifixion, the symbolic offering to (literally) end all offerings. This cemented the New Covenant, which (according to most Christian sects) supplants, replaces or fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and its attendant rites.


Thanks for this answer, although I don't really understand what it means.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 8:48 pm 
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axordil wrote:
The model for atonement changed, from a Christian perspective, with the Crucifixion, the symbolic offering to (literally) end all offerings. This cemented the New Covenant, which (according to most Christian sects) supplants, replaces or fulfills the Mosaic Covenant and its attendant rites.


Ok, but what about this?
Quote:
It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

Luke 16:17

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 8:51 pm 
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Christians believe, as Impy describes it, in personal atonement (via accepting the sacrifice of Christ) and not community atonement (via sacrificial offering). Thus the trappings associated with the old rules no longer apply, including the need for a special day for community atonement.

Basically, the terms of the contract changed.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 9:43 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
Ok, but what about this?
Quote:
It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.

Luke 16:17


Christians I've known generally only regard the 10 Commandments as "the Law" being referenced in the NT like this. Not entirely sure why though.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:12 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
Not entirely sure why though.


I think that is the gravaman of my question.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:15 pm 
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It's not so much that the rules changed... Jesus and the writers of the latter testament referred to the first testament constantly (in fact Jesus was a teacher of the scriptures that existed in his day). It's just that after centuries of living with The Law, it was recognized that people could go through the motions without actually buying into the reason one would want to do such things in the first place (ie the could adhere to traditional practices without adopting the required frame of heart or motivation).

Interestingly over the past couple millennia the "new" religion initially based on freedom from The Law replaced The Law with a whole new set of traditions and practices that are not necessarily based on God's Word. (In the last hundred years or so, people have noticed this, have called it hypocrisy, and, confusing him with religion, have turned away from the idea of God entirely.) This is further proof to me that, left to our own devices, humans have an uncanny ability to miss the point.


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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:24 pm 
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Much turns on how one parses "fulfill" in:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
(Matthew 5:17)

When one "fulfills" an obligation, the obligation doesn't cease to exist, but is no longer in force.

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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2012 10:58 pm 
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That was going to be my answer. It's not that the old laws are abolished; it's that Jesus fulfilled them (and, in my belief, wrote them), so now he can establish new ways of doing things.

Like ax and others explained, atonement isn't a once-a-year thing for Christians. (I'm not saying that it is for Jews either, so I hope you know what I mean here.) Christ was the sacrifice, the final and ultimate sacrifice. Our atonement is through him now on a past, present, and future basis.

Elements of this remain in some Christian denominations. Catholics have the Rite of Reconciliation (Confession). Confession and prayers for atonement are a regular part of many liturgical worship services. It is a less formal part of non-liturgical churches, but it's there, often expressed in prayer.

This is not to say that I don't think there's value in remembering and celebrating the Jewish feasts. In fact, I think they're awesome, especially as, to me, they point to Jesus and the New Covenant. (I really don't want to offend here, so please forgive me if I do.) From that perspective, I don't know why we don't celebrate them. I suspect it came out of an early desire to be different than the Jews who did not believe Jesus was Messiah in the beginning of the Way, as it was called.

It is actually a fascinating study to examine the feasts of Israel and the symbolism Christians believe they contain as they pertain to Jesus.


If you'd really like to understand the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant as Christians understand it, then you should read Romans, if you haven't already. I think you'd appreciate it, Voronwë, as it strikes me as a very lawyerly treatise. ;)

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:30 am 
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Then what is the point of having Leviticus as part of the Bible?

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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:56 am 
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The following lays it out quite thoroughly I think:

Quote:
The Book of Leviticus is relevant. If we are to understand its relevance to our lives then we must do so in the light of the use of this book by other inspired writers. How do the New Testament writers, who quote or refer to Leviticus at least 40 times in Scripture,16 see this book as relevant to New Testament saints? Let us briefly survey the way in which the New Testament writers use the teaching of Leviticus.

The Lord Jesus referred to the teachings of Leviticus on several occasions. In Matthew 5:43-48 our Lord based His teaching that we should be perfect, even as the Father is perfect, on the command of Leviticus 19:2, showing that the vengeance which characterizes men is not consistent with the teaching of Leviticus, which instructs us that we must “love our neighbor as ourselves” Lev. 19:18

It is not just the teaching of our Lord which attests the relevance of the Book of Leviticus, but His life and sacrificial death. When Jesus first presented Himself to Israel as her Messiah, John the Baptist proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). In this one statement John summed up the fact that Jesus was the culmination and consummation of the Old Testament sacrificial system, which is one of the central themes of the Book of Leviticus. Thus, we learn that the key to understanding the life, ministry, and death of Christ is to be found in the Old Testament sacrificial system, which He fulfilled and brought to a close. The extensive treatment of the work of Christ and its relationship to the old covenant is further proof of the importance of our understanding of the Book of Leviticus.

The apostle Paul also referred to the teaching of the Book of Leviticus. In both Romans 13:9 and Galatians 5:14 Leviticus 19:18 is cited. Peter made even more use of Leviticus. In 1 Peter chapter one Peter based his argument for the Christian’s personal holiness on the commandment found in Leviticus (11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7). In the second chapter of this same epistle Peter taught that the church, the body of Christ, is a priestly nation. Thus the priestly regulations of Leviticus must have relevance to the priestly people, the church.

Not only do other biblical writers frequently cite passages from the Book of Leviticus, but the subject matter emphasized in Leviticus is that which is very relevant to Christians today. I believe that if you were to select a half dozen words which summarized the essence of the Christian faith you would find that most, if not all, were prominent themes in the Book of Leviticus.

Read the entire article here: http://bible.org/seriespage/learning-love-leviticus

emphasis added.


eta: as I said, the latter testament refers to the former testament quite a bit. It only makes sense (to me) that it be included.

From the article some other verses were cited as relevant as well such as: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable... 1 Tim 3:16-17; and For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope Rom 15:4


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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:58 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
Then what is the point of having Leviticus as part of the Bible?


Again, in a traditional Christian exegesis, which SirD touches on, everything in the Hebrew Scripture points to Christ. The history of the people of Israel and the Law were preparatory to the Crucifixion, which is the central moment of human history in general. All the stories are allegories for Christ's teachings, life or place as Redeemer. ALL OF THEM.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:45 am 
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I was just reading in the first testament book of Jeremiah and came across something in Chapter 7 which I believe is relevant: the idea that following traditions, without also having a right heart, is meaningless in and of itself. (This would apply to Christians as much as anyone, even though the text is a history of one generation in Judah.)

God did not say follow the law and you will be counted as righteous or that all will be forgiven. He said (to Israel) "obey me [when I speak to you even now] and I will be your God and you will be my people. According to the passage below, God's commands were not given in one shot through one prophet (leader, teacher, etc for instance Moses) but were ongoing over the centuries between Abraham and Jesus. Below is the the passage I am referring to but I encourage you to read the entire chapter via the link provided:

Quote:
Jeremiah 7:21-26

“‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! For when I brought your ancestors out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you. But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward. From the time your ancestors left Egypt until now, day after day, again and again I sent you my servants the prophets. But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their ancestors.’

Jeremiah 7 NIV:http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+7&version=NIV


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:55 am 
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Hehe, Jeremia was the Haftarah (reading from prophets) this week.

I find this discussion a bit problematic - difficult not to answer the question from the non-Christian viewpoint, but doing so will almost certainly upset some Christian posters. I think I'll bow out now.[/quote]

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‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 1:55 am 
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Yes.

Hence my vague discomfort and prickly sensitivity at anything that hints of supercessionist beliefs.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 2:00 am 
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Well, that's the new kid on the block for ya. :D

Actually, it's a deep secret, but the actual reason the early Christian church decided to stop observing the rites of Leviticus and Deuteronomy is Paul developed a taste for shrimp.

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