After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 40 years after Jesus, THE Lamb of God, died on the cross, the Jews forsook the practice of animal sacrifice. The Temple was the place where the animal sacrifices were made and once it was gone there was no place to sacrifice.
How could a practice so central to the Jewish faith just die? Setting up regional sacrifice centers, tent-like, would have seemed logical to me. Moses had a mobile temple. Remember the Tabernacle? Little regional tabernacles could have been located around Israel still using the Levitical line as its priests. I mean, even if the main reason for the sacrifices wasn’t religious, even if it was seen as a business. What else did the Levites know how to do? How were they going to make a living if they didn’t kill animals? (Remember Jesus throwing the money changers out of the Temple calling it a den of thieves?) I have an opinion about what happened. It is only my opinion, and I certainly am not a Biblical scholar, but I don’t think it too outlandish to suspect that God took the desire for animal sacrifice away from the people so the common Jew would have a better chance to trust His son. After the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD there were two Jewish sects: the Pharisees and the Jews who were following Jesus. The Jesus Jews did not have to sacrifice. The destruction of the temple allowed for a natural parting of the ways. The Pharisees became the Jews and those following Jesus became known as Christians.
The history of years of Moses with the traveling tent Tabernacle was lost to the Jews for hundreds of years. During the reign of King Josiah (641–609 BC), Hilkiah the priest found a scroll during the renovation of Solomon’s temple that told of the Tabernacle. Up until that time the Israelites were mixing with the Canaanite worshipers, falling farther and farther away from God’s intended plan.
While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD that had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 34:14-15)
The Hebrew word for “the book of the law of YHVH by the hand of Moses” found in Joshua is the same word used here in 2 Chronicles for Book of the Law which leads me to believe this was the actual Law of Moses (the Torah) FOUND!* “What were the people using as a guide from the loss of the Torah till it was found?” They were using the customs of the people who surrounded them! Are we Americans doing the same thing?…just a thought. Shortly after the reign of King Josiah and the Torah discovery, the Jews were exiled to Babylon. In exile they were once again without the Torah. Only those Jews who did not go to Babylon had the Torah. They were the Samaritans. They are the only Jewish people today who still offer animal sacrifices. The Jews did not sacrifice animals in Babylon. They waited till the temple was rebuilt by Ezra on the site of the rubble that had been Solomon’s temple after the 70 years of exile.
* To see a review of the status of the scroll from the perspective of various Biblical scholars please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Josiah under Book of the Law
Following the destruction of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews by the Romans in 70 AD, Jewish worship stopped being centrally organized around the Temple, prayer took the place of sacrifice, and worship was rebuilt around rabbis who acted as teachers and leaders of individual communities. The animal sacrifices did not continue once the Jews dispersed. There is certainly support for this in the Old Testament. Hosea 14:3 is one, “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord. Say to Him, forgive all iniquity and receive us graciously, so we will offer the words of our lips instead of calves.”
BUT, there is a present-day movement to restore the Temple (the third temple) and bring back animal sacrifice…more on this tomorrow.
Hugs to all of you who are hanging in here with me,