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.
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.
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.