Blood

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
Leviticus 17:11:

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18-19

God made blood. He created the idea of a liquid in creatures that carries life. It was created with a purpose – for atonement of sin. Since death is the penalty of sin, the loss of blood (which is the life) of a creature is the only way to meet that penalty (Hebrews 9:22). The loss of life of the creature is the loss of it’s blood  (Genesis 9:4-6). In God’s Covenant (Old Testament Law and New Testament Law of Grace), blood is the central and only way by which sin is atoned for.

God remains above the Laws he created; in His very nature, He had no obligation towards us or His Law, which He put in place for created beings. Yet He choose to submit Himself under His own Law and atone for our sin with His own blood – the blood of Christ. The very blood of God was used to atone for my sin. The precious blood of Jesus Christ was given for the redemption of my life. 

His blood is central to everything that has been accomplished for us:

  • Redemption (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:12)
  • God’s presence (Hebrews 10:19-20; Hebrews 12:22-24)
  • Reconciliation (Colossians 1:20)
  • Justification (Romans 5:9)
  • Sanctification (Hebrews 13:12)
  • Glorification (Revelation 7:14-15)

There is no other way to respond to this than to accept His grace and be utterly grateful.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Sanitised

He is to present the bull at the entrance to the tent of meeting before the LORD. He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it there before the LORD. Then the anointed priest shall take some of the bull’s blood and carry it into the tent of meeting. He is to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the LORD, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. The priest shall then put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense that is before the LORD in the tent of meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering at the entrance to the tent of meeting. He shall remove all the fat from the bull of the sin offering—all the fat that is connected to the internal organs, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the long lobe of the liver, which he will remove with the kidneys— just as the fat is removed from the ox sacrificed as a fellowship offering. Then the priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering.
Leviticus 4:4-10

Worship in the Old Testament looks nothing like what we know. The Law required a form of worship that was fundamentally different. Worship, repentance and atonement took its form in bloodshed – a bull for the sin of a High Priest or unintentional sin for the congregation, a male goat for the ruler, a female goat for individual Israelites and a turtle-dove or young pigeons for the poor. All this was on top of the lamb that was offered daily in the morning and evening service. Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple would have been filled with screams of distressed animals with priests shuffling around with blood on their hands. Also, anything that had touched the blood of the sacrifice would have to be destroyed. There was a sequence to the events as well (Numbers 6:16-17). First the sin offering, then the burnt offering and then the peace or grain offering. The Law required that sin be dealt with first with the sin offering, then the worshipper could commit himself to God with the burnt / grain offering, only then could he have fellowship and communion with God with the peace offering. In those days, people understood the connection between blood (and life) and sin.

Church in these modern times is sanitized. repentance and atonement is responding to an altar call with soft piano playing in the background and praying a simple prayer. Our twenty first century church is filled with music designed to please the ears with hosts (or ushers) trying their best to make you feel comfortable. An offering is no longer a live animal (or grain, flour, oil or bread/cakes), but a few pieces of valuable paper or plastic from our wallets. The sequence of events have been slightly jumbled up and it is now a mish-mash of repentance, committment and fellowship simultaneously. These days we remove anything unsanitary and unsightly from our churches – no crosses and altars in our seeker friendly churches.

Yet, the story of Jesus is one that is highly unsanitary and plain unsightly. His story is steep in symbolism of blood sacrifice for atonement and fellowship. His crucifixion wasn’t done with medical grade sanitation. His cross, our best known symbol, is on of the most gruesome forms of ancient execution. Wearing a golden cross on our neck is perhaps comparable to wearing a golden electric chair, guillotine, breaking wheel or club (for bludgeoning to death). Jesus’ story doesn’t begin with His birth, it really begins with blood (Genesis 3:21).

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:19-22

Blood is still the means of our salvation. Christ blood is central to our worship, our repentance, atonement and fellowship. The one religious ritual that Christ instituted involves symbolic blood and flesh and is a reminder of His sacrifice on the cross. The significance of His blood (and sacrifice) is more important than having a sanitized church. May we never forget the importance of His blood.

Jezreel

Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s family in Jezreel, and all his nobles, close friends, and priests. He left no survivors.
2 Kings 10: 11 (NET; also read 1-11, 30)

So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. Then she conceived and gave birth to a son for him. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Name him ‘Jezreel,’ because in a little while I will punish the dynasty of Jehu on account of the bloodshed in the valley of Jezreel (I will visit the bloodshed of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu), and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.
Hosea 1:3-4 (NET)

On God’s command, Jehu took away Ahab’s dynasty by executing all seventy of his sons. He then executed Ahab’s entire family in Jezreel. A century later, on God’s command, Hosea prophetically names His first born son Jezreel because what happened at Jezreel will happen instead to the house of Jehu (symbolically the northern kingdom of Israel).

Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land. Certainly, the day of Jezreel will be great!
Hosea 1:11

“At that time, I will willingly respond,” declares the Lord. “I will respond to the sky, and the sky will respond to the ground; then the ground will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil; and they will respond to ‘God Plants’ (Jezreel)!
Hosea 2:21-22

Hosea’s son, Jezreel, is marked by bloodshed. He is named after the place where one of the bloodiest mass murders happened in the bible. He is named as a prophetic proclamation of the punishment against unfaithful Israel that God will carry out. Just like his siblings, he is named in shame as an illegitimate child conceived through prostitution (Hosea 1:2-8). Yet in generations to come, his name will be restored. God will remove His shame and cause His name to be great. His name means God plants or God sows, and God promises that He will plant.

Such is the mercy and grace of our God.

Guilt

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

Sure, Old Testament sacrifice could cover the people’s sins, if everything was setup just right and all the meticulous details of the Law was in place (Hebrews 9:1-7). But that was all it could do, it could only cover the sin, not remove the guilt. The Law could not clear the guilty conscience of the worshipper (Hebrews 9:10). All the Law did was to remind them of their sins again and again, year after year, piling guilt upon guilt (Hebrews 10:3). That is until Christ came.

What the Law was powerless to do, Christ on the cross accomplished. In so many ways is His redemption superior to that of the sin and guilt offering of the Law (Hebrews 9:11-13)! Not only did He remove sin entirely, for all humanity across all ages (Hebrews 9:24-28), but He removes our guilty conscience (Hebrews 9:14).

“To feel guilty is not to be guilty”
Sigmund Freud

When we sin, our conscience tells us that we are still guilty, while the blood of Christ tells us that we have been forgiven. Christ blood doesn’t just speak to us, His blood tells God that we have been forgiven and we are now righteous (Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24). When we look at ourselves with guilt and shame, we have nullified this important promise that Christ has accomplished for us. When we do that, we miss out on the complete picture of the finished work of Christ on the cross.

We need to listen to His blood. Let it affect our conscience. No more guilt.