A Hebrew's Search For Blood Atonement

This account of one man's search for the blood of atonement was recorded following a series of meetings held in San Francisco in the spring of the year 1898. At one of the meetings a Jewish man, in response to the speaker's Bible study, recounted the steps he had made in his long search for truth.

He said, "This is Passover week among you my friends, and as I sat here I was thinking how you would be observing it. You will have put away all leaven from your houses; you will eat the matzot (unleavened wafers), and the roasted lamb. You will attend the synagogue services, and carry out the ritual and directions of the Talmud.

"But you forget that you have everything but that which the Lord required of us all. He did not say, 'When I see the leaven put away, or the matzot, or the lamb, or your going to the synagogue . . . ' but His Word was, 'When I see the blood, I will pass over you' (Exodus 12:13). Ah, my friends, you can substitute nothing for this. You must have blood–BLOOD!"

As he reiterated this word 'blood' with great emphasis, his eyes flashed warningly and his hearers quailed before him. "Blood–it is an awful word for one who reveres the ancient Scriptures and yet has no sacrifice. Turn where you will in the Book, and the blood meets you. But seek as you may, you cannot find blood in the Judaism of the present day. "

After a moment's pause the patriarchal old man went on: "I was born in the Holy Land nearly seventy years ago. As a child I was taught to read the Law and the Psalms and the Prophets. I early attended the synagogue, and learned Hebrew from the rabbis.

"At first I believed what I was told, that ours was the true and only religion. But as I grew older and studied the Law more intently I was struck by the place the blood had in all the ceremonies outlined there, and equally struck by its utter absence in the ritual to which I was brought up.

"Again and again I read Exodus 12 and Leviticus 16 and 17, and the latter chapters especially made me tremble as I thought of the great Day of Atonement and the place the blood had there. Day and night one verse would ring in my ears: 'It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul' (Leviticus 17:11).

"God had instructed Moses to proclaim to Aaron, his sons, as well as to the children of Israel: 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. '

"I knew that I had broken the Law. I knew that I needed atonement. Year after year on that day I beat my breast as I confessed my need of it. But it was to be made by blood, and there was no blood!

"In my distress I at last opened my heart to a learned and venerable rabbi, who told me that God was angry with His people; Jerusalem was in the hands of the Gentiles; the Temple was destroyed; a Mohammedan mosque was reared in its place. So the only spot on earth where we dare shed the blood of sacrifice, in accordance with Deuteronomy 12 and Leviticus 17, was now desecrated and the nation scattered.

"That was why there was no blood. God had Himself closed the way to carry out the solemn service of the great Day of Atonement. Now we must turn to the Talmud and rest on its instruction, and trust in God and the merits of the fathers.

"I tried to be satisfied but could not. Something seemed to say that the Law was unaltered even though our Temple was destroyed. Nothing else but blood could atone for the soul. We dared not shed blood for atonement elsewhere but in the place the Lord had chosen. So we were left without atonement at all!

"This thought filled me with horror. In my distress I consulted many other rabbis. I had but one great question–where can I find the blood of atonement?

"I was over thirty years of age when I left the Holy Land and came to Constantinople with my still unanswered question ever before my mind, and my soul exceedingly troubled about my sins. One night I was walking down one of the narrow streets of the city when I saw a sign telling of a meeting for Jewish people.

"Curiosity led me to open the door and go in. Just as I took a seat I heard a man say, 'The blood of Jesus the Messiah, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. ' It was my first introduction to the message of salvation, but I listened breathlessly as the speaker told how God had declared that 'without shedding of blood there is no remission' (Letter to the Hebrews 9:22).

"He told how that God had given His only begotten Son, the Lamb of God, to die, and that all who trusted in His blood and confessed their sins were forgiven all their iniquities. This was the Messiah of Isaiah chapter 53; this was the Sufferer of Psalm 22. I had found the blood of atonement at last!

"I trusted it, and now I love to read the Bible and find in the New Testament how all the shadows of the Law are fulfilled in Jesus. It is His blood that has been shed for sinners. This has satisfied a holy God, and it is the only means of salvation for either Jew or Gentile.

"I had found the blood of atonement: 'Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!' (John 1:29). His blood I have found to be efficacious for me personally, even to nearly forty years later."