The POWER & SANCTITY of the LAMB’s BLOOD
February 5 Bible Reading: Leviticus Chapters 16-18
"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." (Lev. 17:11)
The above verse is one of the most important verses of the book of Leviticus. God has instituted the shedding and atonement through the blood as the only solution to cover up the sins of humans. The Scriptures insist that atonement for sin is not possible apart from the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). This must be the reason that God Himself had to kill an innocent animal, and make tunics in order to hide the sin and nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:21). This must also be the reason why God respected Abel and his offering over that of Cain since his offering involved the shedding of blood of the firstborn of his flock (Gen. 4:4).
Every life is sacred because it is a gift from God. Since “life of the flesh is in the blood” no Israelite could eat meat with blood in it as a mark of respect for life and God (see Gen. 9:4–6). Further, the statement that “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” is one of the most important theological statements in the scriptures, and its implications run as a scarlet thread through all the pages of the Bible. The blood of an innocent animal shed during its sacrifice has redeemed the life of the worshiper by symbolically taking his place!
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament with shed blood was God’s gracious gift to His people. This attribute of the shed blood was both assumed and transformed in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews emphasized the temporary nature of animal blood sacrifices as they required constant renewal. However, Jesus Christ has sacrificed His life only once to be effective eternally (Heb. 9:12–14, 22, 25–28). His shed blood atoned for all the sins of human beings (1 John 1:7). In anticipation of the final and perfect blood sacrifice offered by Christ, God Himself ordained the procedures whereby His righteous wrath might be averted and His people reconciled to Him.
God’s law guarded the sanctity of life, which was in the blood. This blood represents the life-force of the living soul (Gen. 4:10; Deut. 12:23), and so the eating of blood was strictly prohibited by God. The blood of animal sacrifices therefore was holy and must not be eaten. Blood was a metaphor for life itself, a gift of God so precious as to have inherent sanctity (17:10–13). The emphasis on the blood making the atonement for the soul serves as the theological basis for a substitutionary theory of sacrifice.
Let us understand that our life is a gift from God, and must never be taken lightly. The only price for sin that God will accept is blood, for the blood is the life of the creature. The sacrifice of blood means one life given for another. We should respect all life and not treat the blood as something common. The Jews were not to bring sacrifices of game (v. 13), because those cost them nothing. (See 2 Sam. 24:24.) The animals shed their blood involuntarily, but Jesus gave His life willingly for the sins of the world. There is both power and sanctity in the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:36), who is also the Savior of the world. Those who symbolically drink the blood of the Lamb of God by partaking in the Lord’s Table will have eternal life.