Where’s the Blood? Responding to Another Muslim Ruse Pt. 1

It’s become fashionable for Muslim polemicists to cite specific biblical texts, which seem to deny the necessity of atoning sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. The following is one of the passages that Islamic apologists appeal to:

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the punishment of the iniquity of the father, nor shall the father bear the punishment of the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if the wicked turns from all his sins that he has committed, and keeps all My statutes, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be remembered against him. Because of his righteousness that he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, but rather that he should turn from his ways and live?… Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, says the Lord God. Repent, and turn away from all your transgressions so that iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions whereby you have transgressed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God. Therefore, repent and live.” Ezekiel 18:20-23, 30-32 Modern English Version (MEV)

Is Ezekiel denying the necessity and centrality of blood atonement for reconciliation between God and man? Or is this simply another instance where Muhammadans are simply distorting what the Holy Bible teaches concerning this issue?

In the first place, atonement without repentance towards God is ineffectual, since God’s acceptance of vicarious sacrifices for the remission of sins is predicated on the individual turning towards God in genuine faith and obedience, a fact that is affirmed all throughout the inspired New Testament writings:

“The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Son Jesus, whom you handed over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Creator of Life, whom God has raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, by faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. And faith which comes through Him has given him perfect health in your presence. Now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold through all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the One who previously was preached to you, Jesus Christ, whom the heavens must receive until the time of restoring what God spoke through all His holy prophets since the world began… God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to you first, to bless you in turning every one of you from your iniquities.’” Acts 3:13-21, 26 MEV

“God exalted this Man to His right hand to be a Ruler and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31

“When they heard these things, they were silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life.’” Acts 11:18 MEV

“testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21 MEV

“‘to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do works proving their repentance.” Acts 26:18-20 MEV

“and being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him,” Hebrews 5:9 MEV

“What does it profit, my brothers, if a man says he has faith but has no works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and lacking daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ and yet you give them nothing that the body needs, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But a man may say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God; you do well. The demons also believe and tremble. But do you want to be shown, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Do you see how faith worked with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? The Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see then how by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” James 2:14-26 MEV

This brings me to my next point. Had these Muslim polemicists simply bothered to read the rest of Ezekiel they would have found God himself speaking of atoning sacrifices for purification from sins:

“Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, this is what the Lord God says: These are the statutes for the altar on the day it is constructed, so that burnt offerings may be sacrificed on it and blood may be splattered on it: You are to give a bull from the herd as a sin offering to the Levitical priests who are from the offspring of Zadok, who approach me in order to serve me. This is the declaration of the Lord God. You are to take some of its blood and apply it to the four horns of the altar, the four corners of the ledge, and all around the rim. In this way you will purify the altar and make atonement for it (wakippartahu). Then you are to take away the bull for the sin offering, and it must be burned outside the sanctuary in the place appointed for the temple. On the second day you are to present an unblemished male goat as a sin offering. They will purify the altar just as they did with the bull. When you have finished the purification, you are to present a young, unblemished bull and an unblemished ram from the flock. You are to present them before the Lord; the priests will throw salt on them and sacrifice them as a burnt offering to the Lord. You will offer a goat for a sin offering each day for seven days. A young bull and a ram from the flock, both unblemished, are also to be offered. For seven days the priests are to make atonement (yakapparu) for the altar and cleanse it. In this way they will consecrate it and complete the days of purification. Then on the eighth day and afterward, the priests will offer your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar, AND I WILL ACCEPT YOU. This is the declaration of the Lord God.” Ezekiel 43:18-27 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

“This is the contribution you are to offer: Three quarts from five bushels of wheat and three quarts from five bushels of barley. The quota of oil in liquid measures will be one percent of every cor. The cor equals ten liquid measures or one standard larger capacity measure, since ten liquid measures equal one standard larger capacity measure. And the quota from the flock is one animal out of every two hundred from the well-watered pastures of Israel. These are for the grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings, to make atonement (lakapper) for the people. This is the declaration of the Lord God. All the people of the land must take part in this contribution for the prince in Israel. Then the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings for the festivals, New Moons, and Sabbaths—for all the appointed times of the house of Israel—will be the prince’s responsibility. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and fellowship offerings to make atonement (lakapper)on behalf of the house of Israel. This is what the Lord God says: In the first month, on the first day of the month, you are to take a young, unblemished bull and purify the sanctuary. The priest is to take some of the blood from the sin offering and apply it to the temple doorposts, the four corners of the altar’s ledge, and the doorposts of the gate of the inner court. You are to do the same thing on the seventh day of the month for everyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance. In this way you will make atonement (wakippartem) for the temple.” Ezekiel 45:13-20 CSB

The Hebrew word translated as “make atonement” is kaphar, and has the basic meaning of “to cover over, pacify, make propitiation” (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3722.htm).

In fact, not only does God make explicit reference to vicarious sacrifices and offerings, he also refers to a covenant he will make with his people that is predicated upon God’s making atonement for all their sins:

“I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord, so that when I make atonement (bakappari) for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth again because of your disgrace. This is the declaration of the Lord God.” Ezekiel 16:62-63 CSB

Here is how v. 63 reads in various English translations:

“that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God.” English Standard Version (ESV)

“Then you will remember, be ashamed, and you won’t open your mouth anymore due to humiliation when I will have made atonement for you for everything that you’ve done,’ declares the Lord God.” International Standard Version (ISV)

Then you will remember, be ashamed, and remain silent when I make atonement for all you have done, declares the sovereign Lord.” New English Translation (NET)

“Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord.” New International Version (NIV)

“‘that you may remember and be ashamed, and never open your mouth anymore because of your shame, when I provide you an atonement for all you have done,’ says the Lord God.” New King James Version (NKJV)

“That thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I have made kapporah (atonement, i.e., when I am pacified, appeased) toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith Adonoi Hashem.” Orthodox Jerusalem Bible (OJB)

“So that thou dost remember, And thou hast been ashamed, And there is not to thee any more an opening of the mouth because of thy shame, In My receiving atonement for thee, For all that thou hast done, An affirmation of the Lord Jehovah!” Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Note how this word is used all throughout the Hebrew Bible, especially in the Torah of Moses:

“If a murder victim is found fallen in the open country of the land that the Lord your God is about to give you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, then let your elders and judges go out and measure the distance from the dead body to the neighboring cities. Then the elders of the city nearest the body are to take a heifer that hasn’t been put to work or hasn’t pulled a yoke and are to lead the heifer to a flowing stream in a valley that has never been tilled or planted. They are to break the heifer’s neck there. Then the priests of the descendants of Levi are to step forward, because the Lord your God chose them to serve and pronounce blessings in his name. Every case of dispute and assault is to be subject to their ruling. All the elders of the city nearest the dead body are to wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, and they are to make this declaration: ‘Our hands didn’t shed this blood, nor were we witnesses to the crime. Make atonement (kapper) for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, Lord, and don’t charge the blood of an innocent man against them.’ Then the blood that has been shed will be atoned for (wanikkapper). This is how you will remove the guilt of innocent blood from among you, for you must do what is right in the sight of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 21:1-9 ISV

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement (wakipper) for His land and His people.” Deuteronomy 32:43 NKJV

“And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were disgraced, so they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of Yahweh. Then they stood at their positions according to custom, according to the law of Moses the man of God. The priests were sprinkling the blood from the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the assembly who did not consecrate themselves, so the Levites were over the killing of the Passover sacrifices for all who were not clean, to consecrate them to Yahweh. For a majority of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves. But they ate the Passover sacrifice otherwise than prescribed, but Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good Yahweh make atonement (yakapper) unto everyone whose heart is set to seek God, Yahweh the God of his ancestors, though not according to the cleansing for the sanctuary.’ And Yahweh listened to Hezekiah, and he healed the people.” 2 Chronicles 30:15-20 Lexham English Bible (LEB)

“Iniquities are stronger than me; as for our transgressions, You atone for them (takapparem).” Psalm 65:3 MEV

“Yet he was compassionate; he atoned (yakapper) for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath.” Psalm 78:38 CSB

“Help us, O God of our salvation, For the glory of Your name; And deliver us, and provide atonement (wakapper) for our sins, For Your name’s sake!” Psalm 79:9 NKJV

These passages repeatedly stress the fact that remissions of sins and salvation are predicated upon God choosing to make atonement for his people; otherwise, they would remain condemned in their transgressions.

In the next segment, I will show how the Lord Jesus and his inspired emissaries are in complete agreement with this oft-repeated teaching of the Hebrew Bible (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/09/29/wheres-the-blood-responding-to-another-muslim-ruse-pt-2/).

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