Considering Judaism

2022 Sep 10

Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions.

 

This post derived out of a consideration of my own religious perspective, and why I think that the applicability of Judaism as a religious perspective is limited.

 

Judaism is based on a covenant which established a theocracy. The god of Abraham made this covenant with the descendants of Israel. (Jacob aka Israel was Abraham’s grandson.) It was not a contract, which is an agreement that remains in effect only as long as both parties continued to fulfill it. It was a covenant, a promise by the parties which remains in effect even if one party fails their part.

Essentially, if the Jews kept God’s commandments, God would preserve them and see that they stayed in a land that God had promised to them. And if they failed to keep the laws, God gave them no promise of protection and would eject them from the land.

Archeology has given strong support to the Jewish history as seen in the Jewish Bible (the Christian Old Testament). As one example, the Bible talks about a people which were otherwise unknown. For many years these Hittites were doubted to have been real. Then, extensive archeological discoveries validated their existence and substantial civilization. This and other similar evidences give credence to the general biblical history and the teachings as truthful.

As biblical history shows, the Jews did not keep God’s laws. So they were exiled to Babylon and the Jewish nation collapsed. Some of the exiles returned some generations later and restored their religious systems. This return had been foretold by prophets. However, this restored remnant did not remain indefinitely in the land. Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans in 70 AD, and Jews in the area dwindled. Arguably after this, the promises of God for the Jewish people were completed and had no renewal.

In mid last century a new Jewish state was established. It is a secular state and it does not seek to fulfill the original covenant with God. For example, God required the Jews have altars and do regular animal sacrifice (Exodus 20:24). The original Israelites did do sacrifices, and the Jewish group that returned from Babylon also did (all the way through to the time of Jesus). However, the modern Jewish state does not do this, and no religious Jewish people do sacrifices either, even though this had been essential through the whole Biblical history. note

Why does Judaism no longer do sacrifices? This is a mystery to me because this had been so absolutely central to the religion before. Did God direct this change? It does not seem so.

It seems that Jews are waiting for a temple to be restored in Jerusalem, since that was the place the sacrifices were previously done. However, before the first temple was made, sacrifices has been done legitimately in many places. The only requirement was that a legitimate priest was the one doing them. In fact after the first temple, sacrifices were still done properly both away from the temple (Elijah on Mt. Carmel - 1 Kings 18), or without a temple (Ezra 3:4)

However, Jesus is the lamb of God (John 1:29), God's ultimate sacrifice for sin. He fulfilled the law and after him no sacrifices would be needed (Luke 23:45, Romans 3:25).

Curiously also, within a generation of the time of Jesus, the Jews stopped sacrifices. Yes, their place of sacrificing was destroyed after Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans. But if it really was important they would have found a way to continue. Somehow in their minds sacrificing lost that critical importance.

Although I expect they would disagree, it is almost as if the Jews did agree that sacrifices were no longer needed after (or because of) what Jesus accomplished.

Judaism seeks to worship the god of Abraham, but it no longer is the same religion as originally established by god. On this basis I wonder if Judaism as a religion is satisfactory to God as presently practiced.

However, Judaism does teach a single, supreme, moral, rational and caring God. It teaches love for God. It teaches moral human behaviors based on the ideal of god's morality. All this is right, admirable and consistent.

From the start, Judaism was an agreement with a specific people. As such, it was not intended to be for all people. (It is not a proselytizing religion although there are some non-Jews that convert to Judaism.) However, if God is the god of all, then presumably there would be a way for all to come to God. Judaism arguably is not that religion.

2022-09-10 updated 2022-12-27   © 2023 Larry Grove