Jesus validates Jeremiah’s position that the sacrificial system is not of God.
The Jewish sacrificial system on which Christians base the doctrine of the atonement did not come from God. It was not even established by Moses. It came by way of forgeries back-dated into the Law of Moses by priests anxious to promote their own interests.
Jeremiah’s den of robbers
Basic kingdom dynamics teaches that what is of men cannot be of God (Matthew 16:23; 21:25). Since most pagan religions traditionally approach their deities through sacrifices; sacrifices cannot be of God.
God rejects the sacrificial system repeatedly. He asks: “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?” (Psalm 50:13). David also belittles sacrifices (Psalm 40:6; Psalm 51:16-17). Isaiah denounces them (Isaiah 1:11-13). Micah derides them (Micah 6:6-8). Hosea degrades them (Hosea 6:6). Solomon counsels against them (Proverbs 21:3). But most important of all, Jesus disapproves of them (Matthew 7:13; Matthew 12:7).
Jesus’ attack on the sacrificial implements in the temple; when he overturns the tables of the money-changers and drives out those selling doves, speaks eloquently about God’s disdain for sacrifices. He declares: “It is written, ‘my house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves’” (Matthew 21:13).
By quoting Jeremiah 7:11, Jesus validates the prophet’s position that the sacrificial system is not of God. Jeremiah writes: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices’” (Jeremiah 7:21-22).
Jesus also quotes Isaiah 29:13-14; saying about the Jewish priesthood: “In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). How did these “bad Samaritans” smuggle man-made sacrificial laws into the Law of Moses?
Jeremiah watched as priests made up laws and alleged they came from Moses. He asks: “How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?” (Jeremiah 8:8). In this period, the priests claimed they “accidentally” discovered the book of Deuteronomy in the temple, where it had ostensibly been lying unnoticed for over 800 years (2 Kings 22:8-13).
This obvious hoax explains how, in Deuteronomy, “Moses” wrote about his own death and burial (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). It reveals Deuteronomy as actually the first book of “Moses;” compiled from various traditions by redactors even before Genesis was written.
Josiah confirms that no one had obeyed “the Law of Moses” until that wonderful “discovery.” He says: “Our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13). This is not surprising because most of those laws were newly concocted.
The lawless centuries
Indeed, if vital aspects of the “Law of Moses” had been in existence, David would never have been king of Israel. David’s great grandmother was Ruth; a Moabitess. The law expressly forbids a Moabite-Israelite like David to be part of the Jewish commonwealth: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the congregation of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the congregation of the LORD forever” (Deuteronomy 23:3). But God “contravened” his own law by making David king because such racist laws were not from God.
Nobody knew of Moses’ sacrificial laws in the time of the judges and the kings. Samuel, a high priest, was from the tribe of Ephraim (1 Samuel 1:1); in contravention of the law which restricts priestly duties to Levites (Deuteronomy 33:8-10). He sacrificed on his own altar in Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17) and on high places in Gilgal (1 Samuel 10:8-10); practices condemned in the law (Deuteronomy 12:5-8; Leviticus 26:30).
Everybody conducted their own private sacrifices in those days, including David’s family-members (1 Samuel 20:6); David himself (2 Samuel 6:12-14); and Solomon (1 Kings 9:25). Those who did this in Moses’ days were consumed by fire (Numbers 16:35-38). However, God did not seem to mind in the era of the kings.
Neither did God object when the Romans destroyed the temple in A.D. 70 and sacrifices were permanently discontinued. Mosaic-Jews were then forced to accept the long-standing position of the prophets that sacrifices are unnecessary; and that repentance and prayers are sufficient as atonement for sins.
Jesus cannot be a sacrifice when God does not desire sacrifices. His death cannot fulfil sacrificial laws when those laws were not from God in the first place. Significantly, Jewish-Christians did not stop offering sacrifices even after Jesus’ crucifixion. They only stopped after the temple was destroyed a generation later.