From the Beginning
Ancient Israel and the Commandments
The Torah was written for God to be their king, but God’s people Israel followed the Torah half-heartedly. His most central command had been the Shma, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” Deut 6:5. All your heart! All your soul! All your might! God had set his people Israel apart as his own Deut 7:6.
But Israel wanted to be like everyone else. Hebrew Scripture records that they soon asked for an earthly king 1 Sam 8:5. God sadly told Samuel, “They have rejected me from being king over them” 1 Sam 8:7.
As Israel’s sins multiplied, they became less and less sensitive to sin, so that they sinned all the more gravely. God declared through Isaiah, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: ‘Sons have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me’” Is 1:2.
Isaiah’s Recognition Prophecy
Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.’
Make the heart of this people fat,
and their ears heavy,
and shut their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without men,
and the land is utterly desolate,
and the LORD removes men far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Is 6:9–12.
Pagan Child Sacrifices
Some of the Israelites were faithful to God’s Ten Commandments but others sinned against several of God‘s commandments. Here we’ll concentrate on the most serious sin of all, pagan child sacrifices. Each child sacrifice sinned against several of God‘s commandments, for instance the commandments against pagan idols and murder.
“Any man of the sons of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, who gives any of his children to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones” Lev 20:2.
“I myself will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name” Lev 20:3.
God‘s people Israel almost immediately began sacrificing their own children to pagan idols.
“They even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods” Deut 12:31.
The Sons of Israel and the Sons of Judah constantly sacrificed children to idols.
“For the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah have done nothing but evil in my sight from their youth; the sons of Israel have done nothing but provoke me to anger by the work of their hands, says the LORD. This city has aroused my anger and wrath, from the day it was built to this day, so that I will remove it from my sight because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they did to provoke me to anger—their kings and their princes, their priests and their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned to me their back and not their face; and though I have taught them persistently they have not listened to receive instruction. They set up their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to defile it. They built the high places of Baal in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech, though I did not command them, nor did it enter into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” Jer 32:30–35.
King Solomon sacrificed many children to idols.
“Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods” 1 Kings 11:7–8.
God pleaded through Isaiah for his people Israel to return to him. “Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! Is 43:8. But instead, Israel turned to the dark side, to sinat khinam, hatred without a cause.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Time
Sinat khinam, hatred without a cause, caused many of the Israelite tribes to attack one another. However, although Rabbi Yeshua‘s shlikhim came from many different tribes his influence was so strong that they got along peacefully with one another.
With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: “You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them” Mt 13:14–15.
Then, addressing the shlikhim directly, he continued,
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. Mt 13:16–17.
Rabbi Yeshua taught his shlikhim, “For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away,” Mt 13:12 mean that souls who eagerly embrace him and his teaching “with all your heart,” Deut 6:5; Mt 22:37 will be wide open to God’s grace and consequently receive even more of it, while souls that repeatedly defy God will eventually become so insensitive to his grace even in the small amounts they had allowed to come through to their hearts that they would not recognize even their own Mashiakh.
Isaiah’s prophecy Is 6:9–12 that many of the children of Israel would not recognize their own Mashiakh was fulfilled. Rabbi Yeshua himself told the Pharisees that great tragedy would befall them “because you did not know the time of your visitation” Lk 19:44.
Each individual Jew at that time had free will, and still does today, but his own and his ancestors’ rejection of Rabbi Yeshua made it very difficult. This is like a man living on welfare without working. He is free to stay in bed all day every day except for food and rest room breaks, but at some point he will become so weak that he cannot do even that.
The Great Divide
Rabbi Yeshua warned that the Temple would be destroyed because, “You did not know the time of your visitation” Lk 19:44. Sacrifice to God was primary in Mosaic Judaism. Among its 613 mitzvot covering every part of Israel’s life, perhaps 189, more than 30 percent, far more than any other subject, covered the Temple sacrifices in some way. In AD 70, on the Ninth of Av, God allowed Roman soldiers to destroy the Temple. He had taken the privilege of liturgical sacrifice, the most important part, from the people who did not follow Rabbi Yeshua and gave it to those who did, forcing a sharp transition from Mosaic Judaism to Rabbinic Judaism, from following Moses to following their rabbis, an ontological change in Judaism itself.
God’s three great feasts, pesakh (Passover), shavuot (Weeks) and sukkot (Tabernacles), had been pilgrimage feasts that had held Judaism together by encouraging aliyah, ascent toward Jerusalem, by living in Judea. In the absence of the Temple, the pilgrimage feasts became home feasts again, celebrated at home and in synagogues.
God in his mercy willed that even the Jews who rejected Rabbi Yeshua could still have the eternal election as the inner core of their Rabbinic Jewish faith. The three major Rabbinic Jewish denominations, Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism, all teach that God chose Abram Gen 12:1 the Hebrew Gen 14:13, and the whole people Israel at Mt. Sinai Ex 24:7.
This entails a personal obligation for each descendant of Abraham. The prophet Amos emphasizes this, as the Lord says, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel” Amos 7:8. Observant Jews today read the Torah and the Talmud and the Shulkhan Arukh, together with their rabbis discerning God’s law and keeping it as best they can.
The Journey Across the Centuries
Rabbi Yeshua had warned, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” Mt 10:34. The Jewish authorities had come from “They have rejected me from being king over them” 1 Sam 8:7 to “We have no king but Caesar” Jn 19:15.
On the day St. Stephen was stoned to death,
“A great persecution arose against the Church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul laid waste the Church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” Acts 8:1–3.
That day marked the beginning of a long journey for the Jews who did not follow Rabbi Yeshua. For two thousand years virtually no Jews freely chose to enter the Catholic Church. Then, during the 1940s, the Jews who chose the sinat khinam, hatred without a cause, against Rabbi Yeshua‘s crucifixion for their redemption, endured a crucifixion in their own flesh.
God lives in eternity. “I the Lord do not change” Mal 3:6. The passage of time and habit deaden man’s sense of sin but God’s eternal election visibly remains in full force. Alice von Hildebrand writes,
“It is worth remarking that there are Jews who, having totally abandoned their faith, and viewing the Old Testament as a purely mythical work, are still so deeply marked by the Jewish craving for some sort of redemption that they often spearhead radical leftist causes (communism, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage). They are ardent idealists who have talked themselves into believing that to wage war on old taboos will open the door to an earthly paradise for which they long. It is a tragic but meaningful derailment. As chosen people, their longing for an ‘absolute’ cannot be extinguished in their souls by shallow satisfactions.”