Blood. by Pastor Tim Hinrichslood
Blood—just seeing it causes some to get queasy. Others like me don’t mind seeing blood as long as it’s not our own pouring out. Blood is a crucial part of our physical makeup, but for God it’s much more than that. It’s not just biological. It either connectsus with God or separates us from Him for eternity. Everything depends on whose blood is presented to the Father.
Blood is first mentioned in the Bible in the story of Cain and Abel. When Cain murders his brother, it is his blood that “cries out to [God] from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Blood has no voice or separate identity, but from this very first case of murder we discover something crucial about God’s under- standing of blood: It represents life. In fact, later the principle is stated very clearly: “For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life” (Leviticus 17:14).For this reason, in the Old Testament it was forbidden to drink blood (Leviticus 7:26-27, Deuteronomy 12:23). In essence, it would be like stealing the life from a creature. Blood is the most precious thing on earth representing the life created by God.
Because of the fall of Adam, all people inherit sin, and that sin pollutes man’s blood. It’s like having a cancer of sin puls- ing through our veins. But in order to be accepted by God, our blood must be completely pure.How are we to cleanse our blood? One option would be to have a blood transfusion. But this won’t change the nature of man—we still sin day after day. Obedience to the law might be another option, but diluting our blood with righteousness doesn’t remove the poison of impurity coursing through our veins.
A temporary solution
Instead, the Lord makes it clear that blood must be shed in place of impure blood. The writer to the Hebrews states it clearly: “all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).This can’t be just any blood, but one that is pure and holy—blameless. But all men are born in sin. The use of animal sacrifice was the clear answer in the Old Testament. Animals are not sinful or evil, but basically “amoral.” Therefore this is the way in which God allowed man to cover over his polluted blood—through the substitute of an animal: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Leviticus 17:11).But this solution was far from adequate in the long run. First of all, the value of an animal life isn’t the same as the value of a human soul, which is eternal and made in the image of God. Therefore a sacrifice is only temporary. Individuals had to return to the temple year after year with their sacrifice for sin all their lives.Second, only certain types of animals were considered “clean” by God. Cattle, sheep, goats, and pigeons were gener- ally accepted, but requirements even among these animals were strict. There could be no birth defects or blemishes, for exam- ple. God was concerned about perfection in every way.Third, and most importantly, animals simply could not atone for eternal life. “It can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 10:1). In other words, those coming to the temple year after year with their sacrifices still fall short of God’s expectations. It’s not a great enough payment of blood for all that man has done.
Therefore, every animal sacrifice of blood was really to be a symbol of the priceless blood sacrifice made on the cross. It was given in faith that a final sacrifice would be provided. This was the sacrifice of the Son of God: “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).What is the value of the blood of the Son of God? Priceless! He was completely sinless and holy. As God, He is able to cover all sins. What an awesome substitute we have! His blood liter- ally covers over yours when you trust in Him as your substitute before the Father.Therefore, your approach to God is never based on your own blood, on what you do—even your good deeds. God’s reception of you is based only on the purity of the blood that He sees. And when you approach God’s throne with Jesus’ blood, you can enter into His presence with boldness and worship Him in joy knowing that you are accepted, worthy, holy, and honored because you are received as if you were the Son of the Father. “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).There is no need to get queasy with this blood. Instead rejoice—Jesus has paid the price!Hinrichs, part-time faculty at AFLBS, serves Word of Life Free Lutheran in Mankato, Minn.
p. 4 THE LUTHERAN AMBASSADOR – April 2011